Friday, September 08, 2006

Will We Survive?

Are peace and stability at any cost always good?

No, I am not posing this question, because I have an agenda in mind, or because I am seeking to advocate some sort of a violent action in the region. Rather, I am asking this, because I feel we are drifting closer and closer to more regional wars and mayhem in the next few months and years, both due to external and internal pressures. I just wonder whether this is necessarily a bad thing, or at least, whether this is the only bad thing.

For the peace and stability that all “realists” seem to be advocating for us are premised on purely political grounds, and is bound to deny us any possibility at seeking any kind of improvement in the situation of basic human and political rights across the region. It will thwart any possibility of establishing a more responsible and accountable form of government, as it is bound to put all democracy and human rights activists and political dissidents at the mercy of regimes that have traditionally showed them none.

As such, the peace and stability that are being proposed for us might work for all actors, including the ruling regimes and the powers-that-be, US, France, China, Russia, Israel etc. Hell, they might even put some food on the table for a short while as far as most people are concerned. But neither the liberal actors, nor the radical and extremist elements, most of all the jihadists, will be happy with this situation. For, none of them can advance their agenda in the shade of the kind of peace and stability that our illustrious regimes can produce.

But, and while the jihadists can always opt to rebel and work their mayhem, even if their numbers were small (and let’s not forget here that the number of Muslim Brotherhood members who opted or violence in Syria in the late 70s and early 80s, numbered only a few hundreds), the liberals cannot do that. For most, such violent rebellion would represent a betrayal of the basic ideals being advocated. But for others, the very few others who might contemplate violence, such rebellion requires a certain psychological and ideological conditioning that they simply seem to lack, at least at this stage. As such, they are more likely to turn suicidal than murderous.

Meanwhile, working on a nonviolence alternative in the hope of producing another color or flower revolution might simply be an impossible undertaking in countries where the civil society is well-nigh dead. Still, it represents the only hope that the liberals really have, if they are to remain true to themselves. But even should such a revolution take place, and albeit the liberals will most surely take an active part in organizing it, alongside other elements, including leftist and nationalist currents and moderate Islamists, no liberal will likely emerge as the leader in any of the existing states. The societies will remain too conservative to allow for that.

These are not opportune times for the liberals. But then, the times will never become opportune on their own. They need to be made so. The liberals need to earn their luck. If they cannot have much of a direct influence over how things are likely to turn out at this stage, and if they seem about to be sold out to the regimes even, the best that they could do is to try to conjure mechanisms for surviving and even growing underground.

For in the final analysis, both the peace and the stability of the realists, and constructive chaos of the neocons, not to mention the pure mayhem of the extremists and jihadists, spell doom for us, liberals. Lacking the ability to break the status quo as a result of our own independent initiatives, the best we can do at this stage is – survive.