1. The sweep of globalisation, strongly associated with accepting U.S.-style capitalism, has spawned fresh inequities across the world. How do you perceive the phenomena?
It’s a terrible threat to civilisation, to humanity: not only a political threat, an obviously economic one, but at the most fundamental human level a threat to distinct cultures — the same technology, the same entertainment, the same fast foods so to speak. Based on economic power, it is pushing itself into different parts of the world. Consumerism and materialism have a power of their own and perhaps the greatest victim is culture that in a way represents the accumulative imagination, the pains, suffering, and history of the people
2. Globalisation is often perceived to be a mirror image of neo-colonialism. Would you agree?
The difference between the old imperialism and the new globalisation process is illustrated well in India. The country suffered the brutalities of foreign domination, the impoverishment that resulted from it. But until globalisation, if you look at the Indian movie industry for instance, its facial aspects remained Indian. Now, with the intensity of globalisation reaching into every little corner of life, even the comedians, the jokes, the rhythm of the music has started changing.
This really makes consumerism and materialism deadlier than armed occupation.
In the old colonialism you at least knew who your enemy was, you felt the knife on the back. You knew what had to be done if you wanted a better life. In the new consumerism you are captive and unaware. When the prisoner is unaware of his chains then it’s hopeless. If you look at globalisation you are completely captive in imagination and desires and this is where the greatest danger lies.
3. Why this fear of Islam? The U.S. government, its critics argue, is seized by paranoia. During the Cold War it was the threat of Communism. Now you say it is Islam.
As for Islam it is a faith that has served people well at a time when there seems to be no values, no principles, when economic power, greed and force prevail.
In the U.S. it has touched the lives of African-Americans who have had lives caught in street violence and are fighting for their lives. Suddenly Islam comes to them and they find peace, dignity and a faith they can believe in.
The fear is very real. The underlying value of globalisation is material. In this proliferation of unnecessary necessities, as Mark Twain said, you want to create more things, build more things, sell more things, accumulate more money. And the effect, the deadliest thing that can happen, is the enrichment of the rich and the greater impoverishment of the poor, in every country. Globally, the numbers of the poor are increasing fast, the concentration of wealth is greater. That is an unlivable position.
The U.S. government’s need for an enemy, its search for new enemies is really a way of uniting the country, covering its real motives and appealing for patriotism that is called the last refuge of the scoundrel. Patriotism is not the real motive. The real motive is domination and exploitation, and to get away with it you have to have a rallying ground, an enemy. That is where the military comes in. The U.S. spends more on arms than all other countries combined. While it is threatening countries with obliteration if they try to develop a nuclear weapon, it is developing a new generation of its own nuclear weapons, its own new rocketry that can hit any place in minutes.