Civilization and Savagery
PROF G R MALIK
In a recent speech, the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hit the nail on the head by remarking that the world today, contrary to Samuel Huntington’s mischievous theory of the clash of civilizations, is actually faced with the clash of civilization and savagery. What are civilization and savagery and which are the forces in the world today which represent the one or the other – regardless of the level at which they operate – are questions which will be easy to answer if we develop the definition of the terms ‘civilization’ and ‘savagery’. Civilization is distinguished by a humane approach to life and humane ways of coming to terms with problems arising from human relationships – personal, national and international. Civilization has also for its referent a humane set of values to which it turns for guidance and adjudication whenever the need arises. Its behaviour towards others is not determined by the Machiavellian view that self-interest is the only value and that this end justifies all means; ‘fair’ is that which serves this end and ‘foul’ is that which thwarts or harms it.
Savagery, on the other hand, is defined by a belief that man is essentially a beast and it raises the fabric of its behaviour – personal, social, national, international – on the foundation of this basic premise. It may not openly confess to this belief but its whole thinking and behaviour is unmistakably determined by a commitment to it, conscious or unconscious. Consequently its law is the law of the jungle and the value of values that finally defines it is that ‘might is right’.
When might is right becomes the guiding principle, might is raised to the pedestal of godhood and worshipped. Blind worship breeds fanatic loyalty to force and negation of all values, principles and considerations. In an atmosphere where only the mightiest can survive acquisition of brute force becomes the only end. Anything that seems to thwart the acquisition of force is ruthlessly annihilated and human society is converted into a jungle where everyone except the mightiest lives in the fear of extinction. The mighty need no excuse for the use of force as its use itself is its justification. If worst comes to worst the lion may ask the lamb, drinking water downstream, as to why he is polluting the water. And when he says that the water flows from the lion’s direction towards him, the lion pounces on him on the pretext that the lamb’s father had abused him once.
Looking at the modern world, an impartial and unprejudiced observer is led to believe that savagery has finally taken over the world. After the last two World Wars, particularly World War II, it has been reigning the world unrivaled. It is the sixth of August today. Sixty-five years ago, on this fateful day, millions of human beings – innocent babies, old men and women, patients in the hospitals, school-children in their schools – all of them including their homes, hospitals and schools – were decimated in a few minutes. Ever since the world has been converted into a battleground where everyone is engrossed in amassing more and more force to undo others.
Force reigns on the international level, on the regional level and within the precincts of almost every country. Countries are invaded and occupied in order to ensure that the position of the mighty remains unchallenged and unrivaled. Weaker people and communities are oppressed and tyrannised to ensure the satisfaction of pride and aggrandizement. Might – as is quite natural – has displaced and replaced all values. Justice, sympathy, kindness and even reason have all become a laughing stock; only might remains. And worship of might is now pushing the world towards the final disaster. War clouds are hovering over our heads. It may begin from any flash-point, most probably the Middle East, but is sure to engulf and destroy the whole world.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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