By Dr. Naresh Jotwani*
Dear NATO Member,
Much is achieved in “civilized life” by deceiving others in a calculated manner. When “others” are simple-minded people, this strategy works very well. Indeed, this is a time-tested strategy of gaining “competitive edge” in the stress-filled and never-ending chase for “the good life”.
In fact this tactic forms the very basis of “civilized life”. In a society, if everybody said what they meant, and meant what they said, the society would have to be dubbed “primitive”, would it not?
But the tactic has its limits. History has a habit of not being deceived for long by “the civilized”. That should not surprise us, because one would not expect the laws of karma to be swayed by the words of mere mortals – no matter how “civilized” they may imagine themselves to be. Therefore, time after time, history drifts into territories not charted by the most loquacious wordsmiths of “the civilized” – which territories, for that very reason, are also rather inconvenient to “the civilized”.
When history takes a turn not anticipated by “the civilized”, they are caught on the wrong foot. The “rational response” supplied by their outdated language – which is coded by the deception specific to the “civilization” – becomes ineffective or even counter-productive. This has happened time and again in human history. While military superiority plays a big role in overt conflict, the so-called “civilizational narrative” plays a big role both in times of peace and in times of conflict.
As you know, wars are fought not by the wordsmiths and their paymasters – but rather by simple-minded folk who must somehow be “driven to war”. So every “civilizational narrative” has two major strands coded within it – “master-speak” and “mass-speak”. The former is centred on “self-interest”, while the latter speaks to “duty and love of country”.
When history takes an unexpected turn, “mass-speak” slowly loses its hold over the masses. But the “masters” are even slower to wake up, because they are much more deeply invested in the profitable business of “civilization” – their own “masterly”, self-serving creation.
What does all this have to do with practical life today?
When a “civilizational narrative” loses its hold over people’s hearts and minds, the wielders of that narrative lose their hold on power.
Consider the major and inexorable historical changes which have been underway, around the world, over the last century or so. The discomfiture seen at the recent NATO Summit was clear evidence of the twenty nine self-styled “masters” reacting differently to ongoing historical changes.
When a historical change occurs gradually and inexorably, there is no ostensible pretext to go to war. The threat of conflict may be thick in the air – but nobody knows what will happen next. Some may become impatient and may provoke a conflict, reckoning on a huge payoff. Others, endowed with less of a gambler’s instinct, may be more prudent; once conflict flares up, they may have no choice.
When twenty nine self-styled “masters” band together, inevitably some have more to gain than others, some are more desperate than others, some are more prudent than others … and so on. But let’s face it. All of them are con artists, hoping to con each other and the rest of the world. Bluff and bluster hides their individual quest to find – and ride to power – the next available con.
Let us examine one central aspect of the ongoing historical change.
After the horrible violence of the last hundred years, the world has understood very clearly “the true nature of beast” – under whatever guise it visits. Therefore one central concern behind today’s loud “civilizational bombast” of the “masters” is this: How do we preserve our wealth and power, given that the world can no longer be cut up into so many zones of domination?
A time of “tectonic” change does not ever include “win-win” as a possible outcome. Therefore a “win-win” scenario is painted by wordsmiths to con others into participating. In a gathering of con artists like the one held recently, an impartial observer notes mainly tragicomic attention seeking, not unlike that of actors in a B grade gangster movie.
What’s in a name?
We have it on good authority that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. True enough. But what happens if the putative name contains a contradiction within itself? Surely then something isn’t quite right! The words “treaty” and “organization” oppose each other in their meaning. A “treaty” binds two or more parties to commonly agreed courses of action, and contains an exit clause to allow parties to adapt to inevitable historical changes; it does not become a separate legal entity. An “organization”, on the other hand, resists change because it becomes a stake-holder entity which must preserve its own existence and importance. A large “organization” gathers inertia and resists change, and therefore it is inconceivable that it can perform the vital and essential functions of a “treaty”.
In such a situation, rather than falling for empty “civilizational bombast”, one may consider a cautious and conservative approach; to preserve and protect the culture and values cherished back home. Even with enormous peer pressure from other con artists, there would inevitably be concerns about those back home – or at least the concern not to lose one’s slippery foothold on power.
You heard “experts” at the summit talking about “new threats” facing NATO. In the hugely lucrative business of “threats”, eggheads can always be found to write up impressive “threat analyses” to suit any given agenda. Sadly, no political leader dares to question the eggheads.
However, certain major threats facing all the countries were left out by the self-serving “experts” at the summit. The following is a partial list, supplied freely, out of generosity of heart.
- The global economy is struggling under an unmanageable – and growing – mountain of debt. Such a huge debt leads to bankruptcies and defaults, not to the economic well-being of communities. Economic well-being must be seen in the ground reality of healthy community life, not in mountains of debt.
- Strained economic conditions are causing popular discontent – and especially youth discontent – the world over. None of the self-styled “masters” you met have full support of their own people. Like you, they are also caught in a vice grip between citizens whose discontent must somehow be “managed”, and the moneymen behind the curtains whose instructions must be obeyed.
In difficult times, the other “masters” will not help you. They will back your political adversaries if that is more profitable; for them, your political fall and ignominy may be a “golden opportunity”.
- Supposedly, artificial intelligence (AI) will create a techno-economic paradise in which NATO members will finally experience techno-nirvana.Do you really believe that? Such AI claptrap only brings huge profits to a few companies. In the absence of natural intelligence, a precious gift which we all must cultivate, AI will ruin us. If AI replaces common sense in the public sphere, we are done for – no matter what the eggheads say.
- Certain historical outcomes are already baked into what we call “the present”. Wisdom dawns only after a round of suffering. But “geopolitical experts” will not speak of this, because (a) it is beyond their grasp, and (b) huge amounts of money are staked behind every “analysis” being hawked.
Outlined above are the historical lessons of human life on this planet; some call them laws of karma. It matters not one whit whether some people consider themselves “exceptional”.
It’s time to think about the ***hereafter***; that is, about life on the planet after the present so-called “old world order” fades away, as it surely will. In the old days, hysteric and ignorant scribes mistakenly called the end of their deluded world order “an apocalypse”. Today, we are neither hysteric nor ignorant. If an ignorant world view is ending, a better one will take its place.
It is time to cut the pretence, face the reality – and do what is right by your countrymen. In their happiness lies your happiness and security. The other con-men you met at the summit will not help your people in troubled times; they will think only about profiting from your troubles. Con masters of the world will sell you a path to “a glorious future”, while shorting your future behind your back.
You have a choice to make. Stay wrapped up in the illusions of the old and greedy so-called “world order” – or help in the transition to a better world.
With best wishes,
*Dr. Naresh Jotwani is a semi-retired academic living in India and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. Apart from part-time engagements in engineering education and consulting, he engages in an in-depth, personal exploration of how Gautam Buddha’s profound discoveries and teachings can be applied to the acute problems of modern life.