Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Real Life Ramlila Begins!

The middle class is out on the streets. Possibly because of the shattering, post the 2008 meltdown, of the dreams of climbing up corporate ladders fanned by unfettered growth. We have to think why the middle class has come onto the streets in such a way. Not that most of them understand the nitty gritties of the Lokpal Bill. Its just an expression of disgust at the massive corruption that is taking place and the impunity of those who are engaging in it. Most of the middle class finds it difficult today to live the consumerist lifestyle that it aspires to. Aspirations that have arisen after being bombarded by advertisement and programming on television that rampantly promote greed and consumerism. The majority of the middle class see that those among them who are part of the government and administration can easily satisfy their consumerist greed by taking bribes over and above the relatively fat salaries that they now get. While the Congress and the BJP governments in the Centre and the states are all corrupt, the left too could not provide a solution to this while it was in power in West Bengal and Kerala. In fact the Left Front administration in West bengal was one of the most corrupt in the country. Thus, it is the middle class that is not in government service that has hit the streets against those of the middle and upper classes who are in government service and are skimming off public money! 
The media is also mostly staffed by the non-government servant middle class. So it is natural that it will take up the cause of the non-government servant middle class. Though why the upper class controllers of the media have gone along with this is something that requires deeper reflection. Possibly they see this cynically as a way to increase viewership and readership and so garner more advertisement revenues as they know that the movement has limited goals which will not really harm their interests. The middle classes do not want to give up their consumerist culture but at the same time want to be free of corruption. If you tell them that there has to be a radical reorganisation of the development process and the sacrifice of many comforts that we now enjoy, the consumerist culture in particular, then you will not get the same kind of support. In fact Anna Hazare does mouth such statements as "gram swaraj and decentralisation are the need of the hour" but this gets drowned out in the Lokpal Bill cacophony while at at the same time giving him a selfless Gandhian halo. It was this kind of halo that helped Gandhi also to become a messiah of the masses. It would be interesting to see whether Anna can succeed where Gandhi failed and overturn the modern industry based development model for an anarchist decentralised village based model of development. Though the chances are low given that like Gandhi, Anna too has a weak understanding of the logic of capitalist accumulation and especially of the kleptocratic dispensation that presently rules the world from Wall Street.
Thus, Anna Hazare, himself is not important, he just happened to be the man of the moment when he launched his movement in April at a time when possibly the non-government servant middle class, and especially those suffering from their home loan, vehicle loan, education loan and credit card repayment rates shooting skywards due to runaway inflation (caused not a little by corruption), had had enough. I am sure that Anna and his team were themselves surprised by the huge response they got and are getting. The movement is still of a spontaneous nature and it remains to be seen whether it does assume a more coordinated shape in future and what is the kind of political program and strategy it adopts beyond getting a good, strong Lokpal Act which now seems to be a certainty.
Anyway, what is important here is that the middle class have come out on to the streets. They are obviously more powerful than the peasants and the industrial proletariat currently and have more clout with the ruling class because of their greater articulation, intellectual formalism and purchasing power. Obviously the lokpal bill is a half measure and wont really do much, in the same way as the Right to Information Act has proved to be more or less a failure because the Information Commissions have not handed down the penalties they should have done to recalcitrant public information officers. So in all likelihood, like in the case of many other laws that are there to regulate corruption, the Lokpal Act too will be sabotaged after it is passed. but that is the next stage of the movement when the middle class will have to start thinking more deeply. For the present it is a positive development that what the left and fringe players like environmentalists and anarchists could not do in trying to stop dams or in the case of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath ensuring tribal autonomy, the India Against 
Corruption (IAC) movement has been able to do - make the government listen to the people's demands for the time being.
The Congress has been trying to discredit the movement by saying that it is trying to usurp the power of parliament to make laws and it has been suggesting that the IAC should contest and win elections and then make laws of their choice. However, this criticism it appears has not held water with the mass of middle class supporters of the IAC. The level of corruption in elections is so well known that everyone knows that it is not possible to win them without money power. Thus, if elections have to be won, then corruption must go first! Actually elections are a different ball game altogether. They involve crores of people and the IAC at the moment can tot up only a few lakhs across the country and not enough to even save the deposit in any constituency. Therefore, one of the shrewdest moves of the IAC team is to declare that they are not interested in contesting elections but only in creating public pressure on the already elected lawmakers to do the right thing. The IAC leadership team consists of people who are well versed in the constitutional nitty gritties and the finer points of bourgeois liberal democracy. Their challenge is from within the liberal democratic fold and that is why it is so potent and has also got the media to support it as compared to the mobilisations of the left which have on occasions been much bigger. 
All in all there is much to celebrate in these happenings as they are an indication of the vibrancy of people's politics in this country. Delhi has now become the stage for a real life Ramlila.

4 comments:

aryo. said...

quite frankly my opinion too though with slight interpretations. you may read it at: http://anarchyindia.wordpress.com/about/the-anna-fever/

moreover i plan to reblog lot of your stuff from your blog esp. the manifesto cause due to lack of a legit Indian anarchism research portal, i decided to built one myself (was a spontaneous choice.

Please do help me out with directions regarding good papers and research on Anarchism India.

-Anyo.

Rahul Banerjee said...

a tremendous amount of hard work is required to set up an exhaustive portal on indian anarchism which has its roots in the vedic times. you can freely lift stuff that you like from this blog. you can also pass it off as your own as i do not believe in intellectual property rights in the same way as i do not believe in other kinds of property!

anarchyindia said...

you are exactly my kind of person. i have been fighting against copyright for a long time now (on tumblr mainly).

i am working round the clock on the portal. still just the scratch.

it would really help me if you could come up with a list of indian anarchists who maintain blogs. i intend to list them on the resource page.

i will really appreciate any help.

-Arjo.

Rahul Banerjee said...

unfortunately i do not really follow other blogs very much. my internet research is restricted to the work that i myself do. what i can at the most do is write something on ancient indian anarchism which is my primary source of inspiration.