Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Signs of a Terrifying Scene | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In his latest book, ‘A Brief History of the Future’, the renowned French thinker Jacques Attali envisions that in the near future, the world will witness a radical transformation in the form of three phases, which he named the great empire, the great conflict, and the great democracy.

The great empire is the absolute power of money resulting from economic globalization as the current growing mobility will lead to the breakdown of national entities, including the United States of America. If this were to actually take place, nature will collapse, army, police and justice will be privatized, and human beings will transform into manufactured commodities before they disappear.

If the grave consequences of this transformation are not overcome, humanity will slip into violent civil strife in which states, religious groups and private terrorist formations will clash.

If humanity manages to contain and control the effects of globalization, and the vitality and dynamism of the market were maintained and its excesses were curbed, it would be possible for a universal democracy to rise under a global government and a group of effective local and regional institutions. Attali expects the US empire to fall by 2035, which will be succeeded by the aforementioned three waves. The democratic wave will succeed in approximately 2060.

It is not my aim to give a detailed review of Attali’s book, which contains interesting information and ideas that one should stop and contemplate. Suffice it to refer to the givens presented in the important chapter dedicated to the wave of the generalized universal conflict, which alludes to some of his current views. In this chapter, Attali predicts the return of religious wars that are centered on the Christian and Muslim religions. Some Christian movements consider the market and democracy a danger to faith, doctrine and good conduct in defense of the sacred texts and the moral and social values contained therein.

Before reluctantly yielding and adapting to modernism, the Catholic Church, which he called the first migratory empire, for many ages stood against the mind, science, progress, individual rights and market values. Neo-conservative Catholic ideologies that reject economic liberalism, democracy and the market are expected to emerge.

The Evangelic Protestant trends are beginning to spread on a wide scale, especially in the US, where they have reached the heart of university institutions, gained control over many opinion and decision-making centers and the media, and have managed to have great influence in the political field. Such trends advocate Christian moral purity against the new surges of technological and economic modernism.

Attali envisions that when the universal empire reaches a phase that threatens the failing US empire, some of these churches may prompt the US to declare war on Islam, democracy and capitalism, which forms a theme of dangerous theocratic isolationism that deeply undermines the US democracy, which in turn becomes a mere superficial facade. The influence of these Evangelic churches will extend to the poor neighborhoods in Africa and Latin America, and they will ally themselves with the mafia and criminal empires, piracy networks and arms and drug dealers. They will also form to confront Islam along the divide between the two faiths in the east and south.

Europe will also witness the same religious consciousness, which will assume visible political forms. The visible indicators of this transformation include the return of theological issues to political dialogue whether in regard to the admission of Turkey to the European Union (EU) or the religious concerns of the EU constitution, and the heightening presence of extreme right-wing parties that focus on religious values in their political and social platforms.

In the Muslim world, Attali envisions that the same anti-democracy, anti-globalization forces already have louder voices and increased influence. He predicts that this confrontation will extend to the US, Israel, Europe, Judaism and Christianity, that is, to all the components and symbols of the West and Islam, as part of a dangerous and growing alienation between the West and Islam. Attali expects that in a next stage the option of religious reform and reconciliation with modernism will succeed; however, he sees that the fanatic and radical trends will be the ones to lead the religious sedition in the near future within the Muslim world, and between it and the West.

Attali regards the Al Qaeda network and associate terrorist groups as an indicator of this terrifying scene. The religions of Asia intermingled with national identities are not detached from this transformation; therefore, the first battle of this universal sedition may break out in Taiwan, Mexico or the Middle East – all of which are locations where there are factors of fermenting conflict that center on water, oil, religions, demographics, the gap between the north and south, and border disputes.

Even though Attali does not elaborate on this scene and predicts that humanity will survive it unscathed and head towards a paradise of lasting democracy, he acknowledges that the indicators of such a horrific situation are still looming on the horizon.