As the governments fall to financial failure, what societies might hold together under the strain? In the post-Christian West, only Christianity has glued societies in the past–and riven them as well–but what power has it now, a faint shadow of its former authority? Well, more power than any other readily visible possibility anyway and it has risen from the ashes under oppression before. Particularly, Christianity is flexible in ways that make it unafraid of modernity; science doesn’t frighten it. Its monks after all, preserved and developed much of what has become our science. And it carrie the banner of personal freedom.
Should Western Christianity fail to provide the needed Phoenix to light the way forward, the atheistic moral relativists who now oppose it will probably assert control with nothing but the state’s compulsion to hold things together. That will be a revised version of Western man, a return to serfdom but without a power greater than the state, it is all that can be on offer.
Much of the world lives with or under Islam; most of that is poor and most of the governments are spectacularly corrupt and only conditionally stable. The spreading economic failure has already put the Arabs into the streets; more will follow. Can Islam help hold things together? Islam is not only riven by factions, tribes, nations, customs and corruption, it is extremely rigid and doctrinaire plus it is doctrine embedded into 14th century sensibilities. It can’t adapt to modern science or the social mores that accompany it. Should it do so, it wouldn’t resemble Islam anymore. That is what frightens the fundamentalists into terrorism, revolution and totalitarian governing. All this is a Devil’s cookpot. Islam won’t be a unifying force holding these disparate elements together but it may be used to organize groups for all sorts of destructive adventures. In the longer run, Islam seems unlikely to survive science and improved lifestyles; in the short run–watch out!
And what about modernity itself; won’t the obvious advantages of technological civilization hold things together? Well, ask yourself that, then take a look at what has happened in Beirut, Bosnia, Mogadishu, Detroit, and the Caucasus to name a few. Modernity grabs no hearts or minds and it makes no martyrs.
Present society isn’t holding together anywhere and unless Christianity with its unique personal freedom (that arises in personal responsibility) does its historical Phoenix act, there seems little to look forward to in the coming decades. Of course, that’s up to us!