In an in-depth conversation Khamenei.ir had with Rodney Shakespeare about his new book under the pretext of responding to the Supreme Leader’s letter to the European youth, it talked to him about this book and his motivations for writing it.
Rodney Shakespeare, a professor at the University of Cambridge and a qualified British lawyer, is particularly known for his conferences on money, the real economy, and social and economic justice. In an in-depth conversation Khamenei.ir had with him about his new book under the pretext of responding to the Supreme Leader’s letter to the European youth, we talked to him about this book and his motivations for writing it. You can read this conversation in the following text.
Q: Why did you decide to reply to this letter? What features did this letter have that made you write this book?
A: Now I’m going to tell you some extraordinary information. 18 months ago, I received an invitation to write a commentary on two letters written by the leader in 2015. I said to myself, this is preposterous. Even more preposterous, I was asked how much money I wanted and I will return to that in a moment. I said to myself, I am not Iranian, I am not a Muslim, I am not a Shia Muslim; and goodness me I can give you the names of at least four people who I know who will do a wonderfully fine job. And I came to this computer where I’m sitting now and I actually started to type a polite letter of rejection saying well thank you for the invitation, but really I don’t think I’m suitable; and as I did so, sitting where I am now, I suddenly saw what was like a sort of cinema screen. And I was looking up at it, a bit like that. And I was seeing where I was and what I was doing in Iran in the year 2014.
I don’t tell you what it was. There’s no need to. But what it was, what was happening? what was I saying? what were the papers? what was the situation? and I stayed stared at this vision and my jaw was just like that, like what on earth is going on? It was an extraordinary experience. And then it faded. And I was then struck by another experience, which was even more sort of immediate and detailed and colorful and it related to what I was doing in extraordinary circumstances, in what is now 20 years ago, and I was very ill. And because I was determined to go to a particular huge conference. And on the evening before, I was standing there talking to someone, feeling ill, and he was ill, he just got off a plane from Australia. And we were approached by Professor Rogers Hollingsworth.
Now, as to why he did it and the circumstances I don’t have time to tell you. But we then spent four hours, in which he told me about the research, for which he was in charge, and which was costing millions and millions of dollars. You did hear that correctly, millions and millions of dollars. And it concerns the factors, which results in the big ideas in human history. And he was handing out $10,000, $50,000, whatever, to people in technology in religion, in politics, in any area of human affairs, who would write maybe a small book or a paper, and then would answer questions. And what they were finding were the factors which lay behind all the major big ideas in history. The only trouble was that they identified the first; that was easy.
They identified the second; that was fairly easy. And then, there was the mysterious third, which they defined as a powerful force on the outside, which interacts with progress, forces on the edge of the subject, and that interaction creates the new paradigm. Now, we spent four hours on this, on examples, and trying to understand it. And for 19 years, I had tried to solve it. But when I got that invitation, the second vision was of that occasion of that evening of the discussion of the third factor which led to the creation of the big ideas in history. And suddenly I saw that the third factor operating in the present situation. A powerful outside force, powerfully present, which comes in and operates on the edge of the subject could only be Shia Islam.
So there, then within a minute of that vision dying away again, I had started to type and, I said, “yes, I will write the book and I will not take any money for it.” Now, that may seem strange but it tells you, it gives you a flavor of what this is about. It is not a normal book. It is not a normal subject. And it really cannot be understood in terms of normal thinking. You see, it’s a new way of understanding reality and everything about it is different and it changes everything quietly in a beneficent and positive way. But to understand it as a normal book, no, it won’t make sense in that. So there you are. Then, that was why I did respond first of all. And then secondly, well, the leader, what had he said in his letters. He had said to the youth of Europe, of western Europe, that Islam has the solutions to the world’s problems. Really? That’s the question, does it have those solutions? And what are the world’s problems?
Well, we are on the verge of a huge global collapse, the debt levels are higher than 2008, the insecurity, there the environmental disasters, there are the problems occasioned by the virus, there are all these problems. Does Islam really have the solution? Well, I jump ahead there. And Imam Khomeini specifically said that in these areas, he was talking about the exploitation of justice by which he did not mean a military advance, he meant the exploitation of idea and policy, he said, “that area is for the academics, intellectuals and the politicians to develop”. This is all set out in chapter one of the book. This extraordinary research, which was American research. By the way, that research, I am fairly certain has been suppressed; costing millions of dollars, it’s been suppressed. Because of its implications and amongst the implications I was discussing it now.
So, there you are. The leader’s invitation stimulated something which has been working and journeying for years. I’ve been working on this for 45 years, but the last factor in this was 20 years, and no one could really understand it. Then I realized that in fact it was Shia Islam, and it will be up to Shia Islam, not to me. I am only somebody an academic pointing out the potential in the situation and believe me, the potential for Shia Islam is absolutely huge. Because you see, it enables Islam, to give a lead in economics, and in politics and in social matters and in environmental matters. Whereas, western commentators will say “Islam gives a lead in anything? No, no, no, absolutely impossible. There’s no new thinking in Islam.” That is what they say. But when you look at the paradigm change and that’s a matter perhaps which I can come to on later. It unleashes new ideas. It reveals Shia Islam as being the third force as identified by American research, 20, years ago.
The leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran holds a position that is unique in this world. He is the political head of the state of Iran and as such he’s in fact the protector of Shia Islam. And we must never forget that Shia Muslims get attacked in large areas of this world. He is also the upholder of the cultural identity and, putting it all together, of the independence of Iran. Nobody else in this world holds a position like it. In terms of the UK, there is no parallel, but all you can say is oh well he’s a combination of the queen and the prime minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But even that doesn’t really convey the essential authority and importance and responsibility of the leader of the Islamic revolution. So when these events happened five years ago of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the leader was impelled to respond on behalf of Shia Islam, of Iranian political structure, of Iranian culture and on behalf of all these people in the world, everywhere. And he did that and there was the time and has been since nobody else really has gotten anybody near taking on that responsibility. So a unique position. He rose to the occasion. For that we thank him. And he saw that what he had to do was to go straight back and address the youths, not just in Europe, he actually addressed the youth of the west, which is much wider, it includes America.
Q: Let’s talk a little about the book, what sections does this book have? And what concepts does each section briefly talk about?
A: Well, look, firstly the book is short, 90 pages. Secondly, if I may say so, it is very clearly written. Thirdly, it has lots of colored pictures in it. Alice in Alice in Wonderland said, “What use is a book if it doesn’t have pictures and conversation in it”. This book has pictures, and conversation in it. And it doesn’t have any graphs. All right, just running you through just a tidbit here of each section.
In the acknowledgments, that’s the secret of it all actually, I give thanks to a young man whose name I do not know and I hope one day to meet him again. Nearly 20 years ago, he gave me four volumes of Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr’s Iqtisaduna (Our Economy ). Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr was murdered horribly, tortured, and murdered by Saddam Hussein, as was his sister. But those four volumes, essentially say that a third-way, unique and independent, is possible. And I thank that young man, and I say, may that young man’s hopes be realized.
In the preface, I say, well, look this book does everything and does several things. So, it reveals a new way of understanding reality, but I bet I just tell you a little of what it does. So first of all, I say really, it reveals a way of providing decent housing right away across the world. I mean, the concrete exists; the land exists; the technology exists. Why isn’t that proper housing for everybody, right there, across the world? Secondly, it deals with the depredations, negligences, and short-sighted actions, and distractions all regarding the environment. Are we going to go on it and we say well we can’t really do anything about it? The book actually provides a way of providing a lot of the solutions in this area.
Thirdly, the global economy is tottering, is propped up by huge amounts of money, which are not going to solve anything. And there’s a great crisis to come in. This book provides solutions to the economy. There will be no overnight solution; but it provides the gentle, long-term way of actually getting the balance back; getting the real economy back, getting economic justice back. So the whole thing works in a reasonable way, and at the same time, you can put huge resources into things like solving the environmental questions, and the housing, then the forward. Well, it [preface] then does goes back to the leader, and it says there’s a leader writing to the youth. And the question is, does Islam have the answer. And further forward it says, Yes, it does.
Because nestling within Islam, there is a big new idea, a major new paradigm shift; it can be brought up by Muslims, not by me. There is a new way of comprehending reality. And it will result in a paradigm shift. And that shift will reveal a profoundly model, not out-dated, modern way of viewing politics, morality, and economics, and all in an interconnected way. And who will then be leading the world prosperity and justice and peace, the answer is, Shia Islam. That’s the foreword.
Then, there is chapter one. This is on the creation of big new ideas. That is an amazing chapter. There’s nothing like it anywhere, and it deals with the factors which lie behind it. And then it says, Well, what is the third factor, it could well be Islam. But if it is Islam, Exactly, What is the factor? What is its potential for a challenge? And if it does have the potential for challenge, Exactly what is it in Islam, that provides that potential. This is high level, and thousands I don’t know hundreds of thousands of American academics, put their brains onto this. This is detailed accurate stuff. And the question comes, exactly what it is in Islam that becomes a third factor, which interacts, which creates the paradigm.
In chapter two, it just says, well, there is something in Islam, and it actualized in the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said something. Now, quite what that is, I hold that back for a bit. But something directly attributed to the prophet lies at the heart of this. And as the new paradigm develops and its policies develop, then you get a world and chapter two, gives you the attributes and qualities of that world.
And chapter three, this starts the serious work of the book. Everybody watching that our lives are governed by not 10s, not hundreds but by 1000s of assumptions. You put your foot forward, or you assume that the ground is safe. You switch on a light, and you assume the light, put on a light switch will work.
But maybe the light switch doesn’t work. And then you have to start really considering, is that switch at that pole? is the water in the switch? You see, when things start to go wrong, you have to start to consider your assumptions. And when you start to consider your assumptions, you are coming up against society. And as soon as you start to do that, you will be attacked.
They all laughed that there’s the British admiralty refusing to believe in a huge steam turbine, what happened there. That’s the Wright brothers’ airplanes. There’s Barbara McClintock a wonderful geneticist who revealed the existence of jumping genes. They all laughed at her. They stopped going to conferences or publishing.
They all get attacked as the existing structure and its interlocking assumptions tries to destroy [them], they always do that to new subjects, which is why this new paradigm can only come within Iran, which is protected and, as it were, defensive against the attacks, which we’ll come to the new thinking, but every new thinking gets attacked. And what about my favorite example.
It’s not well known but it’s extraordinary African wager, a German in 1915, he told the world about tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes tsunami. And of course, They all laughed at him, he went mad. It was 50 years later in 1964, that they said, Oh, well, maybe he’s got it right. But that’s what happens to all new ideas. And they have to be protected at birth, or they get destroyed. Now, the next chapter, then says well. Then, chapter four, it says, suppose you know three cents for individual, you started chatting something, then soon as you do that some red face pompous idiot would say oh you don’t know what you’re talking about, go away and silly person. If that happens to you the first time you get discomforted. And if it happens to you twice, you’re a bit stressed, you start screaming. It stresses you. If you’re strong, you say well I don’t understand, it’s my fault, as I used to say. But then when you start to grow this subject, you realize it’s not your fault at all.
You see, economics in Western economics, and indeed Islamic economics is based on 59 false assumptions. And you can just look at them and say well, is that right or wrong. Oh. And as soon as you do that. Suddenly, you get the good news. A whole area of life which you didn’t understand. You said I’m too stupid, it’s too complicated. It all becomes very easy, and you realize how the whole thing, is in fact a falsity. So there’s the good news. Once you start to challenge the assumptions and see what are the accurate assumptions. Then it all becomes a new thing. Chapter five is wonderful.
Chapter Five: Mr. Khomeini, everything about him. And he said even Islamic economics is false. And He then said it’s up to the academics and the intellectuals and the politicians to find a new way forward. I can make chapter five a man, Khomeini gives all about justice, and he does it very well. Chapter Six simply just says, is there anything in Islam at the moment, which is anywhere near Socrates and the answer is no. It has exactly the same force as Western capitalism, it actually increases the rich part of the vision. It keeps all the wealth in the hands of a narrow majority, and they’re a minority, the point, 1%, and the wealth does not trickle down to the welfare of the people.
Now notice claim solutions. Chapter Seven, there was an eight deal with two assumptions which I will not tell you about now, and chapter nine, you get the creation of a new paradigm. And I do think that perhaps it’s better that you come to it via reading the book, rather than that I should attempt to describe to you in this program are the chapters of course, deal with aspects of this. They did the 59 assumptions they give the neatest letters.
And there is a simple diagram of various things. So, I commend the book to be very simple. Remember Alice in Wonderland, a book without pictures and conversation is not a book at all, Alice got it right as she got so many things right. And this is a new way of thinking, Shia Islam. It will come from Shia Islam, it will come from the universities in Iran. My part is just to point out the way forward, which can be taken up. But the real power in this will come from Shia Islam as prophesied and identified by a narrative research, which I believe has been suppressed.
In the West, Justice is generally speaking a legal concept, and it’s a weakening concept. It’s a narrow concept. In the UK, you’re taught that you’ll always get justice before the courts. They have no huge dent in matters which really matter to you whether you unfairly dismissed or lose your job. Whether you can have a right to a pension or not. There is no legal aid available. And there are then questions as to whether ultimately the courts of this country are designed to uphold big financial interests, not the interests of ordinary people, or what however you look at it. The Justice is there not particularly effective, and it does not go to the perhaps the most important thing of all, which is economic justice.
Now, you’re told democracy. You can have a vote. But the vote is a very weak power. You can only exercise it for three, four, or five years, whatever. And if your site doesn’t win. Then you have no effect at all. But overall, even if you’re saying, We. You aren’t necessarily going to get what matters. You see, what matters is not your ability to have a weak influence every five years. What matters is your ability to influence your life in a powerful way every single day. And for that to be the case. There has to be consideration of economic democracy. Now, that does not mean absolute equality for everyone. It means, it means in the Australia, expression, it means fair dues, fairness in the UK, and that no longer cannot exist in the economics of the world today.
If you look at the major theory. It says that there is a free market, which is efficient and all its outcomes are just, which is absolute nonsense. What you’re actually getting is increased rich, poor division, increased debt. And the only jobs coming in temporary part-time is secure. So, economic justice for an example is, is not there in the western concept of justice. And then when you look at things like environmental justice which happens to be a rather important agent there is actually extraneous to Western economics. So you see when you look at justice in the western cosmology, the real problem is, is the separation of subjects. If you have a brain operation yes you want a brain surgeon who specializes in brain surgery. But at the same time that division of subjects means that they don’t take account of the bigger issues. Now, that means that justice is a concept in western cosmology is very, very narrow and does not get to economic justice to environmental justice. It doesn’t really go to political justice, either.
But in Islam. It is potentially capable of doing that. I say, potentially, because the book opens up a new way of thinking. It is better just briefly tell you why. The book is quite short, and it cannot deal with everything. But there are 59 falsities that have been identified. And the book only takes two, it just says what if we just turn these around. You actually start to get the solution, but you do understand that the book is very fundamental. And if you think I’m making this up. you just look at the inaccurate statement you say well what is wrong. Is that really right or is the opposite right. And you can quickly work it all out for yourself. Now when you do that, you realize that all these false conceptions are interconnected. The West will not really understand that because it tends to separate things off as it tends to separate justice. But in Islam, things are interconnected. And so the potential for a great radical change and understanding of huge beneficial consequences lies in a situation in which Shia Islam has an impact on.
The Western idea of justice, it tends to just concentrate on the legal, and it is in practical terms, it is weak and ineffective. The Islamic concept of justice actually goes to all things and interconnected. Just a simple example is that you can’t consider, consider, economics, without ethics. If you start with say that Allah created the whole world from that toy Hedy concept. You’re saying, everything is connected. And you cannot separate something out, and then claim that you, you know, don’t worry about the consequences. So, Islamic justice comprehends everything and takes responsibility for everything. And that matters at this particular time.
My forecast is a great horrible economic collapse is coming. Now when that is the case, you can’t say, oh, what does the Liberal Party think? What does the Conservative Party or the Labour Party that’s the UK [think]. They are all manifestations of the existing paradigm and understanding reality in the situation which we are now in and is going to get much worse.
We have to go for a comprehensive new thinking. And there’s only one place where that can actually come. It cannot come out of the West, because the West, as the book explains, though it can’t explain everything in detail, but there are the 59 false assumptions, there, you can actually read them. They cannot, ultimately, find the solution to the major problems or situations we are in. Which is why the situation we are in is not going to resolve itself, and is going to collapse. Now, who’s going to solve it. Well, the answer is that Shia Islam can be the apparatus, which sets the creation of a new paradigm.
The new paradigm, how it actually operates and comes into being and what’s the meaning of that. Only a new paradigm, out of sheer is that we’ve been the great impetus, as well as identified by that extraordinary American research, which has been suppressed stands a chance of creating the new paradigm. I mean, the first chapter of that book actually deals with Copernicus the astronomical revolution, which as you know, we were the center of the earth. And then Copernicus said, well, we’re not. And this started the process of overthrowing the divine right of kings and creating astronomical thinking, which led to today’s rocketry and astronomy and all the wonderful things in space. And you would never have had the American Revolution, or the French Revolution without that revolution in thinking Copernicus. That is the scale of what we are talking about.
The book deals with other examples. With Charles Darwin and evolution. With the Pastor, and Gems. They have the same characteristics. There is in the center. These great people then, can appear on the outside of the subject. And there is tension between them and the center. And then this external force operates to create an X on the outside of the subject. Now, as to what that force is and why and what the solution is, in chapter one of the book, I’ll say no more about that moment. But the bottom line is, American research identified only shear as Islam can in fact provide the impetus for a major change and understanding the reality, which leads to a wonderful new set of policies like a new landscape, your colors, new animals, new plants, which cannot be understood in terms of the existing economics and politics. You cannot when this country comes, you will not be able to use existing solutions for it. you have to find a totally new way.