June 16, 2013

THE CONTINUING COST OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS:

Democracy in Arabia? (Sami Mahroum, Jun. 11, 2013, Project Syndicate)

Arab societies, particularly those in turmoil, are regressing to what another French social theorist, Émile Durkheim, called "mechanistic solidarity." This is social solidarity that evolves along lines of kinship and religion, underpinned by a sense of belonging to the same "homogenous" group. Durkheim contrasts this phenomenon with the more progressive "organic solidarity" that evolves in modern societies according to people's professional and functional relationships.

In times of elevated risk, real or perceived, people begin to organize increasingly on the basis of homogenous identities. As a result, "mechanistic solidarity" grows stronger at the expense of "organic solidarity." The trend is often accelerated by the loss of jobs, which often leads people to abandon their professional and functional identities in favor of identities based on ethnicity, kinship, or religion.

In culturally diverse societies, such as Iraq and Lebanon, networks of social solidarity are based almost entirely on religious and ethnic affinity. In more homogenous societies, such as Libya, social solidarity tends to follow tribal and partisan lines. In Tunisia, too, there has been a similar regression to mechanistic types of solidarity organized around tribal, regional, and religious identities.

A dramatic manifestation of the mechanistic pattern of solidarity is now emerging in Syria, as well. While Syrians have been facing death, violence, and displacement for more than two years, the international community has been busy debating the nature of the Syrian rebels. Left to its fate, Syrian society began to disintegrate and reorganize on a sectarian basis. As the conflict intensified, established profession-based identities began to disappear, giving way to family, regional, and religious solidarities.

Civil-society and professional groups have been unable to respond in a way that maintains organic social cohesion, owing to a lack of resources, weak capacity, or both. Mechanistic solidarity has emerged as a more effective means to mobilize people and resources.

This all just the product of the Peace to End all Peace and they failure to organize the region around our own principles of self-determination when we had the golden opportunity. In betraying them we betrayed ourselves.
Posted by at June 16, 2013 6:29 AM
  

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