A Quickie: The War of Contradictions

We now resemble an alien people, with unfamiliar customs, a culture with no roots in our land and no chance of blossoming here. Thus all we have is stillborn, in our politics, our culture, and our daily life. We are about nineteen or twenty million people, 75 percent of whom live in the countryside, or in tents or huts, following ways from the dawn of creation, ignorant of new values, condemned to the relations of lord and serf, unfamiliar with the machine, having primitive tools and the corresponding food, fuel, clothing, and housing: the plow, barley bread, cow dung, tent cloth, and straw huts, respectively. The only things Western that have penetrated this region are the transistor radio and the draft, and these with more deadly effect than dynamite….

From Chapter 5 (“The War of Contradictions”) of the book  OCCIDENTOSIS: A Plague From the West by JALAL AL-I AHMAD which can be downloaded from HERE. (for a background see Gharbzadegi).

BTW: The title of chapter 7 certainly reminded me of our leaders. It is:
“Asses in Lions’ Skins, or Lions on the Flag”

Of course it wasn’t only the title that mirrored them. Here’s a small excerpt:

Would that we had only to deal with those of the nation 5 leaders who have studied abroad. Instead – to put it allusively – the lumpens from every trade and class customarily come to power -that is, the misfits, the idle, those with no will of their own. The most unreliable merchants of the bazaar manage the chamber of commerce. The most idle of the cultural elite are directors of culture. The most bankrupt money changers are the bankers. Either the most lifeless members of society or the most gangsterlike end up as the representatives to the Majlis. (As I have said, set aside anyone you regard as an exception.) The general rule in this land is to give power to the shiftless, the characterless, if not the crooked and the depraved. Whoever holds the right, speaks the truth, sees rightly, and keeps to the straight and narrow finds no place in this system. According to the rule that one must follow the West, here to attain to leadership one must be unscrupulous, must not be steadfast or principled, cannot have roots or have his feet planted on the ground of this land.

Thus our occidentotic leader rides the waves and never comes to rest on solid ground. It is never clear where he stands; he can’t seem to take a stand on any issue or problem. He is bewildered and unsteady. He has no will of his own. He doesn’t come to grips with anything. He flatters and appeases to get around every obstacle. Accordingly, no crisis or upheaval threatens him. One government goes — there’s always the next. If I don’t get on this commission, there’s always that seminar; if not for this newspaper, then for television; if not in this office, then in that ministry; if not as an ambassador, then as a minister. Thus however much the situation changes and governments come and go, you see the same old occidentotic leader sitting in his place like the Rock of Gibraltar. This occidentotic leader is devious as well. No matter what, he knows where he is living in the world. He knows one dare not breathe. He knows the wind blows ever from a new quarter. Without a compass, he knows to which direction the magnetic lines of power are aligned. Thus he is everywhere–in the party, in society, in the newspaper business, in the government, on the educational commission, in the Majlis, in the contractors’ association. And in order to be everywhere, he must consort with everyone. And in order to consort with everyone, he must be polite and know how to handle people, not step out of line, be humble and tractable, and forbearant. He must even write articles against factiousness. He should be versed in philosophy and speak of “freedom.” For these reasons, perhaps to show off as well, sometimes he gets the idea of showing some character and doing something. But because he rides the waves of events, by the time he gets up steam, the time to act has passed. He is left beached. And he learns fom this that he must not show the least sign of life.

Again, you can download the book in pdf form from here. It can also be purchased from Amazon for $14.95.


5 Responses to “A Quickie: The War of Contradictions”

  1. 1 Project Humanbeingsfirst.org January 27, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Thanks! I had to look for this book after I read the above, and found this:

    “A forerunner of the Khomeini phenomenon, Al-i Ahmad came to Islamic traditionalism after a detour through Marxism and the progressive nationalism of the Mosaddeq movement. This biting criticism of the Westernization of Iran and other Eastern societies, written in the 1960s, was published posthumously in its complete form only after the revolution in 1978. The argument is shrill, often puerile, but it is a sobering one for Western readers, who have been hearing its echos on many occasions”


    And here is a link to its PDF:


    The lede page reads:

    A Plague
    From the West
    Translated by R. Campbell
    Annotations and Introduction by Hamid Algar
    Mizan Press Berkeley
    Contemporary Islamic Thought Persian Series
    Copyright 1984 by Mizan Press All Rights Reserved
    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Al-I Ahmad, Jalal
    Occidentosis: a plague from the West.
    (Contemporary Islamic thought. Persian series)
    Translation of: Gharbzadagi.
    Includes index.
    1. Iran-Civilization. 2. Iran-Civilization-Occidental influences. I. Campbell, R. (Robert), 1947-
    II. Algar, Hamid. III. Title. IV. Series.
    DS316.4.A4713 1983 955 83-697
    ISBN 0-933782-12-8
    Book Design Ericka Hamburg
    Editor Sylvia Stein
    Manufactured in the United States of America

    I look forward to reading it! Perhaps you might send a copy to all the victims of OCCIDENTOSIS partying at the American Embassy:


    Zahir Ebrahim
    Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

  2. 2 nota January 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Sorry you had to go look. I had included a link to the pdf as well but I guess it wasn’t prominent enough so I am adding one on top as well…

  3. 3 nota January 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Today my wife got invited to a brunch so I asked: “What time you have to leave?”
    “At 4 P.M.!!!!”, came the reply.

    (Ignore that noise. It’s just me banging my head….)

  4. 4 Project Humanbeingsfirst.org January 29, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Hello – what an amazing book! I have finished reading it completely and its diagnosis, as well as prescriptions, are even more applicable today to almost all developing nations under the thumbscrew of deception-laden mental-neocolonialsim than they ever were directly under imperalism! I am simply blown away by this author’s evergreen insights. Thank you very much for highlighting the book so that I could discover it!

    I am not sure as yet how to respond to the books insights fully. Modernity has outstripped some of its prescriptions, but not the essential diagnosis. For instance, I took the liberty of using this accurately descriptive word “occidentosis” in this Open letter to Iranian academics today:


    And what I mean by modernity outpacing the prescriptions can be gleaned in this letter to editor written today, where the fate of Pakistan (but not necessarily beleagured Iran), is apparently stripped from the hands of its own peoples and leaders (not that it ever was in the peoples’ hands):


    Thank you and all the best,

    Zahir Ebrahim
    Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

  5. 5 Observer January 29, 2010 at 11:02 pm


    Thanks for the links.

    I printed the book and planned to start reading it this weekend, but unfortunately I forgot it at my office 😦

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