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.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Megalomaniacs and Compromisers All!!

I have just finished reading two new biographies of Lenin which cover his life from birth to death in some detail based on research on new material made available from archives that have been opened up in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The striking aspects of Lenin's character and life that are revealed in these biographies are as follows -
1. He used to believe that what he understood about politics and economics was right and would engage in heated debates to assert this even if reality may belie his interpretations.
2. He was prepared to tweak his interpretation of orthodox political and economic theory if it seemed to him that the attainment of some practical goal needed him to do so. Thus, there was a serious gap between what he preached and what he practised.
3. He had no respect for democracy and justice and was ever ready to manipulate people and situations so as to be in control of his party and state. Especially after the seizure of power in the October Revolution, which itself was done through military action by his Bolshevik party which was in a minority even among the various socialist factions, he used terror and military action to suppress other socialists who were more numerous than his own Bolshevik faction and also the workers and peasants who did not agree with his policies and programmes. And what is even more interesting is that all the other members of the Politburo, the highest decision making body of the Bolshevik party, too were megalomaniacs like Lenin with scant regard for democracy and justice!!
4. He had a fierce hunger for power and would brook at nothing to achieve his goals.
5. He thought nothing of making compromises with those on the other side of the ideological spectrum to gain money for his party. Thus, after the February Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks were funded heavily by the Germans with whom Russia was at war and this helped the former to increase their propaganda work among the workers in Petrograd and arm their militia prior to the October Revolution.
6. Given the fact that the Bolsheviks did not have enough skilled people to run the Russian State, Lenin thought nothing of inducting people from the old Tsarist bureaucracy into the party as long as his overall control over it remained secure. In the process he had no compunction in crushing the workers and peasants soviets which were demanding control of their factories and farms.
7. Eventually with the introduction of the New Economic Policy in 1921, Lenin had to give way to peasants and allow them to produce and trade independently because of the impending collapse of the agricultural system in Russia, but even so this was a strategic retreat because of the inability of the military and the secret police to enforce total nationalisation of farming through terror. Later when the Bolsheviks were in a more secure position and the Soviet Union had bolstered its economy, Lenin's successor Stalin, resorted to even greater repression to nationalise farming forcibly in the 1930s.

Lenin, being a votary of dictatorship of course had little compunction in the use of arbitrary State power to suppress dissent, but even within overtly liberal democratic dispensations, State power is used, even if less arbitrarily, to further the political and economic goals of leaders who see themselves as being right in their interpretations of society and the economy even if they fly in the face of reality and those dissenting have to face oppression. Throughout the twentieth century the power of centralised States has increased considerably vis a vis the individual citizens even in liberal democratic dispensations and the might of the State is used to crush dissent. The control of these centralised State systems can only be possible by winning elections through organisation in centralised political parties. Invariably these political parties are led by power seeking and concentrating leaders who are not much different from Lenin in their megalomaniac and compromising tendencies, even if they may not resort to direct terror due to the legal provisions that prevent overt dictatorship. Any political party requires a considerable amount of funds both for its day to day activities and for fighting elections. These funds are mostly acquired from Capitalists and so the latter have a major say in the determination of the policies of the State. So like Lenin, the leaders of democratic parties too tend to be ambivalent of the source of their funds. In the end the masses, the ordinary citizens, end up having little say in the affairs of the State even in liberal democratic dispensations.
Even within smaller organisations fighting the centralised State apparatus for the rights of citizens, there is the tendency on the part of megalomaniac leaders to brush aside dissent.  It is very difficult to actualise true democracy where there are no leaders and only citizens. One is left wondering if the anarchist goal of decentralised communitarian consensus based social, economic and political arrangements will ever be possible to actualise on a large scale.

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