Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Use your illusion

The West's meteoric global dominance in the last 350 years was not only a material domination, but a mental one too. The current international system, or "Westphalian system" we live in today, is based on the state system originating from Western Europe in the 16th century. Imaginary boundaries, false nationalities and constructed patriotism. Completely meaningless...yet holding such a powerful grip on all our minds, myself included. But why?

Nowhere is the fallacy of the Westphalian based state system so ridiculously obvious than in the torn Middle East and North Africa. An entire culture based on a single language, history and world view, influenced by a world view (Islam) yet divided as if with a ruler on a drawing sheet. One only needs to look at the borders between Egypt, Libya and the Sudan, or between Syria, Jordan and Iraq to see it.

This Westphalian system has also implanted Western European Zionists intent on creating an ideal outpost of the West in the heart of the "Orient". Maybe it is because of this that Western countries fail to understand how groups such as Hezbullah can be so intertwined in a country like Lebanon. This country seems to have all the trappings of a modern state structure. A government, patriotism, a flag and national anthem, even a fledgling army, yet a non-state actor such as Hezbullah is prominent, supported by the majority of the population and also does not threaten it. A symbiotic relationship, albeit one which Israel used as an excuse to try to kill Lebanon.

The Palestinians are another example, they have no state, having been invaded and denied nationhood through the first half of the Twentieth century. Yet still they fight on, and not only that, they are supported by the populations of all the "states" from Morrocco to Oman. Even when a fake state structure was created with a pseudo Palestinian Authority, a flag, a President and even a police force, somehow the people refused to have the wool pulled over their eyes. New groups (such as Hamas) arose, with force if necessary, to continue the struggle against an occupation. The formerly popular Fatah lost ground rapidly when it's leaders fell for the Westphalian illusion of statehood, coupled with Israel's attempt to scuttle the peace talks it was never really sincere about, and this led to a landslide election for Hamas.

These Arab governments (many of them pro-Western) do not represent their people, nor do they have these peoples interests at heart. Yet in spite of this, some affinity still goes beyond these artifical barriers and divisions. It's not always present I assure you, but when certain red lines are crossed such as the US-Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the solidarity and identification resurfaces like a cork long lodged under the river bottom but then set loose. When people talk about the West's civilization and values, I recall a quote from Mahatma Ghandi. Asked what he thought of Western civilization by a reporter his reply was, "I think it would be a good idea!".

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