One of the most wonderful events that a human being could get to see in his lifetime is the opera Turandot. And for the first time in History, in October 14, 2011, the Middle Eastern citizens had the opportunity to attend to a presentation of Turandot at the Royal Opera House Muscaz; Oman‘s premier venue for musical arts and culture last with a production by Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo1
The decision of choosing Turandot was also specially significant to the history of such a wonderful region because the opera tells a story from the famous Persian collection of stories know as The Book of One Thousand and One Days in which the character of the princess of “Turandokht” was found.This princess was to marry the prince who would solve her three riddles; failing was to result in the death penalty. First, The Prince of Persia tried to win Turandot, and failing he was going to be executed. in his way to Death he gets to meet Princess Turandot and falls profoundly in love who manages to free himself and make evident his intentions to take Turandot’s challenge. He wins her challenge by answering her riddle but Turandot doesn’t wants to marry him. In exchange, the prince says to the princess that he doesn’t wants to force the prince to marry him; and that, if she guesses his name before sunrise, he will let her kill him.
In this part, the opera takes you to the most wonderful scenes on Earth while Turandot is trying to guess the Prince’s first name. The Prince manages to kiss princess Turandot she realizes that she also loves The Persian Prince. In an emotional act he tells her his first name is Calaf waiting for her to love him more; however, she is full of anger and arrogance and thinks that he had just revealed the secret she so eagerly looked for. She goes to her father and addresses the Imperial Court; she reveals that the name of his lover is: love.
I remembered this story today while walking alone in the beautiful streets of Weimar seeking for an epiphany. I found it and cried in front of a copy of Auguste Rodin‘s sculpture L’âge d’airain (The Age of Bronze). And just as the Princess Turandot did, I found love today.
The Great Narrative in regard to 16th Century Spain is focused on the expansion of Spanish Mercantilism in America and in how the Ottomans were defeated at the naval Battle of Lepanto bringing their dominance of the Mediterranean to a close.
Sadly (to a great extent), this Euro-centric perspective started to change and more emphasis was given to the production of knowledge in the Peninsula via the appropriation of the culture and scientific knowledge brought to Europe by the al-Andalus Muslims. The Great Narrative and its “Western exceptionalism” discourse won the battle again and it focused on how “Europe” or the “West” acquired this knowledge and created a “Renaissance of Knowledge” while forgetting the source of it.
The “non-western” roots of this Renaissance in the Spanish Peninsula are still not well discussed nor researched. There’s still the need for further study the inherited knowledge from the al-Andalus Muslims (who were later known as Mudéjars) and to establish a direct link of many of the roots of “Europe’s Renaissance” in places as far as the Tigris and Eufrates.
Today, my book recommendation will be a great work that exemplifies how this Great Narrative idealized the School of Salamanca as the product of 100% “Western values”. It is worth reading and studying carefully in order to not commit the same mistakes.
Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson’s remarkable classic, The School of Salamanca, posed an extraordinary challenge when it first appeared in 1952. The book is not only a pioneering presentation of this lost school of monetary theory—fantastic thinkers of Old Spain that were more advanced than the English classicals centuries later–it is also beautifully written.
“Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.
This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictratorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered country.” Ayn Rand. The Virtue of Selfishness, 104
Gaddafi came into power as an assassin and terrorist. He started out murdering, continued murdering and had been going out murdering until today. His death is no panacea but it is surely a victory for the Libyan people and their 2011 Revolution.
Starting in February 15th, 2011 a series of peaceful protests asked for change in the country and they were met with military force by the Gaddafi regime. Thousands were hurt and killed. Gaddafi proclaimed his despotic discourse that same night and said that the only way he was going to leave Libya was going to be in a cuffing. Indeed, that’s how he will leave the history of the country.
The fight for Libyans has not finished; loyalists around the Algerian and Nigerian borders are still present and the opposition continues.
I celebrate the capture of this dictator and our attention needs to be focused now in the continues shipping of supplies of medicine, fuel and food were for Libya’s urban centres. As the philosopher Ayn Rand mentioned in the quote with which I begun this post; it is necessary as well, that we keep a close attention to the outcome of this Libyan revolution in order to avoid that another variant of a slave society in the conquered country with national or international control.
Maghout explained that in Syria the government was not only feared but that a cult of reverence toward the al-Asad regime had being built. He explained that in the 40 years of autocratic regime the regime had amassed its power upon a pyramidal network of tribal, religious and economic leaders that belonged to different ethnic groups and tribes. In Maghout’s reasoning, it was these ethnic and tribal differences one of the key elements that allowed for the Syrian government to control the population while confronting them every time political tensions appeared. Indeed, these confrontations were evident after the the 2011 Syrian uprising (from January 26th to March 15th of 2011) and as Salman Shaikh wrote yesterday in the NYTimes (Preventing a Syrian Civil War. NYT. October 12th, 2011), it is these ethnic confrontations and sectarianism that could bring Syria into chaos.
One thing was left without a clear answer from Maghout’s lecture. It was the question on “why didn’t Syrians react to all the lies, political oppression and corruption of the al-Asad regime previously”. Maghout explained that Syrians were not only divided in ethnic groups that conflicted within their understanding on “Who Syrians really are”, but that it had passed already too many years of fear for government’s power that brought the population to fear political activity and the use of freedom of speech to protest against government. While this is true, I consider it not to be sufficient reason.
It may be necessary to understand which was the role (or lack of it) of the economic leaders during the unrest. I am sure that understanding how crony capitalism works could bring some interesting tools to understand what is the effect of privileges in a society. And as such, could be a valuable tool to understand how can the results of these social movements be differentiated. The participation of crony capitalists protecting corrupt governments and the participation of entrepreneurs is psycho-epistemological different because of the goals they aim to achieve. It is entrepreneurs who most often support (economically and logistically) social movements that demand freedom of speech, equality of rights, an end to corruption and the respect of private property.