Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Globalist does it again ... For my money, Roger Cohen's "Globalist" column in the IHT is the best commentary out there today.

Here's his take on the social transformations at the heart of the global terror movement:
Behind the wars of the first half of the 20th century lay many factors, not least the instability engendered as European empires imploded and nation-states emerged. But perhaps the greatest catalyst was the social upheaval provoked by a rapid industrialization that redefined working conditions and politics in ways that proved uncontrollable. Communism and Fascism were two of the results.

An upheaval of similar scope is now under way. It is not entirely visible to us because we are part of it. But its outlines are clear enough.

This revolution is being driven by new technologies, usually identified with the United States, that are eliminating distance, destroying barriers, prizing open closed systems and rendering visible everything that was once remote or inaccessible. The unknown is merely mysterious, but what is seen may be envied or hated.

The great global opening and acceleration represented by American-driven information technologies and the Internet have created opportunities on a scale as great as the invention of electricity. But these irreversible developments have also stirred resentments that, in their most extreme form, ignite the extremism that kills.


Information and images are liberating. They are also destabilizing. We have embarked on a century that will make a diverse world more unified, prosperous and free than ever before. But the battles of that transformation have just begun.
To be sure, each instance of terrorism occurs within a specific context and derives in large measure from specific concerns. But what Cohen's column does is lay out, again, the social transformation that links those concerns in a generalized way.

God knows that this been done before, but it typically emphasizes religious fanaticism over the sociological effects of our recent technological and economic growth.

In my view, there hasn't been nearly enough commentary that comes at the issue the other way around. Thomas Friedman has often tried, but the vocabulary he employs is typically too redundant to be useful.

Yet until we learn to publicly address the sociological roots of that reality, we'll never come up with a strategy with which to avert the destruction that is bound to continue. You cannot speak to religious exremism, but as both Live 8 and the G-8 summit have demonstrated, you can speak to social change.


Post a Comment

<< Home