How the Egypt civil war may be a grim harbinger of things to come

In a perceptive and prescient essay by journalist Chris Hedges, published on Alternet (August 15, 2013  | By Chris Hedges ) he argues that  “the massacres in Egypt are a precursor to a wider global conflict between the elites and the world’s poor.  The engine for this chaos is not religion but the collapsing global economy, a world where the wretched of the Earth are to be subjugated and starved or shot.

Radical Islam is the last refuge of the Muslim poor. The mandated five prayers a day give the only real structure to the lives of impoverished believers. The careful rituals of washing before prayers in the mosque, the strict moral code that prohibits alcohol, along with the understanding that life has an ultimate purpose and meaning, keep hundreds of millions of destitute Muslims from despair. The fundamentalist ideology that rises from oppression is rigid and unforgiving. It radically splits the world into black and white, good and evil, apostates and believers. It is bigoted and cruel to women, Jews, Christians and secularists along with gays and lesbians. But at the same time it offers to those on the very bottom of society a final refuge and hope. The massacres of hundreds of believers in the streets of Cairo signal not only an assault against a religious ideology, not only a return to the brutal police state of Hosni Mubarak, but the start of a holy war that will turn Egypt and other poor regions of the globe into a cauldron of blood and suffering. The only way to break the hold of radical Islam is to give followers of the movement a stake in the wider economy, the possibility of a life where the future is not dominated by grinding poverty, repression and hopelessness.

The lifeblood of radical movements is martyrdom. The faces and the names of the sanctified dead will be used by enraged clerics to call for holy vengeance. And as violence grows and the lists of martyrs expand it will ignite a war that will tear Egypt apart. Random attacks and assassinations by gunmen will puncture daily life in Egypt as it did in the 1990s when I was in Cairo for the New York Times, although this time the scale of the attacks will become fiercer and wider, far harder to control or ultimately crush.

What is happening in Egypt is a precursor to a wider global war between the world’s elites and the world’s poor, a war caused by diminishing resources, chronic unemployment and underemployment, declining crop yields caused by climate change, overpopulation and rising food prices.

The belief systems the oppressed embrace can be intolerant, but these belief systems are a response to the injustice, state violence and cruelty inflicted on them by the global elites. Our (common)  enemy is not radical Islam. It is global capitalism. It is a world where the wretched of the Earth are forced to bow before the dictates of the marketplace, where children go hungry so global corporate elites can siphon away the world’s wealth and natural resources and where U.S.-backed militaries carry out massacres on city streets. Egypt offers a window into the coming dystopia. The wars of survival will mark the final stage of human habitation of the planet.”

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