1 October 2007
The whole history of the nations of the world is filled with battles and wars, all attempts by one to gain supremacy over another. The world never retained a fixed template of territorial division of countries for more than a century. The geographical contours of the countries have been constantly changing.
It was the mighty nations, the imperialists, who, in their interest to increase their territorial areas, invaded or annexed areas that belonged to other countries. These political aggressions were mainly for business and economical interests, although there was also a good dose of nationalistic chauvinism behind the imperialistic fervour. There were also some purely political reasons to secure vantage points to thwart probable aggressions. There were many such battles in the Middle Ages between the Muslims and Christians to assert hegemony over the trade routes to India. This ultimately led to Portugal's occupation of Goa in India. The Mughal aggression towards India was for her riches, and afterwards they established the Mughal Empire in India. The Russian aggression towards Eastern Europe to increase the area of the Soviet empire was nothing but communist imperialism-the word most abhorred by the communists themselves worldwide. It was for the purpose of spreading communism to the world and thus posed a threat to the US and Western influence on other countries. But the days of imperialism are gone. The Communists, till the other day, criticized the US as neo-imperialist, but only because the US multinational companies had powerful existence in the third world. But pure geographical imperialism has lost its spirit and is on the wane until, one may hope, it vanishes from the world for good by the end of this century. So we may expect that the world will slowly develop a fixed pattern with clearly bounded territories of the country-states without any further possibilities of one nation grabbing another’s land. But what is it truly about, this One World, the dream of many great thinkers and visionaries? Before looking into the matter we should view some historical lessons from another angle. We must first ask if there is a truth, a principle that is imbedded in what we call the historical process. Is there really any guiding truth hidden in the course of history at all? I am not qualified to discuss such matters like scholars but at the same time I believe, given the knowledge left by the world’s greatest historians, that is hardly necessary. Karl Marx had his own way of conceptualizing a Utopia where there would be no state. But Marx built his philosophy upon the exploitation of the working class by the capitalists who sustained imperialism. So by demolishing the capitalists, Marx reasoned, a society would evolve where the working class would be at the helm of the production system – with the help of their united organization, the Communist Party. Naturally in the absence of ‘surplus capital’ the capitalists would wither along with their parent, the imperialists. Marx was an economist and a philosopher, but he did not ponder the intricacies of human nature. Human beings are not simply machines to be slotted into an economic model. The working class is comprised of human beings and they themselves are not a cohesive class. So it is unlikely that they, in the absence of their capitalist masters, would not have any of the same human instinct to connive means to exploit their fellow workers. The love of power and wealth is inherent in man and would spontaneously find a sustainable system. Ideals when they have the power of truth may create a reality. But Marx’s dreams were not based on the science of life and the forces that control it. The Anarchists, too, fared no better in their attempts to offer a solution. So we do not find any practical and feasible principle that governs the course of history. But this does not mean that history does not have its own organic direction. Man has a predilection to see himself as the creator of his own destiny. He is comfortable viewing himself as independent from the nature from which he evolved. In his search for truth, he positions himself as a separate bystander. By discovering certain physical laws of nature and by manipulating these forces and laws he has gained some control over apparently spontaneous natural functions, and has been able to use them splendidly to his convenience. So quite understandably he sometimes ignorantly confronts nature as an obstacle to his cherished plan of living. There is no wrong in organizing natural forces to his convenience. But in doing so, sometime man forgets that he is also guided by natural truths. The laws that govern matter also govern him. He applies his mind to know the whole truth. But that ‘mind’ is an evolutionary phenomenon of Nature within him. If I seem uncharitable towards man it is because he separates himself and his nature from Nature in general. When a meteorologist says that the atmospheric pressure and the movement of air currents are the cause of a depression leading to sudden heavy downpour, we understand him. But we are yet to believe, let alone know precisely that collective human movements have behind them similar forces. Collective human action is more complicated than weather systems and therefore unpredictable. And for that matter, even the weather is often not all that predictable.
Once a much learned man told me, ‘Life is a great teacher’. But I always felt that life never teaches-it prepares. All have been molded and prepared to their present forms and status through billions of years, if we want to define a process of preparation by a time period. Some may consider this the work of a creator or preparer, others prefer to conceive it as self-preparation, according to one’s mindset. Scientists themselves have discovered this truth. But they fail at their own doorstep called "mind" which they have used to find the truth. Man has the capability of being aware of an inner guiding consciousness. There are many events in history that never would have happened had man’s sense of right or wrong been in control. There were horrible catastrophes, upheavals, either natural or man made, that shook the world and caused unimaginable suffering to the common man. Some civilizations at their height of sophistication were destroyed by barbarians. And at the hands of those barbarians, these civilizations again rose to great heights though differently. An example of this is the rise of Hellenic civilization and its subsequent fall at the hands of inferior Romans. But that part of the world did not sink into obscurity permanently. Roman vitality pushed the society to new horizons. After any upheaval or destruction history rebuilds something new. India’s subjugation to British rule helped her to become a united and modern nation. The very concept of ‘nation’ was absent in the Indian psyche. This humiliating sense of subjugation awakened a sense of nationality in her as she discovered how the independent British could fetter her, and energized her freedom struggle. On the other hand, if the Sepoy Mutiny against the British had succeeded, India would have been pushed into anarchy under an effete and effeminate Second Bahadur Shah-the last Mughal. Many Indian historians love to glorify the Mutiny simply because it was against the foreign British. But the general people never supported the Mutiny because of fear of anarchy and medieval administration. So they preferred the British to the Shah. But when India rose to her sense of nationalism under a modern atmosphere, she fought against the same British, who had become an obstacle to her self-determined progress. Man is a mere tool of the forces of history. This blog is not the proper forum to make a scholastic argument that history pushes human beings to become ever more organized around a nucleus of human unity. But an unbiased overview of history suggests a distinct direction through contradictions and complexities.
In India when economic reforms and the globalization of markets started under the then Prime Minister P.V. Narshima Rao, all the left parties (mainly the communists) made a furore throughout the country. The fulmination was against the government’s economic policy by which India would lose her economic independence to the US and other European multinationals. They campaigned that there would be large scale unemployment and increase of general poverty level. But this global economic reform suggests something to me; it is not for the present but for a future. The political ambition of increasing the geographical area of a state has now been rendered almost pointless. Some countries like the US and the erstwhile USSR realized the tremendous hazards of deploying armies in other states. This cost them dearly. The nations are now separated securely by clear geographical boundaries. The nature of history and for that matter Nature herself is never moved under any ethical, moral and human consideration in finding its ways. An individual may have to some extent a power to shape his/her future. But for the most part collectivity is the predominant factor influencing the choice of the individual at any given time. So the historical forces or impulses are not governed according to mental or theoretical conceptions of good or bad. Movements in history depend on certain conditions, which are related to the predominant collective vitality as a matrix, to develop into something new. Our current era is the first time in the history of mankind where business is the single predominant impulse moving every country to be stable internationally. Isolated independence has no place in this world now. It is a world sustained only through interdependence. To the multinational business and industrial organizations, the geographical barriers are not relevant. Continuous amalgamation and tie-ups within the international companies are building a new world situation where people of different countries are getting closer to one another and thus making a common international ground. So naturally an overriding political ambition is anathema to this international culture. This is not to say that we are near to an ideal situation. But it is definitely a beginning towards something new.
It is only after the Wars that devastated the world that common people of any country became aware of and also reacted to the happenings in other countries. Now we have even established international institutions, groups and organizations like HRCW, UNO, WTO etc to look into the problems of people and governments. Now people are not individuals –they are the sole concerns of their respective governments. Earlier a country existed on a place on the Earth. Now wherever on the Earth a country exists –it spiritually belongs to an international community. This sense of togetherness is greatly augmented by the boom in cell-phones and the internet. The path is strewn with incomprehensible human miseries from the clash of conflicting interests amongst countries. Some political analysts believe that the reason for the US invasion of Iraq was to pre-empt Chinese access to the oil resources in the Middle East. But it would not have been so if the resources had been free from any governmental control. The iPod is a great example and symbol of globalization and consequent interdependence. While the machine was designed by that quintessential American company, Apple, "the micro drive that was the heart of the machine was made by Hitachi in Japan, the controller chip was made in South Korea, the Sony battery was assembled in China, the stereo digital-to analog converter was made by a company in Edinburgh, Scotland, the flash memory chip came from Japan and the software on a chip that allows one to search for and play ten thousand songs was designed by programmers at PortalPlayer in India.” And if an Asian company takes over the majority shares of Apple after five years, we will be landed on a jigsaw-puzzle world.
In what I have written above -I have never attempted to make it a point that in a One World There would be no human sufferring. It will be there as it is now. Mere withering of geographical boundaries is not enough for human sufferings to vanish for good. But the world must necessarily be ONE first to move towards a progress.And even after one-world man will have to go miles for some centuries before he finally overcomes the problem.
THE ABOVE ARTICLE HAS BEEN EDITED BY KATHLEEN SUTHERLAND OF WASHINGTON DC
Posted by Blogger at 11:53:00