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Concepts and their Meanings

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By Humayun Gauhar

What came first, the chicken or the egg? We will never know, though ‘scientists’ could well come up with a bizarre ‘answer’ some day, to later reject it for another more bizarre. Because they cannot ‘scientifically verify’ Divine Creation, they will tell you that the chicken or egg question is irrelevant because it was an accident, just as they say the question, “What was there before the Big Bang” is irrelevant because there was no ‘time’ and thus no ‘before’. How simplistic can one get? And these guys get Nobel Prizes? If terrorists past can become freedom leaders present and get Nobel Peace Prizes, why can’t scientists playing God?  They have no inner eye and cannot feel with the mind and think with the heart – that is ‘unscientific’ too.

So what comes first, evolution or revolution? Actually, they both work in tandem, one feeding off the other in a symbiotic relationship: evolution leads to revolution and revolution to evolution. Most political revolutions are preceded by anarchy and a period of bloodletting before and after. But there is no guarantee that anarchy will automatically lead to revolution and a better status quo, not unless would-be revolutions are anchored in a modern, coherent and doable ideology whose objective is the betterment of the human condition.

We use the phrase ‘social contract’ contract willy-nilly. What is a social contract? It is a contract between peoples of different nationalities and ethnicities about why they wish to live together in a state, how they wish it to be run and under which creed or ideology. The driving force behind a social contract is that people think that under the new dispensation they have a better chance to get delivery and children’s future will be secure. That is their stake in the state. To make the state work they agree to cede part of their sovereignty and certain powers to the state to run their affairs. If the state stops delivering the social contract evaporates and people lose their stake in it. This is what happened in the Soviet Union.

When a social contract is reduced to writing it becomes the constitution, the ‘basic law’. If the social contract is wooly ab initio, constitution makers are bereft of original ideas and fall back on copying constitutions of others. The social contract soon evaporates and the constitution becomes irrelevant and unworkable. An alien constitution never works for it cannot deliver good governments that deliver to the people. For a man-made entity like a state to persist, its social contract and thus its constitution have to be dynamic: cosmetic changes to alien constitutions only strengthen an iniquitous status quo while the state withers as people become increasingly disaffected.

Anarchy leads to destruction, and if the social contract suffers congenital defects, an emasculation of a state. Chaos and anarchy then persist: witness Karachi and large swathes of Pakistan awash in blood. Then either the most powerful force, domestic or foreign, intervenes or anarchy descends into nihilism and the state, especially a new one claiming to be based on a religion with myriad interpretations soon bites the dust.

We have two powerful domestic forces: the army and the extremists, many using terrorist techniques, not forgetting that in a state with an iniquitous status quo governments are the biggest terrorists and Mafiosi that lead to non-state extremism-terrorism. Our civil society is still embryonic and confused, mired in western social and political constructs to which a desperate people cannot relate. Luckily the extremists are without unity, divided into many factions, and will find it difficult to take over such a large state where only a small minority supports them even less than they support the many religious political parties divided by their irreconcilable doctrinaire differences. However, while extremists and religious forces have a simple though simplistic message, our liberal moderates have none except for alien banalities, many irrelevant to the oppressed. Thus as people get more and more desperate religious forces attract more and more desperadoes. What do they have to offer them? More elections? Selective justice for the rich and powerful? Constitutional hairsplitting? Freedom of expression? Where’s food, jobs, education, security, affordability, utilities, transport…? So army intervention is the more likely, if only to keep the state together by force, but only for a while. We know from experience that they don’t have solutions, only optics. A coup de tat is not revolution: it is a “hit against the state”. If anarchy persists and the army doesn’t intervene, the country could be divided into many fiefdoms run by religious warlords or split into many states as has happened in the subcontinent twice in recent history. Not knowing how to adopt a better system with consensus, not imposition, is why I support persistence with this filth system so that it evolves to its natural end, hopefully to be replaced by a better one. If it does not, know that the land and the people don’t go anywhere: they just change nationalities while sitting in one place as our forebears did. A friend of my father’s was born a British Indian, became a Pakistani is now a Bangladeshi, all while sitting in Dhaka!

As to foreign forces, they are already at work, exploiting the loss of stake in the social contract of many. Their prime objective is to castrate our nuclear arsenal so that it doesn’t fall into the hands of those they dangerous to them and Israel.

This begs the question: what is ‘revolution’? Literally, a single revolution takes place when a wheel goes round in one full circle. Imagine a state to be a cart and its wheels the people. The place where it stands is the status quo. That place suits some people but not the majority. When that place becomes untenable there is a storm (anarchy) and the cart’s wheels move just one circle to a new place. That new place is the new, hopefully better, status quo. That is ‘revolution’. The state moves – forward or backward depends on your point of view. If not, anarchy persists and the storm overturns the cart. Geographies change. Witness Egypt: anarchy has led to more anarchy; the state is unraveling because a coherent ideology is absent. People wanted change from an oppressive system, but based on what – an imported electoral system that passes for democracy? Sorry, doesn’t work.

So what is democracy? It is not simply elections, not unless elections are part of a system that regularly throws up good governments that continuously and significantly improve the human condition starting from the poorest. China has done that: improved the human condition more and faster than ever in human history, not through western-style elections but within the Communist Party. An imported system, electoral or otherwise, only fortifies an iniquitous status quo in which the poor get poorer and the rich get richer because it is programmed to making the oppressed elect their oppressors as their representatives – “You are free to buy any car you wish as long as it is a black BMW”.  The people’s ‘representatives’ only represent themselves. Far from being their guardian angels, they are actually their angels of deprivation and death.

What is ideology? We throw words around without understanding them. The word ideology comes from the word ‘idea’. Thus ideology is an idea around which all systems and laws are structured. That ideology then takes the form of a creed or religion in which people have faith. A religion is an ideology imbued with the spiritual, belief in God (or a pantheon of gods symbolizing various attributes of the One God). The best ideology is one that contains both spiritualism and secularism.

We also misunderstand the word ‘secular’ because clerics have dinned it into us that it means no faith in God. Secular means worldly or temporal (from the word ‘temporary’ because this world and life in it are temporary, as indeed is the multiverse). Islam is both spiritual and secular because it is also a way of life. It instructs people about their relationships, laws, economics, behaviour and etiquette – don’t enter someone’s house without knocking and seeking permission first, for example.

I ended my last article saying that the people have come a long way in the last five years: then they thought that elections were equal to democracy and the panacea for all their ills. Now they realize that delivery is equal to democracy. It is the political system that is wrong because it doesn’t deliver. Another five years, maybe less, and they will realize that the constitution is the problem because it spawns the bad political system: the constitution is the disease, the system its symptom. When that realization dawns we will take the right direction.

This article is incomplete. We still have to cast the Pakistani situation in this context in ‘Evolution or Revolution’ later. Else what is the point?

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  1. Mr. Gauhar

    Brilliance is to be found in simplicity, rarely complexity. The solution to your search is a tiny fragment of the complex puzzle of …isms, ideologies and social systems of which you write. It was a simple & subtle tweak in the world-around political fabric that was first inserted some 150 years ago in Tasmania, then rapidly spread to the world like an unnoticed cancer.

    For the first 100 years of the American vote as well as virtually every other nation on earth, the vote was conducted openly. It was thus verifiable by not just authorities, but all who were within hearing distance. Then the Secret (Australian) Ballot was inexplicably introduced. Indeed, very little history still exists documenting its introduction.

    In civilized countries today all transactions are documented by a verifiable receipt except for the one most important transaction of all, the citizens secret vote.

    There is an article detailing the subject below. If you agree with its premise, then possibly you might pass it forward as it appears to have been routinely suppressed for years:

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