Sunday, 25 September 2016

Decrypting the fortunes of theocracy

Post-Uri terrorist attack, the media glares were focused on what the most powerful man of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would say on Pakistan. Albeit, he chose a political rally to convey his displeasure to “Terroristan” (An analogy shared by noted author Chetan Bhagat for Pakistan), but the message was disseminated proportionately to satisfy the thirst of hawks on both sides of ‘Line of Control’, the self-proclaimed liberals, rationality bearers, non-ideological citizens as well as international stakeholders.

Amidst the conspicuous glow of tensions surrounding the decades old adversaries, a larger question remains unanswered. “Why do the nations born with a religious premise are far more unstable and volatile than the nations born with secularism as their core value?”
To understand this fundamental question, we shall take a look at what exactly we mean by a ‘nation’?

In The Ethnic Origins of Nations (1986), Anthony Smith presents the ‘primordialist view’ which states that the nations are historically embedded; they are rooted in a common cultural heritage and language that may long predate the achievement of statehood or even the national independence.

Does this cultural heritage necessarily mean religious homogeneity? How far has it been successful? It has been observed in post-colonial era that the nations which derive the legitimacy of their authority on religious foundation often found themselves trapped into the quagmire of a deep moral conflict.

The diagnosis of the problem does not require vigorous crystal ball gazing but a narrow understanding of history. Various reasons can be attributed to the issue, such as: -

Firstly, as the foundation of the State is based on the spirit of intolerance, hence the breeding of sleazy animosity and fissures within the society is easy with no diverse ideological and philosophical apparatus to neutralize such threats.

Secondly, these inbuilt theocratic impulses offer resistance to change within the society, which in turn renders intellectual development, modernity, innovation and spiritual growth ineffective.

Thirdly, it is easy to radicalize and manipulate the population because of lack of alternative source of opinions. This further ignites the fire of distrust and disharmony in the homogeneous society.

Fourthly, the debate regarding material economic progress is impounded by the forces of irrationality and religious orthodoxy claiming monopoly over decision making. Moreover, the State in such societies is mostly subservient to the dictates of the latter pressure groups, pushing the ‘Base and Superstructure’ theory of Karl Marx into obsoleteness.

Fifthly, the spirit of homogeneity of society makes it difficult to adapt the opportunities of globalization and liberalization which propagate the heterogeneous structures of society in an interconnected world. The results of such disconnect is evident from the emerging violence in the developed world, allegedly carried out by the alienated communities.

Sixth, as the religious sphere cycles through the phases of downfall and precipitation due to the inevitable circling of the clock, the State too gets deformed because of lack of availability of alternative forces of unification which are either unrepresented or underdeveloped in such societies.

Seventh, due to the prevalence of radical nobility, the fundamental rights of liberty, equality and fraternity are impaired with irrational theocratic discourses, which ultimately paralyses the dialectical progress that germinates diversity of opinions and synthesis of such opinions in consistently changing social dynamics. The acceptance of diversity of opinion broadens intellectual horizon and facilitates conflict resolution through multiple fashions. But its absence due to the homogeneous structure of society consequently submerges such States under the tides of anarchy.

Last, but not the least, the dominance of religious orthodoxy also impairs the accountability of the State towards the populace and any question of impropriety is settled with the deliberations of maintaining religious status-quo under the garb of threat to the religion. Hence, it proves that democracy and theocracy are non-complementary and the existence of such political associations could be a farce.

The forces of partition ignited the idea of States based on religion. On one side, the belligerence which established Pakistan celebrated the idea of ‘Islamic Republicanism’. The other side, albeit pressured by the hawks of religious supremacy, adopted for a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic guided by the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity to secure social, economic and political justice for all irrespective of belief, faith and worship.

As the Prime Minister today spoke to the belligerent hawks of Pakistan, “If you want to fight a war, we accept the challenge. Let us fight against poverty, unemployment, undernourishment, injustice, griminess and diseases. Let us see who wins the war first.”

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