Mimicking the Middle Ages
A daily watch of someone stricken with a severe malady will more or less confirm with every twitching observed that the patient's situation is critical.
Such is the case in observing the daily painfully grievous twitching in the Middle East and across the Arab-Muslim world, and every spike in violence observed merely confirms the Islamic lands — Arab and non-Arab — are sinking ever deeper into the death throes of a dysfunctional culture.
We are watching Syria sliding precipitately into a civil war, Pakistan maddeningly sinking into a cauldron of violence fuelled by religious bigots, Coptic Christians of Egypt desperately looking for an exit out of a land they no longer can count as their ancient home, and Iran torn between the fanaticism of the clergy with its thuggish militia let loose and a people exhausted by the din of empty slogans.
If we take a wider view of the lands between the River Indus flowing through Pakistan and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, we might find the events we are witnessing in this part of the world when taken together form a pattern and may be explained historically.
The Arab-Muslim world is at some point close to the bottom of an immense civilizational breakdown, and the ever-present violence that we are witnessing is the symptom of this historic convulsion.
The closest analogy to this situation in the Arab-Muslim world is the massive convulsions that shook Europe over several centuries from the beginning of the Middle Ages around the 14th century and the birth of the modern age toward the end of the 19th century.
If we may imagine the history of Europe caught in the grips of great and massive changes, we might be reminded that very little sense could be made of the many revolutionary events as they unfolded — religious strife, dynastic violence, peasant movements, the birth of new science and new technology, making of gun powder and cannons, political revolutions, rise of nationalism and emergence of nation-states.
There were plagues, black deaths, famines and diseases, inquisition, fanaticism of all sorts, cruel monarchs, saintly individuals put to death, misogyny, child labour, serfdom, anti-Semitism and seemingly unending wars.
Yet a new Europe — and a new world of science and individual freedom, democracy and unimaginable wealth that no Midas of the ancient world could ever imagine — came out of that cauldron of dark night spread over several centuries.
Analogy has limits, and the analogy of Europe to understand the situation in the Arab-Muslim world is also limited.
In other words, none of us can say with any optimism or certainty how the massive convulsions of the Arab-Muslim world might eventually cease with the emergence of a newer and better arrangement for the people there as occurred in Europe.
The future only seems determined when it becomes the past, and is considered retrospectively.
It is safe to assume the dark night into which the Arab-Muslim world is descending will get even darker and more violent than at present.
And the world outside, as is the West, remains confused and at a loss on how to protect itself from the convulsions of the Arab-Muslim world.