Monday, February 26, 2024

The Road to Serfdom

One country boasts of its ancient civilization being the cradle of codified laws and justice, an oasis of culture, art, and poetry and the center of knowledge and power before all other great centers of the Old World (Athens to Rome). That country is presently ruined. A government of puppets rules over a wretched land that is partly occupied and incapable of exploiting its own natural resources without direct permission from its neighbor. That neighbor happens to be this nation’s traditional nemesis in everything from religious dogma, to ethnic, linguistic, and cultural heritages. You guessed right, Baghdad is a pale shadow of its former self.

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Another neck of these woods clamors to be a piece of Heaven on Earth, with a pretentious lot whose delirious beliefs speak volumes of its uniqueness and a “je ne sais quoi” in self-proclaimed ingenuity.  The creators of the alphabet, dwellers of cities that defied Alexander the Great, wood artisans of King Salomon’s Temple, paradisical coastal lines espousing unmatched mountain ridges and other sorts of pretentions and posturing. That country today lies in tatters. A failed state whose sovereignty is trampled, its institutions derelict, its people divided, and its territory overtaken by hordes of refugees both armed and unarmed. You’re right if you thought of Lebanon as the object of this sad but true description.

Some place claims to have been the center of the Christian apostles since St Paul, of the Islamic Caliphate since the Umayyads, and of Saladin’s bastion since the Crusades, where mansions are majestic, perfumes are overflowing, and gardens are enchanting. That country is no more, its geography apportioned into different military zones between foreign soldiers and warring factions. Syria -as you may have suspected – is a Swiss cheese-like territory governed by 5 tongues and 5 separate ethnicities: Persians, Russians, Turkic, North Americans, and Arabs, who have nothing in common and everything to fight over.

Finally, another nation that assert to be home of the Biblical Paradise, the ancient repository of pure blood lines, the land of frankincense and myrrh, is now ruled by a ragtag of bandits and pirates. They act as proxies and mercenaries for another nation who, in turn, wishes them no good or prosperity and harbors ill will towards all neighbors, them included. The land of Yemen finds itself a calamity in 2024, much more than in previous years, as it became the epicenter of maritime terrorism and the poster child for rogue nations.

Such nations of Felix Arabia, or what’s left of them, have one thread in common and that’s Iran’s political hegemony and military subjugation. Iran uses sectarian minorities to overtake local institutions and terrorizes other groups into assert dominion over an entire region. However, one question comes to mind: do the Arabs of said nations – have no say? Did they lose their common sense, their ancestral pride, their much-taunted nationalism, or are these antiquated notions that hold little value in this modern day and age? Maybe it is a form of reverse evolutionary process going from self-government to no-government of oneself. Like the driverless cars and the borderless countries and the pilotless planes and, alas, the stateless citizens? A sort of “Uberisation” of one’s sovereignty, by virtually franchising it to someone else. 

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Hope for the Arabs comes not from the words of wisdom of Ibn Rushd or Ibn Khaldun or from pamphlets of Saadeh or Aflak or from any gibberish regurgitated by Nasser or Sayyed Qutb, but from a saying by J.K. Rowling, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: “Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!” 

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