Should We Expect Iraq To Embrace Democracy?

From the book Orientalism by Edward Said, published in 1978.

What American leaders and their intellectual lackeys seem incapable of understanding is that history cannot be swept clean like a blackboard, so that “we” might inscribe our own future there and impose our own forms of life for these lesser people to follow. It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar. But this has often happened with the “orient”, that semi-mythical construct which since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century has been made and remade countless times. In the process the uncountable sediments of history, a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, are swept aside or ignored, relegated to the sandheap along with the treasures ground into meaningless fragments that were taken out of Baghdad.

Edward Said was a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University and was a well known Palestinian scholar who died in 2003.

Via Joichi Ito

Overcrowding, Scarcity, and War

As Edward Hall explains in The Hidden Dimension, all animals react the same way in response to stress caused by overcrowding and scarcity. The first-stage reaction is to test the boundaries of the community, to see whether it can expand and take over more land to relieve the pressure. If that is unsuccessful, the second-stage reaction is a form of shock, fueled by an overload of secreted adrenaline that produces hyperactivity, depression, distraction, and metabolic instability, which lead in turn to higher rates of spontaneous abortion, lower fertility, and more suicides. If even this is insufficient to reduce numbers and alleviate overcrowding and scarcity, the third-stage reaction is a form of madness: war, violent and unprovoked aggression, mass suicide, and the eating of the young. This ‘last resort’ ensures that no species can seriously disrupt the ecological balance of life long enough or severely enough to produce an ecological crash. It’s the self-regulating process that has worked well since the first living creatures appeared on the planet three billion years ago.

Is the human species entering this third-stage state of reaction?

via How to Save the World