Social Evolution


Dr Syed Akhtar Ehtisham, USA

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Europe Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, Capitalism, Wind of Change Asia and Africa:

In Europe, the feudal class rebelled against the excesses of kings and forced them to grant some powers to the aristocracy. Civil rights were celebrated in the Magna Carta.  Parliaments were born.

Europe entered the Enlightenment phase. Industrial revolution caused a qualitative and quantitative change in the mode of production. National bourgeoisie emerged. They needed workers, produce of the land and power to acquire both. They aligned themselves with royalty and aristocracy in turn and gradually over powered both.

Capitalism was born and ushered in democracy, which empowered the bourgeoisie as everyone (men only) had a vote and would naturally support the party of the people who offered them employment.

Women started getting franchised only at the end of the nineteenth century with Australia-New Zealand taking the lead. Great Britain actually gave them a vote after the USA did.

Capitalists and merchants found it difficult-expensive to acquire raw material and needed markets for their products as well. They went around marauding all over the world and found easy pickings among the people who were self-sufficient and had neglected coastal defense. They subdued people of Asia, Africa and Americas. The Church gave them official permission and blessings. The world entered the imperialist age.

Infrastructure had to be developed in colonized lands. Natives had to be given the education to be able to perform minor administrative work as useful subjects with docility. A comprador class had to be developed to control the natives as the rulers lacked adequate numbers. This applied more to thickly populated and advanced countries in Asia. In Americas and Australasia, the simple device of genocide worked fine.

In North America slaves were imported for harsh manual labor.

Africa was a different case altogether. It was generally not fertile; Arabs and later the Europeans took over the productive parts.

The educated and the rich among the people of the colonies in Asia and Africa wanted to replace the foreign rulers. Independence movements started raising their head. Meanwhile, supported by the masses, the Communist Party in Russia had overthrown the Czar and established a dictatorship of the ‘proletariat’ via the agency of members of the party. They owed their success partly to the fact that Europe was in the throes of WW I.

WW I did not adequately settle the conflict over the share claimed by colonial powers in the lands of Asia and Africa. After an uneasy peace of just over two decades, WW II broke out. Capitalism, with help from socialism, defeated fascism. The Soviet Union acquired much of Eastern Europe as spoils of war. The Hot war was replaced by a cold one.

Led by the now dominant USA, an existential struggle ensued between the Soviet Union and the imperialist powers. A pressure was on the much-weakened Britain to let go of the colonies, lest they follow the socialist path. They ‘granted’ independence to a cunningly nay devilishly divided India. That bit of chicanery would pay rich dividends.

Winds of change were blowing in Asia and Africa. People overthrew the yoke of foreign rule. Nehru, Nasser, Nkrumah, Tito and Sukarno raised the banner of the non-aligned movement.

The French wanted to hold on to Indo-China. Humiliated by a peasant army, they handed over the fight to the USA. Eisenhower, a general who had been transformed into a hero by WWII, led the country. His secretary of state, a hard-boiled cold warrior by the name of John Foster Dulles, subscribed to the domino theory. If one (Vietnam) were allowed to fall, all Asia would tumble into the lap of communists. He also led the campaign of sabotage against nationalist governments and corralled countries like Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan into mutual’ defense treaties.

The biggest success was the over throw of Mossadeq in Iran in 1953. Military take over in Pakistan in 1958 was part of the same grand plan. Murder of Lumumba in Belgian Congo in 1961, China-India border war of the same year, 1965 overthrow of Sukarno, the 1967 Arab debacle among such diverse episodes, were the natural and sequential consequences.

The USA and Shah o o Vietnam, Iran, Big Money Back as Superpower, USSR Collapses, Globalization:

The USA, after attempts at a face saving formula, had failed, was driven out of Vietnam. The country went through a period of introspection but recovered in due course only to suffer a serious setback in the fall of the Shah of Iran, who was driven out in 1979 by a coalition of petit and commercial bourgeoisie, intellectuals, radical leftists and the clergy.

The US government thought that they could make a deal with the successor government. But the hatred for the Shah, and by corollary for the USA was such, and the clergy was led by the messianic zeal of Khomeini, that they managed to sideline and defeat all the factions and excluded the USA from the game.

Post-WW II the West including Europe had to concede some measures of an egalitarian system lest people opt for socialist parties, as they nearly did in Italy and France. The labor party in the UK and the governments in Scandinavian countries offered wide-ranging reforms in health care, education and welfare. The USA only offered health care and social security to the elderly and some assistance to the poor.

By the mid-sixties, big money had had enough of government intervention and took vigorous steps to regain lost ground. Corporately funded think tanks, academics and intellectuals developed a neo-liberal ideology. A concerted campaign, to take over the media, political parties and academia was launched. The Right Wing Evangelist  Christian operatives threw their wholehearted support behind building a neoliberal coalition and played a key role in persuading the working class to vote against their interests.

With the 1979 advent into the power of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the USA in 1980, the conservative movement came into its own. Post Thatcher and Reagan, Tony Blair in Britain and Bill Clinton in the USA abandoned their base of support and continued the ‘good’ work.

The fossilized Soviet leadership blundered into a confrontation in Afghanistan with the combined might of the West and subsidiary states like Pakistan and Iran. That, together with the largest to the under developed world, which kept their own citizens in relative want, took a heavy toll. Advances in mass communication had made Soviet citizens aware that they were subsidizing poorer and noncommunist countries.

Gorbachev took over and tried gradualism. He did not get anywhere. The military made a final but botched attempt to retrieve the situation. A true blue reactionary, Yeltsin took over.

The Soviet Union imploded on itself. The USA became the only super power. Muslim countries, which had gleefully helped out in the decline and demise of the Soviet Union, became the object of western corporate greed. They were sitting on most of the oil in the world.

Saddam who had bankrupted his country by helping the West by waging a war against Iran for eight long years was enticed into ‘retaking’ Kuwait, which had been a part of Iraq in Ottoman times. He had taken the precaution of taping his discussion with the US ambassador April Gillespie, that the USA had no position in his interest in Kuwait. It was all to be of no avail.

The Soviet Union was no longer in the equation. Bush the senior gathered a coalition force under the umbrella of the U.N.O and put Saddam in a bottle.

A few years later Yeltsin gave away a majority of the assets of the country to corporate parasites in return for comparatively little in election contributions. (There were no billionaires in the USSR in 1993. In 2000, there were 24). Russia became an economic basket case.

With the USSR out of the picture, the capitalists changed their tactics. They truly globalized and resorted to accumulation now at a greater cost to their own ‘people’. Manufacturing went to China, IT to India. Ranks of US unemployed, barely employed and inadequately employed swelled. Social benefits, little that they were anyway, were further whittled down. Forty-five million US citizens have no health coverage. At least twice as many have inadequate insurance. Hospital bills are the biggest cause of personal bankruptcy. Obama shied away from the Public Option. Obama Care only diverted more public funds to the health industry.

Third world satraps vied with each other in selling national assets. World Bank and International monetary fund underwrote projects, which would pauperize the countries. W.T.O helped along with discriminatory policies. Economic hit men and good old CIA destabilized any recalcitrant rulers.

Militant Islam Faustian Bargain, 9/11, Control over Assets:

Militant Islam had long had the “Great Satan” in its sights. They had made a “Faustian” bargain with one devil against what they perceived to be the more pernicious enemy in Afghanistan. Freed by the collapse of the USSR from the constraints of having to look over its shoulder, the great Satan was extending itself. It was hitting Muslim interests right and left. The worst cut of all was stationing of its troops in the holy land of Hejaz.

Palestine under Israeli heels remained a long festering sore. Muslim wealth was under ‘Kafir’ control. Muslim rulers had sold their soul.

Following the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, civil war broke out in the country. Taliban, supported by the establishment in Pakistan emerged as victors and imposed a particularly barbaric regime under which women wearing high heels were beaten on the legs with sticks, men were stoned to death in public, without the benefit of an adequate trial, minorities were massacred, their women raped and boys sodomized.

They naturally infiltrated into Pakistan, where at one time the popular chant was, “Kaun bachaiga Pakistan, Taliban, Taliban” (who will save Pakistan? Taliban! Taliban!!).

The US looked on. One state department official, reminded of the promotion of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and their subsequent ditching, disdainfully responded, “There is no social security in such affairs”.

Right wing politicians of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan opportunistically sided with the extremist element. The latter came to be known as Taliban Khan.

They could not take the ‘Great Satan’ head on. Bombings of the Twin Towers, naval ships, and embassies culminated in 9/11. Little Britain had its own 7/7.

That properly woke the West up. But they reacted in a typically self-serving imperialist fashion.

Fundamentalist Christians gave ecclesiastical reasons for economic wars. They got Bush to the stage where the Supreme Court could put him in the White House. Academics developed spurious thesis of ‘Clash of Civilizations’. Bush found excuses – weapons of mass destruction, WMD’s in the popular usage, invented for the specific purpose and launched the war of liberation on Iraq. Britain helped along by announcing that Saddam was capable of launching missiles at targets hundreds of miles away at a few hours’ notice. When no WMD.’s were found, removal of Saddam became the moral excuse/imperative.

The real agenda was control over oil resources, the encirclement of Iran and China and infiltration of former Soviet Asian republics. Corporate interest was served by giving no bid contracts to minions of Dick Cheney and security firms like Blackwater.


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