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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Privacy in the era of Neo-imperialism

The revelations of Edward Snowden, a computer analyst working for a security contractor of the the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency of the United States of America, about the extent of mass surveillance being carried out by these agencies of the internet and telephonic communication behaviour of individuals has kicked up a storm of protest. The core of liberal democratic practice as it has developed is the liberty of the individual - "Give me liberty or give me death" as Patrick Henry had so famously stated during the American Revolution. And privacy is an important component of this individual liberty because it is intimately connected to the freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, surveillance of the communications of an individual strikes at the core of liberal democratic practice. However, in any centralised democratic system there is always a restriction on individual freedoms so as to ensure that they do not jeopardise the well being of others. That is why the State in liberal democratic societies has been given the power to limit individual freedoms for the greater good. But this has always been a contentious issue because the State is in reality not a neutral entity carrying out its duties with fairness to all. In the modern era liberal democratic states have evolved contemporaneously with capitalism and so these states have been controlled from the beginning by the capitalist class.
Since capitalism is predicated on the earning of profits and the accumulation of property there is always the problem for the capitalists of securing this profit making and accumulation against the opposition to it from the vast majority of citizens who are exploited in the process. Therefore, the security apparatus of liberal democratic states have always been deployed against the majority of citizens so as to safeguard the capitalist interests. Also capitalism has always been simultaneously imperialist in nature and so it has exploited not only locally in one country but across the globe further increasing the need for a heavy security apparatus. Now one of the major requirements of maintaining security of capitalist/imperialist interests is to have intelligence on the activities of individuals or groups who may be actively opposing the capitalists/imperialists. So intelligence gathering in violation of individual privacy has been a feature of liberal democracy right from the beginning and it has only got more sophisticated and ubiquitous with the development of technology. Thus, it is not at all surprising that in this age when computers have made possible deep data analysis on a huge scale, this technology will be used for mass surveillance.
The irony in all this is that while the liberal democratic State considers it to be its privilege to collect data on the citizens of the world it criminalises attempts on the part of the citizens to know about its own nefarious activities!! Every liberal democratic State across the world has the equivalent of an Official Secrets Act which criminalises any individual or group that might reveal State secrets. We had earlier the arrest of Bradley/Chelsea Manning and later his/her conviction for leaking official secrets that he had access to as an employee of the US Military, the hot pursuit of Julian Assange for publishing the material that Manning had leaked and now the pursuit of Snowden. The project for liberty which is the core idea of liberal democracy stands completely compromised by this arbitrarily undemocratic behaviour of the liberal democratic State made paranoid by its obsession with securing the interests of capitalism/imperialism. The judiciary which is supposed to uphold the rights of the individual is also hand in glove with the security establishment. When confronted with the uproar over its mass surveillance, the US government blandly stated that these programmes had been vetted by the judiciary. Recently the US judiciary even went to the extent of ordering the sufferers of torture in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to pay the legal fees of their torturers while dismissing the victims' petition for damages on the specious ground that since the matter in question took place in Iraq it was not justiciable in the USA.
Given this kind of restriction on individual freedoms arising from the paranoid attitude of States globally and the huge difference in power between these States and the individuals or groups who are fighting for justice, there is very little hope for the implementation of human rights and the initiation of a just social and economic order despite the many struggles for justice and freedom that are afoot globally. Thus, it is with a realistic appreciation of these ground realities that we must formulate our strategies for bringing about true democracy.

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