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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The thousand-yard stare

I was watching the movie 'Full Metal Jacket' yesterday. The movie sparked the issue about violence in my mind. Why did authorising state take its stand more violently against dissidents than democratic states? The contents which authority is unaware, that is treated as treasonable due to fear of the losing power by unknown. There are attempts to de-legitimize and criminalize all dissent and opposition to its policies. Bounding of law to maintain order without even hearing voices of dissidents create havoc situation in the society.

Christopher Hitchens summarises dictatorship governance as : The true essence of a dictatorship is in fact not its regularity but its unpredictability and caprice; those who live under it must never be able to relax, must never be quite sure if they have followed the rules correctly or not. Thus, the ruled can always be found to be in the wrong. The ability to run such a "system" is among the greatest pleasures of arbitrary authority. The only thumb rule is: whatever is not compulsory is forbidden.

Fear, Paranoia, Suspicion and Desperation are common in the dictatorial state. State believes that it can control the citizens by blocking the information flow and shutting down counter state views. The outmoded bureaucracies of state put iron curtain on the people movements, migration and information flow. And, There comes a tipping point where ripple turns into a tidal wave, a wind into blizzard and a movement into a revolution.

Common people unaware of situation try to explain way crisis as conspiracy theories or playing the blame game on external factors, the relationship between solution and problem becomes a distant one. And by ignoring this, thus state and its citizens allows a crisis to fester. State of Pakistan is the prime example of this phenomenon.

There are two persons who inspired me for this discourse : Che Guevara [an Argentine Marxist revolutionary and major figure of the Cuban Revolution ] and Aung San Suu Kyi [a Burmese opposition politician and ex- General Secretary of the National League for Democracy]. They represent two opposite ways in the fight against tyranny of the authorizing state. I strictly stand on the fact that it is never easy to convince those who have acquired power forcibly of the wisdom of peaceful change. Aang San Su Kyi is doing non violently same in Burma and Che Guevera had opposed American interference in Latin American countries through violence.

In both of these struggles, injustice and anarchy are condoned by those who hold official responsibility for protecting the citizens from acts of violence. State tends to act as guardian of the citizens like the morality police, legislating on modes of behaviour they considers harmful to their citizens. When normal human urges are suppressed, they all too often express themselves in violent acts.

It is necessary to cultivate the habit of questioning arbitrary orders and to stand firm in the face of adversity. Political awareness can be blunted by the state but the natural instinct that led an individual to seek justice and freedom can't be suppressed. The root of discontent that is in protests of the young reflects general malaise of the society. State fails to recognise the reality of human behaviour, an instinct for freedom. Humans are not animals that are driven by hunger and mating behaviour only.

Here it also reflects that economic power is built on the ability to access information and resources asymmetrically. Economists have pointed out the link between the presence of huge energy reserves in a country and political instability and human rights abuse. The reason many suggest for this is that countries rich in energy reserves don't need the efforts of citizens to raise revenue, and consequently such states usually become (and can afford to be) undemocratic like Burma and Saudi Arabia . The price of economic development always comes through exploitation of many. Its not the justification of the act but basic flaw of top - down model of economic development.

I wanted to write about state and violence initially. But ended up at different shores in completion. I realized now that deeply held convictions are always on trial in the fight against arm repression. Today is ours independence day, 15th August. The political and economic changes had put India out of crisis, but there is a little intellectual tradition to support social change. Each youth generation should seek for new model or improvement in existing process for evolving, and today its mine responsibility.

PS: Read more about Authority : I don't walk Left and Irrational Faith -3.


  1. Hi Yayaver...!
    Its long since 've been here. But actually I always sneak into your blog, only thing is that unable to comment many time. Liked your idea of change in this Independence day.
    Since you have mentioned here about Che Guera, I remember seeing a programme in Fox History on World's Deadliest Terrorists (deadliest may be wrong word but there was a similar word). And that episode of the programme was on Che Guera. But I knew that you can not expect anything better from Fox channel, it was a distorted depiction of history of course.

    That apart, I don't agree with armed struggle as the way for achieving anything. Or rather I would say that I am more in favour of non-violent way of fighting for the civil rights, liberty, freedom, etc. And who can be a better example for that than our Father of the Nation. Just in the last century only he has shown the very example of the same. But I think that Einstien's saying is turning into reality, hardly a half of century has passed and many people think Gandhian principle are utopian. But, the more I read on Bapu, the more I am in awe and admiration of the great human being. I feel proud of having born in the country where Gandhi lived.

  2. @Bhagwad, you will not belive that this quote was written about Hitchens boarding school administration. I was bemused that mindset to control does not change even this administration is given responsbility of nations with responsible citizens.

  3. We should stand up and fight (which ever way we can) when one set of views or opinions is beginning to dominate the public discourse. This way we can nip totalitarianism in the bud.

    FYI: I enjoy reading Hitchens books. I was sorry to hear that he is terminally ill with cancer.

  4. Never saw the movie...this post is compeling me to watch it...

    yeah I will watch it asap... :)

  5. knock....knock...
    missing the posts...

  6. anjaanrahgir, i deeply regret on this late response. I was little busy and lazy hence could not reply back to you. Wwrong notion of history gives rise to false hood and radicalism as either it is used to persecute a ethnic group or give romantic version of glorious past.

    Non violent ways of fighting injustice are best ways of supporting peaceful changes. Gandhi success was a remarkable example in the human history and inspired many across thw world. His ideas on other subjects are obsolete but his non violence way of fighting foreign power is great success for all of us.

  7. @Hari, I always believe that majority is always wrong in its decision despite of its best intentions. Race of totalitarianism is in our mind as we ignore diversity and move towards oneness concept. Nothing serves people like anarchist, because he is always against governance and keep the flow of free voice in the society.

    And I don't feel sorry for Hitchens as he is diagnosed with throat cancer. This is crucial point of our support to him. Reasoning loose its edge in the hour of need and power of pitiness. And people falsily attribute it to the God. He has standed whole life against this religious madness, will not let him down. A man's birth and death is natural to him.

  8. @Umesh, I have watched this movie just few days ago despite that I downloaded it nearly 2 years back in final days of college. It is a great psychological study on milatries and war with its effect on soldiers.



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