Goans and the Project of Self Production – II

The political economy that animates the self production of Goans like other Indians is caught within the limits of a utilitarian or calculating rationality. There is an extravagant excessive dimension to it. It chains us to orgies of consumption where accumulated wealth is set ablaze and disappears quickly leaving us craving for more. The return value of all expenditure restricts our economy and calculates wealth in quantifiable monies. Hence, for us, it becomes ‘ to be becomes to have’. In such a scenario, the notorious cogito of Descartes becomes ‘I have, therefore I exist.’ Unfortunately, we are trapped in a productivist, rationalist, utilitarian vision of life which has denuded our social life of communitarian belonging which was our strength in the past. Our families have nuclearised and our numbers have dwindled to such an extent that we seem to have lost our ability to replace ourselves with our children. We build and live our life on an economic infra-structure as Karl Marx might have told us. Our economic condition has become the base structure and it seems to animate our Goan-ness. This means the kind of political economy that we promote goes against the Weberian thesis of protestant ethics that teaches that religion produces our society . In Goa we seem to exhibit that our religion itself is affected and even produced by the economic relations. This is the reason why fundamentalism in religion thrives. Hindutva has become more appealing than Hinduism. Faith healers are sought more than even priests among the Christians.

Weber is dead and Adam smith is born again amidst us. capitalism has become a religion. George Gilder, famous American author of the book , Wealth and Poverty, has given capitalism a theology. We Indians already have theological moorings in the worship of Goddess Laxmi. We seem to have become children of our economics. We have easily embraced the new socio-economic order of life. It is said that supply creates its own demand. This is why when the flood gates capitalism opened in our society, we might have seamlessly accepted use-value driven capitalism without questions and merged it with our respective religions. Asceticism of the Protestantism that produced capitalism no longer has any influence on. But the use-value of capitalism has become the spirit of our times. Benjamin Franklin’s dictum that proclaims ‘he who kills a five shilling coin, assassinates all that it could have produced’. Use value has become ‘the be all and the end all’ of life and we Goans have been steadily sucked into it. In favour of use-value, we have expelled other forms of expenditure that were central to our lives in the good old days. George Bataille calls these forms that transcend use-value as useless expenditure. Use-less expenditure does not count the cost of giving in utilitarian terms or in terms of return value. It is selfless giving akin to love in Christianity. Our society was based on such useless expenditure of surplus. Our ancestors gave their labour, talent , time etc to each other without indulging into calculative rationality. The Goans in those days produced their self through the economy of self-less giving.

We have moved miles away from this economy of fullness and embraced an economy of scarcity. In an economy of fullness there is enough for everyone’s needs. In an economy of scarcity , we feel there is always less. This sense of less, produces competition and fires the desire to have more. No one in this condition has a sense of enough. Everyone seems to exhibit what Pepsi owns solganised : ‘yeh dil mange more’. Everyone has become an excessive consumer and consumes more than what one needs. The future is viewed as a closed destination and has ceased to be open with multiple possibilities. This is why the self production of Goans is predictable and our excessive impulse for mimesis / imitation feeds our crab instincts. Hence, it might not be an exaggeration that authentic traditional real Goan-ness of the economic order of plenum is dead and we have the phenomenon of the Goan-ness that is produced by the economy of scarcity. Hence, we need to transgress the economy generated by the use-value and try and embrace what has been called unproductive self giving . Such useless self-giving is far from the use-value driven economy. This selfless squandering of time, talents, wealth, humanity at the service of others is the only genuine way of self-production that was known to Goans. It is not a superfluous life but one that produces authentic goan-ness.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao