The Conservative Turn

by Eman

I know people generally don’t like others slagging off their society or lifestyle. I also know that in certain places in the world, at certain times even the faintest whisper of grumbling can get you in a bit of trouble, so before the three (?) of you read this bear in mind that I am just spinning ideas like those Turkish spinny toys that I can never manage to work. I’m just brainstorming out loud.

I’ve noticed recently that this society has taken a sharp turn towards the right and has become increasingly conservative. It’s strange, especially to outsiders, because on the surface it looks like we have all the trappings of “modernity” (if you understand modernity in the most basic sense) what with the shopping malls and technology and people wearing neon trainers, but once you talk to people it quickly becomes obvious that their ideas and outlooks are very traditional. My issue here is not that people have a traditionalist world view, it is that they only tolerate this one view. It is a narrow mindedness that is becoming almost like a sickness, because any discussion that threatens to dislodge the status quo becomes anathema. No seriously, people will clutch their heads and scream while staring blankly into space to drown you out if you say something like “but what makes one family better than the other?”

Our society is not the worst in the world (although catch me on a bad day and you’ll think it was), but it is frightening how things some would consider as social ills, things like tribalism, gender inequality, nepotism, parochialism, sectarianism, these things are seen as normal, part of our “heritage” or even lauded as our most virtuous traits. I see these attitudes increasing, which concerns me because conservatism will only suffocate us further, and dear god, I am gasping for air as it is. These attitudes throttle creativity and innovation, they shackle the free thinkers and risk takers that society needs to progress. And we desperately, desperately need these people, we need the creative types that think beyond the parameters of our little world, we need them to be empowered and encouraged, we need to reward their eccentricity.

If Qatar wants to go from an economy that is completely dependent on unsustainable natural resources to a more diverse economy, we need to open the door for people who can create and not just mindlessly consume. This is the biggest barrier we face to any real development. REAL development, not the development that we are experiencing now (experiencing, not taking part in, mind). The development the country is undergoing today, while mind-blowing, has a lot of people (or maybe just me???) feeling like spectators rather than active contributors. For years I’ve been hearing this phrase of “diversifying away from oil and gas” being regurgitated and burped out from podiums, on TV and in dubious think pieces but I haven’t really felt part of that diversification. Whatever diversification has happened just seems superficial and fragile because no one is truly invested, because so many people cannot be truly invested on account of the sociopolitical barriers.

There is a real problem here, because we invest so much in sending Qataris all around the world to study and learn and get experience and party on the dl, but what is the point if they’re going to come back to a society that is completely intolerant of independent thought and ideas? Or even worse: what’s the point if those people who go abroad aren’t even willing to engage in independent thought in the first place because they’ve been taught to fear it? All that wasted money could have gone into building another football stadium!

I know this isn’t unique to this society. Groupthink is everywhere, or else you wouldn’t have troubling political parties like UKIP (or Britain First!) or the Front National or Donald Fucking Trump as a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination. It is, however, worrying when the hive mind a) encompasses the entire society, so that it does not allow for any alternative views. I mean, you can have an alternative to Trump, contest him and debate his legitimacy and the legitimacy of his ideas and hair on a national level and b) this group is an either-you’re-in-or-out group. You cannot diverge a little bit or else you’re a deviant who must be cast out. You especially can’t differ if you’re a woman because women are, naturally, the physical embodiment of a society’s morals and piety (insert massive eye roll here). This is why women should be “protected” at all cost because society’s entire existence and its religious standing is hinged on their purity in the “eyes of god” (insert an even bigger eye roll, followed by a sigh).

So, this conservative wave is going to impact us pretty hard, because it does not allow for much discussion or debate. It will cause our already tiny, closed society to become even more inward looking and hermit-like. We are already like little parasites growing fat off of our natural resources and not giving anything in return, we are hungry husks, mouths open and drooling for more more MORE THINGS TO CONSUME! Can I call it conservative consumerism? Conservative only in the sociopolitical sense, not in the dolla dolla bills y’all sense.

What was the point of this? Well, I wanted to publicise my rants a little bit, remind people that I am still an angry youth brimming with discontent. I also wanted to tell everyone to chill out and let people live their lives without bringing up the fire and brimstone for fuck’s sake! Most of all, I am convinced that there are some major problems in this society, ruptures between norms and reality, stress between the demands of modern life and the demands of a conformist culture, the disempowerment and alienation of social groups… and I could go on until my fingernails turn blue. I think we need a frank discussion on these issues so that we can come up with realistic strategies to alleviate this gross suffering and discontent. Isn’t our ultimate goal to be happy?

Or, we could just hotbox the entire country.