What Is It All About?

Cut through all the ideological bs and contemplate on just this. Are we producing enough goods and services for everyone’s need? The answer is YES. Is our social system distributing those goods and services to people accordingly? The answer is NO.

What is causing this discrepancy?

An elaborate structure of ownership accompanied by an ideological structure rationalising it with catchwords like “freedom”, “liberty”, “takers against makers”, “voluntary contract” etc.

Result of all this? Top 20 have more than 4,000,000,000 people combined.

Capitalist economist Hayek had suggested to sometimes naively ask as to what is this all about.

THIS is what its all about. Majority toiling for enriching a selected few, duped into submission with complex ideologies.

Economics and Ideology

In his book Eleven Pictures of Time, C K Raju notes that “Food security, shelter, and health care for all was successfully ensured in the post-revolutionary societies in the Soviet Union and China. There was, however, a doubt whether they could ensure to all the standard of living enjoyed by some in the capitalist societies. So a very popular argument at that time was that capitalist countries sought the good of only a few privileged individuals, while socialist countries sought the good of all.

Kenneth Arrow’s theory was addressed against this argument. Cultural prejudice required that a convincing argument must take the form of a theorem; so Arrow called his argument an impossibility theorem (like von Neumann’s equally bogus impossibility theorem about quantum mechanics). Arrow started by arguing that people maximise utility and not money. The difference is that utility is an ordinal concept, while money is a cardinal concept. Utility enables one to order preferences, but does not enable one to say how much more one prefers one thing to another. In contrast, by comparing the prices of two commodities, one can say how much more expensive one commodity is.

Arrow’s impossibility theorem is that to have a cardinal notion of utility one must be able to compare preferences between people. I might be able to say, for myself, that I like ice-cream so much more than chocolates, but can I say that my preference for ice-cream over chocolates is greater than your preference for chocolates over ice-cream? This sounds like an assault on your individual rights.

What does this have to do with social good? In order to make a rational (and utilitarian) social choice, one should be able to point to something like social good or social utility, which is increased by the choice. One should be able to say that here is something that is good for all people in the society. But that is precisely what is ruled out by Arrow’s theorem. A social choice which increases my utility may decrease yours, and without comparing the two utilities, one cannot say that the society as a whole has become better off. Clearly, one cannot compare the two utilities without making a comparison between two persons, or without having a cardinal notion of utility, which amounts to the same thing. In technical jargon, Arrow’s impossibility theorem says that a social choice function (i.e., a rational social choice) is impossible without admitting interpersonal comparisons of utility.

What is the alternative? The alternative is that the only situation that can be unambiguously called good for society as a whole is a situation where one person becomes better off without making another worse off. In jargon, this is called Pareto optimality, after the economist Pareto, who thought he had discovered something as profound as Newton’s law of gravitation.

What does all this jargon about social choice and Pareto optimality actually mean? The meaning is very simple. To make the poor better off, one may have to make the rich worse off in some way. Even if one finds a virtually boundless source of energy, and one learns to synthesise food, and so on, so that the poor become better off, without having to take anything from the rich, the rich may be worse off in the sense that they may lose something of value: their power which derives from the poverty of others. In short, according to Arrow’s impossibility theorem it is impossible to say that fulfilling the needs of all is better than fulfilling the greed of a few. Accordingly, one may merrily persist in the existing state of affairs. All that technicality was meant to make this sound like a very reasonable thing to say. This is naturally the kind of discovery which deserves to be rewarded with a Nobel prize.”

Culture Based Theories of Economic Development

Many Hindus feel justly aggrieved at the term “Hindu rate of growth” coined by Raj Krishna, attributing slow economic growth to Hindu culture. But if we see the general climate of opinion in recent history, it wasn’t unusual to hold cultures responsible for economic growth. Max Weber famously opined in his seminal work, “The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” that there are some cultures, like Protestantism, that are simply better suited to economic development than others. But when Catholic France, Italy, Austria and southern Germany developed rapidly, particularly after the Second World War, Christianity, rather than Protestantism, became the magic culture.

Similarly, until Japan became rich, many thought East Asia had not developed because of Confucianism. But when it succeeded, this thesis was revised to say that Japan was developing so fast because its unique form of Confucianism emphasized co-operation over individual edification, which the Chinese and Korean versions allegedly valued more highly.In fact, Beatrice Webb, founder of the London School of Economics, had described Japanese as having “objectionable notions of leisure and a quite intolerable personal independence”, who, despite this, can “raise the Koreans out of their present state of barbarism.” Korean state of barbarism was described by talking of Koreans as “12 millions of dirty, degraded, sullen, lazy and religionless savages who slouch about in dirty white garments of the most inept kind and who live in filthy mudhuts.”

But this was forgotten along with different varieties of Confucianism when Japanese, Koreans, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, all started doing well economically.

If we actually run through all the examples, we find that culture-based explanations for economic development have usually been little more than rationalisations of poverty based on hindsight, or “ex post facto” justifications.

Economic Growth Under Soviet Regime

Without endorsing Soviet regime in any way, let me dispel the myth that economic growth under Soviet regime was a disaster. A UCLA/RAND study by Gur Ofer noted in 1988 that “Since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union has transformed itself from an underdeveloped economy into a modern industrial state with a GNP second only to that of the United States.”

It further added that “The annual average growth rate of Soviet GNP since 1928 is 4.2 percent. This clearly qualifies as a sustained growth record.”

Now pay attention to what comes next. “From about one-quarter the size of the U.S. economy in 1928, the Soviet economy climbed to about 40 percent in 1955, 50 percent in 1965, and about 60 percent in 1977. Soviet GNP per capita was also catching up, reaching 52 percent of the U.S. level by 1975.”

Source of Great Fortunes

In his History of the Great American Fortunes, Gustavus Myers wrote that the “possessors of towering fortunes have hitherto been described in two ways. On the one hand, they have been held up as marvels of success, as preeminent examples of thrift, enterprise and extraordinary ability. More recently, however, the tendency in certain quarters has been diametrically the opposite. This latter class of writers, intent upon pandering to a supposed popular appetite for sensation, pile exposure upon exposure, and hold up the objects of their diatribes as monsters of commercial and political crime. Neither of these classes has sought to establish definitely the relation of the great fortunes to the social and industrial system which has propagated them. Consequently, these superficial effusions and tirades— based upon a lack of understanding of the propelling forces of society — have little value other than as reflections of a certain aimless and disordered spirit of the times. With all their volumes of print, they leave us in possession of a scattered array of assertions, bearing some resemblance to facts, which, however, fail to be facts inasmuch as they are either distorted to take shape as fulsome eulogies or as wild, meaningless onslaughts. They give no explanation of the fundamental laws and movements of the present system, which have resulted in these vast fortunes; nor is there the least glimmermg of a scientific interpretation of a succession of states and tendencies from which these men of great wealth have emerged. With an entire absence of comprehension, they portray our multimillionaires as a phenomenal group whose sudden rise to their sinister and overshadowing position is a matter of wonder and surprise. They do not seem to realize for a moment — what is clear to every real student of economics — that the great fortunes are the natural, logical outcome of a system based upon factors the the inevitable result of which is the utter despoilment of the many for the benefit of a few. This being so, our plutocrats rank as nothing more or less than as so many unavoidable creations of a set of processes which must imperatively produce a certain set of results. These results we see in the accelerated concentration of immense wealth running side by side with a propertyless, expropriated and exploited multitude.”

God and Science

Newton was heavily influenced by the matter-spirit dichotomy that held matter to be inert and spirit to be its driving force. He noted that “We find in ourselves a power of moving our bodies by our thoughts. . .and see the same power in other living creatures but how this is done and by what laws we do not know. We cannot say that all nature is not alive.” He thought of an entity which originates activity as “spirit.”

An important consideration which might have influenced Newton into holding this view could be his theological belief.

Newton believed in the Christian doctrine of Creation to imply the total dependence of the world on God’s activity, and he often tended to interpret this to mean that the activity in the world had to come directly from God, without any secondary intermediary.

To locate the active principles responsible for motion in matter, as Leibniz did, was to make matter, once created, a self-sufficient entity. To Newton, this seemed tantamount to atheism; he was still as intent as Aristotle had been to find a First Mover at the summit of his mechanical system. It was, in his view, quite improper to suppose that the motions of physical bodies could be explained without recourse of any kind to the power of God. Ironically, Leibniz’ ground for attacking this view was equally theological. He thought it “a very mean notion of the wisdom and power of God” to suppose that constant divine interventions are necessary to keep the universe operating properly; to take matter to be totally inert, he argued, would unduly limit the creative options open to God. His stress was thus on the limits set on God’s absolute power by His (free) acceptance of the demands of intelligibility in His creation.

Like Descartes, he made God’s relation to the universe such that a rationalist metaphysics would be possible, one which began from the assumption that the universe is open to the human mind by way of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Newton’s natural theology, on the other hand, was much more squarely in the voluntarist tradition: since God is free and all-powerful, we cannot know a priori what laws we will find in nature, and thus they have to be determined inductively.

US perverting elections of other countries

From 1950 to 2000, US interfered in election process of following countries:

1.) Philippines, 1950s

Flagrant manipulation by the CIA of the nation’s political life, featuring stage-managed elections with extensive disinformation campaigns, heavy financing of candidates, writing their speeches, drugging the drinks of one of the opponents of the CIA candidate so he would appear incoherent, plotting the assassination of another candidate. The Agency covertly set up an organization called National Movement for Free Elections, the better to promote its agenda, and trusting citizens joined up all over the country. The New York Times was also trusting. It praised the Philippines’ political and electoral development, declaring that “It is not without reason that the Philippines has been called “democracy’s showcase in Asia.”

2.) Italy, 1948-1970s

3.) Lebanon, 1950s

The CIA provided funds to support the campaigns of President Camille Chamoun and selected parliamentary candidates; other funds were targeted against candidates who had shown less than total enchantment with US interference in Lebanese politics.

4.) Indonesia, 1955

A million dollars were dispensed by the CIA to a centrist coalition’s electoral campaign in a bid to cut into the support for President Sukarno’s party and the Indonesian Communist Party.

5.) Vietnam, 1955

The US was instrumental in South Vietnam canceling the elections scheduled to unify North and South because of the certainty that the North Vietnamese communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, would easily win.

6.) British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64

For 11 years, two of the oldest democracies in the world, Great Britain and the United States, went to great lengths to prevent Cheddi Jagan—three times the democratically elected leader—from occupying his office. Using a wide variety of tactics—from general strikes and disinformation to terrorism and British legalisms, the US and Britain forced Jagan out of office twice during the period.

7.) Japan, 1958-1970s

The CIA emptied the US treasury of millions to finance the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in parliamentary elections, “on a seat-by-seat basis,” while doing what it could to weaken and undermine its opposition, the Japanese Socialist Party. The result was 38 years in power for the Liberal Democratic Party, comparable to the reign of the Christian Democrats in Italy, also sponsored by the CIA; these tactics kept both Japan and Italy from developing a strong multiparty system. The 1961-63 edition of the State Department’s annual Foreign Relations of the United States, published in 1996, includes an unprecedented disclaimer that, because of material left out, a committee of distinguished historians thinks “this published compilation does not constitute a ‘thorough, accurate and reliable documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions’,” as required by law. The deleted material involved US actions from 1958-1960 in Japan, according to the State Department’s historian.

8.) Nepal, 1959

By the CIA’s own admission, it carried out an unspecified “covert action” on behalf of B.P. Koirala to help his Nepali Congress Party win the national parliamentary election.

The NCP won a majority of seats in the new legislature and Koirala became prime minister. It was Nepal’s first national election ever, and the CIA was there to initiate them into the wonderful workings of democracy.

9.) Laos, 1960

CIA agents stuffed ballot boxes to help a hand-picked strongman, Phoumi Nosavan, set up a pro-American government.

10.) Brazil, 1962

The CIA and the Agency for International Development expended millions of dollars during federal and state elections in support of candidates opposed to President Joao Goulart. The Agency also dipped into its bag of dirty tricks to torment the campaigns of various candidates.

11.) Dominican Republic, 1962

In October 1962, two months before election day, US Ambassador John Bartlow Martin got together with the candidates of the two major parties and handed them a written notice, in Spanish and English, which he had prepared. It read in part: “The loser in the forthcoming election will, as soon as the election result is known, publicly congratulate the winner, publicly recognize him as the President of all the Dominican people, and publicly call upon his own supporters to so recognize him. . .Before taking office, the winner will offer Cabinet seats to members of the loser’s party. (They may decline).”

The United States also worked with the Dominican government to deport some 125 people—supporters of the former dictator Trujillo as well as “Castro/Communists”—to the US and elsewhere, who were not allowed to return until after the election. This was “to help maintain stability so elections could be held”, as Martin put it.

As matters turned out, the winner, Juan Bosch, was ousted in a military coup seven months later, a slap in the face of democracy which neither Martin nor any other American official did anything about.

12.) Guatemala, 1963

The US overthrew the regime of General Miguel Ydigoras because he was planning to step down in 1964, leaving the door open to an election; an election that Washington feared would be won by the former president, liberal reformer and critic of US foreign policy, Juan Jose Arévalo. Ydigoras’s replacement made no mention of elections.

13.) Bolivia, 1966
The CIA bestowed $600,000 upon President René Barrientos and lesser sums to several right-wing parties in a successful effort to influence the outcome of national elections.
Gulf Oil contributed two hundred thousand more to Barrientos.

14.) Chile, 1964-70

There were major US interventions into national elections in 1964 and 1970, and into congressional elections in the intervening years. Socialist Salvador Allende fell victim in 1964, but won in 1970 despite a multimillion, multifaceted CIA operation against him. The Agency then orchestrated his downfall in a 1973 military coup.

15.) Portugal, 1974-75

In the years following the coup in 1974 by military officers who talked like socialists, the CIA revved up its propaganda machine while tunneling many millions of dollars to support “moderate” candidates, in particular Mario Soares and his (so-called) Socialist Party. At the same time, the Agency enlisted social-democratic parties of Western Europe to provide further funds and support to Soares. It worked. The Socialist Party became the dominant power.

16.) Australia, 1974-75

17.) Jamaica, 1976

A CIA campaign to defeat social democrat Michael Manley’s bid for reelection featured disinformation, arms shipments, labor unrest, economic destabilization, financial support for the opposition and attempts upon Manley’s life. Despite it all, he was victorious.

18.) Panama, 1984, 1989

In 1984, the CIA helped finance a highly questionable presidential electoral victory for one of Manuel Noriega’s men. The opposition cried “fraud”, but the new president was welcomed at the White House. By 1989, Noriega was no longer a Washington favorite, so the CIA provided more than $10 million dollars to those opposing Noriega’s candidate as well as providing for clandestine radio and TV broadcasts to influence the vote. When the Noriega man “won”, Washington, on this occasion, expressed its moral indignation about the fraudulent election.

19.) Nicaragua, 1984, 1990

In 1984, the United States, trying to discredit the legitimacy of the Sandinista government’s scheduled election, covertly persuaded the leading opposition coalition not to take part, A few days before election day, some other rightist parties on the ballot revealed that US diplomats had been pressing them to drop out of the race as well. The CIA also tried to split the Sandinista leadership by placing phoney full-page ads in neighboring countries. But the Sandinistas won handily in a very fair election monitored by hundreds of international observers.

Six years later, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington’s specially created standin for the GIA, poured in millions of dollars to defeat the Sandinistas in the February elections. NED helped organize the Nicaraguan opposition, UNO, building up the parties and organizations that formed and supported this coalition. The successful UNO was the only political party to receive US aid, even though eight other opposition parties fielded candidates.

Perhaps most telling of all, the Nicaraguan people were made painfully aware that a victory by the Sandinistas would mean a continuation of the relentlessly devastating war being waged against them by Washington.

20.) Haiti, 1987-1988

After the Duvalier dictatorship came to an end in 1986, the country prepared for its first free elections the following year. However, Haiti’s main trade union leader declared that Washington was working to undermine the left. US aid organizations, he said, were encouraging people in the countryside to identify and reject the entire left as “communist.” Meanwhile, the CIA was involved in a range of support for selected candidates until the Senate Intelligence Committee ordered the Agency to cease its covert electoral action.

21.) Bulgaria, 1990-1991 and Albania, 1991-1992

22.) Russia, 1996

For four months (March-June), a group of veteran American political consultants worked secretly in Moscow in support of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential campaign. Although the Americans were working independently, President Clinton’s political guru, Dick Morris, acted as their middleman to the administration, and Clinton himself told Yeltsin in March that he wanted to “make sure that everything the United States did would have a positive impact” on the Russian’s electoral campaign. Boris Yeltsin was being counted on to run with the globalized free-market ball and it was imperative that he cross the goal line. The American consultants in Moscow scripted a Clinton-Yeltsin summit meeting in April to allow the Russian to “stand up to the West”, just like the Russian Communist Party—Yeltsin’s main opponent—insisted they would do if they won.
The Americans emphasized sophisticated methods of message development, polling, focus groups, crowd staging, direct-mailing, etc., urged more systematic domination of the state-owned media, and advised against public debates with the Communists. Most of all they encouraged the Yeltsin campaign to “go negative” against the Communists, painting frightening pictures of what the Communists would do if they took power, including much civic upheaval and violence, and, of course, a return to the worst of Stalinism. With a virtual media blackout against them, the Communists were extremely hard pressed to respond to the attacks or to shout the Russian equivalent of “It’s the economy, stupid.” It is impossible to measure the value of the American consultants’ contributions to the Yeltsin campaign, for there’s no knowing which of their tactics the Russians would have employed anyhow if left to their own devices, how well they would have applied them, or how things would have turned out. But we do know that before the Americans came on board, Yeltsin was favored by only 6 percent of the electorate. In the first round of voting, he edged the Communists’ 35 percent to 32, and was victorious in the second round 54 to 40 percent. “Democracy,” declared Time magazine, “triumphed.”

23.) Mongolia, 1996

The National Endowment for Democracy worked for several years with the opposition to the governing Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (the former communists, who had won the 1992 election) to achieve a very surprising electoral victory. In the six year period leading up to the 1996 elections, NED spent close to a million dollars in a country with a population of some 2.5 million, the most significant result of which was to unite the opposition into a new coalition, the National Democratic Union. Borrowing from Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America, the NED drafted a “Contract With the Mongolian Voter”, which called for private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment. The MPRR had already instituted Westen style economic reforms, which had led to widespread poverty and wiped out much of the communist social safety net. But the new government promised to accelerate the reforms, including the privatization of housing. The Wall Street Journal was ecstatic that
“shoclotherapy” was now going to become even more shocking, as with the sale of state enterprises. The newspaper’s editorial was entitled “Wisdom of the Steppes”. The new government was one that Washington could expect to be more hospitable to American corporations and intelligence agencies than the MPRR. Indeed, by 1998, the National Security Agency had set up electronic listening posts in Outer Mongolia to intercept Chinese army communications, and the Mongolian intelligence service was using nomads to gather intelligence in China itself.

24.) Bosnia, 1998

Bosnia effectively became an American protectorate, with Carlos Westendorp—the Spanish diplomat appointed to enforce Washington’s offspring: the 1995 Dayton peace accords—as the colonial Governor-General. Before the September elections for a host of offices, Westendorp removed 14 Croatian candidates from the ballot because of alleged biased coverage aired in Bosnia by neighboring Croatia’s state television and politicking by ethnic Croat army soldiers. After the election, Westendorp fired the elected president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, accusing him of creating instability. In this scenario those who appeared to support what the US and other Western powers wished were called “moderates”, and allowed to run for and remain in office. Those who had other thoughts were labeled “hardliners”, and ran the risk of a different fate. When Westendorp was chosen to assume this position of “high representative” in Bosnia in May 1997, The Guardian of London wrote that “The US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, praised the choice. But some critics already fear that Mr. Westendorp will prove too lightweight and end up as a cipher in American hands.”

Further evidence of Washington’s love affair with elections

There have also been the occasions where the United States, while perhaps) not interfering in the election process, was, however, involved in overthrowing a democratically-elected government, such as in Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, the Congo 1960, Ecuador 1961, Bolivia 1964, Greece 1967 and Fiji 1987.

In other countries, US interventions resulted in free, or any, elections being done away with completely for large stretches of time, as in Iran, South Korea, Guatemala, Brazil, Congo, Indonesia, Chile and Greece.

P.S. – The above content has been taken from William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

Billions and Billions of Demons by Richard C. Lewontin

What follows is the review of Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark published by Richard Lewontin in January, 1997.

“But the Solar System!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work.”

—Colloquy between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet

I first met Carl Sagan in 1964, when he and I found ourselves in Arkansas on the platform of the Little Rock Auditorium, where we had been dispatched by command of the leading geneticist of the day, Herman Muller. Our task was to take the affirmative side in a debate: “Resolved, That the Theory of Evolution is proved as is the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun.” One of our opponents in the debate was a professor of biology from a fundamentalist college in Texas (his father was the president of the college) who had quite deliberately chosen the notoriously evolutionist Department of Zoology of the University of Texas as the source of his Ph.D. He could then assure his students that he had unassailable expert knowledge with which to refute Darwinism.

I had serious misgivings about facing an immense audience of creationist fundamentalist Christians in a city made famous by an Arkansas governor who, having detected a resentment of his constituents against federal usurpation, defied the power of Big Government by interposing his own body between the door of the local high school and some black kids who wanted to matriculate.

Young scientists, however, do not easily withstand the urgings of Nobel Prize winners, so after several transparently devious attempts to avoid the job, I appeared. We were, in fact, well treated, but despite our absolutely compelling arguments, the audience unaccountably voted for the opposition. Carl and I then sneaked out the back door of the auditorium and beat it out of town, quite certain that at any moment hooded riders with ropes and flaming crosses would snatch up two atheistic New York Jews who had the chutzpah to engage in public blasphemy.

Sagan and I drew different conclusions from our experience. For me the confrontation between creationism and the science of evolution was an example of historical, regional, and class differences in culture that could only be understood in the context of American social history. For Carl it was a struggle between ignorance and knowledge, although it is not clear to me what he made of the unimpeachable scientific credentials of our opponent, except perhaps to see him as an example of the Devil quoting scripture. The struggle to bring scientific knowledge to the masses has been a preoccupation of Carl Sagan’s ever since, and he has become the most widely known, widely read, and widely seen popularizer of science since the invention of the video tube. His only rival in the haute vulgarisation of science is Stephen Jay Gould, whose vulgarisations are often very haute indeed, and whose intellectual concerns are quite different.

While Gould has occasionally been enlisted in the fight to protect the teaching and dissemination of the knowledge of evolution against creationist political forces, he is primarily concerned with what the nature of organisms, living and dead, can reveal about the social construction of scientific knowledge. His repeated demonstrations that organisms can only be understood as historically contingent, underdetermined Rube Goldberg devices are meant to tell us more about the evolution of human knowledge than of human anatomy. From his early Mismeasure of Man, which examined how the political and social prejudices of prominent scientists have molded what those scientists claimed to be the facts of human anatomy and intelligence, to his recent collection of essays, Eight Little Piggies, which despite its subtitle, Reflections on Natural History, is a set of reflections on the intellectual history of Natural History, Gould’s deep preoccupation is with how knowledge, rather than the organism, is constructed.

Carl Sagan’s program is more elementary. It is to bring a knowledge of the facts of the physical world to the scientifically uneducated public, for he is convinced that only through a broadly disseminated knowledge of the objective truth about nature will we be able to cope with the difficulties of the world and increase the sum of human happiness. It is this program that inspired his famous book and television series, Cosmos, which dazzled us with billions and billions of stars. But Sagan realizes that the project of merely spreading knowledge of objective facts about the universe is insufficient. First, no one can know and understand everything. Even individual scientists are ignorant about most of the body of scientific knowledge, and it is not simply that biologists do not understand quantum mechanics. If I were to ask my colleagues in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to explain the evolutionary importance of RNA editing in trypanosomes, they would be just as mystified by the question as the typical well-educated reader of this review.

Second, to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out. People believe a lot of nonsense about the world of phenomena, nonsense that is a consequence of a wrong way of thinking. The primary problem is not to provide the public with the knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of, for that vast project is, in its entirety, hopeless. Rather, the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth. The reason that people do not have a correct view of nature is not that they are ignorant of this or that fact about the material world, but that they look to the wrong sources in their attempt to understand. It is not simply, as Sherlock Holmes thought, that the brain is like an empty attic with limited storage capacity, so that the accumulated clutter of false or useless bits of knowledge must be cleared out in a grand intellectual tag sale to make space for more useful objects. It is that most people’s mental houses have been furnished according to an appallingly bad model of taste and they need to start consulting the home furnishing supplement of the Sunday New York Times in place of the stage set of The Honeymooners. The message of The Demon-Haunted World is in its subtitle, Science as a Candle in the Dark.

Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons. As one bit of evidence for the bad state of public consciousness, Sagan cites opinion polls showing that the majority of Americans believe that extraterrestrials have landed from UFOs. The demonic, for Sagan, includes, in addition to UFOs and their crews of little green men who take unwilling passengers for a midnight spin and some wild sex, astrological influences, extrasensory perception, prayers, spoon-bending, repressed memories, spiritualism, and channeling, as well as demons sensu strictu, devils, fairies, witches, spirits, Satan and his devotees, and, after some discreet backing and filling, the supposed prime mover Himself. God gives Sagan a lot of trouble. It is easy enough for him to snort derisively at men from Mars, but when it comes to the Supreme Extraterrestrial he is rather circumspect, asking only that sermons “even-handedly examine the God hypothesis.”

The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration.

But of course, I might be wrong.

I doubt that an all-seeing God would fall for Pascal’s Wager, but the sensibilities of modern believers may indeed be spared by this Clintonesque moderation.

Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world. To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test. So why do so many people believe in demons? Sagan seems baffled, and nowhere does he offer a coherent explanation of the popularity at the supermarket checkout counter of the Weekly World News, with its faked photographs of Martians. Indeed, he believes that “a proclivity for science is embedded deeply within us in all times, places and cultures.” The only explanation that he offers for the dogged resistance of the masses to the obvious virtues of the scientific way of knowing is that “through indifference, inattention, incompetence, or fear of skepticism, we discourage children from science.” He does not tell us how he used the scientific method to discover the “embedded” human proclivity for science, or the cause of its frustration. Perhaps we ought to add to the menu of Saganic demonology, just after spoon-bending, ten-second seat-of-the-pants explanations of social realities.

Nearly every present-day scientist would agree with Carl Sagan that our explanations of material phenomena exclude any role for supernatural demons, witches, and spirits of every kind, including any of the various gods from Adonai to Zeus. (I say “nearly” every scientist because our creationist opponent in the Little Rock debate, and other supporters of “Creation Science,” would insist on being recognized.) We also exclude from our explanations little green men from Mars riding in space ships, although they are supposed to be quite as corporeal as you and I, because the evidence is overwhelming that Mars hasn’t got any. On the other hand, if one supposed that they came from the planet of a distant star, the negative evidence would not be so compelling, although the fact that it would have taken them such a long time to get here speaks against the likelihood that they exist. Even Sagan says that “it would be astonishing to me if there weren’t extraterrestrial life,” a position he can hardly avoid, given that his first published book was Intelligent Life in the Universe and he has spent a great deal of the taxpayer’s money over the ensuing thirty years listening for the signs.

Sagan believes that scientists reject sprites, fairies, and the influence of Sagittarius because we follow a set of procedures, the Scientific Method, which has consistently produced explanations that put us in contact with reality and in which mystic forces play no part. For Sagan, the method is the message, but I think he has opened the wrong envelope.

There is no attempt in The Demon-Haunted World to provide a systematic account of just what Science and the Scientific Method consist in, nor was that the author’s intention. The book is not meant to be a discourse on method, but it is in large part a collection of articles taken from Parade magazine and other popular publications. Sagan’s intent is not analytic, but hortatory. Nevertheless, if the exhortation is to succeed, then the argument for the superiority of science and its method must be convincing, and not merely convincing, but must accord with its own demands. The case for the scientific method should itself be “scientific” and not merely rhetorical. Unfortunately, the argument may not look as good to the unconvinced as it does to the believer.

First, we are told that science “delivers the goods.” It certainly has, sometimes, but it has often failed when we need it most. Scientists and their professional institutions, partly intoxicated with examples of past successes, partly in order to assure public financial support, make grandiose promises that cannot be kept. Sagan writes with justified scorn that

We’re regularly bombarded with extravagant UFO claims vended in bite-sized packages, but only rarely do we hear of their comeuppance.

He cannot have forgotten the well-publicized War on Cancer, which is as yet without a victorious battle despite the successful taking of a salient or two. At first an immense amount of money and consciousness was devoted to the supposed oncogenic viruses which, being infectious bugs, could be exterminated or at least resisted. But these particular Unidentified Flying Objects turned out for the most part to be as elusive as the Martians, and so, without publicly calling attention to their “comeuppance,” the General Staff turned from outside invaders to the enemy within, the genes. It is almost certain that cancers do, indeed, arise because genes concerned with the regulation of cell division are mutated, partly as a consequence of environmental insults, partly because of unavoidable molecular instability, and even sometimes as the consequence of a viral attack on the genome. Yet the realization of the role played by DNA has had absolutely no consequence for either therapy or prevention, although it has resulted in many optimistic press conferences and a considerable budget for the National Cancer Institute. Treatments for cancer remain today what they were before molecular biology was ever thought of: cut it out, burn it out, or poison it.

The concentration on the genes implicated in cancer is only a special case of a general genomania that surfaces in the form of weekly announcements in The New York Times of the location of yet another gene for another disease. The revealing rhetoric of this publicity is always the same; only the blanks need to be filled in: “It was announced today by scientists at [Harvard, Vanderbilt, Stanford] Medical School that a gene responsible for [some, many, a common form of] [schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, arterio-sclerosis, prostate cancer] has beenlocated and its DNA sequence determined. This exciting research, say scientists, is the first step in what may eventually turn out to be a possible cure for this disease.”

The entire public justification for the Human Genome Project is the promise that some day, in the admittedly distant future, diseases will be cured or prevented.

Skeptics who point out that we do not yet have a single case of a prevention or cure arising from a knowledge of DNA sequences are answered by the observations that “these things take time,” or that “no one knows the value of a newborn baby.” But such vague waves of the hand miss the central scientific issue. The prevention or cure of metabolic and developmental disorders depends on a detailed knowledge of the mechanisms operating in cells and tissues above the level of genes, and there is no relevant information about those mechanisms in DNA sequences. In fact, if I know the DNA sequence of a gene I have no hint about the function of a protein specified by that gene, or how it enters into an organism’s biology.

What is involved here is the difference between explanation and intervention. Many disorders can be explained by the failure of the organism to make a normal protein, a failure that is the consequence of a gene mutation. But intervention requires that the normal protein be provided at the right place in the right cells, at the right time and in the right amount, or else that an alternative way be found to provide normal cellular function. What is worse, it might even be necessary to keep the abnormal protein away from the cells at critical moments. None of these objectives is served by knowing the DNA sequence of the defective gene. Explanations of phenomena can be given at many levels, some of which can lead to successful manipulation of the world and some not. Death certificates all state a cause of death, but even if there were no errors in these ascriptions, they are too general to be useful. An easy conflation of explanations in general with explanations at the correct causal level may serve a propagandistic purpose in the struggle for public support, but it is not the way to concrete progress.

Scientists apparently do not realize that the repeated promises of benefits yet to come, with no likelihood that those promises will be fulfilled, can only produce a widespread cynicism about the claims for the scientific method. Sagan, trying to explain the success of Carlos, a telepathic charlatan, muses on

how little it takes to tamper with our beliefs, how readily we are led, how easy it is to fool the public when people are lonely and starved for something to believe in.

Not to mention when they are sick and dying.

Biologists are not the only scientists who, having made extravagant claims about their merchandise, deliver the goods in bite-sized packages. Nor are they the only manufacturers of knowledge who cannot be bothered to pick up a return package when the product turns out to be faulty. Sagan’s own branch of science is in the same business. Anxious to revive a failing public interest in spending large amounts on space research, NASA scientists, followed by the President of the United States, made an immense fuss about the discovery of some organic molecules on a Mars rock. There is (was) life (of some rudimentary kind) on Mars (maybe)! Can little green men in space machines be far behind? If it turns out, as already suggested by some scientists, that these molecules are earthly contaminants, or were produced in non-living chemical systems, this fact surely will not be announced at a White House press conference, or even above the fold in The New York Times.

Second, it is repeatedly said that science is intolerant of theories without data and assertions without adequate evidence. But no serious student of epistemology any longer takes the naive view of science as a process of Baconian induction from theoretically unorganized observations. There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become “observations” we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited. In the 1930s well-established and respectable geneticists described “dauer-modifications,” environmentally induced changes in organisms that were passed on to offspring and only slowly disappeared in succeeding generations. As the science of genetics hardened, with its definitive rejection of any possibility of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, observations of dauer-modifications were sent to the scrapheap where they still lie, jumbled together with other decommissioned facts.

The standard form of a scientific paper begins with a theoretical question, which is then followed by the description of an experimental technique designed to gather observations pertinent to the question. Only then are the observations themselves described. Finally there is a discussion section in which a great deal of energy is often expended rationalizing the failure of the observations to accord entirely with a theory we really like, and in which proposals are made for other experiments that might give more satisfactory results. Sagan’s suggestion that only demonologists engage in “special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble,” is certainly not one that accords with my reading of the scientific literature. Nor is this a problem unique to biology. The attempts of physicists to explain why their measurements of the effects of relativity did not agree with Einstein’s quantitative prediction is a case no doubt well known to Sagan.

As to assertions without adequate evidence, the literature of science is filled with them, especially the literature of popular science writing. Carl Sagan’s list of the “best contemporary science-popularizers” includes E.O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, and Richard Dawkins, each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market. Wilson’s Sociobiology and On Human Nature rest on the surface of a quaking marsh of unsupported claims about the genetic determination of everything from altruism to xenophobia. Dawkins’s vulgarizations of Darwinism speak of nothing in evolution but an inexorable ascendancy of genes that are selectively superior, while the entire body of technical advance in experimental and theoretical evolutionary genetics of the last fifty years has moved in the direction of emphasizing non-selective forces in evolution. Thomas, in various essays, propagandized for the success of modern scientific medicine in eliminating death from disease, while the unchallenged statistical compilations on mortality show that in Europe and North America infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and diphtheria, had ceased to be major causes of mortality by the first decades of the twentieth century, and that at age seventy the expected further lifetime for a white male has gone up only two years since 1950. Even The Demon-Haunted World itself sometimes takes suspect claims as true when they serve a rhetorical purpose as, for example, statistics on child abuse, or a story about the evolution of a child’s fear of the dark.

Third, it is said that there is no place for an argument from authority in science. The community of science is constantly self-critical, as evidenced by the experience of university colloquia “in which the speaker has hardly gotten 30 seconds into the talk before there are devastating questions and comments from the audience.” If Sagan really wants to hear serious disputation about the nature of the universe, he should leave the academic precincts in Ithaca and spend a few minutes in an Orthodox study house in Brooklyn. It is certainly true that within each narrowly defined scientific field there is a constant challenge to new technical claims and to old wisdom. In what my wife calls the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Syndrome, young scientists on the make will challenge a graybeard, and this adversarial atmosphere for the most part serves the truth. But when scientists transgress the bounds of their own speciality they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution.

With great perception, Sagan sees that there is an impediment to the popular credibility of scientific claims about the world, an impediment that is almost invisible to most scientists. Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. When, at the time of the moon landing, a woman in rural Texas was interviewed about the event, she very sensibly refused to believe that the television pictures she had seen had come all the way from the moon, on the grounds that with her antenna she couldn’t even get Dallas. What seems absurd depends on one’s prejudice. Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity “in deep trouble.” Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

The mutual exclusion of the material and the demonic has not been true of all cultures and all times. In the great Chinese epic Journey to the West, demons are an alternative form of life, responsible to certain deities, devoted to making trouble for ordinary people, but severely limited. They can be captured, imprisoned, and even killed by someone with superior magic.

In our own intellectual history, the definitive displacement of divine powers by purely material causes has been a relatively recent changeover, and that icon of modern science, Newton, was at the cusp. It is a cliché of intellectual history that Newton attempted to accommodate God by postulating Him as the Prime Mover Who, having established the mechanical laws and set the whole universe in motion, withdrew from further intervention, leaving it to people like Newton to reveal His plan. But what we might call “Newton’s Ploy” did not really get him off the hook. He understood that a defect of his system of mechanics was the lack of any equilibrating force that would return the solar system to its regular set of orbits if there were any slight perturbation. He was therefore forced, although reluctantly, to assume that God intervened from time to time to set things right again. It remained for Laplace, a century later, to produce a mechanics that predicted the stability of the planetary orbits, allowing him the hauteur of his famous reply to Napoleon. When the Emperor observed that there was, in the whole of the Mécanique Céleste, no mention of the author of the universe, he replied, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.” One can almost hear a stress on the “I.”

The struggle for possession of public consciousness between material and mystical explanations of the world is one aspect of the history of the confrontation between elite culture and popular culture. Without that history we cannot understand what was going on in the Little Rock Auditorium in 1964. The debate in Arkansas between a teacher from a Texas fundamentalist college and a Harvard astronomer and University of Chicago biologist was a stage play recapitulating the history of American rural populism. In the first decades of this century there was an immensely active populism among poor southwestern dirt farmers and miners.

The most widely circulated American socialist journal of the time (The Appeal to Reason!) was published not in New York, but in Girard, Kansas, and in the presidential election of 1912 Eugene Debs got more votes in the poorest rural counties of Texas and Oklahoma than he did in the industrial wards of northern cities. Sentiment was extremely strong against the banks and corporations that held the mortgages and sweated the labor of the rural poor, who felt their lives to be in the power of a distant eastern elite. The only spheres of control that seemed to remain to them were family life, a fundamentalist religion, and local education.

This sense of an embattled culture was carried from the southwest to California by the migrations of the Okies and Arkies dispossessed from their ruined farms in the 1930s. There was no serious public threat to their religious and family values until well after the Second World War. Evolution, for example, was not part of the regular biology curriculum when I was a student in 1946 in the New York City high schools, nor was it discussed in school textbooks. In consequence there was no organized creationist movement. Then, in the late 1950s, a national project was begun to bring school science curricula up to date. A group of biologists from elite universities together with science teachers from urban schools produced a new uniform set of biology textbooks, whose publication and dissemination were underwritten by the National Science Foundation. An extensive and successful public relations campaign was undertaken to have these books adopted, and suddenly Darwinian evolution was being taught to children everywhere. The elite culture was now extending its domination by attacking the control that families had maintained over the ideological formation of their children.

The result was a fundamentalist revolt, the invention of “Creation Science,” and successful popular pressure on local school boards and state textbook purchasing agencies to revise subversive curricula and boycott blasphemous textbooks. In their parochial hubris, intellectuals call the struggle between cultural relativists and traditionalists in the universities and small circulation journals “The Culture Wars.” The real war is between the traditional culture of those who think of themselves as powerless and the rationalizing materialism of the modern Leviathan. There are indeed Two Cultures at Cambridge. One is in the Senior Common Room, and the other is in the Porter’s Lodge.

Carl Sagan, like his Canadian counterpart David Suzuki, has devoted extraordinary energy to bringing science to a mass public. In doing so, he is faced with a contradiction for which there is no clear resolution. On the one hand science is urged on us as a model of rational deduction from publicly verifiable facts, freed from the tyranny of unreasoning authority. On the other hand, given the immense extent, inherent complexity, and counterintuitive nature of scientific knowledge, it is impossible for anyone, including non-specialist scientists, to retrace the intellectual paths that lead to scientific conclusions about nature. In the end we must trust the experts and they, in turn, exploit their authority as experts and their rhetorical skills to secure our attention and our belief in things that we do not really understand. Anyone who has ever served as an expert witness in a judicial proceeding knows that the court may spend an inordinate time “qualifying” the expert, who, once qualified, gives testimony that is not meant to be a persuasive argument, but an assertion unchallengeable by anyone except another expert. And, indeed, what else are the courts to do? If the judge, attorneys, and jury could reason out the technical issues from fundamentals, there would be no need of experts.

What is at stake here is a deep problem in democratic self-governance. In Plato’s most modern of Dialogues, the Gorgias, there is a struggle between Socrates, with whom we are meant to sympathize, and his opponents, Gorgias and Callicles, over the relative virtues of rhetoric and technical expertise. What Socrates and Gorgias agree on is that the mass of citizens are incompetent to make reasoned decisions on justice and public policy, but that they must be swayed by rhetorical argument or guided by the authority of experts.

Gorgias: “I mean [by the art of rhetoric] the ability to convince by means of speech a jury in a court of justice, members of the Council in their Chamber, voters at a meeting of the Assembly, and any other gathering of citizens, whatever it may be.”

Socrates: “When the citizens hold a meeting to appoint medical officers or shipbuilders or any other professional class of person, surely it won’t be the orator who advises them then. Obviously in every such election the choice ought to fall on the most expert.”

Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.

Swami Karpatri On Inability Of An Idol To Defend Itself

एक बार काशी के एक योग्य विद्वान्ने मुझसे कहा कि ‘आज दुर्गाजीकी चाँदीकी आँखोंको चोर चुरा ले गये। महाराज! यदि दुर्गाजीसे अपने ही आँखोंकी रक्षा न हुई, तब वे हम सबकी रक्षा कैसे कर सकेंगी?’ किसी एक और व्यक्तिने शिवजीपर चढ़े हुए अक्षत या फलोंको ले जाती हुई मूषिकाको देखकर यह समझ लिया था कि ‘मूर्तिपूजा व्यर्थ है, मूर्तिमें देवत्व नहीं है।’

ऐसी बातोंपर विचार करनेसे विदित होता है की यह कितनी मोटी दृष्टिकी बात है। व्यापक परब्रह्म परमात्मा सर्वत्र ही रहता है, सम्पूर्ण विश्व उन्हींमें रहता है। सोना, उठना, बैठना सम्पूर्ण कर्म उन्हींमे होता है। जिस तरह गर्भस्थ बालककी सम्पूर्ण चेष्टाएँ माँके गर्भमें ही होती हैं, फिर भी माता कुपित नहीं होती। वैसे ही जीवोंकी अनेक हलचलें उसी परमात्मामें होती हैं, क्षमाशील परमात्मा सबको ही सहन करता है।

उत्क्षेपणं गर्भगतस्य पादयोः किं कल्पते मातुरधोक्षजागसे।
किमस्तिनास्तिव्यपदेशभूषितं तवास्ति कुक्षेः कियदप्यनन्तः।।
(श्रीमद्भा० १०।१४।१२)
ब्रह्माजी कहते हैं ― ‘हे अधोक्षज! गर्भगत बालकके पादोत्क्षेपणको जननी क्या अपराध मानती है? यदि नहीं तो अस्तिनास्ति व्यपदेशसे भूषित यह सम्पूर्ण विश्व क्या अपनी कुक्षिसे बाहर है?’

भगवद्ध्यनके प्रभावसे एक ज्ञानी प्राणी भी देहाभिमानिशून्य होता है। उसके एक बाहुमें कोई कण्टक चुभाता है, दूसरे बाहुमें कोई चन्दन-लिम्पन करता है। वह उतना उदार, सहनशील एवं देहाभिमानिशून्य होता है कि न अनुकूलाचरणवालोंपर प्रहृष्ट हो, न प्रतिकूलाचरणवालोंपर कुपित हो; फिर भी अपने-अपने कर्तव्यके अनुसार ही उन सबको यथासमय फल मिलता है। जब एक देह वाले भगवद्भक्त ज्ञानीकी ऐसी स्थिति है, तब अनन्तकोटि ब्रह्माण्डनायक भगवान्का तो कहना ही क्या है। उसके तो अपरिगणित देह हैं और वह महाज्ञानी सर्वत्र असंग और अभिमानशून्य है। वह किसीके सम्मान या अपमानमें किस तरह क्षुब्ध हो सकता है? भावुक लोग शास्त्रोंके आज्ञानुसार उसकी अनन्तानन्त प्रतिमाओंका निर्माणकर मन्त्रोंसे आवाहन, प्रतिष्ठापनादिद्वारा उसकी आराधना करते हैं और अपने कर्मके अनुसार ही यथाकाल फल पाते हैं। शास्त्रके अनुसार मन्त्रों एवं आराधनाओंके अनुसार पूजा-ग्रहण करने और फल देनेके लिये ही भगवान्का उन मूर्तियोंमें प्राकट्य होता है। कोई उन मूर्तियोंका अपमान करके भगवान् का कुछ भी नहीं बिगाड़ सकता है। जिस तरह सूर्यपर न जाकर निष्ठिवन करनेसे वह सूर्यपर न जाकर अपने ही ऊपर पड़ेगा, आकाशपर मुष्टिप्रहार या तलवारका चलना बेकार है, वैसे ही भगवान् पर प्रहार या उनकी मूर्तियोंका तोड़ना बेकार है। अनंत मूर्तियोंमें रहनेवाले भगवान् विश्वमूर्ति एवं अमूर्ति भगवान् इतने उदार और क्षमाशील तो हैं ही की मूर्ति तोड़नेवालोंके कर्म ही उन्हें फल देते हैं। साधारण व्यक्ति जैसे असहिष्णु कोई भी शासक नहीं होते, फिर परमेश्वरकी तो बात ही दूसरी है। किन्हीं कर्मोंके फल अवसर के अनुसार ही होते हैं। ‘ओडायर’ की हत्या करनेवाला व्यक्ति तत्काल ही पकड़ लिया गया था; परंतु तत्क्षण ही उसे फाँसी नहीं दी गयी, न गोलीसे उड़ाया गया। बकायदे न्यायालयमें न्याय हुआ। फिर दण्ड निश्चित हुआ। यथाकाल दण्ड दिया गया। जब प्राकृत शासकोंमें भी इतनी सहिष्णुता और काल-प्रतीक्षा होती है, तब फिर परमेश्वर ही सहिष्णु और कालप्रतीक्षक क्यों न हों?

सम्राट्, स्वराट्, विराट् या गवर्नर, कमिश्नर आदि कोई भी अपने अपमान करनेवाले व्यक्तिको स्वयं पकड़ने या तत्क्षण दण्ड देनेमें नहीं प्रवृत्त होते, किंतु उनके कर्मचारी लोग ही उसे पकड़नेमें प्रवृत्त होते हैं। वे ही न्यायाध्यक्षका न्याय पाकर यथाकाल दण्ड देते हैं। इसी तरह ईश्वरकी मूर्तियोंका अपमान करनेवालोंको तत्क्षण ही परमेश्वर दण्ड नहीं देता; किन्तु उसके कर्मचारी ही यथाकाल दण्ड देते हैं।

कितने ही अज्ञ कहा करते हैं कि ‘यदि परमेश्वर सर्वशक्तिमान् हो तो मैं उसे गाली देता हूँ, उसकी मूर्तिको तोड़ता हूँ, मेरे सामने आये या मेरा मुँह बन्द कर दे।’ परंतु सोचना यह चाहिये की यदि बड़े-बड़े तपस्वी युगयुगान्तरों, कल्प-कल्पान्तरोंकी तपस्याके पश्चात उसका दर्शन पाते हैं, फिर वह इन अज्ञोंके कहनेमात्रसे कैसे प्रकट हो या उनके कथनानुसार उनका मुँह कैसे बन्द करे? वस्तुतः जैसे सावधान पुरुष उन्मादी या बालककी बातोंपर ध्यान न देकर उसपर कृपा ही करता है, वैसे परमेश्वर भी कृपा ही करते हैं,‘जौं करनी समुझै प्रभु मोरी। नहिं निस्तार कलप सत कोरी।।’ (रा०च०मा० ७।१।५)

Horrifying Moplah Massacre of Hindus

Eminent Historian R C Majumdar had called Moplahs “a band of fanatic Muslims, poor and ignorant. . .(with) an unenviable reputation for crimes perpetrated under the impulsive religious frenzy. They were responsible for no fewer than thirty-five outbreaks, of a minor nature, during the British rule. But their most terrible outbreak, mainly due to the Khilafat agitation, took place in August 1921.”

What happened in August 1921?

Official British report described it as follows:
“During the early months of 1921, excitement spread speedily from mosque to mosque, from village to village. The violent speeches of the Ali Brothers, the early approach of Swaraj as fold in the non-cooperative press, the July resolutions of Khilafat Conference ― all these combined to fire the train. Throughout July and August innumerable Khilafat meetings were held, in which the resolutions of the Karachi Conference were fervently endorsed. Knives swords and spears were secretly manufactured, bands of desperados collected, and preparations were made to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of Islam. On August 20, when the District Magistrate of Calicut, with the help of troops and police, attempted to arrest certain leaders who were in possession of arms at Tirurangadi, a severe encounter took place, which was the signal for immediate rebellion throughout the whole locality. Roads were blocked, telegraph lines cut, and the railway destroyed in a number of places. The District Magistrate returned to Calicut to prevent the spread of trouble northwards, and the machinery of Government was temporarily reduced to a number of isolated officers and police stations which were attacked by the rebels and detail. Such Europeans as did not succeed in escaping ― and they were fortunately few ― were murdered with bestial savagery. As soon as the administration had been paralysed, the Mopalahs declared the Swaraj was established. A certain Ali Musaliar was proclaimed Raja, Khilafat flags were flown, and Ernad and Walluvanad were declared Khilafat kingdoms. The main brunt of Moplah ferocity was borne, not by Government, but the luckless Hindus who constituted the majority of the population. . .Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, pillage, arson and destruction ― in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism ― were perpetrated freely until such time as troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order throughout a difficult and extensive tract of country.”

Official version is verified by the following independent testimonies.

1.) A statement signed by the Secretary and Treasurer of the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee, Secretary, Calicut District Congress Committee, Ernad Khilafat Committee, and KV Gopala Menon refers to the following misdeeds of the Moplahs:

“Their wanton and unprovoked attack on Hindus; the all but wholesale looting of their houses in Ernad and parts of Valluvanad, Ponnani, and Calicut taluqs; the forcible conversion of Hindus in a few places in the beginning of the rebellion, and the wholesale conversion of those who stuck to their homes in the later stages; the brutal murder of inoffensive Hindus; men, women and children in cold blood, without the slightest reason except that they are “Kaffirs” or belong to the same race as the policemen, who insulted their Tangals and or entered their mosques; the desecration and burning of Hindu temples; the outrage on Hindu women and their forcible conversions and marriage by the Moplahs.”
The signatories add: “These and similar atrocities (were) proved beyond the shadow of doubt by the statements recorded by us from the actual sufferers who have survived.”

2.) The memorial of the women of Malabar to Lady Reading contains the following:
“It is possible that your Ladyship is not fully appraised of all the horrors and atrocities perpetrated by the fiendish rebels; of the many tanks filled up with the mutilated, but often only half dead bodies were nearest and dearest ones who refused to abandon the faith of our fathers; of pregnant women cut to pieces and left on the roadsides and in the jungles, with the unborn babe protruding from the mangled corpse; of our innocent and helpless children torn from our arms and done to death before our eyes and of our husbands and fathers tortured, flayde and burnt alive; of our hapless sisters forcibly carried away from the midst of kith and kin and subjected to every shame and outrage which the vile and brutal imagination of these inhuman hell-hounds could conceive of; of thousands of our homesteads reduced to cinder-mounds out of sheer savagery and a wanton spirit of destruction; of our places of worship desecrated and destroyed and of the images of deity shamefully insulted by putting the entrails of slaughtered cows where flower garlands used to lie, or else smashed to pieces. . .We remember how driven out of our native hamlets we wandered, starving and naked, in the jungles and forests.”
(This is only a short extract from a harrowing tale of misery.)

3.) Proceedings of the Conference at Calicut presided over by the Zamorin.
“Resolution VI. That the conference views with indignation and sorrow the attempts made in various quarters by interested parties to ignore or minimise the crimes committed by the rebel such as
A. Brutally dishonouring women;
B. Flaying people alive
C. Wholesale slaughter of men, women and children
D. Burning alive entire families;
E. Forcibly converting people in thousands and slaying those who refused to get converted;
F. Throwing half-dead people into wells and leaving the victims for hours to struggle for escape till finally released from their sufferings by death.”

(Two other items refer to looting and desecration of temples as described in the above memorial of the ladies)

4.) Typical instances of horrible outrageous on women were described in the “New India” edited by Mrs Annie Besant and “The Times of India”. Reference may be made to the brutal treatment of a respectable Nair lady at Melator and the way a large number of Hindu girls were outraged. Inquisitive readers would find these and other incidents in the appendix of Sankaran Nair’s book “Gandhi and Anarchy”.

5.) Sankaran Nair points out that “in addition to those mentioned in these articles two other forms of torture were credibly reported as having been resorted to in the case of men, namely, skinning alive, and making them dig their own graves before their slaughter.”

Majumdar wrote that “The Congress leaders at first disbelieved the stories. Gandhi himself spoke of “brave God fearing Moplahs” who were “fighting for what they consider as religious.” Little wonder that Khilafat leaders passed resolutions of congratulations to the Moplahs on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion. But when Hundreds of Hindu refugees arriving at Calicut confirmed the most terrible stories of barbarous and fanatical cruelty, a wave of horror passed over those Hindus who were not blinded by Gandhi’s new-fangled idea of Hindu-Muslim unity at any cost. Local members of the Congress and Khilafat asked for, and obtained, permission to enter the disturbed area in order to pacify the Moplahs, but they speedily returned with frank admission that they could effect nothing. When truth could not be suppressed any longer, and came out with all its naked hideousness, Gandhi tried to conciliate Hindu opinion by various explanations, denials, and censure of the authorities which were crystallized in the following resolution passed by the Congress at Ahmedabad:

The Congress expresses its firm conviction that the Moplah disturbance was not due to the Non-cooperation or the Khilafat Movement, specially as the non-corporators and the Khilafat preachers were denied access to the affected parts by the District authorities for six months before the disturbance, but is due to causes wholly unconnected with the two movements, and that the outbreak would not have occurred had the message of non-violence been allowed to reach them. Nevertheless, this Congress deplores the acts done by certain Moplahs by way of forcible conversions and destruction of life and property and is of opinion that the prolongation of disturbance in Malabar could have been prevented by the Government of Madras accepting the preferred assistance of Moulana Yakub Hassan and other Non-co-orperators and allowing Mahatma Gandhi to proceed to Malabar, and is further of opinion that the treatment of Moplah prisoners as evidenced by the asphyxiation incident was an act of inhumanity unheard of in modern times and unworthy of a Government that calls itself civilized.””

Majumdar remarks that this resolution was “unworthy of a great national organization, which launched the Non-co-operation movement as a protest against the Panjab atrocities.