This post is completely OFF TOPIC - I started off writing about the Great Fire Wall of China and then went on an insane religious and political tangent. I started asking myself, “Why does the Chinese government and other nations repress the cutting edge of human social evolution?” And here is what I came up with.
There are a few cultures hopelessly fighting against the social evolution of humanity. the Chinese government and the Islamic fundamentalist are among the largest and potentially most influential. In a relatively short period of time humanity has gone from tribalism to nationalism and now to globalism. Each stage in social evolution has happend faster and faster and now globalization is happening so fast that it is hard to keep up. Almost every nation is facing immigration, refugee, and security issues as third world conflicts and economic situations leave impoverished people behind forcing them to seek stability in other countries. So called “first world” countries face immigration issues and are greatly influenced by the globalized economy.
Technology, trade and travel have merged humanity and there is nothing any of us can do about it. To their detriment, the Chinese government and the Islamic fundamentalists are really trying to resist portions of this inevitable social change.
The Chinese trade globally and are clearly a leader in the commodities market. But the chinese government represses its people by greatly filtering the exchange of ideas. Some how they don’t understand that it is the ideas of the people that are the greatest and most revolutionary asset in any globalized society… or perhaps they do understand this as certain ideas are a threat to their level of communistic control over the people. They have created what has been coined the Great Fire Wall of China in which they filter certain ideas from the public. Keywords like “tank man” and “freedom” are blocked. The greatest part of globalization is the free exchange of ideas. In the US, this exchange of ideas is making a new breed of middle class who are self-sufficient and becoming very wealthy very quickly.
Contrary to many elitist beliefs the Arab and Islamic world have made many contributions to science, medicine, mathematics, and technology. In fact, Arab muslim Ibn al-Haytham is knows as the Father of optics because he formulated “the first comprehensive and systematic alternative to Greek optical theories”. Many of their contibutions occured between 600 A.D. and 1200 A.D, a period known as the Islamic Golden Age. All this was done when Europe was still in the Dark Ages. Many of there discoveries were passed on and further developed by the Europeans during the Renaissance. (Note: of course, many of the arab/muslim innovations were built on the systems and inventions of the people they conquered… as is the case with the europeans which makes up we know as modern western civilization. We owe the bulk of the origins of western civilization to the greeks and egyptians who the Roman got most of their innovations from).
Bernard Lewis put out a book shortly after 9/11 called, What Went Wrong? which talks about the clash betwen Islam (civilization based in islam not the Religion itself) and Modernity in the Middle East. In a discussion about Bernard’s book, Joanne Myers says:
[Bernard] takes the reader on a journey through history, from the time when Islam was the world’s greatest, most enlightened, and most powerful civilization, to modern times when it has failed to adjust to the challenges brought about by the reformation and the scientific and political revolutions in the West.
In the discussion Bernard points out that the question “What went wrong?” is so pronounced in the Islamic world that many Muslim leaders in the last few hundred years have asked the question. The answers they’ve come up with range from “There are too many infidels” to “We have not kept up with modernity”.
Different things have also been tried in the world of Islam to change:
Now, for the first time, in Iran they are carrying out what I might describe, without intending any disrespect, as the “Christianization” of Islam, using the word to indicate not doctrines, not morality, but institutions. What you now have in Iran, for the first time in Islamic history, is the functional equivalent of a papacy, a college of cardinals, a bench of Bishops, and, most important of all, an inquisition, and, inch’Allah, they will soon have a reformation too.
Bernard Lewis does not state a single reason why Islam (as a civilization) has failed to keep up with modernity. I think Ken Wilber and Robert Keegan are the closest to an explanation when they discusses the Many faces of Terrorism and Integral politics. They place the Islamic fundamentalists (particularly fundamentalist) in the Amber stage of consciousness which means that they are ethnocentric conformist. I would go even further and suggest that they are glued together with flecks of Red (tribalism, sects controlled by Imams) Considering their stage of consciousness it seems that (unlike the old dominating amber roman catholic Christianity) they have not been broken up diluted enough to accept the bleeding edge of human development. That is not to say the individuals and small groups within the Islamic world (such as the Bahai’a and Sikhs) are not at the cutting edge. The core is true hard core amber.
I digress a little, the Islamic world HAS been broken up (Sunnis vs. Shia, etc) but it has not been sufficiently diluted yet. Christianity broke up into Catholic and Protestants. At one time those were large warring factions of Christendom (societies built on Christianity) but now those two have been broken in to hundreds of denominations and spin-off belief systems. Islam has different factions but not as diluted and broken up as Christianity.
Religious denominations are usually created when a member of a certain faith has a spiritual awakening that is so profound they express it to others and start to get a following. Islam seems to have such a strong fundamentalist (solid Amber and Red) core that any new development is stamped out like a camp fire threatening to become a forest fire. I believe that reform is happening right now within the Islamic world the result is constant relentless violence.