Wednesday, May 4

Seeking a way out

The evils of a capitalist society are quite well-known and yet are often overlooked, maybe because what we’ve come up with in the last two or three centuries as panacea has been much worse: the same emphasis on capital in a different guise. We talk feminist theories and try to prove that everywhere a prejudice has always existed; we keep on focusing on the rich-poor divide and then only worsen it. And yet the unnamed monster has always been that we measure humans: in terms of their productive abilities. As long as you are productive in the sense of not creating a poem but a bushel of wheat, you can live; when you stop being productive, then there are many options: you can be killed, you can be relegated, you can be called a burden upon the society, you will get a proportion of society’s sum because you will be replaced by some others in the same position. Man does not remain free, for he has to produce to remain alive; he becomes the slave of his labour rather than his labour leading him to self-realization. The more he produces the thing considered more desirable in that particular epoch, the more “better off” he is: the problem with communism was that it never got itself rid of the prejudices for capital, and thus its start line was the acceptance that yes, more material goods is being better off. And then the fight for being better off started. Similarly with feminists, who forgot to question the basic premise of the society on which we function. It is very much like if politician A starts eating into the state’s funds, politician B starts rather quarreling as to why he also shouldn’t have a slice in the pie, too!

It is not that we haven’t ever tried a system not based on capital. The much-reviled Hindu system of caste was one such system which instead had the objective of placing the emphasis on knowledge and creation (in the sense of poem, yes). It of course had to denigrate, for people soon made it a matter of inheritance, but before trying to see why did it become so, let me take a mild digression.

Emotions are something that somehow science thought till recently “in the way of reason”: so even if they studied where in the brain they are being produced, they were always thought of as “those little inhibitors” or at best as stimuli. It is only now that the realization is seeping through across the scientific community that the emotional richness shown by the human species makes it the most intelligent species till date discovered: emotions are cues! Because of emotions we are able to take decisions, for better or for worse, related to our future; we have a “happy” memory or a sadness associated with a particular experience and which guides us in our future conduct. Think of emotions as “labels,” but as interactive labels: the ability to have, store and process them is what makes the humans able to manipulate time and space, and to construct huge projects out of thin air, to dream and to believe. And yet all along we have discounted these very emotions when we have seen man as a mere machine, as just another species of being who can be more productive than a bullock because he also has got a “brain.”

The ancient Hindus did try to break the deadlock by having instead a system wherein they defined classes based on the kind of work (and work was not defined by the money it produced) they do. So a knowledge-seeker was free to seek it, explore it; he was not constrained by having to produce. Knowledge was given the utmost importance and thus the Brahmin was on top of the social scale (instead of the rich) and he wandered about, living off food from others, who considered it a privilege, an honour to be able to give him food. Of course, the explicit hierarchy established brought very soon into being the attendant evils of this system, but here at least was an attempt to define man as more than a machine: the West often considers it another form of “division of labour” but it forgets that the Brahmin is not doing any labour in the capitalist (and thus always Western) sense of the word. It was more an attempt to free men from seeing themselves as hunter-gatherers, and use the rich resources with them to further explore truth. The problem with the Hindu system of caste lay in the confusion between atma/purusha and jivatma: I will not attempt to translate the words because the West has no such concept.

Hindus posited the system of caste on birth: thus a Brahmin’s son was automatically a Brahmin. I do not have any idea when they started doing so, because here they have got themselves confused about the theory of karma (which again is grossly misunderstood in the West, import as it is). Out of a million-odd forms of life, including that of amoeba, if you are born in the household of a Brahmin, it was considered obviously as the best chance to further try to understand universe, as you are being born to parents who already presumably know a lot and moving in a similar society: thus, if you had a good karma, your birth could be there. However, chance does not mean anything else than a chance: someone with wealth has more means to do something, but how many times have you seen it happen? By way of good karma, in its quest for self-realization, the atma will be reborn as a higher form of life; however, one must remember that man’s consciousness is jivatma, and man is completely unconscious of his atma. It is the atma that uses different life forms as tools in order to self-realize, not the other way round. What man can tap into (what in the West is called as soul) is his jivatma, his living consciousness. This jivatma dies with the man; it does not get reborn or transferred. A Brahmin's son could be as bad as anyone; karma has placed him there, but it is now up to his present karma so that the atma that thrives on his jivatma advances further on or not. It is hard to tell when the confusion between jivatma and atma arose in the Hindu thought and how; probably it was with many of the Brahmins themselves who started to seek power instead of knowledge, and thus mixing up the concepts is one of the best ways to hold power. Also, with the prevailing of Jainism all over India, Hindu cults had to spring up, and a cult inevitably means sacrifice of knowledge for power. Both Jainism and Buddhism of course themselves are nothing but cults: offshoots from Hinduism to seek power. Ignorance of one has been always the source of power for the other.

I do not know what the answer is in the present day; we don’t have an aristocracy anymore, and the illusion of freedom that democracy gives, while actually antithetical to the idea all the time, is an evil hard to fight. Because everyone loves freedom in theory, and now that we have already divided not only society into fragments of individuals but also individuals themselves into fragments of selves, the more urgent question is how to make one self conscious of the other. Our different selves are becoming our hidden, many jivatmas, which are running in parallel to each other, manifesting a terrifying lack of unity. At the back, still, of course, is our urge to seek that unity, but when society forces us to think of ourselves as labourer-gatherers, and to live accordingly, the clockwork can only become worse. For we have become clocks from humans.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Samiah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:21 am  
Blogger ankyuk said...

I also use my blog as a scratchpad, and maybe that's why the impression that it isn't meant for discussion. For example, I came across many laughable theories by Marina Yaguello reading her in the past few days (calling "laughable" is already value judgement, as I am not doing anything to substantiate), but I held myself back and didn't write anything: I said, no, I need to read a wide body of her work, and probably there is something that I am missing, that I must again seek her in a new light; and if then, even if I find again her ridiculous, I will at least have a more solid knowledge of my own thoughts.

Culture for me is dynamic: there was not one culture, but today there is almost "one" culture. And soon, maybe, globally. Islam and the deep seepage of Hindu/Buddhist consciousness into any Asian society further east and south are the main roadblocks in the way of the whole world becoming uniformized presently, but it's to be seen till when that can last. A nonexistent concept is untranslatatable: that is where art comes into being. I will have to create a work of art to introduce that element to the audience that does not know it, but a definition will merely serve as an intellectualization, which, as you know, I hate. It is certainly not uncommunicable, thus. I do not think anyone, including myself, ever past learning anything. No, I am not assuming most of my readers to be Western: but the word "soul" is so much bandied about among all those who have ever read English, that the meaning has become just about everything, used as a weak crutchly substitute designed to provide nobility to your words when you don't care to be precise or deeper; that's the unfortunate value judgement that I have reached to, till now.

I thought the next phrase, the one with two politicians, made the malaise evident. Whenever people fight for equality, they forget that it is the equality of dignity they are fighting for, the right of not being clubbed in some incoherent mass with a label that has been deemed stinking by the society. Just like the word woman is deemed stinking by many past and present societies: not merely a question of inferiority even, but a thousand more interpretations, each one reinforcing the idea of some slinking cur with meaty haunches, who is to be used but not trusted. The feminists' problem is multifold; I will care to state two of them: (1) women and men are not "identical," and they forget that! In general, there are many differences across the genders, and appreciation of these differences is what was needed, not a society where the differences vanish. The feminists are again measuring women by the yardstick of productivity or utility in some way or the other (and I don't see this measurement way as a problem of some imaginary masculinist hold; rather, it's a problem of capital-focused societies which we have been living in): which is what I find objectionable, this measuring that harms rather than benefits; (2) existence of "feminist" automatically implies that there's somewhere a "masculinist." Yes, the feminists would say, traditions or society or something or the other. The problem is that if this imaginary or real masculinist is an evil that they think it is, then why not feminist would not be? Or maybe they want to now show that they have capability to do that? Politician B fighting Politician A?
Isms are narrow; people embrace them when they do not sense their own identity; when they can't love the world, and instead of creating and following isms, when they can't simply love. Intransitively. But that seems to be another of my value judgements.

6:49 am  
Blogger Samiah said...

2:45 pm  
Blogger ankyuk said...

I am indeed not bothering to know all the countless branches. I could write a Bulgakovian satire about it: we start from one ism, and then we introduce the subspecialities. How very brilliant! We beg to differ, and voila, another new facade created, another label. Or do you not know after all this time that I completely hate labels? After all, why would I now create modern religions after having destroyed the other institutionalized ones? To always remain blinded? If you can, answer the questions I answered for you in your own words and/or understanding and I will be patient and I will listen to you and I will discuss, but citing references does not lead anywhere as I am not an erudite person. You are a brilliant talker and friend-maker; there will be many erudites willing to discuss all this with you with charming words and more beautiful actions (at least, they would respect you more than I do you in your opinion).

But I will recapsulate what I was saying in order to be less obscure: the feminists are in the currency today because one can now gain capital without going after lions. Imagine feminists among Siberian seal hunters! Oh no! The problem has been that we do not recognise a human's worth for what he or she is: but we measure in certain measurable quantitative ways. The feminists, even by the most roundabout ways, cannot be doing something else than harp about men and women, though it's a question of the structure of our societies, simply because if they do anything else, then they do not remain as feminists. Tomorrow, if somehow females start producing a lion's share of goods (ah, again lions!), who would you think be valorized? Females! It's profit the world runs on: the material profit that is the fulcrum for our societies.

I am in fact dichotomizing ism itself. When you say you are an ist, you already have a narrow sense of the world according to me. If you can love people and spread love and happiness around you, help people without them knowing it, and if you can understand the evils around you and do something about them, then that's something. Taking rallies out on the streets and writing shiny, whorly books and reading great, fascinating discourses is worth nothing to me. I love stories, not philosophies. Not fables and not allegories; it is stories that touch the heart, that light fire in a man's heart.

This is indeed a discussion as well, but a discussion requires effort: so instead of giving me a reading list, you will have to get down to reality and engage with it. A lot in the world of books is assumed brutely (though it's me who's supposed to brutely pepper texts with my convictions without substantiations). A lot of those books assume that people will always try to act in self-interest, that/because survival of species is wished for: but who wishes it? Where does this continuing the heritage wish come from in the genetic code? Maybe you have an answer, or another reference, or maybe you have not: but how many books give that question? And how many question those books that don't? You once said bias is everywhere; I will restate your phrase in saying that statements without substantiations are everywhere.

4:21 pm  
Blogger Samiah said...

4:56 pm  

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