Degradation Versus Honor

The State of Kentucky was founded in 1775, the State of Ohio only twelve years later; but twelve years are more in America than half a century in Europe, and at the present day, the population of Ohio exceeds that of Kentucky by two hundred and fifty thousand souls. These opposite consequences of slavery and freedom may readily be understood, and they suffice to explain many of the differences which we notice between the civilization of antiquity and that of our own time.

Upon the left bank of the Ohio labor is confounded with the idea of slavery, upon the right bank it is identified with that of prosperity and improvement; on the one side it is degraded, on the other it is honored; on the former territory no white laborers can be found, for they would be afraid of assimilating themselves to the Negroes; on the latter no one is idle, for the white population extend their activity and intelligence to every kind of employment. Thus the men whose task it is to cultivate the rich soil of Kentucky are ignorant and apathetic; while those who are active and enlightened either do nothing or pass over into Ohio, where they may work without shame.

      Alexis de Tocqueville, from Democracy in America (1840, Everyman’s Library edition, pp.362-363)

According to the ancient Chinese, the goal of a civilized man was to attain virtue. “Virtue” can be defined in various ways in different times and places — it might by measured by the number of cattle one owns, or by the height of one’s castle towers. Virtue might lie in excessive philanthropy, or in martial prowess, or in successfully controlling the females in one’s family. In the modern capitalist West, virtue is often measured by money, either directly as shown by a bank balance, or indirectly by the visible signs of wealth, such as expensive goods, real estate, servants, perquisites, and privileges.

As Tocqueville pointed out, in a society based largely on slavery, engaging in labor is an emphatically non-virtuous activity. A man’s status is measured by how little work he has to do, because work is done by slaves. Thus any free man who has to work for a living occupies a decidedly inferior position. Uncoerced labor becomes dishonorable, and in such societies frivolity, indolence, and inactivity become the norm for anyone who is not a chattel.

This may explain the presence of huge numbers of “guest workers” in the countries of the Persian Gulf. In a normal country, the arrival of all that oil wealth would have bid up the price of local labor and allowed native workers to raise their standard of living while developing the infrastructure in their countries.

But the Arab countries have a long history of slavery, which lasted from Mohammed’s time until the 1960s, and still continues today in many places in an unofficial capacity.

The natives of the region would damage their honor by engaging in so vulgar an activity as paid labor. Hence the ruling classes must bring in a vast labor force of foreigners, who work under near-slave conditions.

And now the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have come up against the same problem that all societies with mass immigration face: they have a huge number of unassimilated foreigners living among them, and the natives (surprise!) don’t like the newcomers:
– – – – – – – –

Last month the United Arab Emirates got its own, first-ever comic book superhero, Ajaaj. His mission? To promote national identity in a state overrun by foreigners, where natives could become negligible in 20 years. A cultural melting pot, the seven-member oil-rich Gulf federation stands out as an oasis of prosperity in the troubled Middle East, and Dubai as the jewel in the crown. But for native Emiratis, this glory has come at a price, reports Middle East Online. Foreigners continue flocking in, transforming demographics and prompting some analysts to warn that the indigenous population could end up strangers in their own land.

Enter cartoon hero “Ajaaj”, the brainstorm of Watani, the UAE’s social development program which tapped into pop culture as a way to target both natives and foreigners. An ancient fictional character, “Ajaaj” (which means sandstorm in Arabic), has been recast as a trim, young, Emirati man ready to upstage Western comic book icons. His feats are set in the future, in the UAE in 2020, and he is part of Watan’s efforts to “uphold the national identity and encourage a sense of good citizenship”, said the group’s general coordinator Ahmad Obaid al-Mansuri.

The Arab states are actually in worse shape than Sweden or the Netherlands: in some cases foreigners make up more than half their populations. No wonder the rulers try to make sure that “guest workers” remain powerless, oppressed, atomized, and unorganized.

Here’s the latest from Ansamed:

GCC: Gulf Residents Against Foreign Labour Force

Local population against foreign workforce: the imbalance in some countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has reached such levels that there are calls from many sides to curb the phenomenon by launching processes of ‘nationalisation’ of the labour market. The latest call came from Bahrain’s Labour Minister Majeed Al-Alawi, who proposed a limit of residence of six years for foreign workers.

The proposal, advanced to the representatives of the GCC countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman — in view of the next summit which will be held in Doha in December, is hardly new. It has been circulating since 2005 but then, as it does today, finds strong resistance, beginning with that of entrepreneurs. The Chamber of Commerce of Bahrain rebutted the minister, claiming that the measure would create gaps in the qualified labour market with significant repercussions on the economy. That opinion is shared by the big Emirates entrepreneurs, while in the past months Qatar Airways showed its reluctance to a project of nationalisation which in its opinion would end up damaging a healthy competition.

More cautious are the comments of Oman, which despite admitting the feasibility of the proposal subject to careful study, warns against a possible boomerang effect: the investments in education of the personnel would be fruitless if the workers are forced to leave the country.

Out of a total 32,362 million residents in the Gulf countries, the foreign workers number some 7 and a half million. While in some countries like Saudi Arabia the local population prevails (22 million against 3 million foreign workers) in others, regardless if it consists of unskilled workers or professionals, the immigrant labour force accounts for more than half of the population with significant peaks of 83.1% in Kuwait and 97.3% in Dubai.

Despite the imbalance, the Gulf economies cannot yet afford to themselves take up the reins of their professional fate, sector analysts have repeatedly warned. The issue was also raised the Sheikh of Dubai, Mohammad Al Maktoum. At the presentation of the strategic plan for 2015, the governor answered the insistent requests of emiratization, reiterating that the country is not ready yet and that it is still in the stage of investment in the education of the youngest generations which, later, will take care of the economic fate of the emirate.

A position adopted by most of the oil monarchies of the Gulf, whether they like it or not. “The demographic nightmare”, as defined by Abdulkhaled Abdullah, Professor in political sciences at the Emirates University and leader writer of the Gulf News, also has a cultural dimension and is destined not to exhaust itself soon if Abu Dhabi announces projects which need a mass employment of foreign workforce and estimates a population which will reach 3 million in the next decade. But it is once again Bahrain’s minister Al Alawi to suggest a solution which will spark discussions: “Revising the rhythm of the economic development of the entire region,” he proposes,” avoiding projects which need mass low-cost workforce and investing in industries capable of providing jobs to properly educated local workers.”

“Properly educated local workers” — there’s the rub. The locals may be educated, but will they work?

If you’re a gentleman in a slave-based society, work is for slaves, serfs, or helots — it’s not for you.

Hat tip: insubria.

12 thoughts on “Degradation Versus Honor

  1. Actually, Mohammed worked as the equivalent of a truck driver for a woman he eventually married.

    Neither slavery nor helotry need not be part of Islam. (By helotry, I refer to a form of slavery where slaves are state property and not individual property; dhimmitude should be considered to be a form of helotry.) Yet, they are presently an integral part of Islamic culture.

    What we find in the Gulf is a combination of a culture of slavery and a culture of authoritarianism, each of which often leads to a policy of population replacement. If citizens of Gulf states want the Gulf to stay Arab and Muslim, they need to both remember Mohammed as a camel driver and establish democracies. Otherwise, the populations of these states will eventually be replaced by outsiders who will seize power, much as the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad yoke.

  2. The natives of the region would damage their honor by engaging in so vulgar an activity as paid labor.

    “[P]aid labor”? Hell, try “labor” of any sort! As Norvell B. De Atkine noted in Why Arabs Lose Wars:

    Officers instruct but the wide social gap between enlisted man and officer tends to make the learning process perfunctory, formalized, and ineffective. The show-and-tell aspects of training are frequently missing because officers refuse to get their hands dirty and prefer to ignore the more practical aspects of their subject matter, believing this below their social station. A dramatic example of this occurred during the Gulf war when a severe windstorm blew down the tents of Iraqi officer prisoners of war. For three days they stayed in the wind and rain rather than be observed by enlisted prisoners in a nearby camp working with their hands.
    [Emphasis Added]

  3. Something changed, then, because at one time the Arabs were very successful warriors. Still, as long as only Muslims have weapons I don’t see any revolt getting traction. Muslims would have no problem gunning down thousands of uppity infidels to make their point.

  4. Well,
    with the fears of racism we have had recently here I do not feel good saying what I must but:

    I did not like the post. It was a bit “racist”.
    Not that it was really racist but I think the Arabs are being criticised for being Arabs above all the rest.

    “According to the ancient Chinese, the goal of a civilized man was to attain virtue. “Virtue” can be defined in various ways”
    And the greatest way in which “virtue” can be expressed is by providing the next generation better conditions so that our culture/ethnicity can prosper and simultaneously transmit to the next generation the same imperative of doing the same but better to the generation that will come after they. That’s how Civilisation has thrived in Europe and the Middle East but also, in a somewhat (inferior) different way in North East Asia and India.

    “in a society based largely on slavery, engaging in labor is an emphatically non-virtuous activity. A man’s status is measured by how little work he has to do”
    Not true.
    A man that does not have to work because he already possesses slaves will be freed to dedicate his life to a bigger task or “virtue”.
    It was how the ancient Greeks created democracy, filosophy, and politics, because they had slaves. The Southern Jentlemans had certainly some “higher” commitments and so have the Arabs.
    They can now radicalize themselves, they can all specialise in whatever they want, they can form armies and they are now, once they do not have to work to sustain their families because they have slaves, go into a global Jihad with all their strenghts.

    The Gulf State’s problem with foreigners can be easily solved because the foreigners are really that, foreigners. They are submiss to the natives. In Europe and America we are all equal. A muslim word is always superior to a non muslim one. The sons of the land can do whatever they want to the foreigners as long as they respect the Koran. Which is, by the way, the Islamic version of the Humans Rights.

    I can not criticise “the enemy” for being smarter than I. Muslims are doing a good work for their benefit and I don’t think we have the moral high ground to criticise them in the matters that this post does.

  5. Randian–

    I’m not sure the Arab raiders ever considered their rape, pillage and destruction as “work.” Had their been no spoils forthcoming, there surely wouldn’t have been any warring…unless, of course, you were anxious to meet your very own 72 (why 72?? why not 99??) virgins. That might have spurred one on to deeds of derring-do.

    Freud said that the sign of maturity was the ability to love and to work. I don’t think the Gulf States show much sign of either.

    But Freud was an infidel…and a Zionist to boot. So his ideas are not in the canonical books a good Arab would read.

  6. The Arab allergy to work continues even in societies without a slave class, unless you want to consider taxpayers of Western nations slaves to Muslim/Arab immigrants who disproportionate to their numbers and previous immigrant groups rely heavily on Welfare.

  7. Sweden Today:
    In a Social Report we find how people support themselves on the salary or must live on tax money:
    Ethnic Swedes 70% self-supporting
    From west- or east Europe 50%
    From south Europe 40%
    From Africa and Middle-east 20%.

  8. Kepiblanc, are you saying that more than 50% of non Swede Europeans live on the support of the government?
    And one third of the Swedes themslves?

    I may turn leftie and go ahead to Sweden…

  9. Alfonso wrote:
    “with the fears of racism we have had recently here I do not feel good saying what I must but:

    Let me state this clearly. I do not fear the accusation of “racism.” You can call me a racist until you’re blue in the face and I will simply smile.

    Also, it is “racist” to hold white Europeans to one standard, and Islamic Arabs to another. The failings of societies such as these should be repeated as frequently as possible.

  10. Alfonso, those numbers are official – from the Swedish State’s Statistical Bureau. I don’t think 70% employment for ‘persons with a Swedish background’ is exceptional – including children, students of all kinds, disabled people, the elderly and old etc.. Is it any different in your neck of the wood?

  11. A Swedish economist once challenged Milton Freidman some years ago: “We don’t have an unemployment problem in Sweden.”

    “We don’t have an unemployment problem with the Swedes in America, either”, replied Freidman.

  12. don’t work. 80% of working age Arabs and Africans in Sweden don’t work.

    However, Swedish statistics count second generation immigrants as belonging to the Swedish group, so the employment figure of the native population is actually better than the number would imply, while that of Arabs and Africans is worse…

Comments are closed.