A paper by Jagdish Chandra Kapur, Co-Founder of WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”, presented at the Second Rhodes Forum Session, 2004
This meeting of the World Public Forum on a “Dialogue of Civilizations” is a continuation and follow up on the first Rhodes meeting held last year. And would help further the objectives defined in the Rhodes declaration of September 6, 2003.
The unipolar power system, in spite of the encircling gloom caused by its policies, Continue to promote its plans for world domination. These plans for the realization of the American Century include the control of the world financial system, its energy resources, technologies, commanding heights of armament and also the institutions of the United Nations and its agencies. And through all these instruments they are interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, both developed and developing. A single civilizational model proposed for the whole world under this dispensation can only be created by altering the cultural base and value structures of highly diverse cultures. As is understood, culture is the dynamic aspect of the human societies, and each culture has its own value structure and spiritual conditioning. To impose alien consumerist civilizational models on such cultures can only mean disharmony and conflict. Furthermore, all values are spiritual and dis-connecting peoples from their own heritage will cause the greatest damage to the human system, with unassimilable material values conditioning or a state of value-vacuum.
And these distorted values are at present the basis of all dialogues of civilizations; which must be conducted within the in-built constraint and the rules laid down by the unipolar system. And this negates respect for the sovereignty of other nations, their human, religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity and their own civilizational evolution based on their own cultures because:
- A dialogue among Civilizations by its very nature implies a dialogue among societies retaining their self-esteem and can enter into a discourse to approach and resolve issues of human concern.
- It has also to be within a mutually agreed frame and a parity of status within the interactive parties. And not conditioned by the fear of weapons of mass destruction or preemptive strikes, and it should also be free from the manipulations by the international financial system, or unfair media projections of a culture of acquisition, consumption and entertainment.
- A dialogue of cultures can only reflect the higher culture of art, literature, music and spirituality and should not echo the tone, idea and words of any one culture, giving divine legitimacy to their self-imposed mission of bringing about a new social and political order. A crumbling ethical and moral order cannot be imposed on posterity by a self appointed crusader state or states.
- Many in the Unipolar system have begun to define this mission in Biblical terms, a covenant with God to create “A city on the Hill”. As a model for the world, “a new Israel or the new Jerusalem the promised land, a new heaven, and a new earth, justice, God’s country, redeemed nation and a visionary republic”.
- The principal theme of a new book by Samuel Huntington (“Who Are We?”) is “the continuing centrality of Anglo-Protestant culture to the American identity.”
And this shibboleth is being projected on a globalizing world, with the lowest level of culture, of popular entertainment and consumer preference, and brand names of products rapidly transformed to the detriment of social identity.
Each nation has its own high culture of art, literature and music. This culture has psychic, spiritual and creative linkages and in many ways is an expression of the nation’s identity. It can differ vastly from one country or region to another. There may be many common cultural elements within countries of the West or Asia and Africa. But the creative institutions have great deal to do with the environment, ethnicity, language, even sex and age. This wide diversity of cultures cannot be homogenized at the physical or the material plane into a single civilizational model.
The consumer society has now evolved a new low and common culture, which has its roots in the material man. The lowest common level at which the humans operate. This could be all kinds of entertainment-visual and psychological, b-class films, pornography, or combative and competitive, emotionally stimulating sports, highly stimulated instincts and consumerist desire where the compulsive desire for the acquisition of articles of consumption- itself becomes a process of cultural expression. The unipolar system believes that at this low cultural level people of all nations, ethnicity and colour can be brought together. Or in other words, such a common universal culture could inspire and evolve into a universal culture, based on a self feeding economic paradigm which could be transformed into an international global system of beneficiaries and its victims, and centralizing a world system of exploitation of energy, resources and markets. This is the system, which is the cause of growing conflicts, wars and terrorism. The cultural unification of diverse cultures at the lowest common unifying level is receiving worldwide media attention. And the expansion of an infrastructure of Disney-lands, theme parks, shopping malls, sports arenas all in the service of big business. And the wider it spreads; more difficult it is to contain. It even evolves a universal drink COLA style, food which is genetically modified a common work ethics, irrespective of differing needs and resources, priorities and cultures, which may not find it achievable or acceptable.
The genes of globalization now being promoted; evolved out of colonialism; and they were not intended to undo the excesses of colonial exploitation, but to provide an unchallengeable, high technology and destructive weapons and a vast network of intelligence and infrastructure for covert and overt operations. And the target was not just a few countries, but the whole world. Such a controlled unicivilizational model can only be structured on an unicultural base, because life styles cannot be separated from cultural mores. Each culture has its own value structures. And sustainable life styles can only be built around moderation and restraint.
The New Paradigm
With the evolution of the knowledge based society, a large part of the work force of the developed countries were mentally and emotionally unprepared to relate to the challenges posed by the parameters of the shifting new paradigm. On the other hand, the developing world retained the mental agility and displayed the kind of vitality needed to satisfy the new needs of a “knowledge based society”. India, China and many other countries of the East made rapid strides in such new professions. The vantage points of the future have already begun to shift away from the consumer system towards a more humane, decentralized system. This could also bring about the shifting of economic relationship and greater trade between culturally more harmonious and tolerant countries.
The mascots for this globalized operations were democracy, human rights, economic development, to reduce poverty. But in reality, these have led to deprivation of large mass of people around the world and the aggregation of wealth within a few countries and even in a few hands. Our vision for a sustainable human order and the very nature of globalization will have to be transformed. And such a transformation is not possible in the midst of conflict, terrorism and under the domination of one country or culture over the others. This would involve the re-structuring of the entire United Nations system and would involve decentralizing the planning for the economies of the world and the control of energy and other resources.
The unipolar power system- as a result of the misdirection of its boundless physical vitality outside the corrective ethical and moral constraints is rapidly coming to the end of the road. Attempts to restore the stability and credibility of the system through the use of super violence is multiplying its risks and costs manifold. Many countries worldwide are becoming the victims of this Ramboised exuberance in promoting such a unicivilizational consumerist model of development. Many countries are being drawn into this dangerous diversion of vitality towards developmental paths unrelated to their needs resources and cultural constraints. This is creating vast differentials between different strata and diverse ethnic, religious and cultural groups within a society and the world system. Constructively, vitality can only be channelled in direction which would harmonize it through an inward search for material and spiritual reality. This alone can provide a human face to materiality and an ethical and moral direction to science.
Intervention in the culture of nations is not a new thing, but was employed by the colonial powers as an instrument for domination. The British historian Lord Macauley so indicated for the transformation of the culture of their colony:
“I propose that we replace India’s old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
This has become the guiding star of the neocons of the unipolar system. And it is not just for colonial domination, but the will to destroy the identity of the people and to disconnect their psyche from their own vitality, and to transplant the genes of servitude to serve the larger imperial purpose.
True unity between humans and nature and between one human being and another can only be sustained when energy is not directed to fragment reality. There is a need for new order of holistic insights into nature. The science of our time has disproved the separation of mind and body. It is coming to realise the truth at the core that is the interconnectedness of all phenomena and that the mind is a subtle form of matter and matter is grosser form of mind.
Our task is therefore clearly to preserve the diverse cultures to let these evolve into their own civilizational models. We cannot alter the psyche of every society.
History is the witness, that all attempts at world domination or of a people get aborted because of inner contradictions. A dialogue of civilization to be a basis for peace, tranquility and a humane new order must find a common ground at the highest cultural and spiritual level and evolve a value structure within which the material needs of diverse cultures can be structured within their own constraints, priorities and resources. The reckless expansion of a consumerist civilizational frame and attempts at imposing it on vastly diverse cultures to save a collapsing unipolar power and economic system, is leading to Armageddon. And the promoters of this process are unable to comprehend its magnitude and consequences.
We must recognize that the world is not just a globalized loot-haven, but a family of nations in a true sense, where all members of the family have a right to pray, work, and establish life styles of their choice. A state or a group of states in the name of freedom, democracy, and human right or any other contrived or media projections have no right to impose their neo-imperial designs, will, and shattered moral and ethical consumerist frame over others. They have already done enough damage to the human system. It is time to stop.