Sunday, May 25, 2008

They Said It. I Repeat It.

The word evol?

"The Word 'Evol' In 'Revolution' Revolved Is Spelled 'Love'"
Dr. Dean Ahmad
Libertarian Party Nomination Speech
on behalf of Mary Ruwart for President

Umm, there is no such word as "evol," Doctor. This in a nutshell (emphasis on the "nut") epitomizes the Libertarian Party. Intriguing rhetoric speeding down the political highway only swerve and take the first exit to Crazy Town.

Now despite the above evidence of his zaniness, Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad is one of the Libertarian Party's most interesting figures. As a Harvard-educated Palestinian-American college professor, Ahmad doesn't fit the Libertarian stereotype. Did I mention that he's Muslim? That raises a simple question. If Dr. Ahmad hadn't spent the past 30+ establishing his Libertarian bona fides, would he be readily accepted as a Libertarian in this post-911 landscape?

Anyhoo, Dean Ahmad is also noteworthy as the founder the Islamic libertarian think-tank the Minaret of Freedom Institute. (Who knew there was such a thing as an Islamic libertarian think-tank?) Perhaps MFI's most interesting position is that on riba or usury. In a 2003 interview with Reason Magazine, Ahmad blames Islam's prohibition on usury for the Muslim world's relative technological backwardness. Here's why:
...When you have an entrepreneurial idea that is so radical that you can't convince anyone that there is a profit to be shared in it. I believe this may be why Islam never had an industrial revolution. If you look at Islamic history, they had strong business, they had international trade, they had factories, science, innovation. Yet somehow they never made that final leap to an industrial revolution. And when I look at the fact that the steam engine was called Fulton's Folly, I can't help but wonder, to what degree did the availability of interest play a role in the commercialization of the steam engine? And is it possible that the Islamic prohibition on interest meant that that just wasn't gonna happen in the Muslim world?
Seeing that as for centuries, the Arab world dominated all comers in the fields of science, mathematics, etc., this angle demands a closer look from Islam's leaders. All the more so since Ahmad confesses that he's made little progress pushing his position forward. Additional deets on his riba argument here.