Colonising Minds

The world has been colonized, not by powerful nations, but by big money. Elected leaders, legislators, regulators, bureaucracies… have all been co-opted for smoothening the way for profiteering by a few people

By Arvind Saxena

Four news items have caught my attention in the last couple of days.

The first was about the rebellion by ‘soldiers’ of the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary contractor fighting the war in Ukraine, alongside Russian troops. The Wagner chief, seen as an ally of President Vladimir Putin, was obviously working for money. While there might be some truth in reports about his frustration with delayed supply of military hardware and demand for ousting of the Defence Minister, the fact remains that, unlike the state forces, this man was running a business enterprise which profits from war. He hired convicted criminals and renegade soldiers to create a fighting machine which sold its services for a price. The corollary was that it could switch loyalties for better returns. Did it? So far we don’t know but a deal was apparently struck to hold him up in Belarus, while the fighting men were disarmed.

Wagner fighters in the center of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, last Saturday. Pic – Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Why was the Wagner Group so much in the news while we got to hear so little about the Blackwater, Halliburton, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Northbridge and many other similar groups which fought dirty wars, or provided logistics for dirty wars, in many other countries being destroyed by long-drawn wars? Yes, if these companies are profiting from war they will perpetuate the strife for as long as they can. They will do everything, contrived intelligence et al, to keep the profit-making wars go on. Their fighters are contract workers, who need to keep fighting to keep their jobs.

The Russian fiasco, which forced the state to negotiate with criminals, has shown up that mercenary soldiers cannot replace a trained army of disciplined men and women fighting for their country, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the security of their motherland. If we accept that outsourcing of wars to contractors is good state policy, we might as well say goodbye to negotiations and peaceful coexistence of nations. Who starts many of these wars is another matter. The citizens obviously have no say in these decisions, whether it is in the world’s oldest democracy or a dictatorial regime.

The second news was about British PM Rishi Sunak’s former close ally and Deputy PM, Dominic Raab, calling on the PM to “up the government’s game to reap the full dividends of a closer partnership with India”. Raab, unabashedly, spoke of Sunak’s Indian roots and heritage, as an advantage which should be leveraged to the UK’s gain.

The lesson is stark. Stop treating foreign nationals as your own. Their loyalty lies with the country to which their future and that of their progeny is tied. They want to keep ties with their country of origin for two reasons only. Firstly, it gives them a distinct ethno-cultural identity which provides them a reason to coalesce in a foreign land. Often the regressive adherence to a historical heritage gives them a reason to feel superior in some way, even if it is superficial.

The second reason is that from a commercial viewpoint, they cannot but salivate at the huge Indian market for everything from technology to military hardware, or pharmaceuticals to fast foods. They use their sheer numbers and consequent political heft to lobby the legislatures for improved commercial and strategic ties. It is projected, ad nauseam, that both nations would gain through deepening of bilateral relations. Please remember that ‘win-win’ is a fake concept – one side always takes advantage of the other. Even if both parties gain, someone, somewhere pays a price. 

The third item was about IT experts advising common citizens to ‘educate themselves’ for identifying the ever growing innovations in online scams, which could cause them loss of wealth and privacy. The Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India also periodically issue such advisories, essentially placing the responsibility for IT crimes, at least to some extent, on the uneducated and unprepared citizens – who are being bludgeoned into adopting online financial services.

Nobody asked me if I wanted digitisation. Did they ask you? So why are being made responsible for our losses on account of technologies we never demanded? When a contract is breached, the vendor and the manufacturer have to be penalised, not the buyer or consumer. If your dog bites me, I have the right to take you to court and seek damages.

Likewise, if the IT solutions or software purchased by a public or private entity carries loopholes, bugs or other malware which result in losses to the end consumer… then why shouldn’t the IT company or software vendor be dragged to court? Why does the law punish only criminals who misuse the system to cheat the gullible masses, why not the system developers and vendors, who cause the losses through poorly designed or vulnerable systems? And the governments, which are forcing digitization without understanding the perils of IT?

After all we don’t punish the dog, we punish its master and owner, who exposes an innocent child to danger by taking out an untrained dog on the street, without a leash.

The fourth item was about how top leaders of democratic countries are single-mindedly focussed on pushing the interests of corporates across world. Legislation is customized and regulatory institutions tamed to provide them opportunities to get rich. All concern for social development, fundamental rights and quality of life of the common citizens appear to have been placed on a backburner, or even lost sight of. It is only about investment and business opportunities.

Who was pushing the idea that that nation states have lost relevance in a globalised world and that there should be no hindrance to movement of money across borders? Was it you? It was certainly not me. Are we still willing to buy the falsehood of the ‘trickle-down theory’, when profits and incomes instead of being shown in the books of the local corporate are seamlessly moved to third country shell companies?

What will eventually trickle down is the dole and free rations that the state will provide to a sickly, poorly educated and dehumanised population, which is being conditioned to believe in destiny and fate. The population is being dumbed and their self-respect robbed. Soon they might become so dependent on freebies and charity that they might even lose the will to strive for improving their financial and social standing – forget fight for their rights. And then social development stops.

So what is the common strain here? Yes, let us face it – the world has been colonized, not by powerful nations, but by big money. Elected leaders, legislators, regulators, bureaucracies, law enforcement agencies, foreign policymakers, economists, educators and oversight institutions have all been co-opted for smoothening the way for profiteering by a few people.

Nation states are being brought to heel, social security networks torn down and deleterious technology forced down peoples’ throats for the enrichment of a handful of people, who have subverted the will of the masses, normalising corruption and teaching them to relish poison.

Soon we will have more and more people who are conditioned to believe in these fake economic development and strategic cooperation models. The mind space would then be colonised by a handful of people across the world. Are the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth advocates still around? Or even Victor Frankenstein?

 Arvind Saxena is former Chairman, Union Public Service Commission, India

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 30 June 2023

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