Ideological Violence

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Activism, Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life)

I shared a popular message (SMS), that is circulating the undivided Dakshina Kannada district, on Facebook and thus increased its reach. It reads “Hindutva is the new opium of the masses and balls of the ball-less society.”

A dear freind of mine  commented on the message saying “Please dont speak anything against Hindutva.” The word ‘Please’ moved me, though i was shocked to know that this friend of mine was a Hindutva sympathiser.

That night i sent a message to this friend of mine saying “my ideological stand had nothing against him or any individual and that the message did not intend to hurt him. After half an hour this friend replied me back saying “Samvartha, i understand. Each person is entitled to their opinion. I dint mean to be rude. Just gave a passing comment. You are like my brother,” and i was moved again.

The reason why i was moved by the usage of ‘Please’ and referring to me as ‘Brother’ was beacsue here was a boy who stood on the opposite side with whom i could still have a dialogue, in spite of knowing that we belonged to two different and opposing camps. In this era where the ‘other’ is not tolerated and is eliminated, i was moved to have a friend from the oppsoite camp with whom i could have a dialogue. This possibility to have a dialogue and this scenario where there is love and respect for the ‘other’ and there is tolerance towards that which is opposing the ‘self’, needs to be mentioned and acknowledged, i believe, for it dilutes ideological violence, which is introlerant of the ‘other’.

Here i share a piece written by my teacher and guide Varadesh Hiregange, which is titled ideological Vioelnce: A Crtique. He read this out as a key note address on 13 March 2009 at St. Aloysius College Mangalore in a seminar on Violence:

I would prefer to use the word ‘human evolution’ instead of human development without meaning any offence to the second word. The other day one senior academic was telling me – “There is so much violence around us that we can hardly claim that it is the land of the Mahatma Gandhi.” But we tend to forget that Mahatma Gandhi himself saw so much violence during his lifetime – partition causing worst-ever violence- that he spoke so much about non-violence. Hence, possible, he chose the most unconventional path for liberation.

I can talk about violence that is prevalent in nature and human nature. But what disturbs me most in these days, is the violence in the name of culture. It is an irony that culture, which is supposed to erase violence from human nature, has in fact resulted in more violence.

Hence, I intend to talk about one dominant form of violence that is ideological violence. I do not even tend to use the word – political violence which can mean violence due to power struggle. Ideological violence is more subtle, but also more brutal. Its effect is much more intense and longitudinal, more subliminal and dangerous. It can turn violent against all hapless communities, against women, children, minorities, dalits, adivasis and all other subaltern groups. Our own belief in one form ‘development’ can cause immense violence and also subvert ‘human development’ itself.

How does ideology cause violence? In essence, ideology is a system of belief. If it is not open for criticism and self assessment, it becomes a dogma. If it doesn’t introspect, it becomes fundamentalism. If it has shades of religion and if it indulges in power politics, it becomes communalism. If the end starts justifying the means, violence also becomes an acceptable methodology. Ideology starts defending ‘clash of civilizations.’

History is replete with such organized ideological violence, heralding the message that blood cannot be washed with blood. While Ingmar Bergman’s film ‘Seventh Seal’ most colquently discusses the futility of Crusades, both Hitler and Stalin are the semiotics of the ideological violence. Even before condemning international terrorism, it is imperative to be critical of the violence caused by the American neo-imperialist designs.

Now I am more concerned with our own contemporary scene. It is a tragic irony that two great apostles of non-violence – Jesus and Gandhi – confronted violence even in their twilight. One was crucifies and the other was assassinated. Commenting on Gandhi’s assassination, sociologist Asish Nandy says that Godse was just the tooth of a long poisonous snake.

It was not just Godse who desired to kill Gandhi, but it was also the hidden fantasy of all those who endorsed Godse’s point of view – which has even become politically quite significant today. The Gandhi- Godse interface is the semiotics of confrontation between Hinduism and Hindutva and the present is an episode in this long narrative.

From the demolition of Babri Masjid to the recent attack on Christian prayer halls, from Gujarat violence to the recent attack on women in Mangalore pub, vandalism against inter-religious socialization, threats issued to professor (Pattabhiram Somayaji) or to the journalist (B.A. Samvartha)– these are basically different manifestations of the same ideological violence which has unfortunately become the opium of the masses today. But such acts are basically an assault on Hinduism itself. They are irreligious acts in the power-play of politics.

We often hear many ideologues (senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s recent condemnation of attack on women in pub, is a case in point) even condemning such acts of violence. But what they don’t realize is the fact that such violence is the extension of their own ideology; such violence is in-built in their own ideology; what they practice is not religion, but corruption of religion. Anything that breeds hatred cannot be religious. Anything that disrupts this delicate web of human relationships cannot be religious.

Violence is the anti-thesis of humaneness. It is the anti-thesis of Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and Gandhi. It is the anti-thesis of humanity itself.

20 May 2009

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