Sunday, 22 November 2015

A borderless world


I was on a bus - my ticket cost $1- going from Palmyra to Damascus and they were showing a BBC thriller with Arabic subtitles. TV in a bus was a novelty for me. I watched the mime. 

It was essentially a John Buchan type thriller, but the well dressed upper-middle class senior civil servant turned out at the end, inevitably, to be the bad guy. In place of the patriotic Rhodesian Richard Hannay, the brave, resourceful hero was a young black man. And I felt sorry, as I watched, for Al Qaeda, who I realised had no chance against global post-national culture.

American writer Gary Brecher put it very well.
Not everyone is like us, and a lot of people are actively trying not to become like us. Jihadis are, roughly speaking, the armed wing of that group. The truth about the clash of civilizations you hear people discussing is that it’s all the other way: The Mall is invading Islam, the Mall is taking over. There isn’t any Sharia Law in North Carolina, but there damn well are US-style malls in even the most conservative Islamic countries. 
Bill Clinton told Australians on Sept. 10, 2001 that he believed in 
the ultimate wisdom of a borderless world.
Borderless and with one global deracinated culture.

There is nothing but Western civilisation anymore, though it is ceasing to be Western, if Western means mostly white and mostly Christian. The future will be countries made of communities that do not comprehend each other, identity politics and an authoritarian state or superstate imposing approved behaviour. They will be bound together by pop music, Hollywood and a secular theology of human rights.

I think national borders (and languages) are wonderful and make freedom, democracy and a diversity of national cultures possible, but increasingly the borders are not between countries but within them.

The communications revolution means 
national identities are inevitably much less clear-cut than before. Increasingly, national independence is being subsumed by international law, international bodies and an internationalist political and business elite. Mass migrations are radically and quickly changing the rich world. 

I prefer a global post-national culture to Al Qaeda, but I don't like either. Come to think of it, Al Qaeda might appear to hate modernity but it is part of the global, post-national culture too and so is ISIS, which has now blown up a lot of Palmyra.


  1. Another excellent commentary!

  2. I agree with most of what you say. However long their horrific terror campaign may endure, history is not on the side of Al-Qaeda.

    1. But I think Islam has usually been a warlike creed or a declining force or both. It was overtaken and submerged by Christian Europe in 19th and first half of 20th centuries but now it is spreading throughout Western Europe.