The Darwinian theory and design of evolution possibly explained the laws of the jungle and its governance, where the fittest survived and thrived upon the farthest from fit. The administrative norms of this society wouldn’t be questioned by the meek as that was the law. To be preyed upon by the predator was a law of nature. However, there were safeguards. While nature arms the victim with a few skills and congenital decoys, it handicaps the predator with a few obvious weaknesses to attempt a balance of order or a restoration of it. If the chameleon is allowed to change its colours, the snake is given both poor vision and poor sense of smell. If the big cats are given raw power and hunger of flesh, antelopes are given the fleet of feet. And then nature lets itself take its course on merit. Nature ensures that it relegates order and balance. And nature has a way of restoring order when threatened. But something changed later.
Along came the man Somewhere along the way, man as possibly one of the most belligerent creations of nature decided to play judge, jury and referee and attempted to change the course of the natural order of things. It has since risen ahead of the animal kingdom and become a social animal. And thereby changed the way the accepted natural order of things was designed.
From instincts for preservation to territorial settlements, to harnessing rivers for civilisation, to the industrial revolution and the internet, to making itself a race immune to disease orfrom squatting on the moon to now hungering for Mars – it has been a long inventive journey. A journey to playing almost God.
And his successive misadventures The world has been turning a bit more grey over time. Extreme right wingers, Xenophobes and ultra-nationalists, in a world of increasing uncertainty are designing and shaping governments and rules of governance. Schools of politics evolve from the mood of the electorate.
Their fears, most of the times imagined are being ratcheted up to cast votes for the dubious and unproven. Shadow lines between what is right and wrong get blurred and members flit in and out between the two with unpredictable regularity. In the absence of house whips or nature that once ensured the restoration of order. History is replete with examples that saw faces of absolute intolerance or simply muddle heads rise in troubled uncertain times where the voices of reason were just not loud enough. Be it in business or government.
Hitler for the Weimar Republic was a by-product some say of both the Versailles treaty and terms of war reparations as also the 1929 US depression that saw critical loans being called in, contraction of government spending and the fears of wealthy businessmen who, to stave off strains of communism, funded the young ultra-right wing Hitler’s ambitions. The world’s scariest monster was truly born.
Mussolini in Italy had similar origins, with political anarchy, disgruntlement over the Versailles treaty, fear of communist strains, dual society, unemployment which saw someone who had once dodged the military draft to return to his homeland and stoke the fears of the people to rise to absolute power. And then absolute corruption took over by 1922.
Idi Amin in Uganda, born to a small ethnic muslim group called Kakwa, formally uneducated and raised on a diet of wars, came in charming and capricious and went out vile having been responsible for a 1000% inflation and 300,000 deaths during his regime that earned him the not so gentle sobriquet – the Butcher of Uganda.
Today, we have an ISIS in the Levant region with its extreme form of religious disorder and theocracy and preying on an anti-western sentiment . They are all manifestations of fears and greed be it for oil, armaments or land.
The pattern is the same. Uncertainty, imaginary fears, electoral naivete and extreme propaganda that preys on fears of the few to press for adequate votes. Recently the rise of Trump in an America that has never seemed so indecisive, or a Putin in totalitarian Russia, a Duterte in Phillipines or Brexiteers in Britain, point to a strong divided quarter gaining national support and turning their backs on international forums, trade pacts and at times reason. Some have even logged off forums of discipline like the International Criminal Court. These reek of tough times to come in the world order.
An intolerant voter brings an intolerant leader to govern. That’s the design of political mandate. You are what you vote. It is designed to reflect what the vocal minority envisions and not what the silent majority rationalises. They are a sign of the times. They have always been.
Order of things designed in the 20 th Century
Uncertain troubled times spawn imperfect demi gods elected and fawned upon by throngs of devotees and fans with a misplaced sense of what is right. Sometimes competing and getting ahead of their devotion for their true Gods. And when man has played God for the longest, one can’t look forward to nature anymore to restore balance and order.
As long as we have to live with ballots, the rules of the voting and vocal majority is designed to reflect the mood and mandate of the largest vocal active community and not necessarily what is right for the entire ranks of the governed.
The horrors of the 2 nd world war created the new design of order and balance like the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, the IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the prequel to the World Bank) where nearly 51 nations signed on.
A collective morality often stands up and emerges in the face of a collective threat.
Today with 195 countries these bodies are under strain to be relevant. Nations are retreating into their own nationalistic ambitions. Globalisation has become a dirty word even for its founders and earliest exponents who have realised that the balance of power, influence and demographics might have just shifted to Asia. Technology is compounding it.
Running out of estates in the 21 st century?
In more mature societies and republics, voices of reason and men of logic, designed and evolved the 3 estates of governance – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary with clear lines of delineation in a manner that each checked and balanced the other. But the lines started blurring, new heroes or anti heroes emerged, regimes changed and the 3 estates were no longer sufficient. Often they collapsed into one another. Sometimes power was just snatched.
Soon society and civil norms of the day designed the emergence of the 4 th estate (though the term was invented in scorn) as an impartial quarter of reason, balance and moral order. But under the sway of either money, power or both, powerful quarters of the 4 th estate have either vacated their moral position or simply taken sides. Referees have become players. While some stalwarts tried to hold their brave positions, most mounted a last feeble defence or withered away. News became opinions, opinions became propaganda and propaganda always comes coloured. It is just impartial depending on whose side you are on.
CNN for instance was the product of possibly one of the longest running TV series – the Gulf War. A war that never was, except for the ones who waged it.
Is Fifth the new messiah?
Some said the Fifth estate and the social and community voice will be the new restorer of order. A powerful community change agent that brought in the Spring revolution, changed the political order of things in half the world and has the informal power of changing governance as also keeping the reins on conscience. This was to be the knight in shining armour that would restore balance and preserve sanity. It was designed to be the vox populi and hence vox dei. Or so we thought.
Soon it limped. A case in point being the US, possibly the most developed nation in the world, which now accepts, that the electoral verdict for the most determining position and chair in the planet could have been waylaid by something as innocuous as Facebook posts, false stories and assorted follies. Hence Orange became the new black. This is rampant in regimes where social media is hijacked to spread misinformation, false stats and coloured truths.
What will then restore balance and order? What will be designed next? Who will be the next round of trustees and custodians? Will it be the new creators, visionaries who want to make the world a better place?
Noted Physicist Stephen Hawking says that we are seeing a new stage of evolution. “At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information.”
This self-designed evolution allows man to change and improve the DNA. “At first,” he continues “these changes will be confined to the repair of genetic defects, like cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. These are controlled by single genes, and so are fairly easy to identify, and correct. Other qualities, such as intelligence, are probably controlled by a large number of genes. It will be much more difficult to find them, and work out the relations between them. Nevertheless, I am sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression.”
Hopefully we would be able to design and invent a DNA cocktail that blends reason, tolerance and intelligence to turn the aggression and insecurity switch off or develop an inoculation against Xenophobia. And if all fails, maybe an invasion from the yet-in-hiding Martians is our best bet, to get the world together.
What will be the new design for order? That is the need of the hour that seems to be passing by.