Freedom Fighters and Overseas Goans: A Psychoanalytic Reading

Image Source: Portugal Resident

The unfortunate angry outburst of the freedom fighters and their call for punishment of the Goans who have registered their birth in Portugal is in bad taste. The fact that they continue to use the term Goan to refer to these people shows that they too admit that they belong to Goa. With due respect to our honourable freedom fighters, a detour into psychoanalysis might assist us to understand their outburst. The case appears to me as one that fits the proverbial Freudian Oedipus Complex which triggers what Freud called castration anxiety. This anxiety is resolved by running to the law of the father. Though the Portugal of today has moved on by accepting a Goan as its Prime Minister, the Portugal in the imagination of our honourable freedom fighters seems to have become a fetish object. In this context, the desire for the object of fetish is expressed in the form of hate of Portugal. Within this complex desire, the Goans who have registered their birth in Portugal become rivals in relationship to the object of fetish. Their anxiety is articulated clearly in an imagined catastrophic war between India and Portugal in an immediate future wherein they unfoundedly conclude that the Goans who have registered their birth in Portugal would betray India. Hence, they seem to run into the arms of the law of the father and seek punishment of the erring Goans and stay relevant.

This slide into a new low, though putting on a mask of patriotism seems to be privileging the law of the Father. It is striking that the freedom fighters who refused to accept the colonialist’s rule as a law of the father and became what theorists like Deluze and Gauttari term anti-oedipus have now become the proponents of the law of the father in the context of today. Thus, our very own anti-oedipus (freedom fighters) seems to find the Goans who have broken ties with the Father (motherland) and became the new anti-oedipus as rivals. Well, this psychoanalytic critic is aimed at understanding the recent outburst of the freedom fighters and in no way aims to discredit and de-merit their struggle for Goa’s liberation. This quest only attempts to understand how the past complexly lives in our present in our society and afflicts us. The new anti-oedipus seems to have become a victim of projection and thus seems to be steadily shaping up to be a new object of fetish at another level of the spiral of the purposive desire (hate) of the freedom fighters . An object of fetish is always a Body without organs. It is a reductive totalization of the body that forgets the specificity as well as definite functions of each organ that constitutes it. The term body without organ is popularised by Deleuze and Gauttari. Now Portugal as an object of fetish is divested of all its present and future and even its past. The only exception is its past relations with Goa. The same is true of the Goans who are now the new object of festish. These Goans are divested of all their diversity, narratives of struggle, displacement and discrimination in Goa. What remains unforgettable is their so-called breaking of ties with India .

Thus, Portugal and the Goans with ties with Portugal are treated as ‘Body without organs’. The forgetting of the specificities, diversities and rounding of everything into generalities transforms the object of fetish into a source of fascination that produces repugnance and hate. That is why we might trace a kind of fixation of a tensive relation of some of the freedom fighters with Portugal. The fact that Portugal has become a fetish object is clear from the fact that their attack on Portugal almost always remains generic and very rarely specific. Moreover, the position of the freedom fighters often appears to resonate with that of fundamentalists among the Hindu nationalists. Hence, the fact that values trumpeted as nationalist are often converting India into a body without organs forgetting its plural and diverse being. In some way, our honourable freedom fighters consciously or unconsciously reproduce the values encoded by the divisive forces of the right wing. Hence, this nationalism has to be rightly declared as not national enough. Therefore, we might agree with scholars who propose that fetish is a site of formation and revelation of ideologically driven consciousness. I am afraid, but must utter the unutterable. With great admiration and love for our freedom fighters, I say that they seem to be repeating the discourse of the Hindutva nationalists .

The construction of the native Goans who have left Goa in search of better economic pastures as anti-nationals is a naive position that glosses over the complexity of the issue. There cannot be only a legal reading of the supposed transgressive act of the Goans who registered their birth in Portugal. Such a reading will convert them into a body without organs and is profoundly rooted in the Oedipus complex that privileges the law of the father. The socio-economic as well as political factors that afflict these Goans cannot be brushed aside. Moreover, the reductive legal reading (an Oedipalization act) is meshed in a discriminatory aesthetic that sees these Goans as corrupted and consequently produces repugnance towards them. What we need is an integral, reasoned and compassioned perspective (anti-oedipal approach) to understand the plight of these Goans. Punitive solution ( an oedipal act of upholding the law of the father ) as championed by our honourable freedom fighters cannot be a solution to this crisis. It has to be holistic and as such has to have political, social and economic coordinates besides the legal elements. The socio-economic solutions to these crises are difficult though not impossible. The freedom fighters have identified the legal (oedipal) solution as the easiest one. But they have taken it in a punitive direction. What we need is a politico-legal solution that will consider dual citizenship or confer overseas Indian certification to everyone of our Goan brethren. True love of Goa and even mother India does not lie in the punitive solution (oedipal tangle) but in a compassionate and reasoned embrace of our overseas Goans. We need an urgent political and legal response since we seem to have no capacity to offer a socio-economic solution to these Goans.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao