'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
flogging of a Dalit family by gau rakshaks in Una for skinning
a dead cow, thousands of Dalits gathered in Ahmedabad Sunday where community
leaders put the BJP-led
government in Gujarat on notice ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. Seeking strong
measures to check atrocities against them, leaders asked Dalits to give up
disposing dead cattle and stop cleaning sewers to “send a strong message” to
the state government.
They announced a march
from Ahmedabad to Una between August 5 and August 15. They said they plan to
gather in Una on August 15 to observe and “feel independence” there. The Dalit Maha
Sammelan in the Sabarmati area of Ahmedabad, organised by Una Dalit Atyachar
Ladat Samiti (UDALS), flagged several pending Dalit issues, including justice
in the Thangadh killing of three Dalit youths in 2012.
Valji Rathod, father of
one of the three youths killed in Thangadh of Surendranagar district, declared
he would sit on a hunger strike in Gandhinagar from Monday. Addressing the
gathering, UDALS convener Jignesh Mevani, raising what he said were unresolved
legal and constitutional issues of Dalits in Gujarat, said: “This government
believes in Daliton ka Utpidan, Daliton ka Vinash (persecution and annihilation
of Dalits) and not in Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”
Referring to Union
Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s
statement that Prime MinisterNarendra Modi was
very hurt and upset over the Una incident, Mevani told the gathering: “I want
to ask Rajnathji, if during his governance in Gujarat (between 2001 and 2014),
did Modi visit a single Dalit family of Gujarat which faced atrocity? If the
answer is yes, we will wind up our protest programme.”
“To give a strong
message to the government, I urge all Dalits to discontinue the work of
disposing dead animals. I also want you to take a pledge of discontinuing the
work of cleaning sewer lines. We no longer wish to do this work and want the
government to allot agriculture land to us, so that we can live a respectable
life,” he said. “If atrocities on Dalits do not stop, we will show our strength
in the 2017 assembly polls,” he said.
several issues which he said concerned Dalits: enactment of Reservation Act to
fill the backlog of reserved vacancies, absence of exclusive criminal courts
for trial of atrocity cases, criminal prosecution of Una police officers
for criminal negligence in the flogging case, utilisation of funds under the
Scheduled Caste (SC) sub-plan and Scheduled Tribe (ST) sub-plan via enactment
of a special legislation, actual allocation of surplus land to landless Dalits
under provisions of the Agriculture Land Ceiling Act. He demanded a public
apology from the Gujarat government for withdrawing a book on Dr B R Ambedkar.
He said criminal cases filed against Dalits recently in different parts of the
state should be withdrawn.
Some family members of
the victims in Thangadh and Una also addressed the gathering. Among them were
Jitu Sarvaiya and Keval Rathod from Mota Samadhiyala. They are related to Balu
Sarvaiya who, along with six of his family members, was flogged by gau
rakshaks on July 11.
activists like Valjibhai Patel, Nitin Gurjar, Chandu Maheriya, Jayanti Makadia,
Manjula Pradeep and Ratna Vora joined the gathering. Also present were Nirzari
Sinha, wife of the late rights activist and lawyer Mukul Sinha, former Gujarat
cadre IPS officer Rahul Sharma, folk singers Charul-Vinay and advocate Shamshad
Pathan. Mufti Abdul Qayyum Mansuri, acquitted in the Akshardham terror attack
case, too was there.
A number of Muslim
youths also joined the gathering with the message of Dalit-Muslim unity. Some
leaders of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind Gujarat too were present. In fact, the proposal
to march from Ahmedabad to Una came from Rahul Sharma. “Let us have a march
from Ahmedabad to Una and feel independence at Una on August 15. I am ready.
This social awakening should not be limited to this sammelan,” Sharma said.
Shift the vowels
slightly and the Sanskrit word for trader (vaishya) becomes the Sanskrit word
for prostitute (veshya). The one sold goods and the other sold pleasure, to the
highest bidder. Neither was loyal. Naturally, feudal authorities despised them
both, and turned the word bazaru, or commercial, into an insult.
In all societies,
there are two main sources of wealth: land and the market. Feudalism depends on
the land and trade depends on the market. Land-owning communities (kshatriyas)
and trading communities (vaishyas) have always competed for control of society.
It accounts for the division between Old World Europe and New World America.
Typically, feudal societies are hierarchical and value loyalty and patronage.
Trading societies are relatively egalitarian, giving greater value to the
customer’s wallet than to his status.
In India, we have
sought to reject Old World Feudalism but we have not yet embraced New World
Free Trade. We still value loyalty, over merit. We are suspicious of
professionals, because they sell their skills for a price, and fiercely
independent, like prostitutes of yore. The traditional service-providers
(shudras) were expected to serve without expectation, accept patronage, and
never demand payment, resulting in their semi-enslavement. Only priests (brahmins)
could demand a service-fee (dakshina), and a monk (bhikku) could demand alms
(bhiskha). The rest were expected to live on charity (daan) of the feudal
At the top
Further, the priests
and monks of India, consolidated their exalted status by establishing the
doctrine of pollution and purity. This ensured their position on top of the
social pyramid, even above the land-owning communities, but pacified the latter
by locating them above traders and service-providers. A land-owner could earn
legitimacy and karmic dividends by paying priests and feeding monks, while
travel was deemed as polluting, which is why many Indian traders stopped
travelling and turned to moneylending. They outsourced the once-thriving
sea-trade to Arabs and later the Portuguese, for fear of loss of caste, a fear
that prevented Indians from venturing out into the world right up to the 20th
whose vocation brought them into contact with blood, flesh, excrement and other
bodily waste, were deemed untouchables, denied access to the village well and
human dignity, because of the doctrine of pollution and purity. Lower than men
were women who shed blood every month and who were recipients of semen,
excreted by their husbands. And lower than all women was the prostitute, who
received the bodily fluids of many men, of all castes, for a fee.
This was not the case
always. There was a time when the prostitute was celebrated. The most beautiful
woman in the city was not allowed to marry. She became the city-bride (nagar-vadhu).
She was allowed to choose a lover, but not restrict herself to one. That she
chose the most handsome, the most powerful, and often, the richest, annoyed the
less handsome, the less powerful and the less rich, who wrote poems about her
heartlessness, while praising her beauty and skill. She was known for her
singing, her dancing, her skill in conversation, her wit, her humour, and her
beauty. We hear of these courtesans in ancient Hindu, Buddhist and Jain
literature. Known as ganikas, they lived independent lives, unlike the chaste
wives who lived in the shadow of their husbands, and unlike nuns, who shunned
In time, these ganikas
came to be attached to temples. They became wives of the enshrined deities, who
never get widowed, and who loved all men as containers of the divine seed.
These were the devadasis. Their images inspired the carvings of beautiful women
on temple walls. They challenged the old monastic orders. They were part of
temple rituals. But eventually, the priests and the monks stripped the devadasi
of her independence and her agency. Slowly, she was answerable to the men in
positions of power. The men declared how pure, or impure, she was. She was
dirty because she had many lovers. She was dirtier because she went to the
highest bidder. Eventually, she was just an exploited woman, with no freedom,
her fee being claimed by a pimp and a madam.
If not attached to a
temple, the woman who sold pleasure for a fee became part of a king or nawab’s
court, or a community to entertainers, the nats. In her world, skills and
wealth were inherited from mother to daughter. She could make the money if she
had the beauty, the skill and the guile. She was invited to wedding and
coronations and festivals. But status was another matter. In a feudal society,
that looked down on trade and commerce, that created hierarchy based on purity
of vocations, and gender, she was clearly at the bottom. What little agency she
had was taken away from her, first by colonial administrators and later by
puritanical freedom fighters, who modelled themselves on monks of yore.
Today, unlike the 19th
century, no one fears loss of caste when one travels across the sea. Today, we
are comfortable talking about markets, buying, selling, trade and profits.
Today, we seek professionals. Yet, the feudal mindset persists.
We yearn for loyalty
and are afraid of the commercial: those who sell their skills and expertise to
the highest bidder. We cannot bear the thought of pleasure being a commodity
that can be bought and sold. We prefer women who submit to the decisions of
men, not women who make their own decisions. We prefer the loyal press, and are
terrified of the independent one, who like the independent ganika of yore,
believe that their dharma is to treat all customers equally, no matter how much
they paid, and be loyal to none.
That is why the press, with a mind of its own,
becomes presstitute, and a lady politician, with a mind of her own, who refuses
to submit, becomes the veshya.
This is a thought-provoking manifesto for a
‘connected world’, a suggested agreement on how we disagree. But is freedom of
expression what Garton Ash says it is?
In the 1980s, Timothy Garton Ash made
his name as a brilliant reporter on central and eastern European politics. He
was spied on by the Stasi (who code named him “Romeo”), made friends with
dissident writers, politicians and journalists, and experienced first hand what
it was like to live in a world of totalitarianism, censorship, secret police
and samizdat publishing.
The year 1989 changed
everything. It brought not only the collapse of the Berlin Wall, but also
the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in China, the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and
the invention of the world wide web. How has the dawn of this new age affected
freedom of expression across the globe? Five years ago, with a team of students
University, Garton Ash set out to explore this question. He created freespeechdebate.com, a forum where
dozens of contributors from around the world, including such luminaries as Shirin Ebadi, Aung San Suu Kyi and Arundhati Roy,
have weighed in on everything from the politics of Pussy Riot to “Why
is Mein Kampf the 12th most sold history book on Amazon India?”
His new book draws on,
and is meant to further, this international, multilingual discussion. Its
electronic version provides readers with an interactive, layered experience,
through hyperlinks that connect to the website, and then to an ocean of further
online evidence. The printed edition is a hybrid of journalism, manifesto and
wonkish musings on the legal and technological impact of the internet.
Garton Ash has clearly
had a tremendous time researching it. He travels around the world, from Berlin
to Beijing. He interviews Sheryl Sandberg, Tim Berners-Lee and the
director-general of the BBC. He hangs out with “Jimbo” Wales and with young
people in Cairo and Myanmar. He visits Google’s headquarters in California,
where he complains to its head of public policy about the ads that pop up on
his screen. Along the way, he learns about the politics of radio soap operas in
Rwanda, the Japanese video game RapeLay (mission: “to rape,
repeatedly, a mother and her two daughters and force them to have an abortion
if they became pregnant”), the fining of a Russian taxi company for an
advertisement that was “offensive to bread”, and the law passed in Belarus in
2011 that criminalises people standing around in public silently doing nothing.
The book’s premise is
that because of mass migration and the internet, much of the world nowadays
lives in a permanently connected “cosmopolis”. For good or ill, freedom of
expression flows easily across frontiers. A video anonymously posted online in
California can cause death and mayhem across Asia; and even a legal injunction
by the UK supreme court cannot stop English readers from accessing overseas
information on the identity of the naughty celebrities “PJS”and “YMA”. Our
traditional ways of regulating expression don’t work very well any more… read
“Capital is the moving contradiction, (in)
that it presses to reduce labor time to a minimum, while it posits labor time,
on the other side, as the sole measure and source of wealth.” Marx, Grundrisse
This quote from
the Grundrisse identifying the fundamental contradiction of
the capitalist mode of production, succinctly describes the situation on a
world scale today: once again, as in 1914, capital requires, in order to
survive as capital, a vast devalorization of all existing values, however great
the destruction of human beings and means of production which that entails.
This has in fact been
the situation since ca. 1970/73. Global capital has put off the day of
reckoning, a full- blown deflation, by a vast pyramiding of debt—fictitious
capital—and by a series of “countervailing tendencies” which have supported
that debt while contracting social reproduction.
Prior to looking at the specifics of the four decades since 1970/73, let us first sketch the broad shifts which have occurred. The post-World War II Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates anchored on the U.S. dollar had just collapsed. At that time, world accumulation was clearly divided into the three zones of
1) advanced capitalist (OECD) countries (the US- Europe- Japan),
2) the “socialist” bloc (the Soviet Union, and Comecon) and
3) the “Third World” of “non-aligned” countries, with China as an outlier.
Both the “socialist” bloc and the Third World were deeply indebted to western banks, and would become more so in the course of the 1970’s. The working class in the U.S. and western Europe was in the midst of its biggest strike wave since the immediate post-World War II period. Third World nationalism of the “Trikont” variety, promoted by countries such as Algeria and Cuba, was still a potent force, and would culminate in the mid-1970’s in the U.S. defeat in Indochina, the independence of Portugal’s colonies in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, and pro-Soviet regimes in Somalia and Ethiopia on the Horn of Africa. The anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa had reached a new level in the 1976 Soweto riots. A new independence of the Third World was even echoed in the emergence of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in the oil price surges of 1973 (and later 1979), however linked most OPEC nations were in reality to the U.S. and U.S. financial markets .
At the United Nations, a “Group of 77” of Third World countries aggressively attacked Western economic dominance. “Euro- communism” seemed to be on the march in France, Spain and Italy. The US-backed Shah of Iran aspired to be a regional power in the Middle East. Few in the West had yet heard of Islamic fundamentalism, either of the Shi’ite or Sunni variety, and few yet took seriously the “Four Tigers” in Asia (South Korea- Taiwan- Hong Kong- Singapore), still in the early phase of their industrial emergence. China, still largely autarchic and still in the last convulsive throes of the “Cultural Revolution” was a “quantité negligeable” in the world economy. France and Germany by the late 1970’s were in the first stages of forming a single European currency to stop their whip-lashing by the fluctuations of the dollar. The southern cone of South America (Argentina- Chile- Brazil- Uruguay) was under vicious military dictatorships propped up by the United States.
Forty years later, and thirty-five years into the “neo- liberal” era, we see first of all the (relative) decline of the United States. The European Union, conceived as a counter-weight to American hegemony, is endangered by a meltdown of its single currency and, following that, by outright disintegration. In the U.S., (if not quite as much in Europe), strikes receded, until quite recently to near- invisibility . The Soviet bloc has collapsed, with only Poland and the Czech Republic having, to date, regained a precarious footing. The Third World has fragmented with the full emergence of the “four Tigers”, followed by the “flying geese” of aspiring tigers, currently led by “socialist” Vietnam . Islamic fundamentalism has swept aside Third World nationalism in much of the Arab world and in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The small populations of the oil-rich Gulf states and Saudi Arabia are in a class by themselves, but their large imported South Asian work force is a potential regional time bomb. One-third of the world’s population, in Africa  and in parts of Latin America has been trapped in economic stagnation since 1980.
China, in the meantime, fully in synch with neo-liberal global restructuring and, in fact, a key to its success globally, as shall be shown, has become the manufacturing “workshop of the world”, in counter-point to the hollowing out of so many other countries. We will return to the practical implications of this for world revolution after analyzing in detail the “balance sheet” of the world austerity aimed at preserving fictitious values. Most of the past four decades have been a period of defeat and recomposition for the working class; in the following, we will (somewhat artificially) bracket class struggle while distilling the “economic” drift of the period, and conclude with a world strategic outlook.
Capital had inaugurated a comparable, extended period of devalorization once before, on the eve of the First World War, when the mere sharp collapse of paper values, the bankruptcy of weaker capitals, general price deflation and a period of extended unemployment for the working class to push down wages were no longer sufficient to achieve the necessary devalorization, as had been the case through the 19th century. Outright physical destruction of labor power—of workers—and of capital plant became part of the process whereby capital destroyed enough “value” to restart production at an adequate rate of profit.
Between 1914 and 1945, two world wars, the 1920’s period of brief reconstruction , the 1930’s decade of depression, fascism and Stalinism were all part of the process which laid the foundations for the 1945-1970/73 postwar boom. The world process of devalorization , like all shakeouts before it (the decennial crises studied by Marx from 1817 to 1866 and the “long deflation” from 1873 to 1896) moved production and reproduction as a whole to a new “standard of value”, or what Marx refers to in Capital as a “revolution in value”. Each capitalist phase of boom and bust (from “peak to trough” as the jargon goes) constitutes a “manifold” based on a new such standard, an “apples to oranges” transformation in which a unit of socially necessary labor time is incommensurate with that of the preceding phase, or with the following one.
The “cluster” of new modes of transportation in the mid- 19th century, from canals to railroads to steamships, was one such manifold; the new electronics, chemical and automotive technologies from the 1920’s to the 1940’s was another, or closer to our own time, the revolution in both communications and in the transport of commodities (maritime and airborne) since the 1970’s.
By the late 1960’s, the postwar boom had brought world capital to another moment in which the current cost of reproducing labor power could no longer serve as the systemic “numeraire”, the common denominator, for commodity exchange. Capital again, as in 1914 but more diffusely, entered a new period in which physical destruction on a world scale was a necessary part of the movement of devalorization and potential revalorization....
It is no secret that China, since 2008, is at crossroads, where its ruling class can no longer rule as before, and to survive must take the leap in the dark of a major reform and restructuring of the economy and with it, of society more generally. The export model, as sketched above, which served it so well for three decades, is broken, in the context of the world crisis. The legitimacy of the regime has depended on steady 8-10% annual growth and the jobs and rising incomes such growth provided, whatever the social costs in infernal working hours and conditions, and the environmental destruction, it entailed. The Western powers as well, through their NGOs and the Hong Kong-based labor scene, knows quite as well as the regime that the latter must, if not exactly “change everything so everything can remain the same”, embark on a major gamble that can staunch the rising tide of opposition, above all represented by an increasingly militant working class, whose centrality to the social “equation” has now became a banality in mainstream opinion in China itself. (The American New Deal of the 1930’s, not in programmatic content but as a template, was one example of such a gamble; Russia under Gorbachev was another such gamble, albeit one that failed. )
One is reminded of Tocqueville’s remark that the most dangerous moment for an oppressive government is when it attempts to reform itself. Already the recent events in Wukan rank as an important, and apparently successful experimentin integrating deep democratic discontent into a reformed status quo. Along with its unprecedented growth rates over three decades, China has developed a significant “middle class” which has till now been content to accept the “contract” of apolitical quietism in exchange for higher levels of consumption and upward mobility (however much such mobility is linked to a dog-eat-dog level of competition for jobs among the millions of technically-trained students emerging from China’s universities every year).
This “middle class” is the basis of a growing would-be “civil society” and a space of criticism through the new social media that the regime never before had to confront. Environmental disasters, corruption at every level, the regime’s attempts to finesse such high-level scandals as the fall of Bo Ji Lai or the 2011 wreck of China’s high speed train and subsequent attempts at cover- up, are all objects of the scrutiny and commentary of “netizens” which cannot be simply crushed or ignored, however much the older methods are still in use. As was the case in, for example, Egypt in 2011, this electronically- savvy “middle class” can potentially play a role in any coming “regime change”, even if (as in Egypt) is can hardly come to power on its own.
This is where the dynamic of “permanent revolution” comes into play. The Chinese ruling class–apparently the entire new central committee of the CCP consists of billionaires–carefully studied the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The prospect of a Chinese “Solidarnosc” is widely held up as a model in the underground labor milieu (although only Solidarnosc of the early, 1980-81 period, with little consideration of what happened after 1989), and as a model to be avoided at all costs in ruling circles.
The 1989 events in Tien An Minh more than anything alerted the regime to the fact that it was “riding the tiger”. Nevertheless, it confronts a dilemma not unlike the one which the Soviet and East European Stalinists failed to finesse: it wishes to complete the transition to full membership in the capitalist world market, but at the same time its own bureaucratic form of rule is the main obstacle to such a transition. It knows full well that it could be swept away in the torrent just as Gorbachev et al. were. Unlike the post-1985 Soviet Union, however, China for decades after 1978 could offer world capital a decently educated, skilled and very cheap work force, still very much in the process of moving from agriculture to industry and urban life.
A fundamental reason for the CCP’s is that many aspects of the old system are still in place. Shanghai may long to join, or even supplant, New York and London as a world financial center, but has none of the depth required to be one. The renminbi is nowhere near being able to play the role of an international reserve currency. Capital flows in and out of the country are still regulated, a regulation that served China well during the 1997-98 Asian meltdown, when countries (South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia) which had dispensed with capital controls were devastated while China was untouched. The state still can maintain the “zombie banks”, with huge balance sheets of uncollectible debt, by government fiat. Corruption is endemic and reaches the highest levels. The state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) must be converted to something along Western lines to retain credibility.
The rise of China has been and will continue to be a useful alibi for Western and above all U.S. capital as it goes into the next phase of the post-2008 crisis. Different eruptions of xenophobia and calls for protectionism from both government and union officials appear with every electoral cycle in the U.S. Japan has claimed the Diaoyu Islands, setting off a wave of anti-Japanese riots in China; nine powers lay claims to potential oil discoveries under the South China Sea, and Vietnam has given the U.S. navy the use of Da Nang harbor, built by the U.S. during the Vietnam war. Even while the U.S. defense budget is eight times larger than that of the next ten powers combined, the Pentagon denounces every sign of increased Chinese military prowess, such as the recent launching of its first aircraft carrier. The announced American “pivot to Asia” is a further realignment of priorities.
Yet China, with 100,000+ plus “incidents” a year of riots, land disputes between peasants and party officials, not to mention the impressive strikes of 2010, is a powder keg. The regime’s legitimacy ever since 1978 has rested on delivering 8-10% annual economic growth and the resulting jobs and rising incomes. It may attempt to implement an updated, “German” corporatist model of free unions and enterprise committees, combined with increased domestic consumption to substitute for declining exports, but the obstacles and risks are great.
Meanwhile, the depth of the crisis in the West has, after decades of rollback, increasingly the proletariat in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and even the U.S. is doing what “it is compelled to do” (Marx) by crisis conditions.
When this deepening ferment in the West meets a similar ferment in China, the linkups that failed in 1848 and 1917 (the latter being the turning point of history when history didn’t turn, as CLR James put it) may “turn the world upside down” far more than the “bourgeois revolution with red flags” of 1949 ever did... read the full article:
James W. Prescott, a neuropsychologist, is
a health scientist administrator at the National Institute of Child Health and
Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland. He is a member of the Board of
Directors of the American Humanist Association. This article appeared in part
in the April 1975 issue of The Futurist, published by the World
Future Society, and is reprinted here with their permission. The views and
opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect
the position of the National Institutes of Health.
A neuropsychologist contends that the greatest threat to world peace comes from those nations which have the most depriving environments for their children and which are most repressive of sexual affection and female sexuality... Violence against sexuality and the use of
sexuality for violence, particularly against women, has very deep roots in
Human violence is fast
becoming a global epidemic. All over the world, police face angry mobs,
terrorists disrupt the Olympics, hijackers seize airplanes, and bombs wreck
buildings. During the past year, wars raged in the Middle East, Cyprus, and
Southeast Asia, and guerrilla fighting continued to escalate in Ireland.
Meanwhile, crime in the United States grew even faster than inflation. Figures
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that serious crimes rose 16
percent in the first six months of 1974—one of the largest crime increases
since FBI record-keeping began.
Unless the causes of
violence are isolated and treated, we will continue to live in a world of fear
and apprehension. Unfortunately, violence is often offered as a solution to
violence. Many law enforcement officials advocate 'get tough' policies as the
best method to reduce crime. Imprisoning people, our usual way of dealing with
crime, will not solve the problem, because the causes of violence lie in our
basic values and the way in which we bring up our children and youth. Physical
punishment, violent films and TV programs teach our children that physical
violence is normal. But these early life experiences are not the only or even
the main source of violent behavior. Recent research supports the point of view
that the deprivation of physical pleasure is a major ingredient in the
expression of physical violence. The common association of sex with violence
provides a clue to understanding physical violence in terms of deprivation of
pleasure seems to be something the world can't get enough of. People are
constantly in search of new forms of pleasure, yet most of our 'pleasure'
activities appear to be substitutes for the natural sensory pleasures of
touching. We touch for pleasure or for pain or we don't touch at all. Although
physical pleasure and physical violence seem worlds apart, there seems to be a
subtle and intimate connection between the two. Until the relationship between
pleasure and violence is understood, violence will continue to escalate.
As a developmental
neuropsychologist I have devoted a great deal of study to the peculiar
relationship between violence and pleasure. I am now convinced that the
deprivation of physical sensory pleasure is the principal root cause of
violence. Laboratory experiments with animals show that pleasure and violence
have a reciprocal relationship, that is, the presence of one inhibits
the other. A raging, violent animal will abruptly calm down when electrodes
stimulate the pleasure centers of its brain. Likewise, stimulating the violence
centers in the brain can terminate the animal's sensual pleasure and peaceful
behavior. When the brain's pleasure circuits are 'on,' the violence circuits
are 'off,' and vice versa. Among human beings, a pleasure-prone personality
rarely displays violence or aggressive behaviors, and a violent personality has
little ability to tolerate, experience, or enjoy sensuously pleasing
activities. As either violence or pleasure goes up, the other goes down.
The reciprocal relationship
of pleasure and violence is highly significant because certain sensory
experiences during the formative periods of development will create a
neuropsychological predisposition for either violence-seeking or
pleasure-seeking behaviors later in life. I am convinced that various abnormal
social and emotional behaviors resulting from what psychologists call
'maternal-social' deprivation, that is, a lack of tender, loving care, are
caused by a unique type of sensory deprivation, somatosensory deprivation.
Derived from the Greek word for 'body,' the term refers to the sensations of
touch and body movement which differ from the senses of light, hearing, smell
and taste. I believe that the deprivation of body touch, contact, and movement
are the basic causes of a number of emotional disturbances which include
depressive and autistic behaviors, hyperactivity, sexual aberration, drug
abuse, violence, and aggression.
These insights were
derived chiefly from the controlled laboratory studies of Harry F. and Margaret
K. Harlow at the University of Wisconsin. The Harlows and their students
separated infant monkeys from their mothers at birth. The monkeys were raised
in single cages in an animal colony room, where they could develop social
relationships with the other animals through seeing, hearing, and smelling, but
not through touching or movement. These and other studies indicate that it is
the deprivation of body contact and body movement—not deprivation of the other
senses—that produces the wide variety of abnormal emotional behaviors in these
isolation-reared animals. It is well known that human infants and children who
are hospitalized or institutionalized for extended periods with little physical
touching and holding develop almost identical abnormal behaviors, such as
rocking and head banging.
pathological violence observed in isolation-reared monkeys is well documented,
the linking of early somatosensory deprivation with physical violence in humans
is less well established. Numerous studies of juvenile delinquents and adult
criminals have shown a family background of broken homes and/or physically
abusive parents. These studies have rarely mentioned, let alone measured, the
degree of deprivation of physical affection, although this is often inferred
from the degree of neglect and abuse. One exceptional study in this respect is
that of Brandt F. Steele and C. B. Pollock, psychiatrists at the University of
Colorado, who studied child abuse in three generations of families who
physically abused their children. They found that parents who abused their
children were invariably deprived of physical affection themselves during
childhood and that their adult sex life was extremely poor. Steele noted that
almost without exception the women who abused their children had never
experienced orgasm. The degree of sexual pleasure experienced by the men who
abused their children was not ascertained, but their sex life, in general, was
unsatisfactory. The hypothesis that physical pleasure actively inhibits
physical violence can be appreciated from our own sexual experiences. How many
of us feel like assaulting someone after we have just experienced orgasm?
The contributions of
Freud to the effects of early experiences upon later behaviors and the
consequences of repressed sexuality have been well established. Unfortunately
time and space do not permit a discussion here of his differences with Wilhelm
Reich concerning his Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The hypothesis that
deprivation of physical pleasure results in physical violence requires a formal
systematic evaluation. We can test this hypothesis by examining cross-cultural
studies of child-rearing practices, sexual behaviors, and physical violence... read more
Syama Prasad Mookerjee complicit in
raising funds for defending Gandhi's killers
Sardar Patel, then Union home minister,
confronted him for this act
In his letters to Patel, Mookerjee
mentions Hindu Mahasabha & RSS in the same breath
How Sardar Patel cornered Syama Prasad
What are the links between RSS & Hindu
In the political
debate on the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Mahatma Gandhi's
murder, triggered by Rahul Gandhi's remark and the Supreme Court's response, a
crucial point at issue is the closeness of the RSS to the Hindu Mahasabha. Activists of the Hindu
Mahasabha were accused and convicted of the murder. Today, the RSS
maintains that it was always ideologically distinct from the Mahasabha, as was
also argued by
Prafulla Ketkar, the editor of RSS newspaper Organiser, in Catch.
Yet historical documents spill over with
evidence of the closeness between the Mahasabha and the RSS in the period
leading up to the Partition. An icon for the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Syama Prasad Mookerjee, was complicit in raising
funds for the legal defence of those accused of Mahtama Gandhi's murder,
through his party, the Hindu Mahasabha. At the time, Mookerjee was not only
associated with the Hindu Mahasabha but was also the Minister of Industry and
Supplies in the Nehru Cabinet.
SARDAR PATEL AND SYAMA PRASAD MOOKERJEE
On being questioned
about this by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mookerjee tried to fudge the issue. In
his replies Mookerjee suggested that funds were being raised only to defend one
of the accused, VD Savarkar and not the others. In a letter to Sardar Patel on
16 June, 1948, Mookerjee wrote:
My dear Sardarji,
I have received
your letter about the raising of subscriptions for the defence of accused in
Gandhiji's murder trial. I had a talk with Mr. [L B] Bhopatkar (President of
the Hindu Mahasabha at that time) about this matter this morning. I think the
position has been somewhat misunderstood. The Hindu Mahasabha has not appointed
any Defence Committee. The All India Defence Committee is an entirely
independent orgnaisation. As you have yourself hinted, the move for raising
funds started in some quarters mainly for the defence of [V D] Savarkarji. ...
As regards the
defence of the other accused, the matter was raised by the court on the opening
day of the trial. A few with the approval of the court sought the assistance of
Mr. Bhopatkar in making necessary arrangements. As was explained in the court
day before yesterday this has also been completed. ... But as I have
already said, funds mainly raised for Savarkar's defence have been placed in
the hands of the Defence Committee for utilisation.
In other words, the
money collected for the defence of Savarkar was given to the Defence Committee
to use as it saw fit! The mandate of the committee was to defend all Hindu
Mahasabha workers who sought its assistance.
Sardar Patel was
unimpressed by Mookerjee's explanations and asked him to explain the conduct of
his organisation again. On 9 September 1948, in his reply Mookerjee attached a
copy of Bhoptakar's explanation on raising funds for the Gandhi murder accused.
It is available in Selected Correspondence of Sardar Patel, Vol. 6,
Edited by Durga Das. Bhopatkar's letter
also made the same points: that the Defence Committee was funded by money
raised from "all the Hindu Sabhas in the country" as distinct from
the central body, All India Hindu Mahasabha.
This money was raised
for the defence of Savarkar. However, he admitted: "The Defence
Committee was appointed for giving legal aid to all such workers of Hindu
Mahasabha as required or called for it." All the Gandhi murder
accused - Nathuram Godse,
Digambar Badge, Gopal Godse, Narayan Apte, Vishnu Karkare and Madanlal Phawa -
were incidentally prominent members of the Hindu Mahasabha. Bhopatkar, admitted
that a circular letter was indeed sent by the Hindu Mahasabha across the
country "intended to call upon Hindu Sabhas to collect money for this
purpose." He further admitted
that while "not a penny" from the funds of the Hindu Mahasabha was
utilised for the trial, "Some of the rooms in the Hindu Mahasabha Bhavan
occupied by defence counsel are given on monthly rent"! It is questionable
whether giving its rooms on rent to those defending the murderers of the
Mahatma was purely a commercial decision on the part of the Hindu Mahasabha.
response to these letters was terse and quick. A day after receiving
Mookerjee's letter, Patel wrote back on 10 September, 1948:
My dear Dr Syama
... It is
quite clear now that the Hindu Sabhas are being mobilised for the purpose of collecting
subscription for the Defence Fund. It is futile, therefore, to argue that the
Hindu Mahasabha is not officially concerned with it. It was open to the friends
and well-wishers of Mr Savarkar to organise separate agencies for the purpose
of collecting funds. If the official organisation of the Hindu Mahasabha is
being utilised for this purpose, there can be only one inference, namely, that
the Hindu Mahasabha is in it. After what you had written to me last time, this
has come to me as a great surprise.
there are strong grounds in this correspondence for believing that the Hindu
Mahsabha was "in it". But was the RSS was also in it? What was the
link between the two organisations at the time? Mookerjee's
correspondence with Sardar Patel shows that there was an organic link between
the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, which today's RSS activists deny. This link is
also established by Delhi Police CID in a report preceding the assassination of
In May 1948, Syama
Prasad Mookerjee, pleaded with Sardar Patel to release the detained members of
the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS in the aftermath of Gandhi's assassination. In his letter to Patel
on 4 May 1948, Mookerjee not only requested the release of some Hindu Mahasabha
activists who had been arrested under the Public Safety Act but also wrote in
the same letter that "The future of the RSS workers has also to be
He argued: "In
view of the great complications which may arise in connection with Hyderabad
and Kashmir, it is desirable that we should be able to create an atmosphere of
confidence and security amongst all sections of the people provided we are
satisfied that by a general order of releases we are not jeopardising the
course of law and order."
If there was no
ideological or organisational relationship between the Hindu Mahasabha and the
RSS, would Mookerjee be writing about them in the same breath? Patel's views on the
affinity of the two organizations, were quite clear. Of the Hindu Mahasbaha,
he noted: "We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that an appreciable number
of members of the Mahasabha gloated over the tragedy and distributed
sweets" and that given their militant communalism the detained members of
the organisation "could not but be regarded as a danger to public
As for the RSS, Patel
said: "The same would apply to the RSS, with the additional danger
inherent in an organisation run in secret on military or semi-military
observers also saw the two organisations as close allies. So did other
political observers who watched them act in tandem during the communal riots in
Punjab. Pointing to the close
relationship of the two entities, a source report of the Delhi Police's
Criminal Investigation Department dated 29 November 1947 claimed that "it
is believed that the RSSS [Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh] and the Hindu
Mahasabha will conjointly contest the next Assembly elections from various
constituencies in India." Whether this alliance took place or not is
another matter. The point is that the two were thinking of fielding joint
The complicity of the
RSS with the Hindu Mahasabha's agenda was also described in a pamphlet called
"Bleeding Punjab Warns" written by Dhanwantri and PC Joshi of the
Communist Party of India and published in September 1947. Describing the
organisation of execution of communal riots in Punjab, Dhanwantri wrote: "In the Punjab,
however, in the recent biggest ever killing ever seen, it was the trained bands
equipped with fire-arms and modern weapons that were the main killers, looters
and rapers. These were the storm troops of various communal parties such as the
National Guards of the Muslim League in the Western Punjab, and the Shahidi
Dals of the Akalis and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh of the Mahasabha in the
Their shared role in
the Punajb made them see each other as political allies, and according to P C
Joshi, emboldened them to demand a stake in political power together:
"The RSS and the
Hindu Mahasabha today feel powerful enough to openly demand in their Press he Sangram and Baljeet (Urdu
papers from Delhi) and the Organiser (English) that Bakshi Tek
Chand, the Mahasabhaite chief, should be made Governor of East Punjab and Rai
Bahadur Badri Prasad Das, the RSS boss, should be made premier."
Moreover, though the
RSS today disowns Nathruam Godse and others who assisted in the murder of
Mahatma Gandhi by claiming that they were not members of the RSS. This has been
denied by Nathuram Godse's brother himself. Gopal Godse is on record saying
that all the Godse brothers were members of the RSS and never left the
organisation. In an interview to Frontline as
late as 28 January 1994, Gopal Godse said: "You can say we
grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us.
Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah [intellectual worker]
in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it
because [M S] Golwalkar ("Guruji" of the organisation) and the RSS
were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the