“Globalization is the caliphate of the financial markets.” —Andrés Rábago, El País
Andrés Rábago’s quote is rather perfect. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of the Muslim Caliphate:
Conceptually, a caliphate represents a sovereign state of the entire Muslim faithful, (the Ummah), ruled by a caliph under Islamic law (sharia).
Globalization being the universal rule of the financial markets under the laws of liberal economics, with the bankers being a collegiate “caliph” and “god” being written as “$.”
A fundamentalist reading of our system would go something like this: “there is no $ but the $ and the NYSE is its witness” to which its devotees would add, “peace be upon it.”
However, our system is bleeding charisma.
Charisma is a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader. —Max Weber
What is the heart of our system’s charisma? Its symbol might be the Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty: our faith is based on our system’s heretofore eternal ability to create endless wealth and spread it around widely enough so its glaring inequalities were accepted painlessly. This version of the economy has been in the tank since Lehman Brothers went down and the middle class of the developed countries, not having had the darshan of “$” for quite a while are losing the faith.
Our economy’s inability to endlessly cut the mustard for the middle class is a gross betrayal of faith which might be compared to some future pope saying ex-catedra that God didn’t exist and that he had sold the Vatican to the Holiday Inn chain and was taking the proceeds and moving with his husband to the Bahamas. The tragic chaos and desolation of betrayed faith would shatter the lives of millions.
Thus under the rule of the global caliphate, the natives are restless: Scotland, Catalonia, even in the USA, where according to Reuters, one out of four Americans would like to “secede,” all this while thousands march worldwide to “save the planet.” However, with Karl Marx on the “ash heap of history,” sitting there in the penalty box, waiting to get back in the game, it seems to me that, for the moment, the only revolution in town is Islamic …
Am I the only one to see a resemblance between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Pol Pot? Between the Islamic State and the Khmer Rouge? With the difference that the Khmer Rouge were a relatively small group of whacked out Maoists in a tiny out of the way place like Cambodia and the IS (according to the CIA) consists of 31,000 well armed, well trained, fanatical, young men (and women) who come from all over the world, bankrolled by some of the most pious of Arab billionaires, armed with one of history’s most powerful ideologies, smack dab in the middle of the world’s most strategic real estate. “Bring ’em on” said George W. Bush. … well now here they are.
What impresses me most is not all the beheading. We think this brutality is a message directed to us … it isn’t; it is a message for everybody except “us.” Americans might be shocked and disappointed to discover that after several centuries of colonial oppression a great part of the world’s population can see a white man get his throat cut with total equanimity if not a certain schadenfreude.
What truly does impress me is that the CIA puts IS’s numbers at 31,000. This certainly is no a small group of terrorists.
Anyone with even a superficial knowledge of statistical sampling should shudder at that number. With only 30,624 Muslims randomly polled you would have a reliable indicator of the Ummah’s opinion on any subject, so it would be safe to say that for every young man (or woman) with enough courage and initiative to travel so far at so much risk of death, there must be thousands on thousands of young men (and women) who wish they had the guts to do so too.
Certainly these numbers tell us that even the most moderate Muslims could imagine a young family member involved, very much in the same way that moderate Irish or Basques could easily have a family member in the IRA or ETA and while they disapprove of what they do, they don’t stop loving them. As a friend of mine from a very rich family once told me, “blood is thicker than toothpaste.”
This means that our success in running down and exterminating the young men (and women) of the Islamic State may bring us much more trouble down the road than we have today.
A very reliable leading indicator of how wrong this could all go is the recent statement by Tony Blair advocating sending in ground troops … I’m waiting to hear what Bush thinks!
Cross posted from David Seaton’s News Links
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