Unearned Wealth, Ownership and Liquid Jihad: How the West lost the plot
“Economics is complicated only because the powerful and wealthy
within unequal economies do not permit anything threatening their power and wealth
to be taught or practiced.
Over time, those false teachings become so customary
that any who would speak common sense is unrecognized and instantly ostracized.”
– Cooperative Capitalism, IED Press.
There are two lines of thought that have emerged while trying to address the issue of the current global crisis of Islam versus the Rest. The good thing is that both these sides admit that there is a problem. And while one line and their followers carefully try to skirt the issue of the involvement of the West to put the entire blame on radical Islam, the other side doesn’t take any prisoners and holds the West responsible for every crisis. While the former is populated by eminent intellectuals like Bernard Lewis, George Friedman… or most of the editors and writers of all the prominent newspapers and news agencies that one can think of, the latter includes the up and coming school of political observers and analysts like Pepe Escobar, or Sami Moubayed, and a host of free thinkers and bloggers. The few that try to tread the neutral path and thus render a completely different flavour compared to the above two are guys like Jason Burke or the Cockburn brothers Patrick and Alexander. I haven’t read or known many of this kind — but they have made me think that there COULD BE some material there as well.
So anyway, could the West be really held completely responsible for this whole mess that is on today? Or could there be a limit to its culpability? I don’t know for sure. And I am sure plenty don’t either. I was as wide eyed as any of you when I read my first Hobsbawm. More than nailing the crisis, the attempt was to impress readers with his grasp of the enormity of it. And impressed I was! Then Pepe Escobar and his likes happened. Their authority in debunking the “apologists” brought in the frustration that is associated with the realization that you could have been played for a sucker. That kind of an emotion does a lot of things, and making one a rebel is just one of them. Then you age. And you mellow down a little. Or a lot, depending on your ability to come to terms with the ongoing and rather old chaos that you have been exposed to through different thinkers and observers. Perhaps you learn to be indifferent to it all too. It is only then people like Jason Burke start making more sense.
But this is not about blaming or redeeming institutions and ideas that have caused the present conflict; it is to sketch two, maybe three factors that are behind it. What share of blame falls on which party, I would leave that to you.
“Visualize a fertile patch of land with fruits, nuts and vegetables growing wild along with lush thatch for building homes.”
According to political economist Dr JW Smith, this is an automatic honest economic structure that provides the settlers with food, fiber, shelter — the basics of any economy, primitive or modern — and they just have to pick their food, build their thatch homes, and, once that home is built, relax most the day. But what actually happens? A greedy cunning cabal of a few people form and each lay claim to a part of the land. They could either be physically tough themselves or could make a pact appointing a few as their muscles, and they promise to share the spoils if they protect their unequal and unjust “property rights.” And since people are meek by and large, the rest of the settlers agree to share the food they pick with those selfish “owners”, have to build their houses, and provide any and all other services, to avoid trouble with the cabal and their muscles. Once this becomes the practice, this quickly becomes the “law” which is held by and above all among the future generations — to be revered, respected, and even prayed. The concept of “work” is purely a human invention. We are the only animals that work.
So “ownership” remains a rather vague term at its base. Yet, the entire period of the Middle Ages saw a struggle between the urban and the rural centers on the same, a bloody feud that lasted for seven, perhaps eight hundred years, and resulted in the loss of millions of lives.
What did happen?
During the Middle Ages, European commerce and industry was town-centered and controlled. The expertise was not allowed to get out into the open country. Technology was essentially controlled to maintain access to resources, to maintain superiority in terms of wealth-producing processes. But the rural guys were smart. Primitive industrial capital was simple looms and fulling vats. The farmers, once they realized that, became quickly capable of manufacturing their own requirement. The line was crossed.
So, throughout “the fourteenth century regular armed expeditions were sent out against all the villages in the neighborhood and looms and fulling vats were broken or carried away”, writes Dr JW Smith in his book World’s Wasted Wealth. “The problem of the towns collectively was to control their own markets, that is, be able to reduce the cost of items purchased from the countryside and to minimize the role of outside merchants. Two techniques were used. On the one hand, towns sought to obtain not only legal rights to tax market operations but also the right to regulate the trading operation (who should trade, when it should take place, what should be traded). Furthermore, they sought to restrict the possibilities of their countryside engaging in trade other than via their town. Over time, these various mechanisms shifted their terms of trade in favor of the townsmen, in favor thus of the urban commercial classes against both the landowning and peasant classes.
Key point? Honest economic structure is an absolute abomination; that is why the debatable concept of “ownership”.
THE TRADE WARS
More and more such instances dot history. With Europe’s discovery of the sea route to the rest of the world, the control of natural resources, as well as markets for manufactured products could be attained through gaining title to lands of relatively peaceful and easily conquerable people. “By 1900 Great Britain had grabbed 4,500,000 square miles…. France had gobbled up 3,500,000; Germany, 1,000,000; Belgium 900,000; Russia, 500,000; Italy, 185,000; and the United States, 125,000.” Back within the confines of Europe, Napoleon understood Britain’s economic warfare and, in 1807, initiated a protective system through his Continental Decrees. The idea was to begin manufacturing to protect France’s market from Britain, and to prevent the loss of continental wealth. Napoleon’s resurrection of this system cascaded a rapid industrialization of Europe. This was immense; it could have ended the British dream. So Britain, the other European monarchies, and the Church — fearful ever since the French Revolution — quickly entered into a “Holy Alliance” and finally defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
Similarly, “[T]he Grand Strategy of Britain to control the industry and markets of the American colonies was the primary reason for the American War of Independence. America’s founding fathers recognized the “consumption of foreign luxuries, [and] manufactured stuffs, as one of the chief causes of [the colonies’] economic distress”. [Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, p. 46].”
WWI — When two or more powerful nations deny each other equal trading rights, war becomes inevitable. When the British maritime prowess controlled the nearly the entire globe, countries like Holland or Portugal had to look for ways of reducing it. One such nation was Germany. Bismarck, who unified the German nation, deduced “fee trade is the weapon of the dominant economy anxious to prevent others from following in its path” [Steven Schlosstein, Trade War, 1984, p. 9]. He was a follower of the philosophy of Friedrich List. And it was this philosophy that led him to consolidate the Germany of the late 1800s through rapid industrialization. This he did by buying factories and machines and techniques whole-sale from England. Wilhelm, after Bismarck, took the same road. Initially the German produce were of inferior quality, but they were quick to overcome that, and by 1913 “German industries were not only out-producing Britain, they were also producing superior products” [D.J. Goodspeed, The German Wars, 1985, p., 71]. In 1888, TH Huxley lamented about the threat to British trade: “If our goods are inferior to those of our competitors, there is no ground, compatible with the sanity of the buyers, which can be alleged, why they should not prefer the latter. And if the result should ever take place on a large and general scale, five or six millions of us would soon have nothing to eat [Petr Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, P. 334]. It is just natural that, a few years later, threatened with such a situation, the country would wage a war against Germany. WWII was a rematch — a continuation of WWI.
After the winning formula was attained many hundreds of years ago, there has been little or no change in the design of it. If any, it only fortified and better insulated itself with time.
We get half the picture at this point; and probably wonder how come we did not realize this. After all there is an education system, a system for dissemination of information that we know as the media, there are books, there are socio-political watchdogs… in short, there has been, for a really long time, institutions and peoples that are dedicated to raise the public awareness about most anomalies that the governments and the policy makers are liable to indulge in knowingly or otherwise, right? Wrong. A quick economic summary of the Napoleanic War or the World Wars proves how wrong we were; our difficulty to come to terms with this new fact proves how manipulated we still are. Historically that is exactly how it has been; educated, sane, just, and intelligent men have rallied behind their government to actively or passively to raid, murder, plunder other states in the name of justice and liberty. Vietnam or Korea, Latin America or Middle East. And millions have killed and died.
Key point? Most of the modern wars are Trade Wars; the ones fought over territorial ambitions are of little consequence.
The merchants and the bankers needed people to look the other way. Historically this was achieved through an industry that was initially known as the Public Relations, which later came to be known as Propaganda; now we know it as media. The end of WWII saw the collapse of the old colonial power and the creation of a large number of nation-states all around the world. These newly free countries were eager to learn how to survive in the new world. In their eagerness, they were a significant threat to the imperial capital of the world; there was always a chance of them breaking free. You have to remember that these states were the resource-rich peripheries — equivalent to those medieval villages. So breaking free was NOT an option. To make things worse, there was the USSR and its socialist structure that spoke about a possibility of synergistic coexistence.
Right after Mao and his revolution took over China in 1949, the US State Dept indulged in some of the most serious studies that it ever partook, and the result of that was the NSC-68; presented to President Truman in early 1950. The document had the master plan for containment and reining of the nation states that wanted to break free. (The complete NSC-68 document can be found in Thomas H Etzold and John Lewis Gadis Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945–50). While there was a clear admission that the USA was under no threat from any quarter, there still was a need to increase the military budget by 350% to wage a global covert war; and overt war if need be. (Personally, while watching Hollywood movies, I can’t help but notice how Americans relish the concept of participating in battles and wars, shootings and combat etc. It is not the winning or the losing that matters; I guess it is adrenaline rush that they get from shooting a lot of guns and rifles and whatnot, as they look-feel important in their combat gears as they grunt strange noises like “hoo-yeah!” or “ten-hut!” which they probably consider linguistic miracles. So it doesn’t come across as a surprise that so much of research and studies would result in a 350% budget increment in guns and bullets. When you know of nothing else much… Or… are Hollywood movies a part of McCarthyism?)
McCarthyism. That was how the real control was achieved! The base of it consisted of painting any progressive person or philosophy as subversive / communist in nature. From 1950 (to probably even today), CIA paid compliant professors to write many (25–30) books a year; set up right wing think-tanks to produce thousands of other related books; provided fabricated media evidences to create bases of such researches/news; saw to it that these books were promoted everywhere — from university libraries to newsrooms and editors’ desks, to research centers and state departments; and got hundreds and thousands of skilled writers and intellectuals build a framework of a way of life that blanketed large parts of the globe. (For eg, the CIA planted 700 articles around the world just during the overthrow of Allende in Chile). Social scientists still use these books and articles as foundations of their research even today! And… “When it was learned the CIA had supported the printing of these thousands of books, sincere academics sued for the titles to be revealed. But the Supreme Court ruled this would expose CIA methods and endanger national security”. [Coleman’s Liberal Conspiracy; Saunders, The Cultural Cold War]
“Success was largely a matter of numbers — that of reaching the maximum number of people. Success was also a matter of continuous assault to logic and reason”. By the end of 1945, USA had a nation full of people subjected to “anti-Communist radiation” — as Bill Blum puts it, and post 1950 this radiation began going global. “The propagandist’s well charted plan that was to span over a period of more than 50 years, would soon produce an incredible number of people across the globe that were averse to anything that was even remotely related to the words Marxism or Communism.” [A Matter of Greed, IED Press]
Now these guys — the ones that grew out of the aegis of McCarthyism’s thought-control, gradually moved into positions of power with their misconstrued idea of what free-trade actually is, and probably put in their sincere efforts to eliminate global poverty or whatever ideas that they fancied, to bring about a change (I would reserve a benefit of doubt; assume that they wanted to change the world for the better). Those that questioned were sidelined, silenced, had their careers finished; the conformists rewarded. Constant bombardment of advertisements through editorials and TV shows about the potential of the enemy called Communism waiting to strike them at almost every corner kept hammering those already ingrained beliefs, and the ones that “successfully thwarted” communistic tendencies whether in personal or professional sphere, were rewarded handsomely — to set examples for others to emulate. Gradually this mechanism moved into auto-pilot when the readers and viewers eventually began controlling the content — threatening to withdraw favors from the ones on TV/print when these journalists or observers tried to sound even wee bit sensible, which was trying to promote a view that was outside of the ambit of the Cold War philosophy.
Crazy thing — the market. The result of this was honest rationalization, and its spokespersons were junked and ostracized, as the frauds sold millions!
Key point? “We are now surrounded by manipulated history; most of us don’t even know how to THINK free”.
A PRELUDE TO CHAOS
The US-led West did another crucial thing during the 1945–90 period. They displaced the Soviet spending and caused it to go bankrupt. When the Soviets were spending 45% on their infrastructure, the West’s determination was to get them to spend more than 50% on arms. That left them with less than 5% for their citizenry. This they achieved. The Berlin Wall came down. There were celebrations everywhere (and not without reason; because this was probably the best long term strategy that the West ever created and executed collectively — if one overlooks the sinister nature of it).
And that was roughly the time when chaos took birth.
Communism was the purported “reason” in the modern world, why laws and rules on ownership, complete control etc had to be put in place; it was the reason why “peace, freedom and justice” had to be reached across to the farthest corner of the world. Riding on the wave of fighting Communism, at the one corner while the IMF-World Bank-GATT-NAFTA-WTO-MAI-GATS-FTAA-CAFTA-Military colossus were flush with billions in their coffers and enjoyed unprecedented power and control over the globe, the Transnationals’ business at the other corner, in the name of globalization grew bigger than sovereign nations’ economy. “As a result of the destabilizing and reclaiming frenzy that was a characteristic of the Cold War era, today fifty-one of the largest one hundred economies in the world are corporations and not nations. Based out of the Imperial capitals of the world France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States, these corporations account for the modern world’s industrial capacity, technological knowledge, financial transactions, and control. They mine nearly all of the gas and oil, build most of the power plants, dig up most of the minerals, sell most of the cars, planes, satellites, computers, chemicals, medicines — it is quite a list. They are growing or processing or distributing nearly all that you or I eat. They are also polluting the world irreversibly” [halexandria.org]. And in the 90s, that same “threat of Communism” suddenly ceased to exist.
There was a desperate need to manufacture an enemy.
I think most of the planners were taken aback due to the abrupt nature of the fall. The actual state of the Soviet affairs was a picture forever insulated behind the Iron Curtain, and even though there used to be a robust espionage network during those days, either the real-time info were not available still, or were not shared, or were shared but not comprehended. Very few had the prior idea that the USSR would cease to exist from the 90s. Running the Cold War was an incredibly complex affair; it was probably so taxing/intoxicating that there was no follow-up plan on that kind of an eventuality. Naturally, the research — if any — that was undertaken was unlike those from the 50s.
Though this is speculative on my part, but I hope some among you will agree that there could have been an absence of serious planning (probably the Brzezinskis or the Kissingers were off celebrating the unexpected victory). In their haste, the policy makers dug up the threat of Islam.
The establishment thought Islam was a single unit like the Communism (that radiated from an identified source). And the plan was probably to execute a rerun of the Cold War — by presenting an Islamist threat to the world. In fact plenty would think that there was no plan in the first place if they consider what Brzezinski had to say about the Afghan Mujahideens: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”
And that was the first mistake.
A considerable proportion of the followers of Islam are very good dartboard materials. The radical ones (and there are thousands of them around the world) are completely reactive bordering violent, and mostly uneducated in the modern sense. That the Quran or the Mullahs (the keepers of the book) denounce any forms of modernization — of thoughts or actions — that challenge their status is a known fact; we have seen the plight of those few that (post 1950s) tried to reform this kind of existence. That there is a tremendous amount of legitimacy and comfort that the followers derive from this behavior is also known. As a result of it, we have a sizeable chunk of the global population that haven’t learnt to be curious; are under complete control — through a “medieval” McCarthyism of sorts. I am skipping the KSA sponsored madrassas around the world carrying out their Wahabi-Salafi indoctrination — the “modern” McCarthyism — that took a grip on a fair number of the global Muslim young through the 50s to the 70s, and more after the Afghan Resistance to continue even today and influence a lot of conventionally educated people as well — it is a well known fact. I am also avoiding the Zia ul Haq led Islamization of Pakistan. We are aware of it, and we bump into some of the results of it almost every day courtesy the internet and the social networks.
But what I should not skip is the part that at their heights of spreading the intolerant-radical-toxic parts of Islam, the KSA and Pakistan were friends of the USA and the West. This is important here, because this adds some weight to my speculation that the emergency planners equated Islam with Communism.
After the WWII and throughout the 50s or the 60s, socialism and those leaders that dreamt of a socialistic co-existence drew inspiration from Moscow and (whether Moscow really overtly supported or endorsed their cause or not) kept one line open to Moscow round the year. Symbolically, Moscow was the head; when that got cut off, the entire body collapsed. The West designed-directed-shaped KSA, and later Pakistan to be a similar kind of head that controlled that part of Islam that they wanted the world to imagine as its next enemy. And I am sure, given the way Brzezinski dismissed the rise of Islamic radicalism as a “few stirred up Moslems”, this was one where the planners thought that it would be a walk in the park. Communism as an “enemy” was real — that sat behind the Iron Curtain; this one was supposed to be an understanding among friends… a rigged game — a fixed cricket match.
It was the same mess; the same double standard game: Remove trade obstacles, establish ownership, maintain control over resources and torture-murder-kidnap the “enemies” to prevent them from deciding their own destiny or result in the corporations losing those cheap resources or the resultant markets. And demonize them throughout — like the way every westerner during the Cold War was brainwashed into the realms of total control — get them little by little, to believe in the Islam threat as well. And thanks to the KSA/Pakistan (later joined enthusiastically by the UAE/Qatar belt) sponsored torchbearers of Islam — the mullahs — it was very easy to get the west to identify Muslims as “constricted, anti-modern, anti-secular, anti-democratic, anti-globalization, anti-Semitic, anti-emancipation, anti-feminist, anti-plural, and consisting of followers enthralled by the promise of revolution that would put Islam in charge of the state again”. [Milton-Edwards, Islamic Fundamentalism since 1945]
The first part of it worked good! The rigged game gave some brilliant results initially, in the sense that it lent legitimacy to the USA to wage covert/overt intervention wherever they wanted. Egypt was slapped through the Israel-Egypt war; Palestine was given away to Israel; Lebanon was nudged into a civil war; Iran was shoved to the brink of an implosion; then Iraq was gently suggested to attack Iran again; Afghanistan became a military industrial playground, as the entire stretch from the west of Himalayas till North Africa became a playground for the CIA and arms contractors that hustled billions of dollars worth military hardware. There was an overall consolidation in the oil and gas network too, as new pipelines came into being, and the result of the oil giants flirting regularly with the gas rich Central Asian ‘stans’ also started bearing results when new independent states like Turkmenistan acceded to the construction of the Trans Afghan Pipeline.
Now for the second mistake; which is a two-part blunder.
Those that spearheaded communism were mostly modern, educated and believed in applied logic. Their difference with the methods of capitalism was ideological; they had nothing against the west personally. On this side of history, the guys that spread the teachings of Islam — the Salafi-Wahhabi-Deobandi mullahs and their cohorts — were illiterate, ignorant, medieval minded men who never bothered nor let their audience wonder about subtleties like “modernization vis a vis westernization” as Samuel Huntington puts, and through their sermons they spread and sustained among their followers monumental abhorrence towards the west at a cellular level.
That these guys were in charge of all forms of communication to the global Islam population was probably lost on the western planners. As a result of which, while the Cold War era had an opponent that viewed and understood the Western behaviour through philosophy and logic (and probably were more “modern” than their “western” counterparts), the post 1990 “enemy”, with its intellectually-challenged approach viewed the same Western behaviour through a more fundamental, binary, civilizational lens. The key construct being the historic antipathy towards the West from the Middle Ages’ Crusades, and later during the carving up of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent Sykes-Picot Agreement that was to divide Arabia for the benefit of the British and Americans. “[T]he only banner that unites such a perception is that the West has never abandoned their Crusade, so naturally jihad should not be abandoned either” [Jason Burke, Al Qaeda]. It was a fangs-out, black and white version of us-against-them.
The second part lay in the approach.
While the Communists were driven towards “constructing” — perhaps a classless society, or perhaps welfare globe, or perhaps some other forms of synergistic cohabitation — the Islamists, content only in destroying whatever the West represented or stood for, had no such intention. Theirs was an absolute unambiguous plan — to demolish the pillars that served as the foundation of modernization (which incidentally includes major contribution of the Muslim Andalusian Empire) — to take the world back by a few thousand years. They were the self-appointed representatives of destruction. And since it is easier to destroy than to build, they just had to let themselves lose in an incredibly interconnected world, to strike wherever they fancied.
So, a) the assumption that there was a ‘geographic, tangible headquarter’ of modern Islam; and b) the misplaced confidence that the crucial few Muslims that mattered, were driven by some philosophy/logic (and constructive at that), like the communists of the Cold War era, were the two major blunders that the US led planners committed. [I am sure the west noticed the few anomalies like Turkey that did not toe the Middle East line (which was good!), or the Afghans that were temporarily more inclined towards communism (which was bad) — but they were dealt on a piecemeal basis; they felt no need to change the global approach for that.]
That is when the third thing happened.
A little bit of Bauman becomes absolutely necessary here.
Zygmunt Bauman, the polish philosopher has a wonderful way of enlightening human transitions through his epic book Liquid Modernity. Bauman has established that modernity as a concept starts when space and time are separated from living practice and from each other and so become ready to be theorized as distinct and mutually independent categories of strategy and action. “…In the modern struggle between time and space, space was the solid and stolid, unwieldy and inert side, capable of waging only a defensive, trench war — being an obstacle to the resilient advances of time. Time was the active and dynamic side in the battle, the side always on the offensive: the invading, conquering and colonizing force”. He proceeds to take up solids to explain liquids. The term ‘solid’ is used chiefly as a metaphor for medieval or pre-modern institutions and establishments that were bound by certain old-school values, while ‘liquid’ denotes modernity. What primarily differentiates solids from liquids? Stability, achieved through the concept of bonding. Bonding allows solids to put up a resistance ‘against separation of the atoms.’ As a result, solids cancel time; they are compact, built to last and can withstand weathering. From concept to practice, examples of units that correlate with solids could be a society, a factory, a family, or a classroom. They are old and have been around for some time — thus they exhibit stability through bonding. Liquids however are completely time-bound. Just as when describing solids one may ignore time altogether — you know, the likes of parent-children relation or marriage — something that has been on for hundreds of years, liquids are continuously changing shapes, are ever-flowing. He notes that from their meeting with solids they emerge unscathed, while the solids they have met, if they don’t melt altogether, get moist or drenched. At times, there are chemical alterations in addition to the physical ones. And although it may not always be so, this extraordinary mobility of fluids is what associates them with the idea of ‘lightness’. Such a liquid is post-modern times. It has left a crucial impact on all the “solids” that it did not look favourably upon and had an urge to melt them.
The results are quite interesting! When the globalized businesses were cutting through the old institutions and houses; when Fordism was dying the hard way as the laptop and mobile armed neo-merchant trotted the globe setting up union-less manufacturing and borderless trading system; and as the US led west jumped with joy at the idea of an unaffiliated peripheral blob that they could extract their wealth from, the idea of liquid modernity touched Islam too, to leave the geographical headquarter(s) so meticulously established by the west in tatters. Radical Islam quickly liberated itself from the handful of centralized structures of the mid-20th century to the individual fidayeens (with a personalized agenda, a hint of an ideological affiliation, the default Kalashnikov, and plenty of loose cash) of the post-Modern era. The civilizational hatred was one construct however — a solid — that remained.
THE CHAOS AND THE AFTERMATH
One word comes to the mind: Al Qaeda.
When Bin Laden was a part of the Mujahideen brigade, he was a part of the institutional solid: with his tail tied to the KSA-ISI nexus, and in turn under the ambits of the CIA. Then when the USSR crumbled and the CIA stopped pouring money in the ISI coffers and took off and disappeared, he, and many like him were left in the cold. That was when he turned to his personal sources for finance and with that he gave birth to the next-gen Islamic radicalism: a platform to facilitate the business of terror outside and beyond the control of any nation or conventional institution. As a result of which, during the 1996–2001period, Al Qaeda is said to have been flooded with requests — for money, expertise, logistics, etc — that came from virtually every corner of the world. The intended use of the requested units were mostly destructive: bombs and mass murders. These were the end-products of more than half a century’s radicalized ‘us against them’ teaching that emanated out of the thousands of mosques and madrassas situated between Indonesia and Morocco. Jason Burke expresses that it was a time of sharing in the ideas of al Qaeda, of subscribing to the al Qaeda worldview, but without a tangible connection. And as a matter of fact, al Qaeda as a physical unit would soon cease to exist due to military interventions.
But the circle was complete.
The liquefied version of the al Qaeda maxim, ushered in the era of post-modern jihad that USA and the west was completely unprepared for. The original process-owners in KSA were clueless, as were the ISI. There was suddenly no head to cut off; no army or state could contain it by conventional methods. Radical Islam, forever altered by liquid modernity, now had no boundary within which the subscribers of its ideology could be found. Suddenly, the war was everywhere; even in their homes.
My guess is, this is when the US planners quit the command center and scooted. leaving the game wide open.
The rest has been followed and tracked meticulously by all kinds of observers all around the globe. There has been a host of opinions too; from both the sides, as I have expressed in the beginning of this article. The USA and the west, after internalizing the extent of the damage their cavalier attitude caused, have now probably decided to go with the flow without any coherent long term strategy — which is somewhat visible from the way the White House spokespersons interact with the press, or when their President and Defense Secretary behave like overgrown minors. In absence of any concrete vision, the establishment guys are desperately trying to revive Russia (and China) as the enemy again; probably wanting to go back into the Cold War comfort zone. But the world is taking less and less of this spin. At another end, the recent chaos in Syria has churned Muslim refugees almost everywhere in the European mainland; and while most of them are genuine, the Deobandi influenced Pakistani/Pashtun, and Wahabi influenced MENA guys — the liquid jihadists — have infiltrated the refugees and are carrying out their lone-wolf attacks. Islamic fundamentalism is now a global conglomerate: with no heads to cut-off, and thanks to the internet (and the social media), no one can tamper with its auto-pilot mechanism either.
A few of the progressives see this also as a part of the western planners. I somehow lack that imagination. You see, I am yet to get a concrete reply to the question “who profits financially from this mess and how” despite having interacted with a lot of analysts around. If the idea that initiated medieval trade wars, colonialism, or globalization was control and profit — how does any merchant or banker benefit when they have no control over a situation? This increase in the threat and reduction in the power to mitigate it, is anything but a good market to be in. Orwell’s version of a panopticon surveillance society is probably a good thing when one is proactively trying to mitigate future market disasters. It is not so good when the market has already been hit by a wrecker-ball across several places; is sinopticon in nature as a result — be it in the business of profit or terror.
Anyway, John Gray, in his book False Dawn, says, “Free markets are the creatures of government and cannot exist without them.… Democracy and free markets are competitors rather than partners.… [just as the disastrous British free market 100 years ago which culminated into two world wars, the current] global free market is an American project.… In the absence of reform, the world economy will fragment, as its imbalances become insupportable.… The world economy will fracture into blocs, each driven by struggles for regional hegemony”
The prophecy “The world economy will fracture into blocs, each driven by struggles for regional hegemony” came to pass with those two back to back mistakes that resulted in the exit of the planners of the Great Game of Globalization. The population has now taken it on their own to counter what they perceive to be a here-and-now threat. The coming of the Right Wing — which is a direct result of the imbecility on the part of the west to comprehend the scale of Islamic intolerance — is probably what Gray foresaw.
Social liberalism is falling out of fashion. The likes of Donald Trump with their proposed plans for their countries underline that same thought: Isolation, Localization, Suspicion, and Intolerance. We might be staring at a future world that is fragmented, inaccessible, and is driven by distrust if not hatred, towards one another. Economies that are segregated in blocks. Rise of extremism across all major religions — probably legitimized through government intervention as well. And even though it currently is difficult to imagine a Marie le Penn or a Donald Trump assuming a more Centrist approach or getting cozy with the idea of free market in future, if that happens, the people would soon find a way to get past them. Loss of job/money is an idea that they can sustain, but I have serious doubts if they could ever come to terms with loss of life/identity — which is what they have learnt to equate present day Islamism with.
So, like the way a section of people believed that Afghan Resistance was the reason why the USSR crumbled, many millions in the future, for better or worse, would hail Islam as the reason for the catastrophe that shaped the 21st century. This kind of a belief would keep strengthening till the time the Islamist threat doesn’t completely dissipate. And the West — realizing how it cost them their century-old monopoly on unequal trade and ownership rights, and banking on the general global opinion about Islam — would soon regroup and reorganize a few decades from now; this time with an iron-clad legitimization to probably revive — among other things — the forgotten Crusade.