Cliodynamics of Literature: Saudi Vox Populi


In the last three posts, the main theme was about process theories. A person needs to go through stages in order to self-actualize and understand literary novels. Civilizations need to go through stages in until it can write up lasting literature. Even members of the book industry, with every book, need to endure exhaustive processes; from writer to market to reader.

The understanding about book writing process will help us detach from our diagnostic biases. Detaching from diagnostic bias might allow us to respond more objectively to the state of literature anywhere. Instead of reacting defensively or boastful about the state of literature, levels of productivity, or nationwide stupidity, we might say, "Oh, considering how far they have gone, it's only normal for them to be where they are on the hierarchy of needs."

  1. Saudi Literature Since Gutenberg
Similar to the times when the printing machine was strictly regulate by the Kings and Popes of Europe, so is the printing machine in Saudi today. And it is a natural thing to happen when the majority the population doesn't know how to constructively control their voices. Not until it learns how to play fair. Not until it knows the shape and idiosyncrasies of its own identity and the modulations of its voices.
Major Event
Psycho Stage
15th-18th Century
Ottoman Empire bans the printing machine on penalty of death
18th-19th Century
Tribal unification and division of Arabia
20th Century
Saudi Arabia founded. Girls allowed to go to school. Seige of Makkah. Fine, we'll let you educate them a little bit.
21st Century
9-11. Okay, we'll let you educate them a lot. But not at home.

  1. Child Phase
The rulers of Saudi aren't idiots. They would not be rulers if they were. They understand that the majority of Vox Populi (Voice of the Population) in Saudi is still in its child phase.

One thing that makes children frightening to me is that they can see through facades, but lack the wisdom and discernment to control their responses, no matter how harmful. Like children, the majority would collect viciousness to thwart their heroes and foes with. Then throw fits of anger without trying to understand the reasons why things happen, or even offer regard to how hurtful their remarks might be, then sulk at the corner until Kingdom comes. Pun intended. Haha.

Until the end of the 20th century, vox populi of Saudi was still in its child phase, which is a period of self-discovery: A phase that precedes social awareness and identity formation. At least, this is how I explain why the syllabus of history in Saudi Schools, from grade 4 until grade 12, repeats on a three topics: My religion, my prophets, and my country.
Grade Lvl.
Study Topic
Grade Lvl.
Study Topic
Grade 4
History of the Prophet
Grade 9
History of Saudi Arabia
Grade 5
History of Islamic Nation
Grade 10
History of Prophets and Spread of Islam
Grade 6
History of Saudi Arabia
Grade 11
Aspects of Islamic Socio-Political History
Grade 7
History of the Prophet and Khilafa
Grade 12
History of Saudi Arabia
Grade 8
History of Islamic Nation

  1. Adolescent Phase: Control vs. Autonomy
Around the end of the twentieth century, when the internet arrived in Saudi, the ability to test one's voice in public became a common privilege. Whatever effort the lords and masters were spending on controlling the printing machine was then shifted to control the internet.

And faithful to the theories of psychosocial development, being able to test their voices in public (on social media), created a sense of self-awareness. A lot of self-awareness. And...Blasphemous Blogs! The world doesn't revolve around your self and awareness, oy!


Happily, a lot of Saudis in this adolescent phase are smart and motivated enough to move on to the adolescent phase. And the Saudi government is all the happier to facilitate the transition for their entitled children toward self-recognition and identity formation. This is one the good side-effects that 9/11 triggered in Saudi; it became necessary and justifiable to send millions of the young Saudi population abroad for their higher education.

We know ourselves better by interacting with others. We understand the value of our privileges when we lose them. We develop empathy when we bear the full consequences of our autonomous actions. Which, by the way, is one of Erikson's themes of adolescence: Control vs. Autonomy.

A lot of the Saudis who return from their foreign education have better awareness of themselves. They are more articulate in presenting their ideas. They marry and procreate with calculation. They value their personal freedom and opinions, which epitomizes adolescence. And you cannot underestimate just how good an education does a Saudi boy and girl by living without a maid at their constant behest.

And it's actually nice to be able to see this progress in my lifetime. 
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