Afghanistan, except from Afghanistan’s point of view
Today I want to discuss a very important topic, namely, imperialism. Because of my own cultural background, I have one foot in the east, and one foot in the west. This permits me an interesting perspective. Frequently I see people who are hysterical about foreigners, but I’m not, because to me they are not very foreign.
Today it’s Afghanistan, yesterday it was China, before this it was Syria, before this it was Libya, before this it was Iraq, before this it was Kuwait, before this it was Yugoslavia, before this it was East Germany, before this it was Russia, and so on. In some ways I am mentioning countries, in other ways I am mentioning civic graveyards. Most of these places were marked by the genocidal conquest of NATO powers, and terrible crimes that did not make their way into the newspaper.
Most people do not know what is happening with imperialism, because imperialism is not found in the vogue of pundits and press statements, rather they are kept hidden in declassified documents, government leaks and academic texts.
There is a lot of bogstandard punditry from the US military industrial circus talking about the great failures in the Afghan war, how the US troops were simply too smart, and too handsome and too compassionate, how the military budget wasn’t high enough and self-pitying social media posts from state department ghouls talking about how stressed out they are, and how the real victims were the selflessly devoted ivy league insiders at capitol hill.
I hope to maybe provide a less stupid point of view, so I read what the Afghanis had to say about Afghanistan. I’ve also known people from Afghanistan back during my gang days, but I won’t go in on that too much.
Since I also know a lot of Soviet history, I hope to provide perhaps some insight into Afghanistan.
The news will train you to have a week long attention span, by always presenting a factual vacuum, in which a series of seemingly random events are thrown at you without any context as to why or how they happened.
Apparently they Taliban just appeared out of thin air, mentioning no reference to the tradition of Talib, to Emirate philosophy, to Sharia or Zakat. No mention to anything that explains their influence, presence or origins. One day, you just have soldiers, and they are winning.
Truth is that the Talib, the originators of the Taliban, were not just some desert bandits with anger in their hearts, they are actually more similar to knights or crusaders. Among the elite circles of the authentic Taliban, even rank and file soldiers are fully literate and have memorised the Koran to the letter, each of them could qualify as clergy if they so wished.
This is not to mistake them for the Mujahedeen, which is a far less strict military formation. In fact, Mujahad groups in general were as diffused within the Afghan landscape as the tribesmen who embodied it. It was only through the efforts of the Taliban and the Pakistani intelligence service that they were successfully united into a national army.
And all of this happened around 40 years ago.
To many people who understood this, the Taliban victory over the US was as apparent as, if you’ll pardon my pun, the sun setting in the west.
The Soviets made a big mistake here, because the USSR never understood the differences between Christianity and Islam. They figured they were one and the same, and that you could just use reason and Marxist theory to rebel against them.
Problem is: Islam is far more populist than Christianity.
For the record, I am a Christian, so when I am critical of Christianity it is in good faith, because I want to resolve problems, not discredit anyone.
But truth is that the greatest source of heresy within the Christian faith, has been produced by monarchism. The feudal church sold itself to monarchism, and violated every tenet of scripture in this transaction. The church became a slave to gold, war, and kings. To false idols, false prophecy, subjugation and cruelty. They struck upon the heads of their congregations an exemplary thing, demonstrating precisely why every deadly sin was deadly.
As the gluttony of nobles produced famines of the peasants.
As the greed of merchants produced poverty to the commoners.
As the sloth of the rich produced slavery to the poor.
As the envy of nations delivered war to her children.
I could go on, but you see my point. Inquisitions, crusades, sectarianism, indulgences and corruption made the church into little more than the menageries of tyranny. So even Christians in the Soviet Union supported the revolution, because they saw the church as the biggest defilement of their faith.
Islam is a very different animal, and this reality became very evident both in Afghanistan and in Chechnya. Islam is a religion of civics, Christianity is a religion of philosophy. This means that Islamic clergy were servants to the public, and would help people in a far more direct fashion. If you didn’t have a job, then talk to your Mullah and he’ll ask around. If you lost your house in a fire, then talk to your Imam, and something would be arranged.
This did not exist in the feudal churches of Christianity, rather, they would produce the most toxic words in the Christian vocabulary: Thoughts and prayers.
The reason why Christians found the church loathsome is because it made a mockery of their faith, but Muslims had a very different relationship to their clergy.
For instance, did you know Egypt doesn’t have a welfare system? That’s because they don’t need one. They got Mosques. The USSR offered the social security that the church never produced, this is why it was so easy to usurp it, and it’s a good thing they did, feudal Christianity was pure barbarity, and if it wasn’t for the Soviets, the Russian Orthodox faith would be dead today.
A lot of people believe that the Soviets persecuted Christians, but this is false, they held criminals who had abused Christians for centuries to account. It was as a wonderful era of justice.
At the time of the Bolsheviks the church had been reduced by monarchism into a motely crew of sex offenders, anti-Semites, idolaters and tax collectors, who enforced a national policy of forced illiteracy and religious sectarianism. They were vile people indeed.
In fact one of the ways in which the Bolsheviks won the people was through literacy programmes, they taught peasants how to read, and how to question the world and to understand things. No longer did they have to rely on these vultures in black hoods to understand things, and this made many into radicals.
But the Koran has been printed and published in Arabic for centuries, it was not written in ancient Sumerian to keep the people from studying it. Even if perhaps not everyone could read the alphabet, they could still understand the word of god. They could still rely on friends and relatives to educate them rather than through the exclusivity of a clerical filter. So literacy wasn’t going to impress them in the same way.
Moreover, the aforementioned social security wasn’t going to cut it either.
And on top of that, Islam had been a lot more careful around monarchs. Islamic monarchism was in the form of sultanates, emirates and caliphates. In England, when the king was tired of Catholicism, he just went and changed it to Anglicanism, and that was that. The king ordained the church.
But, in Islam, the mosques ordained the king.
This is why it is of little mystery that Islamic republicanism became a very intuitive position during the age of modernism. As Iran, Iraq, Syria, Arabia and many other countries with high Muslim populations began to explore things like Pan-Arabism, Ba’athism, Marxism and similar republican ideas.
The monarchs had become a useless appendage to Islam, and so they were happy to let go.
So had the Soviets worked with the clergy instead of the state bureaucrats, and recognised the historical importance of Islam, then Afghanistan would’ve been part of the Warsaw Pact within a week. A lot of Muslims in Afghanistan supported socialism, but they did not want it at the cost of their faith.
Then of course you have the US, but they’re a bunch of bumbling military barbarians who slaughter their way to success so there isn’t a lot of sophisticated analysis to be made there.
More airstrikes? Less airstrikes? Not a lot of other criticism to be made there. They like Jesus, Jesus has mixed feelings about them, and they kill people who don’t like Jesus because they believe that Jesus thinks they should have all the oil in the world. It’s stupid.
Especially since Muslims actually recognise Jesus as a prophet, and he’s a very important religious figure in Islam.
But I don’t even know what to say besides this. In fact I think it exemplifies the Soviet experience. If you want to know what Christianity was like under the Tsar, then just look at the murderously asinine things that US evangelicals get up to. Someone has to stop them, that’s all I’m saying.
So the Soviet-Afghan war was in many ways a competition between Islam and Marxism, who could be the most populist? Who could serve the people the best? Who could feed, shelter and educate people living in extreme poverty? And the answer was that Islam had home field advantage, they had already won the people. That’s why the Soviets lost. Because they made enemies where they should have made allies. It was one of the most tragic and pointless wars in history.
Well, in Soviet history anyhow. The US have a war like that every week.
But this is why the Taliban won Afghanistan, because they understood how change and tradition are not mutually exclusive things. And while I do not agree with a lot of the things the Taliban believes in, I will at least recognise the reality they present to us.
I do think a lot of people in Afghanistan have a strained relationship with the Taliban, especially after the years of men with guns, but it is still preferable to live under an abusive government, than that of an American one who is actively carrying out a genocide. Pain is always preferable to death. Even bad law is better than no law.
Shit I forgot my sources again. Here:
Anti-Sovietism In The Media, UMass, 1986
History as Mystery, Inventing Reality - Prof. Michael Parenti, Yale University
My Life With The Taliban, Abdul Salam Zaeef
The Holy Qu’ran I guess? I make references to ideas in it.