Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dominique Moisi's thesis that "the world today faces not only a clash of civilizations but a clash of emotions as well[; the] West displays -- and is divided by -- a culture of fear, while the Arab and Muslim worlds are trapped in a culture of humiliation and much of Asia displays a culture of hope" is astute in some ways. Although I would say that "culture of fear" mainly describes Blue-State America; Bush is definitely a hope guy. (Republicans campaigned on "fear" themes in 2006, including nativist fears, hence their well-deserved but probably temporary loss of power.)

But this is a goofy claim:

Instead of being united by their fears, the twin pillars of the West, the United States and Europe, are more often divided by them -- or rather, divided by how best to confront or transcend them. The culture of humiliation, in contrast, helps unite the Muslim world around its most radical forces and has led to a culture of hatred.

Whatever their differences, Americans and Europeans aren't even thinking about killing each other. Meanwhile, in the Islamic world, al-Qaeda would like to kill basically all the rulers of the Arab states; Shiites and Sunnis are killing each other; and Arab- and Iranian-Muslim liberals live in fear of both their authoritarian rulers and Islamist vigilantes. Islam is more divided than the West.


  • Perhaps Moisi meant that the culture of humiliation helps unite the voices of the Muslim world in the West's tin ear. As you point out, the Muslim world is most united in the sense that most of its parts are in upheaval.

    By Blogger Nato, at 8:50 AM  

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