The author never got around to distinguishing what Arab civilization is, but this is essential background to what he’s talking about.
To start with, going back in time to before Islam, Arab culture was tribal and extended tribal, up to the point where the tribes met the city-states, where tribalism was less functional.
While taking tribalism into account, Islam attempted to transcend tribalism, while integrating it, as a more *efficient* system. In Mohammed’s time, he even tried to standardize and promulgate the best *technology* of the period. But this created a huge problem.
Mohammed should have said that “new technology is good”, but they are now stuck with archaic technology. But his selling point was that Islam was “civilized”, compared to tribal “barbarism”.
And this mood is also frozen in time. Arabs are raised with the idea that Islam’s ways, no matter how primitive, are more advanced and civilized than the “barbarian” infidels. Despite this being a glaringly false idea. Because compared to western society, it is they, the Muslims, who are the barbarians.
So what is Arab civilization? To start with, tribalism is falling apart. Even in Iraq, tribal leaders were smart enough to realize that a democratic government was just plain better.
And that’s the zinger. The selling point of democracy is *not* freedom and liberty. Those are just necessary side effects. What attracts people to democracy around the world is that it is *efficient*, compared to other systems.
And even the Arab street is figuring this out. Iraq’s first free election blew minds throughout the ME. Everybody there sees how Iraq is *functioning* with an elected government. Yes, it’s a fight, but Iraq is pointing towards the future, something the other Arab nations are not.
Which lights fires. So yes, indeed, Arab civilization may be collapsing. But waiting in the wings is something better. Something we may not recognize at first, but it’s there.
“To start with tribalism is falling apart.”
Actually I would say it is not. Originally the tribe was composed of a group of people who could be communicated with by a leader talking to all the members of the tribe at the same time, thus leading them. After viewing the demonstrations of Egypt and Iran, I think the tribe has become huge thanks to the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Hopefully this huge Internet tribe will not be fooled by something so primative as fundamentalist Islam, and will embrace modern thinking that can find solutions based on science and creativity for their problems.