The history of the modern world, as well as those of the medieval and ancient world is full of wars. Wars which were told to be fought for the protection of the countries, to defend it against aggressors. Ever since humans started living in established settlements, and started calling it ‘civilisations’, wars were always fought. The batons differed – it was religion at times, crusades and holy wars, to those aimed at establishing a land of pure race, the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany and the rest of Europe and today of the Arabs in Palestine. An undercurrent economic motive always laid siege, but it was mostly unspoken at times. Dalits and Adivasis and other regional minorities were massacred, violated and exploited in the name of preserving caste purity and implementing God’s orders. Self-thinking women were sometimes declared witches, brutally raped, murdered and their wombs crushed in genocides all over the world, sometimes for using them to teach the other people ‘a lesson’, or at most times to simply resist their standing-up for themselves, and against years of exploitation. This blatant violence has also translated in the modern urban world to those who do not fit in the binaries of the man and the woman – not befitting their cosy worlds.
The desire to form and maintain a homogeneous society, I believe, is stronger than that of maintaining status-quo. All the wars have aimed at forming this society, and in the process ‘systematically eliminate’ all those who stand opposed to it, or do not fit in this homogeneity. The rise of the Hindu Rashtra is not so different from this war – its a cultural war of caste and religious normativity, and although it does not explicitly announce ‘war’ on the others, the idea of superiority breathes at its core. It can only be through this capture of the minds, where one is unable to move beyond this imagined and superfluous greatness which is accorded to them, that makes them able to demarcate non-fitting people as ‘second-class citizens’. Once this is established, anything – rape, loot, murder, genocides, angry reactions, arson, prejudices, everything can be justified – it only takes an appeal to this assumed superiority, and the rest is taken care by itself.
There will be people to exploit this feeling and this vulnerability, who will come and go, and the collective consciousness of the people will be left asking for more. The vehemence with which societal attitudes have let go of basic humanity, to protect itself against uncertain and unknown enemies – those we are pretty sure will bomb our houses and our markets, if even given a chance. We can now let the others guard us at all times. We can allow them to watch our homes, our lives, our letters and our faces, lest we die in its absence. All instances of violence have had a history, a backlash, a greed or an instinct. Except the serial killers romanticised in the early eras of cinema, all instances of violence stem from these.
Today the need for cultural assimilation by this same pioneers of the Hindu Rashtra is more of a rhetoric to protect one’s culture and identity, and in the process appropriate everything else that others have – even their lives. Not that Islamic Fundamentalism does not exist, it very much exists, and on the same axes as the appeal to serve their own interests – and to its wrongful extension to the rest of the Muslims, as such the case with Hindus. But to misappropriate history to show militarised religious hatreds as justifiable actions, and show it only as ‘a reaction or a response’ is one of the core and most coveted ways in which religious hatred, and religious fundamentalism is extended. And it is done in a way where it can never be externally visible, unless one can move beyond this idea of thrusted superiority or forced inferiority, in other words to actually implement what all of these people claim to follow – ‘humanism’.
The collective consciousness has today been made the subject of justice. How is it that abhorring killings satisfy the emotion of public safety? How is it that killing all those who are not ‘us’ makes us feel more secure? What it is this collective consciousness indeed? Is it mob fury? Is it the lust for blood, for violence, for open agony to satisfy a deep sense of hatred; or is it some divine sense of righteousness which guides the minds of all good citizens? Whatever it is, why has it been allowed to take over all forms of ‘other consciousness’? Are people, who speak so much of individual choice, afraid to listen to their own ones, and rely on the collective – to put the blame to an abstract population, unable to be traced to their own. Why have we all become murderers then, even though we never pull the trigger? Why do we want to hang every one of these bastards, and still want to have a sleepful night. It abhors me, and it frightens me, but it makes me stronger.
“I shall not be hanged, I shall not be hanged”, I murmur in my sleep.