“Has Man A Future”

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By Ananya S Guha

Terrorism is a world wide phenomenon. Once it affects or can affect the entire world as the shooting of the Malaysian Airlines testifies. then everything becomes anarchic and regressive. The other countries offer condolences, but it can affect any country. Years ago Bertrand Russell the philosopher talked about a single world government. Today we talk about the world as a global village. Russell rued the fact that nuclear arsenals might destroy the world, and man would revert to atavistic settings. No one of course paid much attention to him and his book ” Has Man A Future”. Today I think we must seriously ruminate on this- does man have future? Yes technology emeshed culture has enamoured us, technology consciousness is what life is all about, but as Russell once said it takes only two or three to destroy and many to love and create. Obviously one Mothe Teresa is or was not enough.

Even as governments talk about the dangers of terrorism and militancy we forget that eradicating this in today’s context is the first step towards development. What is development- isn’t it a situation where there is first peace, then equity? Any form of equity becomes redundant if there is no peace. Russell feared that there would be a third world war, and then a fourth, these have not happened in numerical terms, but there is a war everyday whether in Ukraine or the Middle East. The race towards armaments, only raises the bogey of disarmament. In India things are no better. internal insurrections in different parts of the country hinder growth and development. It is no point of talking about investments or technological process when a threat to the integrity of the country is ubiquitous, or external agression in the shape of abetting terrorism is a real danger. But now globally there is this lurking threat, sometimes hidden. sometimes open. The Super Powers in the nam,e of restoring peace are egregiously interfering in the internal matters of other countries, thereby leading to a situation where terrorism surfaces and the fight is between some of the super powers and terrorists whow swear either by religion. or express animosity towards the powers that be in the world. Paradoxically enough it is the ambition of countries like India to raise status to a super power. And all this, when people cannot eat, live in inhospitable and hostile conditions, when bedraggled children ominously stalk streets, they could be the future terrorists, or even the unemployed youth. Glitzy buildings punctuated in miserable conditions is no solution. So what about the future of mankind? If there is opulence on the one hand, there is the spectre of militancy and terrorism. And if we allow underdevelopment to perpetuate, then there is the added fear of unrest. Mind you the Naxalite movement did not die, it has come back with vengeance. In fact from West Bengal it has spread to other parts of the country. Its sympathizers and supporters are also from the intelligentsia. We have not learnt our lessons.

After British imperialism, today it is the imperialism of the US. Mouthing platitudes about peace and saving democracy the country unabashedly has created war zones first in Vietnam, then in Iran, Iraq, Egypt etc. And the entire worild laps up its specious logic and untruth. The world, why blame India alone is leading towards self destruction and dismemberment. Travelling is a risk, tourism is a risk, being wealthy is a greater risk, being a celebrity is a risk.

Russell the prophet, Russell the savant knew it. He might have been imprisoned for heretical beliefs but he forewarned impending disaster for humanity. And of course the world laughed at him. It is a travesty of history that we laugh at prophets and humanists. We laugh at people who love the world as one place, but we deify pseudo philanthropists, and those power mongers who in the name of peace, perpetrate vicious beliefs and atrocities, where children and women are the worst sufferers. Will Durrant said of Russell: ” There were two Bertrand Russells, one who died during the war and the other who rose out of it, an almost mystic Communist born out of the ashes of a mathematical logician ”.

What about our scientists and writers? We have one writer who won a prestigious international award, shunned because she dared to question. She asked, why, why, why. Why is this happening. This is what we fail to ask, we fail to question Why. If the people of North East India feel alienated, we do not go back to history and draw parallels with it. Russell by the way, was a staunch advocate of history and understanding the past, not so much as a chronicler of events, but the why.

A former Union Minister, known for his oratorical skills, once said in a lecture that every time he sees a computer he has a gripping fear that out of it in the screen will be a monster aiming to kill. This is a metaphorical assertion of the fear of terrorism, violence, killing and genocide. This he said in a lecture in the premises of a Central University. I heard it. We all laughed, but inside I wept. That might happen.

So when we talk about development in our country or elsewhere let us think about how to end violence. Living in the shadows of violence is a sign of retrogression. Has Man really a future?

Coming back to Russell I quote Durant once again : ” … the great madness… and the world was shocked to find that this thin and anemic looking professor was a man of infinite courage and a passionate lover of humanity.”. The ” Great Madness ” was an allusion to the First World War. If that was ” madness” , today we are in an abject condition of lunacy!

Really, does man have a future?

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