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Is the World Splitting into Tribes?

This article by Koert Debeuf proposes that a global identity crisis began around 2005 which calls into question the “liberal consensus” that we are moving, slowly but surely, toward a future of greater democracy, prosperity, openness and freedom around the world. The consequence, Debeuf says, is a return to tribalization (extreme nationalism) whether in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East. Here is what Debeuf has to say about the current state of Arab society.

    “Most Arabs feel totally lost now. All ideologies are broken. Not one has fulfilled its promises. They don’t know anymore what to make of their religion. The ones with the deepest identity crisis see the Islamic State as the last resort…. For all the other Muslims, the Islamic State is proof of the lack of new ideas. As long as these ideas are not there, most Arabs don’t know what to choose anymore: stability or democracy, religion or secularism, pan-Arabism or nationalism, looking to the West or turning away from it.
    “Traumatized and lost, most Arabs go back to the tribal idea they know best: authoritarian nationalism. This is obvious in Egypt where president Sisi and the military are ruling with force. … It makes the Arab World a telling example of the two main roads of tribalization: authoritarian nationalism and religious fanaticism. Both are each others biggest enemy. The nationalists blame the Islamists for putting their religion before their country while the Islamists blame the nationalists for putting their religion second. The propaganda war between the two camps shows that what we are seeing today is only the beginning of a deep and destructive regional conflict.”

Whether you agree with Debeuf’s conclusions or not (personally I believe he’s too pessimistic), if you enjoy an analysis that makes deeper connections beyond the headlines of the day, this article is worth your time. Debeuf also looks at the rise of nationalist movements in Europe, Putin’s authoritarianism in Russia, and the political polarization of the U.S.

Thanks to War in Context for the link.


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