Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sand You Were and Sand You Will Become

The clash of great collectives, thus cultures and civilizations, is a fascinating story with discernible laws of their own, but the subject interests at most one person in multiple thousands. We’re time-bound. Our time horizons are quite short, at most years, usually much shorter. Virtually nobody wonders how things will look a century, never mind three centuries hence.

I’m thinking now of the oil-rich Arab countries in the first instance. They belong to the Muslim culture; it is younger than the Western. It originated in the seventh, the Western (Christendom) in the forth century. I date the first to 632 when Muhammed died and the second to Constantine’s ascension or, more specifically, to the Edict of Milan in 312. Younger, older.

Cultural clashes make winners and losers, and to some extent the outcomes are predictable. A mature civilization encroaching on a relatively primitive culture spells the domination of the primitive by the mature—and often, when primitives are not very numerous (such was the case in Europe’s invasion of America) the virtual wipe-out of the primitive. When both cultures are in their growth phase, the older will more likely win if all else is equal. This has been the case in the clash between the West and the Muslim culture. Therefore it is we who established Israel in Palestine. It is we who’re “nation-building” in Iraq and in Afghanistan rather than, say, The Caliphate nation-building in Texas or in Florida.

The Romans expanded northward and subjected what today is France and England; they also warred against the Germans like we war against Afghanistan—not quite succeeding—and found little footing east of the Rhine.

When a decadent civilization is up against a younger one it is ultimately overrun, but the younger of the two will absorb the culture of those that it conquers. Thus Germanic tribes eventually overran Rome. Thus also the Mongols under Kublai Khan conquered China. The English conquered India, a decadent civilization, that had been overrun earlier by the Muslims. China was less decadent. It was somewhat “opened,” meaning to trade, by the Opium Wars, but it was never colonized like India; and now, rising, when it looks out onto the world, it is not through westernized eyes.

Now what lies ahead of us in the long run—and there is no need to worry, it won’t affect most people living now—is that the Western decadence will deepen just as fossil fuels run out. Muslim populations are already, as I write, interlacing western populations in Europe, including England; they are notorious for breeding, resisting integration, and heeding their mullahs. When the oil wells dry up, great transformations, and confusions, will preoccupy the “developed” world—most endangered by its vast reliance on fossil fuels. The Arab countries, where all of the world’s attention is now, will become what they have once been—mostly sand. And our vital interest in maintaining Israel, our de-facto 51st state, will become almost indiscernible; we’ll be too busy learning to farm and to weave. What will then become of that outpost of the Western world embedded there, by force, in the midst of the Muslim culture? Will Israel conquer the sand or will the sand conquer Israel?

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