Open Forum

The Mob, Mobocrats and Mobocracy

I have been watching with utter dismay and disbelief that a nuclear power like Pakistan is so completely helpless and powerless in clearing its capital of a bellicose mob, hell-bent on challenging the writ of the Government - and by that token the will of the state.

Nov 21, 2017
By Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed
 
I have been watching with utter dismay and disbelief that a nuclear power like Pakistan is so completely helpless and powerless in clearing its capital of a bellicose mob, hell-bent on challenging the writ of the Government - and by that token the will of the state.
 
The government is paralysed and constantly begging Khadim Hussain Rizvi and his followers to bring to an end his dharna protesting some rewording of the law declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a fake prophet. The Ahle Sunnat Ulema consider that sacrilegious behaviour, hence the sit-in protest. The worst abuses are being hurled against those who are perceived to have conspired to ease the law on the Ahmadi/Qadiyani issue.
 
A mob is a group of people who want to intimidate and terrorize others by using street power and brute force to make a mockery of the rule of law. The worst outcome could be that Pakistan becomes a mobocracy because it could never have been a secular democracy and an Islamic democracy inevitably leads to majoritarian rule.
 
Utter chaos and anarchy prevailing everyday on the roads and streets is now becoming the main form of politics.
 
I have a feeling the ultimate chaos and anarchy is in our heads and our way of cognizing the world.
 
There are many theories about who is doing what. The most popular is that the Deep State is orchestrating this to further destabilize the Sharif Government.
 
If that were true all the Deep State needed was to use its power and influence to close the noose on the Sharifs in legal ways.
 
Why involve extremists in fomenting mayhem?
 
An alternative view can be that extremism is no longer the creature of any agency but that it now permeates all sections of society and is a force by itself.
 
I am inclined towards the latter view. It is frightening and demoralizing for most decent people.
 
But if you do not provide some promises of a better future to your people, they have no access to clean water and clean air and all around them are callous and apathetic beneficiaries of the crass and obscene Consumer Society then it is not surprising that the Mobocrat appeals as the Saviour of a people who give up on worldly hopes and joys and start believing that as a mob they enjoy more attention, respect and instill fear and maybe they would be rewarded for such services in the hereafter.
 
It has happened many times in the past. Nazism and Fascism emerged in very similar circumstance. Are we moving in the same direction? I have a feeling that this is slow-motion decline into a form of cultural fascism.
 
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University;  and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. 

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