Inching towards anarchy | by Rashid A Mughal


Inching towards anarchy

THIS is the age of Democracy. It has evolved during the last century into a most successful political system.

Today it is being practiced in majority of the countries of the world, barring a few exceptions where the system is either autocratic or anarchist. There are a few which practice a mixer of above two.

After the World War-I and World War-II, which divided the world into two distinct camps — capitalists and socialist/communists, the countries under the influence of either of these systems, formed their own blocks. The big powers thus created their spheres of influence and so began the cold war.

Creation of NATO and signing of Warsaw Pact were the manifestations of the big power rivalry — USA with its western European allies and the (former) Soviet Union with its eastern European allies.

However, with the entry of Peoples Republic of China at the world stage for the last 30-35 years, the game seems to be changing.

China, with highest population in the world and biggest exporter of goods, has astonished the entire world with its spectacular economic development and is set to surpass US as the No 1 economic power house of the world by 2040.

Pakistan found a dependable and trust-worthy friend and neighbour in China since early ‘70s for which all credit goes to Z A Bhutto who was the architect of this all-weather friendship.

The tense situation and confrontation in the South China Sea compelled China to look for an alternate seaport and Pakistan obliged by providing access to port of Gwadar.

Chinese investment of over $54 Billion in CPEC projects in Pakistan is a proof of trust and display of friendship between the two countries. However, the pace of development of projects under CPEC is somewhat slow.

This is mainly due to a variety of factors which includes writ of the government and administrative flaws and anarchy. Let us admit that the present government which rode on the support of the people, has yet to achieve what it promised.

Rampant lawlessness, corruption, dwindling moral values, collapse of administrative machinery and enforcing the writ of government are some of the issues which highlight the performance of the present PTI governance.

In fact, sometimes it gives an impression that we are heading for anarchy. Street protests (often violent), frequent road blocks (Dharna), scant respect for law and order by the people, attacks on government functionaries all combined give an impression that perhaps we are inching towards anarchy.

Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that advocates the replacement of government with self-managed, self-governed societies. Anarchy is the state of a society without a governing body or authorities and the resulting confusion and chaos from lack of authority or ruling.

Anarchist countries are often called stateless societies. Anarchism has existed for centuries. Some anthropologists consider prehistoric societies to be anarchists, given that they existed without formal hierarchies.

The first traces of formal anarchism can be found in ancient Greece and China, where philosophers questioned the necessity of state and believed that individuals should be able to live free from oppression and constraint.

Anarchy typically instills images of fighting in the streets, rioting, looting and chaos. However, anarchism played a crucial role in movements and revolutions throughout history, including the Spanish Civil War and the workers’ movement at the end of the 19th century.

Anarchism began spreading with the help of industrialization, modernism, mass migration and reaction to capitalism.

Anarchism was kept low after the Second World War and the second red scare in the US and then re-emerged in the 1960s.

French pioneer socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon published a study of the economic bases of society and argued that laws of society have nothing to do with authority and instead stem from the nature of society itself.

Proudhon believed that authority would eventually dissolve, and a natural social order would emerge. Transformation from anarchist to modern civil society has evolved over a number of decades and centuries.

People have tried various systems of governments since ancient Greek and Roman times and strived to have a system in which the citizens of the country have a say in formulating the laws and rules and regulations to govern them to promote and maintain peaceful co-existence. Ultimately they found that democracy has answers to all their questions.

It is, therefore, not a new system of government. It existed, in fact, during the days of Roman Empire and ancient Greek Empires.

Under Cleisthenes in 508-507 BC first example of Democracy was established in Athens. He is referred to as the “father of Athenian Democracy”.

Anarchy and Democracy are two extremes, when it comes to selecting a system of government. Both have their good and bad points. When Machiavelli advocated anarchy in his book “The Prince”, the times in France were different.

Machiavelli’s name came to evoke unscrupulous acts of the sort he advised most famously in his work, The Prince.

He claimed that his experience and reading of history showed him that politics have always been played with deception, treachery, and crime. He also notably said that a ruler who is establishing a kingdom or a republic and is criticized for his deeds, including violence, should be excused when the intention and the result is beneficial.

Machiavelli’s Prince has had a mixed reaction. Some considered it a straightforward description of the evil means used by bad rulers; others read in it evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power.

Even into recent times, some scholars, such as Leo Strauss, have stated critics who accuse Machiavelli of being a “teacher of evil” should be taken seriously.

The term Machiavellian often connotes political deceit, deviousness and real politik. Even though Machiavelli has become most famous for his work on principalities, scholars also give attention to the exhortations in his other works of political philosophy. While much less well known than “The Prince”, the Discourses on Livy (composed c.?1517) has been said to have paved the way of modern Republicanism.

It has also significantly influenced authors who have attempted to revive classical Republicanism including Hannah Arendt. Machiavelli has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science.

Coming to discussing the situation in our country, do we need a Machiavellian “Prince” or an enlightened Dictator or perhaps a mixer of two, to run our country, given the present circumstances? I leave the choice to the people of this great country.

So far Democracy has only given us corrupt system and corrupt rulers who have practiced selective justice and promoted their personal and selfish agenda rather that welfare of the people.

— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.


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