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Sunday, September 02, 2007

133] A royal speech for our restless youth

A royal speech for our restless youth
Azly Rahman
Aug 13, 07 3:28pm

Here is my interpretation and extrapolation of the speech recently given by the Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah to our students, particularly on his call for students to psychologically prepare for the needs of changing times:

Our students must be taught to think radically and globally. They must evolve to become pragmatic idealist and collaborate to become peaceful revolutionaries who will be ready to replace, engineer, design and invent newer governments to replace ones no longer serving the needs of a changing society.

Core Ideas

1] It is imperative that our universities prepare students to think like a scientist, and moralist, a futurist, and an activist in grasping a good understanding of contemporary issues. We must train out students to think relationally and holistically and to make them understand how the particulars explain the general, and how the parts fit in the whole. The coloniser does not wish the colonised to see the whole. This is the strategy of divide and conquer.

2] Nationally, we must teach them how our government functions, how resources are allocated, and how conflicts emerge out of the political economic design. We may begin by having them analyse their own surrounding – who has the power and how power is used to subjugate so that the mind of the students can be divided and conquered.

3] We may begin by challenging our university students to create a "perfect society" or "republics of virtue" and by first questioning the historical and ideological premises upon which past and present ruling governments are built upon.

4] We may begin with this question: Is this what the best nations of this world have done/achieved in terms of creating governments that respects human rights, encourages freedom of speech, protects the environment, manage ethnic and religious conflicts well, battle corruption and social ills sincerely, improve the quality of our educational institutions and allocate the nation's wealth justly?

5] Thinking globally for our students requires them to be skilled in interdisciplinary thinking and to understand their role as "organic intellectuals", one whose role will be exemplars of critical thinking, the bastions of academic freedom and free inquiry, and finally the igniters of mental revolutions.

An "organic intellectual" as the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci would say, will not sell his/her soul to the ruling government by being reduced into a member of some "intelligentsia". An organic intellectual, say the French intellectual and Nobel Laureate Jean Paul Sartre, helps the masses explain the contradiction they are in - on that is a result of a world created by those who believe in the God Technocracy.

Our world continues to be plagued with a range of issues that threaten our survival as a species. Issue ranging from the use of monopolized science and corporatised technological advancements to plunder the Earth and subjugate Humanity, to the issue of nations racing to build the most sophisticated bombs to blow the world many times over -- these have become challenges and threats we live by.

Key challenges

Let us explore further what these challenges are:

1] Nationally we continue to live in a political system that is based not only on the deformed and degenerating politics of race and economic greed that favors the rich and members of political dynasties but also a system that is threatened with a continuing disregard for human rights; fundamental principles of liberties that ought to protect minorities in a religiously pluralistic and complex state.

2] Nationally we continue to see abandoned hopes for our nation to evolve into a truly multicultural society as we witness the institutionalisation of racism not only the way we think and act daily but in the way we construct our educational, cultural, economic and political institutions. The way we conduct our dialogue on religion and race have lately reflected a clearer and uglier politics of mistrust.

3] Globally we are faced with challenges in the areas of scientific advancement, morality, economics, ethnic and religious conflicts, population and health.

Scientific advancements and control of knowledge and technology continue to be in the hands of the rich nations with the poor, "developing", and "newly-industrialising and informationalising" ones becoming slaves in the global production and consumption of technologies. Our scientific world of inquiry and human imagination to solve human problems have become a world of Orwellian drama; one of despair characterised by the use of science for deadly purposes. In each country, the pattern of ownership of the scientific and technological advances mirror the pattern of the have and have-nots of the world, of the Centre-periphery dependency mode of global political-economic design.

4] Morality becomes a central issue of this millennium as we question our role as individuals that are defined by the means of subsistence/economic condition we are in. As human beings merely become "knowledge workers" and corporate executives in multinational corporations that have no national governments to answer to, they become merely one of the minute function of the machinery of global exploitation in the virtually all spheres of human activities. Prime ministers and presidents of "developing", "industrializing" or "advancing" nations are now assuming the role of chief executive officers of international oligopoly capitalists; their worth are merely as beneficiaries of the international owners of production.

As long as profits roll into the coffers of the parent and recipient nation and benefit the power elites, child labour and poor working conditions in the sweatshops are acceptable - in the name of democracy and development.

5] Global economics will continue to become a centrepiece of issues that our graduates will need to understand in order to become change agents and informed citizens in this precarious world of interdependence.

Developments in Latin America of late are pointing towards a transformation of the people's view towards economics – governments that favour the national poor and not the international plunderers will triumph at the polls. The constant revolutions and re-evolutions that happen across time and space and across all nations are a testament to the thesis-anti thesis notion of human evolution.

6] Our planet earth, our global environment continues to be threatened by global warming, destruction of rain forest, carbon emission from fossil fuels and the suffocating of our oceans. The US military continues to be the greatest guzzler of the world's oil, and a Frankenstein it has become in itself.

Each nation is in need of national governments that will be the least corrupt enough not to embark upon major projects that will not deforestate nature, create thicker and more dangerous industrial smog, dump toxic waste into rivers, and shave hilltops and hillsides for commercial and residential development projects.

7] Ethnic and religious conflicts continue to splash the headlines of our global newspapers, with not only border conflicts perpetually increasing but deadly attacks of public places where the innocent work and play becoming a feature of post-Sept 11, 2001 fallout. Every nation is now threatened by the ever-growing tide and tsunamis of racial and religious violence.

The prolonged occupation in Iraq and the obvious "no-victory-in-sight" of the American forces has become a national issue even in America – how long will she let her children die and how many more of the children of the American underclass must be drafted through the economic drafting ideology.

8] Lastly, global health issues continue to be of concern especially with the continuing Aids epidemic in Africa and now in all continents, the spread of Avian Flu, and re-emergence of small pox that might become the next global epidemic.

I hope educators will explore the ideas above and translate them into themes of the challenges of a globalised world to be infused in the study of the disciplines so that we may find integrative approaches to complex problems.

As the German philosopher Frederich Nietzsche once said: "Educate! … but first let us educate the educators."

Congratulations on a nice speech for our precious youth, Raja Nazrin.

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