●● Questions For Alternatives (8)
(Translation of a January 2000 write-up)
● Heights and their vertiginous attraction
Eulogies of excellence. Creating aspirations to reach the top. Encouraging an upward ascent: higher, topmost, more peaks to conquer … All of this seems natural because it faithfully mirrors the ladder-like, pyramidal, hierarchical structure of our present. The present is, in fact, the supreme embodiment of such an arrangement.
Whereas, what seems far more natural are minor differences, wherein ‘A’ happens to be marginally better at something while ‘B’ is just a shade less or more capable at something else, and so on. These unimportant differences between persons and personalities lend themselves to a panorama of multi-faceted interactions; they form the basis for relations of “Not As Unequals” amongst humanity.
# Audience and Artists: Born of Pain
Hierarchical social systems engender meaningless, tedious, boring and harmful work, and too much of it. Consequently, a majority of humanity is forced into working. This takes place, as it is bound to, in an atmosphere of lies, deceit, misinformation, maneuvers, and force. There is no choice but to steal away from reality and dwell in an imaginary world, the world of entertainment where pathologies of adventure, excitement, or devotion are born. The audience/listener and the artist/performer is born.
# Extremes of the ladder
Thus, begins the process of converting minor natural human differences into ladder like gaps of the order of tens, hundreds, thousands, and millions. The painful process of stretching and restricting, that must push or pull people into slots, continues. Most people are bound by the shackles of food, clothing, and shelter. Burden of work and lack of resources push them to the lowermost rungs of the ladder. These are the rungs that form the majority of the audience.
The greed for earning awards and honours inspires an ascent that makes stepping stones of other people. The rewards of competition and the fears of punishment in every conceivable sphere “force” people to constantly mould and chisel themselves. After all, a person can ensure his/her place in the pyramid only by making the difference between self and the rest of humanity as great as possible — increasing the difference of hundreds to thousands, and those of thousands to millions. The measure of a great or successful artist is the number of heads s/he has been able to climb over.
# The inferior and the anti-human
Increasing sophistication in this process simply turns an increasing number of people into an audience. They find themselves inferior in front of the great artists. Feelings of inferiority discourage and demoralise. And what pleasure does the artist derive from all this anyway? The fundamentally anti-human pleasure of scrambling upwards over others!
The question for alternatives is not whether someone has reached the top by talent, sincerity, hard work, and honesty or by dishonesty, manipulation, and stratagems. Instead, deliberations on the audience/artist dichotomy itself can be points of departure for alternatives.
[From March 1999 issue of Majdoor Samachar, a series, “Questions for alternatives” was started. The above is from January 2000 issue, number 8 in that series. Some of the pieces were translated and published as a booklet in December 2003.
In these twenty years very significant changes seem to have taken place. The global lockdowns from March 2020 seem to have taken our vibrant times onto a new terrain. By increasing their possibilities, the all-round acceleration in social churnings seem to have brought radical social transformations to the top of the human species’ agenda.]
— 10 February 2022
A Majdoor Samachar post
◆Theory Network friend: If you don’t have any familiarity with the knowledge system from which structure of oppression draws it’s legitimacy, how will you fight against it? The systems of Knowledge need to be subverted from within as there is no Archimedean point from which we can envision alternatives. Alternatives emerge from the political contestations within existing modes of knowledge production.
● : जी।
Classical Social Democracy. Kautsky-Lenin- …
Materialist reading of the social process:
The very being of wage workers’ makes them the radical social subject.
◆ Theory Network friend: In India state apparatuses are so complex that wage workers are trapped in bureaucratic mechanism of control. Without the help of organic intellectuals it is not easy for them to push forward their political interest.
◆Theory Network friend: In Italy all major autonomist thinkers are trained philosophers. In India Autonomism lacks intellectual rigour inspite of the fact that India’s deep-seated political crisis is more suitable for autonomist interventions.
● : Global wage workers is the scenario.
With the social relation on which the present hierarchy is premised increasingly dysfunctional, violation of laws in “the rule of law” is the norm.
Regarding the state in India, the basic law for industrial relations, The Industrial Disputes Act can be said to be irrelevant for factory workers atleast from 2000. Most of the factory workers are temporary workers and are NOT workmen as per the Industrial Disputes Act.
● : Outside union/party framing, activities of workers became News with the introduction of electronics in the production process. It has been a global phenomenon. In India, regarding Faridabad its glimpse can be had in the issues of Majdoor Samachar during 1990-2000.
“Autonomist” theorisation seems to be an expression of the last fights of permanent workers in factories throughout the world — in Russia, China etc. it was the “de-statisation” of factories.
Wages & conditions in which attempts were made to bog down workers (with their paraphernalia of representation and negotiation) नाकारा।