I see huge parallels between current stagnation in the Middle East and a much older model of Spanish colonial stasis. In its time Spain desperately tried to “out-Catholic” the Vatican regarding fundamentalist adherence to church doctrine. The Spanish Inquisition is an excruciating example of this. The comparisons go even farther. While Spain regarded the lending of money with interest as a form of usury, Reformation based societies in northern Europe were accelerating the pace of industrial development through such capital investment houses as the Lloyds Register, the Dutch East India Company and other consortiums.
One rather consistent artifact of Spanish colonial influence was a conspicuous dearth of industrialization. The extraction of existing wealth or raw materials more often proved to be the major goal. The legacy of Spanish colonialism has more often proved to be a residual looting mentality. Witness the continuing devastation brought by economic corruption in Mexico, South America and the Philippines. The lasting after effects still haunt the economies of these regions to this day.
There exist many common elements within modern Islamic societies and those of colonial Spain. The loaning of money with interest is still viewed as a violation of Islamic law. Similarly repressive measures against women remain in place. The ability to freely question religious dictates is almost nonexistent. Sexual repression is rife and social interaction is delimited by stringent behavioral codes. I will refer to a New York Times article that I used as a cite in another thread. It indicates that there are still significant internal issues which continue to keep the Middle East mired in its past. Some excerpts:[
Until the time comes where government and clergy are no longer in wholesale collusion, I cannot foresee how the region will successfully unshackle itself from such prevailing stagnation. Is the Spanish colonial model sufficient to outline many of the socioeconomic deficiencies found in the Middle East? Religious rituals aside, what other components need to be introduced in order to fully clarify this comparison? This is not an attempt at oversimplification. Rather, if historical parallels do indeed apply, then past lessons may more easily find utility in solving the moribund issues surround this troubled area.