Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Curious Case of the Aam Aadmi

It is an oft said cliche.The jholiwala intellectuals say it,the
politicians say it and we,the 'aam aadmi' say
it(rather enthusiastically).That the common man,or
the 'aam aadmi'is peace loving, honest, secular,
and so on.I find this notion rather absurd and
fanciful.To say that the actions of an average
human being are governed by the principles of
justice, peace, or whatever that keeps our society
stable is a bit like indulging in collective
narcissism.True, our society, for the most part
appears to be a stable place with a semblance of
order in it.However our motivations behind
maintaining such an apparent stability are
unfortunately, not so lofty.

The most dominant instinct that governs a living organism
is survival. A lion eats a deer because of it,and
rhizobium bacteria(if that's the name)
symbiotic-ally lives on legume roots because of
it.The same instinct produces two contrasting
actions.In the first case,it results in the
domination of the hunter over the hunted and in the
second case,co-operation.

Although it's been a long time since we had to
fight tigers,the survival instinct in the human
being takes root in form of self-interest.This self
interest takes form of different abstractions like
financial survival,social survival etc...So,if this
self interest motive favours, or rather seems to
favour peace, we are peaceful. The moment it
favours aggression, we go back to our
warmongering.How else would one explain
abominations like the caste system,and female
exploitation.The males thought, our self interest
is served well with keeping female empowerment in
check and the bourgeois think that having a
perpetual army of servants serves their needs.If the
aam aadmi had any belief in his so called ideals,
the caste system would have been a relic of the

Same goes for secularism/communalism.We are
secular when we are dependent on the other
community but turn into communalists when it suits
us.The same person who has reservations about
having a Muslim/Christian neighbour because of his
'non vegetarian' habits won't bat an eyelid when
he's in America/Europe, because come on, dollars
can make you forgive cow slaughter.

It's quite obvious that the self interest motive is
governed by the dynamics of power.As they say,
jiski laathi uski bhains. Power is the biggest
justification for any cause. From the level of the
individual to the nation, everything is governed by
power. Britain appeased Hitler when it suited
them,but the moment their survival was in question,
they realized the tyrant that he was.The Jews,the
most unfortunate victims of the Holocaust didn't
bat an eyelid while displacing the
Palestinians.Injustice is an accepted norm
as long as it doesn't affect us or those around us.

One might think that I am very pessimistic about
humanity and the world in general.Alas, you are
wrong.I have faith, but not in our good but in our
love for our self interest.If manipulated properly,
the same interest which divides us, can unite
us.Our society can only be the 'better' place that
we want to it when we start believing that our self
interest is dependent on the self interest of
others.After all, it was Jim Carrey in his film Ace
Ventura who said,"It is the mucus which binds us".
How true.


Harshvardhan Pande said...

really good stuff dude!

ending with an Ace Ventura quote - takes it to the next level ;)

a really well thought out and well written post!

Parth said...

Totally much as we'd like to believe that we are secular but at the end of the day [sadly]-
Jiski laathi uski bhains prevails!!!

Chandan Kr. Gupta said...

now this is what i call a julka article.. i do not know what other talents are rewuired to become a professional writer.. gud job..