In this brilliant exploration of the post-9/11 world, leading Lebanese novelist and intellectual Amin Maalouf sets out to understand how we have arrived at such disorder. He explores three different but related aspects of disorder: intellectual (manifested in an unleashing of statements on identity that allow no possibility of peaceful co-existence or debate), economic and financial (that is exhausting the earth’s resources), and climatic (the result of turning a blind eye to the consequences of rampant industrialization). Instead of seeing the current disorder of the post-9/11 world as ‘a clash of civilisations’ Maalouf sees it as the ‘exhaustion of two civilisations’, a period in which humanity has reached its threshold of ‘moral incompetence’. Islam and the West have theoretical coherence, he says, but in practice each betrays its true ideals: the West is unfaithful to its own enlightenment values, which has discredited it in the eyes of the people to whom it has introduced democracy by force; while Islam finds itself condemned to a headlong rush into radicalism. These symmetrical disorders are only some of the elements in a global disorder that requires humanity as a whole to take responsibility for its future and face up to the urgent tasks such as climate change and the global financial crisis that threaten us all.
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