In his latest debate on the France 2 TV channel, discussion show anchor Yves Calvi expressed alarm about the possible rise of Islamism in Egypt and Tunisia. However, here we will consider how, if we leave the emotionally-charged media coverage to one side and attempt to analyse the contradictions between the West and the Arab world rationally, these revolutions are less of a threat than an example for us Westerners to follow. We have the opportunity to create a fairer world. Why be afraid?
Astonishing. On Monday 7th February, the title of the discussion programme Mots Croisés
, ('Cross words'), presented by Yves Calvi on France 2, was "The Arab revolutions and us". While no-one dared challenge the legitimacy of the popular moments setting Tunisia, Egypt and other countries in the region alight, the presenter and some of his guests nevertheless raised the Islamist spectre, a sure-fire way to send a shiver down viewers' spines. There was talk of "fears of an Iranian scenario", "enthusiasm for freedom but also a sense of anxiety" or indeed "prudent rather than unconditional support". With great subtlety, Calvi also asked whether democracy was "playing into the hands of the fundamentalists". Special praise also goes to prominent 'intellectual' Alain Finkielkraut who, true to form, managed to slip in his view of "a phenomenon heading more towards a clash of civilisations than the establishment of a democracy looking to provide its people with a dignified and decent life."
Should Westerners be afraid then of the Arab revolutions ? Is the Near and Middle East, indeed the whole world, at risk of plunging into chaos ? Are we about to be overrun by bearded burqa-wielding fanatics, in an assault on civilised Europe ? To answer these questions, we need first to analyse the profound contradictions between the West and the Arab world. As we shall see, the differences have very little to do with a heated clash of civilisations, and are very much linked to a system based on the quest for maximum profit which has led the West to pillage and oppress the Arab peoples. Naturally, Calvi and his guests refrained from analysing these systems, preferring rather to base their discussions on irrational fears - so much better for viewing ratings. It also means we can seek to subjugate the savages and the fundamentalists without once calling ourselves into question.