Courtesy Reuters

The Nature of Modernization


IN the coming decade, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa will unquestionably remain the scene of turmoil, with an ebb and flow of crises and with strained relations with the outside world. However, we should not allow the staccato of crises to obscure the major structural changes which will profoundly alter the area and our relationships with it. Revolution from below, political upheaval and violence are common enough. Occasionally outsiders forget that these are not linked solely to Soviet intrusion but have their roots in the nineteenth century, in the great trauma associated with "the impact of the West." Change has been speeded by the cold war and the willingness of both the Soviet Union and the United States to provide the means. But, domestically, the revolution is fostered, indeed often more effectively fostered, by régimes which are politically conservative than by those which think of themselves as socialist or revolutionary. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is no régime which does not put a considerable part of its effort into creating the potential of revolution. It is universally accepted that no government can survive which does not espouse the cause of modernization.

What are the key aspects of this social transformation?

Probably the most important factor from the point of view of Americans and American interest is that there is a shift in the nature of power in the area as it moves toward the creation of a modern industrial society. Traditionally, power was exercised in very small units and then, often, only sporadically. Large-scale political units were usually theoretical. The reach of government was short. Financially, commercially, politically and even militarily men were largely autarchic and undifferentiated. Traditionally, power derived from ownership of land, leadership of tribesmen, the number of one's kinsmen or membership in brotherhoods.

Today power is derived from machines, impersonal civil and military bureaucracies and propaganda. As the functions of managing power have

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