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The Paradox of Social Evolution in Afghanistan



Afghanistan's extensive contacts and interaction with the dominant cultural basins of the ancient central and south central Asia, such as Iran and India, must be considered the most significant aspect of its history. It was in this period of its history that Afghanistan enjoyed a remarkable cultural growth and expansion. Understanding Afghan's civilizational characteristics, therefore, requires familiarity with these ancient civilizations. However, both orientalists and nationalistic historiographers have both tried to divide the common artistic and cultural heritage of this period with a view to strengthening national boundaries and cultural identities. It is in the latter period that one may observe the onset of cultural decline and endemic socio-political instabilities in the country.

A number of internal and external factors have contributed to the onset of the contemporary upheavals in Afghanistan, including external pressures, ecological condition, the tribal and feudal structure of the country, multiplicity of languages, religious fanaticism, and dysfunctional political structures. The Jihadist military campaign against Russian occupation of Afghanistan followed by years of internal political and religious strife, led to serious fissures in the country's traditional structures and the advent of a new class of leaders.

Similar to the case of most traditional societies that undergo sudden and extreme changes, the new leaders of Afghanistan are still imbued with traditional norms and values and yet brandish modern means of governance. Thus, they have tried to govern in the tribal and feudal modes while utilizing modern political concepts and institutions, including ideologies, political parties and state of the art weaponry. The result has been the continuation of political instability and violent religious and ethnic conflicts.

Author: 
Hamza Wa'ezi
Volume: 
22
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