Brexit. And no one saw it coming. Two trillion dollars’ worth of assets wiped out. When elephants are being caught sometimes mice also run just to make sure they are not mistaken. The Pakistani stock market also plunged despite not having that much exposure to the European exigencies. But the point is that on that fateful day when the UK decided to throw reason overboard, labours of our actuaries and risk managers were reduced to dust. No one really saw this coming. And yet there is no dearth of those who think there is some grand conspiracy behind everything. Everything is scripted and someone somewhere has enough foresight to know what will happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and perhaps even after 100 years.
To such Platos, the world’s recent sufferings, including the rise of the IS, and similar commotions elsewhere are all orchestrated. When you inquire about the motives behind this grand global conspiracy, they disappoint you by bringing up petty interests. Access to oilfields. Colonising a small strip of land. And so the list goes on. It is like a man staging his own death to get hold of a jar of peanuts. Really disappointing. And do you know why all these conspiracy theories crop up? Because no one wants face facts that we mortals have made a pig’s breakfast of everything. Even when we have to fix responsibility for the royal mess we are in, blame the other man, the little man. No one wants to own up to what he or she did wrong. The fact that all your states failed you and all your ideologies and philosophies could not make you a better man is convenient to overlook. We are in this mess because we have lost sight of what is important and what is human.
The most remarkable evidence of this crash of imagination is the presumption that all of this is primarily political in nature. That the world population is not increasing but multiplying and that it is hungry and to feed its wants to circumvent the authority and the dictatorship of states and governments means nothing to the wisest of the wise. Before 9/11, rapid globalisation seemed all set to bring down nation states. Then the terrorist attacks took place and states around the world found an opportunity to stage a coup against global trends. This revolt lasted for 15 years. But everything comes to an end one day. This was just a temporary phase and globalisation is back. Witnessing the return of their old nemesis, powerful and paranoid deep states around the world were mortified. Willingly or unwittingly, they transferred their frustration and anxiety to their citizens. The common man in every country is now angry, paranoid and has, therefore, turned his back on the only trend in history that is bound to bring him some solace. From Brexit to Donald Trump, from Narendra Modi to Benjamin Netanyahu, from one fanatical regime to another racist movement, what you are witnessing is a massive series of unsuccessful coups staged by the states that have gone blind because of the fear of the unknown. Why unsuccessful? Because historic transitions like the decline of nation states cannot be stopped. Today thanks to better communication between people of different, often rival, countries, it has become easier not to hate or stereotype that which you have not been able to relate to. Someone in Israel right now is refusing to hate a Palestinian. A Muslim in another country is refusing to be a suicide bomber. There are many Pakistanis and Indians who can live without endless hostility and really want their countries to work in tandem.
So how do you end this paranoia, this madness, this blindness? Start focusing on the common threats. Disease, famine, environmental hazards, poverty, population explosion, illiteracy and fears of economic depression. All these challenges need a common response. And to make the world realise how much it can benefit from this common emphasis, you need a few sane and patient men and women as leaders. Right now, governments in many major powers are in transition. Faces like Trump, Boris Johnson, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and why even Modi and Netanyahu are mere placeholders. Their very existence is proof that there must exist truly visionary leaders on the other end of the spectrum. Once such leadership emerges, it will not be difficult to convince states that decline in power doesn’t mean an end of existence and a subtle transition can give birth to a better, enduring and truly harmonious world order. Let’s show some patience till then.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2016.