Friday, September 01, 2006

The Road Travelled

Our age has somehow become very similar to the time a century ago, when everything seemed permanent, civilisation reached a new height, and one could think – life will go on like this.

There are several reasons for this confidence. Several doomsday predictions failed to materialise. Soviet Union crumbled like a toy-house. Millennium Bug never arrived. The empire of money could expand into newer territories; even the Communist China was purchasable. Many of the fears that essentially created the defensive liberalism of the west seemed overdone.

Isn’t that very similar to the world early in the 20th century, when the centre of progress was firmly in Europe, Sciences and Arts were making unimaginable progress, morality seemed well defined and there was, all around, a sense of permanence. Everyone would have thought the European wars are over, and socialism, only a marginal force. The world seemed to have stabilized.

Had I lived in Britain those days, I would have now planned my career the way I am planning today. A global prosperity beckoning me, I would have saved money and picked up technical skills, convinced that the history has reached a plateau and if I look out, I can see the next 30/40/50 years, if not beyond.

I would have also probably thought that history itself has become a subject of no importance, now that science is leading us into a new age of prosperity and progress.

But, then, that was then, and I am living in Britain now. Similar hopes, but full of foreboding. I am a student of history, and the omens look so similar. The confidence at its height, the welfare state folded up, the world united under the empire of the money, moralities well settled, boundaries of civilisation well marked and the current system well fortified with the triple defences of media, money and military – this must be the height of civilisation and the end of history.

But, doubts linger. Why is the welfare state unsustainable? Why is the flow of money so contrary to the flow of labour? Why is democracy in Iraq looks so made up? Why, after all the confirmation from the wisebodies, globalisation does not seem to do good people who need this most [or, so we are told].

I am no revolutionary, and would not attempt to pose an answer. But, am I right in having a doubt? Does it seem similar to 1906 in some ways? Are we, humans, moving in circles really, and heading down the same road over again?

1 comment:

Rezwan said...

Hi there, are you the Supriyo C who was in Bangladesh working for NIIT? In that case you probably would remember me. We have met before in Dhaka.

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