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Ethnicity replaces intellectuality in market surroundings


7 June 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Afreeha Jawad

Some of the findings in sociology theories need re - thinking in the present systemic context. Class, power and status are theories that were the major concern areas of famous sociologist Max Weber born in 1864.

On the theory of status he describes the impact of intellectuality on it. Certainly, Weber was not wrong though, not applicable anymore for the economic and political power of modern times commands more respect and status over intellectuality in societies where money and political power are much respected.

The intellect in such environs is dulled and the few remaining intellectuals go disregarded. A case in point where scant respect for intellectuality in present times is evident is in the happenings concerning Sri Lanka’s one and only colourful diplomat, Ray Forbes, following his unwillingness to be the ‘Yes’ man and ‘hurrah boy’ of the system who preferred the wilds of the Vanni in a chena to the servility and bourgeois existence of the foreign ministry.

No one even attempts to find out his whereabouts except DIG Lathif who has activated his men at the writer’s request on a wild goose chase for Forbes in Anuradhapura. Very rarely do we witness the courage to wind up on moral grounds expected only from men of character.

" Challenging the system invites disfavour amidst a highly stratified social layout  "

US President Barack Obama wouldn’t say ‘no’ to the system and wind up his presidency when Israel refused his request of getting back to the pre - ‘73 borders. He, incidentally, is now Netanyahu’s good friend getting on like a mansion on fire.

That speaks for all his intellectual rhetoric. Weber’s analysis on the social recognition of intellectuality that was seen from the 15th century onwards - starting the renaissance or the period of questioning and learning stands out unlike today where in many parts of the world except in the Liberal West, challenging the system invites disfavour amidst a highly stratified social layout.

A rising middle class with ultra - nationalistic tendencies in whom rests political and economic power is hell - bent on fostering newer and more dangerous stratification through ethnicity and religion as well - for this is the key to political and economic power within their respective enclaves. This is to be seen in the Islamic Brotherhood and its parallel among other ethno/ religious groups worldwide.

We no longer have the Bala Tampoes and Gunasinghas of the 1960s - both trade union stalwarts riding the crest wave of economic disparity shouting anti - capitalist slogans of ‘danapathi bangawaywa.’

It was only the trade unions of yesteryear that scorned labour exploiting affluence - the very ingredient that is looked upon as being’ paragons of virtue’ today and a media ever willing to highlight such personalities

" Contrary to such narrow, warped and rigid thinking is the enlightened Indian outlook. She struck universal chord when two Muslims - Zakir Hussein and Abdul Kalam were appointed presidents not to forget Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the Sikh minority "

At the time of Weber’s findings, pedigree earned much social recognition even devoid of riches. This practice continued till of late until class replaced caste.
For instance in Sri Lanka ascribed status or pedigree was the prime consideration for entry into the police force and Bikkhu ordination.
Social stratification amid achieved status is today devoid of the stratification that was under caste surroundings. As a result professions, business conglomerates and not pedigree are viewed as’ good’ families.

In such a social set up the rate of anonymity is very high. No one’s pedigree is known in an environment of achieved status. Having gained entry into position
This rising middle class in all communities is knocking at the door of political and economic power and are one way and linear in outlook.
Ultra nationalistic tendencies and jingoism escalate worldwide.

As a result, un-accommodative, rigid, stereotypes galore devoid of political insight.
For instance a non - Muslim as president in a Muslim country is a living impossibility as much as a non - Buddhist president in a Buddhist country even with constitutional provision for such accommodation.

It is public knowledge that no amount of national service enabled Lakshman Kadirgarmar to be Prime Minister of this country. What went wrong is all history now.
Social stratification on ethno/religious lines is the qualifying agent for power needless to speak of pleasing one’s own group to retain power.
Contrary to such narrow, warped and rigid thinking is the enlightened Indian outlook. She struck universal chord when two Muslims - Zakir Hussein and Abdul Kalam were appointed presidents not to forget Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the Sikh minority.

This then is not to rule out the absence of such cultural elegance in Muslim countries as well that cradle minorities.

As inter and intra - religious identities are made use of for social stratification in order to wield and sustain political power, it is left for civil society to crack the whip as we see in the latest trend among the Lebanese. As a first step into a secular state they are now moving away from religious to civil marriages.

Making headway in such endeavour were Sukarieh and Darwísh - a Lebanese couple of shia/ sunni mix that opted for a civil marriage instead of a religious one.
The sectarian system is a source of material and political power for religious and political figures,’’ said Lamiah Osseiran - an activist- member of the Lebanese Civil Centre for National Initiative.

‘’Politicians are benefiting from this. You take that out- they lose their power,’’ she said.

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