Marie Antoinette’s cake

Maybe, finally, what I have been writing about for the last 30 years is beginning to enter the mainstream.

At a recent conference of the political elite in Sydney, Peter Varghese, the former Head of the Australian Foreign Affairs Department said:

“ . . . I wonder whether this is a gathering of the Ancien Regime and we are all eating cake at Marie Antoinette’s party. One day we might wake up to find the peasants are revolting.”

The only thing he got wrong is that the peasants have already revolted, hence Trump, Brexit and here in Australia Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party.

The political elite/progressives agendas are based on the ideas of the 1960s Permissive Society, outmoded ideas that have failed catastrophically to meet the needs of Western societies. Every indicator of civilized life is going backwards: divorce rates, drug abuse, violent crime, home ownership etc.

For the first time in many generations the present young adult generation will not have as good a life as their parents. This is all the consequence of laissez faire capitalism, and laissez faire neo-liberalism.

Maybe a sea-change is on the horizon? On TV the American series MADAME SECRETARY, and in books the successful Inspector Brunetti series of Donna Leon, are based on successful marriages and happy families – and not the usual divorced, recovering alcoholic, omniscient and frequently violent protagonist that is the noir norm these days.

The only disturbing factor for me is that MADAME SECRETARY still clings to the 19th Century attitudes of American exceptionalism and its divine right to re-create the world in its image, ignoring the realities of its own violent, drug crazed, money obsessed and fractured society.

Donna Leon, who is herself an American, but expatriated to Venice for many years, has a much more realistic view of the world as it is, and not as we wish it to be:

“ . . . how to persuade the Romanians to stop picking pockets, the Gypsies to stop sending their children to break into homes . . . in Venice. And on the mainland . . . asking the Moldovians to stop selling 13 year-olds and the Albanians to stop selling drugs . . and the possibility of persuading Italian men to stop wanting young prostitutes and cheap drugs.”

And, in the same vein as Donna Leon, I try to present the Middle East (or more precisely the oil-rich Arabian/Persian Gulf region) as it really is, and not as The West wish it to be.

In my first book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, I dealt with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. In the book I am writing now, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, I am dealing with the ongoing effects of that wealth which lead to the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

You can preview my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com

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Weaving Magic Carpets

Before the West’s greed for cheap oil and its consequences – the carve up of Assyria by the French and British after WW I, the Balfour Declaration and the problems of Palestine, the Gulf Wars and the events of 9/11 – we had a much more romantic view of the Middle East. It was the land of Scheherazade’s “Tales of a 1,001 Nights” where every night a wife used her feminine imagination to take her husband on a magic carpet ride to prevent her execution (so the brutality has always existed).

These tales, produced during the Islamic Golden Age, are actually a collection of folk tales from Persia and South Asia, probably based on the Persian Pahlavi “Hazar Afsan” (A Thousand Tales). And the tribal women of Southern Persia still weave their magic in the form of hand woven carpets and saddle bags that are now recognised as works of art.

When I worked in Iran (Persia) my Iranian friends wanted me to buy carpets. But they insisted on sophisticated and elaborate silk Qum, Kashan and Tabriz carpets. I preferred the tribal rugs of the Qashq’ai whose vegetable died natural wools, and geometric designs glowed from the walls of the carpet stalls in the Bazaars.

The nomadic tribes of Southern Iran persist in leading their harsh traditional lives in spite of the efforts of The Shahs (and the Ayatollahs) to settle them in villages and carve up their rich grazing lands into farms for themselves and their cronies. Every Spring the tribes and their flocks trek from the winter grazing in the lowlands over the snow and ice-capped Zagros mountains to the rich summer grazing in the high valleys, and back down again in the Autumn – hopefully before the blizzards. Many suffer frostbite and some die, slipping away on the ice.

Beg, borrow or steal – or even rent or buy on DVD – Anthony Howarth’s amazing documentary PEOPLE OF THE WIND to see the incredible hardships these people endure to follow literally in the footsteps of their forefathers. And read the story TRIBAL WEAVING in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”  to see how tribal women, as a defence against the coarseness and constant upheaval of their lives, use their inherent feminine artistry to weave their magic carpets to traditional designs that keep alive their cultural heritage and their tribal myths.

Their lives may be hard and short, but they are lived with an intensity and passion that is missing in The West. TRIBAL WEAVING is a story of love.

You can preview and download – or buy in paperback – my book by following my URL:

http://www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards