The problem with a conversation like this one is that it’s easy to get drawn into hit-and-miss analyses of foreign policy. You try to resist the temptation, but once in a while a headline comes along that’s impossible to ignore–like the one about ‘young Turks’ protesting in the streets of Ankara. ((Hafezi, Parisa. Young Turks Seek Greater Liberty, Not Revolution. Yahoo News. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/15/us-turkey-protests-youth-idUSBRE95E0A920130615)) You wonder whose idea that headline was. You assume that, whoever came up with it, Prime Minister Erdogan wouldn’t appreciate it. After all, in 1908, a group called the Young Turks helped bring down the Ottoman Empire. They also helped Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his secular government come to power. This train of thought would remind you that the neocons think of secularism as insurance against Islamization, and that they prefer a secular government for Turkey. This is troubling because Kemal’s Turkey was full of racist nationalism, not unlike the rest of Europe before World War I. [ref name=”The Dönme”]Baer, Marc David. The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks. Stanford University Press, CA. 2010[/ref]
The author of the above article was Parisa Hafezi. I found the following article about her: ((Parisa Hafezi Reuters Tehran Bureau Chief Convicted of Propaganda. Sept. 30, 2012. Huffington Post. Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/30/parisa-hafezi-reuters-tehran-bureau-chief-convicted-propaganda-related-offenses-iranian-media-court_n_1926645.html))
However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned while trying to educate myself about American foreign policy, it’s that there’s no single faction you can blame for the world’s problems. No matter which one happens to be in charge, good intentions and honorable behavior are mixed in with sheer madness. And even though the U.S. is having its way with the world at this time, America isn’t the sole cause of the world’s problems. To find the true cause, you need a longer timeframe.
It has been suggested that the cure for U.S. policy is to develop an intellectual tradition to rival the neocons. This is probably a good idea. Unfortunately all ideas are not equal. For the last 30 years, the neocons’ ideas have been well-funded by military and government contracts and transnational corporations. They have also been promoted by a captive media. Competing ideas won’t have that kind of support, regardless of their quality. For that reason, I recommend beginning the discussion by diagnosing the disease, rather than treating the symptoms. Current ideas are one of the symptoms.
In a nutshell, our inheritance and real estate laws funnel wealth to an elite minority and allow a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Some would say patrilineal inheritance favors men, but it doesn’t really. Patrilineal inheritance allows a society’s wealth to be drained away in frivolous pursuits such as war. Matrilineal inheritance, on the other hand, preserves the property of mothers and thereby benefits entire families. In addition, the ‘usufruct‘ ((De Vaux, Roland. Ancient Isreal: Its Life and Institutions. Trans. John McHugh. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1997)) of a woman’s inheritance can be used by her father and/or husband for a limited time.
The usufruct is the ‘legal right accorded to a person or party that confers the temporary right to use and derive income or benefit from someone else’s property. Usufruct is usually conferred for a limited time period or until death. While the usufructuary has the right to use the property, he or she cannot damage or destroy it, or dispose of the property.’ ((Investopedia”]usufruct. Investopedia. Available: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/usufruct.asp))
My point: matrilineal inheritance benefits everyone without depleting a society’s wealth. It also protects its property from those who would wage war and monopolize industry.
But of course, that’s why matrilineal inheritance is always the first thing to go. The process is helped along by misogyny, and justified in the West by the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man. It is entirely illegitimate, but it isn’t likely those who benefit will give it up without a fight. Still, it’s good to know that our current problem is not as complicated as the ideas that shore it up: Mothers are impoverished and subjugated while a small cadre of powerful men use their inheritance to impose misery on the human race. The tail is wagging the dog.
Ideas are important. However, once the wealth of the land becomes vulnerable to a good argument there will be no end to good arguments. Change the laws first; correct the ideas at your leisure.
See also: [intlink id=”1113″ type=”post”]Onan and the Patriarchal Agenda[/intlink] and: [intlink id=”743″ type=”post”]Adam, Noah and the Snake-King[/intlink]