You asked an insightful question in a comment under the Shiite Reservoir is Marginalized: “Do we all want a modern state, or are we going to even clash over that basic definition?”
I thought it would be more expedient to answer you in an entry: A genuine modern state should look inwards, inwards to its people and leverage their energies and talents for a better future; this is what we have been missing. We’ve seen, and as Raja claimed, where modernity has led Arab countries in past decades.
What we’ve seen of political modernity was countries, like Egypt , that relied heavily on the West for either or a combination of food, aid, power, and justification, while oppressing local ideas and marginalizing groups. Moreover, you have countries, like Syria, that defame the notion of looking at the West and instead attempt to create their own secular, modern stand, but you still see absent the leveraging of all their citizens’ capabilities to move them forward.
Therefore, I understand why religiosity and Islamism have crept back into the Arab political discourse. Islamism has become an alternative and a reaction to what Arab leaders have defined as a modern state.
It is clear that a new order is replacing a dying one in our region. I would like to see genuine debate that revolves around what would constitute a modern Arab (or Lebanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, etc.) state in this new emerging order and the emergence of political parties and movements that rally around this new phase.
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."