There is a new light in the world. Time alone will tell whether or not it’s a great new light. The young people of much of North Africa and the Middle East are developing a voice of their own. They have discovered the power and the democracy of the information age, and are beginning to be able to mobilise an alternative voice to the religious despotism and political totalitarianism that has controlled their lives for so long. In the main, their desire seems to be to become part of the modern world. I applaud them. Their achievement is timely, and is of course, if it’s carried forward for the next decade, likely to be one of the biggest social changes in all our lifetimes.
Certainly it has the potential to achieve just as much social change, for at least as many people, as the ‘Peace and Love’ generation achieved in the late 1960s, and if it continues to grow may even rival events such as The Russian Revolution of 1917. They have it in their hands, literally, to change the world. As some people will know, I’m a fervent anti-monotheist, and as such, I can see the possibility of a great new light in the world.
Over the years, I’ve written at least a dozen songs, essays and poems that express my horror and bewilderment with the continuing wholesale credence given to the stone age sensibilities of monotheistic religion. Particularly to those of christianity and Islam. Great swathes of the world’s population are subjected to virtual state suppression in the guise of this type of religious thought, and Christianity and Islam are the major culprits. These young people are now giving themselves the chance of loosening shackles that have burdened the minds of their forebears for countless centuries.
To infer that either The Stone Age or ancient religious reflex mechanisms contributed negatively to human culture would obviously be untrue, but we have now reached a point in world civilisation where some of the previous dictats surely have to be ditched.
If you live in a state, or indeed a household, where free thought is the norm, then you may wonder what the hell I’m talking about. But if you live in Iran, where homosexuality can attract a death sentence, then you will know only too well. If you live in a creationist household in the USA, you are likely to be sheltered from such ‘dangerous’ ideas as Women’s Rights and exposed to the crazy view that the world is about 4000 years old.
I have no great hope that this status quo will suddenly change, but at least the revolutionaries will all now have a freer hand in how they describe themselves, and will presumably have a freer voice in the ways in which they choose to address their belief mechanisms. Alternative voices may very well at last be heard. I still hear a lot of “Insallah”, but I also hear a lot of alternative expression in newsreels coming from the streets of Libya.
Obviously Iran and Saudi Arabia are not part of this current wave of protest. They continue to rumble, and are likely to become even more isolated by the fact of this social upheaval, and you would have to say that unless the social situations in both states improve rapidly, that they are likely to follow into insurrection within a few years. Least-ways, the unrest within.. and the general antipathy without.. are likely to cause some change in the short term and possible drastic change eventually. Without the repressive apparatus of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, Ahmadinejad, (and his more hawkish cronies), are in a comparable place to Gaddafi in Libya, though the two are extremely unlikely ever to communicate.
Gaddafi hasn’t much time left now. He’s bound to be swallowed in a week or two. This revolution has fast forwarded a middle eastern scenario that the Israelis are going to have to come to better terms with. The Israelis are likely to find it more difficult to continue to be the pariah state they have become over the last few decades. Israel is going to have to negotiate with a rapidly changing reality. It may very well become a new economic reality. With the help of the USA, they can hold out to some extent, but the gathering powers in the region are likely to be able to force them to various tables. They have not made it easy for themselves with their intransigence since the 6 day war. Peace should have been made a long time ago. They cannot afford to wait until the boot is completely on the other foot. Cheaper avocados might soon be appearing at a venue near you.
Personally, I would love to see Beirut returned to something like it was in the early 70s. It was still known as the jewel of the Mediterranean even then. The language was mainly French and there was something of a bohemian atmosphere about the place. How that is missed! The entire area is now a war zone. I was invited to play in Beirut in 1974, just as the troubles began. I never made it because fighting broke out and gatherings became dangerous for everyone. In those days, religion definitely took the back seat it should still occupy. What a shame!
The young people of North Africa and the Middle East can see the more secular India and China progressing rapidly as they themselves stagnate. They can no longer stand by and watch while their masters insist on delaying the future. They cannot afford to. The Arab World, once the greatest seat of learning in the world, at a time when North Western Europe was in a period known to history as The Dark Ages, can no longer afford to be sidelined by the injustice of anachronistic religious despotism. The creationist mentality among the clerics of the Middle East now has a much better chance of being exposed than was possible in January 2011. If this gets any momentum at all, the world becomes a saner place, and perhaps we can all have the chance to get onto the same page!
There are many hurdles yet to be overcome. Never-the-less, “Vive La Revolution”!