‘CLASH OF GENERATIONS’ IN ARAB TURMOIL


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang araw sa inyo! Good day to you all! To the Arab pro-democracy forces, kudos for your initial successes in Tunisia and Egypt!

The unfolding democratization of Arab republics via people power means has got many sympathetic eyes aglow outside the Arab world. That includes this analyst who was among the youthful professionals that militantly brought down the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

The clash within the Arab republics should not be equated, however, to a simplistic ‘clash of ideologies’. Neither is the conflict some ‘clash of civilizations’ that is being propagated today by the global oligarchy through sub-altern extremist groups.

I would prefer to highlight the conflict as a ‘clash of generations’. Though no fan of the Japanese technocrat Kenichi Ohmae, I am in tune with his thesis that the conflicts of the future will be one of ‘clash of generations’.

Much earlier than Ohmae, the Frankfurt school thinkers Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas already articulated on the discourse of the youth taking the cudgels for world-changing endeavors. The social turmoils of the 1960s up through the early ‘70s were largely initiated by the Youth, in far contrast to previous ones that were led by the working class astride a socialist ideology.

Fact of the matter is, the working class (via socialist parties) has been tailing behind in those conflicts of the past. In the Arab turmoils of the day, the influential Islamic groups have been quite tailing behind in initiating the protests versus the Permanent President regimes. It were the young ones—youth and young middle aged citizens—who initiated and manned the protest actions, though they may have seen light in some token senior citizen figures.

One shouldn’t make the slap-stick comedy that the Arab revolutions—that toppled perpetual presidents in Tunisia and Egypt—were genuine successes of ‘anarchist’ movements. That goes back to old hat 19th century ideological discourse, and as I’ve stated earlier, the clash is not one of ideologies.

The Turmoil (with capital T to stress) in the Arab republics is one of ‘clash of generations’. It practically pitted the old versus the young. The older ones, who support the entrenched political elites, are those grounded in ideology cum clientelist politics. The younger ones, who are largely ‘netizens’, possess an outlook or perspective that is more global or trans-ideology, though their emerging discourses tend to appropriate from available ‘nation’ and ‘people’ discourse of old.

The Arab revolutions have some remarkable features that contrast with the people power revolutions that overthrew military dictatorships of the late 20th century. The earlier revolutions (such as my own country’s in 86) were largely led by the ‘middle class’ or ‘middle forces’, while the Arab revolutions were initiated by young ‘netizens’ with a rather de-centered social feature or one that can’t be reduced to the class question.

Some quarters may hazard some reflections, using Edward Said and Antonio Gramsci, that intellectuals were the core articulators of the social turbulence. That would be belaboring the obvious by highlighting the micro-facets of the change, or those structures and processes that even kindergarten minds can easily perceive.

There is an over-arching change going on in the psyche of the younger generation Arabs of the day, and it pays to observe and use the logic of induction to conclude about what that change is. Or better still, employ ‘logic of abduction’ as what Charles Sanders Peirce innovated on, by holding in abeyance any hypothesis about the phenomenon, and generate the hypothesis, discourse, and conclusions later.

For now, let us bring the message across to global Western oligarchy to desist from further manipulating the Arabs’ turmoil for their ulterior motives. Like the turbulence going on in the global economy that isn’t susceptible to oligarchic manipulation, the Arabs’ ‘clash of generations’ is no stuff for manipulation by the same evil oligarchs who comprise the secret government called ‘new world order’.

The oligarchic cabals should recognize by now that their strangulation of peoples’ psyche and souls for nigh eons is now coming to a close. It is now time to consider moving away from polarities towards cooperation, consensus, and Oneness that is, in fact, the compass of the future.

[Philippines, 21 February 2011]

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs anytime!

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