by Naresh Jotwani for the Saker blog
As tensions rise between the West and Russia-China-Iran – core of the emerging multi-polar world – many historic possibilities and opportunities open up for people elsewhere. The cause and the nature of these possibilities and opportunities is briefly outlined here, for those who may sense and wonder about the tectonic shifts occurring.
Honest disclosure: The author is most definitely not an expert in geopolitics or diplomacy. But he finds himself hopelessly stuck with a mischievous mind which cannot resist exploring ideas – particularly ideas which are iconoclastic in nature. The outcomes of the mischievous explorations are shared freely with others, in the belief that others will find something useful in them.
First, a few necessary words about minds which have lost the ability to explore new ideas – incredibly puny minds which are closed, locked and deep-frozen in ‘higher-us-versus-lower-them’ world-views. A recent ‘jungle-versus-garden’ comment by a certain high official of the EU gives a glimpse of that world view. Needless to say, the author is profoundly thankful to that high official for providing such a superb illustrative glimpse of that world view.
People of this frozen world-view imagine that their world-view – which, sadly, is dearer to them than a million lives – is worshiped by everybody else on the planet. How can it be, they figure, that the most precious thing in their lives is not valued by ‘the wretched rest’? Surely they must be jealous of us! They have to be! Why, even we privileged ones are jealous of one another!
You get the idea. Surely all of us have encountered such frozen minds at some time or another. An example from the EU was cited, but examples can easily be found from almost any corner of our beautiful planet. For ease of reference, we shall refer to such minds simply as ‘frozen minds’.
Necessity is the mother of adaptation and invention. Therefore, when there is no necessity, there is neither adaptation nor invention. This implies that the root cause behind ‘frozen minds’ is privileged life which does not ever necessitate either adaptation or invention.
Outward symbols of wealth and privilege abound, of course, and they are flaunted ceaselessly; but the minds behind the symbols are well and truly frozen. To the un-perceptive, the outward symbols indeed signify something – power, wealth, success, progress … something. In fact the whole elaborate charade is put up to impress the foolish. But there is no substance behind the symbols; the minds are frozen in a pitiful state of ignorance.
‘European values’, ‘liberal democracy’ … et cetera … are no more than empty phrases which are ritually recited in pitiful, laughable and failing attempts to relate the frozen minds to reality. When words and phrases do not resonate with truth – with reality – they are empty, meaningless, ritualistic.
Such frozen minds brook no opposition. Why? Because they are not capable – intellectually or emotionally – of dealing with different world views! Their haughty demeanor and insider-speak is simply a way to hide insecurity. The roots of Fascism lie in the incapacity and insecurity of frozen minds.
So how do these frozen types manage their self-serving politics?
They have devised an incredibly crude and laughable strategy: Try to dumb down the world to a level where the frozen ones feel they can handle it.
The idea is that their level of ignorance and incompetence will then become the lowest common denominator globally. They can then dictate terms as the ‘holy fountainhead of the new religion’. The world should be grateful.
Surprise, surprise! The world is refusing to dumb down! One can understand and almost rejoice at the frustration of the frozen minds.
Also, when understanding of genuinely different world views is impossible, how can diplomacy work? Lack of understanding sows seeds of conflict.
New shoots are inevitable
For people of any country, a primary aim of life is to enhance their material well-being: incomes, health, family life, education … et cetera. If they remain focused on that aim – and avoid being taken in by the pomposity and false promises of the frozen minds – they will map out a path for themselves which suits their history, culture, agro-economic conditions and so on.
That is no more than A-B-C, or common sense. There is so much diversity In human life around the planet, that this simple path would lead to diversity, plurality, originality, creativity and overall – even if patchy – well-being.
But this is beyond the range of understanding and acceptance of the frozen minds. Fascist tendencies of the privileged burst forth: How dare these countries think for themselves when we have already told them what is best for them? Don’t we have the monopoly on ‘progress’? Don’t we have the first call on the resources of that country?
But deception and exploitation cannot continue for too long. As countries around the world become aware of the cruel and cunning games played by the privileged ones, differences and mistrust will grow. ‘Soft power’ will not work as well as it did; coercion will increasingly be used.
At this point, a bit of geometry will elucidate a crucial point.
In a two-dimensional drawing, when the distance scale is doubled, the area making up any region becomes four times as large. For example, if the side of a square or the radius of a circle is doubled, its area is quadrupled.
The space of social, political and economic world views is multi-dimensional. When distances grow in world views between major players in geo-politics and geo-economics, the space available to all players is enlarged many-fold. Then options open up which could not exist in a ‘frozen’ world order, and which remain well beyond the grasp of those with frozen minds.
While this is true in general, the space available to vassals and hangers-on of ‘frozen minds’ actually shrinks. After all, if they choose to hitch their wagons to a certain kind of mule, they remain confined to the mule’s path. They do not have the freedom to benefit from new options opening up.
In a period of transition marked by growing differences, any keen and independent mind observing the goings-on will surely see opportunities and possibilities which a frozen mind will miss. All along, the irrepressible internet facilitates the sharing of ideas, insights and suggested solutions.
There are some two hundred countries in the world. In terms of geo-politics and geo-economics, some are major players, some are in mid-range and some are smaller. People of all countries, big or small, deserve a life of human dignity and self-respect. But that will not come about without wise choices. Nothing comes without effort. Effort is needed to see what lies behind propaganda, to see the difference between propaganda and the well-being of societies.
Soft-power must be based on truth. Where there is a stink of lies and cover-ups, there are no values to be found. Anyone declaiming about values must be judged by what he or she is willing to give up for the sake of those values.
Seeds of new life?
Seeds must be planted for new shoots to appear. In a small and wonderful country, say C – which is deemed by arrogant experts to be ‘underdeveloped’ – we hope an event like the following occurs soon.
A University organizes a symposium on ‘Impact of economic and trade policy on the well-being of societies’. Scholars from all the major ‘poles’ of geo-economics, representing different viewpoints, are invited to the symposium.
The scholars discuss key principles of ‘capitalism’, ‘socialism’, ‘communism’, ‘conservatism’, ‘liberalism’, free markets, regulated markets, banking, exchange rates, modern wisdom, medieval wisdom, ancient wisdom … and so on. Every invited scholar is expected to elucidate his or her viewpoint and answer critical questions posed by students and other citizens.
Students and other citizens of country C and other nearby countries organize the event and moderate the debates. An independent jury evaluates how well and how clearly each scholar makes his or her case.
The debates are not fake debates designed to hide true choices from dumbed down public. Rather, the organizers ensure that all the viewpoints are presented, debated and evaluated against the yardstick of well-being of societies. Name-dropping is not permitted. If somebody claims, for example, that Plato said such-and-such, then that somebody must also explain how Plato’s such-and-such viewpoint will enhance our well-being in the here and now.
The event described here is imaginary. There may be little likelihood of such an event occurring today. But why should such events not occur all the time, in different parts of the world? Is our well-being not at stake?
In an era of major transition, it matters not whether one is tall or short, dark- or light-skinned, rich or poor, this or that race, this or that ideology, this or that religion … et cetera. What matters is whether one is sensitive to truth.
The truth is that the work of attaining well-being cannot to outsourced. Sadly, the delivery of fake ‘well-being’ to others has become global mega-politics run by charlatans. This politics relies totally on propaganda and false promises. As part of political strategy, true paths to attain well-being – that is, faith and one’s own diligent effort – are being deliberately obscured.
Even Universities, where learning and scholarship should be nurtured, are instead subverted into becoming malicious propaganda centres.
Beyond the short time horizons of charlatans, however, the most valuable human asset is that of perceptive, creative, nimble minds which can harness collective strengths towards the common good. One senses that a transition is under way today from the age of brute power and lies to the age of truth and understanding. While it will be painful, the transition is inevitable.