by Tommaso Iorco
This new century begins under the sign of a violent clash of forces between the West and the Islamic world, which raises questions and push considerations, mostly in connection with the globalization process. For, more than a strife between two cultures, the present struggle appears to be a war between two different conceptions of planetary globalization.
In the XXth century a sinister individual known with the name of Adolf Hitler tried in his own barbarian way to globalize (that is to say, to flatten) all the world on a unique model, treading on minorities and attempting at destroying all diversities. Humanity risked in that circumstance to fall into abysmal darkness. And today, which kind of forces are moving behind the veil? For, maybe, this is the only real question we have to arise.
It is evident that the globalization of the “Christian” integralists aims at a world dominated by Mammona (which disguise himself under the name of culture and modernism), while the globalization of the “Islamic” integralists aims at a world dominated by the Asura (which disguise himself under the name of religion and morality). The inverted commas are necessary, for in both the so-called cultures the respective social apparatus has nothing really spiritual and teleological in it. Religions, today more than ever, and in particular the Christians’ and the Islamics’, are whited sepulchres in which reside stinking corpses of long-dead creeds and dogmas. To ask, therefore, which one of the two models of “civilisation” is the better, means to express the question in the very wrong way. The real question is to try to know which of the two will be the less intolerant, the less aggressive, the less injurious for a free development of humankind.
We have, on one side, all the arrogance of the Western system, based on a less apparent colonisation, but no less ominous and violent than that of the past, masked under the gracious name of Progress. Its method is no more founded on open invasions and suppressions, but on vulgarisation and bargain; not in condemning culture and self-training, but in totally distorting them, substituting a real education with technical training, replacing a full and deep enjoyment with a coarse and boring entertainment, and showing barbarian ways as the very crown of civilization. Panem et circenses is his preferable motto, and the savage jungle’s law “eat or you shall be eaten” the only profitable and pragmatic rule of conduct. A system like this, «values education for its utility in fitting a man for success in a competitive or, it may be, a socialised industrial existence, science for the useful inventions and knowledge, the comforts, conveniences, machinery of production with which it harms him, its power of organisation, regulation, stimulus to production. The opulent plutocrat and the successful mammoth capitalist and organiser of industry are the supermen of the commercial age and the true, if often occult rulers of its society.» (Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle). The result, that is in front of us, has been, by the way, «to cheapen thought and art and literature, to make talent and even genius run in the grooves of popular success, to put the writer and thinker and scientist very much in a position like that of the cultured Greek slave in a Roman household where he has to work for, please, amuse and instruct his master while keeping a careful eye on his tastes and preferences and repeating trickily the manner and the points that have caught his fancy» (ibidem). The natural consequence of this type of gross mentality is the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy, as we may find in the modern world in such a great scale. To trample on the week seems to be the very method of the consumer society. Moreover, the Western arrogance try to convince all the planet (with a skill as only a modern dr. Pangloss will be able to exercise!) that his own is the only possible way of ruling humanity. In doing this, it cut off each adverse or foreign culture in a very gentle way: for, to make a little example, we are free to read and write books on every kinds of subjects, but — as we see things more close — the only books that will deserve the attention and the admiration of the critics, the support and the ovation of the media, the acceptance and the praise of the great publishing houses are those that are perfectly innocuous and regimented. This happens because in the book industry dominates the same economical interests that want to globalize the world under the Western stamp — that is, let us say it once for all, the stamp of the economic Philistine. If, to proceed with our example, we are seeking for some books about Indian culture, we will find plenty of texts written by western professors of ‘indology’ on the matter, commercialized by the greatest publishing houses, in which the sublime visions of the rishis are rendered pedestrian or downright silly; books absolutely boring and sectionary full of false and hideous dogmas, totally invented for racial and domination purposes (as the so-called “aryan invasion theory”, finally discredited by scientific discoveries, but already professed loudly or softly by many Western representatives of “Culture” — with the capital letter, of course!). Or we may find, equally, plenty of books on the same matter in relation to such confused tendencies known as ‘New-Age’ and similar irrational mystique doctrines in search of a market, full of inexactnesses and absurdities. If by chance I write a masterwork on the subject, in which the truth shines out pure and self-luminous, none will prove to be seriously interested in publishing it, and I have probably to self-finance it, with the total indifference of the media: a needle in a straw stack (or, better, in a dunghill!). This is only a very little example, but it is easily extending in many other domains.
On the other side, the Islamic fundamentalism uses methods more coarsed and injurious (as happened in medioeval Europe), that need not so many words to be described, but that are ten times more dangerous and ignoble and Polipœmon-like. It is sufficient to look at the Twin-Tower’s attack to have the more exact description of the brutish application of what they call sharia (but the exact pronunciation of this word is savegerya). Indeed, we know very well how any dissent that arises in Islamic countries is harshly opposed. When, for instance, Muslin-born intellectuals write books who criticize Islam, they start to fear for their very lives, as in the case of Salmon Rushdie, of Anwar Sheikh, of Taslima Nasreem, of Ibn Warraq. And a “culture” that is intolerant towards criticisms, is a false culture: it is pure barbarism. Unfortunately, the history is full of this false cultures that dominated through despotism and suppressions even for long periods — it is sufficient, for the scope, to study even succinctly the history of the Roman Church from Constantine on.
So, we have in front of us two kinds of dictatorship, that we may poignantly describe recovering at our formal example: one — which is the worst — that burns the books (and, when possible, even their writers) and treads on human rights (particularly women rights), the other that teaches us the complete usefulness of reading and uses men as machines, teaching them that the only useful thing in life is to make money and to be a perfect consumer (of the very life, too!). In both cases, original thinking is a crime.
The clash between these two integralists forces arise questions concerning the inevitability of a Third World-War, that will be of disastrous proportions, such as we have never seen before. Some talk even of the possibility of an end for all the life on earth — but, even if we cannot categorically exclude such eventuality (though atomic weapons renders it dramatically possible), it is most probable that in the economy of Nature it will be prevented at last. It is also possible, besides — and that will be perhaps one of the better solutions —, that these two kinds of integralism arrive at destroying each other, leaving free space to something else, something more adequate to the real needs of our times. In any case, the future immediately in front of us is full of uncertainties and we have to prepare ourselves, as best as we can, to face at whatever eventuality.
Human history is not so often a war between Good and Evil (as proclaimed with manichean and bigoted presumption both George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden — two that are only different faces of the same counterfeit coin), but, rather, a continuous strife between two kinds of ignorance, in which we have always to choose that one which appear to us the less ill-fated. So, like that the world advances, blindly, towards his Goal, beyond good and evil, in a SOMETHING ELSE who, thank God, cannot be imprisoned by any of our categories and ridiculous loophole.
For, in the end, one thing is to create a globalization of the planet by obliging (overtly or secretly) all the people to stick on a pre-imposed and fixed model, quite another to seek at a true human unity by attempting at a synthesis of the world’s greatest and noblest aspirations and conquests made by men of all cultures, as Sri Aurobindo suggests in prophetic books like the above-cited or The Ideal of Human Unity(both written during the First World War), from which we extrapolate the following passage:
«Unity is an idea which is not at all arbitrary or unreal; for unity is the very basis of existence. The oneness that is secretly at the foundation of all things, the evolving spirit in Nature is moved to realise consciously at the top; the evolution moves through diversity from a simple to a complex oneness. Unity the race moves towards and must one day realise.
But uniformity is not the law of life. Life exists by diversity; it insists that every group, every being shall be, even while one with all the rest in its universality, yet by some principle or ordered detail of variation unique. The over-centralisation which is the condition of a working uniformity, is not the healthy method of life. Order is indeed the law of life, but not an artificial regulation. The sound order is that which comes from within as the result of a nature that has discovered itself and found its own law and the law of its relations with others. Therefore the truest order is that which is found on the greatest possible liberty; for liberty is at once the condition of vigorous variation by division into groups and insists on liberty by the force of individuality in the members of the group. Therefore the unity of the human race to be entirely sound and in consonance with the deepest laws of life must be founded on free groupings, and the groupings again must be the natural associations of free individuals. This is an ideal which it is certainly impossible to realise under present conditions or perhaps in any near future of the human race; but it is an ideal which ought to be kept in view, for the more we can approximate to it, the more we can be sure of being on the right road. The artificiality of much in human life is the cause of its most deep-seated maladies; it is not faithful to itself or sincere with Nature and therefore it stumbles and suffers.» (The Ideal of Human Unity).
What most we care, in the end, is to specify that we are in a world-crisis absolutely without precedent, not only for its dimensions (really planetary), but much more for its very sense: in fact, for the first time in world’s human history, we are in a huge EVOLUTIONARY CRISIS, a crisis of Man (not, then, a crisis of a group, however wide, but of Mankind in his totality) and the possibility — the absolute urgency — of a new step in terrestrial evolution, leading at the emergence of a New Species on earth, a species without all the imperfections and the absurdities of our blind and stumbling human race, and that will justifies at last our long and difficult journey. To quote again Sri Aurobindo’s words:
«Man is a transitional being; he is not final. […] This imperfect being with his hampered, confused, ill-ordered and mostly ineffective consciousness cannot be the end and highest height of the mysterious upward surge of Nature. There is something more that has yet to be brought down from above and is now seen only by broken glimpses through sudden rifts in the giant wall of our limitations. Or else there is something yet to be evolved from below, sleeping under the veil of man’s mental consciousness or half visible by flashes, as life once slept in the stone and metal, mind in the plant and reason in the cave of animal memory underlying its imperfect apparatus of emotion and sense-device and instinct. Something there is in us yet unexpressed that has to be delivered by an enveloping illumination from above. A godhead is imprisoned in our depths, one in its being with a greater godhead ready to descend from superhuman summits. In that descent and awakened joining is the secret of our future.
Man’s greatness is not in what he is but in what he makes possible. His glory is that he is the closed place and secret workshop of a living labour in which supermanhood is made ready by a divine Craftsman.
But he is admitted to a yet greater greatness and it is this that, unlike the lower creation, he is allowed to be partly the conscious artisan of his divine change. His free assent, his consecrated will and participation are needed that into his body may descend the glory that will replace him. His aspiration is earth’s call to the supramental Creator.
If earth calls and the Supreme answer, the hour can be even now for that immense and glorious transformation.» (Man and the Supermind).
And, finally, the challenge — for there is a challenge that we cannot evade:
«Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected» (Sri Aurobindo, The Hour of God).
© December, 2001