What follows is a sort of smorgasbord-compass that I have put together to help me, and hopefully others, get some idea of where this mess we now find ourselves in comes from and where it might lead us,
I hope the material quoted below might help to provide readers with a workmanlike framework for thinking about the new era we have entered into, with ISIS’ attacks on Paris … a conflict which might be turning into the “Third Gulf War” or even World War III.
We begin with what I would call the “mantra” to repeat constantly while reading, watching and hearing the news these days:
Multiculturalism is not a naive liberal aspiration — it is the reality of the modern world — Gideon Rachman, Financial Times
This is simply reality:
With globalization and its new communication tools, we have all been thrown together brutally, helter skelter, in a worldwide, multinational-economy-mishmash, with no regard for history, culture, faiths or national idiosyncrasy, like having several different, large families, who don’t even speak the same language, shut up together in the same small flat, sharing, bedrooms, kitchen … and bathroom. And somehow we are going to have to learn to live like this together in peace and harmony or else.
The French part of all of this not that new — the unrest among young French citizens of North-African origin has been growing for some time and came to a head 10 years ago:
In October and November of 2005, a series of riots occurred in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities, involving the burning of cars and public buildings at night. The unrest started on 27 October at Clichy-sous-Bois, where police were investigating a reported break-in at a building site, and a group of local youths scattered in order to avoid interrogation. Three of them hid in a power-station where two died from electrocution, resulting in a power blackout. (It was not established whether police had suspected these individuals or a different group, wanted on separate charges.)
The incident ignited rising tensions about youth unemployment and police harassment in the poorer housing estates, and there followed three weeks of rioting throughout France. The rioters were the children of immigrants from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa for whom Islam was an inseparable component of their self-identity which strengthened their sense of solidarity, gave them the appearance of legitimacy and drew a line between them and the French. — Wikipedia
Why are there so many North-African Muslims living in France?
After WWII there was a literally wonderful period of never before experienced prosperity in France:
Les Trente Glorieuses, “The Glorious Thirty”) refers to the thirty years from 1945 to 1975 following the end of the Second World War in France. […] Over this thirty-year period, France’s economy grew rapidly like economies of other developed countries within the framework of the Marshall Plan such as West Germany, Italy and Japan. These decades of economic prosperity combined high productivity with high average wages and high consumption, and were also characterized by a highly developed system of social benefits. —Wikipedia
Because of this economic boom there was a tremendous need for low-paid manual labor, which the native French population couldn’t satisfy, and at the beginning of “The Glorious Thirty” most immigrants came from poorer southern European countries like Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal … white and Christians. Many of them became totally assimilated, took French nationality and have become quite successful. The mayoress of Paris was born in Spain and so was the present Prime Minister’s father. However in the mid-1960s the economies of these southern European countries also began to boom and they dried up as a source of cheap labor for France.
At this point, still booming France turned to its former colonies in North Africa for the workers who would accept low pay doing the dirty jobs the French didn’t want to do and southern Europeans didn’t need to do anymore. Then, when in the economy cooled off in the 1970s, the North Africans were left stranded in immigrant urban ghettos and, unlike the southern Europeans, they had nowhere to go back to, as things were even worse in North Africa than in France.
So you could say that in some way, today the French are paying their imperial “karma”:
Paris, November 20, 2005 – ‘We’re here because you were there’
Three Weeks of urban rioting by thousands of children and grandchildren of post-colonial migrants have finally forced France to grapple with the bitter fruits of its fallen empire. The lesson should not be lost on any Western nation. It is encapsulated in the slogan that activists have been employing throughout Western Europe for the past few decades: “We are here because you were there.” — Gregory Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
What has turned the secular urban riots of 2005 — rather similar to the “burn baby burn” riots in the USA during the Civil Rights period of the 1950s and 60s — into the militarily organized horror of ISIS’ attacks in today’s Paris?
The answer is simple: Ideology, that is to say, structure for action.
Wahhabite Islam is the specific ideology that is structuring the turbulence. You might say that Whahhabism is a sort of Muslim version of “ultra-Calvinism,” iconoclastic, lunatic-fringe, but very, very well financed:
Wahhabism has been accused of being “a source of global terrorism,” inspiring the ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and for causing disunity in Muslim communities by labeling Muslims who disagreed with the Wahhabi definition of monotheism as apostates (takfir), thus paving the way for their execution for apostasy. It has also been criticized for the destruction of historic mazaars, mausoleums, and other Muslim and non-Muslim buildings and artifacts.
The “boundaries” of what make up Wahhabism have been called “difficult to pinpoint,” but in contemporary usage, the terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often used interchangeably, and considered to be movements with different roots that have merged since the 1960s. But Wahhabism has also been called “a particular orientation within Salafism,” or an ultra-conservative, Saudi brand of Salafism. — Wikipedia
That’s right, the center of this ideology is coming from the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, straight from the world’s filling station, Saudi Arabia. Literally every time you fill up your gas tank you might be financing al-Qaida or ISIS (Daesh):
Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex. Until that point is understood, battles may be won, but the war will be lost. Jihadists will be killed, only to be reborn again in future generations and raised on the same books. — Kamel Daoud, The New York Times
I’ll try to illustrate the center of the problem, past, present and future with this simple photo-montage:
The the best caption I could find for these photos is …
Clusterfuck (plural clusterfucks) (slang, vulgar) A chaotic situation where everything seems to go wrong. It is often caused by incompetence, communication failure, or a complex environment. —Wiktionary
To be continued …
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