In the 20th century, the “end of history” was declared many times.
In 1919 at the end of World War I, in 1945 after World War II, in 1989 according to Fukuyama when the Soviet Union collapsed. While all chronology is dictated celestially by the Sun and the Moon, human selectivity decides what is history. Perhaps, Benedetto Croce was right that all history is contemporary history. History is too powerful to be called bunk, as Henry Ford did; too susceptible to be dismissed, too much an instrument of power to ignore, too important to sustain resistance and revolution.
Like all years, 2019 is also waiting to be appropriated.
Failing world order
Internationally, we are seeing the death of a global governance system which began in 1945.
The United Nations (UN) was to bring the world together. World War II was the war to end all wars. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, was followed by others.
India’s Independence in 1947 signalled anti-colonial movements.
The UN was to ensure there would be world peace without war. In time, this global normative collapsed.
The US supported the UN, but challenged by the Soviets, it went to war 70 times in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, Iraq, Syria, and in Central and South America. Both wanted world domination.
The Soviet empire collapsed leaving embers in 1990.
The US believes that there is a clash of civilisations between Christianity and Islam. (Photo: Reuters)
Now the US is pitted against China — as both countries look for allies, markets, resources and investments.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) of 1995 created a comprehensive predatory trade treaty to cover all goods, services, intellectual property, agriculture and to end all barriers.
But even after this, the world is up for grabs — its fate surrendered to negotiations. It’s the same with climate change. Trump is the unintelligent face of this change. He has undermined Nato, threatened WTO, threatened UN endeavours, as he wants to build every conceivable wall: physical, military, electronic and market to put ‘America First’ in a desperate scramble threatened by new empires of all kinds.
But we cannot treat Trump, a 'powerful wimp', as one with Napoleonic significance. The millennium has brought about huge rifts in the multilateral international order at all levels: economic, financial, humanitarian and moral.
We are back to redefining unequal ‘nations’ under stress pretending to their equality.
Does this world of hate have a conscience?
It was thought that the ‘human rights’ agency would be the world’s conscience and was to include exposure by the UN and independent agencies like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc., and the conflicted NGOs of the world.
Who listens to them?
The US? China? India? Myanmar? Pakistan? Russia? It is always victors’ justice. Wars for human rights defy these rights and those for democracy, controvert democratic principles. Civil society’s quest for justice is projected as a disturbance to public order, considered inimical to governance. The space for resistance — in thought, word and deed — is shrinking.
The Chinese solution to a clash of civilisations is to use the state to annihilate religion. (Photo: Reuters)
Free speech, the right to protest, the right to resist and to rebel against injustice — all are under threat.
These principles are also regarded as threats to governance.
Yet, it is only from resistance in all its forms that power can be challenged.
When Karl Marx proclaimed his eleventh thesis on how the problem was not to interpret the world, but change it, who were designated as agents of change: workers, peasants, the oppressed, the avant-garde intellectuals, collectives, coalitions or singularities?
Or, has the world and its nations lost the passion for even the semblance of justice?
The US believes that there is a clash of civilisations between Christianity and Islam, distinguishing between “good” Muslims who believe in the “liberal” Western way and the “bad” Muslims who do not.
But it is the West that partitioned the Middle East in 1919 and 1945 to create a fully armed Israel, holding America’s balance in that area.
In 2019, the Islamic countries still own an important resource: oil and gas. Everyone wants it. The West humiliates it to conquer.
In this ‘clash of civilisations,’ immigration to Europe and the US has revived racism, targeting other religions as evil. Tolerance has been brutalised into intolerance.
The Chinese solution is to use the state to annihilate religion, as witnessed by Uighurs in Xinjiang and Buddhists in Tibet.
India’s way is to push for Hindu dominance at all conceivable levels, subjecting its minorities to humiliation, hate and violence. Those of the same ‘Aryan race’ must undergo 'ghar wapsi'. The rest must confirm.
PM Modi represents a nation looking for commercial spoils. Not philosophical greatness. (Photo: Reuters)
India’s image crisis
Nehru’s policy created a Non-alignment Movement as a third political and moral force. Let us not pretend that BRICS instruments a just change.
India has no global status except as an emerging economic nation bargaining for spoils.
The ‘West’ is not troubled by India’s Hindu emergence even if it comes at the cost of the most unique multicultural civilisation in the world.
‘New’ India is both predatory and holding a begging bowl in the world economy.
India’s 'flying Prime Minister' has no foreign policy beyond this. He flies everywhere to indulge in petty deals — a travelling mendicant looking for concessions.
The rest of India’s foreign policy in the subcontinent is shattered. Nepal has moved to China. Bhutan is India’s only subcontinental achievement. Our Pakistan policy is to reply with hate for hate.
Internally, a ‘Hindu’ India is looking for electoral conquests through hate and mass appeal. A great multi-civilisation is looking at being grounded.
For Indians, 2019 has to be the year of resistance to what India has become and to fight for justice at all levels. India has to redefine itself nationally and globally in these troubled times.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)