Random Thoughts

A Greed Breeds Civilization and a Benevolence Births Terrorists

Artha in Sanskrit has two meanings like many Indo-European words. The first meaning is meaning and the second meaning is Money. This concept of money as a measure of success has always ridden the Indian mind in tandem with the concept of renunciation and accounts for the prevalent schizophrenia of most Indians. In fact these two notions are linked together and ride most human minds in tandem and constitute a yoga, because they are yukta or yoked together.

Chanakya wrote a treatise on economics, taxation and statecraft which is a crude mixture of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Machiavelli's Prince and the ancient Hindus formulated a division of labor in the caste system and similar surplus agricultural production led to specialization and differentiation of occupations in Sumer, Egypt and China. This promoted commerce and greed, which led to the invention of writing, accounting and record keeping, which in their turn metamorphosed into literature, mathematics and history and historiography.

The reason Adam Smith deserves the title of the father of economics is that he in his famous example of pin making came up with the observation that the greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of division of labor. He set us on the road to repetitive mindless assembly line manufacturing and was perceptive and prescient enough to see its dehumanizing and dumbing potential. 

Nature or evolution stumbled on the same trick, by chance and necessity without design or premeditation and found the superior way by trial and error. It led to sonar development in bats long before we humans invented it. Division of labor with designated modules for processing color, contrast, contours and lines in the visual cortex antedated the parallel processing computers by millions of years. Just as agriculture and urban civilization evolved at multiple sites like Anatolia, China, Egypt, India, Mesopotamia, so also eyes and wings evolved multiple times in independent fashion as an optimal solution. Transmission by inheritance, which was the boon of evolution became the banal curse of the Indian civilization viz. the hereditary transmission of caste. This rigidity with undue importance to the next life in India and the complacent sense of superiority with an obsession for order in China to avoid contamination by contact with uncivilized barbarians led to the downfall of two of the greatest civilizations and their subjugation by the West.

Surplus food grain production by cultivation is the bedrock of all urban civilizations and liberates the population to pursue varying skills and talents to produce non-essential products (for existence) and live comfortably by bartering them to others, who have the leisure and lucre to enjoy this luxury. These lead to flourishing of artists, scientists and sports professionals and subsequently to the proliferation of services and an economy based on it. This together with a preoccupation of exercising the biblical right of domain over the rest of creation and nature, when mixed with a sense of curiosity, a dash of cruelty and a pinch of independence is the basis of the domination of the West. 

The politically correct explanations of Jared Diamond attributing it to the chance presence of animals which could be domesticated and cultivable grasses with horizontal mountain ranges, is non-offensive and consistent with the new post-modernist chants of equal myths, no class ranking and feel good applause to boost undeserved self-esteem. Oriental, Middle Eastern and African ruling factions have been tyrannical and continue to be so even to this day, while the citizens of Europe have succeeded in putting a limit to the power of their rulers for nearly two centuries.

It is a matter of supreme irrelevance that the natives of the Americas had some form of organized society, because it had not reached the level of defending itself against invaders. The same is true for India and China. The advancement of a civilization is not measured merely by culture, art or affluence, but also by its ability to maintain itself and resist an assault by alien destructive forces without collapsing or knuckling under. It is essential for a state or entity to provide the basic needs of its citizens and be militarily strong enough to defend itself from
invaders. All this needs to be understood by the old players returning to the world stage after a prolonged hiatus. Evolution and the world political stage are like the land of the red queen in Alice in Wonderland; one has to run fast just to stay in the same place or be swept off the political treadmill into the dustbin of extinction.

The difficulties of the United States are quite different. It has provided well for most of its working people until recently. It is now becoming a two-tiered society, which is not generally conducive to a peaceful and stable milieu, as the French, Russian and Iranian revolutions attest. It has followed a pragmatic foreign policy based on power projection and self-interest and there is nothing politically wrong with that. The problem is it has preached a benevolent altruist behavior from a moralistic pulpit of human rights, while unilaterally interfering where it suited its interest. It refused to sign the land mine treaty, Kyoto treaty, CTBT, submission to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and yet indicts others as war criminals. This to someone not wearing blinders elicits some objection, amused tolerance or benign contempt and is consistent with the behavior of most human beings, in wishing to portray themselves as being far better, than they truly are. What really incenses many countries and persons is not the lascivious guru, mullah, rabbi or bishop seducing the poor ignorant, innocent barmaid parishioner, but his constant sermon that his act is motivated by general benevolence to mankind and is essentially for her salvation.

That dog won't hunt anymore. It is patently ridiculous to keep harping on the airwaves that the third world is incensed at the invasion of the permissive, modern, liberated American culture. Most third world denizens are too busy making a living to worry about that and the nouveau riche, but often uneducated or uncultured, in reality happily ape and embrace the American mores to the extent of appearing as farcical caricatures to those of their ethnic background living in the West, who happen to meet them on a visit to the old country. These copycats emulate the worst of the West, while ignoring the charity, cohesiveness, civic sense and curious intelligence, which constitute the real virtues of the West. 

The most serious problem in need of analysis is the new breed of terrorist, who is older college- educated with marketable skills and has lived in the West for years, does not adhere to the strict tenets of Islam and still becomes a suicide bomber. He is the antithesis of the poor, young, illiterate fanatic, who is addicted to religion and blinded by anger, to be duped into becoming a suicide bomber, to claim his promised kingdom of heaven. The obvious answer is, his motivations are not cultural, economic or religious, but purely political. He is so hateful of USA, for what he thinks, it has done to his people, that he is immune to the obvious allures of the West and oblivious to his future. 

These new recruits come from Egypt and Algeria. Two Algerians with Belgian passports blew themselves up to kill Masood, the leader of the Northern alliance, two days before our catastrophe and an Algerian was caught trying to cross the Canadian border for the millennium bombing. In their warped minds, this is because of the capitulating humiliation of Egypt in the peace with Israel with its corrupt one party rule and the Western supported annulment of the legitimate election victory of the Islamic party in Algiers and the mindless massacres by the ruling faction thereafter. 

Mere military strikes and annihilation of some training camps will not dry up the underground spring that spawns these terrorists, until it is accompanied by popularly elected governments in all these places and some justice for the Palestinians. In fact the new pressures are evolving a more potent, virulent and more lethal brand of terrorist, more difficult to detect and thwart. Knowing the limitation of the American repertoire and the latent racism that lurks in the heart of many Americans, I am not surprised that they will choose to suspend or deny the civil rights of immigrants, as the Congress did in the laws of 1996, for they are the one helpless constituency beyond the pale of the constitution, the only leash for the Cerberus, that our government is beginning to resemble. 

A poll taken by the Los Angeles Times shows that nearly half the respondents would want Middle Eastern citizens and legal immigrants to be compelled to carry special identity cards! Does anyone remember the Scarlet letter; or the Star of David pinned on all Jews or the Soviet identity cards for Jews or the saffron ribbons for the Hindus that the Taliban requires? If we pass similar laws, then the war will be between two Talibans and not between civilization and terrorists. If restrictive laws have to be passed, let them apply to all legal residents, even though they maybe predominantly used against a selective group, which maybe profiled for general public safety. We will have come a long way to arrive at the same starting point. Began with slavery and burning witches, dispossessed Hispanic Americans of their lands after annexing South-western states, progressed to Dred Scott and the Chinese exclusion act; banned Southern European immigration, interned the American citizens of Japanese origin, so now it is the turn of legal citizens and immigrants of a new color and revision of Browns vs. new Board of educated Immigration! Surely this is the wrong way to circle the wagons!    


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

Top | Random Thoughts

Views: 3475      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.