Social cataclysm 

Pakistani social theories must take the European, Western and Northern experiences into account regarding emergence of political ideologies and theories

Cataclysm as a concept emerging from strategic nexus of politico-socio-economic domain also contextually stems or draws for its exploratory, explanatory and descriptive power from Anatol Rapaport’s Three Philosophies of War i.e., Political, Cataclysmic and Eschatological. Regarding Cataclysm falling under area of philosophy, Rapoport closely studied not just causes of war but also relationship between war and human nature. Theorists and Philosophers likened States to be similar to Humans in terms of behaviours such as in case of realism, liberalism and other theories as well as their various strands emerging distinctively over period of time. Correspondingly, the various schools of thoughts debated by scholars, academics and practitioners across Political Science, International Relations, Peace & Conflict Studies, Security & Strategic Studies, Governance & Policy, Law, Socio-anthropological-philosophical-psychological-cultural studies have a close link to study of violence. The persistence of violence as well as its intensifying is cataclysm. The intensification can have politico-economic nexus with social.

Moreover, war itself is organized violence. In modern world, the globalisation of world itself has led to increased and rapid inter-connection between countries, people, organisations, government and state causing complexity and uncertainty due to emerging warfare (‘organised violence’) domains and their respective types, form and nature.  In third world, social cataclysm is a reality. In developed countries, the nation-states are out of the zone. In rapidly emerging & developing countries, social cataclysm may have a defining role before such countries manage to install such viable governmental set-up with state power that is established upon reliable security architecture and credible strategic infrastructure. Social cataclysm existed in the conditions of 1800s when the tug of war between state and empires was tending towards conclusion. An example is the re-unification (simultaneous, prior and subsequent to wars and reformation as part of whole process of formation of nation-state as well as respective political thought, ideology and philosophy) of Italy leading to rise of fascism as State rule solidified its sovereignty through wars & reformation to overcome the Church and Medieval Empires. 

The word, ‘Social Cataclysm’ is found for first time in the letter written in 1871 by American General Albert Pike to Giuseppe Mazzini, the leader behind the re-unification of Italy. However, the emergence of Modern European Nation-States such as Italy & Germany as well as Soviet Union were linked with unification through reformation based upon political ideologies such as Fascism, Nazism and Communism. Mazzini’s re-unification of Italy also resulted in Fascism. Interestingly, the letter mentions all three aforementioned political ideologies. Nevertheless, letter was allegedly in possession of British Library till 1970s but it denies any such possession. Nevertheless, the utility of concept of Social Cataclysm stands its ground.

Ultimately, the World Wars 1 & 2 occurred as result of political ideologies (emerging through social cataclysm) resulting in military armed aggression. The result of such social cataclysms leading to wars also resulted in development of international system and world order. Critically, the process as western experience needs to be identified, observed, studied, tested and examined for its utility in post-colonial and decolonial nature and then be applied into Pakistani, Global South and Asian context. Infact, the letter goes beyond the social cataclysms related to three political ideologies and further ventures into futuristic thinking. Charles Kegley highly reveres Giuseppe Mazzini’s futuristic thinking in his book titled ‘World Politics.’ Furthermore, ‘Globalisation of world politics’ (written by John Baylis, Steve Smith & Patricia Owens) also discusses the political acumen of Giuseppe Mazzini. Overall, it gives great insight into the brilliant political understanding of 19th century political leaders regarding socio-economic issues, problems and challenges. In contemporary era, US President Biden’s remark of ‘Cohesion’ regarding Pakistan amidst Russia-Ukraine War and China-Taiwan conflict was misconstrued to safety & security of Nuclear Weapons & Atomic Program.

Nevertheless, it is testification to US leadership capacity & capability that it recognises the impact, implication and influence of strategic nexus of politic-economic dynamics on social aspects in democracy. The ‘cohesion’ remark has social connotations with relativity to politico-economic dynamics. Pakistan faced disruption leading to further intensification of looming crisis into high instability, disturbance, turbulence, disarray, disunity, distrust and divisive politics reflecting modern and contemporary form, shape, level and nature of social cataclysm. In Iran, the feminist-gender aspect sparked outrage into streets. 

In globalized world, disruption-cohesion can be understood in terms of social cataclysm. The paradigm can be easily studied in domains of Political Science to explore social aspects in Local Government, Political Sociology, Civil Society, Area Studies being relative to Political Thought, Political Theories, Political Ideologies when examining History through Social lens towards Politico-Economic base of international system and world order. Infact, US President Biden has remained Vice President of USA during Obama era which was situated in middle of War on Terror but he had personally witnessed the time of Cold War. Considerably, the role of World Wars, Cold War and War on Terror in firmly establishing western/European/northern-centric system has led to social response in East/Global South based upon politico-economic matters. Strikingly, the fourth extremist wave identified as religious fundamentalism was linked to Iranian Religious Revolution 1979 by David Rapoport, the leading expert on study of extremist wave. David Rapoport predicted the ebbing away of current extremist wave by 2026. An interesting matter at this point in time is that the very Iranian Religious Revolution is being replaced by Gender-oriented feminist Iranian revolution.

The Iranian revolutions in 1979 & 2022 are deeply entrenched in social psyche then reflected into politico-economic dynamics. In 2022, Pakistan also faced social cataclysm. However, the insecurity emerging was from climate, environmental and other forms of non-traditional and non-military insecurity. The threat became existential as weak Pakistan would be then making near-to-failed attempts at securing loans, aids, assistance and packages. The political divisions worsened social fabric of Pakistan. It was supposed to be next logical phase after Charter of Democracy i.e. Charter of Economy.

The Economic Diplomacy prioritised in National Security Policy 2022-26 (produced by Strategic Policy Planning Cell) met utter failure. Pakistan needed a leadership that would steer it out of crisis without delving into blame-game and divisive politics. The non-political threats such as climate crisis worsened social cataclysm as any plausible scenario of consensus based on political wisdom was dimmed. Instead of waging war against threats as unified nation-state by focusing on unification for reformation, the war was diverted inside through attacking upon social lens towards politico-economic paradigm. It still remains to be seen whether there can be social re-unification in Pakistan to cement cohesion against any future disruption. In short, social matters related to politic-economic dynamics suggest level of cohesion-disruption. Nevertheless, it is the test of leadership, specifically in third world countries, as they face perpetual dilemmas, persistent violence and unending conflict consolidating to present social cataclysm.

The social aspect toward politico-economic matters reflects the political thought, theories and ideologies of the leadership. Biden’s statement in the capacity of US President also reflects his capabilities as a Leader. His reading of situation at time of his coercive diplomacy against Russia (military) & China (economic) to prior, simultaneous and subsequent social element in Muslim Nation-States and minority populations is also part of political domain of thoughts and ideologies emerging in aftermath in response toward western/euro/norther-centrism. In Pakistan, the masses outrage signaled after PTI’s ouster at US was ultimately test case for social cataclysm in reality.

Considerably, Biden had a point as he mentioned ‘Cohesion’ in Pakistan context as he understood the crisis. Simultaneously, it also brings Pakistani leadership’s acumen of capacity & capability into question. The case of social cataclysm leads to need for Pakistani-oriented social theories to be developed and brought into limelight as well as highlight its requirement in order to address cohesion crisis. It cannot and must not be separated from Mazzini’s futuristic thinking on lines of Re-unification of Pakistan based upon Security, Progress and Peace to overcome social cataclysm amidst existential crisis. The next paragraph opens up debate and discussion beyond ‘re-unification’ of leadership. 

The social cataclysm is an indicator of leadership crisis. Pike, in his letter to Mazzini, focuses on role of elite which tends to be associated with unification through reformation. The elite as real leadership has a social role in politico-economic matters. Elite tends to itself become synonymous to ‘dynamics.’ Elite in Pakistan is also the visible owner and controller of system but is it also the creator? This is question of politico-economic matters in social settings when it comes to elite’s view, behavior, attitude and approach to idea of Re-unification of Pakistan and the concepts relatively stemming and emerging from it. An example is that how, what, whence and why Cohesion and Re-unification can be related? Can both address disruptions contributing to social cataclysm?  Or re-unification must be replaced by something else to contribute to cohesion? In ultimate pursuit, Pakistan’s existential crisis is the exhaustion of its efforts be it fiscal/financial, monetary, economic, military / defense, diplomacy, leadership, system etc. That is the highest level of most severe and dangerous threat to Pakistan. Pakistan can find strength and opportunity in its Leadership and People on same page about consensus beyond elite interests. This can possibly increase potential success and effectiveness of testing re-unification of leadership. However, that may only be one of various diverse path and method. Charter of Consensus is a must to not only act decisively against sources of violence but also gain trust, confidence and reliance of the masses. 

Pike links social cataclysm to Nihilism which has roots in Nietzschean thought; the buck for Pike doesn’t stop till mid 20th century but ventures beyond. Pike further mentions the re-unification of Arab Moslem World in opposing Political Zionism with particular reference to leadership. As an observer, the path to WW 1, Inter-war period, WW2, Cold War and the War against Terrorism doesn’t deviate from futuristic image as discussed, debated and presented in Andrew Heywood’s Global Politics. Amidst such social cataclysm, the most important and significant work is to address the violent extremism & radicalism of those leaders who’re contributing to nihilism through political thought & ideology perpetrating social cataclysm. This is major component of solution package to resolve Pakistan’s cohesion crisis. Its execution through Peace Education, Peace Research and Peace Studies is obligatory for successful leadership needed to effectively deal with existential crisis which needs to be applied into PS, IR, SSS, GP, Law and SAPPC Studies.

National & Global Leadership by US is defined for success and effectiveness through Open Trade, Open Communication and Open Skies. The ‘Open’ status is extended into every possible domain even including ‘Open Societies.’ There is a link between the development of international system & world order and, Wars (From Inter-European Civil war to World Wars to Cold War to War on Extremism). Pike states that every comparative political ideology during world wars and other wars (of national, regional & global nature) are linked with work of elite.  Nevertheless, Nihilism has increased which highlights need for re-unification associated with social-induced movements and, its relativity to the exhaustion of moral, physical, social, spiritual and economic forces. This also reflects the Global South and Euro/West/North-centrism debate. Political Ideology remains at the center. The relatively most critical, crucial, instrumental question here is the emergence of Nihilism as an extremist, violent and radical domain. US President Biden precisely meant that Pakistan’s Cohesion is threatened by Nihilism. The discursive & content analysis of Biden’s statements as well as entailing actions is also reflected in his interest in comparative theology and contemporary theology which he himself claims to be center of his career interest of being politician, leader and statesman.

The statements mentioning theology came during Eid-ul-Fitr in 2022, in his address to Muslim Community at the White House, in which US President Biden also mentioned Hidden Imam along with comparative and contemporary theology.

Similarly, the Pakistani social theories must take the European, Western and Northern experiences into account regarding emergence of political ideologies, theories and thought and their association with re-unification (tending toward unified leadership) as well as connection to elite, cohesion and disruption reflected for their nature in terms of level, forms and types inducing effects (impact, implications and influence).  Ultimately, Pakistani leadership must deal with Social Cataclysm by dealing with Nihilism as well as focusing on education by prioritising social paradigm of politico-economic domain due to emerging warfare domains leading to uncertainty and complexity as Pike’s letter mentions the settings of another world war. Hence, the emerging political ideology, thought and philosophy must be identified, observed and examined in terms of cross-domain research for relativity to Pike’s content and context stated in terms of their utility amidst social cataclysm and nihilism. Biden’s cohesion statement has set forth the momentum for Leadership. 

Waqas Mahmood Ali is an International Strategy Analyst and Political commentator. Waqas is a former member of staff at 'The Nation' newspaper. He is 'Phd Candidate' at Strategic Studies Department at Air University. He is associated with Newspapers, Radio and, Policy, Political and Media think tanks. He can be reached on twitter at @WaqasMahmoodAli

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