Feudal Culture, Social Institutions and Technological Innovation

This is the crux of an analysis by Akbar Ali - an unknown thinker of Pakistan .
The people who have vested interests in the promotion of culture first try to create romanticism in it and then draw their intuition from that romance. The majority of common masses being not well acquainted with the dynamics of culture fall prey to the trap of these exploiters.

Culture has a deep relationship with social institutions. Social institution is an organization of people formed to achieve a certain goal. As we move backwards in history, the number of institutions decrease till we reach a point where the only available institution was that of hunting which neither needed any police or state nor any jails or government. Every person was free to execute justice and everyone had law of one’s own. If we study culture in the medieval ages we find out that the culture was based on feudal and royal interactions. There were separate laws for the conquerors and the conquered. Human rights for slave girls and cancubines were different from those of elite women. It was not considered against the sanctity of human dignity to consider the daughters, mothers and sisters of the conquered nation as cancubines and slave girls. Considering minority of other tribes as second-class citizens was a pre requisite for the tribal glory of the majority. Patience and perseverance were made to be considered as virtues in such culture of loot and plunder.

Social institutions are formed first and laws for these institutions are made later. If we try to befit contemporary institutions - which are the product of scientific thought, into the frame of medieval institutions and follow the same laws as that of medieval institutions then we would also have to go back to the same medieval age. In such case, again, the society would become feudalized and tribal prejudice would become inevitable. Duality would appear in the human rights. The Common and collective interests would get divided into those of families, tribes, races, groups and sects. This division would weaken our control over the forces of evolution which would result in the non-institutionalization of society while it is a fact that the progress of a society is measured by the number and strength of its social institutions.

In order to institutionalize our society we need to get rid of those obstacles which are impeding our collective progress and social evolution. The prevalent culture in most of the third world countries is agrarian or feudal culture. Two forces are responsible for putting an end to the feudal culture. The first is the force of social organization and the second is the force of technological innovation.

It was the force of social organization which played a pivotal role in the French revolution when the old concepts of human rights were replaced by the new ones. The new concepts of human rights gave birth to new institutions which in turn mobilized the masses to challenge the injustice and hegemony of the old institutions of kingship and monarchy. This triggered a movement which got transformed into a democratic revolution and replaced monarchy with democracy.

The second agency which challenged the reigns of feudal culture was the invention of steam engine which shifted the balance of power from the monarchs and kings to the common masses. Steam engine was first invented in Britain. The industrial revolution which followed changed the production and ownership relationship. Manufacturing and trade consciousness became the talk of the town in Britain. The country was transformed into a workshop of innovation. The industrial revolution changed the culture, the traditions and the superstitions of the masses. Military war became the last resort for the military forces. It was preceded by war of diplomacy, psychological warfare and trade war. The power of the machine amplified the human might indefinitely. The élan vital of industrial, financial, trade and military institutions converted the man power of Britain into a powerful bomb. Participation of common man in the production process polarized the society and trade unions came into existence to safeguard their rights. Trade culture acted as a trigger to evolve commercialism. New weapons were invented for the security forces. Industrial and trade culture became more productive and created more capital than agri- culture and feudal culture.

Britain became an imperialist power due to her financial discipline, industrial culture and trading power. The argument that Britain became an imperial power by buying the loyalties of the treacherous persons in the conquered nations is absolutely wrong. The biggest treachery was committed by the feudal productive institutions of the conquered lands. When these countries became the markets for Britain, their feudal means of production proved to be weak and of no comparison vis-à-vis the British mechanical system of manufacturing.

Using the forces of social organization and technological innovation a nation can change her destiny from a weak and poor nation to a respectable and powerful nation. Keeping this in view, it is difficult to argue scientifically that with a tribal and agrarian culture and lack of institutions and technological innovations, the third world countries will ever become sovereign countries and will never be used as a playground for powerful countries or their mercenaries to play their political chess in the name of religion or culture within their territories.
[Inspired from Akbar Ali]

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