State of Labor

October 20th, 2020

Around 60% of the Indian working-age population is effectively out of the job market (the labour participation rate is close to 40%.) Those who have some kind of job in the informal economy work close to 14hr a day making less than Rs.10,000/month (going by the best of days estimate). Even the part of the working people in the formal economy are working at least 52 hrs a week and most of the time doing over-time, still making less than minimum wage.

A study released last week found that Indians from the time of entering colleges to the age of 35 are the most anxious and depressed bunch of people in India and probably the world – a sign of a lively labour market according to most economists and policymakers.

And now we have policies to exaggerate this fantastic condition. Like replacing all employment with a fix-term job and creating Foxconn jobs in India with tax money. Foxconn and their friends are, of course, the manufactures of iPhones who have to tie nets around their plants to catch the workers trying to commit suicide by falling from the roof. Similar new policies of despair to aggravate the agrarian and farmers’ crisis are also not missing.

All this on top of growing inequality where our true overlord – Lord Mukesh, makes Rs. 90 crore every hour. Even less severe inequalities have conclusively been shown to cause mental disorders.

Business Standard reported that “India has generated over 5% per annum real economic growth with less than 1% employment growth for three decades.” And that to raise labour participation rate to the average 43% India needs 5 crore jobs as soon as possible but Mahesh Vyas believes Indian policies and trends are not on the path to realistically generate 80 lakh jobs. Every month 1 lakh new workers are being added to the Indian disposable labour force.

Since the lockdown, the number of women workers (195 million of whom are in the informal sector) losing their jobs has been disproportionately higher to their participation in the labour force – almost 50-60% higher. This includes formal, salaried workers. The primary reason for disproportionate job losses during the crisis has been the far-off and unsafe location of the workplace. If the risks outweigh the benefits women workers drop out. Which means the most financially venerable ones stay.

 

[Translation] The Imperative Mandate – I

October 13th, 2020

The Imperative Mandate: from the French Revolution to the Paris Commune

By Pierre-Henri Zaidman

[Part 1]

Jean-Jacques Rousseau asserts that “the idea of representatives is modern. It comes from the feudal government. In the ancient reliquaries and in the monarchies the people never had representatives; the word “representative” was not known”. However, historians have found that in some ancient peoples, in the Frankish monarchy or among various religious orders, there were occasional and rudimentary provisions for representatives. Representation only gained political significance with feudalism. This meaning of the terms “Representation” and “Representative” is obviously very different in form and meaning from that of the revolutionaries of 1789.

In the Greek and Roman cities, the citizens’ assembly governs itself, because of their small size, they do not need to elect governments. And if the idea of representation is used in Roman law, it only designates a technique of private law.

In public law, it does not apply in principle.

In the French society of the Ancient Regime, there is a representation of social groups with the lords and the king. In accordance with the technique of private law, the representatives have a mandate to defend the interests of the local communities of which they are the spokesmen but without being able to act according to their own will; they are bound by the promise, express or tacit, to act in place of those who mandated them by a delegation of power, if necessary for a particular task in which case one is dealing with an “Imperative Mandate “ (a mandate that is obligatory or from specific instruction).

 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the precursor

We find the idea of mandate in Rousseau who, rejecting the national representation advocated by Montesquieu, prefers sovereignty: “Sovereignty cannot be represented, for the same reason that it cannot be alienated; it consists essentially in the general will, and the will is not represented […] The deputies< of the people are not and cannot be its representatives, they are only its commissioners; they cannot conclude anything definitively. Any law which the people have not ratified is null and void. […] The English people think they are free; they are very much mistaken; they are free only during the election of the members of parliament; if they are elected, they are slaves, they are nothing.” It is clear, in the eyes of Rousseau, that when the legislative power “can only act by deputation, the inconveniences outweigh the advantages; “At the moment that a people gives itself representatives, it is no longer free. There is no need for representatives because they can only divide what is united, thus destroying sovereignty. The territorial and socio-demographic reality of modern states imposes that the legislative power “can only act there by deputation.” And, to prevent the corruption that always threatens representatives, Rousseau advocates the institution of imperatives such as “the delegate”*, always “under the eyes of his constituents”, “cannot do anything contrary to their express will”.

The question of direct democracy arose during the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin thought about the means of mandating deputies and controlling their activity, without any result. James Madison’s The Federalist contains some hints of parliamentary tyranny, but the American Independentists are mainly concerned with the relationship between the states and the rulers who must be able to resist the “disorderly passions” and the “ephemeral illusions” that can seize the people, pure privilege “of the deliberate and deliberate judgment of collectivism”.

* The French word used is “nonce” for “nuncio”, a papal delegate.

मीडिया लोकतांत्रीकरण, ना कि सेंसरशिप: भड़काऊ और नफ़रत से भरी बातें रोकनि हैं तो आर्थिक मुद्दों पर ध्यान देना होगा

September 16th, 2020

कल सुदर्शन टीवी न्यूज़ के कार्यक्रम पर रोक लगाते हुए सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने कहा कि “भारत में अमेरिका की तरह जर्नलिस्ट्स को अलग से कोई आज़ादी नहीं दी गई है”. और यह की “लोकतंत्र होने के लिए कुछ स्टैंडर्ड्स और मानक होने चाहिए”. लेकिन उनमें से एक मानक जर्नलिस्ट्स की या बोलने की आज़ादी नहीं है. आए दिन लोकतंत्र की रोचक परिभाषा देखने को मिल रही हैं.

कार्यक्रम पर बैन लगाने का कारण ये बताया गया कि एक समुदाय (मुस्लिम) के लोगों को गलत और अपमानजनक तरीके से पेश करा जा रहा था. कोर्ट के फैसले से कुछ समय के लिए हजारों में से एक चैनल पर ऐसी नफरत भरी बातें तो बंद हो गई लेकिन, ये भी मिसाल फिर से कायम हो गई की कोर्ट चाहे तो किसी भी भाषा को किसी एक समुदाय के खिलाफ मान कर उसपे रोक लगा सकता है और कार्यवाही कर सकता है.

तुषार मेहता ने कोर्ट में ये बताया कि कई ऐसे चैनल है जहाँ “हिन्दू आतंकवाद” की बात की जाती है. क्या कोर्ट उन् पर भी रोक लगाएगा? कोर्ट का जब दिल चाहे लगाता है और, लगा सकता है.

ये नफ़रत भरी बातें आती कहा से है और उनका असर क्यो होता है?

पिछले 10-15 सालों में भारत की जीडीपी जेसे जेसे बढ़ी, उस ही तेज़ी से बेरोज़गारी और गैरबराबरी भी बढ़ी. जो एक मध्यम वर्ग ऊपर आया था वो भी नीचे जाने लगा और जो मध्यम वर्ग में शामिल होने के सपने देखते थे उनके सपने खोखले लगने लगे. इस वर्ग में से कई हिन्दू भी है जो 3 या 5 साल से UPSC की नौकरी की रेस मे भाग रहे है.

जिनके इस तरह से अपने भविष्य को ले कर सपने टूटे हो उनको एक समुदाय में अपना दुश्मन देखने में आसानी होती है.

जस्टिस जोसफ ने ये बात उठाई कि मीडिया कंपनियों का आर्थिक मॉडल जब टी.र.प. पर निर्भर हो तो ऐसी चीज़े ज़ादा होती है. दूसरा कारण सरकारी और दूसरे कॉर्पोरेट विज्ञापन से मुनाफा भी है. क्यंकि पिछले कुछ सालों से नफरत पर आधारित टीवी समाचार का मॉडल कारगर साबित हो रहा है, तो लाज़िम है इसे सब अपना रहे है.

मीडिया लोकतंत्र का सब्ज़े ज़ररुई हिस्सा है – इलेक्शन से भी ज़ादा. क्यंकि आप वोट उस आधार पर देते हो जो आप जानते हो. तो क्या लोकतंत्र में मीडिया को मुनाफे के लिए बाजारु बनाया जा सकता है? या फिर मीडिया को सामाजिक रूप से नियंत्रित किया जाना चाहिए. जैसे कई देशों में होता भी है, जहां लोकल समुदाये साथ मिल कर कार्यक्रम बनाए – मुनाफे और मंत्रियो और कम्पनियो से अलग हट कर.

एशियानेट न्यूज़ नेटवर्क लिमिटेड, या ए.एन.एन. जो भारत में कई चैनलों का नियंत्रण करती है का मालिक भाजपा संसद, राजीव चंद्रशेखर है. न्यूज़ लाइव का मालिक बीजेपी मिनिस्टर हिमंता बिस्वा शर्मा की पत्नी रिणीकी भूयां सरमा हैं.लोकमत के मालिक कांग्रेसी नेता हैं. नेव्स18, फर्स्टपोस्ट के आलावा इंडियकास्ट मीडिया डिस्ट्रीब्यूशन प्राइवेट लिमिटेड, बालाजी फिल्म्स और इंफोमेडीअ प्रेस का मालिक अंबानी परिवार है.

ये वो ही नेता और अरबपति हैं जिनकी नीतियों के कारण सरकारी और अब प्राइवेट नौकरिया इस देश में मिलना बंद हो गई है, इन नीतियों के बारे मे हम ना सोचें और इस बारे में कुछ ना करें इसलिए मुसलमान या दलित को दुश्मन बताना ज़रूरी हो जाता है.

कुछ छोटे मोटे चैनल कुछ दिन बंद भी हो जाए तो भी ना ये सचाई ना ये नफरत फैलाना बंद होगा. और लोगों को और मीडिया को शांत करने की ताकत का इस्तेमाल लोकतंत्र और गरीबों के खिलाफ ही होगा. बेरोज़गारी और मीडिया में कंपनी और नेताओ की ताकत खत्म करने की लंबी और मुश्किल लड़ाई से बचने के लिए चीज़े बन करने का शॉर्टकट नहीं लिया जा सकता.

Short note on Radical Descartes

August 15th, 2020

In his history of atheist thoughts, the famous Italian Catholic priest and scholar Cornelio Fabro wrote that “this radical libertarian tendency will gradually reveal itself as responsible for that positive and constructive atheism which is typical of modern philosophy.” The radical libertarian tendency in question was the philosophy of Rene Descartes. Fabro criticized this philosophy because in Descartes God is no longer “posited as creator of the world and Father of men” and He instead created “the philosophy of freedom, considering freedom an ultimate and therefore a viable first principle”.

“Cartesian immanentism concentrated itself in man’s most intimate and all-embracing act, that of willing; it was therefore bound to close to man all avenues of escape from the long straight road leading down to d’Holbach, Feuerbach, Nietzsche and Sartre.” The roots of this concentration on “willing”, i.e. freedom of will and thought is explained by Descartes scholar Harry Bracken as “Descartes had good reasons for introducing a second substance (res cogitans, “thinking things”), for e.g., that our creative use of speech cannot be understood in terms of the mechanics available to him”. The essential character of humans, for the Cartesian, is this creative and willing aspect of the intellect.

Which in Calvinist terms of the time was also the “Way Of Examination” – which alone can judge the truth of religious texts and teaching. Cartesian, like Bayle developed the ideas and gave this freedom and Way Of Examination the primacy over the Way Of Authority. The state or church cannot dictate what the individual must believe because it is against the faculty of free judgment that God has endowed us with. While dethroning God from the paternalistic position Cartesian thoughts also laid the foundation of radical freedom of thought and speech, where the privacy of the intellect takes the priority.

Bracken says that “when we read Bayle’s views on toleration, we should recall that he is perhaps the first person to separate the domains of religion and morality by arguing that there is no logical anomaly in conceiving of a highly moral society of atheists. One can be religious and immoral and also nonreligious and moral. His rationalist views on universal natural (moral) law, that is, independent of religion or culture, should be seen in that context.” One can also, perhaps add the separation the domains of national laws and morality.

This was a radical break from those who advocate authorities’ right to hold our tongue because they have the right to hold our hands. A principle advocated and adhered till this date by those who do not (and for reasons of power cannot) give primacy to the individual’s intellect and her expressions.

This distinction also separated the rationalist-cartesians from the empiricists like Locke and Hume. For the empiricist there is no distinction between the tongue (the expression of one’s thoughts) and the hand (actions and physical attributes). Where for the Cartesian the essence of being human and our most important characters are our intellect and freedom of will, for the empiricists the physical features play as important or more important role in defining the essence of human beings. And from here begins the philosophical justification for racism and sexism.

In these spheres too, the Cartesian philosophers were among the first to (at least theoretically) defend freedom for All human beings. While the racists and sexists were debating over color, physical abilities one of the most prominent French Cartesian philosopher, Poullain de la Barre simply stated that “the mind has no sex.”

Among the people who think about these things, for most Descartes and his ideas have been reduced to caricatures of positions that were for the most part secondary to him and are for us. While, many also sideline him for ideological reasons. But people in radical political circles might still find fruitful insights in the work of the Cartesian.

(Dis)Integration At Gunpoint – Aug 5 2019-2020 J&K Report

August 5th, 2020

I contributed a chapter on militarism to this very important and comprehensive study of life and politics in J&K in last one year: (Dis)Integration At Gunpoint.

(https://jklpp.org/kashmir-reading-room-report-aug-2019-aug-2020/?fbclid=IwAR1Mf7SUA3z-dlyIpayahPRQrpeVLHAjfsWS1m6UBUDKmm07fXM7CZneC9Q)

Indians who read it with eyes (and mind) open should realize how deep our hands are in blood. And hopefully that should shake off some of the apathy and equanimity that makes this crime and violence possible.

A year ago, Indian state finished the task of completely alienating Kashmir from India and its puppet government in J&K. Ex-RAW chief Dulat and few other army commanders are worried and wonder if New Delhi is actually prepared for what is coming? One can speculate the direction local protests and militancy will take in the valley but one thing is clear that Indian state had once again made Indians insecure in name of “national security”.

One very unfortunate thing we can expect is more attempts and few successful attacks in mainland India in coming years. Indian state has known for years that whenever there are moments of hope for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue militant attacks (and even cross border infiltration) stops almost completely.It shows who and what is the cause of violence. What happened on August 5th was an invitation to a prolonged war of counter-insurgency that will be fought all over India. Who cares if that puts Indians at risk?

This is just one reason why more Indians should be concerned about Kashmir and our State policy there. But basic sense of humanity should be sufficient to see what is happening is grossly unjust, that we should stop the violence and resolve the issue peacefully with Kashmiris. No country, especially not India, can afford militarism and a war economy when almost half of its youth population is unemployed, health care is among the worst performing in Asia and inequality is rising faster than in any other country in the world.

The Real Lesson of Kargil: We are “Wicked”.

July 26th, 2020

The official and well known accounts of the Pakistan’s operations in the spring of 1999 in the Kargil–Dras sector of J&K is that Islamabad “undertook this misadventure with sinister plans to capture India’s land”. And as Modi said this morning, “it is the nature of the wicked to have enmity with everyone for no reason.”

The war-machine needs to constantly paint the official enemy of the day as nonredeemable evil. So, the facts that do not fit this pictures should be kept out of the sight of the public. Facts like Islamabad did not know about the Pakistan Army’s plans. And that India and Pakistan both engage in local land grab operations that are not officially authorized. And also that India in 2001 was planning a much bigger land grab operation that was only foiled by attacks in New York and Virginia by al-Qaeda.

The realization that we are no different from the “wicked” and that we too have our “sinister plans” is not conducive for war mongering.

All of the following material is taken from Happymon Jacob’s important study of ceasefire violations along LOC, Line on Fire.

1. Jacob’s says that “Pervez Musharraf’s former colleague, Lt Gen. (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, once stated: ‘I am not sure from where he (Sharif) came to know, but it wasn’t through the army and the Kargil operation was kept secret from Nawaz Sharif.’ Sartaj Aziz, a minister in Sharif’s cabinet, also confirms this in his book.”

Pakistani Army’s plan was to apply the finders keepers rule during the winter when Indian forces left their posts. There was only a tacit understanding and never an agreement that both sides would disengage the posts during winter. Jacob says that, “the Kargil operation was initiated as a series of limited tactical actions that normally would not require prior political authorization. But, spurred on by the local and personal ambitions of a very small coterie who did not foresee battlefield dynamics, this limited objective ballooned into an unintended and unplanned strategic provocation, something the military leadership suddenly found as being untenable. It is possible that the political leadership came into the picture at this stage, and without an understanding of the gravity of the situation, endorsed further actions.”

Pakistan did want to change the status quo and if successful would have cause more loss of lives and the conflict might have expanded to other sectors, heightening the nuclear risks. But the fact is it was not a “sinister plan” of Pakistani government but a military tactical operation, to gain more bargaining power over India, that by their calculations went wrong.

2. Jacob quotes Force magazine’s Pravin Sawhney’s 2014 article which says that “on 22 January 2000, fighting in the Chhamb sector left 16 Pakistani soldiers dead. While both sides blamed one another, the truth was that Indian troops, in strength, attacked a Pakistani post and overran it. Similar instances occurred in Akhnoor, Mendhar, Kotli, Naushera and Pallanwala between January and August 2000.” Jacob adds that, “during the previous year (2000), local units of the (Indian) army, with the tacit understanding and green signal from the army’s higher ups, had ‘adopted a calibrated offensive action across’ the LoC ‘to sanitise areas of infiltration’ on the Pakistani side.”

These were land grab operations which “by either side along the LoC in J&K is nothing new” Usually small scale but sometime medium scales. One of such medium scale Ops was Pakistan’s Kargil attempt and the other was Indian Op Kabaddi.

3. Op Kabaddi was primarily planned by the GOC-in-C of Northern Command of the Indian Army, Gen. Nanavatty. It would “include a wide spectrum of evolving punitive operations such as the execution of deliberate fire assaults to destroy military and terrorist points, and area targets across the LoC; ambushes and raids across the LOC; and company, battalion, and brigade-sized deliberate offensive attacks to capture objectives of tactical importance across the LoC that would improve the Indian Army’s counter-insurgency (CI) posture.”

When Jacob asked ‘How was the 2001 operation different from the Kargil operation by Pakistan?’ Gen. Nanavatty responded, ‘Not very different.’

The Operation, given its flexible nature had no start or end date but was supposed to start soon after 1st Sept 2001. The green light from Delhi came hours before the Twin Towers fell. And given Pakistan’s role under USA’s Afghan policy the Indian Army decided not to go forward.

Nanavatty told Jacob:

“With the world, including Pakistan, seemingly united in its anti-terror stance, any unilateral military action by us against Pakistan would be viewed unfavorably by the international community and be seen as taking advantage of the situation to settle scores on the side lines. I did not recommend the launch of offensive operations until the situation became clearer.”

International pressure and al-Qaeda stopped India from initiating an offensive land grab Op., while the Kargil campaign, at least initially, was targeted at an empty and limited posts.  Jacob and I am sure any one who thinks about this will wonders how would have things developed if Operation Kabaddi was not aborted. Would it have creeped into conflicts in other sectors? What about nuclear risks?

When we look beyond the “reality” conducive to state interests it is hard to find anything more “wicked” and “sinister” than the realization and the preparation of War.

ANARCHISM AGAINST BRAHMANISM

June 9th, 2020

Caste is, as Ambedkar said, “not just a division of labour but, a division of labourers.” Wherever this institution went, it tried to freeze the society into a fossilized rulership and a fossilized disposable and disciplined labouring class. And just as division of labour alienates the workers from her work, product of her labour and life itself; the division of labourers alienated the whole of society and deeply fractured the spirit of human morality and solidarity. The caste structure gave birth to the caste society which has outlived the mode of domination it was invented to serve.

The straitjacket of caste did not emerge in isolation. It is one part of the centuries old project of societal control – Brahmanism. This entry is an attempt to find an anarchist orientation towards Bhrahmanism and its annihilation by looking at some episodes in its history and mutations.

Brahmanism, primarily, is and always has been a socio-political ideology and not a religious movement. The ideology consists in the believe that Brahmans have established links with the higher realms, they are the natural advisors to the rulers on social and political matters and, that they hold the highest place in the social hierarchy. The hierarchy consists in a four tier system of Varna and those who are out of this hierarchy forming the Avarna strata, based on Brahmans principles of standardized purity. Within this image of the Brahmanical society the caste becomes the essential of realizing the dominance of Brahmans as the priestly caste. To insure the success and reproduction of this institution every aspect of human life from the cradle to the grave are governed by strict laws codified in various books and laws of local kingdoms.

This vision of society was largely realized in significant parts of the sub-continent with varying degrees of success, modifications and compromises with other power system. This was not an easy task and beginning with the invasion of Alexander of Macedon, the Brahmans were prosecuted in the north-western region of what is now called India, the only region where they had influence. This continued with Ashoka’s and later his son, Kunala’s murdering of the “treacherous” Brahmans who were fueling anti-Maurya sentiments in local courts. The situation was so bad for the priestly caste that they were sure that the end of the world has finally arrived – the end of Kali Yuga. But Brahmanism not only survived but thrived and the impacts of its unfortunate success to this day are leaving bloody marks on human body and spirit.

Brahmanism conquered not by the blade of the sword but with the succor of the myth. Brahmans spread stories of their demigod like powers, the benefits of befriending and dangers of crossing them. Most importantly they provided to the rulers a divine lineage and right to rule till the end of time and the practical knowledge of statecraft. The Brahmans without ever becoming a threat to political power gave rulers a lineage they can link back to the Puranas and the Vedic era. They were not only able but necessary for the prosperity of the land, making the ruler the permanent and necessary fixture in the mind of the masses.

The benefits flow both ways. Kshatriya and the other ruling castes were essential for realizing the Brahmanical society. It was the duty of the warrior class to institute Danda for its maintenance. In essence, Brahmanism is statism. The kingly class is so essential to the ideology that the end of Yugas are marked by the Kshatriyas becoming incompetent in maintaining the Varna vyavastha and that the evidence that the end of time had not yet arrived was the fact that most king’s lineage maintained their thrones.

This perfect union of the priestly caste and the ruling class is no accident. Humans, when incapable of making sense of the untimely flood, failed crops or plague conjure up unseen forces that help us make sense of the unpredictability and meaninglessness around. Through the combined effect of general ignorance and the need for self-preservation the first seed of authority and power is sown in the heart. God becomes the Supreme Ruler. Once formalized enough, we try to tame the forces through rituals and sacrifices. In initial stages this practice is individualistic. The relation of these forces or gods is direct and intimate, but soon these practices become socialized and a specialized class of sacrifice experts emerges. The link of individual to the god is broken and a flesh and blood human becomes a new center of social power. The same phenomenon repeats itself in sphere of social organization and to tame the social forces in our favor we learn to surrender to the Ruler, sent on earth by the Supreme Ruler. To the extent we submit to a power for self preservation, from corporate bureaucracies to nation states and families, all forms of rulershipare religion.

It was during this period of renewal of Brahmanism, returning from the brink of extinction that the pantheon that is now recognized as Hindu deities was gradually created. First by casting the individualistic, semi-socialized religious cults of Krishna, Shiva etc into the mold of Brahmanism and later by making the newer gods the incarnation of the former. In this process of absorptionreplicating the hierarchy of the Brahmanical society into the realm of gods. Through economic and political coercion the religious power now served the interest of the Brahmans and states.

I skip the changes this Brahmanical temporal authority ordained by the divine authority underwent over the next few centuries and under the Mughal rule and turn to its first interaction with capitalism, the Company Raj, colonization and modern nation states that shook the roots of the old project. In the preceding decades the merchant caste, with its control over rural finance and land displaced the Brahmans from the top of social hierarchy. In Bengal province by the end of the nawab rule fifteen families controlled 60% of the land and in Punjab the British administration had to introduce a law to regulate the acquisition of land by the money lenders on failure of payment of debts. And with the changing nature of sovereignty from the village level to the new national imagination Brahmanism had to mutate once more to survive.

The core of this mutation was the deep-seated hatred of the individual – her free development and initiative. Faced with European capitalism, in its vulgarized disguise of individual freedom the reformers, who had taken up the task of reviving the Indian culture by going back to the Vedic sources, were united in there contempt for the individual. They found in the Varna system the solution to the modern problems of nations. Caste does not necessarily have to be based on heredity but the proper division of labour and social activity based on natural hierarchies which was necessitated by the needs of social organization. Caste with natural leadership of Brahmans, was no longer justified by the metaphysics of religion became the outcome of the theology of social sciences, its theory of race, competition, gender superiority and survival of the fittest. Its aim was to serve the New God of “national interest”.

In search of this nation Brahmanism morphed into Hindutva. This new outward expression of the lust for power also explicitly presented itself as a political project and not a religious movement. Within the Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan that is to bring glory to the nation state, the Hindu is a casteist structure. This was novel. The Hindu identity for a political project was necessitated by two factors. First, the apparent feebleness of the social unity – togetherness and second, the essential principle of nationhood – unity through separation.

Savarkar understood this principle well – “nothing can weld peoples into a nation and nations into a state as the pressure of a common foe. Hatred separates as well as unites.” A nation is that artificial and arbitrary unit of territory and subjects that a political power has acquired for controlling and fleecing. It destroys the natural love and association with the place of birth and our immediate communities through its industrialization and directs that human feeling towards the worship of this abstraction, its symbols and submission to its policies. This form of rulership finds its fullest expression in Totalitarianism of Nazism, Bolshevism or Brahmanism.

The national identity of Hindu provided the aspect of togetherness through idea of blood, culture and language, modification of Shudhi, etc. and its separation through the idea of the Muslim. Whether the state takes refuge in the ideology and shape of Hindutva or secular nationalism – two face of the same coin, its true nature remains the same, that of attuning all human expressions to the beat of this soulless political machine in the name of “national interest”. This technical term does not include the interests of the population – free and quality education and health care, well paid jobs or free or cheap housing for all, it means the interest of the market, the interest of the war machine that is the life blood of the state – its defense from other competing states, its source of expansion outside and control within.

After the transfer of power in 1947, India has remained a fractured community with its apartheid of caste and material conditions furnished by generations of deprivation and violence. In the rural regions it maintain the old structure of control and coercion while in urban setting it modified mildly and justified the stratification by logic of hygiene and merit – that is justifying privilege with privilege itself. The new Indian state did not start a project of actively constructing a casteist state but through its passivity towards caste issues it perpetuated the caste society within the shell of a capitalist state system, each feeding off the other. The maintenance of hierarchical corporate structure that is the Hindu family and segregation through the institution of marriage. The upper castes continued their take over of bureaucracy and managerial positions in state and cultural institution, practically, without any reservation mechanism and that continue to define the Indian society till date.

If we anarchists say that sanctity of the temple of the parliament and its new priesthood just like the temple of the old gods and the Brahmans is a lie and deception then, what do we have to say about reservation and other methods of achieving equality within the current state of things? To this we say that even the ritual of horse sacrifice must have yielded results for the masses, not from the blood drawn but from their organizing for themselves, taking things into their own hand and shaking things up. This assertive self-organization of the masses in each epoch of history has realized to the extent possible the moral and social progress. And within the modern nation states this progress, which is the collective wealth of our humanity has received a degree of formalization.

The erosion of this progress and regression will always be a possibility as long as there is a power whose control it weakens. And when this social progress is at its highest the instruments of domination have also become sharper, deadly and now threaten us with the possibility of ending the only known experiment of life in the universe. Anarchist believe that through continuing this assertive self-organizing for securing more and more moral progress we not only improve our immediate condition but also prepare ourself for the final destruction of social, political and economic rulership. A liberal welfare state can be an holding ground that reduces the impact of the blows from the state and the caste society and gives us opportunity for further progress. But the ultimate safeguard from Brahmanism or any other form of absolute domination over human body and spirit is Anarchism.

In an hierarchical society, certain individuals at particular historical junctures can play a catalytic role in either accelerating the progress or dragging it back for decades. If the former, then too, it is the social organization of individuals based on values of equality, mutual aid and decentralization of power that maintain it. There is further limit of the strategy of “having the right faces in the high places”. Once in position of power, the prerogative of the institutions dictate their actions. Having women, dalit-bahujan or queer people In position of power, like other holding strategies can make some limited gains but in the end the only interests these individuals represent are their own. No person can “represent” another person, a whole community lesser still. It maintains the relations of dependence and submission and further dulls the instincts for self-initiative and fosters moral passivity – a perfect condition for Brahmanism or any form of authority to exploit.

Even if the major decision of life and society are now made by the captains of industry and states-persons, and even if these decisions are not primarily driven by Brahmanical interests (and how different are these differences after all?) Caste is still alive. Some aspects of caste have been weakened and at the same time others strengthened. The general economic inequality, access to housing, well paid jobs – which means class – is graded on caste lines. As one historian noted, “it is striking how many of the country’s billionaires today are, though not direct descendants of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century magnates, certainly originate from the same communities which began to accumulate wealth and influence at the end of the Mughal period and during the rise of the English East India Company.” The social stigma, practices of untouchablity and the Brahmanical institution of marriage flourish. Two great forces are gravitating towards forging a new Brahmanical-Hindutva order and a hazy road for taking in the opposite direction also gradually becoming visible. Both possibilities, like always depend on one thing – Organizing.

The force of social reaction to the neo-liberal bloodbath which turned a preventable health crisis into an global pandemic and in India made 12 crore people unemployed in a single month is the decisive factor in the fate of Brahmanism. 10 crore young Indians have given up all hope of finding a job and had stopped searching for work long before the current economic breakdown. Half of the youth of this country are unemployed. And those who have work are working 12 hours shifts to survive hand to mouth. In this constantly changing external world the individual loses her equilibrium. These uprooted millions turn into a mob seeking a source of stability and finding themselves incapable of self emancipation look for external power that would uplift them and give life a new meaning. Along with religiosity, in some cases the caste relations are strengthened as they are seen as a source of nourishment.

This combined with RSS’s mobilization and organization is the path towards strengthening Leader worship and Hindutva. The breaking up of the process of class reproduction and the erosion of the middle class, and with it the hopes and aspirations of millions in front of their eyes is accelerating. By some estimate at least half of the children born in middle class do not remain in it when they reach adulthood. The concentrating boss class is eager to exploit the people on caste lines. This is where one possibility of going in the other direction lies – poor peoples’ revolutionary unionism. The traditional unions that replicate the caste structure due to its hierarchical nature will only represent the interests of the minority leader class and not the workers themselves.

Its only through Anarcho-Syndicalism that we can achieve the threefold task of achieving progress in living and work standards, wages, expansion of reservation to compensate for the generational subjugation of dalit-bahujans in private and public sector, expanding the public sector that enables creation of new and greener jobs, progressive taxation and day-to-day struggles at workplaces; confronting the caste issue face to face as members of working class as well as part of oppressed communities through minority committees, along with local union branches to address caste at workplace and within the unions and; shedding away the elaborate etiquette of submission of this casteist society through rediscovering our instincts for self-initiative and direct action rather being dependent on this or that leader, the despot of tomorrow. This rediscovery and the development of this instinct and culture in the organized form within these alternative institutions form the essential ingredient of the society that shall replace the current disorder.

John R. McLane noted that, “since an individual’s obligations and privileges were specific to his or her family, jati, and age, universal standards of political-moral behavior rarely galvanized people into cooperative political effort.” Any intellectual current or form of practice that exclusively promote inward inquiry at cost of building broad solidarity of all oppressed while understanding the various inner relations in practice, unintentionally replicates the essential of the nation and Brahmanical order and play into hand of our enemies like in 2019 general election where Jadav-Yadav dynamic was a major determining factor in BJP’s victory. We do not wish to repeat these past mistakes, neither of the Marxist left that minimizes the importance of non-economic cultural and social factors at work and in society and address them within their organization and programs nor, of the narrow identity politics that in the long-run poses no threat to the status quo that it apparently wishes to destroy and has no space for broad solidarity based on shared needs and values in genuinely democratic and workers controlled organizations.

Revolutionary unionism is only one part of the struggle. Anarchists and other individuals must engage in cultural struggles towards elimination of the caste society. I cannot pretend to have a solution to this problem, I can only note that we know that the forces of alienation aggravates it and that we have a legacy of experiments by the people from dalit-bahujan castes to build upon and with anarchist emphasis on the abolition of marriage, dismantling the corporation of family and building a society based on free love and societal responsibility of child rearing, we have the impetus to motivate action in direction of liberation.

Caste being a particular configuration of hierarchy and the method of its reproduction, it finds affinity with all forms of dominations and latch on to the one it finds. While through the autonomous and varied cultural struggles and fighting back the class war as working class dealing with caste antagonism we make conditions better for both our class and dalit-bahujans, Anarchism is Brahmanisms only permanent solution. As long as there is a state or a economy based on private property, RSS has the possibility of achieving its desired position of the Raj Guru to the State. Following in the footsteps of the Saudra-attishudra Dakaits and their direct actions against capital and domination we organize not to end any particular form of authority but Rulership itself.

For a Casteless Society! – For Annihilation of Brahmanism! – For a Free Humanity!

For Anarchy!

WHY THERE NEVER SHALL BE AN ANARCHIST GRAND THEORY

June 1st, 2020

The anarchist conception of an individual is simple, it says: “human beings are too complex and forever incalculable”. It can never put a person within a prescribed box of analysis or “science” from which all the grand theories and schools of thought spring.

There are only two truisms anarchists hold. From the classical liberals and romantics we have learned of the innate human urge and instincts for freedom, collective action and creating beautiful and radiant things. From the realists we have learned of the human potential for cruelty and domination. This later urge being the result of and reproduced by actions of alienating institutions which want to dull the other aspirations of human beings through its mechanical beat for the intrests of the few.

The urge for love and liberty and the possibility of domination are always in conflict. And anarchism being an ideology of change in the service of liberty and freedom, we put the actions of the realist’s institutions on tribunal of the moral principles of classical liberalism – the principle of freedom from all hierarchical and coercive institutions.

An anarchist enquiry into the social questions can only be the study of these two human possibilities. Through such an enquiry we hope to better understand our lives under the dead weight of all the institutions past and present. The full understanding of an individual has, and as Hume said, will ever shall remain outside the scope of human knowledge.

This kind of enquiry will rightly, never form any grand theory but through this social imagination can end the spell of hopeless and inaction.

On Tangible Pacifism

May 25th, 2020

“Whether the State is called monarchy or republic, crime will always be necessary to maintain and assure its triumph. This crime will no doubt change its direction and object, but its nature will remain the same. It will always be the forced and abiding violation of justice and of honesty – for the good of the State”. – Mikhail Bakunin

This piece was prompted by reading Eric Laursens’ The Duty to Stand Aside, a study of the dialogue that took place during WW2 between George Orwell and anarchist-pacifist Alex Comfort. Orwell argued that after a point the only way of defeating Nazism was supporting the Allies in the effort and that pacifism at this point practically meant taking a pro-Nazi stance. Comfort on the other hand thought the task of the intellectuals, even at that time was to bring to light the crimes that the Allies (“our side”) were committing and to oppose this militarization of society and fighting the spread of Nazi’s by supporting the local militias and not through formal soldiers engaging in battles. The debate continued till Orwell’s death, years after the war had formally ended. And answering the agonizing questions of the role of intellectuals, peace activists and the society of the nation engaged in organized violence are still as urgent as they were 60 years ago.

I consider myself to be a pacifist with a “p” and not a “P”. I think pacifism is derived from a genuine moral value and a value that all anarchists share, that conflicts should not be resolved through violent means. That all forms of violence in an unequal society serves the interests of the powerful and that a believe that conflicts can be resolved through means of force will ultimately lead to new forms of despotism or strengthen the old. But, i realize that this is one of the many moral values that anarchists and all humans share and in the reality values are often at conflict. And if by standing firmly for one value we forsake other (a position with capital “P”)  – say, the value of human life, which might in a particular circumstance be only protected through some violent means  then, it is nothing more than a selfish act that makes us feel good.

These, then, are some of my thoughts on a rational and pacifist position on question of violence:

1. Structural Pacifism:  Violence, more often then not, is a means of maintaining violence. The power system establishing, maintaining and expanding itself by means of force (and “engineering of consent”.)  Lets take states, they are by definition organization and concentration of violence in a society. They is justified and legitimized by images of a chaotic stateless society, where people cannot organize production, distribute services and goods and maintain welfare for all. So, a Leviathan is needed. This state then, through institution of violence and its threat creates a straitjacket for maintenance of its power and power of private capital. Through this imagined fear of chaos a very real violence of poverty and control is established that further creates alienation and aggression. Any serious pacifist cannot ignore these facts. The long term goal and vision of all pacifists must be a creation of society which is not based on inequalities, violence as a means of social regulation and conflict resolution. That means a society without the state, the caste system, capitalism, military and other structural forms of violence.

2. Particular instances of  necessary criminality:  Outside philosophy conference rooms and in a world of real consequences for real human beings there is no question of “should we oppose violence”? There is only the following questions:

a. In the particular context are the purported reasons for using violent means correct and justified? Driven by what (vulgarized) value?
b. Is some form of violence the only possible means through which the justified end result is sought?
c. Is the current form of violence the only possible form that can attain the results?

There are also questions like, what structural conditions have led us to a situation where we need some form of force to achieve this goal?

Even the most radical anarchist or pacifist regularly participate in the institutions of structural violence, for example, reporting robbery of your motorbike to a cop or purchasing an mobile phone. The value of being able to communicate with friends and colleagues in this particular case outweighs the value of not engaging in capitalist violence. The same principles applies in many other conflicts.

Within the current society, we have to survive, try to achieve a good life and struggle to build a new society by creating alternative structure of self management.  And in order to survive, struggle and organize we might at time use these very institutions, at time critically justify them for particular cases and at times defy them when they are in absolute contradiction to humanity, our wellbeing and survival – we have a duty to resist unjust laws and “just laws” being used unjustly.

In last few years, USA has withdrawn its support for Kurdish fighters who defeated ISIS in northern Syria. (Kurdish militias picking up arms was itself a largely justified act in face of barbarism of Daesh.) People like Noam Chomsky have argued that non-combatant USA troops should stay in the region and help the Kurdish forces. This is seen as a support for NATO and American imperialism by many commentators on the left.

Kurds beings dependent on US military for technical and air support is sign of a structural problem. But within this structural problem this particularly less lethal form of military assistance was essential for the Kurds who were threatened by being crushed by the Turkish forces.

This being said, it is important to note that such conditions where violence from powerful institutions like state can be a means for a peaceful end are extremely rare. In almost all cases, the seizing of state violence and opening up channels of dialogue would considerably eliminate violence on the planet – and the threat of nuclear annihilation. 

In Kashmir, it is very clear that the ongoing counter-insurgency operations will not end violence of pro-independence groups, or bring peace and prosperity to the valley. It is a tactic of brutally crushing the people of Kashmir. The Doval doctrine, which was described in 2010 by the current NSA to be:

“Don’t overreact, don’t give in, don’t follow appeasement, it [2010 protests] will pass off. It looks big in the midst of it, they cannot sustain it beyond a point and even if they do there is a price that they have to pay.” “In the game of power the ultimate justice lies with the one who is strong”.

The ethos of the State.

The violence in Kashmir is not a military issue, it is a political issue and a matter of grievances and political alienation of the betrayed and tortured people of the land. Like the Kurdish militants and any violent Independence struggle there is some justification for armed rebellion in Kashmir, this time against the barbarism of Indian state. And it will easily loose its traction and popular support if the Indian occupation ends. (And if not, there is a threat of further militarization of the Kashmiri society like the Adivasis in parts of active Naxal insurgency.) There will be many questions to resolve in the process, only possible through resolving the political problem and holding a plebiscite. There will also be the questions of “Pakistani aggression” in the region that can be solved with trilateral dialogues and confidence building and economic collaborations. But this much is clear, there is no justification either for the ends or the means that India seeks in Kashmir.

Coming back to the Orwell-Comfort dialogue, I believe Orwell was right in that after a point in the events of WW2 it was necessary for Allies to engage militarily. But Comfort was also right in that the duty of intellectuals and activists still lies on exposing the lies and fabrications of their own states to examine whether the purported threats are real, and are the means uses are proportionate and if there are nonviolent and more democratic alternatives available and at the same time recording the crimes of our side in hope for some justice or for same uncertain reason that Winston Smith started writing his diary.

To a large extent, these questions will remain intangible if there is no peace and disarmament movement tied with other popular struggles to make any pacifism and anti-militarism a reality. 

Of Petals and Pellets: Perception Management of Violence

May 3rd, 2020

The institution that in rest of the world is known for pelleting hospitals and civilians in Kashmir today dropped petals over hospital in India. Militarism’s direct and indirect toll on health of the people in parts of North East and Red Corridor but most significantly in Kashmir is massive. From instances of attacking hospital ambulances to torturing and maiming civilians. The regular curfews but, more sharply since the August last year combined with the internet shutdown create an unprecedented health crisis in the valley.

Today’s military operation is part of a long history of military propaganda campaigns. This one being particularly milder and weaker. The goal of these operations is to project the military as a strong and powerful force that not only crushes the “enemies” but also supports the civilian population in time of calamities.  As explained below, well planned propaganda operations rely on hiding facts and even fabrications and lies to consciously shape the population’s perception and behavior. What is achieved is war mongering society that  sees war crimes and occupation as necessary and forgets their own economic concerns in fight against “the enemies.”

During the second world war when the so-called “Japanese inspired fifth column” of Indian soldiers, who became part of nationalist military groups and were fighting the Allies, the British Indian Army formed “Josh Groups”. In the meetings of the Josh Groups stories were circulated within the British Indian troops of Japanese atrocities on Prisoners of War and the occupied countries, as well as associate the INA troops to these atrocities.

“Josh is the strongest and most effective counter-propaganda method yet involved to combat the Japanese Intelligence offensive… it is the morale counter-offensive weapon against these dangerous activities”
(Indian National Army and Free Burma Army, Vol. 1.)

It is helpful to quote in full what the General Headquarters said it entails:

“Josh Groups are intended to:
(a) build in every Indian soldier the knowledge and firm faith that the Japanese and everyone who represents the Japanese are his own personal enemies;
(b) introduce stories of our victories against the Japanese and so turn the conversation around to the topic of why the Japanese are India’s enemies and why and how they will be defeated;
(c) introduce stories of the bravery of Indian soldiers in action and his comradeship-in-arms with his Allies;
(d) utilize entertainment, radios, dramas, information rooms, picture layouts etc., to bring home to the sepoy, through every medium that strikes his imagination, the existence of his chief enemy – the Japanese;
(e) inoculate the Indian soldier with a sound factual basis of true knowledge so that false rumours and brazen lies spread by Japanese, Jifs and Japanese agents can be easily shown as such.”
(Ibid.)

The INA is now celebrated for its heroism in the struggle against the British. So, it isn’t as much about the moral content of who is being demonized but whether it is in our interest to do so? And the lessons of containing these “dangerous activities” (i.e. questioning if our killing of thousands makes any sense or, are we actually the good guys after all) have always stayed in the Indian armed forces. But after the transfer of power, when the offensive that needed combating was no longer from the Japanese but from its own population, which might get involved in these “dangerous activities” of questioning the defense budget, the arms buildup, war mongering to sideline economic issues. So, we became a Josh Nation.

And its effectiveness can be tested by asking a simple question: whether people of this country have a “firm faith that the Pakistan and everyone who represents the Pakistanis are their own personal enemies”?

It’s not just the responsibility of the armed forces, any more, to maintain the Josh Nation but the mass media and political discourse in general is a means of maintaining it.

But within the armed forces it takes the formal form of Joint Doctrine for Perception Management and Psychological Operations of the Headquarters of Integrated Defense Staff. It starts with noting that “conflict is a struggle of wills, which takes place in peoples’ minds.” It says, “it is necessary to understand the motivation of… populations in order to shape their perceptions, affect their will to continue the conflict.” It also concedes that “the ingredients that are untrue are brought out in a manner so as to nullify element of doubt that has been knowingly / unknowingly crept into the information” – in other words, lies and fabrications. (All quotes are from 2010 Doctrine.)

Military Psychological Operations in India need a more detailed study but returning to today’s operation the Doctrine note that “image of Armed Forces for the internal audience is required to be subtly projected as a tough, focused force, offering swift and firm action not only to the enemies of the nation but also for care and protection of our countrymen when no other system can provide succour.”

Today’s “morale counter-offensive” of Josh Nation is in line with building support for state policies at large and image management for the armed forces. The whole activity is more ironic and saddening because it is precisely because of the MiGs and Sukhois that are showering petals over the hospitals the nurses and doctors inside these hospitals do not have protective gears and ventilators. Because a Josh Nation spends 4 times higher on military than it does on health. And because a similar exercise happened in USA few days ago all the bastion of Indian liberal media can tell the PM is that “a little originality would be appreciated.”