History is one of the most powerful subjects that helps to illuminate the societies and plan for their future accordingly, Individuals, societies and nations that do not heed lessons from history progressively become regressive regardless of the posturing or sloganeering that they might indulge in to present themselves as progressive, modern or liberal.
In the mid-1800s, there was a rising vengeance against the Capitalist order in the world that took its shape, post-industrial revolution. The capitalist order was countered by Karl Marx’s communist ideology and once communism took its roots in Russia, it set forth the events where communism became a popular ideology and spread across different continents including Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.
How did it all beg
The popular communist ideology spread across various countries post-1940s including Afghanistan and had essentially created a huge ideological divide particularly in the Western world where the US, Great Britain and other allied forces subscribed to Capitalism while the Soviets and other European states subscribed to the Communist Ideology.
Afghanistan largely remained under Soviet influence for several years during the times when the British were ruling in the Indian Subcontinent. It is therefore natural that the Afghan elite became closer to the Soviets and their ideology.
In Afghanistan, President Daud Khan rose to power by staging a coup against his cousin King Zahir Shah and abolishing the monarchy. President Daud Khan was close to the Soviets and strongly believed in a one-party system and Afghan racial supremacy. Many attempts were made in the 1960s to annex Pakistan’s tribal areas to Afghanistan and merge the Pashtun population despite the fact that Pashtuns in Pakistan have always outnumbered Pashtuns in Afghanistan.
President Daud Khan during his era tried to contain the left-leaning communists that had formed PDPA and equally invited the ire of the conventional religious and Islamist Afghan diaspora. He was brutally killed by the Afghan elite during the Saur revolution in 1978 which was again led by communist ideologues. The death of Daud Khan incited a power struggle between the Afghan communist elite where all successive leaders who were partners with each other during the Saur revolution, yet collaborated in the killing of their partners, thus creating a power vacuum and a perpetual crisis.
Importance of these events
These events are extremely important for us to know and understand the dynamics of change and how clinging on to half-baked theories, revolutions, or uprisings instill and perpetuate a series of crises within a country. Afghanistan’s 40+ year’s history of turmoil and chaos provides lessons about the importance of respecting and embracing diversity along religious, ethnic, ideological and linguistic lines.
Every society has an ideological spectrum where people are either liberal, conservatives, or moderates. It is therefore important to understand, appreciate and embrace these differences. The acceptance and ownership of these differences from the national leadership enable and incentivizes the people from the ideological spectrum to own their country and contribute towards its progress and prosperity.
All communities have value systems that are formed over several years. The value systems and ideologies of any community or group might be fundamentally flawed or may have caveats to it that require further pruning, development, or sanitization.
Daniel James Hollins, an author of a book on Dark Psychology professes that humans have an intrinsic survival instinct and therefore they have historically aligned themselves with certain tribes, ethnicities, nations, or ideologies. This alignment, association and identification help them earn security (which may be temporary in nature) and protects them from being singled out as alien due to their opinions, ethnicities, religion, and nationality.
In Afghanistan, the Afghan oligarchy tried to impose a certain social construct on a society that was ethnically heterogeneous and largely aligned to Islamic traditions and norms. Additionally, the Afghan oligarchy despite having the same ideological communist tendencies didn’t have the synergy within their own ranks and were either conspiring against each other covertly and were more loyal to Soviets than the local Afghans themselves.
Afghan history teaches us that no political oligarchy can sustain power if it does not have its roots within the people and if its own people perceive it as the mannequins of external or imperial forces trying to impose foreign ideologies or social constructs. While the prevailing traditions or ideologies within a given society may have various flaws to it, however, it is incumbent upon the national leadership to earn trust and reputation in the eyes of the masses before rolling out reforms about which the population feels apprehensive.
When societies develop their comfort zones and threat perceptions then they are less likely to lend their ears to a radical change, which might actually improve the overall quality of human life within that society, however appropriate communication, inclusion and representation in policy development and implementation is necessary to attain the objectives of a radical change.
Muneeb Imran is Strategy & Governance consultant in Cybersecurity & Privacy areas and has a keen interest in International relations, History and Foreign affairs. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.