Thursday, August 16, 2012

Enter the Age of Rules

Earlier in the post, The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan, the following was stated:

“. . . the author thinks that humanity is entering a new Age of Rules, superseding the Age of Ideologies, and the present book (The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan) derives its inspiration from the same enlightenment.”

Here is one article (written in May this year) where I tried to formulate this thesis of mine:

At the Confluence of Two Ages

Today humanity is standing at the confluence of two Ages. The one has tenaciously flown from the past, and is trying hard to persist through the present into the future. The other one also emerged in the past - not so distant, though. It seems strong and teeming with hope for the salvation of humanity, but is still unable to withstand the unceasing reincarnation of the symptomatically dying Age.

The dying Age manifests itself in ideologies. Ideologies of innumerable hues and shades, basing on worship of ethnic, religious, sectarian, spiritual, cultural, geographical, political entities or gods; aspired / promised rule of this or that class or community or section of society; dominance of this or that religion, race, culture, language; and like that. Examples range from Alexander’s venture of conquering the world; expansion of various Muslim empires; Crusades; rule of the Church; rule of the mercantilist class; rule of this or that kind of aristocracy; rule of the landlords / feudal lords; and in recent past, dictatorship of the proletariat or communist parties; and last but not least, today’s rise of the violent political Islam.

The essence of the Age of Ideologies is to vie for controlling the human world – better said, its resources including human beings, in an open competition. The ancient world presented a kaleidoscopic image of such an arena where persons, communities, cultures, civilizations, religions, and faiths, formulating and justifying their ideologies and charters of conquest, fought relentlessly till the defeat of this or that entity.

But somehow it must have been stricken the imagination of ideologues or warriors, or men of intellect, that this may not be the fate of beings of flesh and thought, that human life is about something else also. That impulse must have translated into an impetus of great consequence: making of rules and agreeing of involved parties to abide by them. These rules covered wars, issues of territories, resources, and peaceful coexistence between principalities and kingdoms. That was the real dawn of human civilization.

Side by side, there would have been another conflict playing between this or that class and community’s interests throughout the human society. That was again to be fought under the banner of Ideologies. Both scenarios signify a fierce contest between, as we know, Might and Right. The making of the Rules started resolving the life and death struggle of Interests and Ideologies. Somehow here and there, Rules supported Right, and made Might retreat. That brought Ideologies to follow the Rules, so to say.

With the advent of Rules, came another great controversy to occupy the intellectual and physical arena, where battles were waged to prove the Right-ness of this or that set of rules derived from this or that ideology. That blocked the progress of humanity again. It was especially in John Locke (1632-1704) that this impasse seemed to be overcome, and person and property of man were argued to be the cornerstone of a society’s system of governance.

This resolution of the Age of Ideologies into the Age of Rules found its most effective and pronounced expression in the 1776 US Declaration of Independence, where the Unalienable Rights of individual persons were practically recognized as the touchstone of any Rules made to rule a country. That was the emergence of the Age of Rules, in tangible terms. It strengthened such Rules philosophically as well as lawfully. The Bill of Rights, along with the Declaration, captured the essence of the Age of Rules. Add to it, the Magna Carta of 1215 as the precursor of this Age.

The Age of Rules tried to establish the sovereignty of individual persons. It turned the rule of ideologies and ideologues into subservience to individuals’ rights and freedoms. That the replacing of ideological apparatus with rules protecting individual’s rights and freedoms may be evidenced in the constitutions and laws of many of the countries of the world is a sign of this war half won.

However, the real Age of Rules, in the form of conspicuous protections, is far from extending to every individual citizen of this or that part of the world. Even the countries which claim to be flag-bearer of the Age of Rules, such as the USA especially, or the European nations, are retreating, in the face of violent political ideologies, including Al-Qaeda and Taliban Islam, to ideological back foot.

In the developing world, the ruling elites are bent upon using every form of ideologies to defy the Rule of the Rules. They are arming the local or foreign-based ideologies and ideologues to keep their own citizenry under their ideological subjugation. They not only deny citizens their due rights and freedoms given under rules and laws, but use them as the fuel of their ideological wars. That keeps the Age of Ideologies surviving, instead of withering away, and the Age of Rules from taking roots. That should warrant those countries professedly espousing the Age of Rules to devise such internal and external policies which could strengthen such an environment in each and every country of the world where individual persons could enjoy “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as agents free from the yoke of ideologies.

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