Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Apocalypse Whenever

The mindset of consumption at any cost is a direct result of the way the European mind evolved during its centuries of expansion when a handful (relatively speaking) of people decided that the "world" was their oyster. Since they were so successful in their venture, the rest of the world has now decided that THIS IS THE MINDSET THAT LEADS TO SUCCESS and have adopted it. The Demonstration Effect unleashed by the European success has been reinforced by the fact that collaborator elites that the the European-Colonials established in every place are completely Europeanised in their thinking. The masses of each of these lands would never have taken so fervently to the European ways had it not been for the fact that they are daily witness to the luxury and advantage that these local elites enjoy by virtue of their close (or closer) links with the European mind. Not one local elite anywhere in the world has shown the intelligence or the courage to shrug off their European conditioning and revert to type. I do not minimise the virtual impossibility of doing this in the face of the globalised systems of exploitation and expropriation set up by the Europeans. Nevertheless this is our failure and I wish to own it. Of course the nature of this round of conquest (in the context of several millenia of history of conquests) was/ is such that the possibilities of throwing off the yoke were/ are minimal. The soft colonialism promoted by Europe (values/ ideals), together with the hard (and harsh) physical conquest and control, made sure of this. The fact that this conquest was global, leaving no undefeated ideology to compete with Europe, has also had a vital role in this scenario. I consider the dichotomy between Marxism and Capitalism to be false and the so called dialectic between them for most of the 19th and 20th Centuries to be sham. They were, essentially, the good cop-bad cop of the global domination game, Both chips of the same mindset, whose drama of conflict and opposition to each other enthralled (and continues to enthrall) the whole world while they (together) raped it. Once the conflict was no longer necessary one of the parties to this theatre of the absurd was done away with, unveiling the monopoly in the true colours of its tyranny. It is only proper that yet another sham - that of equality - should become the weapon that will sink the European ship. (At one time I used to have a lot of anger and regret that we non-Europeans should also have to perish in this holocaust but no more. I have seen that there is no other choice.) The shibboleth of equality has its own dynamic, which cannot be wholly controlled. Thus, not only the hyper consumption of the massified elites of Europe but also the increased consumption of the rising elites of the non-European world became inevitable. A linked shibboleth, development, and yet another, progress, have enhanced the power of equality, turning it into an unstoppable tsunami. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Interestingly, the Europeans (and the Europeanised) continue to consume to death not because they don't know that this is the path to destruction. They do so with full knowledge. But with the conviction that mother earth will save them. Why particularly them, one might ask? The answer is simple. Because they have full faith in her unsentimental ruthlessness. They know that unlike what the Christians and the Muslims would have us believe, mother nature does not care who dun it. She will punish all, indiscriminately. In which case it makes sense to simply ensure one's own survival till the numbers (and this is the final chapter of the definitive book of demographics) are slashed to manageable levels. Once that happens mother nature will lose interest in further vengence and the survivors can pick up the pieces. So, consume, hoard, protect your turf and wait for apocalypse. Indubitably, it is these Europeans and the Europeanised elites of the world who are, seemingly, best positioned to survive the coming flood. They have possession of the high ground and the wherewithal to build and float a million arks. Who cares if the rest of the 9 or 12 billion (or whatever number) drown.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Democracy and Distrust

The more I think about it the more it seems to me that the biggest problem the world faces today is not Bush-America or global capital but the problem of too much expectation. We now have a very large part of the world that expects to have heaven on earth. And it is this section of humanity that is the problem. Ironically, these people think that it is the others – the poor, the backward, those without expectations – who are the problem and, are now engaged in thinking up a final solution to the problem of these “others”.

Let us start with liberty, equality and fraternity, and their concomitant – democracy. I don’t think anyone will deny that these standard bearers of the modern era are the most abused expressions of our age: words that have caused more death and destruction than the most virulent slogans from any previous eras of mayhem and conquest. In my view it is not the lack of these attributes that are the problem but our expectation of them.

Some Lessons Learnt

Since my early teens I can remember being moved by “injustice” or, what I perceived as unfair. I remember reading about the Vietnam war and being angry with the communists for denying freedom to the Vietnamese people. I remember reading about the freedom struggle and being angry about the fact the “we” were enslaved by the British. I remember feeling personally humiliated by the idea of British colonisation of India. I could go on and on about the things that “moved” me then but let me stop here, and examine the ramifications of these two emotions.

I was born in 1958, so I could not have been more than 10 years old (probably younger) when I read about the Vietnam war. I recall the bombing of Vietnam by American bombers in what I now know was called operation Rolling Thunder. I recall the Tet offensive of January 1968 as part of a continuity of impressions about the war. I recall feeling the warm glow of freedom fought for when I read about American military successes against the North Vietnamese regulars and irregulars during the course of this offensive. I recall feeling sad about the American reverses. However, by the time Nixon negotiated an American troop withdrawal from Vietnam, my perception had undergone a sea change. From saviours to villains, their downfall in my universe was swift.

My anguish at British colonisation of India, while understandable in itself, becomes intriguing when juxtaposed with my pride in American military adventurism. It is not possible to assume that I did not know of the British - European origins of the American state because I did. Christopher Columbus was a household name. Clearly, however, I differentiated between European colonialism and American intervention. Colonialism stood for oppression and enslavement, America stood for freedom, democracy and opportunity. I saw the subjugation of native Americans by the white settlers as an act of civilisational progress (In other words, just) rather than the genocidal savagery that it was. America was my pride and joy. I dreamed of going to America, living there, imbibing its airs, living its dreams.

I have spent the next 35 years unlearning these and other values of my childhood and early youth. Many might call this a terrible waste of time but I consider it time well spent. How can justice be savage? How can democracy enslave? How could I have been blind to so much of the truth about these notions for so long?