Towards a Proutist View on the Gulf War (1991)

Sohail Inayatullah (Written in 1991)

Coming to terms with the present Gulf crises is a difficult task for an inhabitant of this planet as well as for the planet and her eco-system as well.  It is especially difficult for Muslims and those sympathetic to civilizations who have found their meaning systems cannibalized by various colonialists.  To even begin to understand this crises in the Gulf one must, I believe, approach it from multiple perspectives.  The Proutist perspective1, in particular, offers a richer explanatory scheme then either the Iraqi, Arab, or American/Allied positions.

First, is the obvious factual level of the present.  Here Iraq has attacked and occupied another nation.  Whether Iraq was justified is not the issue: the issue is that naked aggression has occurred. This aggression has caused untold suffering on Kuwait citizens. From a Proutist view, this action must be deplored: ahimsa has been transgressed.

But this is not the only level of analysis.  There is the historical level.  And it is this level that the analysis becomes far more complicated.  Salient factors are the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Western promise to give Arabs nationhood if they fought against Germany, the arbitrary division of borders by Western powers and, of course, the creation of Israel (an ethnically, religiously exclusive state).  Given this history then understanding the Iraq-Kuwait conflict is far more problematic.  While American foreign policy finds these variables spurious, from the Proutist view they are critical in that even while Iraq has committed violence against Kuwait (and earlier Iran) at the same time, the situation Iraq has been placed in is directed related to a history of colonialism and Orientalism (in which Arabs and others see themselves not through their eyes but through the eyes of the colonial masters).  Here Prout as a social movement against colonialism is far more sympathetic to the Arab cause, especially the goal to be heard, to be of significance to the world community.  And while Prout does not endorse any particular religion as it intends to support and nurture the spiritual dimension of all religions while discouraging the “ideological” dimensions, it does understand that Islam while at one level is an ancient religion that must be reconstituted to make it relevant to the next century, Islam is, nonetheless, an important balancing voice to the materialism, nationalism, and anti-ecological industrialism of the West.

However, while sympathetic to Islam as an anti-systemic movement–and this brings us to our next point–Prout does recognize the right of Israel to exist.  And, given, this history of this struggle, Prout also recognizes the right of the Palestinians to their homeland.   The way out of the contradiction moves us to the next level of analysis.  The Future level.  While the Gulf crises certainly is reinforcing the nation-state has a unit of organization, this war is partly about the end of the nation-state.  Among the possible new Gulf orders that might emerge from this is the redivision of these nations along geographical, bioregional and cultural lines not along religious lines.   Besides their own history it is the structure of imperialism that makes Jews and Muslims see the other as enemy.  They do not speak to each other rather they speak through other superpowers: powers who have constructed these boundaries themselves.  Thus while Prout acknowledges the nation-state and its present boundaries, it makes contentious their historical creation, and urges a new order based on alternative divisions.  It while recognizing the three religions that have developed from the Middle-East, seeks to encourage the spiritual similarities between the three (spiritual practices, universalism, global fraternal outlook, family/cooperative oriented economies).

How does Prout view the actions of the allies.  To begin with, Proutist thinking makes analytic differences between types of Peace–static peace and sentient peace.  This first is embedded in injustice while the latter emerges from a struggle in which injustice and oppression are rooted out.  Thus, while it is admirable that the world community is aiding Kuwait in rooting out the imperialism beset on them at the same time are justice and peace the motives of the Allies, particularly the US and Great Britain or are the true motives Oil, support of the Arms industry (in terms of testing out products) and the creation of new economic and cultural zones for future economic and political colonialization.   Given the history of these two nations (their own invasions, their rather global definition of their own national interests, their historical war mongering throughout the world), it appears that it is not sentient peace that the Allies want but a new static peace; one that favors their cultural, political and economic interests.  Saudi Arabia is also complicit in this.  The untold wealth created in the Middle-East in the last thirty years did not go towards third world economic development rather it went to stock markets in the West and in luxury consumptions.  Some trickled down to South Asian countries through labor imports.  Prout favors intervention in nations when the the goal is sentient peace, however, often the reasons for intervention are merely the replacement of one static peace, one imperial colonialist with another.  In addition, should the United Nations be used to legitimize this effort.  While Prout supports a world government and a world militia, it does not support the present inequitable power structure of the United Nations (favoring the superpowers).  It supports an internal transformation of the United Nations leading to a more equitable global system of governance.

Thus, the Proutist view does not merely support the Arab or the Allied rather its examines the present Gulf war from a multiplicity of perspectives.  The Proutist view looks forward to a new world order emerging from this crises; one that encourages a redrawing of present national boundaries, one that encourages peace with justice; one that while addressing historical issues attempts to comes to term with them through the development of economic, cultural and spiritual similarities.  At the same time, Prout understands the need for a world militia (or peace keeping forces) and the need for strength to ward off aggression of one individual, nation or nations be they Iraq or the Allies, small or large nations.

Finally, central to Prout is empathy for individuals who are hurt by war as Sarkar has stated “war is the darkest blot in humanity’s history.”  This empathy also includes the planet and her ecological system, that is, plants and animals and other life forms.  War is waged by powerful humans against other humans but it is the weak in the form of children and the environment that are hurt the most.  War is also a male practice.  As one feminist recently wrote: “there is a toxic level of male testosterone on the planet today.”  Solutions to the crises should come from outside of male hegemonic voices; from voices where the care of human beings is central.  The feminist view reinforces the spiritual view that this crises has many levels, most of them structural, geo-political and historical, but some also personal.  At one level it is a battle of egos: of leaders of State who are spiritually imbalanced within their own minds.  Their own inner violence and fears are outwardly expressed into the social world causing fear and violence to millions.

Given the tendency of war to produce such violent results even while Prout insists of peace with justice (sentient peace) it hopes for non-violent agreements and negotiations (cultural, economic, political) among and within individuals, small groups, associations, and economic organizations and nations instead of war.  Solutions to these crises exist at many levels then; the present, the historical, the desired future at individual and social sites.

The above analysis has been an attempt to develop a Proutist view on the Gulf crises.  While we analyze this other crises to come, it is also important to remember the metapicture, to not remain merely in the geo-political discourse.  We need to remember that we are in revolutionary temporal times in which the nature of time itself changes, when human evolution is disjunctive; when reality and the meanings we give to it is transformed.  From the Proutist view, the transformation of the Gulf geo-political map is but one indicator of the emerging new global order.  There are many more indicators to come.  Unfortunately, in the short term those in the periphery will feel the brunt of these indicators.

1.       PROUT (the Progressive Utilization Theory) was articulated by the late P.R. Sarkar in 1959.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s numerous Prout social movements were initiated throughout the world.  Prout seeks to develop an alternative political-economy in the context of an alternative spiritual and social ecology.  See the numerous writings of P.R. Sarkar for further elaboration.