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Obstacles to arab progress

Why has a once great civilization declined so radically in almost every sphere of human activity

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Obstacles to arab progress

  1. 1. The Obstacles To Progress in the Arab World Norvell B De Atkine Why does a once great empire lag so far behind the rest of the world? Reviewed Aug 2015
  2. 2. The Great Arab/Islamic Empire
  3. 3. The Most Advanced in the World Al-Kharazmi Chemistry Mathematics Greek Classics Philosophy Astronomy Navigation Medicine
  4. 4. Military Prowess Unmatched These 7th century warriors conquered all before them
  5. 5. What Went Wrong • Best to read the book of the same title by Bernard Lewis. – Self-Sufficiency/isolation – Trade route shift – Fragmentation – Mongol invasion – ossification
  6. 6. Why the Continuing Stagnation? • The nine Burdens – The austere natural environment – The burden of history – The declining education system – Cultural stagnation ---Stagnated economy --Politicized clergy – Politicized military – Betrayal by Intellectual elite – An irresponsible and/or bought media
  7. 7. Natural environment
  8. 8. Environmental Factors • Paucity of Land suitable for agriculture • Population distribution • Climatic factors • Diminishment of the Bedouin life style • Lack of water
  9. 9. water • The origins of the great rivers systems e.g not in countries that need it the most. • The decreasing aquifer water • The lack of consistent water conservation As a consequence lack of food sufficiency lack of food security
  10. 10. Water
  11. 11. The Burden of History then……. W
  12. 12. Arabia Now…. 2 22 weak nations
  13. 13. As a burden • The glorification and mythology • Tareq Heggy “singing our own praises” • Failure disengaging their culture from elements of the past incompatible with modernity • Traditional values too strong to absorb new ones • Hume Horan: “historical baggage” lack of a culture of introspection and self criticism
  14. 14. Arab Cultural Stagnation • Paucity of good books • Research minimal • Literacy not high and declining • Political constraints • Rise of Religious constraints • Western pop culture
  15. 15. Mohammed Arkoun on the cultural stagnation • The Muslim societies import the most complex technological materials, buy the most sophisticated armaments………but all these instruments have had little perceptible effects on mentalities or even on reflective thought.
  16. 16. Education System
  17. 17. Education • Learning by rote • Gender inequalities • Heavily Islamic • Heavily politically oriented • massive refugee problem • Language issues
  18. 18. The Language of Creation; the power to galvanize…or inhibit The three levels and multiplicity of dialects –Classical –Modern standard –Street Increasing number of Arabs who cannot speak or write their own language well
  19. 19. Arabic and Thought • As Iraqis, we use two languages so, ,we actually use two kind of thinking. In our daily life we speak slang but whenever we are in a middle of a big celebration, we shift to classical Arabic and the same goes for writing an article or a letter. • By doing so, we are adopting two characters and thinking according to two different styles. • Today, we listen to hundreds of speeches and read hundreds of articles filled with poetic rhymes and grammatical decoration, nevertheless those speeches and writings fail to touch the essence of our agonies and sufferings. • Ali al Wardi Iraqi historian and philosopher
  20. 20. Stagnated Economy Timur Kuran; Islam’s political institutions tax system failed to protect private property Religious waqfs system opposed enduring commercial enterprise Fabricated ”Islamic economic system”  Wasta, Bakhish and corruption •Socialism •Bureaucracy but no institutions •Culture that hinders entrepreneurship •Educational barriers
  21. 21. Politicized Clergy • Political leaders who put on religious garb and religious leaders who act as political leaders – Televangelists – Al Baghdadi – Muqtada al Sadr – My personal recollections – The importance of the local mosque
  22. 22. Politicized military • Regime protection. First priority of the mlitary • Regime distrust of their own people • Balanced forces Ex Iraqi Republican guard vs. regular army • Incompatibility with Western training methods • Sectarianism
  23. 23. Elites • Intellectuals who speak for the Masses? • Gap between intellectuals and the people • The tendency of the intellectuals to simply act as promoters of odious regimes • Those who resist must do so from outside the Arab world • As Musa al Husayni depicted them as lacking courage and ability for self criticism
  24. 24. MEDIA Plays to emotions. Most is bought and paid for by the governments or political movements. Largely irresponsible, propagandistic. Very little true independence.
  25. 25. Civil Society? Impediments • The corruption of the intellectual class • The lack of a civic consciousness • The infection of extremist “religious” movements, leading to the replacement of the utopian dream of Pan-Arabism by an even greater chimera, The restoration of the Caliphate. • The habit of despotic or authoritarian rule. • “A thousand years of tyranny better than one day of chaos”