Civilization orbits around the planet

The following is a translation of the first op-ed I published in Canada. It was published in Al-Qalam Arabic newspaper in Vancouver on Friday, August 19th, 2011.


Many people argue that the industrial revolution in Europe in the 18th century was sparked by knowledge acquired from the scientific achievements of Islamic civilization through earlier interactions with Andalusia. Since that time, the west has been sitting at the leading edge of the world’s nations in military, cultural, economical, and many other aspects. Some people might think that the dominance of this “western” culture on the world could go on forever, given its unprecedented flexibility, its ability to correct its path and to learn from its mistakes. The truth is, like any other civilization, it is going to an end, and what we are now witnessing could be the beginning of the end.

Western nations haven’t used to play a secondary role in the world. The US, which is the mother of global economy, has not yet used to have its credit rate downgraded. So is the case with Europe, which also didn’t use to this severe austerity that is dropping one EU economy after the other, and threatening to abort its union, and diminish its currency, that has not yet warmed its seat among global currencies. The secondary role, that Arabs has grown accustomed to, is now digging its way into the west from the empty national reserve safes.

The reason for that is because the western model was built on the principle of economic supremacy. The military might of the west helped secure the biggest share of earth’s natural resources of all the world’s nations for the cheapest of prices. Earth had a lot to give, and the west was not willing to share with anyone. Even oil was sold for less than one dollar per barrel when it was first traded. It continued to be that way until Venezuela started the wave of nationalization that eventually led to the formation of OPEC.

Now the time has changed. New economic powers like China, India, Brazil, and even Russia emerged and started to compete for these very resources with western countries. Apart from the invasion of Iraq by the United States, and its attempts to separate the southern and western parts of Sudan, the game in general became more fair, and the super powers now find themselves honestly competing for these, already depleted, resources.

The resources in turn, are now in the hands of more vigilant and knowledgeable people, who’ve learned the value of what they have, and are now more willing to benefit from it, and more skilled in so doing. These nations even started to compete with the west in terms of product quality, and labor prices, which is changing the skeleton of global economy.

Amidst all of those challenges – and maybe even because of them – the financial crises came with the mercy bullet to the western governments. These governments now find themselves loosing grounds economically at the same time when their military force can no longer provide an easy access to a big share of cheap natural resources like it used to do before.

The high numbers of unemployment that swift through the western economies already started to widely affect the behavior of people in these societies. The almost ‘mundane’ phenomena of riots that we witnessed in France, Greece, Vancouver, and Britain, warns that the economic shrinkage has already started to affect the social structure of these nations. It’s as if economy, that was the reason behind the collapse of socialism is meant to be the reason for the collapse of the capitalism as well, probably because each of the two cases is an extreme in one direction, while the right place is somewhere in the middle.

Culturally, the western world finds itself in a constant fear of Islamic “invasion” to its culture. This fear turned into Islamophobia, and in some cases, especially in Europe, even Xenophobia. Even on the demographical level the west is shrinking, societies no longer reproduce in enough number to sustain the economy, which causes many countries to rely on immigrant, which in turns fuels the feeling of insecurity and vulnerability among the “western” societies.

Despite their might, western governments don’t have much to do with all of the above. They can’t start wars that they cannot finance, nor market to their people, in order to regain an unfair share of world’s resources. And they can’t afford to contradict the principles that they were found on and become more aggressive and isolated from the rest of the world. In both cases, the current form of the ‘western’ example will change into a new form.

As a result, the dimming light of the civilization in the western is happening at the same time when the world’s financial leadership is crossing the pacific from the US to China by the year 2015. It makes you think that civilization is like the sun, ‘orbiting’ around the earth, and warming waking up one civilization at a time. It makes you think that the changes that are taking place now in the Middle East is are an indication that this part of the world is preparing to retake the torch from China, to lead the world again, for a while.

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