THE FUTURE IS RUSHING UPON US
We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Some have compared the CIA backed Middle Eastern protests to the failed wave of liberal uprising around Europe in 1848. That description however may only apply to the protests against the regional monarchies and not the Arab republics.
This Pragmatist article from May of 2009 (forgive this early piece for its pro-US imperialist tone in some parts) analyzes political currents of some of the key countries and concludes that the region is similar to pre-WW1 Europe:
"The Muslim world is where Europe was in 1850-1900. Their brief "Napoleonic period" was the combination of Western world's brief occupation and Nasser's efforts. This introduced some of the wealthier Muslims to liberal values. As of today, Muslim liberals are slowly wrestling away social influence from blatant coalition of clergy, oligarchs, sub-national ethnic/tribal leadership, and Western educated authoritarian playboy aristocracy. Only these liberals provide genuine source of nationalism. They are the ones that have a real sense of moral indignation at poverty and their country's backwardness. The liberals want majority of their countrymen to be represented in broadly legitimate government, united, and have the modernization that unified national action can bring."
Genuine nationalism for most of the Muslim world is not yet possible. Large swaths of the population don't really have united societies or legitimate governments to really fight and root for. The clergy still effectively competes with state governments for people's affections. Sub-national affiliations are also very strong still. Influence of supra-national church and sub-national factions will decline as long as literacy continues to spread and college education becomes more widely available."
It was concluded that some parts of the region are now ready to begin engaging in genuine nationalism (bottom up nationalism versus top down Nasserist/Baath party efforts) and that this is dangerous within current international set up.
recent Robert Gates outburst that NATO cannot break the spine of western Libya betrays genuine amazement at the degree of nationalistic consolidation that Gaddafi achieved via his unifying and psychologically enriching Kaiser-esque rule)
Egypt, being at the forefront of this process, is key to the whole region. To try to avert possibilities of mass violence that genuine nationalism can unleash it was suggested that:
"United States can start promoting EU style pan-Arabism to skip the national step altogether. Free trade, common currency, and a loose confederate structure can go a long way towards confusing and splitting the energies of future Middle Eastern nationalists."
Many ethnic groups around the world have successfully skipped a nationalistic period so this is definitely doable. It appears United States is now following the advice of this magazine but perhaps for the wrong reasons (either to create exploitable chaos and deny the area to Chinese and Russians OR to eventually release pan-Arab unification energies as a bulwark against growth in Iranian influence [SCO connected country]).
What can such a list look like?
1) A developmental national state owned bank that can provide large quantities of credit for infrastructure projects that bring employment to the "youth bulge"
2) Nationalization or 50%+1 control (Putin style) of key strategic heavy industries and using the profits to create solid safety nets
3) A legal framework to break the power of the landlords and to have housing cooperatives (individual tenants have shares of ownership in the housing complex, are collectively the landlord, and decide on apartment building management democratically)
4) Expulsion of Western military presence, of foreign banks (via regulation on speculators), and of parasitic structures like the IMF
5) A policy of neutrality concerning doing business with the West, Iran, China, etc.
6) A legal framework to deny corporations personhood and rights. Requiring foreign corporations to directly invest, share technologies, and find domestic partners if they want to do business (China/Russia style)
7) A legal framework for more horizontal, co-operative, and democratic corporate structures. Demand for democracy should extend to the workplace
8) Separation of church and state, separation of military and state, and separation of foreign interests and state
9) Peaceful pursuit of nuclear energy to power up agricultural projects, mass transportation projects, and other infrastructure
10) The right to unions and jump starting unionization via state help (to make sure private oligarchic interests don't overflow into the vacuum being left by the receding state power)
11) Shelter, food, medicine, and college education as a basic human right (tapping into psychological need to not only emulate aspects of other countries but to advance planetary socioeconomics via a uniquely Arab contribution)
Many other economic demands can be added based on locality's preference. The Arab elites should be overflooded with tangible economic goals so they can do their usual meeting halfway song and dance routine.
To conclude, Western efforts to amplify and redirect genuine expressions of indigenous discontent can in turn be redirected once more via an economic program that is hostile to neoliberalism. Then we'll really see an "Arab Spring".