Islamic Perspectives

Westernism: the Ideology of Hegemony

By Dr Javed Jamil

When I speak against Westernism, it does not imply that I am against Western nations or people; for people are similar all over the world having both strengths and weaknesses and their behaviour is the product of their inherent tendencies and social and legal system they live in. It is unfortunate that the great work done by Western scientists has been misused by the economic and political powers to damage the lives of their own people and to dominate the whole world. It is the ideology of these economic and political forces that I call Westernism.

As I have repeatedly used the word "Westernism", I have often been asked what exactly Westernism means. I think it is now the right time to throw some light on the subject. I define Westernism as the ideology that primarily revolves around (1) the dominance of economics in the affairs of life and the world in general and that of market economics in particular and (2) the dominance of the world by Western powers through both use and misuse of the great scientific and technological progress their scientists achieved.

In order to achieve its aims and objectives, the think-tank of Westernism has introduced certain ideas and concepts, which first they defined in a way so as to serve their purposes, and then selectively used them as sticks to beat their opponents. These ideas include laissez-faire, which is one of the deadliest forms of economic fundamentalism, democracy (Western model), secularism, freedom of choice, freedom of expression, human rights, etc. To achieve these, international institutions were either created or persuaded to follow a certain line. We will discuss all the concepts of Westernism one by one.

It is also to be pointed out that Westernism as an ideology or its effects are now not limited to Western countries. Most countries of the world are in fact undergoing Westernisation in one way or the other and in varying degrees. The only difference between "Westernism" and a country's getting westernised (Westernisation) is that in the former case, the dominance of Western powers is also an important ingredient while Westernisation chiefly refers to adoption of cultural and political ideologies of the West.

Economic Fundamentalism and Laissez-Faire
Wealth has a central position in economics. But economic fundamentalism tends to regard it as the most, not just one of the most, essential requirements of life. The business community has, throughout the world and for ages, always cared little for anything but its own economic interests. But the businessmen of the past made only individual efforts in that direction and they had little influence over the happenings in their surroundings. They were the cranes that would use their cunning eyes to capture the prey when it came close to them and not leopards that would roar their way through the forest in search of their prey. They did not have any say in political and administrative affairs; the law of the land safeguarded the interests of the common people, or the interests of rulers. During the last few centuries, especially in the wake of Industrial Revolution, businessmen have organised themselves into an aggressive, domineering, dextrous, ingenious and inexorable class. It has, wrongfully or rightfully but successfully, mastered all the new information, techniques and opportunities available to it for the protection and expansion of its interests. This is where economic fundamentalism begins to emerge. Now, businessmen, unlike in the past, are no more weak and submissive. They are not cranes any more but leopards that want to rule and roar. They have not only learned to assert themselves but have perfected the skill to push their plans defying all obstacles that may come in their way. Not any longer are they bootlickers of the rulers that they used to be; they have now mastered the art of manoeuvring them into submission. From the sycophants that they used to be they have now positioned themselves in a way that the rulers and administrators even often become their sycophants. Not any more are they silent followers of the rule of law; they have become articulate votaries of such modification in the law and the legal systems as better suit their interests. They have ceased to be introverts seeking comfort in solitude; they now socialise in a way that gives them a plateau of eminence in society and of course the economic monopoly. Still, they sacrifice moles for gaining mountains in return. It is this assertive, aggressive, cunning, provident and ruthlessly selfish approach towards economics that breeds what I have termed "economic fundamentalism."

Economics is surely one of the essential constituents of human life. Without money, one cannot survive; we need coins for food, drinks, clothes, house, treatment, entertainment, marriage, bringing up of children, their education; even for funeral. But the problems arise when money is assumed to be the biggest essential of life. Economics is the stomach that supplies food for the body. It cannot and must not become the heart and brain. For a wholesome living, good relations among members of family and of society, proper spiritual and moral development and proper environment are also needed. Love for money is nice as far as it does not disturb mental, family and social peace. But as soon as it transforms into lust encroaching upon others' spheres, it becomes a curse. When the lust for making money becomes organised, its effects on society are bound to be devastating. And when this organisation turns global and uses highly advanced information and technology available to it, mankind faces imminent ruin.

It can be seen that economic fundamentalism is becoming increasingly aggressive with every passing day. What has facilitated its stupendous growth is the outstanding ability of its generals to deal with the hurdles coming in their way. The truth is that they have been marching towards their ultimate destination without facing any appreciable resistance. They studied and recognised all the possible sources of obstruction well in advance, and prepared a meticulous plan to thwart them. All possible weapons were and are being employed for this purpose: persuasion, advertising, misinformation, defamation, bribing, manoeuvring and use of power. The ballistic missiles of their money-power have proved to be too destructive for the resistant elements to withstand. Through persuasion or threats, they are either overpowered or purchased. The opposing forces have failed owing not only to the lack of resources but also to the glaring deficiency of will and spirit. What further paralysed them is innumerable divisions in their ranks, based on religion, region, race, ideology and language. The economic fundamentalists have used this lassitude to gain on them; they are now, virtually, the rulers of the world. Their trumpet blows everywhere - from the north to the south and from the west to the east. There is little evidence in sight to foretell that their dominion will shrink to any remarkable extent in the foreseeable future. Whatever few areas or fields have till now remained beyond their reach will soon be ransacked by their visible or invisible forces. How long they will be able to retain their hold, only time will tell. But presently, no signs of the emergence of a messiah or Mahdi are visible.

Thus, the rise and growth of economic fundamentalism has been, from historical standards, rather rapid taking hardly a few centuries. The think-tank of the world of economic fundamentalism has taken innumerable steps to strengthen their hold. They have sacrificed the goddess of justice before the eyes of the Statue of Liberty. They have transformed through political manoeuvres the state into their estate. They have incessantly and relentlessly been trying to organise a grand farewell for religion. They have captivated the people's imagination through the media. They have got the attire of society redesigned so that it looks gorgeous and inviting to their eyes. They have industrialised sex, in which they have discovered the hen that always lays golden eggs. They have relocated the entire educational set-up on the Wall Street. They have monopolised the tree of economy whose fruits and shadows are only theirs; others can only admire its beauty from a safe distance. They have taken science and technology as their mistresses who are always keen to offer their glorious best to them. They have nipped all the challenges in the bud by masterminding popular movements. They have lynched the 'civilisation', which has been given a new incarnation; and now Bohemians are called civilised. Last but not the least, they have been busy colonising the good earth in the name of globalisation.

This does not mean, however, that whatever the economic fundamentalists sought to do or undo was all misplaced. Nor does it mean that the economic fundamentalists are solely responsible for all the wrongs perpetrated on mankind. What is true nevertheless is that they have always striven to support those ideas and movements that would become uranium for their commercial nukes. Sometimes, they would themselves spearhead a particular campaign. More often, they would financially back such activities as suited their strategies. At other times, they would make overt or covert efforts to contain, dilute or minimise the damages to their interests consequent on the popularisation of certain ideas or customs. Many a time they might have pursued or backed a good cause; but they have invariably been selective in their support, calculating its positive or negative impact on their business prospects. It is this preferential and partisan attitude that has to be denounced and renounced, if the world has to be saved from the impending doom.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2010 on page no. 28

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