On identity, ideology and idiosyncrasies

To believe in an ideology, and to say so comes from a particular identity. This identity does not appear out of thin air. Most of the time it is who you are only a second after your birth. It depends if you are male, female, or transsexual. It depends on the caste of your parents. (The higher it is, luckier for you in terms of survival). It depends if you are born in the air-conditioned posh hospital or adjacent to the rotting garbage dumps. It depends on whether you are born legitimate – out of a socially sanctioned marriage or out of some ‘sinful’ exercise. This usually determines if you are going to the recognised schools or will work in the illegal factories – if you are able to survive the initial 5 years of your life. And add to that your religion, your geographical area, your skin colour – of course, to this long list.

But it is not the end. These are the identities that you have done nothing to deserve or not deserve – depending on which position you are in. Then there are those which you have earned in your life, voluntarily and usually involuntarily. You are either the shy kid or the bully. You are an educated professional or a bidi worker. You are a hard-working yet dying agriculturist, or a mall going-processed-food consuming developed person. You are normal heterosexual person, believing in marriage and god or one of those members of the sinful and ungodly homosexual species. You are upholder of caste purity or you deny that it even exists. You are compassionate patriot or a hardcore maoist. Finally, you are a person who makes choices or else a person who is forced to choose. You call the shots in all of these identities. Barring a few exceptions – while a major cause of possessing all these identities is because you think that it is the right thing to do – there is a string somewhere which makes you become all that. And when you think of what you actually are – think of all this before you make a final conclusion.

Now, an interesting part is that everyone, including me, claims allegiance to one or more ideologies. As long as we speak from one of those identities – which we possess in our quiver of multiple and intersecting identities, everything seems comfortable. People pause to listen to what you have to say. People sympathize with you. People even cry with you and hold your hand – assure you of their support. Because somewhere it is assumed to be real – to be accurate and to be precise. Each one, by virtue of this phenomena builds alliances – personally and politically. That results in a close-knit group formation, from inclusion to striving to fighting together. The only problem remains is that nobody really knows who the enemy is. There are rules and machineries, provisions and safeguards – to determine the strength and provisioning of these groups. The question still looms-to fight against whom?

There are oppressive structures and systems, larger ways of exploitation, of domination and control. Everyone needs to fight that – no confusion here! The key to all of this is simple, I believe, – be offensive or be defensive. Either keep strengthening yourself so that the oppressor can no longer oppress you. Or you dismantle the cohesiveness of the oppressor(s). How to do that is the continuous struggle. When everyday life makes inroads into all the gathered strength, when an invisible hands throws you off corners – you are usually left wondering as to what went wrong. The moment you forget the dynamics of your identity, and you think you are an individual – fighting it all out in the world, you are only sure to sink further.

 

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