While the world is focused on the Middle East as its hottest conflict zone, and as the great nations send their troops and missiles to the eastern Mediterranean, the citizens of this land find themselves reduced to being mere objects of influence, rather than playing an active role in a battle which they are one of its details. It is essential in such a setting to reveal the real roots of the problem, especially that the threads of the political conflict are mixed. But most of its aspects are revealed as a monotonous repetition of medieval patterns of war, or even pre-medieval patterns, with more signs of connection between the present events and the historical conflicts of East and West, and Sunnis and Shiites, etc… So is it true that the roots of the problem lie within the claimed reasons, or have other circumstances led humanity, time and again, to the inevitable clash?
The Bug in the Basic System
For our discussion to be clear, we should start with a short description of the current politico-social system; a system that can be easily described as a system of consumption, whose lifestyle is activated by creating secondary needs and presenting them as basic ones. This system abuses natural resources claiming to create a luxurious life, while it creates new needs as soon as the satisfaction of old ones becomes feasible. So the system is based on the continuous renewal of the consumer’s needs,in parallel to the feeling ofconstantdisappointment with the short-lived satisfaction of old ones. The system focuses mainly on needs that can be satisfied only by increased consumption in a way that renders societies and individuals totally devoid of self-sufficiency, and on the other hand marginalizes all needs that do not increase expenses and revitalize the system. The needs of the human body are thus organized to become a political instrument of subjection, and the human bodies are both productive and subjected (Foucault).
Thus, we are in a state of chronic deficiency, constantly experiencing new needs, new disappointments, and the organized marginalization of basic bodily and spiritual non-consumptive needs; as a result, we become totally dependent on the system to deal with all the aspects of our lives, in a desperate attempt to fill the “emptiness of self” created by the system itself.
Parasitizing on the Sides of Emptiness
Religion tries to fill the “emptiness of self” (as it is in the first place a state of ignoring the spiritual aspect of human nature) by presenting itself as a spiritual path and introducing a set of metaphysical concepts by which reality is explained, or which it takes for granted as an alternative reality. The whole structure of religion is based on the “emptiness of self” (i.e. it is a prerequisite for a religion to survive), thus religion does not try to fix the bugs and errors of the system, rather it provides theological justifications for its errors. In other words, it is not freeing believers from the system that religion sets as a goal, but rather explaining their experiences within it metaphysically. Nor do religions try to get rid of emptiness but rather shift attention away from it towards “the Other”, either through missionary activities or through takfirism, or by dumbing awareness with ritual details. The system benefits the most from such a distraction created by the metaphysical explanation/alternative reality, as it camouflages its real crises and directs any violent reaction that can be triggered by marginalization, emptiness and depression towards the “different others”, who are used by the system as human shields.
Religious ideologies also set a previously known inevitable and definite trajectory by which time should flow, thus making the future a sort of past and forcing history to rotate circularly. In such an ideological setting, all the clashes, wars and struggles that are deposited by the bugs of the system can be explained as fate willed by a higher power. Any possible solution is diminished and abridged to a magical event such as the appearance of a Savior (Messiah, Mahdi…). As religious philosophies consider themselves far superior to time, they allow themselves to playback certain portions of history (which we now see as a repetition of the Middle Ages), ignoring the grand heritage of human experience accumulated since the beginning of history, in favor of limited religious experiences that have so far proved inefficient in filling the spiritual emptiness, and have on the contraryincreased disappointment and tension in religious societies.
Struggle to Survive?
The “emptiness of self” creates in individuals a continuous feeling of anxiety and instability, a feeling of lack. The system uses these feelings to seduce more customers to buy more products and freely choose submission to the rule of the system, in their search for security and stability. Notice that the system is initially unable to provide anyone with security as the emptiness is a result of its intrinsic errors, but it uses the feeling of insecurity to picture the error in “the different other”, and not in its own structure and relations, thus covering up its failure in controlling its contradictions and polarities that express themselves in violent and non-violent clashes.
Most wars are described by their participants as wars for survival, where the life of a human society is placed in direct opposition to the life of another society. The survival of one group is taken as an excuse to exterminate another group. In such a situation, controlling energy resources becomes a strategic goal for states and governments in the “struggle to survive”, although that struggle wouldn’t have existed in the first place without the emptiness created by the system. In reality, the life of a person or a group cannot threaten the life or existence of another person or group taking into consideration the tremendous advances in food production (Malthusianism doesn’t exist outside the errors of the system). The struggle for survival (controlling fertile land and oil resources…) can wear any mask according to time and place in a way that involvement in violence can be maximally justified. In such a setting, the mere existence of the other with a different confession or color or race seems to be a threat.
War for Peace
The quality of creating dictators and nourishing them cannot be overlookedwhen discussing the qualities of the system (it actually doesn’t matter whether the dictatorship is a military, civil or ideological one). In the same manner as the dictator tends to tame a nation (to draw people’s attention from the emptiness they suffer), the system tames dictators and gets rid of them in the right timing, when the dictator becomes a burden to the system. The system encourages dictators for at least two reasons. The first reason is the role a dictator plays as an authority in controlling a big group of people under his rule; second, his role in controlling people under the rule of others where his dictatorship is pictured as a threat and an excuse to suppress opposition. Within the framework of the system the tyrant is a need, he must be invented if he doesn’t exist in reality (Star Wars in the 80s). At the same time, each of the two enemies becomes an important condition for the existence of the other (the Islamic rule in Iran and the Zionist rule in Israel, Iran vs. KSA). When the dictator becomes more of a headache within the system, factors start leading to the demolishing of his rule, the system itself gets rid of the dictator it nourished… the rule of a tyrant ends as soon as he starts to be a suppressor and a troublemaker at the same time.
The Same War
TheSyrian conflict, in its causes and backgrounds, doesn’t differ from the conflicts described above. It is a war in the name of God, survival and peace. The pairs of opposites struggling on Syrian land (Sunnis/Shiites, people/tyrant, tyrant/international community) are nothing but a direct product of the system and its errors. There is no difference between a war and another except in the form and claimed justifications. It is the same war coming back again and again, yet wearing different masks, so that you do not recognize it!
This article is a translation/rewriting of the Arabic blog article posted before.Thanks to my friend Maysan Marouf for editing the English translation.