2014: The beginning of a Religious War of Ideas?


2014 - The begining of a Religious War of Ideas?

Source: wikipedia

This month has seen the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, the conflict that was supposed to end all wars. Unfortunately, it never did – as we well know. Here in 2014,  a century on, we again face the prospect of global conflict – but an altogether different one in concept.

Its interesting that the first quarter of each century for the last 500 years, from the time of the 30 Years War of the 17th Century, has seen a major upheaval that has set the political and social landscape for the remainder of the century (an idea promoted in the excellent book ‘2014: How to Survive the Next World Crisis’ by Nicholas Boyle.) For instance, in the case of the 30 Years War, we saw an end to the temporal and spiritual hegemony of medieval Christendom under the Papacy with the culmination of the reformation and the establishment of the modern nation-state, after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that brought that war to end. The following centuries saw the ‘Enlightenment’ and the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars (the latter of which led to Britain’s ascendency as the world super-power), whilst 1914-18 led to the decline of British hegemonial power, the rise of 20th Century Totalitarianism and the ascendency of the US as the guarantor of international security.

Why should the early years of the 21st Century be any different? As Boyle explains in his book, the first quarter of the new century is when the generation born in the latter part of the previous one come to power and influence, leading to a change of ideas which in turn leads to a conflict as these ideas become contested.

However, this time around, as Jonathan Sacks rather brilliantly pointed out in an article  yesterday (‘The hate that starts with the Jews never ends there’, The Times, Saturday 16th August 2014), the ideas which appear to be in conflict now are spiritual in nature. In other words, the main cause of the conflicts we see springing up around us are based on religion – with the exception, maybe, of the conflict in Ukraine, which appears to be bear more relation to the ‘Great Game’ confrontation that helped to fuel WW1 in that part of the world, as Vladimir Putin works to protect Russian strategic and hegemonial influence in and around the Black Sea, much as his Tsarist predecessors attempted to.

Contrast this with the main cause of WW1 100 years ago, where the main idea in contest was that one nation could dominate by industrial might and superiority. This was about Germany, the newly-united upstart power-house, taking on the Industrial Superpower of the 19th Century – Great Britain. Although Germany could have dominated Europe (as it does now) by pure economic might if it had so chosen to do, it instead elected the path of confronting Britain and other powers on the pretext of the nationalist crisis that arose out of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. How much the cause of this war was down to political machinations, secret diplomacy and misunderstanding still remains a cause for debate. However, the root cause seems to be  that of the ‘young pretender’ taking on the ‘old King’ as to who controlled the idea of who wielded global power in the 20th Century political landscape, as exemplified by the naval arms race that led up to the start of hostilities in 1914. The result was, of course, the first truly modern war involving a clash of civilisations and fought with all the truly horrific attributes of a modern industrialised society.

Now, in the 21st Century, we are seeing the beginnings of a new conflict of ideas but not one about who controls industrial supremacy. We are now in the post-industrial Information Age, based on the new technologies which we saw emerge at the end of the last century and the beginning of the present. Yet, ironically, this has led to the re-emergence of some old, once thought forgotten conflicts and hatreds. As Sacks states, this is not ‘an age of secular ideologies.’ In many ways, the rise of the ability to trade information at the click of a button has, perversely, led to a re-emergence of spirtual ideas which are postively medieval in appearence. It has become a reversal of the conflict that occurred in the 17th Century, yet still has the propensity to cause a serious threat to our secularised Western democracies.

Yet it goes even further than this, as the end of the hegemonial structure that created the stability of the Cold War ideological ‘clash of civilisations’ has led to a far more fragmented, multi-polar world where spiritual ideology has attempted to step in to replace secularism. And of course, this has seen the re-appearence of old hatreds and prejudices underlined by tribalism and prejudice, as we see with the sudden rise of the Islamic State and their horrific persecution of Christians, Yezidis and Shia Muslims in Iraq. Robert D. Kaplan, in his 1994 article ‘The Coming Anarchy‘, appeared broadly correct in his predictions that this would underline the nature of conflict in the 21st Century (see Dominic Sandbrook’s article in The Daily Mail on this point.)

Although this might seem to be something restricted to the Middle East and distant from us here in the UK, we must bear in mind that all this occurs on Europe’s doorstep and that it can, and has, affected us in our now globalised, information-based world. What we are seeing now is probably a repeat of the same pattern that has emerged at the beginning of each century for the past half-millenium – but this time very much framed in spiritual terms.

David Cameron spoke today in The Sunday Telegraph about the threat posed by the rise of IS and how it will affect us on the ‘streets of Britain’ in terms of terrorism. But I am sure the nature of the challenge goes much deeper than just ‘terrorism’ alone. Perhaps Samuel Huntington was largely right: we are seeing a civilisation clash. However, it is more than just one of ‘Christianity Vs Islam’ as he framed it. Instead, it appears to be one of secular versus spiritual power that we are facing: a struggle which could prove to be as catastrophic and epoch-making as was the one that was marked this month 100 years ago…

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5 tips for living on earth in future


5 tips for living on earth in future tainted by climate change (health warning – don’t read if easily depressed!): http://ow.ly/fMUR0

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Video about the possible future effects of Climate Change


This video talks about the possible future effects of climate change and what we can do to mitgate it. Well worth checking out:

http://media.smh.com.au/news/national-news/unrecognisable-planet-by-2100-3859823.html

Stand-by for the next Dragon Line chapter as well!

Owen

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America is slow to act over climate change


America is slow to act over climate change, just as it was over WW2 75 years ago: http://ow.ly/fKy7L

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My first review on Amazon!


At last! My first review on Amazon Kindle for my e-book!

After all the hard work with my contract work on the Olympics (yes, that where I was), I’ve finally got round to catching up with my e-book status on Amazon and discovered (to my delight) this review for ‘Climate Tales‘:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B006US9MTG/

Wow! Whoever wrote this review and gave the book five stars, thank you very, very much indeed! I am very honoured and I am truly flattered that you enjoyed reading the stories. I hope to be able to bring you more such work in the future.

Where can I go from here? Well, I can get the first ‘Dragon Line’ installment e-published for starters. I’ve been busy editing both parts (Son of Prophecy and Return of the Bear) and just need to get some of the elements of each story ‘peer reviewed’ – so to speak! Then, it’s just a case of getting it proof-read then ‘Son of Prophecy’ should be available as a Kindle e-book by the end of the year.

After that, who knows?

(Also, if you would like to check out the updated chapters from ‘Dragon Line’, click on the pages above to see how the new versions look.)

Until the next time…

Owen

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Are methane hydrates dissolving?


This is certainly a worrying development. There’s a lot of methane locked up in the sea (as well as in the Siberian tundra!) If that gets released, then Climate Change is likely to speed up rapidly as it is a potent greenhouse gas. I believe this might be one of the positive feed backs that James Lovelock spoke about…

The Extinction Protocol

August 17, 2012ARCTIC CIRCLE West of Spitsbergen methane gas is effervescing out of the seabed. Is this an indication that methane hydrates in the seabed are dissolving due to rising temperatures? And what would the effects be? An expedition with the German research vessel MARIA S. MERIAN and the submersible JAGO lead by GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel hopes to help answer these questions. The expedition began this week in Reykjavik. The average temperatures of the atmosphere are rising; the average temperatures of the oceans, too. Not only living organisms react sensitively to these changes. The transitional zones between shallow shelf seas and the deep sea at continental slopes store a huge amount of methane hydrates in the sea bed. These specific, ice-like compounds only forms at low temperatures and under high pressure. When the water temperature directly above the sea bed rises, some…

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Will Pakistan and India’s growing arms race and nuclear brinkmanship spiral into a catastrophe?


This is also an ongoing cause for concern. If you’d like to read my short story set against the background of a nuclear conflict in the subcontinent, check out my e-book ‘Climate Tales – Three Visions of How our World Might End: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006US9MTG

The Extinction Protocol

June 6, 2012 INDIAA nuclear war been India and Pakistan, even if it is limited in nature, would result in major climate disruptions and ultimately, global famine, according to a new study. Dr. Ira Helfand of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who is the lead author of the study, said that such an occurrence would release clouds of radiation that will contaminate farmland far from the location of the actual blast. The shoot released from the blast would destroy crop yields by cooling global temperatures and reducing rainfall worldwide. Dr. Helfand pointed out that his study provides proof of global implications of a local nuclear war. As more than 925 million people around the world already suffer from malnutrition, an event of such as nuclear war and its consequences would result in global famine. “It is not just the arsenals of the U.S…

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War, famine, strife, extinction: scientists warn planet approaching a ‘tipping point’ of an apocalyptic nature


I know I’ve been doing this a lot recently, but this one from TEP is also worth reblogging. Check it out- its quite a stark warning from scientists regarding Climate change and resource depletion!

The Extinction Protocol

June 6, 2012EARTHEarth is rapidly headed toward a catastrophic breakdown if humans don’t get their act together, according to an international group of scientists. Writing Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature, the researchers warn that the world is headed toward a tipping point marked by extinctions and unpredictable changes on a scale not seen since the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago. “There is a very high possibility that by the end of the century, the Earth is going to be a very different place,” study researcher Anthony Barnosky told LiveScience. Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, joined a group of 17 other scientists to warn that this new planet might not be a pleasant place to live. “You can envision these state changes as a fast period of adjustment where we get pushed through the eye of…

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Makes you wonder if this is a turning point…


Makes you wonder if this is a turning point: theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com: Syrian atrocity the final straw? Israeli defense minister calls for international military intervention: May 27, … http://wp.me/p1eYXc-5Q5

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Dealing with Climate Change


Dealing with Climate Change – it’s a reality: http://ow.ly/bakQH

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