Lets compare the arab spring with the protestant reformation, and today’s USA and see if we can learn something.
The protestant reformation was caused by:
a) a rapid population increase in the germanic countries (just like the arab spring)
b) the desire of the nobility to keep revenues in-country.
c) the population’s rejection of endemic corruption by federal government (the church)
d) the population’s frustration with power struggles (the four pope problem) in the church (just like we have today in the states because of multiculturalism)
ie: the reformation was a tax rebellion against corruption made possible by new information distribution technology, and the partial recovery of the population after the black death.
In the USA, we are developing castes in response the loss of our european aristocratic manorial agrarian social structure — just like the chinese have returned to familism in the face of politically tyranny. Castes are the other solution to the problem of building a social order whenever there is a great deal of diversity, and there is common interest among members of the ruling castes. This is what is happening in the west. We are losing our universalism, and due to diversity and lack of familial bonds, evolving castes. We can see this in the class structure: people trust within class but not between classes.
A great deal of the ‘arab spring’ and call for return to sharia is because they have no other concept of law, and they perceive the governments as highly corrupt. What they don’t understand (as HBD chick tries to advocate) is that the governments are corrupt in large part because of inbreeding (tribalism), and that they’re precious culture is causing it, and that everything they do will reinforce it. They live in a win-lose society.
Muslims also have a romantic concept of the past. There is very little ‘good’ that came of islamic ‘civilization’. They were similar to the Mongols: successful raider-conquerors who were able to take over Byzantine and other administrations. The islamic advancements they point to were never the product of arabs, but of the people that they conquered who published ideas in the language of their conquerors. Their concepts were primitive. They never were able to break tribal bonds. Never able to develop the rule of law because of it. And once in control, their religion actively suppressed the spread of knowledge starting in the 13t century, and therefore commerce. And its institutions prohibited the adaptation of their society to the post agrarian age.
See Fukuyama’s recent study, On The Origins Of Political Order. Or for a more interesting analysis see Goldman’s How Civilization’s Die And Why Islam Is Dying Too, or Why Nation’s Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson. The best book on the subject is probably North’s Violence And Social Orders. All of which state the same thing: that it’s nearly impossible to create an institutional framework that can override clannish sentiments, and produce a high trust society that avoids corruption, and therefore encourages risk, investment, and constant innovation. And most of them argue that it’s a uniquely western accident that cannot be repeated ever again.
Of course, there are people in my world (libertarian political philosophy, and political economy) that are trying to develop institutional solutions that would make this kind of tribal cooperation possible in government: and it’s not all that complicated: a hard constitution, property rights, the common law, and a prohibition on law-making by the government (return to the common law), and limiting the government to writing contracts and collecting income taxes.
But that set of institutions is something almost impossible to put into place. Just as it’s impossible to put something anti-tribal into place in Egypt (or any of the Muslim world) without an external entity dictating it and imposing it through violence. Legal solutions are imposed by conquerors. People rarely will impose these solutions on themselves since they violate their tribal sentiments.
Aside from developing internal castes, one of the alternatives is to choose the diasporic capitalist method of the jews, armenians, hindus, chinese and japanese, and to a lesser degree the English: avoid the problem of territorial control entirely, and simply focus on liquid capital regardless of the existing administration by circumventing the problem. Furthermore, relying for group cohesion on liquid capital rather than fixed capital (land) economy eliminates the need to control territory, and therefore the need to form a government. This method takes advantage of tribalism rather than seeking to suppress it. And liquid capital is much more powerful than land capital in influencing political policy. I would argue that diasporic clannism is just a capitalist caste system. But it appears to work regardless of what group does it, and what territory that the
The problem with that method is that it only works for the upper classes, leaving the lower classes victim of the vagaries in the land economies. But that’s somewhat good for the survivors as it creates a natural eugenics program. (We can see that in the jews whose exceptionalism is limited to the Ashkenazim, and the other three subgroups vary from normal range IQ, to below normal in Ethiopia. It isn’t so much about breeding upward as it is suppressing the breeding of the lower classes.) The manorial system suppressed the birth rates of the lower classes (just as corporatism would in the USA if let flourish.) But if one wants to prosper, one must both suppress the breeding of the lower classes AND choose a liquid capital economy. It works for every group that tries.
This is somewhat problematic for westerners, since historically their civilization’s advantage comes from rapid adoption of technology, the use of superior military tactics, and the rapid adaption that is possible in such a society. For these reasons, a weak, small, poorer europe has been able to hold back and defeat wealthier and more numerous enemies for thousands of years.
Perhaps more importantly, those battle tactics are the reason that the west developed politics, debate, reason and science: they required westerners to debate with one another as peers relying upon objective reality, where the outcome had serious consequences. This society and it’s predilection for technology and distaste for authority is the most effective land-holding strategy yet developed by any culture. So westerners would be forced to relinquish what is left of their heroic culture to do it — something they would find instinctively immoral, and perhaps impossible.
The problem is, that since the european civil war, the west has lost its identity and willingness to promote it’s core values. As such, under the banner of accommodative multiculturalism, an unjustified colonial guilt, and world war self-criticism, it will most likely regress into castes and clans, and a government that is paralyzed, acidic, and eventually ignored.
And our classical liberal political system was designed for protestants with a homogenous culture that must select from among priorities, not compete for entirely different goals. We cannot survive this. THe conservatives were right all along. The libertarians have the only possible solution, but because the anarchists are a distraction and the socialists have broader appeal, it appears that it is not possible to enact libertarian solutions to political institutions.