Karl Mannheim / Ideology and Utopia

“ The concept ‘ideology’ reflects the one discovery which emerged from political conflict, namely, that ruling groups can in their thinking be come so intensively interest-bound to a situation that they are simply no longer able to see certain facts which would undermine their sense of domination. There is implicit in the word ‘ideology’ the insight that in certain situations the collective unconscious of certain groups obscures the real condition of society both to itself and to others and thereby stabilizes it. Continue reading “Karl Mannheim / Ideology and Utopia”

Civilizations vs. Barbarians

“… even when the great civilizations developed, they set their bound aries somewhere.

…. the Chinese Empire had no Foreign Affairs Department, since it was civilization, and all else barbarism – they recognized the existence of life beyond the lines, but only barbarian life.

The line where civilization ended was patrolled by armed men, guarded by Roman and Chinese walls. As to what lay beyond, they were not too interested…”

— Worsley, Peter. (1967). The Third World.

Fascism as a state of mind

Shahzeb Khanzada presented a cogent and historically informed analysis of fascism in his program on April 22, 2022, which provoked an immediate reaction. Interestingly, he did not name any (Pakistani) names, but it was immediately understood on both sides to whom he was referring. There is one man whose politics fits the bill – and we all know who he is. Some folk protested Khanzada’s mordant analogy citing their leader never committed the mass atrocities fascists did in the past. They are wrong. Fascism should not be reduced to Nazism. Fascism is far broader than a single historical case; fascism is a state of mind

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Imran Khan and Presidential System: What’s lurking behind an apparently innocent desire?

Autocratic leaders love Presidential System – and Imran Khan is no exception. Pakistan has witnessed a consistent deterioration of democracy and fundamental rights quality during his nearly four years-long stint. He has touted Presidential System on many occasions while in power. Now that he has been ousted through a constitutional process by an active parliament, he has once again tried to discredit the Parliamentary System to preach a transition to a Presidential System. His logic? A Presidential System bars dishonest politicians from holding power. The reality? Such a system is potential autocrats’ personal favorite.  

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Imran Khan’s Dismal Performance in 10 Charts

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” 

“There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.”

These quotes are attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – the German poet and playwright. Well, quotes are quotes, and as an academic, I am inclined to find sources and exact page numbers. However, even if they cannot be authentically linked to Goethe, they capture the political situation Pakistan finds herself in, i.e., between an aggressively stupid leadership and its frightfully ignorant following.

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On Baudrillard and “Impossible Burgers”

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth – it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.” – Ecclesiastes*

* (this is not a direct quote from Ecclesiastes but something invented by Baudrillard to stands as a strong metaphor to idea of simulation – that it is not real!)

“Burger” is a pejorative term that entered Pakistani popular discourse in the recent decade to denote young, westernized, affluent, urban elite, who study at expensive private schools, speak English rather than Urdu in their social circle, and prefer eating burgers over the local cuisine. They are constantly derided for being out of touch with mainstream Pakistani politics and society. “Impossible Burgers” are the vegetarian substitute for beef-based hamburgers created by Impossible Foods and introduced by the fast-food chain, Burger King, that became immensely popular with the ‘conscious’ consumers for being an environmentally friendly product, which not only simulates the real meat but also tastes better than it. Burger King even offers a promotion to try both products out and find any difference. To make it real – or surreal or in Baudrillard’s definition of the situation, hyperreal – the Impossible Burger patties ‘drip blood’, which happen to be just beetroot juice. Impossible Burgers, hence for the sake of thought experiment, are a milestone simulacrum in our journey towards a total simulated reality in which the sovereign difference between the simulated and the real will gradually disappear – turning us into “burgers” who will no longer be able to distinguish between the real and the simulated. 

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