Global Dissent

Category: Asia, World Affairs Topics: Africa, South Africa, South Korea Views: 1951

Filipino anti-war protesters light candles around a peace sign during a rally at the U.S. embassy in Manila on March 18, 2003

Dissent has so far been a matter between a people and their government. Not any more, because what governments do now effect the rest of the world. Millions of protestors took to the streets recently the world over, from Cape Town to Karachi, Sydney to Sophia and South Korea to South Africa with a single slogan of 'NO WAR'.  People march in streets only when something troubles them deeply and they find no other recourse. Even then one in a hundred ventures to that option, which implies that  a hundred thousand in a rally actually represents the view of a million. When they are as diverse and even opposed to each other spiritually, politically, ethnically, and geographically as they were on this occasion, their cry becomes all the more significant.  The recent phenomenon demonstrating a public outrage against the imminent invasion on Iraq in cold blood may very well signify a paradigm shift of people's concern from the regional to the global context and rightly so.  Perhaps the institution of state has gone out of synch with the collective wisdom of people and crossed the line of their innate morality. May be a global consciousness is being born as a predatory American leadership hastens to wage a war to win 'peace' --  before the weather gets too hot for the comfort of their soldiers and before the next campaign for their re-election commences. 

Something has indeed gone wrong with the world, the way it is behaving today. We, in the South, know it only too well by experience. There are signs that people of the West  are also waking up to new realities, although the same cannot be said about the mighty USA?  Americans are the most powerful nation today. They can conquer any other country of the world. They produce and consume excessive surpluses of food and luxuries and deplete and pollute the earth in the process, and no one can stop them. Does it absolve them of having a deeper look at themselves in the larger perspective of humanity and life on earth? One question they may ask themselves is, if the power and capacity of conquering, rejoicing, eating and drinking is the yardstick of ultimate success of a state and the true purpose of life of its inhabitants? 

If the answer were in the affirmative, the brutal forces of Tartars and Huns who could defeat any one and every one, would still be ruling the world. If consumption was the virtue of life, the mighty dinosaurs eating more than their share would have dominated the earth forever. If serving oneself was the secret of life, the white-ants eating up their own environment would be the most admired society amongst the living organism.

Mercifully the answer is in the negative. The ruthless barbarians ended up dissolving their identities into the gentler cultures that cared for others. The mammoths ate themselves out of existence leaving the world to the smaller and the apparently weaker living beings.  The white ants never made it to the glory of a model society. What survived was a culture of sharing and caring:-- - the religion and the logic of doing to others what one would have done to himself, the birds that ate the berries but spread the seed to grow more of them, the bees that collected the nectar but fertilized the flowers so that more may bloom.  A civilization of mankind and nature prevailed to sustain life on earth, albeit with fits and starts and interregnums of disorder and chaos.

Alas that civilization is now threatened. The fruits of the conquest of nature, that humanity nurtured for millenniums, were stolen by the West and converted into weapons to perpetrate their power of domination and to prevent others from joining the march of progress. The reason and belief of giving and sharing with others has all but gone and the lust for possession and profit made a virtue to replace it.  The society has taken a full circle and is back to where it started. The plundering barbarians are back although in a different garb, the dinosaurs have returned in human form and the message of the birds and bees is about to be lost  in the din of catastrophe. America, the enfant terrible of the West is out to grab the plum of human achievements and exclude others to satisfy its own limitless hunger for material. If any body can check the acquisitive rapacity of American leadership from becoming a global plague, it is the people of America, who must remove the state-imposed blinkers from their eyes and face the threat squarely. They do not have to go far and can learn the home truths from the undisputed but renowned thinkers of the West, whose writings George Bush conveniently left behind unread, to collect dust in the library of Yale: 

"Man has become a superman... but has not risen to superhuman reason. The more his power grows, he becomes more and more a poor man. It must shake up our conscience that we become all the more inhuman..." said  Albert Schweitzer while receiving Nobel Prize at Oslo fifty years ago.

Erich Fromm, a social philosopher in the USA could see what was wrong with the West and raised an alarm as long as 25 years ago.  His credibility is strengthened by his prescience that should be sufficient to open the eyes of any people and any leadership intoxicated with power:

"The gap between the rich and the poor nations must be closed. There is little doubt  that the continuation and further deepening of that will lead to catastrophe. The poor nations have ceased to accept the economic exploitation of the industrial world as a God-given fact. The increase in the oil prices was the beginning -- and a symbol -- of the colonial people's demand to end the system that requires them to sell raw material cheap and buy industrial products dear. In the same way the Vietnam War was a symbol of the beginning of the end of colonial peoples' political and military domination by the West.

What will happen if nothing crucial is done to close the gap? Either epidemics will spread into the fortress of the white society or famines will drive the population of the poor nations into such despair that they, perhaps with the help of sympathizers from the industrial world, will commit acts of destruction-- even use small nuclear or biological weapons, that will bring chaos in the white fortress" !!!

His conclusions are based on rational analysis and explain behaviors without any intention of justifying them, which the contemporary analysts are accused of. AIDS could have been detected, restricted and overcome within Africa, had the world not robbed and abandoned that unfortunate land to rot and reek in ignorance and squalor. Desperate youth, starved of freedom and dignity through the manipulations of the superpower, would not have been driven to the extreme of 9/11 to lodge their protest in utter desperation. To call the reaction to injustice 'terrorism' and punishing it, amounts to an attempt snuffing the consequence while promoting the cause, or removing  the symptom while feeding the disease.

Reason and morality has been repeatedly invoked by the Western thinkers and church respectively in the face of imminent invasion and destruction in Iraq, but to no avail.  Whatever was left of Christianity was crucified in the mushroom clouds of the two nuclear bombs tested on non-combatant civilians, women and children in Japan. It is also manifest in the millions of children dying of hunger and sickness in Africa and in the billions undernourished around the world, while America wallows in gluttony and experiences a national epidemic of obesity.

Erich Fromm doubts if .. "Europe was ever truly Christianized... At most one could speak of a limited conversion to Christianity from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries... : it did not mean a change of heart, i.e.,of character structure, except for numerous genuine Christian movements." After the Industrial Revolution and with the  domination of the Big Business over the governments and the media, the society took a turn from a humane to blatantly acquisitive character. A trinity of Wealth, Power and Dominance raised its head to be worshipped as the god of modern age. "Reason began to deteriorate into manipulative intelligence and individualism into selfishness. The short period of Christianization ended and Europe returned to the original paganism"

Fromm goes on further to suggest remedies, "This catastrophic possibility can be averted only if conditions of hunger, starvation and sickness are brought under control -- to do that, the help of the industrial nations is vitally necessary. The methods of such help must be free from all interests in profits and political advantages on the side of the rich countries; this means also that they must be free from the idea that the economic and political principles of capitalism are to be transferred to Africa and Asia." Contrary to the wisdom, we see the rapacity of capitalism spreading its tentacles in the form of World Bank Loans, IMF controls and WTO master plan to further augment the plunder of the destitute.

As if giving up on spirituality of compassion, Fromm builds upon sanity of pragmatism, suggesting that "a sense of solidarity of caring ( not of pity) must emerge, from  the industrial nations. Caring means not only caring for our fellow beings on this earth but also for our descendants. Indeed nothing is more telling about our selfishness than that we go on plundering the raw materials of the earth, poisoning the earth and preparing nuclear war...One thing the world should know is that without it, the clash between the poor and the rich nations (read oppressed and oppressors) will become unmanageable." 

Despite the warning, the issue  remained un-addressed while the gap continued to widen further --  not by accident, but by design. Why cannot the arbiters of human destiny see what a single philosopher proved right by his prediction. If 'terrorism' is responsible for 9/11, whoever is responsible of provoking terrorism is guilty of the whole mischief and the havoc wreaked on Afghanistan and Iraq is but an extension of their agenda.

American people are kept in the dark by their ruling establishment, in complicity with the military-industrial complex and the motivated media, till the reality comes crashing down through their doors. In case of Vietnam it came late after thousands of their near and dear ones had been sacrificed at the altar of greed; the perception-makers who promoted it could not prevent the calamity. People had to take to the streets to stop the madness, but it was after the event.  This time the whole world is trying to tell the Americans before the event, what is wrong with their leadership---they just have to listen what the whole world is shouting at the top of their voice.

Information has crossed the barriers of business inspired Press and now flies over the head of state influenced electronic media directly to our doors in its digital freedom. It may present a Babel of opinions but truth stands out to speak for itself.  People of the world, including the Americans, have only to click on to know the truth, instead of buying it second hand from the brokers. Trust your fellow human beings whether they are in New York or Nairobi, Paris or Peshawar, London or Lebanon --- after all you share this earth with them and have to make it safer and more livable for your children.

The author is an independent commentator based in Karachi, Pakistan


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  11 Comments   Comment

  1. Chow Zhengjie Andrew from Singapore

    Wars only bring about hatred, hatred for one another. Such hatred may never be forgiven nor forgotten.Someone once said "violence and the use of force never solves any problems, only through understanding them can such problems be resolved.

  2. Ray Tortorella from UK

    Great to read the authors views, the whole world must be worried about about a global superpower which will use force disregarding international law to further its hegemony. The islamic world must know there are many people in the west who do not share the views of the US or Blair. The fact that people all over the world are becoming more aware and politicised as a result is perhaps the only silver lining in an otherwise cloud of despair.

  3. Adama from China

    Most of the article is right. The problem is that the author seem to be a bit racist. America and the West though in majority and led by Whites can not be discribe the way the author did. Other thing, AIDS was first discovered in the US not in Afica as the author would like to suggest.

  4. jihad scott from usa

    I am an American muslim. I feel very horrible about what the united states is doing. I feel hurt and depressed because it feels as if i dont have a voice and i can do nothing. I feel that there is no need for war and the USA should have just avoided war by letting the UN do there job. I dont understand why the USA did it,because the un resolution was working and the country of Iraq was cooperating. Now my tears dont stop because i know that the Iraqi people and children will be suffering. I understand that the United States is angry about the attack of 9/11, but you cant blame the rest of the muslim world with no evidence at all of who reall did the attack. Alot of Americans died and I feel for them, but nobody ever talks about the people that died in somalia or the people in palestine, kosovo and bosnia and chechnya, or about the people of kashmir,or the muslims in afghanistan, or the genocide of the muslims all over the world. noone ever cares about them. one american dies and they are ready for war. thousands of muslims die they say oh thats too bad. The muslim world needs to be like the usa and take action when a muslim is murdered and get international support. because if we dont wake up muslims will still continue to get murdered and we will be held accountable on the Day of yawma qi yama about what we did to help especially the leaders of the muslim countries.

  5. Abu Jasim from USA

    What every body needs to do, especially Muslims, is to never buy American product, ever again. Lets cut this giants legs, then we will see how effective cruse ships are. Buy Muslim, Chinese, European or other goods. I know it is difficulty, especially when you living in America but you can do it. Travel to Halal grocery store and buy soaps from Pakistan instead of Dove or Pentene, or what else.

  6. Uma from USA

    We all really should pray to the almighty god right now.To "Does not need to be known" I pray that sometime very soon your eyes may open up to the truth.I mean really when it comes to "weapons of mass destruction" how is korea different from Iraq? Oh and what about good old US of A, don't we have any? In that case aren't we a threat?

  7. Linda Hamilton from Canada

    I personally do not agree with the war on Iraq. I know many Canadians feel the same way I do.. I can not even imagine the suffering that goes on in the world because of man`s cruelty to man.

  8. Does not need to be known. from Doesn't matter.

    It sickens me to hear this kind of arguements from people who do not know what is truly happening around the world. For people like this it is proven that the world is very unknowledgeable. Not to mention the fact that Korea wasn't a show of America's might it was a show of the concern America has for communism and single minded-people like the author of this article. The part about people in america being all white and spoiled and fat and gluttonous is totally out of perspective. I have been there and they are a diverse population with many beliefs and also many there are more informed than some "experts" around the world are. It sickens me to here people express their anger at a country through something such as this. Reports are to be impartial and nothing more merely there to give the facts not the person's opinion or his families opinion on a matter that is much bigger than that person is. I believe that the war is a bit preempt although it is not a war so that america can gain more resources it is a war so that it may keep their country safe any other view has a biased side to them that must be focused towards all the negatives of a place while they fail to realize theirs. That is all I have to say.

  9. Abd Akeem from Nigeria

    Please, I will want to know more about the author

  10. Abd Akeem from Nigeria

    ALL I WANMT TO SAY IS THAT PEACE IS BETTER THAN WAR