The only way a grand idea can die is for it to rise then have a spectacular public crash
On paper, Communism was a fantastic idea. It caused aspirations that spanned the globe, threatened established orders in entire countries and caused a certain kind of people to yearn, deeply, to be part of its utopia. In the end, it was neither propaganda nor weapons that killed the idea of Communism, it was the rise then spectacular fall of the Soviet Union. If it weren’t for the failure of the Soviet Union, we would still have people all over the world yearning for a communist rule, causing mini revolutions everywhere trying to establish communist orders.
Dreaming of a Caliphate
Any Muslim who spent enough time around other Muslims will have noticed that many of them have a deep yearning for the resurrection of an Islamic Caliphate that would rule the entire Umma under shariaa law. At this point some westerners would be incredulous: Why would anyone want to live under a medieval rule with unaccountable rulers and ruthless laws? My answer is: I have no clue, I’m team modernity all the way. All I know is that this is a real and relatively widespread dream for many Muslims, especially those disillusioned by modernity and western cultural norms which they see as “foreign” and “imperialistic”, much like the “artificial” borders between Muslim states.
One can only get a real appreciation for how popular this dream is when one reads the tweets of the tens of thousands of supporters of ISIS on twitter. Normal people who otherwise tweet about the world cup and what they had for breakfast are tweeting about how they wish that ISIS’ Caliphate will reach their own countries.
The purpose of this post is not to make light of the horrors taking place in Iraq and Syria. It is not to diminish the real danger that extremists and their caliphate pose on places like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It is to posit that the rise of the Islamic Caliphate today could play a role in the real transition of the world’s Muslims to modernity.
The apparent rise of ISIS (now IS –Islamic State–) has given hope to many Muslims around the world. Its military effectiveness, its large area of control and its substantial wealth, are all causing many to believe that this is the real deal, the Islamic state they have always been waiting for. People are joining from Europe, the US and all over the world. These are not paid mercenaries, these are real believers in the cause who are leaving their loved ones to join the cause, not unlike western communists who defected to the Soviet Union when it was at the peak of its power.
Building a future on crushed hope
Strong hope is a necessary ingredient for the death of an idea, for crushed hope alone can beget real introspection and soul-searching. Like the Soviet Union, the Islamic state is built on unsustainable fundamentals and is on course for a spectacular implosion. Only when that happens can Muslims around the world finally let go of the idea of a Caliphate and start a real negotiation for a social contract fit for modern times.