‘The Beginning of History and the First Man’

Hail the Lady of the Spindle, the Potter on his Wheel

 ByHumayun Gauhar

I’m not being obtuse, only allegorical once again. Let me try and explain what I mean by ‘historical forces’ as best as I can. It might end up leaving everyone (myself too) even more confused, the literal minded bemused and those that have abdicated their minds to the ‘pious’ mullahs of religions and the all-knowing ‘liberal’ clerics of western social and political constructs in umbrage. Personalities are irrelevant here except those few that are selected by historical forces as its agents of change and then too for a time. Once they are done they are stood on a high or low pedestal of history depending on whether they were agents of good or evil.

Think of the spinning wheel and the potter’s wheel. The first is upright, the second flat. A spinning wheel is more aptly called a spindle with a distaff. A distaff is a rod with unspun fibre wound around it. The fibre can be animal hair, plants like jute and cotton, the saliva of silkworms, synthetic fibres twisted together by the spinning spindle to make yarn or thread. It has been going on since time immemorial, just like the milliner or potter on his wheel on which he places a clump of wet clay to form whatever he wishes to fashion. Imagine God’s spinning wheel on which He put a lump of susurrating clay to form the puppet of Adam – ‘The First Man and the Beginning of History’.

At the beginning of time, in prehistory, women worked the spindle and men the potter’s wheel. Thus the wandering minstrel sang the Sufi’s song, “Long live the woman on the spinning mystic spindle” spinning out threads, every thread a force of history, its sound akin to the sound of creation. Later the weaver, the power of the people become aware and risen as one, forms a new cloth from the spun yarn, the potter an artifact from wet clay that you can liken to the new status quo, the old one tattered and torn, no longer serving its purpose, the old clay crucible chipped, broken and leaking to be replaced by a new and more up-to-date though not necessarily better one – the old status quo obsolete, the new one delivering but for a time because historical forces move on, the lady on the spindle keeps spinning, the artistic milliner’s wheel keeps revolving. And so it goes on endlessly because cosmic time has no end, only earthly time does, till space and time meet and there is no time because there is no space as we know it and your consciousness is everywhere at the same time, where time is no longer linear, there is no ‘after’ and ‘before’ and thus no history, only the Supreme Creator and His Love.

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You can liken the spinner and the potter to the Hand of God. Some would prefer the Hand of Fate or even physics in motion, depending on their belief. It matters not a squaddie. Those watching the threads of history being spun out to become historical forces cannot do anything to stop it or change it. They will have to adapt and adjust and learn to live with the new cloth made from that yarn.

The potter’s clay is akin to the lady’s unspun yarn on the distaff. He wets it, then puts it on his revolving wheel and makes a form with his hands. Once formed, he puts the wet clay object into a burning furnace and dries and hardens it. Sometimes he colours it too either before or after baking. That new form is the new status quo, the old one broken and dated, no longer serving the purpose it was meant to, which is to continuously and significantly improve the human condition and the condition of all of God’s Creations – animals, plants, the earth, waters and the environment. So too the cloth made from the spindle’s yarn. The metaphysical, mystical spindle and the potter’s wheel never stop. They keep spinning and revolving first to make the new status quo and then to fine-tune it, until it has served its purpose and the process of crafting and forging a new one begins anew. Ceaseless historical forces, the lady’s spindle and the milliner’s wheel keeping forging and crafting more and more new status quos, and so it goes on and on and on…till the end of earthly time and beyond.

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Like without space there would be no time which is why they are treated as intertwined and one and aptly called ‘space-time’, without societies there would be no dynamic status quo, no societal historical forces that keep moving as the word ‘forces’ implies. It would then be called ‘condition’, not ‘forces’.

Some would liken historical forces to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s metaphysical dialectic: a thesis and simultaneously an anti-thesis that synthesize to form a new thesis. The thesis is the existing status quo, the anti-thesis are forces that oppose the status quo and keep the process dynamic, not static, else the status quo would never change. Hegel rejected the static state universe assumption of the social scientists of his day because they couldn’t explain why things change. He used the dialectical process to explain change at the metaphysical level, not unlike physicists called what they couldn’t understand that which is outside the limits of the universe ‘Nothingness’. Easy duck. Only now that they are revisiting ‘Nothingness’ they are ‘discovering’ that “Everything is in ‘Nothing’.” Wrap your mind around this if you can. I am finding it very difficult.

Hegel assumed change as inherent and the basis of his dialectic. The process of change leads to conflict in causing synthesis of the thesis and anti-thesis to create a new thesis and anti-thesis – the new status quo and its opposing force.

Karl Marx scribbled away in the British Museum Library and applied Hegel’s dialectic to human society to explain why it changed. He assumed conflict, not change, as inherent, conflict leading to change – thus the saying attributed to him that he had “stood Hegel upon his head”. He assumed the thesis and anti-thesis primarily as class conflict that is inherent in society and looked towards a classless society leading from agrarianism and agriculture, tribalism and feudalism, to capitalism, then to socialism to communism and finally to Utopia in which all are equal under a world government – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. Marx’s conflict led not to synthesis as Hegel had it but to thesis versus anti thesis transcending the situation to form a new thesis and anti-thesis. Unlike Hegel’s metaphysical dialectic Marx called his ‘Dialectical Materialism’.

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Ah, materialism. Monotheists that believe in One God as the Supreme Creator will understand Marx’s dialectical materialism as the perpetual conflict between good and evil, one the thesis and the other the anti thesis.

Now assume Marx’s thesis as the existing status quo and the anti-thesis as the agent of change. Then try and understand what is happening in Pakistan. The old status quo or thesis that empowered the few at the expense of the many disempowered and deprived was always changing at a leisurely, imperceptible pace. But now it is changing very fast as it always does when injustice and inequity come to a head because of greater awareness, caused in this case by the spread of information by the expanding global electronic and social media and the rapid growth and reach of the information highway. With awareness people become conscious of their God-given fundamental rights, find voice and the courage to reclaim them and rebel against the iniquity of the current status quo that has trapped them in this wretched condition. Individuals matter little here; the process of change does, what new status quo change is leading to. Individuals that are called ‘leaders’ rarely matter in the broad sweep of history except a very few. They are only catalysts, agents of change, the triggers that break the dam of pent up emotions, frustrations and anger when a flood of people rises up to achieve their desires. Awareness, my dear readers, has led to a stunning explosion of aspirations and a spectacular expiry of patience the world over. The world will never be the same again, divided as it is in the antiquated master-slave relationship of a contemporary kind, be it within states or between states. The hegemons of the world would do well to understand this, as would native ruling elites

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