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The politics of adhocism

17 November, 2006

By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu


In 1377 England needed finances to meet expenses of war with France .  A tax of one shilling was levied on all, irrespective of the rich and the poor.  Richard II was the king whose age was 10 years at that time. The poor, the labourers and the peasants, became furious and marched to the Capital under the leadership of a tile fixer. The King accepted their demands, but another group of rebels attacked the venue and killed the advisors of the King.

The King took refuge in London Tower, where another meeting was arranged. During the hot debate a deadly scuffle between the rebel leader Wat Tyler and the Mayor of London caused the death of the former. The mob became enraged but the king bravely calmed them down. The victorious rebels retuned to their homes with their demands accepted. Within weeks the Parliament overruled the King's agreement. The rebel leaders were chased and caught, and two of them were assassinated.

The political relationships in England six hundred years ago comprised a teenage but wise and brave king, a people conscious of their rights and ready to fight for them, and a parliament of the earls and the barons that was extortionist. All of them were part of a crude and cruel political dynamism that revolved around economy. Today in a systemised, stable, civilised and a labour led England the debate that dominates governance is still on economy. In the other countries of Europe political dynamism has the same meaning.

Story has been no different in America. In the recent elections the Democrats won because the people were not ready to finance a continuing war in Iraq that would cost them 3 million dollars per week. The democrats are the leftist face of America. Their victory also means that the middle and lower classes will be taxed lightly and the rich will be taxed heavily. In the west including America the economy, its growth and its sharing will remain the basic issue of state and society as long as surplus prosperity is achieved.

Will this debate ever start in Pakistan? To find the answer let us go back into the era of the teenage King. The reason that compelled the King to behave wisely and bravely is understandable, for he wanted to govern smoothly. That the parliamentarians stuck to unjustified taxation makes sense; they did not want to lose their wealth. However, what made the poor, the peasants and the labourer aware of their rights is a puzzle, and the bigger puzzle is that they also fought for their rights in medieval and feudal England. Six hundred years ago there were not even traces of modern thoughts and knowledge around. The industrial revolution did not exist even as a dream. And Roseau, Voltaire and Marx had not born. The probable answer to the puzzle of the poor is that there was split in the ruling elite. The King was on the side of the people. He knew how to govern and the people had faith in him.

The different behaviour of the western ruling elites and hence of the people could have origin in the political debates of the ancient Greece. Again, why was it Greece only and not India, China and Arabia? It could be out of necessity. Agreed, but what about the necessity not coming into play for the other nations that were living under similar conditions? A straight reason for the great contradiction could be difference in genes. Though some socio-biologists have discovered one or two such extraordinary genes in the Europeans, the equally successful story of the Japanese, Chinese and even, to some extent, of Indians does not support the genetic base for bifurcation. Yet, these three nations have not evolved any economic or political system of their own. Whether it is a mixture of Marxism and market economy, democracy and socialism, and democracy and liberal economy, it came from the west.

As a matter of fact the change, the progressive order, in human relationships is as big a mystery as origin of universe and origin of life.   Why did the progressive order evolve? Whether it is genes specific or effect of social mutations or outcome of contradictions from within or a blend of all three has not been explained fully as yet. The ancient Greek philosophers and the western social scientists of past couple of centuries have constructed their logic taking goodness and aggression in human nature (genes) as base— keeping goodness in front. They have also extended and refined their arguments by blending the base with the environmental compulsions. They have also given their arguments an organisational and workable identity. But, even their relevant and befitting arguments create more questions, and they are by and large west centric; they explain various phases of development in the west and not the beginning that was common to entire mankind. Notwithstanding the unavailability of a perfect explanation to the beginning of evolution of mankind's social order the fact remains that the western states and societies are progressing, intellectually as well as physically; and quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

Speaking frankly as far as our state and society is concerned we do not need to go into the basics. Our task should have been to initiate the change keeping before us political models of the west. Why did not we do so?   Perhaps we did not have a wise king. Perhaps our ruling elites — the generals, the bureaucrats and the rich — were one and the same. There was no clash of interests among them.   All of them were rulers.  No matter their rule was smooth or turbulent, they assumed as long as they remained united, they would remain safe.   .

It is difficult for any logic and particularly Marxian logic to explain the behaviour of the elites that are not bound by any discipline—procedures and processes— other than the rhetoric and self-enrichment. They are purely passing their days on daily basis either through external help or through internal extortion? What are the bases of this ad hoc-ism, held so dearly by the elite? The base line for any analysis to this end could be that we are a creation of circumstances that were external to us, and we are prisoners of circumstance that we inherited at the beginning, that were imposed on us, and that we acquired through our own misdoings: The cumulative effect of the circumstances became a bar to emergence of economic classes. Hence we have neither political right nor political left.

So, if economy is not a subject in our debates there is nothing surprising about it. We will continue to live with the debates like the ones on Hassba, Hudood, Jihad and the Jews. In a nutshell emergence of economic classes dependence on recession of poverty of intellect. In a society like ours the behaviour of 'capitalists', 'the socialists', the 'secularists', and the 'enlightened moderates' would be the same or similar. All of them were/are standing in line to promote one way or the other the religious politics and the religious extremism. The English were lucky for their political chemistry was free of such ingredients even six centuries ago.  They were also lucky in one more way; their leaders did not coin such complex phrases as "liberal extremists" and "enlightened moderation."

End.

Reader Comments:

Pakistani debates: Economy vs. Jihadis

Great topic Mr. Yatu. I fully appreciate your focus on economy. Even more important is your example that is based on an historical event in English system of tax collection. Taxes are the major source of revenue for every government. In the era of privatization, governments are pretty much limited to the tax income as their principle source of revenue. Therefore it becomes even more important for the citizens to keep a close eye on taxes. Even when “Jazba, Hasba, and Jihad” make the headlines, Pakistanis do focus on economy in almost every election. So far people have used the terms such as "Mehangai" or "inflation" to express their dissatisfaction with the economic system. Pakistani people have seen the value of rupee erode every six months (and in some case even sooner). Successive Pakistani governments have relied on leftist approach in solving "Mehangai", by implementing more regulations, "price committees", and “utility stores”. This has resulted in even more corruption and more "Mehangai". It is time that Pakistani intellectuals like yourself add more to the economic debate. Tackling "Mehangai" is impossible as this term is really vague. I feel that in Pakistan major source of Mehangai include (but not limited to) archaic tax regulations coupled with even more antiquated tax collection system. Add this to the monopolistic control of "supply chain system" and we have an economic disaster at our hands. Our tax regulations need to be updated and simplified. Our tax collectors should be trained for "public service" instead of "government service". Last but not least our supply chain system needs to be brought to 21st century. Our "farm-to-retail store" chain is pretty much the same as it existed in the bazaars of Arabia during the time of Ali Baba and Chalees chors (40 thieves). So the system remains vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, crop yields, and worst of all "zakheera andoz" (hoarder) businessmen. When people complain, our government responds by heaping more regulations and set up parallel monopolies (utility stores). It is time we get out of the vicious grip of archaic tax system and Ali Baba supply chain. Thanks again for focusing on economy.



Dr. Qazi, United Kingdom - 17 November, 2006

Enlightened moderation!

Yatu Sahib,
Certainly a well written thought provoking article but the terminology coined these days is American and the purpose is to create schisms and prefer those who are favourable to them.
I would recommend you to read on www.rand.org and search for the article"Civil democratic Islam" by CHeryl Bernard.In this article he tells how to divide muslims in 4 classes and support some over others to create a self sustaining fight among them.Millions of dollars are being spent to control,demonise and marginalise muslims and it is being done in Pakistan and elsewhere.I wonder a lot Pakistan is entangled in the so called war on terrorism and all the resource are bieng spent on this and nothing is left to be spent to improve law and order situation,merit,education or health,well this is true will all those unfortunate countries which are ruled by military be it Egypt,Burma,Indonesia ,Turkey etcetc.But the point again is that there should be an open debate in Pakistan as to assess their priorites from their perspectives and reject the elite who consider their survival linked with the advancement of American Agenda.

Dr.Khan, United Kingdom - 17 November, 2006

Let mullahs do their job!

Dr. Khan brings up yet another conspiracy from rand.org. Cheryl Bernard has not committed any crime by saying that Americans should support pro-West people in Asia or Middle East? Would Dr. Khan spread the same conspiracy theory about American Muslim organizations like CAIR? Most of the Arab Americans supported Democrats in recent elections for obvious reasons. Was there a big bad plan on part of those who supported one party or the other? Obviously we at personal or national level support groups who will work with us or somehow help us. Cheryl Bernard is saying the same thing from her vantage point.

Coming back to the topic of discussion. Pakistani economy like any other in the world is using Western institutions like Banks etc. Obviously the analysis of economy will include "terminologies coined" in the West. Let's not quarrel on words and terms. All of us want to see a prosperous Pakistan. We should commend Mr. Yatu for taking an initiative. Please do not turn this discussion into America or Jews bashing excuse. There are enough Mullahs who are already doing a fine job on that topic.

Dr. Qazi, United Kingdom - 18 November, 2006

Excellent Yatu Dr Qazi Dr Khan Adhocism Analysis

MA Yatu touched Catholic England resulting in Protestants civil law Islam
Law system which England ADOPTED.Dr Qazi dealt aspects Din
Democracy like Dr Khan.MAYatu also correlated aspect of mystery of religion universe and gene world gods goddesses.Dr Khan infact went into politics resulting in Pope Israelis Danish Cartoon statement .Truth is that Greek Mythology Gods related Current democracy is via Zeus of Olmert .Israel and Din Jamhoori being promoted by fraud in the OIC .Prince Charles says teaching Of the holy prophet (pbuh)likely to solve world problem What Is being promoted in Pakistan is raw state bill encompassing religion .Ask HRH Prince Charles directly to enlighten us from his concept?

Democracy of bills is sophisticated like its swindling by legislation. Swindling related
Items come as forced system, sophisticated wordings of UN Jewish resolution combined with illicit forms and formats. If Netanhu wrote book on WTC destruction before destruction amid Zeus technology I would consult him.

Islam is more Sophisticated to the extent that pure is pure impure is impure and in-between is impure. Criteria of 24 hr governance is angle of earth moon in salat
Magrib and Isha and fajr technicals.Mystery of gene DNA gene mapping and creating
Identical sheep’s and human or running around with heart donation card (forbidden
In Islam) is collision course with what is being promoted.UK could be evil or solution.


M.B.Zakaria, United Arab Emirates - 18 November, 2006

Variations in prospects of civil society°°'

The restructuring of production is experienced world-wide in generating the threefold hierarchy of social relations referred to above: integrated, precarious, and excluded. The proportions, however, differ from society to society. The balance between top-down and bottom-up forces in civil society, and the relative importance of right-wing populism and the covert world, result in distinct types of state / society configurations with different implications for civil society. The political space between constituted authority and the people is the terrain on wich civil society can be built. A weak and stunted civil society allows free rein to exclusionary politics and covert powers. An expansive participant civil society makes political authority more accountable and reduces the scope for exclusionary politics and covert activity.

Shokat Saleem, Georgia - 19 November, 2006

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