Playing Tricks with the Alliance of Civilizations.
By Pilar Rahola
They will tell me, welcome is, before the evil of others, the goodness
of Zapatero. Minimally the president travels the world with the "good
intention" knapsack, and wrapped in his "Mafalda" vocation, he goes to
UNO to ask that we save the world. It is true that, after this, his
speeches do not land in the unpleasant activity of making concrete
proposals, but they navigate freely the emptiness of rhetoric, but it is
a minor evil because after all, who believes -at this point- UNO is for
anything else but a place show off one's speech skills? Not that the
beloved institution has failed again in its try for reform, it is that
UNO is an organism from the past, kidnapped by dozens of dictators of
which it is made of, which succeed at hiding their heavy tyrannical load
thanks to the legitimacy offered to them by the General Assembly. In the
UNO, those counties which violate all the essential rights, those who
feed and harness terrorism, those who make their women slaves, those who
use their wealth to consolidate fascist ideologies, all of them, become
allied states. It has been many decades since UNO failed in its mission
to preserve international rule of Law. Today, more than a guardian
lighthouse, it is a bath were systematical destruction of all
fundamental right is whitened. Thus, it might be okay going to the UNO
and tell big truths, even if it is to keep the conscience of wrong in
In spite of everything, if you will, personally I am tired of Zapatero's
inclination to the paternalist preaching when an international
microphone is presented to him. Preaching that is no followed up with
social and solidary policies, really enaged in house, although at that
Zapatero is unique. Without going any further, that paradigm of world
Lula, is very knowledgeable at it.
However, beyond good-will speeches already acknowledged as ZP's house
brand, it begins to stick as a great idea, in co-creation with the
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the concept of "alliance of
civilizations," born no doubt as the opposite to the rotten concept of
Huntington's "clash of civilizations." We go back to the goodness. No
doubt, between the conception of clash of cultures and one that speaks
of alliances, pacts and universal love, good people prefers the latter.
Not only does ZP have the celestial sympathy with his idea, but he also
appears as the reasonable man before the irrationality and exclusion.
There we have, the approval of some (especially Islamic dictatorship
enthusiasts), the support of others and even the good Kofi Annan
personally endorsing the idea. No need to say I have fought the idea of
"clash of civilizations" in several articles, not only because I deem it
as deceptive and dangerous, but also because, on top, it is sterile. But
going from the concept of "clash" to that of "alliance" without other
consideration that love for exotic diversity and "look how cute we are,
so different and still friends," seems to me as deceptive, dangerous and
I think ZP has created a good media headline without other content than
the one found in the "Diversity Festival" and the "Porto Alegre Forum,"
whose inclination to non-criticism and third-world paternalism are an
anthology. What does alliance of civilization mean? Does it mean to deem
as belonging to Islamic civilization the lack of essential rights, the
enslaving chauvinism or the theocratic conception of Law? That not only
eliminates at once all opposition to current tyrannies, but it also
legitimates, as natural, all tyrants which reign with koranic impunity.
This leads to a second but essential question. Does alliance of
civilizations take place with the citizens -who do not have democratic
organism of representation- or with their political leaders, the
majority of whom are not so due to their democratic culture? And if the
godfather of the thing is Kofi Annan, does it mean that an organization
that has not produced a single resolution against the countries that
enslave women; who go hand in hand with countries the export terrorism,
like Iran; that do not worry about the burning of Synagogues but raises
his little finger every day against the evil sionist (the heavy soviet
inheritance rests unchanged), and that, summing up, legitimates all
dictatorships in the world, will be the referee in such a singular
Personally, I am ready and joyfully willing to be allies with an Islamic
woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning. Or with the opposition
to Ahmadinejad's Iranian dictatorship, or with the journalists who fight
the Moroccan dictatorship. But the idea of a generic alliance, without
considerations other than the solidary goodness and that, far from
identifying the problem in the brutal lack of democracy in Islam, places
it in the rhetorical abstraction, it is not only inutile, but it is also
perverted. More than fighting tyrannies, it consolidates them as
interlocutors. The only possible alliance is written in the Charter of
Fundamental Rights, and beyond religion, use and tradition of peoples,
its violation is not exchangeable.
The hand in favor of Islam can only be that pointing at the heart of the
problem, that denounces the use of a religion to enslave and fanaticize,
that which does not deem as "natural" the lack of freedom. All of this,
I do not read in the small writing of ZP's proposal. If the "clash of
civilizations" was barbaric to me, Zapatero's alliance is a pure
rhetoric resource, more avid of media exposure than able to dig into the
real problems. Do they want alliance? Let us be allies of democracy, let
us denounce lack of freedom in the name of Islam, let us expose the
colors of the dictatorships in the UNO forum, let us explain that the
enemy of a culture is he who uses it to fanaticize and to kill.
But if we do not do any of this, we are legitimizing as if it were a
different "civilization" all that which happens to be pure tyranny.
Huntington seemed to me, at that time, perverted. ZP seems to me
simplistic. The two of them, regrettably, are playing with fire.
Translation by: Felipe Guacache
Pilar Rahola: Diario El País. Madrid.