Religion Of Profit

P. Kharel


Fifty years ago, The Rising Nepal carried a staff reported item headlined “Anniversary of Oct. Revolution To Be held”. The Kathmandu-datelined news story read: “The 50th anniversary of October Socialist Revolution is being observed here for a week from Nov 6 under the joint auspices of Nepal Soviet Friendship Association and Nepal Soviet Cultural Association.”

It’s more than 25 years since the Soviet Union disintegrated much to the celebration of the capitalist West. Many proponents of crass capitalism, in the month just gone by, aired their views on how and why the world’s first communist rule collapsed. Their conclusion: the fate of Soviet communism was inevitable because of its “inherent contradictions” and irrelevance in “freedom-loving societies”. They stammer embarrassingly when faced with the reality of communism in China.

Those who read history cannot fail to note that the Roman Empire crashed but its growth and some of its features continue to awe and be admired by many a million even today. The British empire sank after World War II, much to the chagrin of the likes of its wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill who yearned for Britain’s “glory” represented by the vast overseas territories it colonised, exploited and mistreated local populations—scores of times larger than its own—to the status of non-citizens.


Identifying ‘Greats’

Britain was not the only colonial power originating in Europe. Austria, France, Portugal and Spain were among others. Asia and Africa suffered the humiliation and suppression the most. In the process, enormous millions of populations lost their religion and language. Napoleon Bonaparte has legions of admirers for his bravery, imagination and leadership as the man of the moment in the France that was in acute throes of the after-effects of the 1789 Revolution carried with the novel banner of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. The next decade of “transition” and “terror” was perhaps the cruelest period in modern French history, overtaking even that of Louis XIV. Much later, Emil Ludwig’s portrayal of Napoleon added to the world insight into the man and the leader.

Britons, however, were very reluctant—and many of them still are—to see in the French dictator any “Greatness”. In the history classes of British educational institutions, the lectures were said to be very sedate the moment Napoleon came up. This contrasted glaringly with the accolades heaped on the Macedonian empire builder Alexander the “Great”, and Russian monarchs Peter the “Great” and Katherine the “Great”. Why the discrepancy—nay, discrimination? Whereas the Macedonian and Russian rulers’ expansionist “benevolence” did not extend to Britain, Napoleon dared to clash with the British in his desire to make France a dominant empire greater than Great Britain’s.

In recalling the October Revolution in Russia 100 years ago, the news media in especially the capitalist world spent reams of news space and broadcast time, as if relieved that communism was no longer the type of “threat” they felt until the early 1990s. China is not pressing for “communism international” or aggressively exporting its political ideology. The few others do not pose any to the core capitalist countries. The United States considers communist Cuba, not far off from its state of Florida in the southern tip, as a relentless challenge to the capital of the capitalist world. Fidel Castro who ruled the island state for five decades and survived nine American presidents from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower through John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush [Sr], Bill Clinton to George W. Bush [Jr], as well as numerous attempts by the big neighbour to assassinate him.

The recent release of documents hitherto sealed from public view as “state secret” confirmed that attempts were made on the life of the communist leader. Now Castro’s younger brother Raul Castro is on the communist throne and one does not how many American presidents he will survive. Communist regimes came and collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe but it continues unabated in Cuba. That “little” Cuba should exist for nearly 60 years as a communist country so close to the capitalist world’s capital next door is a source of immense discomfiture for the superpower that throughout the 1990s and the first five years of the new millennium was seem as the dominant power in “a unipolar world”.

Washington recently removed 60 per cent of its staff from the Cuba and expelled Cuban diplomats from the US in retaliation to what it vaguely claimed that its diplomats had suffered “attacks with an unknown sonic weapon” that caused them temporary deafness or permanent, nausea and concussion. From a country that could see the non-existent weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq supposedly possessed”, the actions against Cuban missions in the US on unsubstantiated and hence dubious grounds of “unknown sonic weapons” having attacked American diplomats are not surprising.

China’s story is a separate chapter that reads as the world’s No. 2 economy which is headed to take the top spot in the next decade. Communism with “Chinese characteristics” has recorded economic successes on a scale never imagined by the self-complacent and short-sighted analysts in the West till the writing on the wall was large, loud and clear. A one-party state, China did not require any of its nationals winning the Nobel Prize for Economics for the development strides it made. Confident with the foreknowledge of emerging as the world No. 1 economy in the foreseeable future, it charts its course, as the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says in his highly insightful book “On China”, Beijing makes policies with 50 to 100 years ahead in mind.

In effect money is the prime motive. Diplomacy, aid and all are basically guided by economic profits. This might explain why The New York Times in its international edition’s front page write-up last fortnight sang praises of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, and “remarkable social changes, including promising women the right to drive and curtailing the powers of the religious police”! Whereas everywhere else such outdated practices were scrapped ages ago, Saudi Arabia happens to be the only in holding on to such “social” practices all along. Even regimes tagged “dictatorships” or “authoritarian” by The New York Times and its ilk were many miles ahead in  introducing “remarkable social changes” if Saudi Arabia’s were to be taken as the benchmark.


Selective silence

Money talks commandingly, as so emphatically reiterated by Saudi Arabia, whose oil reserves are estimated to be one-fifth of the world’s total. Riyadh’s a “bankable” trading partner for the US and the dominant partners of the European Union. For example, it spends billions of dollars yearly on weapons, and the US is the first choice for supply. If the democratic values defined and described by the West, the Riyadh regime should have been tagged harshly. But most commentators and media in countries with the highest concentration of “democrats”, remain conspicuously silent. Their selective silence is simply shamefully, in a demonstration of what their search for “truth” is worth.






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