Thebastidge: Response to comments...
  • Cascade Policy Inst.
  • Evergreen Freedom Foundation
  • Free State Project
  • Seastead Institute
  • Open Carry.Org
  • No Nonsense
  • TDA Training
  • Believe it
  • -->

    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Response to comments...

    Lil comments:

    "I'm fascinated by all that you write about the culture there. It seems so vastly different than what I'm used to. What you said about making stuff yourself being looked down upon really startled me -- I'm so used to a culture where handmade things are prized. It's so easy to just go buy a blanket here, so a blanket that was quilted or crocheted by hand is such a treasure because so many hours of love have been put into it."

    I'm not sure that they don't prize handmade things- they KNOW how many thousands of woman-hours go into a handmade rug, and they recognize the quality of handmade over machine made in that arena.

    But that's women's work- men don't do that. Women get paid a pittance because their labour is not valued. They're stuck in purdah anyway, might as well do something. They have nothing 'better' to do with their time. I hear that Afghan women might get paid $50 for a rug that took a group of women literally ten thousand person hours to create. Then the Iranian rug merchant who buys it carts it home to sell for $500. Then an Iraqi brings it here, and sells it to one of us for about $2-3k. Then we take it home and it's appraised at $10,000. (Side note- I have seen some really amazing rugs here. More artistry is involved in these things than I ever could have imagined. Literally.)

    So- women's work. Men don't clean, or cook, or make crafts. Iraqi soldiers in basic training have filthy parade grounds and barracks areas. Because it's beneath their dignity to police up cigarette butts or trash. Doing labour for someone else (hauling, digging, building) means that you admit lower status. Doing things for youself is unusual too. If you had high status, you would make someone else do it for you. Some people will live in horrible conidtions rather than demean themselves to do something about it. Then there's the "If God wills it, it will happen," philosophy- that way there's no personal responsibility involved. (I'm trying to understand some of this myself, so I won't say that I have all this 100%- I'm not an expert, I'm an observer attempting to educate myself and interpret what is going on.)

    In rich, Western society, we put a premium on handmade goods because an individual's time is considered important. That's why our workers make more money, and we relegate mindless, repetitive tasks to machines. While in most poor societies, a lot of pride is involved in buying new, machine-manufactured western goods. It takes cash rather than bartering, so it's a bit of a status symbol. It was this way in the American Old West too. "Eastern" clothes that weren't really durable enough or suitable for Western conditions still made their way west and were purchased.

    I believe I read somewhere that back in the day, silver smiths and coppersmiths had a bit of social status. So artisans had a bit of social staus, but they were still mostly looked down on as city dwellers. But manual labour- the guys who dig ditches, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, truck drivers, none of these occupations seem to be especially well thought-of.

    I've read a bit about how the Saudi petro-industry works. General consensus is that if all the foreign oil workers were to leave Saudi Arabia, the whole industry there would grind to a complete stop in a week. Saudi 'engineers' don't get their hands dirty.

    Saudi pilots barely learn to fly their airplanes- because being a fighter pilot is a military status symbol, Saudi 'princes' get to pick the prime slots regardless of aptitude and they don't do more than the minimum because it interferes with their social life.

    I've pointed these out before, but it bears repetition. Read these articles: Why Arabs Lose Wars and Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States. I also highly recommend the book: The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas Barnett, The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai, and A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani. This last one also comes highly recommended by an American lady I met here a while back who is married to a Kuwaiti Bedouin. We both found it invaluable in gaining insights.


    Post a Comment

    Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

    << Home