Two conflicting forces, concealed by a common hostility to the West, shape the crisis in the Arab states today, Sir Hamilton A. R. Gibb, University Professor and James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic, stated in an article in this month's Atlantic.
In a special supplement on "The Arab World," Professor Gibb asserted that the momentum toward authoritarian national regimes is opposed by "tentative movements to rebuild the social organism on Islamic principles, and so create a moral reunion of the Arab peoples."
Gibb calls the masses "not narrowly national, but pan-Arab," although they lack a basic social philosophy or institutions to canalize their will.
The force toward nationalism gears development toward Western-type administration, military organization, and expansion of technical skills, Gibb said.
On the other hand, he noted forces which would subordinate admiration of western techniques to the directives of Islamic traditions.
Although Gibb stated that probably neither of the tendencies can fill the existing social void, he said that from their interplay a solution may evolve which interplay a solution may evolve which meets the Arabs' "psychological needs within the framework of expanding international relationships."
Also in the supplement, the editor, William R. Polk, a member of the University's Middle Eastern Studies Center, discussed economic development of the Middle East.
Because of the poverty of the region and the lack of balanced natural resources, the Arab states must undertake a mammouth program of public works, Polk stressed.
He called their ability to do so the "great political and economic question of the decade."