The Post Post-Colonial World
The trash is coming back with the tide. Europe's trash.
In decades to come, the attack on the WTC on September 11 will be seen by historians not as a clash between Islam and the West, but as the first shot in the war between the chaotic periphery and the functioning core of civilization. It is important to recognize that the Al Qaeda is not, as the Left often implies, a unique creation of the CIA compounded in the final battle of the Cold War, but simply a highly developed version of a typical Third World phenonomenon: the irrational political party. Al Qaeda is not essentially different from the absurdist militias which rampage across Africa today. Airstrip One has this link to the emerging prototypes of political activity in Africa.
These African "terrorist groups" share with Al Qaeda a nebulous justification based on a twisted interpretation of a world religion; a commitment to savagery and violence without apparent limit; an unarticulated anger that never expresses itself in the form a concrete program of political or economic reform. The Al Qaeda, like the Army of God in Thailand, is not about creating jobs, or lowering interest rates or building more schools. It is about the Apocalypse. The only difference between General Butt Naked and Osama Bin Laden is the sophistication of their killing tools.
As President Bush considers intervening in Liberia and the UN fails, yet again, in the Congo, no one is asking the essential strategic question of how the First World will cope with massive and comprehensive failure of the Third World which is at best, two decades away. In West Africa it is already upon us. The only difference between Zimbabawe and South Africa is ten years. With the disintegration of the Third World will arise a multitude of Al Qaeda-like organizations, each more savage than the last. Just as Al Qaeda is feeding off the corpse of the once great Islamic civilization like a malignant fungus, so will monstrosities arise from the mutated wrecks of colonial institutions in Asia and Latin America.
The world today already resembles a country in which the townspeople are huddled in high-walled, lighted citadels, while brigands, wolves and demented sorcerers prowl without. The great wave of European decolonization which followed the end of the Second World War must now be recognized as a precursor to what will be the dominant event of the Twenty First Century, the return of wholesale barbarism to much of the world. Europe unambiguously achieved the destruction of more primitive, but still viable civilizations of the New World, the Near East and the pastoral lifestyle of Africa. Just as the Dreadnought by its existence, made all previous warships obsolete, so did European contact destroy the basis of legitimacy of all the tribal kings, minor potentates and vestigial Sultans of the world. But through a failure of nerve, or perhaps energy, Europe never sank its institutions deep into the roots of conquered places. And at the end of the Second World War, it simply retreated, leaving the jetsam behind, secure in the belief that oceans and distance would forever bar the bootless natives from roaming far afield.
But let the European bureaucrats who are now presiding over the construction of their monumental welfare state remember the immortal words from the film Field of Dreams, with a slightly different twist: "if you build it, they will come".