The New York Times has an important article by their reporter John Tierney on the practice of cousin marriage and how it poses an obstacle to any attempt to try to create a civic democratic culture in Iraq. (free registration required) (or find it here, here, or here)
"Americans just don't understand what a different world Iraq is because of these highly unusual cousin marriages," said Robin Fox of Rutgers University, the author of "Kinship and Marriage," a widely used anthropology textbook. "Liberal democracy is based on the Western idea of autonomous individuals committed to a public good, but that's not how members of these tight and bounded kin groups see the world. Their world is divided into two groups: kin and strangers."
Iraqis frequently describe nepotism not as a civic problem but as a moral duty. The notion that Iraq's next leader would put public service ahead of family obligations drew a smile from Iqbal's uncle and father-in-law, Sheik Yousif Sayel, the patriarch in charge of the clan's farm on the Tigris River south of Baghdad.
This is an important article. Be sure to go read it in full. It is great that the Times is publicising this problem to such a large and relatively influential readership.
Tierney quotes from Steve Sailer's January 2003 article (same article here) in The American Conservative which describes the problem that cousin marriage poses for American ambitions to reform Iraq. For more on consanguineous marriage and the problem that consanguinity poses for any attempts to create a liberal democracy in the Middle East see my previous posts and their links to relevant articles by Stanley Kurtz (who Tierney also quotes) and others: Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development, Consanguineous Marriage Perpetuates Violence In Muslim Mindanao, Stanley Kurtz on Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, Stanley Kurtz: After the War, and Iraq Reconstruction, Neocolonialism, Political Beliefs.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 September 27 03:00 PM Mideast Iraq Human Nature|