I was a few days back reading Rasul Bakhsh Rais’ book Recovering the Frontier State: War, Ethnicity, and State in Afghanistan. I read an interesting paragraph: ‘The state [Afghanistan] got destroyed in its early phase of modernization when its institutional base was infirm…..They [Afghan leaders and the international community] are [now] trying to reconstruct Afghanistan’s political institutions, structure of governance, vital institutions of the state, infrastructure, and rural economy. The reconstruction model has ingredients of modernity with a focus on human development, representative institutions and an effective statehood.’
What strikes me was the paradoxical approach of the West to convert Afghanistan in a modern state. The West is institutionally modern, as they try to establish universal institutions with universal values.
Since culture transformation is associated with civilization, scientific civilization always changed the ways of life. This means according to the modernism a universal culture should be there in every part of the world with same universal values based on rationality.
They say ‘what is rational is acceptable’. From 16 to 20 century modernization protected its rationalization. But in the 20th century post modernism and critical theory questioned the modern approach of universality of values.
Modernism for long suppressed and prioritized some cultures, and we can say modernism did some sort of cultural cleansing which was witnessed by some western thinkers (it was predictable modern life the modernism created).
Then in the 20th century post modernist thinkers questioned that modern values are not universal because rationality is culturally specific and historically determined (post modernism believes that rationality doesn’t suffice).
It is a fact that there is no single universal paradigm (criterion) to classify cultures as culture is an intrinsic expression of a given community.
Post modernists then promoted multiculturalism by raising slogan ‘small but beautiful’. They appreciate cultures due to their diversity and preach that don’t try to transform cultures by dint of culture shock.
It is to be noted that post modernism too has priority basis like modernism but in aesthetics only.
Sadly, 20th century philosophers retreated from universal order of culture (modernity of university) by saying that they don’t have any rational defence against modern values.
Anyway, the relevance of multiculturalism in non-western world is to create tolerance, as it is believed that pre-modern cultures are non-tolerant due to their prior concept of good.
Now, the situation is quite clear for the reader I guess. So what my actual argument is that unfortunately the epicenter of multicultural society is modernism.
The West that is promoting multiculturalism in the third world countries is itself not adhering to it. This is a paradox. This shows the West doesn’t tolerate any corner of the world where people are not transforming themselves according to the modern values.
So, the attack on Afghanistan for losing its modern values and now current efforts of transforming it into a modern state itself is a contradictory according to modern and post modern philosophy.
Don’t religions have right to eliminate abhorred things even when they have justification that God doesn’t like them? Because, modernism too does the same thing (eroding of other cultures to establish universality of values) without any justification.
Also, why the West feels the need of preaching post-modernist multiculturalism by which there is a dire need of tolerating other cultures. I wonder if there are any answers.