I likened global societal change to a Leviathan convulsing and morphing, shedding its outdated skin to grow a new one. We are in the throes of such change. Global power is shifting from west back to east again while everywhere in between is getting trammeled by the Leviathan’s convulsing tail.
By Humayun Gauhar
Not so long ago, I likened global societal change to a Leviathan convulsing and morphing, shedding its outdated skin to grow a new one. We are in the throes of such change. Global power is shifting from west back to east again while everywhere in between is getting trammeled by the Leviathan’s convulsing tail. This trammeling catalyzes local internal convulsions and changes, as witness what is happening in virtually every country to varying degrees. The Leviathan convulses and so does the world; it morphs and the world morphs with it, adapting the old to the new, modernizing outdated systems now no-longer-delivering. It is a global philosophical, political, economic and societal meltdown. Once holy cows like ‘Free Market Capitalism’ are under threat, as are the holy cows protecting capitalism’s spawn, the iniquitous status quo, like electoral and legal systems, executive power, the media and the military. They won’t disappear but they will have to adapt and change. Simultaneously, the Leviathan is crafting new societal mores, new political constructs and new economic dispensations. Modern doctrines and philosophies emerge and replace old ones, like the concept of Divine right of Kings gave way to People’s Temporal Sovereignty. It’s early days yet, but it seems that in the new dispensation temporal sovereignty is devolving on specialization that we call technocracy, a new word for meritocracy. How merit is to be determined remains to be seen, but if markets become the determinant then we are in for more greed-driven troubles.
Sure the morphing process is painful for people and societies, but for the student of history it is a wondrous sight to behold. In the pain of the Leviathan’s convulsions desperate people imagine different nostrums, looking for messiahs to take them out of their mental, physical and emotional pain. Unable to see the big picture, they bank on one inevitably fallible man, not realizing that these false messiahs are actually the Leviathan’s agents produced by its convulsions. They help it morph: they cannot stop or divert the big shift. Such people – and they are in the majority – end up in tears when the fallibility of their false messiahs is inevitably exposed and they are shown to be gods of clay. Still, it is natural for humans to hanker nostalgically for “the good old days” that never return. New days arrive and people and societies have to adjust and adapt and make the most of them.
Its also natural for people and societies to cling to the old and tilt against the new, making them seem mad. Man doesn’t yet realize that the Leviathan’s convulsions are an inexorable global dialectical process that causes conflict before it synthesizes and morphs into a new skin that is the new thesis. Simultaneously, an anti-thesis emerges so the process goes on, first with some and then with great instability when the old thesis is done. The Leviathan always wins.
Wondrous is the seeming madness of countries trying to fight the Leviathan’s convulsions and morphing, the inevitable change driven by historical forces, by societies and systems gone out of date and adapting and modernizing. So far, China is the only country that seems to escape this madness of fighting the dialectic, and for good reason. Apart from having crafted a native dialectic-based ideology of its own, it is the centre of where global power is shifting.
So when you see the world and your own countries in the throes of seeming collective madness, you would do well to put it in the context of the convulsing, morphing dance of the Leviathan that brings about change. The process of change causes conflict. It is painful to suffer, but the bright side is that we are lucky to witness it.
The United States of America is the sole head honcho. It is at the heart of the Leviathan, the most important chromosome in its genetic programming. It seems to have gone mad, committing suicide and taking the world with it, because it cannot help but fight change for it is programmed to do so, as other head honchos did before it. This fight is important because it is the fuel that drives and accelerates the Leviathan. America cannot meekly submit to unavoidable, certain change for no society is programmed to do so, be it a honcho or its underlings.
The US is still trapped in its military-industrial complex syndrome to drive its economy, not realizing that while it worked in the past the world has moved on. First, in 1971, the global economy was trapped in the dollar when Nixon dropped the gold standard and placed inordinate strain on the dollar as a reserve currency based on nothing but assurances. Then the US economy and thereby the global economy were pocketed by Wall Street bankers and financiers with the advent of Reagan in 1980. Wars no longer drive the military-industrial complex that used to be the engine of the US economy, which is the engine of the world economy. To the contrary, they increase indebtedness that is now irredeemable. The dollar would be dead but for China propping it up in its self-interest because America owes it trillions. The day the Chinese realize that their money will never be returned, they will either go for debt-equity swaps in a receding economy or simply drop it and launch a new global reserve currency backed by the Yuan and by the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The incredible knowledge bank of the US is limited to science and technology and incapable of understanding and adapting to inevitable global power shifts in a dynamic world. The cosmos are not static; neither is the world. It’s going to be interesting to watch. In any case, knowledge alone is not enough if it is misapplied and misused to destroy other peoples. The Soviet Union could not save itself despite its awesome military machine. In fact, it was its occupation of Afghanistan that shook awake the Leviathan; America’s abandonment of Afghan and Muslim freedom fighters turned them into terrorists that led to 9/11. America’s destruction and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq got the Leviathan convulsing rapidly. Worse is to come before the Leviathan stops because America and its allies won’t stop. They are too human to learn simple lessons, that Muslim anger was cooked in the boiling cauldron of injustices.
If the crash of 2008 didn’t convince you, recent events should. The Euro is dying. It could take the European Dream with it or at the very least revert it to a common market again. A European fiscal and monetary union seems a pipedream, despite the tinkering in last Friday’s summit. Euro’s failure actually symbolizes Germany’s third failure to establish its hegemony over Europe: the first two were military; this third was economic. The criminality and incompetence of American, British and European banks is being exposed daily. Why, they were even in cahoots with the Bank of England to engineer LIBOR, the base rate. Wouldn’t you say that’s the same as spot fixing in cricket? Or worse?
Now do they seem any less mad than we do? Or more? Don’t get misled by their creature comforts and cold statistics of education and per capita incomes and the like. These things go very fast. If they were so good why are they in the thick of the dung heap today?
The hackneyed saying is correct, which is probably why it is hackneyed: “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”