Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is ISIS a Product of the Failed Arab Spring?

I can appreciate the decision of the author of "The Mystery of ISIS," scheduled for the next issue of The New York Review of Books and currently available on their Web site, to remain anonymous. The article is rich with both historical background and analysis, yet it never draws any conclusions as to why ISIS should be recruiting so many followers on such a broad international scale. I would like to suggest that the author may have overlooked the role that may have been played by the Arab Spring, not so much in terms of any immediate impact that happened, fizzled, or backfired but with regard to the motivating forces behind protest. Those forces had so much in common that, as I observed in August of 2011, they could be found in Israel as well as its many Arab neighbors.

The writer that seems to have been most aware of those forces was Fareed Zakaria, whose analysis on the Web site argued that those who gathered in Tahrir Square were there because, regardless of how much education or training they had, they could not see a future for themselves in Egypt as it was in early 2011. Indeed, such a social context would suggest that the Arab Spring inspired not only Israeli youth but also the subsequent Occupy movement. Perhaps the most important consequence of globalization is that, practically everywhere in the world, there is now a generation of educated young people who see absolutely no prospects for a viable future. That future has been withheld from them by the tyrannical forces of an "economic elite," the top 1% of the tope 1%, if you will, that understands the world only in terms of balance sheets and returns on investment.

In any individual country this would be a desperate situation. On a global scale it is an invitation to catastrophe. Through skillful manipulation of the "consciousness industry," surpassing that of both the Nazis and the economic elite, ISIS has been able to circulate its message to those who feel, rightfully so, that there is nothing they can do to bring any satisfaction into their lives. Moralists can wax indignantly that ISIS should try to deceive so many vulnerable individuals, but do they give any thought as to why those individuals were so vulnerable in the first place?

Think about it. Through globalization the economic elite has create a world in which even the basic premises behind governance have gone onto the rocks, smashed by the domination of marketing over legislation and jurisprudence. "Rational man" may be justified in declaring that the efforts of ISIS to burn down the whole house and replace it with their caliphate are "barbaric;" but are they any more barbaric than they ways in which the "wise men [sic] of Davos" have all but obliterated the middle class in any economic society? The world may ultimately be divided between those who waste away out of their own helplessness and those who rally to ISIS for the simple reason that they have nothing better to do with themselves.

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