Kaaba at night

Thoughts on Submission, Islam, and the West

My article “Can Mormonism save Western civilization from Submission?” has been published on The Transfigurist, the blog of the Mormon Transhumanist Association.

Some excerpts are pasted below, and I invite you to read the full essay on The Transfigurist.

I am a big fan of Michel Houllebeq, and I enjoyed his last novel “Soumission” (Submission). The novel is set in a near-future (2022) France where an Islamic party led by charismatic politician Mohammed Ben Abbes is about to make a big win in the elections. Ben Abbes will end up second after Marine Le Pen’s National Front, and the socialists and other mainstream parties will rally with him to avoid an otherwise inevitable victory of the National Front. Ben Abbes will become President, and France will become an Islamic nation.

Compared with the Islamic strength and purity, the leftovers of the once great Western culture shown in Submission seem decadent and ineffectual, lacking conviction and strenuous mood, obsessed with unimportant things and unwilling to fight for survival. The word that comes to mind is “weak.” The main achievements of the Western civilization – the separation of religion and state, the freedom of inquiry and speech, and the emancipation of women – are presented as symptoms of the effete, sedate weakness of an aging civilization that is no longer able to resist the youthful force of Islam.

Islam is strong, the West is weak, and 2022 isn’t that far. Should we accept Submission as the inevitable fate of our Western civilization? If not, what trends in the contemporary Western civilization can make it young and strong again?

Perhaps Mormonism can save the Western Civilization from Submission. Mormons are powered by the calm happiness that comes from knowing one’s place in a good world, and a quiet determination to make the world even better, step by step, with good works including science and technology. They are blessed with a firm conviction that they will see their loved departed ones again after a life of good works building Zion – on Earth and beyond.

I wonder whether Mormonism could become much more open and tolerant without losing its strength. I am not sure it could: other Western cultures did become much more open and tolerant, but at the cost of becoming weak.

Another possibility is the emergence of new religions focused on strong cosmic visions without petty, provincial aspects.

Perhaps new strong, powerful religions with awesome cosmologies not encumbered by geographies and zoning norms will become popular and help our Western civilization recover its former strength.

I am not very optimist: Based on the lukewarm reactions to Cosmist ideas so far, I suspect that geography and zoning norms might be essential to establish and keep strong convictions and a powerful sense of duty.

But another possibility is that I, and many others who think along similar ways, have been unable to find the best ways to communicate our message, in which case we must work hard to become better communicators, and develop a new generation of better communicators.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Read the full essay on The Transfigurist.

  • dirkbruere

    There is another possibility which is a resurgence of militant Christianity – Christ the Warrior. It would not need much theological justification, just a popular exposition. It is, after all, what the Church has been for centuries, modern times excepted

    • Giulio Prisco

      Dirk, is there any way to achieve strength of militant Christianity without falling into its worst excesses? Can we energize people without burning other people?

      By the way how is The Praxis organization doing?

      • dirkbruere

        I doubt it. Any Church Militant is going to look like a terrorist org simply because those willing to first take up arms will be the extremists.
        As for the Praxis, that remains just a small group of friends. We have no, as yet, tried to expand its membership base.

        • Greg Tingey

          Thank you.

    • Greg Tingey

      Hello Dirk, what a surprise (NOT) to find you here!
      Your proposition is already on the way in the USSA.

      NOT the answer.
      Atheism is the answer, coupled with a steady refusal to accommodate to Dark-Ages camelherders’ myths, coupled with the promise that any threat of force will be met with equal or greater force.

  • magnus

    The Western ‘weakness’ is partly about not beeing ‘hungry’. I m afraid of generalisations, but people from, say Russia and China gives at least me a kind of ‘hungry’ feeling. By that I mean that there are in some sence more people with serious ambitions, compared to the number of them in my maybe not typical surrounding. Not beeing quite sure about it,. I still think there is s difference.
    Islam is a little younger than Christianity. But I m not at all convinced that that is the reason for it s vitality. With mormonism the age may be an argument. But it s not my field. What I experienced in discussions with deeply religious moslems was, that they disallowed questions like ‘what was the reason that Mohammed wrote rules like that, and not like these’. Or ‘What if there is no god, could it be like that’. The frames of discussion were a little narrow to my taste. But I had similar experiences with christians.
    About mormons I had only the book from Joseph Smith and some causal discussions on the street as reference. I must admit that transhuman mormons was a surprise to me, but of course a very positive.
    By the way, where is the border to secterianism? (Of course, borders are most of the kind fuzzy). I don t want to be explicit, cos i m a little paranoid,:-) so I won t write any names of sects involving famous people and such things. Some of them are really powerful. The essence of my thoughts is actually, if there would be any point of organizing like the most succesfull of them, for a while, while at the same time not supressing diverging thoughts or adopting anything harmful?
    Regards

    • Giulio Prisco

      Magnus – But among the core organizational features of the sects that you (wisely) prefer not to identify, are precisely the suppression of diverging thoughts and the adoption of questionable practices. I home, and think, that we can do better than that.

  • Karsus

    Mormonism? :P

    Societies do become weak over time… The same thing happened to Muslim civilization. All the great Muslim empires have died off. Luckily their knowledge got transferred back to the west for the renaissance before they tanked.

    Decadence is a common failure of rich civilizations. More of a human failing.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Then, in turn, should we think of transferring our (the West’s) philosophical and social conquests to Islam?

      • Karsus

        I think it’s places like China and India that are doing the hard work to push themselves forward and leverage the world’s advancements towards a new future these days.

        • Giulio Prisco

          I also think so. Based on what I see happening these days, “the West” is running out of gas, and other cultures will pass ahead. Houllebeq’s novel is really about the gradual suicide of the West, of which you see evidence every day in the news, and nobody seems to do anything about it. But perhaps committing suicide is what all cultures do when they run out of steam.

          • Karsus

            It does seem common that they become bloated and inefficient, and focused on smaller and more meaningless things instead of achievement… Maintaining your edge takes hard work too. The advantage created by past generations only lasts so long.

          • Giulio Prisco

            Right. See http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/innovation-starvation
            Stephenson launched Project Hieroglyph http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/ to address the problem, but unfortunately the project doesn’t seem very active. Somebody (Peter Thiel?) said that we wanted flying cars and cities on the Moon, and what we got was Facebook.

          • Karsus

            It does seem common that they become bloated and inefficient, and focused on smaller and more meaningless things instead of achievement… Maintaining your edge takes hard work too. The advantage created by past generations only lasts so long.

  • spud100

    I interacted with a young fellow who became an atheist after leaving Islam, and inquired, what is driving the jihad? He believes it id the avoidence of hell and or eternal death the drove the mujaheddin, and not primarily, the bliss of 70 young women and wine (which they can partake of in Janah) and so forth. We in the West have nothing to counter offer the faithful, in such a situation, to stem the tide. Plus, the leaders of the West, for business reasons, always present a weak face to these warriors of faith, their culture and governments.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Well, also Christianity has hell, and the prospect of hell was scary enough to our grandfathers. The difference is that we don’t believe in our hell anymore, and the Muslims still believe in theirs.

      But I don’t think fear is an efficient motivator to do certain things, only to avoid doing other things.

      Also, Islam hasn’t been significantly more bloody and warlike than Christianity in history. I attribute the Jihad mainly to political reasons – the Muslims in the West feel rejected, and the Muslims in their own countries feel threatened, and both see “the West” as the culprit and go back to an earlier, pure and “stronger” militant version of their religion and culture.

      My comment in a related discussion on Reddit:
      “Perhaps one day the “silent Christians” in the West will wake up outraged, realize that they are on the way to becoming an oppressed minority in their own country – oppressed by the rise of Islam on one side and “militant liberalism” on the other – and react. History shows that often outrage grows slowly and silently for decades and then explodes.”

      • spud100

        One reason, yes, Guilio, is that there is great racism in Europe, as well as nearly everywhere else in the world! Having said this, these people who have come in from North Africa and West Asia, are typically more intolerant then you guys even! They want free things that you Europeans pay for, and their stinking homelands do not. Also, because of European “guilt” over colonialism, in Italia’s case, Libya, and Ethiopia, you folks are not giving yourself permission to act in your own self interests. The Muslim world does Not have Guilt over it’s glorious, Imperialist Age -ask why not? Aha!!!

        Multiculturalism is never a two-way street, always one-way. Respect is never given the “host” country with these guys, EU behavior, which is as bad as the US President’s, needs to learn a thing or two from the past. Here is a Business Insider article which explain’s some of old Adolf’s mind set, which is instructional to what the EU, especially now faces. This was from a secret OSS analysis, by a famous Harvard professor

        http://www.businessinsider.com/what-us-intelligence-knew-about-hitler-in-1943-2015-3

        Don’t be like us- it will lead to your cultural and perhaps, physical annihilation. Passivity-sympathy, sometimes gets people killed.

        “Murray explains that Jews were the clear demographic for Hitler to project his personal frustrations and failings on, because they “do not fight back with fists and weapons.”

        The Jews were therefore an easy and nonmilitarized target that he could blame for pretty much anything, including the disastrous effects after the Treaty of Versailles.”

        Anti-Semitic caricatures also associated Jews with several of Hitler’s dislikes, including business, materialism, democracy, capitalism, and communism. He was eager to strip some Jews of their wealth and power.

  • Greg Tingey

    Islam is a religion.
    In case you hadn’t noticed, all religions are based on a combination of moral & physical blackmail.
    [ One of the reasons communism classifies as a classic religion, btw ]
    No accommodation is possible – unless islam, like christianity, accepts “The enlightenement”.
    And look at the struggle & blood that had to be spilt before christianity accepted the enlightenment.
    Not a good prospect.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Re ” all religions are based on a combination of moral & physical blackmail.” – Not so. Think of Unitarian Universalism or Buddhism.

  • Nupur Munshi

    “I am hardly the first to notice interesting parallels between Mormonism and Islam”. Any parallels between Mormonism and Hinduism?

    • Giulio Prisco

      Hi Nupur – there are no strong parallels that between Mormonism and Hinduism that come immediately to my mind, but that’s not surprising because Mormonism and Islam are much closer to each other than to Hinduism in evolutionary terms.

      I guess Mormonism and Hinduism look very different as “practical religions” for everyone, but there could be strong parallels between the visionary intuitions of mystics of both traditions.

      • Nupur Munshi

        Absolutely,and I somehow found certain vague philosophical similarities between the fundamental texts of Hinduism i.e The Upanishads and Mormonism (mostly what I read about it here at Turing Church). I think if we go into greater depths we might find as you said “strong parallels” between the two traditions.

        • Giulio Prisco

          Please share your insights!

          • Nupur Munshi

            The Upanishads are mostly written in Sanskrit ,I am not fully conversant with it though my mother language is Bengali,a direct descendant of Sanskrit.We learn about the Upanishads from the modern mystics and philosophers like Tagore and Swami Vivekananda . The pursue of Truth and mostly what I have written in my article “Turing Church and Eastern Connection” are few of the similarities of these two traditions.And of course in most of your writings here at Turing Church I do find Eastern Spiritual influence.

            I hope I am allowed to share a link of a very interesting writing on these parallels I found as google search result (A copy righted paper by John Prat .I hope I am allowed to share)

          • Giulio Prisco

            Nupur, you are always allowed to share a link to the paper on the web. You are not allowed to re-distribute copyrighted material in full text, but you can always share a link.

            Is this the paper?
            http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/hindu.html

          • Nupur Munshi

            Ha Ha Yes ! It says everything .And I know that perhaps you know more than that.

          • Giulio Prisco

            I invited our Mormon transhumanist friends to comment, let’s see what they think of the paper.

          • Nupur Munshi

            Great ,lets see

          • Thanks for sharing.

          • I’ve always maintained that if I were to join an Eastern religion, it would be some form of Hinduism.

          • Nupur Munshi

            Thanks so much. Well Theology is not my subject and feeling little scared to talk on all these in presence of scholars like you and Dr. Prisco.Here it seems you are talking about Theosis i.e purification . That is all Hinduism is about. I will try my best to find “quotes” on that . The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda do have mention of Sacrifice as one of the ways of cleaning one’s soul .I’m not sure if I am really going right .Apology if I’m not

          • No need to apologize, Nupur. I can be more clear. The quotes I’m looking for would be from Hindu scripture or authorities (perhaps like Swami Vivekananda), and they would be about humanity becoming God, or like God. Becoming God or like God is what I mean by “theosis”. This is an important concept in Mormonism, and I would enjoy giving more attention to its parallels in Hinduism.

          • Nupur Munshi

            Oh Yes ! Now I get it .Thanks.Yes, Swami Vivekananda have always talked about humanity attaining Divinity and becoming God.I will try my best to find out those in his works and get back to you . Thanks for the noble task.

          • Thank you, Nupur.

          • Giulio Prisco

            I look forward to reading Nupur’s collection of inspiring quotes.

            Pratt’s “Parallels Between Hindu and Mormon Scripture” confirms that, while religions can be very different in terms of what I call “geography” (mythologies and normative lifestyle prescriptions that express the preferences of the founders and the cultural and social conventions of a specific place and time), they can be remarkably similar in terms of what I call “cosmology” – the high-level spiritual aspects in the fabric of reality.

            From this perspective, all religions are imperfect local projections of the same mystical intuitions.

          • Giulio, I think they can be, and I think the seeds of the greater religions of the future are in all the major religions. I also think there are negative (destructive, escapist, or nihilistic) intuitions that can and often do inform our religious articulations and interpretations.

          • Giulio Prisco

            Well said Lincoln. I think the negative intuitions are most often associated with us-vs-them concepts (believers vs infidels, whites vs blacks, men vs women, straight vs gay, etc) from our primitive mind, which get imported into religious visions and result in the (wrong) notion that God loves “us” and hates “them.”. But God loves everyone.

            Think of clean pure water becoming polluted and toxic. I guess we need mental filters to separate pure water from toxic pollutants.

          • Nupur Munshi

            Happy Deepawali and pranam to you Sir, to respected Mr.Lincoln Cannon and to everyone here.My compilation of few of Swami Vivekananda quotes is almost ready. As we are trying to draw inspiration from his teachings,I have taken matter from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda on Vedanta Swamiji’s teachings immensely guide us in our spiritual journey… specially the youth of India finds Vivekananda inspiring. I think I have to take another permission from you to send them here and how do I send it to you and Mr.Cannon.Do I need to follow any other formalities to take matter from the Volumes of The Complete Works of the Swami.

            Felt nice to be part of the Modern Cosmic Conference through your writing. Thanks .

          • Giulio Prisco

            Happy Deepawali and pranam to you Nupur. Just make sure to quote the edition or translation of the “Volumes of The Complete Works of the Swami” that you are using.

            Thanks for reading my review of the Modern Cosmism Conference and watching the talks. All videos of the talks are on YouTube now. Perhaps in a few years you will organize a similar conference in India?

          • Nupur Munshi

            I would be honored to organize a conference of that stature in India. The quotes are posted in India Awakens. The link https://www.facebook.com/www.nupurmunshi/?fref=nf

          • Giulio Prisco

            Awesome. Perhaps you could write a few lines of introduction to publish the quotes here?

            Conference: let’s start planning then!

          • Nupur Munshi

            Sure I will… please give me another day.
            Conference planning from now? Please lead us ,Sir.I think that is going to be a dream come true.

          • Giulio Prisco

            Hi Nupur, organizing a conference is not that difficult. I suggest to start planning a conference titled “India Awakens” for late 2016 or 2017, whenever the good season is in Kolkata.

            The conference could be a 1-day event with 4 foreign speakers and 4 local speakers, with social programs the days before and after.

            We will need to raise some cash:
            1 – Buying flights and providing some kind of accommodation to foreign speakers. Normally there are also speaker fees, but in this case I guess the speakers will waive the fee.
            2 – Renting a good conference hall for say 100 persons. Note that the conference hall could be offered for free from a cultural society, the city, or similar.
            3 – Paying at least two persons, one for organization, logistics, media, online media and social networks etc., and one for technical support and video streaming/recording.
            4 – Paying for simultaneous translation (but perhaps that’s not needed).
            5 – Minimal catering on-site and one dinner if the money is enough, otherwise participants pay for the dinner.

            If all expenses can be contained to, say, $10,000, then I think the money could be raised with a Kickstarter or similar. We can recover part of the money by charging a small fee, but perhaps not all the money.

          • Nupur Munshi

            Thank you .That sounds too good! I cannot believe it! You are a source of true inspiration.Sir. Just one thing Sir,I need a letter of authorization from you with a logo of the site on it so that I can communicate and convey all these to the respected departments.

          • Giulio Prisco

            ??? Nupur what’s that? And what are the “respected departments?? You are a member of this group and my Indian sister, so you authorize yourself and grab the logo here:
            http://turingchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/7grid-chrome-blue.jpg

          • Nupur Munshi

            Thank you so much! I look forward to work with you for the “India Awakens Conference”-2016-2017.

          • Giulio Prisco

            Nupur, I suggest that we start by choosing 8-10 speakers, half foreign and half local. Then we can choose a date (that depends on the speakers’ schedules), and then we think of the rest.

          • Nupur Munshi

            Sir could we have a new page or please write a short intro to the conference under which can have all the plannings and discussions and comments,etc.Or continue our plans here only?
            Very nice proposal. Who will be the speakers? Only you can say that.Let’s start.

          • Giulio Prisco

            Here you go Nupur, I created a post dedicated to the conference. Please open the discussion there:

            http://turingchurch.com/2015/11/16/india-awakens-conference/

          • Thank you, Nupur! I look forward to publishing these on the New God Argument website. :)

          • Nupur Munshi

            Thank you! It was my honor to compile these inspiring messages of Swami Vivekananda and to find a place in your website . I have never done anything like this before and it was you and Dr. Prisco’s inspiration.I still wonder why do we call East and West when Swami Vivekananda the devout Hindu Monk appreciated and accepted with such a big heart.in this part of the world.I find very much at home here at Turing Church.

          • Giulio Prisco

            The difference between East and West is just geography, we do cosmology here! From a cosmic perspective, East is West is the Universe, we speak of the same underlying cosmology with sometimes different words.

          • Nupur, there are many nice parallels identified in that paper. Of particular interest to me are the quotes from the Upanishads about theosis:

            “When a seer sees the creator of golden hue, the Lord, the Person, the source of Brahma, then being a knower, shaking off good and evil and free from stain, he attains supreme equality with the Lord.”

            “He who knows the Supreme Brahman verily becomes Brahman. In his family no one is born ignorant of Brahman. He overcomes grief; he overcomes evil; free from the fetters of the heart, he becomes immortal.”

            If I could collect enough Hindu quotes about theosis, I would add them to this website:

            http://new-god-argument.com

            See the Christian page, for example:

            http://new-god-argument.com/support/christian-authorities-teach-theosis.html

            Do you happen to have any strong leads on collections of Hindu quotes related to theosis?

  • Paul

    Islam is strong and the West is weak? Hmm. I think that is debatable. Hundreds of thousands of Moslems want to get to the West because their own Moslem societies have failed to give them even a modest standard of living or in some cases even basic security.

    And when they get to the West, even if the first generation is devout, that is not necessarily true of the next (only a few go the Daesh path). And I’ve heard that a lot of people in Islamic societies are only nominally Moslem due to the fact that if they openly renounce, they will be executed.

    Look at many of the Moslem societies. They cannot provide even basic services to their people. As fro the rich ones, they got that way because of the oil (wanted and extracted by the West and now the Far East) and that’s not going to last much longer. I heard that Saudi Arabia is going to be in trouble in the next few years because of the low oil price. And that’s because of fracking. Once renewable energy comes onstream they’re going to be in major trouble.

    Yes, Pakistan has got nukes but firing them off will just destroy the world and that isn’t really a sign of strength. The Imams thought their flock would come to the West and outbreed the natives (real subtle thinking there) but the flock for the most part is having other ideas.

    A lot of terrorist incidents do not a superior civilization make. Their most spectacular one was of course 9-11 and that didn’t bring the West down. Fact is their most successful terrorist group Daesh is, at the moment devastating Moslem countries, not the West (I know, they’ve got us in their sights). Don’t mistake viciousness for strength.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Hi Paul, thanks for this thoughtful comment. In the article I am using “strong” and “weak” in the sense they are often applied, respectively, to vigorous youths and feeble seniors. A teen doesn’t have the efficiency and organization of his father, or the experience and wisdom of his grandfather, but he does have the vitality and energy that they have lost. That’s what I mean here.

      The “viciousness” that you (and I) condemn could be that of a youth in his street thug phase. I hope they will grow out of this phase, and I hope we (the West) will grow out of our senile phase. Contrary to a person, a culture can renew itself.