Ugly Conservatisms – Journal – DAWN.COM


A VIRUS deadlier than Covid-19 is spreading rapidly around the world. Conservatism has been a dominant human affliction since life. His edicts of self-preservation, prudence, and raw power served us well when we lived in jungles with basic technology but faced great natural threats.

However, as humans mastered nature, it became an anachronistic and harmful evolutionary trait. The continued use of competitive conservative lenses has led to enormous strife and misery among humans. Wisdom has gradually taken hold that the principles of equality, cooperation and tolerance are the best guarantees of human well-being. This was the birth of liberalism. The evolution of science, democracy and ethics over the centuries finally created a moment in the mid-twentieth century when it seemed that humanity could transcend conservatism to adopt liberalism as its dominant ideology.

Such hopes are now shattered as conservatism has made a comeback in recent decades, especially the last. Today, its five variants – unbridled capitalism, religious extremism, sectarian nationalism, autocratic politics and patriarchal culture – engulf every breath, moment, thought and flow globally. No human domain – social, economic, political or religious – has escaped the broad reach and stranglehold of conservatism. The driving force has been capitalism, before which all other forces today lie. The turning point in the march of conservatism came in the 1980s when capitalism, shackled for decades by concerns about equity, finally unleashed itself in the West to unabashedly prioritize capital over labor. Four decades of unbridled capitalism have created huge inequalities, ecological damage and economic volatility leading to frequent recessions.

The currents of greed and aggression unleashed by capitalism have also fueled the rapid rise of other variants. The rise of sectarian nationalism on a global scale, with a state ideology based on the supremacy and exaltation of a social group, is a new strategy of the dominant groups to retain control.

Human existence returns to the law of the jungle.

Capitalism always follows rules, even if they favor dominant groups. But subordinate groups can now better compete with them. Capitalism exploits at least all workers and consumers in markets blind to their social origins. Sectarian nationalism further undermines weaker groups via social prejudice in markets and political and social spheres to empower powerful social groups, for example whites in the West and elite Hindus in India. But sectarian nationalism invariably clashes with the protections built by democracy for the general population.

Autocratic rule continues unabated in dozens of countries. The new phenomenon is autocratic rulers trying to roll back democratic gains in entrenched democracies like the United States and India in order to perpetuate sectarian nationalism. Thus, democracy barometers point to a global decline in democracy as nationalist and sectarian autocrats have emerged all over the world: Trump in the US, Johnson in the UK, Modi in India, Bolsonaro in Brazil and Duterte in the Philippines to name a few.

Religious extremism has increased over the past decades as both an ally and an adversary of dominant forces. Extremism among Muslims has emerged as a dangerous form of opposition to Western global domination, while Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish extremism plays a key role in supporting the perpetuation of neoliberalism, sectarian nationalism and autocracy in many states. Even extremism among Muslims displays a duality, opposing Western domination but supporting the autocracy of dominant groups in Muslim states like Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Extremism in other religions wants state privileges for its adherents while Muslim extremism envisions a theological state. Finally, the patriarchal culture has been around for a long time, but it has now merged well with sectarian nationalism, autocracy and religious extremism to abuse marginalized groups, as evidenced by Imran Khan’s celebration of such a culture against rights. women.

These five fingers of the hand of conservatism create a vice-like grip on human existence today as it reverts to the law of the jungle. Greed, selfishness, aggression, fanaticism and extremism run wild. All great ideologies perpetuate these ugly faces of conservatism in humans. Capitalism produces selfish and greedy brats; communist robots; rote religious ritualists and even extremists. The result are blood feuds that no other species causes. Species are classified according to their ability to increase their numbers, lifespan, well-being and future generations and reduce harm to others. Humanity considers itself the best but has proven to be the deadliest.

A century ago, the march of conservatism was halted by the horrors produced by two world wars, the pandemic of 1918 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Can the efforts of committed progressive activists awaken humanity to the perils conservatism before the return of such horrors?

The author is a political economist with a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

[email protected]

Twitter: @NiazMurtaza2

Posted in Dawn, March 8, 2022


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