Tuesday, May 12

Rusting anchor: The creation & mutation of a national ideology


We just came through a rather bruising election. I was supporting Nicola Sturgeon heavily. For couple of reasons. First I firmly believe that people have the right to craft out their own identity. Form their groups. And that's why I strongly support them. Second is that the country is too centralised in Westminster and it requires this kind of a shakeup to really focus minds on what exactly is the United Kingdom for?

It was very instructive during the Scottish referendum as to what the Scots were saying they wanted. They actually wanted to pretty much everything to remain the same. Queen. Taxation. History. BBC. Education. Ideology. International membership. But they wanted to be ruled by themselves.

But there is a problem with this Scottish nationalism. It's defined as opposed to Westminster. Not so much as what's Scottish. See above. There is no difference son. So ultimately when push comes to shove, there is no hard core reason to separate. Think about Wales or Northern Ireland. Same with Pakistan below. It keeps on having existential debates.

Every country which bases itself on religion first of all is run by idiots. Frankly morons. Secondly they are incoherent. And finally religion is a hugely pathetic way of organising a modern country which is why most religiously oriented countries like Israel, most Muslim countries keep on having functions. There's academic research backing this up as well. The Buddhist nations also learnt it the hard way.

Anyway one to read. Also read Seymour Hersh's report on Osama's death in the London review of books published yesterday. It's shocking to read the way the Americans and Pakistanis went about this. This will have long term repercussions. Not good.



Rusting anchor: The creation & mutation of a national ideology
(via Instapaper)

For decades certain sections of the Pakistani intelligentsia have been insisting on the importance of changing the country’s national narrative (to better fight the social aspects of Pakistan’s war against religious extremism).

They are correct in suggesting that the more militant ogres now at war with the state of Pakistan are armed expressions and projections of a rather myopic national narrative.

This narrative, to them, is the result of whatever that was concocted in the name of a national ideology many years ago and then proliferated through school text books and the state-owned media until it began to inform the political, constitutional and social mind-set of the Pakistani polity as a whole.

Today, it is largely being blamed for popularising a peculiar idea of nationhood engineered through the state’s many experiments that seeded a non-organic ideology - a dogma that has contributed the most in whatever that has gone down in this country in terms of faith-based violence and the ever-increasing episodes of bigotry.

So what was this idea? And why today even the military and political establishments of the country are finally looking to tweak it, if not outright replace it?

The paradox

Pakistan had come into being in 1947 on the back of what its founders called the Two Nation Theory.

The Theory was culled from the 19th Century writings of modernist Muslim reformers in India who, after the collapse of the Muslim Empire in South Asia, began to explain the region’s Muslims as a separate political and cultural entity (especially compared to the Hindu majority of India).

This scholarly nuance gradually evolved into becoming a pursuit to prepare a well-educated and resourceful Muslim middle-class in the region.

Eventually, with the help from sections of the Muslim landed elite in India, the emerging Muslim middle-classes turned the idea into a movement for a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia comprised of those areas where the Muslims were in a majority.

This is what we today understand to be the Pakistan Movement.

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