I lived most of my life hearing these words: The Middle East for now is like Europe in the Dark Ages you know, once the “priesthood” order is smashed, re-birth will emerge and we shall have the: Arab Renaissance!
These words typically echoed in a vibrant powerful baritone and it sounded jazzy for some time. I recall snippets of conversations, with like-minded people from high school to college to well into my thirties, conversations that absorbed the nuances of the Middle East conflict, and spat out a consensus, almost an affirmation that sounded like a band of choreographed see-saws: Arabs now have to suffer…once the separation between mosque and state takes place, once civil law is enacted, there will be a renaissance…now when hearing such arguments, I just hear the sound of unoiled metal squeaking back and forth, the eerie warning of something terrible is about to bespoken, more self-deception.
When I hear of Renaissance, I think of the Black Death, the Plague.
For context the Plague or the Black Death disseminated the European population, claimed over 100 million lives. In the aftermath of the Black Death people realized that the church was helpless and as a result people began preparing more for life on this earth, and less for the afterlife. Incidentally the common man became wealthier, due to consolidation of inheritance, and as a result gained more time to reflect on his role on this earth. The ember of the Renaissance was Humanism, the philosophy where the human became the central figure of importance rather than the divine. When man found himself 650 years ago the human civilization radically changed and were are still riding the wave of this Change.
The Renaissance ushered the Age of Enlightenment, then the industrial revolution, then the technological revolution, and now the information age where the Present is so cherished, that Man is relentlessly taking pictures of himself, restlessly working on creating an immortal Self, an Artificial Intelligence, Machines and Robots that can represent him forever that is how much Man wants to live in the present. (To be fair, the ruling Arab cults share the same affinity with the modern world, especially the alluring notion of “forever”, that is the highest goal for all the Arab regimes – reign forever at all cost.)
The Renaissance facilitated the self-awareness for the masses, not just for the royals. The printing press invention forever leveled the playing field and allowed the masses access to what was once exclusive to the upper class.
The Arabs live in a world that is considerably accessible; access to information is readily available, literacy rates are above average. That is why when the Arab population are outraged by how the Prophet is portrayed in cartoons, and somehow oblivious to the bankruptcy of the culture, philosophy, the hollowness of the religious order, and the passivity towards the crimes committed against them by the very regimes that is supposed to protect them, you have to pause and say to yourself, WALLOWWW, really?
Azzmi Bashara writes when it comes to demonstrations against inflammatory cartoons “The message was that the regime could inflame the passions of the public against the cartoons just like it could control them at will”. I couldn’t agree more. In other words, if a state regime or Islamic Fundamentalist are engaged in systematic terror, and yet somehow they can whip a frenzy of support for a terror act they perpetrated, say because of blasphemy they kill journalists, this incidentally and automatically provides legitimacy to the offending forces. It’s no wonder why so many fundamentalist are eager to take responsibility for a terror attack.
Here is the article in full:
Going back to the absurdity of the comparison, the Europeans of 660 years ago and Arabs today, it’s important to note, that Humanism changed the world view so much, that it influenced Christianity to reform and thus the Protestants were birthed, rejecting the supremacy of the papacy which for context was the entity that declared who was King or not, and of course green lighted the Crusades.
How does this all fit with the world view of the Arabs?
The tribal Arab is not even interested to start from -660 years ago from today, on the Georgian calendar, the year that Renaissance started, as such life is compatible with the Arabs tribal system, for compatibility we have to go back in time, another -660 years and be still. If Leonardo Di Vinci, Michael Angelo, Dante, Shakespeare or Isaac Newton were born in Saudi Arabia today they would all be lashed, imprisoned, and decapitated, same fate if they were in Yemen, in Egypt they would be imprisoned for sure, in Lebanon they would be free to fraternize and then suddenly they would be assassinated in a car bomb, in Iraq they would be refugees hunted by Sistani fatwas, and in Syria they would be all in service of praising the Assad cult regime, the perfect man Bashar.
If I were to believe in some upcoming Renaissance what can be considered our Black Death?
It wasn’t the murderous reign of the secular Baathist in Iraq when they purged their country from communists, or when they committed the Kurdish genocide from 88-89 snuffing over 150,000 civilians’ lives. It wasn’t in ’81 when the secular Baathist in Syria massacred thousands in Hama to purge itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, and it’s not the 200,000 dead and counting that are ravaging the country as I write? It certainly was not the 150,000 dead from the Lebanese sectarian civil war?
I will take a moment to note that Lebanese killed themselves because they believed that the Arab soul and identity was at stake, they were the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the last 40 years. While 20 years into it, it was clear that neither the Palestinians nor Israelis mattered to the Arabs, Iranians, Israelis, Europeans or Americans, what really mattered is to have spot of land that can be controlled remotely, which is the ultimate show of power, when an entity can turn a country into a bloody swamp with a simple phone call, to serve a greater part of a geo-political calculation or sometimes to inflate the price of real-estate. The Cedar Revolution was mocked and praised simultaneously, and it all came at a high price, the death of a whole class of intellects in series of car bombs orchestrated by the very people who fight for Lebanon national rights (sic), but looking at events on the ground today the revolution is vindicated, a moral victory, considering the rise of Wahhabism. The events that unfolded in Lebanon made it clear that it is considered a Land of no people. It seems that the Zionist phrases is not enough these days to capture the mood in the Middle East, we are better served if we quote Joseph Stalin “Death solves all problems – no man, no problem.”
Perhaps the reality is more absurd than we give it credit. Perhaps this Black Death in the Middle East is a super virus, an anti-self and pro-divine virus. If this is an ailment then the diagnoses is terrifying. It’s here I will point you to Alastair Crooke he provides a clear summary on the history of Wahhabism, it’s support from the West and the current link to ISIS, with his two parts articles here:
What is most striking is the mapping of the puritan “gene” and how it is embedded within the literalist Sunni and it’s evident how easy it can be manipulated by the utterance of a Caliphate or blasphemy of the prophet.
Alastair in his subsequent article states that Arab Sunni Muslims are at war among each other, all wanting to be the truest Wahhabist. The war is between the Wahhabist ISIS, Wahhabist Jabhat Al-Nusra, Wahhabist of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabist of Qatar. I think the evidence point to such internal war.
Also above, the virus does not end with Wahhabism it can jump species, and mutates to include the secular regime and its opposite, all in service to eradicate the host, the person. So when tally all the Wahhabist, the “Muslim Brotherhood”, Egyptian Military regime, “Baathist of Syria” the Iraqi Shia regime, the exported “Khomeini Revolution”, at the end one has to ask crudely, who the fuck is left?
It’s a dead end.
It’s a fairytale to just impose western ideals on eastern culture. Also, it’s a fable to think that there is an Arab world view that somehow is consistent across cultures, I can vouch that there is nothing in common say between Lebanon and Oman. There are psychopathic tendencies that appeal to kill or suppress an entire people to fit a specific religious narrative, and vice-versa. These get discussed as a normative solution when eyeing Israel nuclear powers versus Iran potential nuclear powers or when discussing Islam as a defacto law of the land in the middle east as if the religion owns the present people and their land wholesale.
It’s a fairtayle to always cast blame on the West, for the bankruptcy of the eastern culture, because of the very fact that the West propped both the autocratic regime the Wahabist regime, and Israel. Also, it’s a fable to look at the West as the savior from Islamic fundamentalism, from Zionism, Socialism, Arabism, for the vary same reason stated above, they support everyone enough to bleed the resources.
If you are an ordinary person, stop renting your mind for grand ideas, instead be subversive, be skeptic, and trust everything exists from your self.