Mar 02, 2024
Mar 02, 2024
There is a Gujarati poem by Dalpatram in which a camel goes on a long tirade criticizing how the tail of a dog, the horns of a cow and sundry organs of various animals are crooked and thus lack rectitude. The punch line or maqtaa has the jackal informing the camel that while it is true that one or more visible parts of all animals are not straight, a simple look in the mirror would bring self-awareness to the camel that its contour and parts have far more curves, and hence crookedness devoid of rectitude than the isolated bent dispositions of other animals. There is a more succinct and pithy Urdu line (may be Ghalib's), "Jub daali apni buraiyon pe nazar to nazar men aur koi burai na rahi".
It is fashionable after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 180 degree turn of China, to posthumously dissect Communism and show its atrocities and failures. There is no doubt that communist rule led to pogroms, famines and mass murder and tyrannical sadism. It also led to universal education and healthcare in the old Soviet Union, China and Cuba. In the former two these basic services are now history and America's pet obsession Cuba is the only country to have universal literacy and first class healthcare for a poor country. This cannot condone the oppressive tyranny of autocratic one party rule but highlights the fact that people desire most basic necessities. Freedom of speech has no relevance unless there is freedom from want. The camel is foolish to criticize others when 15% of its population is without health insurance, major metropolises teem with homeless and racial inequality is ubiquitous.
The capacity of evil is inherent in human nature and the epic Zoroastrian battle between good and evil (Dharmayuddha) is carried out in the breast of each individual. It is in this true Jihad where most of us fail miserably. It is noteworthy that Christ who was only trying to reform the tyranny of priestly Judaism recommended that the slave should obey his master. Mohammed while prescribing kindness towards slaves and freedom for the children of coercive miscegeny did not ban slavery. The caste system of India though transformed into an unmitigated evil was far benign in comparison. It also in its usual paternal bias gave to the children the caste of the father. Thus the illegitimate father Parashara made his dark son Krishna Vyasa, a brahmin even though his mother Matsyagandha (smelling of fish) was a seductive daughter of a fisherman. Her voluptuousness later found another dirty old man in the ever lustful Shantanu, who like Yayati enjoyed his lascivious pleasures at the cost of his son. To have his revenge Krishna Vyasa then wrote the masterpiece Mahabharata with the black Krishna in the lead role as the incarnation of the Supreme Deity.
Thus the real and due credit is to be given to Buddhism and Jainism for rejecting the caste system. They however to retain some credibility and attract followers retained the doctrines of Karma and rebirth. Mohammed did the same by retaining a tyrant god with a love for penile foreskins whose Linnean species name would be Tyrannotheos Prepucephilus. The Islamic God like the Jewish God is tyrannical, demanding total unquestioning submissiveness like that of Job (Islam means submission) and demands the male penile foreskin as the medium of His covenant. The importance of the Kabaa was also to preserve some continuity with the prior pagan religion of Arabia. Sikhism did the same by melding Hinduism and Islam, while rejecting the ritual based monetary exploitation of Hinduism by the Brahmins and the foolish idol worship of chimeric gods.
The first British colony at Jamestown, Virginia perished in a brief period due to the ineptitude of the settlers and their hostility towards the native American Indians. The landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth was the next settlement. The so-called Puritans who abhorred worldly pleasures and claimed uprightness were not above giving gifts of smallpox infested blankets to the American Indians to practice their brand of charity to appropriate their worldly possessions of land. They had emigrated from England to escape religious persecution that was rampant after the Civil War that led to beheading of Charles the First, the rule of Cromwell and the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne. Their own experience of discrimination did not make them more tolerant and they exercised religious tyranny as in the Salem Witch trials and in their dealings with other sects of Christianity.
The seminal event on the North American continent was the French Indian War. The American Indians sided with the French against the British. They were defeated despite the incompetence of Washington and other American militia leaders by the British regular army. The residents of the colonies never forgave the Indians for resisting encroachment on their land and the murderous raids that they carried out for their survival. The British signed a treaty with various Indian tribes and had to nominally adhere to them while winking to a great extent at the transgressions of the colonial settlers.
The rich planters who had expropriated large estates by driving out the Indians under the British land grants found that it required hard labor to profit by agriculture. Cotton and tobacco were in demand but the crops were labor intensive. Britain had suzerainty on the seas due to the victory of the Armada and a long history of legally sanctioning piracy. Elizabeth the First by her partnership with Sir Francis Drake in just one enterprising business venture had earned enough booty to pay off the national debt. The British privateers decided to raid West Africa to obtain slaves with the co-operation of African chiefs and transport them to the Americas in subhuman below deck holds that resulted in mortality of a third of the human cargo. The native American Indians fiercely proud and warlike and familiar with local territory, were more likely to die fighting or escape rather than be enslaved.
The American War of Independence had many reasons like WW1 but the myth of taxation without representation is mostly propaganda as history like what the BJP and Hindutva brigades try to do. The stages of human desire start with knowledge and proceed to sexual desire, wealth, power and fame. The wealthy American colonists resented their lack of power and the constant insults of the British government overlords who treated them as parvenus and nouveau riche inflamed their desire for independence. They aped the British aristocracy and in their profligate lifestyles became hugely indebted to British bankers and trade houses.
Jefferson in spite of his profound proclamation against slavery inscribed at his monument never freed his slaves in his lifetime or by will after his death. He could not afford to as the sale of his slaves partially helped to pay his debts. One way to extinguish those debts was to become an independent nation. This was an important reason. The other pecuniary reason was that they had invested large moneys into the adventure and thus losing the war would subject them to monetary losses and the risk of being hanged as rebels. They therefore did their utmost and almost everything for the rebellion to succeed. The one exception was the relative unwillingness to risk their own lives. Here Washington was the exception, but he was not rich and this explains his obsessive greed for land to become one of the landed gentry.
Thus as is usual in the history of humanity, the Dantons, Marats, Robespierres, Jeffersons, Lenins and Khomeinis instigated the masses to storm the Bastilles and the battlefields while disdaining to participate in the fray. Other chicken hawks today claim they had other priorities themselves while sending the common poor masses to be fodder in illegitimate distant wars. The poor and ignorant have less choice. Their lives are nasty, brutish and short and the war gives them a chance at survival presently and a shot at wealth in the past.
The rapid Islamic conquests of Iran, North Africa and Spain provided the same opportunity to the Arabs in addition to sexual predation of vanquished female inhabitants. In the American case, the prudent British government would not allow unchecked westward expansion and further takeover of Indian lands because of prior treaty obligations and the unwillingness to confront Spanish and French interests in view of greater geopolitical considerations. The establishment of an independent America would permit the impoverished masses the riches of new fertile lands and the fulfillment of the cherished dream of "Manifest Destiny" (stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, that is why Jefferson sent out the Lewis and Clarke expedition and made the Louisiana Purchase in contravention to the Constitution during his presidency later on). Thus before and during the war there were many expeditions against local Indian tribe dwellings even though the Indians at that time took no sides. The attacks on Indians were land grabs.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD