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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 6, January 26, 2013 - Republic Day Special

Questions of Freedom and People’s Emancipation — VI

Saturday 2 February 2013, by Kobad Ghandy


Kobad Ghandy from Tihar Jail has been writing on the concept of freedom vis-s-vis present-day society as also in relation to a future just order, bringing out some causes for the failure of the erstwhile socialist states. This comprises a series of six articles. The first article (covering Part I—The Context) appeared in Mainstream’s Independence Day Special (August 18, 2012), the second one (covering Part II—Search for Freedom through History) in this journal’s September 15, 2012 issue, the third one (covering Part III—Socialism and Existentialism) in the October 6, 2012 and issue the fourth one (covering Part IV—No Freedom without Values) in the November 10, 2012 issue. The fifth article being quite big, it was published in two instalments. The first section of Part V (Values, as Central to a New Just Order) came out in Mainstream (December 8, 2012). The second section of Part V appeared in this journal’s Annual Number (December 22, 2012). This is the sixth and concluding article. —Editor


Do not seek the truth by means of man; find first the truth and then you will recognise those who follow it.
—Al Ghazzali

Confucius’s teachings reveal that a simple, secular and unassuming attitude towards life is at the root of morality.
—Principle of Li

Social justice goes right through the history of Zorastrianism. Fighting evil underlies its essence. The Gathas are about looking after the poor, separating what’s good and what is not.
—Prof Skjaevvo

His Favourite Virtue: Simplicity
His Idea of Misery: Submission
Vice he Detested Most: Servility

—Marx, as told by his daughter, Laura

She had been diagnosed with systemic sclerosis over five years earlier. While this was eating into her vital organs and crippling her fingers, severe arthiritis made climbing even the overbridges at Mumbai’s local stations painful. Yet, in March 2008, when requested to take a class on the women’s question and patri-archy, she willingly trudged deep into the forests of Jharkhand. She spent over ten days with leading tribal girls, teaching them, discussing their problems, eating, chatting and sleeping with them.

As reported later, the women were so enamoured by Anuradha that they pleaded with her to stay on a few more days. When she finally had to leave, they all insisted walking with her as far as they could. Due to her painful knees, she would often stumble on the stony path. While the tribal girls would look at her, pained, she was quickly up, laughing it away. Not willing to leave her, many had tears in their eyes, when she finally crossed the hills, watching her disappear into the wilderness. Little did they know that she would be no more in just fifteen days, hit by the deadly falciperum malaria during that class itself.

This was the type of love and affection Anu attracted wherever she went and whomever she met. Normally leaders with her reputation and stature invite (nay welcome) awe, flattery and fear; but not the diminutive Anuradha, who never put on airs, even after becoming a popular leader.

While in Nagpur, she attracted a similar sort of affection from the Dalits among whom she lived and worked in the sprawling Indora basti; as also from her professor colleagues and students at Nagpur University where she taught post-graduate students MA Sociology. Such also was the love she attracted amongst intellectuals, lawyers, human rights/women activists, among whom she worked.

Anuradha was unique inasmuch as she could win the affection equally of the most down-trodden as of top intellectuals like the renowned dramatists Vijay Tendulkar, Satydev Dube etc. (whose views strongly differed from hers).

What then was this Anuradha magic? It was none other than her values of simplicity, straight-forwardness, honesty etc. which emitted frag-rance wherever she went. It was her inner beauty that was reflected in her eyes, in her expressions, in her behaviour, in her responses, that drew people towards her like a magnet. And when such values were combined with a sharp intellectual calibre and wide knowledge, she would, under different circumstances, have been the ideal role model.

She came close to what Marx called the ”natural being”, what religious people would call purity of the soul. Jalaluddin Rumi said of such people: ”Those who are pure in heart achieve God-consciousness; they are truly and actually aware of God at the centre of their being.”

Call it by any name, goodness within a person is still much appreciated by ordinary and simple people, notwithstanding the high levels of corruption, greed, selfishness, arrogance etc. all around. But, in such a world, where did an Anuradha-type person get such values? She never seemed to have had to struggle to achieve it—it seemed a natural part of her. If ”social being determines consciousness”, how could a filthy social environment result in such pure consciousness? How does one explain the thousands of unnoticed Anuradhas in our midst? Particularly in this neo-liberal era, where the rot has got so deep?
In such an environment the best of people tend to get corrupted; more so those in leadership and power. What Marx said in ’German Ideology’ is generally true, but, of course, it does not explain those like Anuradha, going against the main trend.

He said:

”The ideas of the ruling class are, in every epoch, the ruling ideas: i.e. the class, which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it................ The individuals composing the ruling class possess, among other things, consciousness, and therefore think. In so far, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in their whole range, hence among other things rule as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.”

Today, we see this crudely reflected all around us. It is even more glaring in a place like Tihar Jail. Here, truth is a rare commodity; falsehood the norm. But even here you will find a few gems, like our earlier sevadar, Bablu, and a few others, even from the staff. We have seen that the innate goodness in man is there, but he gets corrupted by the social environment. And even the few who have a predominance of good, often get sucked into the vortex of evil, as they are continuously bombarded by the prevalent value system.

Generally, in society, most people will have a predominance of negative values (that is, the ruling ideas), but, they too will have varying amounts of good; only some will have a predominance of good, which they have to struggle to maintain. To effectively build a new just order, besides changes in the socio-economic structure, one has to build on the elements of goodness within people, while eradicating the negative. Only with these new values and a new man will a new socio-economic structure sustain.

Through history we have found that the socio-economic orders have changed, but in the sphere of values man has failed, notwith-standing great effort by heroic people/move-ments through the ages. Even with the final change to socialism, due to the continued preva-lence of the negative values, the new order was reversed.
So, the key question is: how can one effectively change man so that the good in him/her effectively comes to the fore, in order to achieve genuine happiness and a sustainable new just order?

In the socio-economic sphere we have seen (in the last article) what changes may help facilitate this. These external factors may act as the conducive conditions for change; but the deciding factor for any real qualitative change are the internal factors. A seed only takes root to give a plant and beautiful flowers if it is fertile; if it is sterile there will be no plant however much fertiliser and water we may use. Here, the internal factor is within us, that is, our consciousness. Change in our consciousness requires a separate and independent effort. It will not happen of its own merely by taking up social issues (that is, external factor). And it is on this paint alone that I shall try and focus in this final article of this series—that is, how to imbibe the values of goodness, and reduce the negative values.

But, before coming to this I will briefly discuss two concepts presented in India which apparently seek the same goal—that is, the Gandhians and the Communists. The former base their philo-sophy on TRUTH, the latter on CLASS STRUGGLE.
So, first let us see the relation values have with these two concepts. After doing that I shall turn to the question of methodology for changing our values.

A. The Two Concepts

TRUTH is the central philisophical aspect of Gandhians together with non-violence and Brahmacharya. Many quasi-Hindu religious scholars have also made TRUTH their central focus. Communists of all hues and also some Socialists take CLASS STRUGGLE as their central theme. Let us look at both questions:

(i) Values and Truth
Like all other values, and freedom and happiness, here too there is nothing like absolute truth. This too is always relative, and the aim would be to always maximise the element of truth.
For simple things, truth and falsehood are clear. So, if I point to a pencil and say it is a pen, that is a clear falsehood. Yet, if I point to the pencil and say that it is lead, wood etc., it is not a lie; but still it obfuscates the truth that it is a pencil. So, even for such simple issues the truth is relative, not absolute.
But for value-based assessments it is even more complex. Take the question of FDI in retail; what is the truth? Is it good for India or bad? Some say it is good, the others bad. The truth would be neither—it is good for some (TNCs and big business), it is bad for others (small retailers and farmers). But, even this is disputed. Here, truth depends on whose interest one is serving. Again, here it is relative.
Even in the sphere of the sciences, where it would come closest to being absolute (as it is not based on value-judgements), it is also relative, as science keeps advancing. With each new discovery what was thought to be absolutely correct yesterday, turns out incorrect today. So, even in the sphere of science it is relative.
Yet, some base their entire philosophy around the question of Truth, giving it some abstract and absolute virtue. Some religions, of course, equate the absolute truth with God. Others have presented a theory to ”seek truth from facts” as central to their philosophy.
As far as virtue goes, if we make truth a central factor, we tend to de facto negate all the other aspects of goodness that I have outlined earlier. So, for example, can I uphold truth if I stand for injustice, greed, arrogance, selfishness etc.? I cannot! Truth for such people will always get twisted to serve their self-interest. So, in value-based assessments, truth is meaningless unless accompained by the other values of goodness. On the contrary, if we imbibe those values of goodness, then our assessments will automatically be closer to the truth.
And, as far as ’facts’ go, they are an objective reality, while the conclusions (truth) we draw from reality will always be subjective, dependent on our outlook and knowledge. At any given time a person has a given mental make-up by which he processes facts. He thereby arrives at what he believes to be the truth. But, the mental make-up of individuals differ from person to person; that is why we find that with the same set of facts numerous conclusions may be drawn. Which, then, of these is the truth? Truth, in
such value-judgements, is therefore subjective, depending on the reasoning and interests of the person.
So, we find that truth is both subjective and relative. Subjective, inasmuch as it is dependent on our values, interests and levels of existing knowledge. It is relative as our understanding at any given time is limited, and with greater study/research new truths will continuously be discovered.
For these reasons, to make ’truth’ central to one’s philosophy, could lead one astray. No doubt, ’truth’ (or honesty) is one of the important values to be cherished.

(ii) Values and Class Struggle
The Socialists/Communists call the goodness in man as ’proletarian values’ and the bad values as bourgeois values. The ’proletarian values’, though never clearly defined, would be, I assume, roughly those I have outlined earlier as the values of goodness.
Now when they refer to ’class struggle’, it is normally mechanically interpreted as the mere physical (mostly economic) struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. But, when we say that the ”ideas of the ruling class are....... the ruling ideas”, then it quite obviously follows that in a bourgeois system, the ideas prevalent within most of us are necessarily bourgeois ideas (that is, values of badness). Obviously then, these ideas are part of any bourgeois (ruling) system. To think that one can effectively struggle against the bourgeoisie without counte-ring their ideas within us, is wishful thinking. It will amount to nothing but a chimera for real change, as we fight one aspect of the ruling system and not the other.
Have we not seen this happen in history? We demolish the bourgeoisie, but the ’bourgeois’ (negative values) within us soon asserts itself, and we ourselves turn into a new bourgeoisie. Today’s ’princlings’ (sons of top leaders) in China have probably more wealth than Chiang Kai- shek of the past, and today’s Russian mafia-magnates probably ten times that of the Tsar. It is the ”Animal Farm” syndrome, with the Snowballs and Napoleons of the party becoming the new bosses/oppressors.
Bourgeois values are an important factor sustaining the bourgeoisie, and, so, struggle against the bourgeois system should necessarily entail struggling against their values. The struggle against the bourgeoisie is relatively simple as they are easily identifiable. But, struggle against their values (that is, the negative values) is not so easy, as they are buried deep within us (within even those taking up this struggle), within layer upon layer of consciousness. Not only is such an ‘enemy’ difficult to identify; once identified, even more difficult to struggle against.
So, we have seen that in countries like Russia and China they sucessfully fought the bour-geoisie/feudals, but were unsucessful in coun-tering these values. As a result, both societies reverted. Unfortunately, the Socialists/Commu-nists give little attention to this internal struggle, except for some formal/nominal so-called criticism/self-criticism. This normally has little impact and is much like the Christian’s confession before the Padre. There is no real plan, method, policy, nor any serious effort to conduct this internal struggle within man. At best it is given lip-service; at worst it is taken for granted that those fighting for just causes must necessarily be just.
But, this is not a reality. To create a new just order, it is imperative that people change not just the economic and political system, but also the prevalent values of their time. This entails internal change in the outlook of people, eradicating the negative values and streng-thening the positive. And in a class society the class struggle (in Marxist terminology) is also against alien class views and ideas. Omar Khayyam once said: ”We are busy breaking this idol and that, but the biggest idol to be broken is within us.” (Meaning our ego, self.)
Values are an integral part of every system which will also need changing together with a change in the system. While spiritual people tend to focus mainly on internal change, the Socialists/Communists concentrate primarily on external change. But, both are essential to have a sustaining impact on society.

NOW, having seen the limitations of a mechanical (and/or absolutist) interpretation of truth and class struggle, we shall finally turn to the most important question of defining the values to be changed and the process and method necessary to achieve it. I once again repeat, I do not seek to delve into the aspect of external change as I have already touched on the commune-like structures in the previous article. Here I shall only focus on a methodology entailed for internal change.

B. Towards the New Man

A new set of values is then the key to the lock opening the door to the garden of freedom and happiness. From time immemorial man sought entry into this garden with beautiful flowers, fruit-laden trees and sparkling streams. Earlier it was the prophets from West and East who sought to open these locks to the garden of paradise; more recently it was the revolutions—the French and then the socialist revolutions. All these sought to wield the magical key; but to this day, the garden has eluded man, and he continues to live in muck and filth.
Unless the key is moulded correctly, it will not fit the lock, and the door will not open. To mould this key correctly one can learn from the efforts of the past, and fromulate new ideas for it. The problem is that most practitioners of change have plans/policies/activities around economic, social, environmental, political etc. issues, but nothing for changing one’s values. It is normally taken for granted as some sort of by-product which will automatically change while struggling for just causes. But, as past experience has shown, this does not happen; and often these same activists, on gaining even an element of power, can become the worst tyrants.
But how can we a have plan/policy to change ourselves? Unfortunately this field has mainly been the exclusive preserve of spiritual people (who too fail as they ignore the socio-economic surroundings that generate such values)? Well, let us now tread upon this thorny path to change our values to what we have already defined as good. Even at the cost of some repetition, I will once again repeat what I believe these values to basically be:

GOOD/ honesty/straight forward-
VIRTOUS VALUES: ness, truthfulness, simpli-
(α) city, modesty, selflessness, being principled/responsible/accountable, being fair/just etc.
NEGATIVE/ dishonesty/ perfidy/trea-
BAD/EVIL VALUES: chery, deviousness/cunning,

(β) mean/manipulative, arro-gance/ego/pride, greed, selfi-shness, being opportunist/unprincipled/irresponsible, hypocrisy, jealousy/pre-judice, tyranny, being unfair/unjust etc.

For the sake of convenience I will call the good values as α (alpha) and the bad values as β (beta).

I will divide this section into three parts:

First, I will try and analyse the process of change which could be considered. Second, I will discuss the methodology to be used. And finally, I shall elaborate on the specific values that could be focused on.

(i) The Process

In the process for change I will deal with three aspects. First is the presumption that most people will have a predominance of β over α. The second aspect is that change is primarily internal, but its manifestation is external. And the third aspect is that the changes, to be sustaining, must not be superficial, but deep-rooted, that is, these must not reflect merely in our conscious mind, but impact the subcons-cious as well.

Now let us look at all three aspects:

(a) α−β Relationship: The task would be to make α predominant over β, and then slowly keep increasing the quantum of α and reducing the content of β. To start with, the focus would quite obviously be on those who have a significant content of α and not equally on everyone. Those with a large content of β will be exceedingly resistant to any change; on the contrary, many will try and stall/subvert the process going on in others.

The first choice to target would, of course, be those limited numbers of the Anuradha-type, who have a natural predominance of α. Then would follow the vast numbers wherein β may be predominant, but also have, not merely a significant quantum of α, at the same time a prospensity, willingness and inclination of moving in the direction of α.

Those of the incorrigible β types will, in all probablity, have to be countered and used as symbols of negative example, from whom to learn what not to be.
These three categories of people will be found in all communities, organisations, parties etc.; and the above categorisation would facilitate effectively in our efforts.
(b) Change is Internal: Both α and β do not exist in a social vacuum; they come into existence only through our interaction with others. While the change is internal, one can only realise that change during our relationship with other human beings and nature.

So, for example, I seek to acquire the quality of modesty. No doubt, this requires inward change to reduce my arrogance, ego, pride, superiority complex, domineering nature, know-all attitude etc. This change can ONLY take place through serious reflection and an awareness of how harmful (to others and oneself) these negative qualities are. Varied methods of contemplation may be adopted to achieve this (more on this later). But, if I merely sit meditating, without the social interaction to test whether the arrogance is actually: reduced, can I, one day, get up and declare: “Eureka, I have achieved modesty”? This is not possible.
It is only through regular social interaction that I will come to know whether my arrogance is indeed reduced, and to what extent. So, for example, after a certain amount of reflection I may find arrogence no longer reflecting in my family relations (that is, a reduction in patriarchal attitudes); but, while, say, dealing with lower-caste people or organisation people, I may find it still strongly reflected.
So, to reduce and try and eliminate all forms of arrogance (or any other negative value) it would require a continuous and alternating process of contemplation and sincere assessments of my daily interactions with a varied cross-section of people. Only then will I realise to what extent my contemplation has been effective and whether I am really moving in the direction of greater and greater modesty (or any other positive value).

In other words, change in our values would have to be internal, but its manifestation, assessment etc. will be through interaction with the external world.
(c) Change to be Deep-rooted: Change has to be deep-rooted to be sustaining. In other words, it must impact the subconscious and not merely the conscious mind.
Let us take an example to understand the process. My conscious mind tells me that I should not be greedy; so when six ladoos are put before me, I take my share of two and equitably distribute the other four between my two friends. On another occasion, extremely tasty six rasgollas are given to be shared. Unable to control myself, I consume four and send only one each to the other two friends. This shows that there has been only a limited change in my approach and greed still exists at the subcons-cious level, which manifests when the urge is stronger. But, this greed cannot be removed by the fear of getting caught. At the most, because of the fear of being caught I may suppress my greed and take only two. But, the fact that I shared the tasty sweets equitably out of fear, does not mean that the greed has gone; it will manifest again when the fear factor is not present.
This is a crude example of what manifests on a gigantic social plane when it comes to the question of power. As long, for example, as I am a low-key social activist, my ego/arrogance may not manifest; but, if not eradicated from the subconscious, it can manifest in the worst forms of tyranny with power. Do we not witness this regularly in our lives? If not tyranny, at least, various levels of autocratic behaviour!!!

The central point here is that real change in values comes from awareness and realisation, and not through external factors like fear, dictat, gaining social acceptability etc. I must sincerely feel that changing my values to α will give me (and others) a greater sense of freedom and happiness. Not only that, it should actually result in a greater happiness, which, in turn, will encourage further effort in that direction. But, if I adopt α out of sufferance (or imposition), as say, a mere sense of duty, I will turn to seeking pleasure through other means when an opportunity arises. So, for example, to go back to the earlier example, by taking only two rasgollas, I may deprive myself of some immediate pleasure, but, with a greater α content, I will gain more in happiness in seeing the pleasure of my two friends consuming it. Of course, with larger amount of β only my pleasure would be important, and I would only feel deprived of it by having to share the rasgollas equitably.

The main point to be emphasised here is that the change must be deep-rooted, impacting the subconscious. And this is ONLY POSSIBLE through self-awareness and NOT imposition.

SO, these three aspects need to be kept in mind while considering the method to be adopted.

(ii) The Method

The good values of α will not come of their own merely by social activists fighting for just causes. A conscious and specific effort will have to be made to bring changes in this sphere as well. It will have to be a planned and conscious agenda by social organisations, political parties (that stand for change), the governments (in a new system that stands for these values) and even by enlightened individuals in their spheres of social interactions (relatives, jobs, residential communities etc.)
One need not wait for society to change to begin the process; one could begin the process here and now, which, in fact, will facilitate the change. Just as the new-age gurus are attracting thousands from the middle classes (due to increasing alienation/insecurities in people’s lives), even individuals could similarly promote these values as the path to freedom and happiness. It can and should take on the form of a wide movement promoting and seeking to adopt a Model Code of Behaviour (MCB).

This would have to be done at two levels: (i) widescale propagation through literature, media, films, plays, songs and even through the new-age guru-style by enlightened individuals, and (ii) more importantly, by organisation (within and outside their bodies) and community leaders.

It must be realised that this is a long and continuous process, which will need to go on for generations, even after the system changes. As the qualities of α are never absolute, there is always scope for improvement. The process would have to run parallel, and in conjunction with struggles for just causes.

The method to be utilised could always evolve and be improved, with greater experience. For the present, I will focus on just two factors—the question of leadership for this change, and second, the methodology to be adopted. After that I shall take up what the Model Code of Behaviour (MCB) should comprise.

(a) Leadership Factor:

To undertake any venture successfully, the leading factor is essential. Generally, the criteria for leadership is the person’s abilities, talent etc. For professionals this is understandable, but for social activists or political leaders it should additionally entail a sufficient quantum of α. In fact the latter should be the more important criteria for leadership (of any social political body) with one’s abilities being the secondary factor.

The leader should be a model for others. He should be a leader by example. And, to decrease the possibilities of him getting sucked into the vortex of β, the leadership should be divorced from the purse-strings of the organisation/body/party. Only then will the leadership be true leadership, combining moral character with abilities—not depending on extraneous factors like, say, caste factor, control over funds etc.

The following could be some criteria for electing good leadership (besides abilities):
The person

(1) should be an example of MCB, where α predominates over β; a method could be evolved for quantifying this depending on the nature and role of the organisation: if they are individual propagators, they should be exemplary in their behaviour;

(2) should inspire confidence in others, through a reputation of being principled, sticking to promises, keeping punctuality and being energetic and hardworking;

(3) should be broad-minded, avoiding bigotry, rigidity, back-biting, gossiping and have the ability to draw a distinction between minor and major issues;

(4) should be caring about others, particularly the weak and poor, and sensitive to other’s needs;
(5) should stand on the side of justice and fair-play;

(6) should stand up for truth, however bitter it may be, and not tolerate deceit, fraud, corruption, lying etc.

These, then, could be some of the qualities required for people in leadership positions. The bigger the leader, the more of such qualities would be expected.

(b) Methodology:

This could be done at three levels: first, widescale propagation of the MCB; second, training sessions; and finally, a more intense form could be through small group discussions.

Propagation should be creative and as widespread as possible utilising all means available, including, to the extent possible, the mass media. This could also include wide awareness compaigns. For children, cartoons, comics etc. could be evolved and even internet games be used to inculcate these values.

In the training programmes, the methods could be taught to imbibe the α values and practical sessions conducted. The main aspect to be remembered here is that there should be no element of coercion and should primarily facilitate auto-succestion, utilising the more recent studies in neurobiology and cognitive science. For example, recent research has shown numerous methods of brain training which improves concentration, memory etc., that meditation strengthens the connection between reason and emotion and increases the brain’s white matter boosting creativity; creation of new neurons (neurogenesis) and synapses (that is, connections between neurons) enhances learning potential etc. Through all these discoveries one can evolve new methods to imbibe values and stabilise our emotions.

The small discussion groups could comprise circles of people who are comfortable with each other, and where they can have the confidence of speaking of their fears, insecurities etc. in the light of α, without the concern that others may use it against them. In fact, this could be a place where we drop our masks, pretenses etc.—a sort of oasis of frankness in a desert of mistrust. The methods used in the training programmes could be used here as well.

It cannot but be emphasised that an important aspect to facilitate this whole process is that an atmosphere needs to be promoted of tolerance, where our negative values (β) are allowed to show up without fear of humilitation, isolation, prejudice, one-upmanship etc. The more such a free atmosphere is created in the community/organisation/circle/party, the quicker will be the process of individual transformation.

Finally, the transformation has to entail a dialectical relationship between the individual and his/her social circle—with each impacting on the other. In the new society the commune-type structure would be probably the most suitable to facilitate this transformation. But, even in present-day society one could build community-level bodies in our residential areas which enhances the quality of life of all its resi-dents. This could entail cooperative community efforts in the spheres of, say, sports/exercises/yoga/karate, waste disposal, agriculture, watershed management, solar power, child-care, sick-care etc. etc. The level of cooperative effort will, of course, be directly proportional to the quantum of α imbibed by the community, and particularly its leading elements.

This is just a rough idea of the methodology entailed; it can and must be developed with experience and advances in neuro-science.

Having discussed both the process and method, let us now turn to what could be a Model Code of Behaviour.

(iii) Model Code of Behaviour (MCB):

A Model Code of Behaviour must necessarily be based on α and values/approaches associated with it. While seeking to bring about a change, one needs to view people as belonging to three categories, in order to be more effective in the focus while working for the transformation.

First and foremost there must be a different standard expected from people at the leadership level or those wielding some form of power, whether it be in an organisation, a party or at a community level—anywhere. In this category the MCB (besides abilities) must be a compulsory aspect. In such people α must definitely predominate over β, and the MCB content should be around 70-80 per cent. With anyone in leadership there must be the right to recall; this is important as corruption/degeneration more easily comes to people with power. If, for example, there is a strong element of retrogression and the person is showing no sign of reform (in spite of effort), such a person should be replaced. Of course, measuring the MCB and α is not some-thing mathematical or like some thermometer which records levels; it will be based merely on rough estimates by the people, electoral colleges and committees. The percentages are mentioned just as an indicator and should not be taken literally.

The second category would be for activists (that is, those not yet in leadership, but who have the potential to grow), where the quantum of the MCB (besides abilities) should be over 50 per cent. Here, even if β predominates, the trend within the person must necessarily be towards an increasing quantum of α and a continuous reduction in β. Regarding recall etc., the same should apply as for the leadership people, but with a greater amount of leniency.

The third and final category will comprise the vast mass of civil society, as also the ordinary members of organisations, parties etc. A large bulk of ordinary, hard-working citizens are simple people, who would have a large quantum of the MCB/α within them. But, a lot of this would lie latent, while the desperate struggle for survival, the rat-race, the atmosphere of one-upmandship etc. will all tend to push β to the forefront. To bring out their latent positivity and expand on it, the values of the MCB/α need to be propagated widely amongst them; and these need to be presented as a model to aspire for. The leadership/activists amongst them should create an environment to facilitate change, and should themselves be role-models for others to emulate.

So, roughly these would be the three categories of people existing in society. [The incorrigible elements, who are the scum of society, are not included—they will have to be countered.] It is not something that has to be created, they merely have to be identified, utilising the MCB/α as the yardstick. No doubt, this would primarily apply to social activists and public servants; for professionals, ability will be the main criteria. But even for the latter, their professional talents will get dissipated with large quantums of β. Take, for example, the greedy lawyers, judges, doctors etc. we see around us, their ‘talent’ is merely used for money-making even at the cost of their clients/patients. So, even with professionals, α will play a significant role.

Today, the MCB/α are nowhere taken into consideration; it is at best ability that is considered coupled with extraneuous factors like social status (including caste), influence, money power, blood relations, yes-men, sycophants etc. etc. ANYTHING BUT MCB/α !!!

HAVING seen where and how to focus one’s attention, let us now turn our attention to what should comprise the main contents of the MCB. While α would comprise the entire gamut of positive values (many of which have been already outlined), the MCB would comprise a minimum of these-needed to act as a model in today’s prevailing social environment. It would be an achievable target for most citizens to aspire for.

So, what then should this MCB comprise of? Here I outline a preliminary framework, which could (should) be elaborated with further experience. The following would be the main points:

(1) Simplicity: This would entail modesty, with the least amount of arrogance, ego or pride. It would mean being straightforward with the minimum of complexities and pretenses; not being manipulative, cunning or devious. A simple person does not mean naive or unintelligent. On the contrary, it is they who have the potential for greatest creativity as their mind is least clogged with complexities, pettiness, rubbish etc.

(2) Honesty: Being truthful and not resorting to lies and distortions. Being principled (to whatever one stands for) and not being opportunist; not being a hypocrite or corrupt.

(3) Maturity: Being responsible, punctual and sticking to one’s promises and time-schedules. Being broad-minded, not indulging in back-biting, pettiness, gossiping; with an ability to distinguish between minor and major issues.

(4) Selfless: This would be relative, but should, at least, avoid greed, and the person should have an attitude of caring, sensitivity and kindness for others, particularly the weak and poor.

(5) Just/Fair: Should be just and fair in one’s dealings with others, not indulging in favouritism, injustices, oppressive behaviour etc. It should also entail not tolerating injustice being done by others.

These five cardinal principles should be followed by those who seek to be socially active and leading elements in society. Also, it should be a model for all to emulate, being widely propagated through varied forms. The ideal to work towards would be a child-like straight-forwardness, a sharp intellect, with a humane approach.

C. Conclusion

YES freedom, freedom, freedom, proclaimed by one-and-all, yet so elusive—freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom from tyranny, freedom from social ostracism, freedom from oppression (caste, patriarchal, economic); and finally, and most importantly, freedom from our alienated selves.

And here, behind bars, the question of freedom is even physical—the inability to move beyond a few metres, at most walking up-and-down on the same dusty patch. Sitting under the canopy of trees I cannot but recollect that famous poem by Oscar Wilde over two centuries back:

If each should know the same—
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.
With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And do well to hide their Hell
For in it things are done
That son of God nor son of man
Ever should look upon.
But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one heart by night.
With midnight always in one’s heart,
And twilight in one’s cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.
And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

So well pictured by Oscar Wilde, the freedom lost in jail is not just physical but also psyscho-logical. So,

How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in.

Two centuries later, what Oscar Wilde wrote then is still true today—structured to break a person both physically and psychologically, unless, of course, one is a VIP prisoner. And the legal-police system strikes the last nail in the psychological coffin making mummies out of human beings.

But, jail is only the worst reflection of what exists outside, wherein man is also imprisoned within his alienated self, reduced to a walking-talking zombie, spouting what is media-created or dictated by parties/organisations/institutions. Forced into a life of continuous pretence, make-believe, falsehood et al., man is moulded into a distorted image of himself, imprisoned also within walls of emotional insecurities, unfulfilled desires and fears of social ostracism. Imprisoned also within the temple of MONEY, prostrated before the God of the MARKET.

The socialist systems achieved freedom from want, but failed in the other freedoms of which man has been robbed by the capitalist system. So, such systems did not sustain, for man is not merely an animal to be satiated by satisfying just his instinctive needs of hunger and sex. Man seeks freedom in all spheres to become truly the “natural man” living in harmony with himself, others and nature.
To achieve such freedom and real people’s emancipation, the key lies in man acquiring the values of goodness (α), and utilising this inner strength to change the outside world. One cannot sweep away the filth with a broken broom; one cannot cleanse the pots and pans using gutter water; one cannot build a beautiful house with a foundation made hollow by white ants and vermin. The enemy within is often more dangerous than those without—as it is a silent killer.

Let us shed our masks, let us change our robotic existence, let us destroy (or at least reduce) the negative within us, let us escape from the web of insecurities and fears that entangle our hurt emotions, let us seek harmony in our instinctive urges and desires....... and in this process let us begin to take a whiff of the fresh, cool breeze of freedom and true emanci-pation of our fractured being.

And for all this let us mould the key with the values of α that will finally unlock the door to the garden of paradise.

As Marx said in his ‘Introduction to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law’,
“To be radical is to grasp something at its roots. But for man the root is man himself.”

Let all social activists and progressive citizens pledge this April 12, 2013 to seriously begin to rid ourselves of all negative values as a tribute to Anuradha on her fifth death anniversary. Let us commemorate the occasion by recalling the model values she lived by the till her last dying breath.

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