THERE IS TOO MUCH HYPE, HARM AND WASTE- ECONOMY MUST SHRINK, NOT GROW
Nowadays most products of economy are useless or harmful or both! In non- Islamic societies in the past these useless and/or harmful productions were the likes of alcohol, cigarettes and prostitutes and traditional luxuries like cosmetics and fashion among the rich. Now they are proliferating at an alarming rate. Dozens of new mind-altering drugs are flooding the population and sexual abuses are both increasing in kind and growing in the age range they capture. Managing and doctoring the bodily image is becoming a desperate cult with billions spent on cosmetic surgery, dubious alternative treatments, rapid changes in fashion often with appalling bad taste- like rings on lips and even tongues and slovenly trousers sweeping the dirt of the streets and taking them home for any babies to graze on. Sports and entertainments have proliferated and again billions are spent to enjoy them. A sports or arts ‘star’, whatever his worth as a human being otherwise, commands a price astronomically higher than the most beneficial scientist or educator, for example. Just to punch an opponent deadlier or kick a football more skilfully causes national wealth to flood the bank balance of an otherwise very nasty and mean man or woman. In other words enjoyments like sports, arts, dress, grooming and sexual sampling and experimenting… are becoming larger and larger sectors of economic activity (demand and supply) while things like moral education and spiritual maturation receive almost no attention or funding. This hyped imbalance is taking a heavy toll on the society.
Unnecessary risks and harms are everywhere simply because minds are no longer working in the best interests of their owners. Let us take a tiny example. Why should anybody need a ring worn on a pierced tongue? What use is it and is it worth taking a health risk however minor for its sake? Another, must our trousers sweep the dirt of the streets or still another, do we need to go about in public with our belly bared at all times?
All these are based on the infantile desire for boosting the ego by getting attention. Once the attention-getting is diminished by the spread of the aped fashion a new fashion is launched with more cash changing hands. The old wares are then thrown away. All these while billions are starving. And the harm and waste items do not stop there. It is estimated that about one fifth of all agricultural produce end up in people’s bellies. The rest is thown away by instalments on the way from the field to the hand of the eater who may be responsible for throwing way up to half of even of that. Why?
Because food (and for that matter no article) has any sacred value attached to it. All products of human labour (like bread) as well as human imagination (like respect for the elders) are stripped of their previous spiritual values except civil liberties and the former can now just be forgotten about and thrown out or away with no pangs of conscience. The new philosophy is explore, experiment, titillate and consume anything that pleases the ego. The more this philosophy is preached and implemented the more the economy grows. As one French thinker had put it “Civilization nowadays means an increase in unnecessary needs”. The sillier and more varied things irrespective of their real benefit or harm a nation produces, consumes and affords to waste the more advanced and civilized they are. More tragically those poorer nations who are at least partially the victims of this philosophy consuming their richer brethren are themselves envying and whenever possible emulating these silly and wasteful tastes. For example, before they can manufacture pin they embellish their towns with brand fast food shops and homes with TV and music sets. They are loath to look into a burning national breathing at their neck but will discuss for hours the goal scored by or transfer gossips about a certain footballer living in far away
Lastly, the rates of waste and environmental pollution (often interconnected) are reaching dizzying levels. Automated production provoked by competition designed to reduce human labour input which has become too expensive is driving production costs so low that what used to be luxuries are fast becoming dirt cheap commodities. For a example a chic superbly accurate watch used to cost a weeks wages in the past while it can be had now with an hour’s wages. But just replacing its battery may cost almost as much, let alone repairing it. To replace the sole of a pair of shoes may cost more than buying a new pair. A washing machine is best thrown away after the first serious breakdown and replaced with new. Similarly, as most production creates by products of such nature that recycling is either impossible (e.g.fluorocarbons and detergents) or too expensive (plastic bags) they must be dumped. As a result land, waters and air are filling up with unhealthy refuse at alarming rates. Genetic damage is already under way among fishes and reach us through eating them.
For all the above reasons the present obsession of governments to maintain economic growth (e.g. increasing gross national product) with full gainful employment must be a mistake with the added reason, which is declining human quality. This decline in human values and the warmth going with them is a pity given the wealth spend on education. With too much time on the part of too many people working at jobs and the increasing individualism (read loneliness and alienation) at the expense of family and neighbourly ties are converting people into robots working to strict and tight time schedules. A mother’s getting up at 6 am, dressing and grooming and breakfasting in half an hour, waking the baby and rushing it to its nursery on her way to her job… this breakneck is simply becoming a ‘breakback’ repaeating itself even on holidays when thousands must rush to airports and then pack the foreign beaches like seasonally migrating birds. There is little time to think about the life’s meaning or make an audit of one’s conscience. One may hurt many others many times in the course of one’s mad rushes but there is no time to repent let alone amend. Each then has to hurt others so that he or she feels lighter. Please note how common and frequent the four letter obscenities and violent rages are becoming. Almost all are depressed and frustrated and with no one around to give emotional support; the only remedy to the suffering is more consumption- alcohol, drugs, music, sports… all of which are now as commercialised as aircraft production.
All these show that economies must shrink in order that human beings have more time to live humane lives in societies fuller with personal friendships with enough leisure to enjoy those friendships. And what greater friendship is than between the members of families and neighbourhoods, the worshipping congregations and amateurishly sporting and entertaining groups. Only than God comes back into our lives and only then new generations can have enough parental input to grow up as Godly and therefore god-happy individuals whose peace of mind shall not have to be chemically created at the cost of their bodily health. Only then the environment will clean up together with our bloodstream- and our morals and character. None can live a life more pleasurable and less frustrated than a man of high morals, enlightened mind and charitable character all embedded in wisdom. That should be the greatest product of economy as well as education.
13. MEDIA ABUSES, MASS ACTION AND PROTEST CULTURE
The twin modern phenomena of democratisation of the society and empowerment of the individual at the expense of social cohesion seem to have produced a strange new phenomenon: While the man’s gradual progress from the small world of his individual self to the Universal Self through the stages of family, clan, tribe and nation (and now supra-national community like the European Union) has taken place for the richest part of humanity the process also produced a deleterious by-product, which is, ironically enough, the exact opposite of the universalization of man- i.e, the cult of the ego.
What we mean is not that typical modern Western citizen is an unmitigated egoist. Just advertise the poverty of children in a third world country or the the plight of earthquake victims and money will flow in to the charitable funds set up. What we mean is that the citizen is in a schizoid condition, two opposite personalities living side by side in him like two strangers. For man’s spirit is unconquerable and however bad an education and corrupt a society most men both acquire and retain a degree of socially charitable attitude. In other words being sociable is in the genes of man as it is in the genes of ants, bees and apes. Totally anti-social behaviour simply does not work; some level give and take is essential for the safety and survival of all individuals in a group. And most enjoy it.
Which means the morally and socially deleterious effects of modern amoral and individualistic education are normally reversible, provided one knows how to go about it. No wonder then when we find some persons who appeared living lives of great selfishness and hedonism suddenly jump into the arms of a spiritual movement and switch to very social, sentimental and charitable behaviour patterns. In Islamic terms this may be rephrased as “Whatever tricks and seductions the Satan may apply to man, in the end God wins the man back from the Satan”. Glory be to those who find and live from God and help others to do the same.
In this lesson we shall look at the influences responsible for man’s alienation from his true Godly nature and potential and the mechanisms of deluding and misleading him on the part of the lost souls who may be motivated by material greed or spiritual malice or both.
As soon as men come together there is created among them relationships of friendship and rivalry. The first move them towards exchanges of favours while the second cast in them mutual suspicions which then generate espionage. Espionage thrives on information gathering (‘intelligence’ as it is called today) and the most primitive and basic form of it is gossip over a grapevine. Except the maturest, men are compulsively suspicious, a bit paranoid, inquisitive and gossipy. Because the information shared over a grape vine (i.e., gossip) is always coloured by prejudices, distortions, exaggerations and also outright lies it is not too reliable and in fact sometimes lethally dangerous. We see this most in sexual gossip. The gossiped against person may lose his or her life out of the haste of the hearers’ in judging and then punishing him and her at no time, because sex is one of the hottest and headiest subject and cause of violent prejudices among (immature) people.
From this humble beginnings the gossip and espionage habit of man now reached the mass media form. In each country hundreds of printed and electronic media companies are pouring out thousands of pages or billions of bytes of information which, on further scrutiny deserve hardly more than the status of gossip. Names are made or ruined overnight once such a modern gossip item hit the papers, airwaves or TV screens and the target of the gossip could not be less deserving of the result. To undo the unjust damage or take back the unjust promotion may be impossible and often is. Most of the harmful gossip is the result of either a desire by the originator of it to create a sensation and cash in on it or to destroy a rival or enemy whether for commercial or ideological reasons.
The sensation for cashing in on has one of its best examples in airing a sexual scandal irrespective of its truthfulness. It is often a half truth and being almost victimless should remain private. So, when we find the exposition of a politician as an adulterer in a society where adultery long ceased to be a shameful act let alone a crime we can see that the intention of the exposer becomes obvious. He is exploiting the not totally eradicable stigma attaching to adultery in public mind with so deep roots in sexual prejudices and end up destroying a perhaps otherwise very useful man for something which is now only too commonplace and indeed no crime at all. People all the same lap up what is spilt on the ground with gusto and regard any money they spent on buying the gossip well worth it. The paper breaking the ‘news’ registers record sales! This is only one example in one field.
The second motive for destructive gossip is commercial or ideological malice. With the best intentions on earth (and not a single media company will admit to being less than perfectly benevolent and fair) a lot of harm is being done to a lot of people, groups and their interests irrespective of their merits otherwise and this harm may amount to atrocities as terrible as massacres. Hitler and Stalin controlled the media and inculcated in their public many destructive beliefs which then they encouraged them to give vent to in persecutions and massacres of millions. The recent Yugoslav tragedies (1990s) in which rapes, massacres and ethnic cleansings were provoked by gossip in all its forms and at all its levels- plain public gossip based on centuries old prejudices, government propaganda and the news and commentaries on the mass media.
All these show that having a developed media is a mixed blessing and its merits can only be as positive as the moral and spiritual standards of the society hosting it or the customers subsidizing it. So, we find media as disgusting as what is conveyed by the term ‘gutter press’ (as well as wanton violence and depraved sex- porn- channels or websites) at the bottom end of a nation’s media while at the top end very decent, serious and balanced as well as erudite platforms of media appealing to similarly mature minds. It must be obvious that it is as much the case as ‘media make the public opinion’ as ‘public tastes determine the media’.
Which means fighting the depraved levels of media behaviour can best be done by draining the marshes on which they thrive and that marshland is bad education in all its forms- in family, in school, in the society at large. Billions and decades need be used to replace such national bad education with good but it is every bit worthy an effort doing so.
IDEOLOGICAL GROUPS AND MASS ACTION
The last few centuries witnessed the most radical transformation of culture whereby religion lost the greater part of its prestige and relevance and the vacuum it left was filled with almost equally dogmatic if secular new beliefs. These are called ideologies and are seen as a gamut of beliefs arranged on the two sides of a middle point. One the one side are ‘leftist’ and on the other ‘rightist’ ideologies. An ideology is called leftits to the degree that it disowns and distances itself from traditions of the long past. Among such traditions are religious faith and institutions, private ownership and family as the basic social unit. Ideologies on the farthest left denounce all these and offer radical alternatives. An ideology is rightist to the extent that it sticks with traditions and refuses to give ground to new understandings and institutions. These two extremes are often tiny mimnority affairs. What is more popular is the middle ground on the two sides of the axis, which sides we call centre left and centre right. In all Western democracies power changes hands between the representatives of these two centre ideologies like the Labour and the Conservatives in the
Add to this a legion of quasi political ideological groups of all sizes and shapes and you have a hornet nest’s ideological and political activity clamouring for popular attention and campaigning for often mutually exclusive agendas. Labour and trade unions are the most prominent of these quasi-political organizations can are able to play havoc with social peace as much as with economic prudence. They are often to the left of the axis and sometimes too much to the left of the left parties they seem to be allied with. There are also all sorts of smaller organizations which campaign of various ideologically defined rights and can issue decibels and deploy destructive crowds well beyond what one would expect from the size of their memberships. These may make so much noise and speak with such eloquence and vehemence and deploy such aggressive crowds that politicians may be intimidated and the police barely able to contain. Our age is one of ideologically motivated and organized mass action whereby ideological minorities can over-impress the political establishment to bow to their often radical demands.
It has always been such intense lobbying and pressure by such ideological minority groups that caused politicians to enact more radical laws on family, education or taxation and not so much the democratic majority will that produced the laws reforming the society and its institutions over the last three centuries. In other words the changes were have not been democratic in any real sense but resulted from the clash of conservative and reforming minorities who acted like locomotives for the rest. Had there been real democracy far less number of far less radical reforms could be made. The public’s weight is further eroded by the explicit as well as implicit indoctrination by the media, left media more often attacking and the right defending. Because the locomotive minorities are fanatical as much as intelligent souls they battle out their claims and demands and the winners impose on all the rest who are wearied and worn out and votes just for peace’s sake come hell or high water.
So, and for example although the great majority of people are disgusted with homosexuality it is the latter and not the former who eventually and inexorably get their way. Similarly, although the great majority of parents find that it is impossible to discipline and protect their children without sometimes resort to some intimidation with or without some violence it is the anti- bodily punishment lobby that wins in the end. Then parents have to allow their children to go out after dark and mess with drugs, sex and crime and often suffer harm as a result or be prosecuted for infringing on their children’s newly given rights. It is on record that a father who prevented her 15 year old daughter from going out to continue with her undisguisable dabblings into the above evils was arrested by the police on the grounds of false imprisonment with the daughtert as the plaintif. This ‘crime’ ended the professional life of the father as a teacher (and a very good one at that). Had the father won at the court ideological groups supporting the curbing of parental authority would shake the earth and heavan with media campaigns and street demonstrations until the parliament would succumb.
Which means that democracy as ordinarily understood only partially satisfy popular demands and for the rest nasty and noisy ideological groups sooner or later prevail thnks to their ideological fanaticism and relentless mass action. It is then a dictatorship of highly motivated and vocal and sometimes also intimidating minorities and NOT real democracy that we are seeing in the Western countries.
Perhaps the most impressive example of fanatical, highly motivated, highly organized and vocal dictatorship of a minority all over the West is the Zionist lobby. Being survivors of defeats and persecutions a sort of natural selection has produced in the Jewish nation a super race of intelligent achievers and survivors. As no other nation Jews have been raised on a diet of racial superiority and Divine election with the inevitable promise going with these two premises- that they are worthy of and destined to dominate all the rest of humanity whom they call ‘ ha goyim’, i.e., the gentiles. Therefore it theirs has been a through and through tribal consciousness with ‘us against them’ mentality as the ultimate standard of justifying and motivating anything.
What happened in the creation of Israel was that Christian European nations washed their hands off the culpability and responsibility for their evil treatment of the Jews by passing the buck on Arabs and helping the Jews to exact their revenge on them Arabs who have had nothing to do with the Christian persecution of the Jews. Regrettably and against better and forceful advice from more enlightened Jews the Zionist group among them took this unhealthy and unjust path and since than not a single day of peace graced the place called
They have simply been the best performers. What the lesson as far as our subject is this: It is the powerful minorities who make history and dictate to the rest also in the so-called democracy. Modern democracies are shifting oligarchies in disguise and like the Greek gods it is they who run the world over the head of lesser mortals. Factions and lobbies share out media power as well as the street power to enrol and recruit to their case as many members of the naïve majority who then think that they are asserting their democratic rights at the elections. That must be why power alternate often between two parties or coalition of parties and each winner needs be brought down to put the other in charge who again shall need be brought down. Compare this to an employer’s or commander’s choices. These two can only afford to appoint competent subordinates and the latter cannot survive on demagogy but must deliver what he is hired for or commanded to. Perhaps a realer democracy could be non-party based elected representatives of the people acting like employers and hiring and firing ministers and bureaucrats as necessary with constant performance audit dangling over the heads of these ministers and bureaucrats like the sword of Democles. And prison sentences to follow any irregularities or corruption. Then efficiency may come to government like it is with private commercial corporations.
Apart from the Zionist giant we have many other lobbies working on similar lines. Examples are the Feminist lobby, the Civil Rights lobby, the Animal Rights lobby, the Gay Rights lobby asc well as parties and other organizations on both far right and far left. All clamour to be heard and act to be seen and a lot if not all are not beyond consummate dirty tactics and sometimes even committing acts of terror in getting their way.
Our age is an age of lobbies and their cacophony is called democracy. This democracy however brings no peace nor produce justice. But it is still better than centralized tyranny.
THE PROTEST (AND LITIGATION) CULTURE
Because people are becoming more selfish/individualist/independent (call it what you will or all) they are more acting like independent nations of the day- they never admit guilt, responsibility and even smallest mistake but fight their corner sometimes to the bitter end. From road rage to a multimillion litigation case at a court of law people display such crass self-righteousness and vain sense of honour as to make even chiefs of tribal rivals engaged in a ‘honour’ contest blanch. In a recent example some paper publishes a small and innocent photograph of a baby of a famous couple with dubious justification and the two sides end up in court litigating and reaching an inconclusive judgment after many court sittings and ego contests with both sides losing hundreds of thousand pounds in costs. Nobody offers an apology but must be made to at a court. Another burns a finger at the tea shop she is working and accusing the shop-keeper with using a metal teapot which burns hand quicker than a porcelain or plastic one sues for damages and almost bankrupts the small trader.
While hospitals are reeling from budget cuts and their staff being over-worked and under-paid do their best to serve the patients a small mishap resulting in a swollen arm from a prescribed injection gives the opportunity to the extremely selfish and manipulative patient to sue the hospital for damages. After long suing threats and price wranglings the hospital abjectly agrees to part with a few thousand pounds and almost begs the plaintif to accept and drop his claim. In a slightly more serious case the settlement may soar to a millions in damages and costs! All these when thousands of people wait for desperately needed operations, some dying because of the delays caused by lack of funds. In all such cases protest from a very selfish angle is the name of the game. Lastly, in a recent case soldiers who fought at some recent wars sued the government demanding compensation for harms suffered by them in the course of the war, including the traumatic effects of their experiences, as if war and soldiering was anything but traumatic experiences and open-ended extents of harms. In brief everybody is out to convert anything they really or allegedly experience into cash, if possible and real cash at that.
In fact many modern organizations whether civil or professional are founded on selfish-agenda bases and thrive on protest and litigation. The construction of a most needed road may be blocked by the protests and representations made by an impromptu formed small group of residents living in the area and commuters left to go through hell on their way to their jobs as before. A big park criss-crossed by roads open to traffic is suddenly closed to it because a few dozen cyclists want it exclusively for themselves or the Wild Squirrels Protection Society protests that the furs of the animals are getting less dense from traffic emissions. In the treacherous times of the Cold War a left-hijacked mass movement was demanding the unilateral scrapping of nuclear arms chanting “Red rather than dead”, as if there were no other alternatives. Thankfully the politicians kept their nerve and by totally peaceful means reached the end of the Cold War. In other words neither Red nor dead was necessary after all. Apart from the highly possible cynicism involved in the said movement (infiltration and manipulation by the hard-core Communists as supported heartily by their power block to the East) the main crime in their argument was the prejudiced caricaturization of realities.
THE DEVIL BEDEVILLING ANY ARGUMENTS
This said ‘prejudiced caricaturization of realties’ is behind all irreconcilable arguments between parties always and everywhere. From parliamentary debates we watch on the TV to arguments between the prosecution and the defence and especially those between the litigants each side persistently employs caricaturization to impress the arbitrators about. What is this prejudiced caricaturization?
Let us first see what a caricature is. An artist can caricaturize a person by over-emphasizing his more prominent features while shrinking the less prominent. So, if we have a man with a largish and slightly hookish nose and smallish eyes the caricaturists draws a caricature of him in which the nose becomes a mile long curved sausage while the eyes two mere dots. The person so caricaturised may in fact be quite a handsome person but if we take the caricature seriously we may imagine him to be a very ugly somebody indeed. Caricatures used to be very popular among racists. Jews were caricaturised as ugly and slovenly creatures with big, fleshy lips and equally big and additionally curved noses. The hair was very black and curly and the dress dirty and ill-fitting etc. The Negro had lips like tractor tyres and noses flat like baseball bats and hair like a black layer of sponge. Then hatred was practiced on these caricatures. Since racism lost its popularity politics remain the main territory for argument by caricatures. But caricatures are not only drawn by pencil. They are even more effective when made in words and in fact all political and personal clashes use them almost exclusively to score points. The above example of nuclear disarmament is a good example. The protesters caricaturized a very complicated reality- the struggle between two political ideological blocks of nations- almost if not completely excusing one side for holding the weapons and for all practical intents and purposes putting the entire onus on the other side and bird-brainedly arguing that death is the only alternative to going ‘red’. i.e, surrendering to the other party who are armed to their teeth with the same deadly weapons.
Another caricaturization area is also from the Cold War age. Its is the image of Western powers, and especially and par excellence
Let a metaphor help us see what I mean. Recently I was browsing through a popular medical encyclopedia when I came across a very ugly illustration. It showed a very rough surface of almost rocky and cavernous aspect full of dark pits and horny long growths like unleafed plants shooting out untidily everywhere. This it said was the appearance of a baby’s skin under a microscope magnified 100 times. Had one not seen a baby one could think that a baby looks and feels on touch like a scaly and hairy monster. But does it look or feel like that when a baby is looked at and caressed? Contrarily a crocodile could look like a tiny smooth lizard when looked through a reducing set of lenses. Does it mean that we can lie side by side with it on the river bank? That was exactly the Cold War caricaturization tactic which now survives only in its anti-American element. I am not saying that
Unfortunately all are in it today- Media, politicians, litigants, lawyers, trade unions, and all civil etc. rights groups and lobbies. Each present themselves as victimized angels and their adversaries as victimizing devils. Unbalanced eloquence is offered as proof and disrespectful and selfish condemnation as righteousness. Then problems are not so much solved as hijacked and proliferated and noise and abuse seem to open all doors. In all these jealousy is the key motivator and so blind that many heroes of a day or two ago may end up as outcasts if their opponents can rake enough mud of jealousy in their audience against the hero. Churchill lost to opposition at the peak of his glory- just freshly victorious against Nazism in the Second World War. What is more, the opposition was partially behind the Nazi’s naughtiness since despite all warning sings and advice had chosen to appease Nazis. What this opposition did was playing down its responsibility for the whole mess while blowing up in size the largely unavoidable grievances of a war economy. Not that the opposition did not have good things to offer. They did- like a national health service. But the fact remains that realities are denied and distorted on all sides thereby perpetuating a thousand injustices to all concerned before ten or twenty benefits may be introduced. Somehow lies and half-truths must always be there, hearts and bones need be broken before any good can be done to or by anybody if it will be done at all.
By Islamic answer we mean Islam’s and not actual so-called muslim’s answer to anything. By better and better education and mentoring it must be possible to produce wiser and godlier muslims whose increasing numbers will be reflected in the improving lot of the society they live in. This improving lot will be both in material and moral terms. Let this hadith suffice to explain what I mean. The Prophet sws commanded sellers to frankly tell to the buyers about any bad sides of the wares they are offering. This is not a pipe dream. Right here in the West you may go to any street market where fruit and vegetable vendors are many. While some sell exactly what they display at the front of their stalls some others display brilliant goods while fill your bag from behind the bench with the rotten namesakes! The honest trader is actually applying the Prophet’s (and good character’s) command while the dishonest one is being very mean indeed. What he is pushing to the unsuspecting customer may even be totally indedible. The same goes for manufacturers. Bedcrumbed fish portions from one shop may contain a genuine and generous fish steak while from another contains a fake made from pure block moulded gelatine flavoured by washings from fish! The box for the second may even be more luxurious to help deceive more. If Islam and its namesake real civilization is not for this honesty and charity in all things either is hardly worth professing or pretending.
To be truly civilized has nothing to do with science, technology and even welfare, although learning and self-suffiency (and spiritual maturity) help enormously. It is all to do with godliness and true godliness means as if you are the Perfect God and as such are full of the wisdom, justice, compassion and love that are expected of the Perfect God. Once this is so all possible good can come into being as if God is willing it by saying “Be!” and it is. Amen.