ARTICLES > RELEVANCE OF GANDHI > An observation on Neo-modern theories of Global Culture
An observation on neo-modern theories of Global Culture
By Balamurali Balaji
Founder & Primary Consultant,
[The Centre for Information Technology and Gandhian Philosophy of Nonviolence and Peace]
Every child born in this world has a right to live on this earth and with the sustained support and assistance by the paternal care and socio-environmental forces, it is brought up to a matured, grown-up person to be identified by their character, education or profession or by their achievements and feats. At the time of birth, a child has no idea of where it is born, in which country, state or town it is born. Only after a few years the child undergoes a training kind of an experience in its life to learn and understand who have brought it to the world and find out the place where it is supposed to be living for the rest of its life. It is in this growth phase, a child makes out the town or city, state and country to which it belongs to. A grown-up individual learns to understand his duties and responsibilities he intends to undertake both at home or family and at the state or nation. Sooner or later, during the adolescent years, he understands the elements of governance in a rough manner and tries to obey the laws and rules set by the governments, both the local administration and the government at state, national levels.
What he does not understand is the behaviour and functioning of governments especially when his life is disturbed by them and if he got to contribute beyond his level of normal thinking and usual acts. A government policy or law is aimed at a common cause and holds good for the entire public where in an individual could find it hard to absorb and go with it. A position taken by the government might not be in favour of an individual even though he found it ineffective and inadequate to meet the growing wants of the public. As he realizes the fact that he has got to do something on that, he indulges into all kinds of resistance to the best of his capacity and professes the prophecies that would fill the gap or wipe out the dirt in the presupposed laws and policies of the government.
Advent of Neo-modern Theories
The intervention of socio-political forces on one side and the government policies on the other side drives an individual to the subliminal state of living and severs the stable position of a man in the social environment. But, man is an intellectual creature who keeps on inventing things. Conflicts and confusions within a human and between a human and the environment are growing as he is constantly exposed to all kinds of modern day implementations of human welfare, public serenity and techniques of survival. Every other day, he has to work on his problems not just for his survival but also for defining a path of success in his life, to differentiate himself from the rest of the crowd; and to contribute to the state or society to which he belongs to. He never succumbs to any man-made creations and setups that would dump him to the dustbin and strongly believes the infamous ‘Nothing is Impossible’ ideology.
Intellectuals, Philosophers, Human Scientists etc. are all finding the extra-ordinary ways of dealing with the situations and conflicts that put the mankind away from the world of peace, harmony, happiness and satisfaction. Modern day thinkers put their time and effort to come out with the resolutions for conflicts and issues that would have never been occurred before and never been solved by conventional ways of problem-solving. They all require higher degree of love, kindness, perseverance, analysis and above all putting them all in one basket to easily apply it on the area of concern.
When the whole world speaks of Mahatma Gandhi saying, “Be the change you wish to see!” it is the same Mahatma who had a keen awareness of being changeless. “To me I seem to be constantly growing. I must respond to varying conditions, yet remain changeless within”. Coping with the changes with changeless-self has become a challenge for many of us today. Speeding up with the time or trends has literally put most of us in a paralyzed state of mind. Technologies and inventions have put our culture and traditions in stake and people are forced to lead a bizarre style and ways of living yet proclaimed to be modern life. Neo-modern theories propounding ultra-fashionable and unautocratic ways of life add mounting pressure and complication in the lifestyle. And, this yields into the formulation of fresh thinking on governance and administration methodologies and here are the few narrated.
Government is an association and hierarchy of selected representatives and employed servants to meet the needs of the people and to formulate, practice and implement the policies to conduct the nation and its people in the right direction. Governments elected for a township, state or the nation is destined to run it for a period of time to govern the citizen and its properties.
With the world government, we have a single common political authority for all of the human kind in the world. The principles such as “One spirit”, “One World” and “One Human Kind” are formulated to uphold the human rights which are otherwise pestered by the other kind of humans and laws. The concepts like “World Government for World Citizen”, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”, “One World, One Government” etc. are more common in America and European countries as the people still feel a sense of suppression and subjugation by their own motherland and the state of origin. The main purpose of crying out such slogans on the streets tends to be more political from a superficial point of view and upon given deeper thoughts, it is still political and lastly one could conclude that the subjugation of political rights and the helplessness of organizations thus so far claimed to be protecting their rights. People in need of world government bring out their desperateness and the hopeless conditions and from the humanistic point of view it can be judged as a correct form of protest or the right form of governing global issues common to all people around the world. But, the fundamental philosophy of world government, unity of humankind to live as a human as a member of humankind is little too hypocritical and stands as a dead-end of the road less traveled. What makes a human to find himself in the human kind? The purpose of world organization has no clarity and object. It just emancipates the hidden outrage and weakness some where bullying the human spirit. Some of the ingredients like one-to-many human relationship and the establishment of an institution for the benefit of one single individual living somewhere in the world are way too theoretical.
The concept of world government has a character of its own but the identity of a human who follows it may significantly lost in the much larger section of the world population who have understood the world and human life better. The opposite side of the world government is much more secured and highly liberated with more rights.
Having a single political authority for all the issues of all the human kind is way too an impossibility as we look at the functioning and dominance of some of the world’s best international organizations like UN, Red Cross, Amnesty etc. Such organizations have a share of representatives from around the world working at different corners of the world fighting variety of evils and injustices caused naturally or artificially. People in support of world government have no belief in such entities and do not like to have a podium to speak up under these standards. But, the concept of World Government is pointing at some key issues yet to be resolved and politicized to the extent of extinction of human rights. And, this alone would not vouch for the longevity and success of the theory.
Albert Einstein once said “There is no first step to world government; world government is the first step”. While scientists like him speak about this concept, they clearly meant the context of encountering the endangering inventions and possibility of the attacks from aliens etc. The nations shall collectively have to fight against the nuclear arms, bio-chemical weapons and outbreak of microbiological diseases. The scientific community has very much felt the need for the world government to bring out their inventions and discoveries. But the world government is not yet fully matured enough to welcome them.
Growing number of people prefer to fall into this category nowadays and finds themselves every where perceiving the world as a dynamic inter-dependent cluster of people, their work and the relationships. A child born abroad for the parents of two different national origins (say a child is born for an American Father and an Indian Mother during a long period of work in Canada.) naturally finds itself in difficult position to adapt to the standards of a particular state. With the beginning of cultural and national differences, the child goes through various diversified conditions and finally ends up as a stateless citizen.
Those who patronize the concept of World Government surely find themselves as a stateless citizen and claim themselves as peacemakers in need of peace. For many, the world has shrunk and their activities been absorbed globally and the common man’s rules and regulations are increasingly becoming irrelevant to their life styles. Even though the concept of stateless citizen is weird and amateur in the political context, this concept is being set off in the recent years. Amid the sanction of multi-nation citizenships and the provision of honorariums, some people find this concept to fulfill their political ambitions and to see as an alternative for un-resolved disputes between the nations.
This actually shakes up the very concept of citizenship. Citizenship is granted naturally for any human born on this planet or conferred upon migrating to a foreign land. To explain it in simpler terms based on the simplest duty of a citizen and to be a citizen, Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general to the UN urged “Use every letter you write, every conversation you have, every meeting you attend, to express your fundamental beliefs and dreams. Today call or write one of your legislators and register your views”. His statement was simply reflecting what Gandhiji had been saying, “Rights of true citizenship accrue only to those who serve the state to which they belong”.
It is a transient condition for any individual to be a stateless citizen for it is not an end. It is the means for taking it further to settle down to a state of convincing upon accepting the culture, its contradictions and complexities. Unless the government of a particular state is in stake or the citizenship is denied for some discriminative reasons, it is very rare for one to become a stateless citizen. But, there are some cases where an individual voluntarily renounce the citizenship under extreme situations.
The victims of war and political instability often become refugees and the concept of stateless citizen if applied to such persons, is simply an old wine in the new bottle. The refugees thus developed are innumerable in number and are often in search of ways to seek back the lost nationality and citizenship. Many people are willingly becoming stateless citizens due to the disagreement of certain principles hitherto they had stood for. An ordinary person is never put in this situation as many countries are looking into this issue and take appropriate measures to prevent it.
One shall have to understand who a refuge is and who a stateless citizen is. A refugee may be one or more in numbers and is expelled of the citizenship under political or criminal backgrounds. But a stateless citizen is a temporary enigma aroused out of multi-national parentage and it need not be always in the political context. The status of a stateless citizen is given to a person in order to facilitate the acquisition of a valid citizenship and to evict him/her from the status of illegal immigrant or a refugee. Thus a stateless person is one who is in the transition stage of immigration to settle down with his choice of citizenship what he sought for.
This is another theory getting popularized nowadays to bring out world peace and suggests that the concept of citizenship has an effective role in achieving goals of peace and resolving conflicts. It facilitates the cross-culture, cross-nation understanding to promote peace and justice around the world. It facilitate the sharing of experiences, values and knowledge beyond the boundaries of ethnic and cultural facets through creating opportunities for mingling and living-together of various communities. Many volunteering organizations and individuals claim themselves as ‘Global Citizens’ and experience the change in their life through socializing and networking with the communities world wide. The key tenets of the global citizenship include the respect for any like-minded being in the world regardless of race, religion or creed effecting to a universal sympathy beyond the barriers of nationality.
It is the belief of Global Citizens that it would eradicate international in-equality, discrimination and racial disgraces. And, it has been associates with the awards for the individuals and organizations patronizing the concept of global citizenship. It is also believed that this would trigger the nations to altercate their approach in recognizing world citizens, communities and human rights in global terms.
Politically, this concept is way too amateur in its central idea and formulation as it works more like a multi-national gathering or a corporation. It is yet to be absorbed in to the mainstream politics and not treated as a well recognized policy by the governments. It is just the claim made by the people who have disclosed their curiosity towards both the local and global interests thus deflecting from the original nature of citizenship. But as far as the international relations are concerned, the concept advocates the states to have a moral goodwill in their foreign policy decisions.
The philosophy of “No Government”
The concept of “No government” is another neo-modern thinking mostly prevailing in the western world. Many individuals collectively form an intellectual group to protest on the current days’ issues and conflicts and have been suggesting the non-intervention of governments in settling them out. In many issues relating to society, community and state, it requires a change in mind and attitude towards the solution not from the government, but from every individual. It requires the will-power and determination of very individual to perform a change the society wish to see. The belief that the government bodies and organizations spend too little time for public welfare and got chained to the conventional processes yielding no better results is the main purpose of launching the “no government” philosophy.
Many political parties like “Republican party of America” also favor the same theory and campaign for privatizing the issues and individual involvement in reforming the society and the nation. In the millennium year 2000, this concept was heading high amid the activists in many countries. Some hard-line thinkers too supported the move of non-participation of governmental agencies and organizations in resolving the issues as they believed that the political elements would impair the whole process of conflict resolution. Slogans like “There is no government like no-government” were also on the cards.
But, the theory of “no government” is mostly perceived as a revolutionary mission and the ingredients of the concept are merely a mixture of anarchic and democratic elements. For some times, the developed world had seen it as a boon for they wanted to remain at the top of the charts of socio-economical performers. But for the developing and the under-developed nations with illiterate, ill-skilled and impoverish population, this theory does not hold sound.
It is from another perspective that this theory had not succeeded in all of its claims for the reason that if there was no government, people had none to protest against; instead, working together as a team with a well thought out plan and resources that could result in success only for smaller projects. It is highly implausible that issues and problems with a larger scope and wider targets be accomplished with no involvement of government machinery.
As far as the liberal and free-thinkers are concerned, they see this theory as a next-step towards cultural and political freedom. From the perspective of liberation and free-style living, people supporting this theory see the government and its policies as havoc and an obstacle to their futuristic plans.
What Mahatma Gandhi got to do with these neo-modern theories of government and citizenship issues? Indisputably these theories are totally fresh and are just a couple of decades old. Mahatma Gandhi’s perception on liberation and oneness are varying from what we are witnessing in the world today. He stood for the concept of internationalism and globalization of human living only after given substantial importance to the nationalism and inter-state unity. If he were to alive today, it would be highly difficult for him to take these neo-modern theories as what they are now. The features like spirit of liberty, oneness, single and common government these theories suggest might be seen as a fancy and extemporized escapisms from the regular, more closed and conventional cultured and religious living styles. While he was confining to the regular stream of thoughts by saying “Internationalism is possible only when nationalism becomes a fact. Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle”, he had still favored the modern liberal theories by stating “Individual liberty and interdependence are both essential for life in society”. He always had wished to see India as a secular, multi-cultural, diversified land of destination for free-thinkers and those who appraise freedom as a right for the human kind. He strongly believed in the spirit of the soil and greatness of the Indian sub-continent to the degree of attracting multiple cultures from different parts of the world and in an ideal condition, those cultures would turn themselves, been influenced and transformed into ours. “I claim to represent all the cultures, for my religion, whatever it may be called, demands the fulfillment of all the cultures”.
From the perspective of individualism and inter-dependence, the concepts like Global Citizenship and World government have come way too far to promote peace and cultural unity and in fact, create a culture of its own which needs a thorough contribution of human patronage and legal suffices. As such, “Mutual courtesy and respect was the foundation of any culture”, and this is true for these global cultural theories like World Government, No Government, and Global Citizenship. When more and more people laying un-confidence on the present system of living and feel being victimized in some way or the other by the governments too, such kinds of cultural changes and would be opted more rigorously.
Today, even in India we could see an impact of western culture and these global theories gaining roots that puts the people think and work beyond the boundaries of traditional living. Gandhiji had predicted this kind of cultural transformation that would change the lives of Indians but preserving our spirit and religion that nurtures the nation at all times. “The ideal is a synthesis of the different culture that has come to stay in India, that have influenced Indian life, and that, in their turn, have themselves been influenced by the spirit of the soil.”
Yet, the universal truth is that the human race cannot live without any culture or civilization. Man has to adapt himself to the centuries old culture and traditions or has to invent and seek refuge into such new theories of culture and civilization. Politically divided nations and un-resolved issues between the nations have put people on the run for looking out for safer and congenial destinations for living. And, it will not be available to them in the form of settling down with foreign lands where he had to cope up with the new culture and civilization. Instead, one has to prefer to wrestle with the governments to uphold his culture and tradition for his living or has to endow with the global theories and change suitable to meet their needs. And, this renovation of oneself is not so easy. Coping with the current conditions and fighting for justice for want of peace and harmony in life must be perceived as a ritual or duty for being an average citizen enjoying the fullest rights of citizenship. If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like a will-o'-the wisp. As Gandhiji said, this can be accomplished through shear determination and dedication. “The patriotic sprit demands loyal and strict adherence to nonviolence and truth. We dare not enter the kingdom of liberty with mere lip-homage to truth and nonviolence”. Not all the rights are ready-made even with in the nation, after all. At the global level, nations should come forward to correct and renovate their civilizations rather than going in for neo-modern theories which would seize the power and the audacity of the human race.
As Gandhiji put it rightly, “I want co-operation between nations for the salvaging of civilization, but co-operation presupposes free nations worthy of co-operation” implying that not all free nations and free culture are really co-operative in nature. Civilizations and cultures born out of intellectual needs and human rights alone would cease to exist. If all of us simply insist on rights and no duties, there will be utter destruction and chaos.