Suicide bombers blowing up themselves and others as well as suicide protesters burning themselves demonstrate extreme despair. In the case of the latter any religious motivation should be excluded and religion merely serves to sanctify the existing rage.

These extreme actions are symptoms of a global crisis that is intellectual, spiritual and ideological, but also social, economic, demographic and ecologic. This complex question will be resumed in a later note, but some aspects have to be mentioned here.

In North Africa the hunger protests have been going on since October. At that time the Western media did not pay much attention to the problems of rural North Africans. Hunger is caused by high food prices, and over the last decade, commodity prices and the U.S. stock market have usually moved together.  The population of the Arab countries has been multiplying in the last decades and became proportionally younger and younger. The economy and even the ecology of these countries cannot support this demographic growth and the social and political structure is under extreme tension.  In the entire World the spread between generations become deeper and deeper due to the fact that with the constantly accelerating technical evolution the knowledge and experience of the elders is considered outdated and useless by the young. This problem is exacerbated by the fact the young are often hopeless, unable to find a way to success. In addition, it might be said, that since the young are using more the limbic part of their brain they are more passionate and less wise than the elderly using more their cerebral cortex. It is not by chance that the Masais excluded the unmarried young warriors from the villages, ancient Greeks sent them to found colonies and the Romans put them in the front line of their legions. Suicide bombers in their 60s-70s are rare. Selfish senile despots leading families and countries are many, and their answer to the current problems is repression.

Emigration is of course is a solution for many. But it has always been a difficult one. In addition, as the Arab countries are (currently) technologically and militarily underdogs, this emigration cannot be a glorious conquest, but an individual immigration, in mass. Mass immigration, however hinders integration and since social structures are primarily mental, they are carried by those who flee to their new countries; the original problems are reproduced. Delusion, hopelessness and identity crisis in their old or new homelands turn many Muslims toward radical streams.

Of course Islamism is also fuelled by the Wahhabist ideology of oil-rich Gulf countries and to the fact that during the cold war the card of religion was played against the communist threat. Religion – especially in these antagonistic environments can also provide an important manifestation for the opposition. It is not unknown in Eastern Europe as well, where the Polish Solidarity movement was highly religious in both its character and ideology. Communism in its Eastern European sense is over but Islamism remained there.

The Eastern European experience shows that “joining the West” is a very difficult process and Western help is rarely genuinely generous. The backbone of democracy is the middle class. This middle class is fading even in the West and its values are eaten of by the society of consummation. The Tunisian middle class is relatively strong, but who can lead them? As the Eastern European experience shows, a real renewal should bring a decisive end to the former regime, so its collaborators should be excluded from the new leadership. Another experience is that returning emigrants are rarely welcomed as leaders; they are rather seen as irritant outsiders (Maghrebis living abroad and returning back “home” for holidays are called with envy and despise “facance” by the others). How to build up a society of conscientious citizens from masses socialised to live in oppressive structures, helped by a West offering unequal business and MTV? I want the Tunisians and Egyptians to find their way. But it’s ganna be hard.