Faith, Desire and Power

Image Source: The Institute of World Politics

Faith, desire and power intermingle and produce a dangerous cocktail today that assaults our democracy and society more than never before. We are facing an undoing of the demos and have put up a democtator and are practically living in a democtatory in the power of faith, desire and politics. The mergers of the above sacred three forces in our society animate power, understanding and knowledge. The intertwining of faith and desire is the life blood of the rightwing politics. At a time, when elections are coming round the corner, it is important to discern how desire generates a politics of faith (astha) in our country. This is why it is important to understand the complex dynamics that plays out so as to understand how we seem to mindlessly surrender to a politics of hate which is nothing but blueprints of our collective doom. We can trace a desire for power and the power of desire at work in our society. The Abuse of faith and desire is visible in terror in Kashmir. It is also visible in the way media and rightwing trolls as well some pseudo-nationalists treated Kashmiri students and traders after ghastly terror attack that took the precious lives of our forty soldiers in Kashmir. It is also visible in way people who were questioning the Government are slammed by the rightwing trolls. In the context of this of this painful events that we cannot forget that this complex drama of desire (kama) and power that produces and maintains the neo-liberal economy that simply transfers the wealth of our nation to the powerful elite while we are kept busy fighting divisive Mandir and Masjid politics or loyalty and betrayal issues that often link us to Pakistan and terror. It is these cultural wars grounded in identity that feed the neo-liberal economy. our desire is manipulated to corrupt our faith and we begin to think that our interest is the interest of the Corporate Order. Thus, while we are told in several ways that we are not good enough to belong to the future and that we have to change to enact a golden past in the future, our present becomes strife ridden as we have conflicts with people, laws, monuments etc., that are represented as obstacle to the coming of the glorious past in the imminent future.

This framing of the future in the image and likeness of a supposed era of fullness in the past (as the case of the Hindu Rashtra) renders us unfit in the present unless we chase a desire to become the envisioned future in the living present. This means that we are then led to prove that we are good enough by living in a future promised by the market forces. This logic is fundamental and plays into our insecurities and enslaves us to the market forces as we become what we have. This false identification of what we are with what we have is further milked to convince us that we have lost something precious in the past. This sets in what is termed as loss recovery dynamism. The present then becomes a means on the back of which the golden past will arrive in the future. We can view such logic at the heart of the cry for a Hindu Rashtra. This cry is also an echo of the market that tells all of us that we are not good enough the way we are. Thus, a Hindu is not good enough as a hindu but has to become a sanskari Hindu and the same is true of every other person. This is how market forces manipulate our desire and corrupt our faith. Hence, to prove oneself as a sanskari Hindu, for instance, one is led to hate or kill a Muslim. Violence then becomes religiously acceptable and viewed as moral and spiritual war.

The logic of neo-liberalism becomes the logic of politics. This is why issues that are based on lack reinforce division and hate in our society. This has led to politics of nationalism and betrayal that has strangulated all dissent as well as dissidents in our country. It has almost become the order of the day to call the minorities as not Indian enough. Media has also become the servant of the market barons and as a result has become a propaganda tool of the market forces that are controlling the politics in our country. In this context, it might be good to understand how our desire has become the central principle that moves us in the direction that may be construed as perversion of faith to blind us to the lila/play of the market. The crony politics of today has become the maid servant of the market forces and plays the politics of religion to hide the transfer of jan dhan or the wealth of the people or the nation into the hands of a few while the people are fed on the opium of religion. Lacanian psychoanalysis might illuminate us to understand the plight of new India. It brings the lacanian triad : desire, object petit a and Jouissance (pleasure) as an organising axis. These three inter-webbed notions may assist us to understand how an intoxicating opium or drug-like pleasure which he calls jouissance animates the new self of sankari Indians whose desire is triggered or produced by object petit a (which is a lack or precious object that is felt as absent or lost). The self that is nurtured by the market is always lacking self and consequently the self that is produced by the politics is also a lacking self that is viewing lack or absences in everything except plenum in a golden past. Thus, the lacking self enacts the present as a recovery of the golden past.

A therapeutic awareness might assist us to break the cycle of desire that is on wild search of lost past. Although, object petit a is a fantasy, it being linked to the jouissance or libido, it becomes one’s enjoyment and therefore one cannot easily detach oneself from it. The new India that is being promoted by our P M Modi is one in which the self is entangled to desire that perverts our faith and we succumb to a politics and economics that takes the jan dhan and hands it to the powerful elite. Thus politics as well as economics is tainting a great religion like Hinduism. To arrest this takeover of the wealth of our nation, we will have to accept ourselves not as lacking selves. It would be important to refuse to take the subject positions that tells us that we are not good enough. We have to declare the death of a lacking self. To do this we have to enlighten ourselves on the distinction between being and having and understand that our being is not having. This profound understanding of the relationship between being and having might assist us to resist the logic of the market and politics of our day. Otherwise the hope that is ignited into us, by a market driven politics will not just ruin our faith but will operate like a light that we see at the end of a dark tunnel which is actually the headlight of an engine that is coming to crush us. This means our faith and hope can be crippled by the market. This is why we cannot allow our love for each other grow cold. It is only this unconditional love for each other that can purify our contaminated faith and hope from the strangled hold of the market driven politics.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao