Extinction Of Cultures
Most of these societies suddenly lost it all -and are non-existent or a shell of their peak form. Toynbee’s study of history led him to categorize world history into 26 civilizations. Other historians want to expand this list to about 40-50. Excepting India, with 4000-6000 years of culture, not one of these 40-50 cultures, bar none, has or had a continuous historical structure for more than 500-2000 years.
Questions - And More Questions
What is it that makes India different? What gives India such resilience?
If India was indeed so accomplished, how come there are no Indian equivalents to the pyramids or a coliseum? Why did India never build a Great Wall? Where is the Indian Parthenon? Why are there no great palace complexes? How is it that that there are no Indic mausoleums?
How is it that after conquering nearly 80% of the landmass, the ‘desert religions’ have less than 50% of the world’s (an ageing, declining) population? How is it that Indic cultures, has been prosperous without loot and conquest - unlike the ‘desert bloc.’? If Indic systems have such resilience, how come large parts of the Indian region have been ruled by invading armies? Why have Indic rulers been unable to beat back these invaders?
The One Difference
In a word. India has no indigenous practice or record of slavery for the last 3000 years. Indic rulers liberalized slave laws societies where slavery was an inherited social condition - like the Hittites and Mittanis. All societies which are extinct or in terminal decline, ‘consumed’ significant slave labour.
Popular theories posit (without clinching empirical evidence) that historical waves and cycles are responsible for these cultural extinctions. This does not explain non-recurrence of past glories of
Greece, Rome, Egypt, Spain, Portugal - though Roman geography did see a brief and unrelated in achievement during the Pre-renaissance period. The popular press, spread these theories by the use of Science Fiction. For instance, The Foundation Series by Issac Asimov.
The one exception to these cultural extinctions is India. From the Hittites, the Mittanis and the Elamites, Indic civilization has seen uninterrupted and continuous history. With cultural roots going back (at least) 6000-4500 years, it is the oldest, continously, living civilization.
Kuch to baat hai-ke hasti mit-ti nahi hamari.
The herald of Western doom, Oswald Spengler, had a popular theory of birth-life-death of civilizations. Spengler’s Theory of Civilizations, spelt out by an expert, states “Cultures are in reality super life-forms, that is, they are organic in nature, and like all organisms must pass through the phases of birth-life-death”. Other experts on Spengler’s Theory have defined these stages as growth, breakdown and disintegration. India has grown for the last 4000 years - and has defied Spengler’s popular explanation.
Toynbee in his 395-page, book, A Study of History, avoids the issue by terming the slavery issue as a problem of the internal and the external proletariat. The subject of slave and slavery appears only on 17 pages - in the 395 pages.
On slavery, he mentions that slavery “was one ancient institution, no less evil than war, which the Western civilization had got rid of. A society which had succeeded in abolishing slavery might surely take heart from this unprecedented victory of a Christian ideal.” He maunders on by saying “In the hearts of the dominant White majority a Christian conscience … had insisted on abolishing Negro slavery” (ellipsis mine). Historically, abolition of Negro slavery had little to do with Christian ideal and conscience - but due to numerous revolts and uprisings by slaves.
A recent book, The Life Cycle of Civilizations By Stephen Blaha, attempts to ‘develop a mathematical theory of civilizations based on variables that describe a civilization.” Stephen Blaha further proclaims,”mankind appears to be in the process of developing a world civilization based on Western technology”.
And how many times, does the esteemed Stephen Blaha talk about slave and slavery?
Not once. But he does mention, colony and colonies 6 times in his 250-page book. It is this reluctance to accept history - and change that is required, which is behind the rise and fall of the Desert Bloc empires.
The problem is not just Western historians. Experts on India like By Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, David Frawley, while writing about India, in their book, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India, refer to slavery just once and slave once. Their understanding of something as fundamental as the word dasa itself is wrong. They make no difference between a servant and slave.
The Pyramids, The Coliseum, The Great Wall, were all monuments that were raised by slave societies. To impress the slave population? India has no such monuments because India had no slave populations to build such showpieces - and no slaves to impress.
There are no permanent losers or winners in war. All super powers (of today and the past) were a conquered land at a point in history - including India. Karl Marx had a poor view about India - a civilization of losers. So did VS Naipaul. Factually speaking, Indic rule stretched from Greek borders (Hittites) to Taklamakan desert (Auriel Stern and Huien Tsang), from Central Asia (Elamites) to Bali. Thus Indic frontiers encircled a huge expanse.
Thus, any assertion, that Indians are historic losers is a losing idea.
Production controllers prefer ‘free’ slave labour, compared to wage labour. Slave labour drives down wage levels and drives up unemployment - food stamps are a consequence. Resultant discontent creates demand for unemployment benefits and a welfare state. Wastrel population is diverted with entertainment - Roman Circus. Wars are initiated, by a ‘disconnected’ army to capture new slaves - and increase the looted hoards - Julius Ceasar and George Bush.
Innovation & Invention
With disguised unemployment on one side and concentrated wealth derived from ‘free’ labor on the other, slave soceities saw a culture of patrons, state support and subsidies for religion, arts, technology and science. Thus for short periods, members of the dominant segment, did (and do) produce significant intellectual output. In many cases, these ‘cultural achievements’ are simple cases of cultural expropriation.
At the core of the Indic social and political organization is the value of humans. This is evidenced by the value for babies (balagopal), feminine divinity (In India, the two most ‘important’ festivals, Diwali and Dasara are dedicated to women goddesses). Stable marriage systems, based on equity (instead of advantage) and contribution (instead of extraction) are a big part of the population growth.
It was amusing to see His Excellency Lord Barn Meghnad Desai (OBE, KBE) suddenly wanting to be an Indian! Westernized Indians, unsure about going through the grind of re-building a nation, escaped to the West. The country cousin of the Westernized NRI, is the desi-NRI, who went out to make some money in sundry parts of the world (especially the Middle East). The desi-NRI worked hard - and never gave up on India. The desi-NRI, the poorer brother, has never got the respect for his contributions - and the Westernized NRI is lionized.
The desi-NRI, can’t speak English, you see.
Historically, India’s gold reserves (the largest in the world) of 25,000-30,000 tons, were not built on luck (no gold discoveries) or due to loot (no looting raids or slavery). A only one of its kind, capital accumulation in the world.
It is these essential values of human equity that makes democracy a success in India. It is this ability to see all creation as one वासुदेवाय कुटुम्बकम ‘vasudevaih kutumbakam’ that make the Republican India successful.
It is these values that gives India one of the lowest prison populations in the world - and practically very few positions in the Forbes ‘Most Wanted’ List.
Where Do We Go From Here
The world has looked to India for answers. But modern India looks to the West. And those Western answers are irrelevant and dont work - or sometimes a trail of red herrings.