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July 18, 2004

church + state = ethical economic system?   (opinion, quote)

"The irony of course is that rich countries force poor ones to open up their markets and liberalize their trade policies but donít adhere to their own exhortations. Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the $300 billion doled out in farm subsidies every year by the EU and the US. With so many third world inhabitants engaged in subsistence farming, the elimination of agricultural protectionism would do wonders for southern economies."

 -Nicholas Klassen, Islamic Economics

While I wholeheartedly agree with the above quoted statement (poor economies would benefit enormously if their agricultural efforts weren't devalued and effectively ignored by US and EU subsidies), I regard the rest of the article as a philosophical step backward. While its main point that an Islamic economic system would be fundamentally more ethical than today's corrupt Western corporate system is certainly arguable, Bernard Lewis and I share the view that it is (at least, currently) unworkable and widely susceptible to backslides into thoroughly un-democratic situations.

As Mr. Lewis also mentions in the 1995 speech linked above, "Islam" can be creatively interpreted and requires a more specific definition. Islam when used in the context of an "Islamic institution" is not just that, it is also a political system that does not mesh well with change and democratic dissidence when the majority happens to go against divine decree.

Posted by yargevad at July 18, 2004 02:03 PM

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