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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Decline and Fall of Nations - Open Warning

After studying the process of the decline and degeneration of a society, one can detect the elements which cause this downfall. The first, and most important sign, is the collapse of moral values. Once they are weakened in, or wiped out from a society, individuals are free to indulge in all sorts of corruption with any social stigma. There is no condemnation or boycott of those who violate moral traditions. This absence of morality encourages all the hitherto hidden and repressed vices of an individual to appear to the eventual detriment of society.

The second sign is the increased emphasis on self interest. National interest becomes redundant (and unfashionable) and people, in order to survive, follow the path of self interest. At this stage it become easy to betray the nation and collaborate with foreign powers, as well as domestic enemies of the state.

The third sign is a preference for wearing your religion on your sleeve. People begin to show their religious devotion outwardly without having any real faith in religious teachings. The manifestation of this preference for form over function is an increase in ‘showy’ religious processions, celebrations, sermons and distribution of religious tract and pamphlets. The corollary is that the actual teachings of the creed are neglected.

The fourth sign is the weakness of state power which allows people to indulge in all sorts of criminal activities without any fear of punishment. The judiciary fails to maintain justice; the army and police become powerless to enforce law and order. The result is those who are powerful form mafias and militias, illegal organisations which then dominate society and force the relatively weak (through terror and coercion) to obey them rather to look to state for protection.

The fifth sign is the loss of creativity. Artists, intellectuals, musicians, architects, sculptors and scientists are not able to invent or contribute anything new. They survive on imitation alone, leading society towards backwardness and degeneration.

The sixth sign is that society becomes so shallow that it fails to produce any people of substance. The giants vanish and pygmies rule over all.

We experienced this very process in the decline and fall of the Mughal empire. After the death of Alamgir in 1707, the Mughal empire rapidly degenerated. A succession of rulers came and went, all incapable of governing and controlling the state. Corruption, debauchery, intrigues and self interest prevailed. Therefore, we find that nobles were ready to collaborate with invaders like Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali. When the East India Company appeared on the political scene, there was no dearth of Mir Jafars.

During this period, people, not feeling safe, wandered from one place to another for protection. Bandits, robbers, and thugs ruled the main thoroughfares. Travellers were not safe. Murders and killings were common.

Poets and historians lamented the dismal political, social, and economic condition of their society, and people expected that a savior would come and deliver them from these crises.

It did not happen. Instead of a saviour came the British who colonised India and, for the most part, people happily accepted their rule and came to terms with being ruled by them. The relative ease of that adjustment also shows the level of their decline.

When Pakistan came into existence, this new nation was fresh and energetic, ready to explode with new ideas and creativity. It was hoped that Independence would liberate the nation from colonial institutions and new traditions would be established based on the interests of the nation. Quite the reverse happened, and we saw not a rise but a continuous decline. Instead of improving upon what we inherited, we corrupted and destroyed it to the point where the state now teeters on the brink of the abyss.

We are ruled by pygmies. Our intellectuals are shallow and our artists have little vision. Our architects, instead of building the future, disfigure our cities with meaningless monuments and borrowed buildings. Worst of all, the people themselves are disillusioned and hopeless, watching helplessly as the decline continues, and an almost inevitable fall stares back at us from the annals of history.

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