DR JAVED JAMIL
Excepts from The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism by Dr. Javed Jamil
IN terms of purely literal connotations, “fundamentalism” denotes nothing more than strict adherence to and endeavours to propagate, often by undesirable means, a specific set of ideas; those that follow the ideology are called “fundamentalists”. It follows that it would be uniquely unfair to limit this term to the ‘fundamentalism’ in the field of religion. Fundamentalism can be found without any difficulty in several other fields, especially politics and economics. The politicians who pursue their political aims through fair or unfair and moral or immoral means, and tend to misuse every single opportunity for their own elevation, irrespective of the adverse effects of their actions on others, may be called political fundamentalists. Needless to say that political fundamentalism pervades the current world. Similarly, those persons or organisations whose solitary aim is to garner economic benefits by adopting all fair and unfair means may be called ‘economic fundamentalists’ and their ideology ‘Economic fundamentalism’.
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 preys. 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 system 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 only 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 buds 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 the 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.
Dr Javed Jamil is Executive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics, Chief Editor, “Islam, Muslims & the World” and Director PEACE. He is also author of more than a dozen books including “Islam means Peace”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Rediscovering the Universe”, “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism” and “Islamic Model for Control of AIDS”. Also has more than 200 articles and papers to his credit. His soon-to-be-published works include “Scientific & Social Principles based on Qur’an” and “Westernism: the Ideology of Hegemony”. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phones: +91- 8130340339