Modernity has achieved revolutions after revolutions in the sphere of the material, but this progress has not been matched by social orders that enabled the enduring quest of humanity for fulfillment in the sphere of the non-material. As a result, the world had witnessed cyclical upheavals in the realm of social existence. There are a number of original thinkers who had employed various cyclical concepts to help us understand our past and carve our future. Today, we will look at the cyclists who conceived political power as belonging to either one of the following; military, intellectual and wealth and strictly in that order!
These social cycles, according to Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, had been realized (twice) in the developed world. “The Western world and Japan have passed through two such cycles since the birth of Christ. In Western society, the Roman Empire was an age of warriors, the rule of the Catholic Church (age of intellectuals) and feudalism an age of the wealthy. This completed one rotation of the social cycle. Another rotation began when feudalism was replaced by the dominance of army generals who founded kingdoms and dynasties; this was followed by the rule of prime ministers and diplomats, or another age of intellectuals. Today, and since about 1860, the capitalistic West is in another age of acquisitors. The preeminence of the US business around the globe suggests that much of the world today is in the era of the wealthy” (in Human history, 1967.)
We express the above three in our customary language; ‘dictatorship’, ‘democratization’ and ‘oligarchy.’ Dictatorship, which requires brute force across the breadth and depth of a society is the natural remit of the military. Democratization requires the active involvement of the demos, (the human beast/mass) led by pro-people intellectuals. Oligarchy is the rule of accumulation by any means. According to this schema, we are now in the era of the oligarchs and we don’t think there is much dispute in that regard. See one of our previous editorials ‘Oligarchial States.’ The globalization of capital, which in recent years has morphed into its highly manipulative and predatorial form-financialization continues to cause havoc all over the world. The polarization thus created by monopoly capitalism (crony capitalism) will inevitably lead to unrest, chaos and finally revolution, depending on the degree of polarization a country finds itself in. By polarization we mean, not only the economic, but also the political, cultural/ethnic, religion etc. 2011 saw such incidents in our continent; Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. 2012 promises the same elsewhere; Greece, etc.
As the crisis of crony capitalism intensifies across the world, the global oligarchs have found it necessary to replace democratically elected officials by their hand picked ‘technocrats’ to head governments, so as to implement austerity measures required by the logic of capital and capital alone. Customarily such short orders were mostly directed to ‘third world countries’, but today countries like Italy and Greece have been at the receiving end of this dictate and they certainly won’t be the last. See Whitney’s article on page 50. The confrontation between the global oligarchs and the beast might not be amicably resolved without regime change, most likely in favor of the beast. As we never tire of repeating, the beast commands, not only the numbers, but also society’s ultimate conscience! In the mean time, things can easily get out of hand and the military might end up taking over the business of political governance with the pretext of enforcing law and order. Even at this late stage the global financial oligarch will still try to use the military to impose its desire, but this time around the military might not be in a position to go against the interests of the raging beast. At this point a balance might be struck between finance capital and the people at large. Or even a more radical ‘regime change’ might present itself. Greece is not far from this scenario. If such scenarios become pronounced across the globe, then the cyclists will be vindicated, yet again! See Fry’s article next column.
Sarkar and his able interpreter/disciple Ravi Batra, have been very prescient in their predictions about the gradually unfolding crisis of the modern world. In the early eighties, long before the demise of the Soviet Union, (1989) they predicted: “Communism will die a premature death, and capitalism will explode like a firecracker.” Good Day!