Possibilities of Indian Muslim political discourse beyond the prison of mourning
The recent unprecedented anti-Muslim attacks across India carried out by the state-sponsored Hindu infantry pushed every sane individual, especially the Indian Muslim community, to the extremities of anguish and discouragement.
According to a recent survey, the community is experiencing an unprecedented spike in mental health issues due to its growing “othering”. With each passing day, Indian Muslims are increasingly disconnected from their surroundings, disengaged from themselves and disturbed by the daily horrors of their lives. Yet they are unable to figure out how to save themselves from the long-term carnage.
At this point, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the continued anti-Muslim onslaught has begun to achieve one of the main objectives of the “Muslim solution” that this regime has on its list, which is, the most important , to neutralize the will of an entire community, not only in psychiatric terms but also in political terms. In this context, the natural resistance of the community, at best, is likely to adopt the language of mourning and isolation.
Consciously breaking away from this paralyzed state becomes the very first step towards contributing or establishing any kind of political resistance.
The “indifferent” being, the “other” and the reproduction of mourning
During the years of Italian Fascism, Alberto Moravia wrote about an existential disease of ‘Indifference’ growing up in Italian society at a time when the formation of new bodies and enemies formed the basis of the country’s culture.
Moravian “indifference” differs from the conventional understanding of the word in the ontological sense that the Moravian “indifferent” being is not only “indifferent” to others, but also to “himself”, without any knowledge of The healing. This type of alienation, brought about by an increasingly dehumanizing society, ends up forcing the being to isolate themselves, both from themselves and from a universalistic sense of pain from other oppressed potential allies.
To understand how this “indifferent” being is created in today’s India under the rule of Narendra Modi, one must open up the social media platforms where this state-sponsored onslaught has transformed mourning into a culture of death. “aestheticization” of oppression. There, virtual echo chambers merely sustain the same shared reality, validate the constant reproduction of grief, and produce a monoculture that responds to discourses of alliance building and the universalism of oppression with aggressive logic. of his own suffering in exclusion. This is where the logic of politics turns into a logic of mourning, where the logic of resistance turns into a virtual romanticism of oppression, and where the language of struggle only reciprocates the logic of the oppressor of “us/them”.
Assata Shakur, a famous black civil rights activist, states in her autobiography that the oppressed must continually remember their oppression, but only to free themselves from it, so as not to submit to the forced pessimism of the oppressors, which dilutes the scope of any concrete collective policy of resistance.
These well-planned attacks on Indian Muslims are aimed at destroying their already devastated economic base and political scope (as noted above). These also aim to deconstruct their historically multifaceted identity into a reductive religious-community identity in the way that RSS has always done. imagined and characterized the Muslims of India. The constant propaganda of Hindutva has built the ‘them’ into the psyche of the majority community through the psychosis of fear and the constant reproduction of this ideology in civil society. Thus, this simplified Identity of the Indian Muslim community opens the way to the “becoming” of the “other” in the material sense and justifies the existence of the political narrative of Hindutva. To not actively resist the politics around this imposed essentialized identity is to deny the prospect of liberation from the Hindutva agenda and its static “definition” of complex identities.
Politics of alliance rather than politics of mourning
Above all, urgency requires change in response to the current situation rather than knee-jerk reactions and paraphrasing what has already been said a thousand times on social media platforms. Such a response has lost its meaning in the face of the recklessness that sustains this assault. Concerned and capable friends must now move beyond the virtual reproduction of the grief that has been inflicted on us, and above all must break with the logic of “us” and “them”. The gravity of the situation now demands the extension of sustained political efforts and the formation of alliances with other persecuted communities and even with those with whom agreements are held to the bare minimum, not only in the sense of partisan politics, but also in non-partisan terms, where coalitions based on a common minimum program must be developed in civil society – in neighborhoods, in localities, in villages and in cities.
The current wave of anti-Muslim violence did not come out of nowhere; it manifests itself at the intersection of various socio-political and economic determinants. Although violence against Muslims is an end in itself, it nevertheless serves an instrumental purpose for the regime by obscuring other social, political and economic issues he does not want to address.
Another, and perhaps the most important factor that has led to the current state of affairs, is the tenacity with which the RSS has worked in civil society since its creation. This transformed the complex identities of other marginalized communities into a streamlined uniform identity of “manly” Muslim “Hindu”, which the Sangh fabricated.
Likewise, the resistance against it will not come to a head overnight, and not without understanding the minority issue as interconnected with other social and political-economic issues operating in a single totality. Resistance will not come without opposing this Hindutva logic of defining and transforming plural identities. But above all, it requires a conscious dismantling of the ‘indifferent’ entity and a release from the prison of grief in which the current regime wishes to keep Indian Muslims forever.
Opportunities for progressive alliances and policies exist and will always be possible. The impact of Shaheen Bagh Movement and the support he got from other marginalized groups and through religious divisions were felt across the country. Moreover, the recent triumph of the peasant movement demonstrated that no tyrant regime is invincible. The inevitability and triggering of these movements, however, depended on the formation of organized and unified political apparatuses in civil society, regardless of their size. These movements were not the answers to the question, “Why is this happening to us?” but rather “What to do?”
Arguably, those times made it easy for us to give in to the dark floods of melancholy, and I agree that, yes, pessimism has never been easier for all of us than it does now, but there is never was a time when it was more obligatory to seek the paths upon which socio-political advancement depends; never was there a time when working on the application of the intellect for the construction of coherent progressive political units was more necessary.
This “rational desire”, as Terry Eagleton defines hope, stems from the experience of working on an independent cultural and educational project among the working masses through religious groups in one of the new Sangh laboratories in semi-rural India. This small, ongoing effort has demonstrated that a historically shared socio-cultural bridge between the disenfranchised in both communities can be mended even in the face of constant RSS community propaganda and the inarticulate discontent growing in the post-lockdown context. destruction of the unorganized economic sector can be assigned a language.
Regardless of how small or large changes have been accomplished as a result of this project over the past two years, the process itself has provided a better picture of the reality on the ground and the opportunity to develop a new lexicon of resistance.
One could say that it is illogical to hope for the impossible, and I would agree. Yes, it is not rational to hope for the impossible, but is it irrational to make the impossible a little less impossible? The question needs to be answered by fellow friends who have recently surrendered to this crisis of “hope”.
The current situation forces us to transcend the banal dichotomy of pessimism and optimism, as Gramsci puts it in a letter to his brother in prison during the years of fascism in Italy. A synthesis of these impulses must now manifest itself in persistently organized political activity, where the “pessimism of the intellect” is checked by the “optimism of the will” and vice versa.
As a need of the hour, “rational desire” only begins to take shape when politics is applied, where it is most needed, when it begins to recognize the universalism of oppression across communities persecuted. It begins with the recognition of collective human action as one of the active variables of social change and a determining factor in the formation of the contingencies of human history; he does so against the teleological and fatalistic version of historical progress, which underpins most of today’s “popular” but “indifferent” political narratives in the name of resistance.
Two young Muslim boys from Bareilly were recently arrested for listening to a pakistani song. So, at the risk of being accused of obstructing national integration, allow me to write these lines from one of my favorite Pakistani poets to aggrieved friends and all who are fighting for a brave new world in the face of to this Hindu dystopia; Iftekhar Aarif writes:
Ye sab kath putliyan raqsan rahengi raat ki raat
(All these puppets would keep dancing until nightfall)
Sahar se pehle pehle sab tamasha khatm hoga
(With dawn, this circus will cease to exist)
Dil-e-naa mutmain aisa bhi kya maayoos rehna
(Dear restless heart, why remain hopeless?)
Jo khalq utthi for sab kartab tamasha khatm hoga
(Masses for the day will rise, all tours and shows will end).
(Shadman Ali Khan is an independent researcher and student of political economy, philosophy and geopolitics. He is currently engaged in a number of research and policy projects in rural eastern India. Opinions expressed are personal)