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Original Thinking

ARTICLE | | BY Ashok Natarajan


Ashok Natarajan

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History that comes to us as a chronology of events is really a collective existence that is evolving through several stages to develop Individuality in all members of the society. The human community, nation states, linguistic groups, local castes and classes, and families are the intermediate stages in development of the Individual. The social process moves through phases of survival, growth, development and evolution. In the process it organizes the consciousness of its members at successive levels from social external manners, formed behavior, value-based character and personality to culminate in the development of Individuality. Through this process, society evolves from physicality to Mentality. The power of accomplishment in society and its members develops progressively through stages of skill, capacity, talent, and ability. Original thinking is made possible by the prior development of thinking that organizes facts into information. The immediate result of the last world war was a shift in reliance from physical force and action to mental conception and mental activity on a global scale. At such times no problem need defy solution, if only humanity recognizes the occasion for thinking and Original Thinking. The apparently insoluble problems we confront are an opportunity to formulate a comprehensive theory of social evolution. The immediate possibility is to devise complete solutions to all existing problems, if only we use the right method of thought development.

Although thinking is a general attribute of humanity, only a chosen few exhibit the capacity for original thinking. Many of these thinkers have lived their entire lives unnoticed by the people around them. Even when personal notice and appreciation eluded them, their ideas have had a profound and lasting impact on the rest of the world.

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, former President of France, once complained about the paucity of original thinkers in the world. In the foreword to a book by Harlan Cleveland, former World Bank President Robert McNamara recommended the author to the French President as an original thinker whose writings were worth reading. Cleveland had served as the chief of the USAID program in Taiwan after the 2nd World War. During his tenure there, he noticed the power of people’s rising aspirations and expectations speeding up the recovery and development of Taiwanese society. This prompted him to coin the phrase, “Revolution of Rising Expectations” to describe the phenomenon he observed of mental aspirations quickening the pace of physical development. What he perceived was the process of social evolution whereby a physical man transforms into a mental man through the mechanism of mental aspiration. This transformation has the power to cure all the ills that are currently afflicting society.

“Advancement in Organisation is accomplished by the growth of consciousness in the collective.”

Long before the advent of the World Wide Web, Cleveland noticed a unique phenomenon which he termed “uncentralised organisation”. It is a form of organization where power is neither centralized nor widely distributed, but spread pervasively to give the impression that ‘nobody is in charge’. Visa International, which coordinates the largest proportion of international credit card transactions by connecting thousands of banks and hundreds of thousands of merchants across the world, is an example of an uncentralised organization that demonstrates the unrivalled power of this conception. The concept of Organisation has not received so far the full attention it deserves. In fact, the power of organization itself is not fully appreciated. Organisation can achieve on an infinite scale compared to unorganized functioning. There is as much difference between organized and unorganized functioning as there is between air travel and walking. Advances in air travel have been achieved by scientific technology. Advancement in Organisation is accomplished by the growth of consciousness in the collective. The remarkable power of Organisation is only dimly understood. That is why its capital role in the success of India’s Green Revolution has never been fully recognized. Global food scarcity can be totally eliminated if the power of Organisation is fully applied to global food distribution. The Brandt Commission was alerted to the power of Organisation 30 years ago and showed some interest in applying its power to solve food shortages, but the idea was too radical for that time and did not get the full attention it deserved.

“Problems refusing to go away should compel us to rationally look at the same issues from a wider perspective.”

The first half of the 20th century saw many idealistic predictions about the future life awaiting humanity. None of these, however, survived the touch of reality. The second half of the 20th century has been called the Information Age, due to the increasing flood of information it generated. Information is the basis upon which thinking develops. Yet, in spite of this flood of information, not much original thinking has resulted. Many global problems such as poverty, unemployment, terrorism, economic depression and environmental degradation persist to this day and still defy solution. Even after two decades after the end of the Cold War, elimination of nuclear weapons is nowhere in sight. Problems are usually known to be a very good fertile breeding ground for fresh and original ideas, yet none have emerged capable of abolishing this pernicious threat.

Problems refusing to go away should compel us to rationally look at the same issues from a wider perspective. If economic crises continue to repeat, it should motivate economists to reexamine the fundamental axioms of economics upon which the subject rests. Persistence of problems does not mean that they are insoluble. It only means that the theoretical premises upon which the foundations of economics have been built are not sound and sufficient.

When the practical man is confronted with problems, he looks for practical solutions, while the thinker looks for ideas to solve them. But when the Original thinker is confronted with problems, he takes that as an opportunity to know himself in the wider measure. The Original thinker seeks not just ideas but original ideas which are called in Philosophy Real-Ideas. Cadmus Journal refers to them as Seed-Ideas. Ideas, sooner or later, lead to action. Because conceivable by mind in some way, they declare it can be done. Pregnant ideas have the dynamism to lead to action. Real-Ideas are capable of self-effectuation, as knowledge and will are integrated in them. When Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth in 1972, it awakened the awareness of the world to the need for change in thinking and in action, and the world now is a better place for that.

"Clarity of thought is a contribution to accomplishment."

Mental understanding, which can generate clarity, is not the only type of understanding that we have. Apart from it there is also emotional comprehension. When the emotions understand, they inspire the person to act. At the next deeper level, our very body possesses an understanding of its own. When that understanding is reached, the body acts at once. That is why uneducated people respond better to a demonstration than to an explanation. When they see with their senses that something is achievable, they cannot wait to act to achieve it. Hence, when the body understands, it does not wait to act. Intellectual explanations carry clarity. Clarity of thought is a contribution to accomplishment. If one with that clarity chooses, he can commission actions to achieve it. Seed-Ideas lend themselves to action, as they release emotional energy which compels action in time. Real-Ideas inspire the physical consciousness, which moves into action at once.

In Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, the train in which the hero travels is stopped by a warning signal a little before a weak bridge. The passengers, guard, driver, and engineer all get down and explore the alternatives. The only idea suggested to them by the watchman on the spot is to cross the river on foot, reach the other side and board another train. That meant walking five miles up the river to cross it at a ford. The engineer comes up with an original idea. He says that if the train moves across the bridge at a very high speed, it might be possible to cross the bridge without the wheels actually touching the rails, thereby safely reaching the other side. Although the idea appears quite radical to the hero’s French attendant, the American passengers, driver and guard all enthusiastically agree to the attempt. So the train backs up for some distance, gathers a speed of 100 miles per hour, and seems to almost fly across the bridge. As soon as it reaches the other side, the bridge comes down with a deafening sound. Perhaps this was the spirit of innovation that tamed the new continent and made America the most prosperous nation on earth. The combination of idea and determination generates the power of Real-Idea in action.

“Americans expanded the horizons of human enquiry and affirmed the conviction, ‘If there is a problem, there must be a solution.’ It is a perception of Infinity in practical life.”

During World War II, India grew restive with clamor for independence. Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, voiced his demand for a separate Muslim nation called Pakistan. President Roosevelt began pressing Churchill to disband the British Colonies in return for American support during the war. Churchill could not implement that idea. To oblige the American pressure, he sent Sir Stafford Cripps, a friend of India, to India with a mission. Gandhi flatly refused the British offer, though he announced no boycott. The mission failed. Later the Indian army showed signs of patriotic intransigence. By that time, Churchill had been replaced with Attlee. The very next day Atlee sent A. V. Alexander to India as the head of the Cabinet Mission, but the talks dragged on and no solution was arrived at for the vexing problem of Pakistan. In an atmosphere of rising violence, Attlee then looked around in desperation for the right man for the job. He found the man in Lord Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia during the war, who took charge as the last Viceroy of India in March 1947 with the proclaimed intention of declaring India’s independence by June 1948. Once he arrived in Delhi, he found the situation far more explosive than it had been described and realized it would be impossible to postpone independence for another 14 months. He set to work immediately and by the end of June, he was able to announce that freedom would be granted by August 15, 1947. He succeeded in completing the task a year in advance. Reading the fascinating narrative in Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, one gets the impression that a Real-Idea was fulfilling itself almost instantaneously. Whether it is a Real-Idea that fetches instant results or a Seed-idea that produces results over some years, surely humanity can rid itself of all its problems with the power of such ideas.

It is desirable to find a solution, at least in thought, to the problems of the world. Arriving at the right solutions needs the support of correct information pertaining to that problem. Surely in this age of information there is no dearth of information and data. Any amount of information can be gathered through the Internet. Computers are only mechanical devices but have shown an amazing capacity for seeing connections between what appear to be unconnected matters. Walmart used computers to note the connection between sales of baby diapers and beer, which occurred when young fathers were sent by their wives to the store to purchase diapers. Rightly used, computers can expose the relationship between the recurring financial crises, the growth of speculative investment, rising levels of unemployment and income inequality. Such an approach may even give rise to original thinking in economics.

"…even now the entire world is governed by some 15 or 20 original ideas."

Newton and Socrates fully qualify as Original Thinkers. Original ideas have the power to completely free humanity from long-standing problems. Epidemic diseases like plague and cholera were once commonplace even in Europe. Now the world has almost forgotten them. Increasing population, once regarded as a curse, is now viewed from a fresh perspective as the power of human capital. While India was for long oppressed by the ancient idea of karma and Europe resigned to fixed limits on what can be accomplished, Americans expanded the horizons of human enquiry and affirmed the conviction, ‘If there is a problem, there must be a solution.’ It is a perception of Infinity in practical life.

Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has been fascinated by the power of Ideas and ruled by them, Original Ideas, whose origin remains unknown. When the Englishman arrived in South India in the 17th century, apart from his trading and colonizing activities he also took some interest in the cultural and literary aspects of the Indian civilization. He came upon the Tirukkural which is an ancient Tamil literary work made up of 1330 short couplets. It was translated into English, acquired international fame and has been translated into nearly 40 languages. Studying the Tirukkural, one can see that it is essentially made up of 13 original and major ideas.  Perhaps even now the entire world is governed by some 15 or 20 original ideas. It would be a fascinating task to find out if we can add some more original ideas to the existing list. The flood of information that is available now tempts us to undertake such a task. It may not be a very difficult task to come up with solutions for problems that have been bothering humanity for the last 2000 years, if we freely exercise our minds in an original manner on these problems unconfined by conventional wisdom and established practices.

Thirty years ago, a decade after the triumphant release of The Limits to Growth, Orio Giarini submitted to the Club of Rome a report entitled Dialogue on Wealth and Welfare. In it he called for a re-examination of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in the present day context and challenged essential premises of modern economics, including the law of equilibrium between supply and demand. Smith was a moral philosopher. His studies were world-shaking. When his famous book was originally published, the Viceroy of India read it and was struck by its vision. The book organised thoughts that were not previously even observed with interest. Since then it has remained a fundamental basis for thinking in economics. Smith saw that Trade creates wealth and that division of labour is a creative strategy in a productive process. He did not fail to perceive a single social phenomenon of that period which had an impact on human welfare. This was a period in which what we now term service sector was very rudimentary. Smith considered most services insignificant economically. Now, Service Economy is a greater field of human productivity than industry and the market. The market brings human individuals together and creates a plane of social productivity, even as land in the previous period became a field that produced food grains. It is market that created and sustained Money.

Money is a vibrant social power. An economist in Brussels recently declared that economists do not have the mental capacity to understand Money. Money is not only a thing in itself. It is a great Power. In his second report to the Club of Rome, The Limits to Certainty, Orio Giarini focused attention on the increasingly significant role of Service Economy, challenging traditional monetary notions of value, cost and price and stressing the importance of utilization time and utilization value. He has thus revolutionized economic thinking. Economics is no mere academic subject confined to the factory or market, but an infinite field of human welfare and well-being. It is true that the world is usually indifferent to original philosophers. How many could really appreciate the original contributions of Socrates, Aristotle and Newton at the time they conceived their original ideas? Rather it is those who command power and great wealth that readily catch the attention of the public. Original thinkers may be known only to their immediate circle of friends and followers, not to the world at large. When original thinkers such as Giarini present perspectives that can solve acute problems, we cannot afford to neglect their consideration. His thought warrants such serious examination by economists today.

“An unambiguous declaration by the World Court that nuclear weapons constitute a crime against humanity can lead rapidly to total and complete global abolition of his pernicious threat to human dignity.”

Nuclear weaponry is another field in which the problem persists. Initial progress has been made by decommissioning and dismantling tens of thousands of weapons, but weapons technology continues to proliferate and the threat of accidental or intentional use remains very real. So too, the American Civil War was fought to abolish slavery. The war was won. Slavery was abolished in law, yet it persisted in practice for another hundred years. India won freedom, but the Indian administration, her official language, her entire way of life for 60 years remained British. She grows now with dynamism in another direction towards the lifestyle of the USA. That is the idea of Freedom! It raises a question. Whether it is India or America, is it desirable to activate the attitudes you have fought against for so long, fought against with vehemence? The masses may behave that way. Can the elite espouse the same attitude? In that case, can we not hope to abolish weapons? The presiding powers are not final. There is always a higher authority.

Political and social reform movements gather strength gradually. In the initial period, those who lead the movement are only aware of the hurdles and opposition that they face, not the strength gathering imperceptibly in the background. Like the Arab Spring in Egypt, new political movements or parties are sometimes surprised by the wide support they garner. This is because the support was growing subconsciously. Segregation that survived a hundred years after the Civil War was suddenly swept away in half a dozen years after a black woman in Alabama named Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. Her simple act of protest had the power to launch the Civil Rights Movement because she represented a wide public opinion that was not yet perceived. It was the right time and her move, though unconscious, was a right one. A handful of salt set in motion Indian Freedom when Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. In an unprecedented vote of total public support, the entire nation rose as one Man. The present movement in India to rid the nation of corruption is an example of a movement that developed very gradually and then suddenly sprung to life with formidable intensity.

The world is ripe for a similar dramatic breakthrough in the evolution of global governance. It awaits an awakening call for unity to transform the life of humanity from nationalistic competition to truly global cooperation. Old conceptions of national sovereignty are waning. The hypocrisy of national self-interest pursued and national power asserted in the name of international democracy are exposed. The preparedness for unity is gathering strength beneath the surface unconsciously. It expresses most vividly in the universal endorsement of human rights and rapid advances in international law. In this altered environment, an unambiguous declaration by the World Court that nuclear weapons constitute a crime against humanity can lead rapidly to total and complete global abolition of this pernicious threat to human dignity.

“The unwillingness to fully shed what is destructive or obsolete is at the root of all problems. Sri Aurobindo called it “the taste of Ignorance.””

We see many progressive developments in society, such as growth of knowledge, growing humanitarian sympathy and collective organized efforts to extend protection for people in need. In the United States a lot of attention is given to the rights of women and children and for the safety and welfare of the disabled. Europe has excelled in universalizing access to health care and support for the aged. The idea of Insurance is a brilliant concept that gave rise to a remarkable social invention. Two centuries after insurance was born, it became increasingly common for an Englishman to insure his life as soon as he got married as protection for his wife and children in the event of his premature demise. Those were times in which the public was largely insensitive to the suffering of others, imprisoning debtors, ill-treating the disabled, and compelling orphaned children to forced labor. It was a period when strength was respected, weakness frowned upon. Yet in the very midst of such insensitivity, the new institution of insurance arose to provide protection to the vulnerable. It is a form of institutionalized collective self-giving. Viewed thus, insurance is a civilizing force without comparison. Five percent of global GDP is now generated by the insurance industry. In some countries, it even touches 7%.

Everywhere we look, we find great wisdom mixed with persistent folly. Today we see the phenomenon of internet services offered free of charge. This tendency is a confirmation of the principle that the knowledge gathered by individuals in the society belongs to the society as a whole and therefore the benefits of that knowledge should also go to every member of the society. Indeed, this only reflects the underlying reality that every new achievement is an achievement of the collective based on the cumulative achievements of all humanity in the past. At the same time, we see a direct repudiation of this principle in the mindless adoption of every new technology leading to the growing problem of unemployment. The dynamism of capitalism is based on selfish efficiency and selfish greed. Speculation, its great ‘achievement’, is ruining the economy.

While we observe so many advances in thought, we have also seen the ‘wisdom’ that led to the production of 70,000 nuclear warheads. In retrospect, it is blatantly and almost inconceivably irrational. At a time when global governance is so essential, we find the UN hampered and stifled by the relic of veto power. In 1945, the veto was necessary to keep the balance in the UN, not after the demise of the Cold War. A wrong system destroyed from inside is the height of human wisdom. More than two millennia ago Emperor Ashoka found it right to eschew violence. In 1990 Gorbachev did it in the USSR, opened up apertures of self-destruction from inside the monolithic police state. So too, we see common sense thrown to the winds in the pollution of the environment. It was the Club of Rome that alerted the world in 1972 and slowed the pace of ruin. Everywhere we find this strange combination of progressive idealism and atavistic anachronism. The unwillingness to fully shed what is destructive or obsolete is at the root of all problems. Sri Aurobindo called it “the taste of Ignorance.”

In a normal and rational social climate we would expect knowledge to keep on growing and wisdom to be more and more in evidence. Giarini submitted several reports to the Club of Rome which had the immediate capacity to eliminate financial crises, and carried the long term potential of organizing economics on a wider basis for human security and welfare. His thought has not received the attention it deserves. Complementary currency was successfully introduced in Wörgl, Austria during the Great Depression with dramatic results. It eliminated 25% unemployment and revived economic growth in a few months. Its underlying principle is a creative social dynamism. Not only was the experiment stopped, but, in spite of more than 2000 other successful experiments around the world, its basis has not been fully recognized till now.

We also find another strange expression of remarkable progress existing side by side with persistent ignorance. In one Indian village, land value rose sky high to reach $30,000 per acre. A farmer who had just sold his land came to the post office to enquire about making a cash deposit. The post master asked him what rate he had sold it for. Bang came the reply, “$500 per acre”. How do we understand this phenomenon? In another Indian village a reporter heard that five people in the same house were blind. At the house he learnt that they had not even heard about the possibility of cataract operation. In that part of the state, there was an eye hospital conducting free operations. The founder of the hospital had been awarded the Magsaysay Award for completing a million operations, yet the blind family was not even aware of the possibility of cure.

Such incidents exhibit the continued prevalence of appalling ignorance and sense of helplessness in the midst of abundant knowledge and unprecedented social power. Thousands of instances can be found in every country all over the world, not just in India. American researchers in the 1980s were surprised to discover through surveys that more than half of the respondents believed that the U.S.A fought against the Soviet Union in the 2nd World War. Noted British historian Paul Johnson was surprised to discover that British Air Force officers in the 1990s had never heard of the Blitz, Germany’s strategic bombing of London in 1940! Those who want to expedite nuclear disarmament and end financial crisis in the world cannot afford the luxury of such an attitude. Solutions are not wanting, but openness to new ideas is. When the FAO gave a grim warning about impending food crisis in India in the 1960s, the then central agricultural minister resolved to make the country self-sufficient in food production within five years and India achieved it by launching the Green Revolution. When people bravely and resolutely confront a danger, they see that the danger retreats as quickly as it came. When England chose to resist the invading Nazi invasion to the last man, it was Germany that was forced to abandon the attack within a matter of months, compelling Hitler to turn his attention eastward. Hitler had badly underestimated the determination of the English to fight vigorously to preserve their freedom. Churchill made a similar error when he expected Soviet Russia to collapse in a few weeks under the German onslaught. It was Lord Mountbatten who insisted that the Russians would prevail because they were fighting for their freedom.

"Few have the wisdom to speak only what they know for sure."

Foolish behavior can be expected among the truly ignorant. There is an old story about ten men who crossed a river and then stopped to ensure they had all crossed safely. Each man counted the group and found only nine members were present, forgetting to include himself in the count. We naturally expect better sense from educated informed experts, but few have the wisdom to speak only what they know for sure. Martin Luther called Copernicus a fool and an upstart astrologer for positing his theory of the heliocentric universe. Thomas Watson of IBM saw no future for computers. Keynes was a problem-solving genius, but focused attention on secondary causes rather than fundamental principles, an error that prolonged the 1929 crisis and distracts attention from underlying economic premises even today. Yet Russell did not hesitate to venture outside his field of accomplishment as a philosopher to strongly recommend Keynes to all governments.

When those who are responsible for solving the world’s problems are not able to do so, it is better to consult history as to how similar problems were solved earlier, and how grievous errors were committed which complicated situations. When we do so, we find a wide range of creative attitudes have spurred progress and eradicated problems in the past:

  1. Pioneers in every field chose to do what no one had previously dared to attempt.
  2. Great poets and thinkers fearlessly expressed their own inspirations unmindful of rewards or social recognition.
  3. Dynamic individuals applied their minds to create new activities based on new conceptions and new types of organisation.
  4. Society created symbolic instruments such as money, which summarise the whole of human experience in one field.
  5. People established new types of settlements and communities, real and virtual.
  6. Courageous venturers went beyond the fold of existing society physically, vitally, mentally, spiritually to create anew.
  7. Creative individuals rose to higher levels of thought to fashion new ideals, values, and avenues of knowledge.
  8. Keen observers studied natural phenomena to understand them and, if possible, master them.
  9. Leaders gave up valuable possessions such as Power in favour of higher human endeavour.
  10. Educators organised their experience to be passed on to future generations to abridge the time and effort required for learning.
  11. Radical idealists resorted to violent Revolution to destroy the existing society.
  12. Intelligentsia replaced aristocracy as a more informed and progressive system of government.
  13. Social innovators founded new types of institutions such as Grameen Bank.
  14. Explorers crossed the seas in quest of land or trade.
  15. Free thinkers abandoned age-old beliefs, such as conventional religious dogma about the age of the world or position of the earth in the universe.
  16. Seers directly discovered God to found new religions.

Though original thinkers and creative innovators have played such a useful role in social development and evolution, society has not been kind to them and more often has been alarmed by their activities than gladdened by them. History also illustrates the usual reception given by conventional society to progressive ideas and initiatives.

  1. Pioneers have been mercilessly persecuted.
  2. Though Shakespeare is hailed as a genius nowadays, in his own days he was largely ignored by his own countrymen until a Frenchman, Victor Hugo, proclaimed him a genius some 200 years later.
  3. Many progressive new activities were ferociously opposed, as Andrew Jackson, the US President, vigorously opposed and closed America’s first central bank.
  4. Paper currency, the greatest creation, was regarded with deep suspicion and was refused the status of legal tender.
  5. Education was heckled as a luxury for the elite. Even reading was frowned upon by the church during the early Middle Ages.
  6. Children knowing more than their parents were regarded as an affront.
  7. The rise of achievers in society was opposed tooth and nail.
  8. When London was emerging as a great metropolis, it was still looked down upon by the country gentry.
  9. The French aristocracy allowed itself to be guillotined in the Revolution rather than willingly change.
  10. For centuries the founding of new institutions was opposed.
  11. Innovations such as the steam engine were ignored for centuries and then vigorously opposed.
  12. The telescope was called the devil’s instrument.
  13. Men killed their father or brother for the throne.
  14. Crossing the sea once attracted excommunication. Trade was scoffed at.
  15. Religion, even when it was blindly superstitious and dogmatically reactionary, was cherished.
  16. Venerated saints were unpopular in their hometowns while they lived, and faced various forms of social ostracism.
  17. Education was regarded as something unnecessary by land-owning aristocrats and even members of royalty.
“One immediate option is to move the World Court to re-examine their 1996 judgment and declare the use or possession of nuclear weapons as a criminal offence. If the world court was indecisive in the past, it need not be so now.”

The question before us now is whether it is wise and permissible for the current generation to exhibit the same negative and opposing tendencies to new ideas and values, as our forefathers have done in the past. The institution of slavery lived in spirit for a hundred years after the Civil War and law had abolished it. Society in America waited that long to overcome it. Now the same thing is happening with nuclear weapons. Though these weapons have no known use but pose a real and present threat to the security of countless millions, we are unable to act. If governments are not acting then it is only proper that the public at large should act in this matter without waiting anymore.

“Speculation is greed, selfish greed which should have been outlawed a hundred years ago.”

A global referendum calling for abolition of nuclear weapons can lead to the complete elimination of this threat now. Are there not other powers in the international community for us to evoke? One immediate option is to move the World Court to re-examine their 1996 judgment and declare the use or possession of nuclear weapons as a criminal offence. Compliance with Law in the shape of acts, contracts, especially international treaties, is steadily growing. Treaties banning the use of chemical weapons are honored. Even corrupt politicians are known to obey court orders. The ICJ must be approached. If the world court was indecisive in the past, it need not be so now. The world has a right to expect and demand judicial activism from that august body. We see that religious mantras when repeated over and over do bring about some positive effects. In a similar way, if the ICJ uncategorically affirms the illegality of these weapons, it can compel compliance from governments that have until now been obstinate.

Over the past three decades, about 250 financial and banking crises have occurred around the world, moving with predictable regularity from one country to another. At the same time the world’s financial assets have grown from $12 trillion in 1980 to $216 trillion, while income inequality has soared to the highest last seen centuries ago when less than three percent of the elite in Europe controlled all the wealth and power and occupied all positions of authority in government, church, military and universities. Obviously, there must be a relationship between the two phenomena. How do economists understand it and propose to deal with it? When the market crashed in 1929, the US economy was in the midst of its greatest boom. Every time a crisis or recession rears its head, it comes at a time when the stock market and the economy have been rising rapidly. In each case we find soaring levels of financial speculation preceding a sudden collapse. The irresistible lure of greater wealth during boom times brings a greater urge to risk, thereby fueling the speculative boom and setting the stage for a crash. Every country regulates activities it knows are detrimental to public health, human welfare and national security, but not speculation. Speculation is greed, selfish greed which should have been outlawed a hundred years ago. The political influence of financial powers backed by the naivety of the public permit it to endure. What prevents the world from banning speculation? The source of financial crises is not unknown or insoluble, if only the public demands immediate effective action. How is this attitude any different than that of the population that allowed millions to die because it refused to be vaccinated against the plague?

A youngster or a madman enters a classroom or meeting room and shoots a number of people. This is done in the name of freedom to bear arms! At a time when a pistol or musket could fire just one or two bullets with very limited accuracy, before it had to be reloaded by hand, surely America’s founding fathers did not intend that every citizen has the right to possess an automatic weapon capable of firing hundreds of bullets in seconds with absolute precision – equivalent in power to that of a small army in those days. If the American people are ever fully educated about the dangers of hand guns and then consulted in a real public referendum, they will demand abolition of the right to bear arms which now threatens the security of every American. Simple common sense is more desirable than dying of the plague, getting shot in the classroom or being crushed by a financial crisis.

“The word ‘scientific’ is not always used in its original sense. It has become a misnomer indiscriminately applied in the context of measurements and scales.”

It is a privilege to be born as a human being, rather than as a member of a lower species. Knowledge is the most priceless possession of human beings, not power, not money, not convenience and comforts. Knowledge is the source of all the others. To value money or comforts more than knowledge is not the height of human wisdom. The Greek treasures were lost, but preserved by the Arabs. Europe went to a great length to recover them from the Arabs. Now the whole of Europe, the whole world, is ruled by Greek thought. That is the right spirit of humanity. Copernicus’ thought was suppressed for 70 years after the

 theological implications of his discovery were recognized. In those times it is understandable, not now. Can the world afford to wait even a year to consider new thoughts, original thoughts, a New Theory of Creation after they have been pronounced? It does not speak well for the poetic sensibilities of the world to have ignored an epic poem of unparalleled beauty and wisdom for more than a half-century.

Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times yet never received it. In 2006, the Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged this as “the greatest omission in our 106 year history.” It does not speak highly of the objectivity and rationality of its evaluation process. Knowledge seeks greater knowledge. Prejudice is to be condemned wherever it is found, especially in the field of knowledge. The word ‘scientific’ is not always used in its original sense. It has become a misnomer indiscriminately applied in the context of measurements and scales. Measurement is part of a scientific approach, but does not grant the status of science to any field. Even in serious academic gatherings, fresh and creative ideas are not welcome on their own merit. Rather they are judged based on the social standing of the speaker who is presenting them. Ideas must be evaluated on their own merit, not according to the status of the source.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe was the world. Europe became the dominant power in the world because she had cultivated the power of Mind and functioned with the help of mental planning. Martin Luther symbolized the spirit of the questioning mind. Greek thought in the classical era was mainly the achievement of a few prominent thinkers. But when Mind awakened in Renaissance Europe it awakened in the common man and hence had a far more widespread impact on society. In Renaissance Europe, life prospered because it was energized and organized by Mind as never before.

"One rule of Life is never give up in the middle."

Life vastly prospered in Europe because it was Mind that guided Life. Till today, the question why Hamlet delayed has not been answered, yet Hamlet is still regarded for its greatness. Shakespeare’s Hamlet depicts the birth of mind in the European individual. The reason Hamlet hesitates to seek revenge against his uncle Claudius, who murdered Hamlet’s father, remains an enigma even today. Hamlet was a young dynamic prince itching to kill his unfaithful mother, which his father forbade. He was ordered to kill Claudius instead. Enraged by his mother’s incest, his vital urge was to punish her, not Claudius. His mind tried to compel him to the task unsuccessfully, even writing notes to remind him of his duty. His birth denotes the emergence of incipient Mind, which was indeed out of joint with the vital superstition of those times. He cursed himself that he was born to set it right. The instant his mother dies accidentally of drinking the poison intended for him, Hamlet kills his uncle without hesitation. The strong vital went into action when the vacillating Mind was relieved of its duty. Mind enriched the life of Europe. Science, the basic scientific discoveries, came from Europe.

“India has shown remarkable awareness of the evolutionary needs of our time by legislating guaranteed employment.”

One rule of Life is never give up in the middle. Europe was unwilling to share power and riches with all. That stopped her progress from reaching its climax and life moved its center of action to the New World where everything was accessible to everybody. There European science transformed itself into scientific technology and brought an abundance of prosperity, comforts and convenience never before seen in the old world. Today, America is accepted as the leader of the world for her economic, political and military power. But that is not the whole truth. She possessed these endowments even before the 2nd World War. They did not bring her the recognition then. Two main factors have brought her the current preeminence: the first is the recognition and importance she gives to individuality and the second factor is the freedom everybody enjoys to progress and advance. But, lately, even America seems to be losing her expansive spirit and is showing signs of a contracting and shrinking culture. She is unwilling to give up nuclear weapons, delays gun control domestically and thrives on overseas arms trade, refuses to ban or even tax financial speculation, neglects the environment, and disregards measures to guaranteed employment and human security. Out of tune with the need of the world at this hour and clinging to retrograde mentality, she may be left behind and forgotten as Greece, Egypt and Rome have been, as leadership moves to those who are more truly willing to lead. India has shown remarkable awareness of the evolutionary needs of our time by legislating guaranteed employment. The world no longer needs Revolutions, but demands Evolution. It is social evolution. Any nation that adamantly holds onto nuclear weapons, refuses gun control and encourages speculation cannot retain her premier position for long.

“Problems such as we know are not real problems. They are of our own making and will disappear if we acquire the right attitude to new ideas and take the right initiatives.”

Like the adults in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, economists continue to admire the emperor’s clothes. Mistaking money for economics, market for society, they refuse to examine a great thinker’s great insights about future prosperity. Very soon, the world will march ahead, weapons will be eradicated, full employment will be recognized as a fundamental human right, equality will be established, world currency will be instituted, the UN will abolish the veto, undemocratic nations and undemocratic global practices will become a thing of the past. Problems such as we know are not real problems. They are of our own making and will disappear if we acquire the right attitude to new ideas and take the right initiatives.

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About the Author(s)

Ashok Natarajan

Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science; Secretary, The Mother’s Service Society, Pondicherry, India