Many Westerners look at the religious radicalization in the Middle East and think this is standard Islam. Then again, we in the West also learn next to nothing about Islam or the history of the Middle East itself – which is tragic considering our current involvement in the Middle East.
While learning about the American Revolution and Thomas Jefferson for several years, the extent of my High School education on Islam and its history was a single lecture. I basically had to educate myself on the topic years later.
While religious wars between Sunnis and Shiites is nothing new, as well as the idea of the martyr fighting for a religious cause, or inter-tribal warfare itself, the level of out-and-out violence and social collapse we see in the Middle East today is unprecedented. Remember, during the Middle Ages the Middle East was actually a pretty sophisticated center of learning and scholarship. Even the later Muslim empires of the Mughals and the Ottoman Turks brought structure and civilization to those they conquered. Yet 100 years of Western Imperialism has had…let’s say….a less than positive effect on the whole region.
It doesn’t help that America’s continued drone strikes are “miracle grow” for radicals.
We have to also consider the technological aspects of this situation. What is new is the ability of radicals to create home-made bombs and use the internet to galvanize like-minded individuals around the world.
POVERTY AND RADICALS
Yet one element of this whole situation that isn’t discussed is the issue of poverty itself. Poverty may actually be the gas on the fire here. Chris Hedges makes the great point that many of those drawn towards radical religious ideals have nothing left. They can’t get a job, they’re starving, they have little control over their lives and they’re desperate.
Radical Islam offers a bastion of safety and regularity to the lives of the poor. With nothing left to lose in this life, many decide to become suicide bombers so that they may at least go to an after-life that has the possibility of sucking less than this life.
THE SPREAD OF RADICALIZATION
What we see in Egypt today is a portent of what is to come for the rest of the Middle East. Yet Radicalization will not only effect the Middle East alone. It is a process that will likely take place around the rest of the world. After all, intense poverty is spreading throughout the globe like a cancer. In Austerity struck Greece we see a surge in violence against immigrants and a growing Nationalist Fervor. In poverty-stricken Africa we’ve already seen genocide, civil war and ruthless battles over resources fought with children as the soldiers.
A REACTION TO A MALEVOLENT WORLD ORDER
This bloody radicalization is the counter-reaction to a very sick World Order. The level of hate and violence exploding at the bottom of this system is like a mirror, reflecting the perversions and hate of those at the top.
Never before in the history of man has there been an empire that offered so little in return to those it conquered. The Romans, for example, may have enslaved a portion of those they conquered and increased taxes. Yet at least they also brought in structure and technological advancement. Today America is bringing destabilization, economic manipulation and poverty to those we conquer. We are seeing the greatest world economic inequality and whole-sale destruction of the environment that human history has ever seen.
AMERICA’S FAILED IMPERIAL GAME
In the 2oth and 21st century, America is trying to play the Imperialist Game that its big brother Britain played in the 19th century. Yet what we don’t realize is that it’s not going to work this time. The British brought flowery promises of Christianity and Peace that mutated into the reality of brutal resource extraction, mass starvation, genocide and war. Now America thinks the same game plan is going to work, the only difference is that we’re bringing a new religion: Democracy.
Is Democracy working? Take a look at Egypt and decide for yourself. Democracy has nothing to offer those we conquer. Does it bring jobs, does it bring peace, does it bring order, does it bring justice, does it save the environment? The answer to all these questions is resounding no.
As the mock Democracies we’ve imposed around the globe crumble, there will be a brutal counter-reaction to the current Plutocratic World Order. It will make the French Revolution look like a PG13 movie.
A SPIRITUAL POVERTY
Another issue that is not as discussed on the global sphere is a poverty of the spirit. We’re living in a spiritually bereft times where money is supposed to be the ultimate goal. Yet the human spirit hungers for heroics, for purpose and for meaning. Am I saying that Radical Religion is the answer? Absolutely not. In many ways, these radical religious ideals are just as dangerous and toxic as the systems they are opposing. In my view, people are trading one foul poison for another.
Judeo Christianity with its emphasis on human life and narrow-minded thinking has, in several ways, lead to the current disaster we see unfolding before our eyes.
The answer is in getting back to real spiritual values, values that protect life on the planet.
THE NEED FOR REAL AUTHORITY AND AN ANSWER TO POVERTY
The revolution in Egypt is thunder rumbling on the horizon, an omen of the bloodbath that is going to spread around the globe.
The solution to this situation will necessitate a solution to poverty itself. That is the bottom line. The priority is finding a system that provides food, water and shelter while utilizing environmental resources responsibly. It would be great if we could do this in a peaceful and Democratic way. But if not, we need to think creatively of new solutions.
This plutocratic system has been a failure. The principles of Jude-Christianity have been a failure. Democracy so far, has been a failure. Eventually a real authority figure will emerge to galvanize people at a spiritual level and bring order in an increasingly chaotic world. But this process is bring its own level of bloodshed and violence.