Friday, September 11, 2015

Will Muslims Take Over the World?

The people of Europe have a long history with Islam. All in all, it's hasn't gone well. From the conquest of Spain to the Crusades to the Fall of Constantinople to the battle at the gates of Vienna.

And when the northwest Europeans darn near conquered the world, there was one place they shied away from: the Islamic Middle East, at least until the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I.

Today the Muslims are mad and they aren't going to take it any more. They have plans for world conquest, both by migration and by war.

Will it work?

Of course, the last half millennium of the glorious world conquest by northwest Europeans has seen plenty of counter-movements that were going to take over the world. Communism and socialism were one such movement. History was on its side, and if not, the commies were willing to give it a little nudge. And don't talk about the H-word. The truth is that these counter-movements really did change the world. They made possible the idea that the modern nation-state government could turn the bourgeois state into a neo-feudal state where the average person looked to the state for succor rather as the feudal peasant looked to his lord of the manor.

But the counter-movements have failed in their millennarian dreams.

Of course it is possible that our present western world hegemony is like the ageing Roman Empire that let the Goths in. Or the several Chinese dynasties that collapsed before culturally inferior nomads from the North. Or the South Asia that has experienced numerous invasions from out of Central Asia and the Khyber Pass.

But in retrospect we can see that all the counter-movements thus far had a real problem. The irresistible force of their militant ideology ran up against the immovable rock of the modern economy and its need for responsible individualism to make the product that provides the foundation of wealth and power. However much that young hotheads think that capitalism stinks and they have a better idea their politics-first ideas have failed and failed miserably. Hello Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and now Chavez.

If millions of Muslims migrate to Germany, might they not transform Germany and then Europe? Might not the Muslims in France presently marinating in the old Communist banlieux around Paris rise up and seize France from the French?

They might. But let us examine the words of a Chinese Christian quoted in David Aikman's Jesus in Beijing. He quotes a Chinese man that had wondered what everyone on the receiving end of the West must have wondered over the last 500 years.
At first we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we did. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics.
In China, Christianity is growing at about 3 percent per year.

But it makes you think. What was it that caused the Great Enrichment of the past 200 years? The simple answer is that we don't know. We each have our faith: Christianity, individualism, capitalism, social programs, labor unions. But really, we don't know.

So it may be that the jihadist movement of hegira and the militant expansion out of the Middle East with Iran and ISIS and Boko Haram might take over the world. But think of the headwinds.

First, the only thing that keeps Iran and ISIS going is oil. These are people that haven't made the least accommodation to the modern global exchange economy. Yet the number one basis for a powerful state in the last 500 years is an economic state that can sustain the political state's projection of power. And that needs a people acculturated to work in the exchange economy and its world-wide network of trust.

Second, the militance of the Islamists is likely to provoke the rest of the world to combine against it, particularly now that the fracking revolution has diminished the value of Middle Eastern oil, so that the world can say of the Middle East: who needs it?

Third, the migration of Muslims out of the Middle East is likely to change the Muslims more than they are likely to change the world. That is, after all, the story of the last 200 years. Peasants and tribesmen from all over have migrated to the city and brought their peasant culture with them, particularly the universal peasant subordination to powerful patrons. The big problem for each migrant peasant has been to shuck off their subordinate collectivist self and surrender to the individualist exchange economy culture. The sooner the migrant makes the transition, the better for his/her life and family. Migrant groups that were slow to adapt -- think Irish and African Americans -- have not thrived, and have tended to isolate themselves in dysfunctional ghettos. Is it really going to help Muslims if they set themselves up against their host cultures?

Fourth, contra Barack Obama, there is no "right side of history." The future is a mystery. We all have faith in our religion -- especially lefty progressives like the president -- but that don't mean nothing. Whatever the future may bring, it won't be the global triumph of anything. It will be, indeed, the usual messy, foolish, incompetent muddle. And people will still be optimistic about their faith in their vision of the future.

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