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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Unto This Last

A man that is a householder, went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and said unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They said unto him, Because no man has hired us. He said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard said unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
— adapted from  Matthew 20:1–16, New Testament, King James Version
The crucial argument in this parable is that the last of the workers was prepared to work the whole day and it was not his fault that he got an opportunity only at the end and so he too deserved the same wage because he too has a family to feed. Thus, the reward for labour is delinked from the quantity and quality of labour itself and tied to the basic needs of the labourer. This is also the argument in the socialist dictum - "From each according to his ability and to each according to his need", first popularised by Louis Blanc and later taken up by Karl Marx, which too has its roots in another biblical parable - "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need" - Acts of the Apostles, 4:32–35: 32
 This parable in fact strikes at the roots of economic inequality - the ownership of private property.
 Then there is the famous verse from the Gita (Chapter 2 verse 47) which says "to work you have the right not to its fruits, don't be the medium for enjoying the fruits of work and neither be lured into not working" which delinks working from the fruits of that work and stresses that humans to exist must work but that the results of that work are not to be sought after. 
Thus, the problem of economic inequality, its roots and the means to be adopted for its solution have been the subject of human discussion from ancient times and it is indeed something of an irony that it should still be so today!!! 
The American philosopher, John Rawls, too proposed something of the same sort when he suggested that the priority social objective of any State should be to maximise the welfare of the worst off person in society and this is what informs most welfare measures of modern states where redistribution of incomes is sought to be done through taxing the rich and subsidising the poor.
John Ruskin, the British philosopher, who quoted the parable from Matthew metioned earlier, in his book "Unto This Last", was a critic of Victorian materialism and industrialism and relied on an evangelical interpretation of Christianity to press for a more humane social system, which would use the surpluses gained from modern development to pull up the people at the bottom of society and create a level playing field for them. As opposed to the classical economists like Ricardo and Malthus, he refused to accept that resources were scarce and instead worked from the proposition that they were abundant but were being disproportionately and inappropriately used and advocated that if need be some of the new industrial and urban development should be jettisoned because it clashed with nature and human weal. Marx had the same views as Ruskin, with regard to the devastation of nature by industrialisation but unlike the latter the former was an out an out votary of modern industrial development as a means of freeing humanity from scarcity and so he down played this aspect expressing the hope that once communism was established, and the rule of capital and its dehumanising alienation of labour abolished, the relationship between man and nature would stabilise. With regard to the exploitation of humans under industrialism Marx felt that the abolition of private property would suffice to remedy this. However, Ruskin and other anarchists have felt that centralised industrial systems cannot ensure equality and justice even if the ownership of property remains in State hands and this has been corroborated by later developments in socialist countries after revolutions. As succinctly put in this quote that is apocryphally attributed to Kafka - 
"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy".
Gandhi, initially, was inspired by Ruskin to start his Sarvodaya Programme in South Africa, the principles of which were later elaborated in his book "Hind Swaraj" in which he also harked back to the Vedas and the Gita for more support for his anti-industrial and anarchist socio-economic programme. Gandhi in fact went one step further and said that those who do manual labour should be recompensed more than those who do intellectual labour as he felt that the former was more important socially than the latter.
However, the history of human development shows that private property and greed, which have been so inveighed against by both spiritual and material philosophers, has ruled society and as a result inequality has gone on increasing and is today protected by huge economic and military power against which both non-violent and violent protests have proved unsuccessful. Thus, removing inequality is a difficult proposition currently, especially as the capitalist control of the human mind through the media and academia have made inequality an accepted phenomenon for most people and they have become resigned to living with it. 
So those of us who would like to carry on the glorious ancient tradition that I have quoted extensively from above and reject INEQUALITY, will have to buckle down and fight as best we can against a very powerful and greedy system that thrives on it and has succeeded in conning the rest of the world into believing that concentration of wealth and economic growth are the only way in which we can develop as a race!!  

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