We Are Not Afghanistan

The famous 20th century African-American writer James Baldwin summed up the basic historical and psychical processes which underlie a Western pattern of behavior that is manifest in both the internal affairs of the Western world as well as in the West’s external relations with non-western countries. Baldwin argued that the Western pattern of behavior on both a domestic and international level does not testify to the inferiority of non-whites, but that it testifies to the “inhumanity and fear” of whites. And most importantly, Baldwin argued that whites were “still trapped in a history which they do not understand” and “until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.” 

And as Walter Lippmann argued, the failure on the part of the West to understand this basic historical process which happens to be clear and manifest in the basic and seminal texts and religious traditions of the Eastern world means that the Western world “will become a disorganized and decaying fringe around [Russia] and the emergent peoples of Asia.” When Iran’s revolutionary leaders told the Americans in 1979 that “we are not Afghanistan” and that they would not become a model of chaos and dysfunction because of Western domination and interference, it implied that Iranians understood a historical process which was not yet clear or manifest to their American interlocutors.

Moreover, and as René Guénon argued, since the advent of Western modernity about 500 years ago, the loss, obscuration, and obfuscation of traditional and ‘initiatic’ knowledge in the West which the East has sought to preserve “corresponds precisely to the conditions of humanity during the Kali-Yuga,” with the Kali-Yuga amounting to the current period or stage in world history that had already been foretold in Eastern traditions and in turn coincides with the chaotic and disorderly preponderance of Western modernity over all aspects of human life. It follows that: “The present period is therefore one of obscuration and confusion; its conditions are such that, as long as they endure, initiatic knowledge must necessarily remain hidden, and this explains the character of the Mysteries of ‘historical’ antiquity…and the secret societies of all peoples.”

It follows that “under the present state of affairs in the Western world, nobody any longer occupies the place that he should normally occupy by virtue of his own nature.” The negation of a real and legitimate social hierarchy in international society based on traditional and ‘initiatic’ knowledge “is the cause of the whole disorder” to borrow from Guénon. Another reason for the current chaos and disorder is that “the higher cannot proceed from the lower, because the greater cannot proceed from the lesser; this is an absolute mathematical certainty that nothing can gainsay.” 

In sum, and as Guénon wrote:

“It is abundantly clear that the people cannot confer a power that they do not themselves possess; true power can only come from above, and this is why – be it said in passing – it can be legitimized only by the sanction of something standing above the social order, that is to say by a spiritual authority, for otherwise it is a mere counterfeit of power, unjustifiable through lack of any principle, and in which there can be nothing but disorder and confusion.”

In a sense, once the aforementioned is understood, everything will perhaps fall into place, and a sense of enduring order and peace can then materialize amidst the prevailing chaos and disorder of international society. 

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