Mainstream, VOL LV No 8 New Delhi February 11, 2017
India’s Ideological Contradictions
Sunday 12 February 2017
by Mrinal Pradhan
In the wake of Communist leader Fidel Castro’s demise, when one ponders over the future of communism, one gets the feeling that the Leftist movement is never going to succeed in India. The most pervasive ideological contradiction in India is the concomitant existence of socialist ideals with religious zeal. According to the basic socialist ideology, matter leads spirit, and not the other way around. The most fundamental assumption in the ideology of Karl Marx, the father of modern communism, was the doctrine of dialectical materialism. He rejected the view that ideas, or spirit, as proposed by Hegel, were the essence of social transformation, and instead postulated that matter, that is, in the realm of the material, was the prime mover of social, economic, political, and other forces.
Thus, at the heart of the communist theory is the concept that religion, the space occupied by ideas, or spirit, is antithetical to any system that aims to establish communism; which is why in countries like China, atheism is the state religion, as opposed to mere secularism, an idea officially endorsed by the Indian Constitution.
In China, once an ever-pouring fountain of religious philosophy, home to Taoism, Confucia-nism, ancestor worship, and once a simmering hotspot of Buddhism, religion has been completely eradicated from the social consciousness since the advent of Maoism, especially the cultural revolution of 1967. For instance, while I was teaching Indian culture to school children in China, it was very hard to communicate the concept of a ‘place of worship’, like a temple, mosque etc. to young Chinese minds as their language (simplified Chinese) can no longer cope with concepts of belief, worship etc.
In India, on the other hand, we have a secular ideology co-existing with socialist philosophy, two concepts added to the Preamble of India’s Constitution after the Congress party’s split in 1969, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi.
Secularism is the idea that the state is ambivalent towards all religions, and that religion should not have a say in political affairs, although the masses are permitted to follow their own sets of beliefs, irrespective of state policy. Atheism, as a state religion, on the other hand, puts the respective ideology at the helm of affairs in governmental policy, in line with materialism, and officially disallows the idea of religion (its antithesis) through state policy.
Thus, on one side there is communism co-existing with atheism, and on the other, secularism co-existing with socialism. However, as is the case with most issues in India, both philosophies have been inculcated in a half-baked manner. Politicians use religion day after day to ascend to power, while socialism has gone for a toss since the Indian market opened up in 1991.
This is because materialism and idealism cannot co-exist, apparently, especially when two imperfect schools of philosophy such as socialism and secularism are left to exist together, without ever attempting communism and atheism as a transitory stage of absolutism before the ideal welfare state is attempted. If they could, then India wouldn’t be plagued with rampant corruption, money laundering, communal violence, sexism, and a breed of propagandists infiltrating all forms of mass communication, whose sole objective is to get what they want, regardless of the consequences of their words, much like Donald Trump in the USA.
Twentyfour years after the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, it is noteworthy to remember that it was even alleged, back then, that a top Congress leader had a hand in the Babri Masjid hysteria, along with the covert hand of the CIA (as part of its programme to curb the march of communism by manipulating religious sentiments). Sure enough, it also helped the BJP politically, though not without inciting communal violence all across the nation. It made an impact as far as in Mumbai (then known as Bombay), where the Shiv Sena, notably proud of their role in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy, came to power soon after the demolition of the mosque.
Thus, we see that even under different Central governments, the politicians on both sides of the arena have had a hand in, and have benefited by, inciting communal tensions among the masses they claim to represent. For instance, whenever it is suggested that Narendra Modi’s men, who had a hand in the Gujarat pogrom more than a decade ago, be brought to justice, they fire back by asking the Congress to try Rajiv Gandhi’s men from the 1984 Delhi riots after Indira Gandhi’s death. Like Modi, who later undermined the entire controversy of Godhra by making an obscene reference to puppies, Rajiv Gandhi had declared: “When a big tree falls, the ground shakes.” Both poles of power at the Centre are obsessed with their own chairs of political power and both have systematically undermined and altered the Indian system, if not in one sphere of influence, then another.
Any system that wishes to establish absolute economic equality cannot, as predicted by Marx, support itself on the foundation of immaterial belief. Likewise, a system that is attempting to bring about communal harmony cannot support itself on the foundation of rampant economic problems. Both contradictions fuel each other and manifest on the social plane in the form of violence, hatred, and an inherited pessimism with the establishment that grows with every generation.
If true communism is ever to be established in India, we need an overhaul of the existing education system down to the very roots of society. Religion, camouflaged as secularism, supports the root of the nation’s economic asymmetries with its staunch support to the existing social order, especially in the villages.
The key here lies not so much in the ideology of religion, but in its politicisation. Similarly, it isn’t the doctrine of socialism leading to a welfare state that is so erroneous, as are the major inequalities that have resulted due to an appearance of socialism being used to camou-flage major big market corporations stealing and snatching land from the downtrodden sections of society, a purely capitalist phenomenon. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party proclaims itself to champion the cause of the common masses idolised by socialist giants like Rammanohar Lohia. However, in reality it follows, like almost every political party since 1991, capitalist principles, and even blatantly indulges in the politics of religious polarisation.
To counter these evils of crudely implemented socialism and secularism and the alienation of atheism and communism from the mainstream, perhaps we need a new religion that is scientific in nature, and in the realm of ideas, counters the religious social order to the core. Taking the idea further, one could postulate a scientific religion to be a way of idealism which roots itself in the principles of quantum theory, the science of the building blocks of matter, the subatomic realm.
The idea that reality is moulded by mind, down to the very basic realm of matter, as proved by quantum experiments, and the holistic nature of such reality, if transmitted on a mass scale to all people, can topple the world order supported by the downtrodden, like a house of cards falling due to immediate rejection of support from below, like pulling the ground beneath the feet of the archetypal fat ‘pandit’, whose house cannot stand without the support of those who traditionally, and often unknowingly, support it.
Curiously, when Einstein spoke of the profundities shaking the foundation of physics when the subatomic (quantum) reality was explored, he said: “It was as if the ground had been pulled out from under one’s feet, with no firm foundation to be seen anywhere, upon which one could have built.”
The idea that we are not inherently bound by the constraints of matter, and in fact, interact with it in our daily doings, invokes the idea of each man having his own God, who is personal, yet impersonal. In this new religion, God happens to be matter, which interacts with the superhuman side of one’s self, to create the day experienced by him/her. It provides a shield to the man who earlier believed that God manifests in the form of sadhus, gurus, and other godmen, who loot the common man on a daily basis, using their hypnotic perverted power, built ironically on the same principles of quantum reality, which they generally learn through some religious text.
India is the land of the concept of Brahman, the all-pervasive observer, which should not be confused with ‘Brahmin’. The fault lies in the minds of the godmen who think they are Brahman themselves. In other words, they twist and use the power of the God within them, to exploit people. However, if this knowledge of the self as the all-pervasive observer was communi-cated without invoking the God concept, and in a scientific-philosophical manner to the common man, then it can be very empowering for him, for he may realise that he is the master of his destiny, and not the social order he is inadvertently supporting. In other words, God has to be reversed. Instead of residing in superiors, he needs to reside in the common men, which can only happen when the God-like attributes of one’s nature are invoked and spread down to every last man.
Religion always has two purposes: one, its inadvertent purpose, is to maintain the social order, and the second is to instil peace and tranquillity by invoking thoughts about the unknown, and our relationship with it. While the new religion being advocated here can topple and overturn the social order to a more individualistic set, it can also maintain the good aspects of erstwhile religions, namely, peace and love for all, by invoking the holistic network-like nature of reality. Thus, the picture that emerges is of each man being his own God, without being seduced by Satan’s lust for power, unlike the Asaram Bapus of the nation.
To put it as crudely as possible, ‘God’ needs to be redefined, in a manner more attuned to an equitable social order, and ritualism needs to be terminated, as it often has a basis in fear, instead of knowledge. No one can conquer a man who is aware of the observer/God within, and likewise, no man who is aware of such connections within can misuse them if all are enlightened with this knowledge.
The author is a free-lancer and independent researcher.