For those who don't understand why President Obama and his European allies are having such a hard time siding with Egypt's forces of democracy, the reason is that the amalgam of social and political forces behind the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt today – and who knows where tomorrow – actually constitute a far greater threat to the "global system" al-Qa'eda has pledged to destroy than the jihadis roaming the badlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen. – Al Jazeera/ Professor Mark LeVine
Dominant Social Theme: The West must yield to the hopes and dreams of the Middle East.
Free-Market Analysis: This is an interesting article (excerpted above) that Professor Mark LeVine has written for the Middle Eastern news service Al Jazeera. His point is that swelling civil unrest is an increasingly uncomfortable event for Western powers-that-be. Unless the West, he argues, is willing to support legitimate aspirations, Western leaders risk alienating 300 million Arabs and creating a sociopolitical schism that will haunt Europe and America for decades to come.
As this sounds like a reasonable argument, we will examine it further below, summarizing Professor LeVine's eloquent points before providing some additional comments at the end of the article. Professor LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden.
His writing is professional and his point of view evidently sincere; we have chosen the article because it is an eloquent elaboration of points that are being made elsewhere on the ‘Net. It is a lucid restatement of a certain kind of perspective. We just happen to disagree with it.
LeVine starts off well. He points out that the current Egyptian unrest is aimed at "the neoliberal economic policies that have enriched regional elites while forcing half or more of the population to live below the $2 per day poverty line." He even points out that such misery inevitably means that Egyptians (and others) will eventually refuse to participate in the West's war on terror along with its "bloated militaries and weapons systems that serve to enrich western defense companies and prop up autocratic governments, rather than bringing stability and peace to their countries – and the region as a whole."
He then argues that the future of such revolutions as the one taking place in Egypt lies in the models provided by China, India and other emerging powers. He describes these countries as having moved toward the centre of global economic gravity – economic centralism in other words. Such economic centralism works to the advantage of sophisticated developing countries as their "educated and cheap work forces will further challenge the more expensive but equally stressed workforces of Europe and the United States."
Assuming success, this new socio-economic paradigm will "force" a very different world in the near future, one that may replace the Western model that has dominated the world since the fall of communism in the 1980s. The system, he writes optimistically, can bring "the peace and relative equality that has so long been missing globally." The caveat of course is that the West and the Anglosphere in particular must support these developments even though they will "erode the position of the United States and other ‘developed' or ‘mature' economies."
He cautions that Western world leaders such as Barack Obama, Nikolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel must allow the emergence of a new and more prosperous and assertive Middle East. If they do not, he warns, the West will wind up with "an adversary far more cunning and powerful than al-Qa'eda could ever hope to be: more than 300 million newly empowered Arabs who are mad as hell and are not going to take it any more."
So why do we disagree with such a reasonable assessment of what is taking place in the Middle East? Because we think the social unrest has been supported and encouraged by the West itself, specifically by an Anglo-American elite focused on the creation of ever-more concentrated world governance. Thus we find such analyses simplistic. Western elites are not worried about the decline and fall of their cultures; they are actively encouraging chaos and dysfunction. Only by destroying the old can the "new" (world government) be ushered in.
We've provided support for this point of view many times in the past month as Africa and the Middle East have started to smolder. The elite operates via a Hegelian Dialectic that is in full bloom in the Middle East. The idea is to create a variety of Islamic states that provide a controllable narrative. Secular Islamic states (Dubai for example) offer Westernized versions that can easily be integrated into Western-style global governance. Militant states provide fodder for the "war on terror" promotion that Western elites rely upon to justify further authoritarianism at home.
If such states provide competition for the West, all the better. As the West declines, arguments for global governance may be made more aggressively. The evident manufacturing of tyrannical overthrow in the Middle East can be seen, from this perspective, as benefitting elite plans on many levels. It is also illustrates just how unsentimental the Anglosphere really is.
The final point to be made on this matter has to do with the "centralizing" that LeVine refers to. In fact, such centralizing is Western-centric, including central bank economies, vast corporatism and regulatory democracy that must prove as unlivable in the BRICs ultimately as it is currently in Europe and America. LeVine may believe that such state systems are aspirational; in fact they are eventually disastrous for those who run then as well as those who work within them.
The Egyptian "youth" – all those participating in the current civil unrest – seem to want a Western-style secular state. Failing this, some sort of Islamic (Sunni) republic will likely find a foothold. Both solutions (engineered by the West) have their drawbacks. LeVine's idea that progress is afforded by Western secular democracies is perhaps a shade worse. Brazil and India are struggling with high inflation rates that will inevitably undo much of the progress that has been artificially manufactured by fiat-money flows and Western style corporatism. China is in an even more terrible muddle, trying desperately and without success to stem food and real-estate inflation. All the BRICs and other countries besides will have to raise interest rates dramatically, thus choking off the very economic progress that LeVine anticipates.
Western elites have taken the plunge. Many articles on the ‘Net now track Western support for these "color" rebellions, ours among them. But we have also argued that because of the Internet itself, the elite is not entirely in control of events. If the outcome of these rebellions is LeVine's kind of centralization or even quasi-militant Islam, Western elites will no doubt have achieved the goals they seek. But if these rebellions end up with truly free-markets at a grass roots level and an overthrow of the military, religious and political elites that have dominated such societies for decades, Western elites will have cast the dice and lost. We always like to observe that the Internet is a process not an episode. Thus the outcome is in no way determined, as it might have been in the 20th century.