Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feudalism in Our Future

The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan
Syria, and Iraq were ill-fated creations, the legacy of a period of colonial rule following the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Yugoslavia was another example of a modern invention, albeit under the auspices of different historic forces. Arab Spring fractured the slim nationalistic ties that were often held together by tyrants. Essentially Assad, Hussein and Gaddafi were right. Without terror the conflicting agendas of their fractured constituencies would create an unparalleled cauldron of ethnic volatility. So what will the new Iraq and Syria look like? What will be the fate of Libya? Yugoslavia faced a similar situation after the death of Tito when the countries liberation from Communism unleashed centuries old vendettas that had been suppressed by in that country’s case, a benevolent despot. One looks back longingly at benevolent despotism and cynically at the prospect of democracy in countries where irrational hatred seems to be the lingua franca of political life. In fact, neither despotism nor democracy is likely to prevail and perhaps the currently hopeless situation in a country like Syria where terrorist groups, like Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, who are themselves bitter enemies, vie for control of the revolution presages the future of many parts of the world.  What we are witnessing is a return to tribalism and feudalism. Unable to live together, each religious and ethnic group will stake out their territory with former nation states fragmenting into highly guarded enclaves, the walled fortresses of the middle ages. New Yorkers joke about seceding from the United States, such is their revulsion at the values of middle America. But it’s no joke. What's happening in the Mideast could spread like a virus even in those Western countries who consider themselves both the beneficiaries and benefactors of the Englightenment.

1 comment:

  1. jylle benson-gaussJune 11, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    Interesting. An economics hobbyist I know has long proposed that a sustainable future for humans would be in smaller, semi-autonomous groups. Breaking into groups isn't the problem, apparently; getting the groups to work together on larger projects affecting regional or continental issues would still be a poser. Is it possible that we'll grow into our name: sapiens? I'm not willing to bet on the future of the human species.


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