Capitalism, Pope and the Plea
26 September, 2006
By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu
From the west first came Greek thoughts based on reason; and after a recess of thirteen hundred years more reason based systems such as capitalism, democracy, socialism, fascism and communism, followed. During the recess Judaism and Christianity and then the remaining and emerging religions of the east entered the west. The newest western gift is Globalization, which with its present face will eventually lead to the worst kind of monopoly-capitalism, if the third world does not turn to democratization and modernity, and most importantly to a work culture that generates earned money.
Presently the third world is passing its days with the easy money (begged and borrowed money, oil money and remittances). Given the west-wide disturbed situation due to militancy, the scared west has concluded that the third world is not going to mend its life style. Hence, Globalization is bound to hit it badly. And before negative repercussions appear making the third world an unaffordable liability, animosity must be inducted through an ideological ground based on religion to draw the lines for separation. This is the hidden but real crux of Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”. Yet, Huntington remained dormant. It is only through post 9/11 experiences that the west has started taking him seriously.
Religion has been chosen because it attracts most, most of the third world, particularly Muslim majority countries. Animosity is being created through a strategy, which will help ideological ground to become, first, ideological battleground and then a permanent dividing ground. It will engage the two sides into rhetoric, protests and regrets; and also into small and high intensity conflicts, where one side will also use human bombs and the other has a lot of choice to answer from.
The divide would help the westerns to remain satisfied and secured with their own lively insides without bothering about the miserable living outside. In the case of Muslim majority countries---where thinking is fixed, work culture is absent, knowledge is least, elite is despotic, and change is resisted---divide will come even through normal historical processes, but the westerns think it is in their advantage to let it happen earlier, at the most within this century. Pope's entry into the strategy is, thus, a well thought affair.
His controversial lecture is millennia old discussion, older than the religions that exist today. God as a necessity is one reason of God. This concept was forwarded by the Greek. God is a reason of all reasons, and hence a reality of all realities is a well-established theological concept. Debate on God will never end. Usually it affects none; but the one initiated by the Pope was partly out of context. It could not be so without a purpose. It is meant to do the damage.
Pope is not a social scientist. Nor are most of the westerns the Christians in the classical religious sense. It is since long that the Scandinavian morality has replaced Christian morality in the west. Hence, Pope's lecture was likely to go unnoticed. But its out of place part was intended only for the Muslims. The Western-American on job media saw to it that his words reach the Muslims. The Muslims the world over lodged strong protests and asked for immediate apology. Pope obliged; regretted, and regretted again. The strategy and the storm would not stop. More is to come, and more protests and regrets will follow. One day it will look as if things will return to normal. Another day will come when the west will come out with another punch. It is continuity: the invitations, one after other, to negative connectivity. Last year it was the cartoons. This year it is Pope's lecture. In what shape it comes next, no body knows. What is to come ultimately, the Muslims do not know. The trap laid for the Muslims is obvious. It requires Muslims to think and talk only about religion, and the Muslims are obliging.
The Muslims (elite and intelligentsia) believe since so many centuries and assertively after the rise of the west that the religion determines the relationships among human beings, societies, states and civilizations. They are in a condition where weak entities do not search for the reasons of their weakness; instead they find escapist solace in their past when the others were weak. The trap is a mean to strengthen this condition through religion. In their own environment, the westerners believe in the things that may be called anything but religion; and they practice the things that are anything but religious. They are also clear on the subject of relationships, which they believe, and rightly so, are determined by the interests such as security and economy. The trap is intended to widen the gap between the two types of thinking and practices to bring the planned separation earlier. Why are the Muslims obliging: Because they are not ready to accept the reasons of human relationships. The answer needs elaboration.
In individuals 'masters and slaves' is as old a phenomenon as the human beings themselves. It is the worst kind of relationship that existed between the powerful and the weak individuals. Yet, the Christians practiced it. The slave was a Christian or a Christian convert did not matter to the Christian master. Slavery was abolished in America only when the North needed industrial labor. Or when there was enough money to pay for the labor. Similarly it was year 1962 when the last Muslim slave was sold in an open auction in Saudi Arabia to a Muslim buyer. Afterwards slavery was declared illegal. It happened only when the Petro-dollars brought prosperity, and the Saudis and the other Arabs were able to hire labor from outside. In India, which is the largest democracy, the caste system among the Hindus still persists. It will end only when India will be surplus in prosperity. So far the Indians are surplus in poverty and religion only.
Discussion on relationships within the societies reveals another horror story. How Catholics killed the Protestants, Sunnis killed the Shias, and vice-a-versa are well known facts. In the later case the killing has not stopped as yet. Iraq is the immediate example, and there are many more including the one of our own. And how eight million Christian Rwandans were killed within a couple of years due to infighting, it is a subject that did not move anyone. Similarly the Muslim Northern Alliance and the Muslim Taliban fought with each other for many years in Afghanistan. And the news is that they are on the job again. All these communal and tribal and ethnic killings have reasons in sharing of political power and resources, and not in religion.
Talking about relationships of states, in the past it was mostly no different from the one of master and slave. With the birth of Capitalism and Socialism, it too has changed though; not entirely. Any way through out the recorded history, the religion except for short intervals did not enter and affect the working of the states. Other reasons did. It was the Christian majority states who fought among themselves two great wars in which eighty million people were killed. The reason was monopoly capitalism of the rest of Europe, which was not ready to give a space to the emerging German capitalism. On the Muslim side let us think only about the wars of near past, which involved Turks and Arabs, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Iraq and Iran, Kuwait and Iraq, and Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Why did they fight? They did not fight for Islam. The reasons were the interests related to area, identity and resources.
As far the relationship of the state and its subjects is concerned, Muslim majority states have an awful record, and they are in no mood to bring about a change. Hence, what looks nearer to the context is that the Muslim elites and intelligentsia are purposefully obliging the West. Or as assumed by some, they are the initiators of the animosity, and the west is obliging. What an assumption? The Muslim elite is only capable of playing on a wicket prepared by the others; however, when it feels its survival is under threat it spoils the wicket, and that is the most it can do.
There should be no doubt on two subjects. The Muslim ruling elites do not want to share power and resources with the people despite the systematic efforts of the west to bring them on the required track. After 9/11, Western-American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq was another initiative to democratize and modernize these countries. Had the effort succeeded, the entire region would have benefited. So far it did not, and most of it is not due to the inside resistance; it is due to the resistance from the outside. What does all this mean? When one looks at the figure and origin of suicide bombers in Iraq, most of them were outsiders. And from where thousands of Taliban came in Afghanistan and that too so suddenly? Was not it a repeat of what happened in 1994?
The west's conclusion that the Muslim states and societies do not want to change their ways, may be a hasty one, and cruel also, but it certainly has a logic. How long should the west spend its efforts and energies on so difficult a task? Here two questions arise: First, if the West and America want separation, why are not they disconnecting immediately? Second: when human relationships are interest based, why was the powerful west interested in the improvement of the weak third world?
Answer to the first question has to parts. First, a sudden disconnection will create severe social chaos and energy crisis, within the west and America also. Second, it appears that America, and not the west, still wants to use the Muslim Militants against Russia and elsewhere, where the need arises. But it also wants that the militants should not harm the American interest. It is killing two birds with one stone. The third bird, which breeds militants, will also face the consequences, the separation, in due course of time. This is a strategy to resolution of conflicts through clash and not cooperation.
Answer to the second question is that puzzle is that the life has a genetic reason, a momentum, which comprises such ingredients as cooperation, clash and separation. These ingredients either individually or in combinations compel the life to move to higher orders or to reform the existing order. Environmental compulsions strengthen and also refine this reason. Had not this reason been there, neither bio-evolution nor social evolution would have occurred. This reason’s ingredient of cooperation is a bond, other than interest based, that also connects the west and the Muslim majority countries. That is why Huntington remained relevant only in the books or as an option. Five years after 9/11 not much changed in these countries. Anti-west extremism and militancy rather escalated. It was enough to frustrate the west. Now, Huntington is a choice. What to do?
The westerns were not any better in the past, but today they are certainly living with a much-balanced socio- economic system, in which logical knowledge and rationality and not the religion dominate the working of the state and society. The western elite initiated the change took the people along, and raised their societies to the present zenith.
The only way out for the people of the third world and particularly for the Muslim majority world is to challenge the writ of their rotten, ruthless, shameless and static elite. It is not a dream. Through internal dynamics or through external inspiration, it is bound to happen one day. Meanwhile on their part the westerns should turn to the reason of their magnificent achievements. It was sharing and not the separation that did the wonders for them. The Third World cannot stop advent of Globalization. What the west can do is to end its support to the despotic third world elites and also give the Capitalism a humane face. Flow of capital does not have an uncontrolled dynamics. It can be humanized. What is required is a bold and generous initiative from the west.