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December 14, 2018

Chickens and post-ideology


December 14, 2018

Let us talk about politics which has become one of the most mysterious and pernicious affair of human societies in our contemporary world.

The notion of politics as an art of statecraft, governance, citizenship and distribution of power has lost its intellectual credence in our world of post-ideology. ‘Post-ideology’ is an era of intellectual decay which has reduced human ability to think beyond the immediate means of individual needs.

Post-ideology is not about the end of ideological significance to human societies but more about the lynching of human intellect to think beyond his/her immediate needs. Submission to the notion of post-ideology is a sort of confession that human beings have lost the ability to think about broader perspectives of civilisation, culture and state.

The most disappointing fact of the post-ideology debate is to discredit matters of human welfare, peace and equality as unrealistic political positions. The politics of post-ideology is built around a set of propositions that work well to create despair, fear and even hatred for collective human aspirations. This is not a corporate conspiracy of course but a well refined art of establishing the supremacy of a way of life. This way of life seemingly makes an individual master of his/her own destiny in a world shaped by bewildering technologies and smart gadgets. While emerging technologies shape human societies like a connected web of cyber villages, they also create a simulated, immaterial and timeless reality to reduce existence to a virtual puzzle.

Post-ideology in this sense is the new kind of religion that can easily be deployed to suppress human reason, dissent, transformative spirit and collective action. It suggests that the complexity of the world is so uncanny that no individual mind can make sense of it. Very much like religion the post ideology tends to create a smokescreen and a virtual veneer to conceal the simple appearances of life. It makes our world a mysterious place beyond the comprehension of the human brain of earthly pursuits. Thus, post-ideology belittles the human potential of reasoning and creativity.

Contrary to the claims of the proponents of post-ideology, it is not the end of ideology at all but rather a political framework which trivialises the perspectives of change. The trivialisation of political issues takes place in the form of deconstruction of knowledge into small fragments of information, and the creation of a jigsaw puzzle of disconnected facts as a complex picture of the world around us.

Deconstruction is not about the simplification of complex issues but is an attempt to disintegrate worldviews. The disintegration of worldviews is a political ideology with a universal intent to reduce the idea of citizenship to some disconnected individualism. The alienated individuals are then made to believe as free people in their own right. This notion of individualistic freedom is the most effective tool to dissipate the spirit of collective action – the hallmark of citizenship. In this sense, post-ideology is a well-concerted ideology of anti-change and hence it is retrogressive and reactionary in nature.

Technology has become the key instrument to create the simulated world of post-ideology but technology has also caused disruptive challenges to the very foundations of post-ideology. Social media has become a powerful tool to reconnect the disengaged individuals not only through virtual forums but also by forcing them out of their individual spaces to reclaim the lost public spaces.

One recent example of reclaiming public space is the Yellow Vests Movement in France. This movement – Mouvement des gilets jaunes – is an organised political movement which was triggered through social media campaigns. The movement started online in May 2018 before it attracted thousands of people to come out to stage demonstrations starting from November 17, 2018. The movement continued to spread across Europe, though with different nomenclatures. There is a new wave of protests in Paris and London – to the chagrin of post-ideologists and post-modernists. The yellow vest movement is a global solidarity in the making by reclaiming lost spaces and defying the simulated worldview of post ideology society. The yellow vests have become a symbol of international resistance and defiance against the exploitative rightwing political and economic order.

In the current month, ‘yellow’ has become the most popular political insignia of resistance from Europe to the Middle East, in particular in Iraq. People of different political persuasions came out in their thousands, breaking the political taboo against the collective action. The pronouncement of the end of ideology looks ridiculous even to its staunch proponents today. Francis Fukuyama, the author of ‘The End of History and Last Man’ talks about the resurrection of the world of ideology these days.

The resurrection of the world of ideologies in reality is the failure of post-ideology to construct its own murky world of disengaged consumers effectively. It perhaps fails to gauge the strength of centuries’ old human DNA to live in groups and societies. The fragile spaces of post-ideology are withering way fast in a world punctuated by disparity, conflicts, deprivations, poverty and opulence, all living side by side. The contradictions, conflicts and fight for social spaces will be a continued feature of human societies till we establish an equalitarian and inclusive system.

Our world has become a more dangerous place today than ever and the destiny of human beings cannot be this nightmarish. The lonely and alienated personage of the virtual world has to reassert for his/her humanity and for the fulfilment of the dream of an exalted society. This reasserting is neither about will to power nor about regaining the lost paradise. Rather, it is more about reclaiming worldly spaces to experience the social relationships of humanity.

This is not an easy path defined by some mechanical process; the journey of reclaiming social and political spaces will be disruptive with several reversions and conflicts. The manifestation, recognition and realisation of human potential as a thinking being cannot be contained for too long in a society of increasing disparities.

Even for countries like Pakistan, squeezing social spaces may have catastrophic political repercussions. We have already experienced this during the dictatorial regime of Pervez Musharraf. Today, we face another era of the stifling of voices of dissent in Pakistan – not by proponents of post-ideology, though, but the very defenders of the ideology of the Pakistan of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. While the social and political spaces of free expression are being shrunk, the economy is in tatters and inflation is at its highest, as the top man in parliament speaks of chickenomics. Chickenomics is a new term that combines chicken and the economy as an integral part of rural development. Shouldn’t this talk be for an extension worker of the food and agriculture department?

Why does a prime minster talk about poultry issues amidst a plethora of macroeconomic problems? Well, is it not true that big political men have given such popular sermons at times? We cannot single out one top man among many others. One good thing about our prime minister is that he does not know the tricks of post-ideology but he can still deconstruct the complexities of our economy to make it a household affair.

The writer is a senior socialdevelopment and policy adviser, and a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AmirHussain76

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