Goans and the Project of Self Production – III

Goan society has stepped into a political-economy of use-value. The order of use-value audits our society. Everything is pursued for its utility. We are all collectively producing a profit driven society. Such societies ban excess and only allow its forms that have use-value. Thus, pleasure seeking becomes both excess and pathological. This means the pleasure principle is filtered by limits of its usefulness. We can see it in a flourish in our tourism industry where excesses are outlawed. But these excesses exist where the law is blind or its sight is deflected through monetary means. There is another area where the audits of pleasure principle afflict us. Our migration into the economy of use-value has limited our reproductive ability and it may be regarded as the chief cause of thinning demography. More children or the growth in human capital is viewed among us as loss and hence, Goans today are on verge of extinction. This is why we have to deal with our dwindling demographics when we are raising the issue of production of the self among Goans. Driven by an economy of scarcity that thinks that our collective growth as people will make us poor as individuals; we have put the axe unto our feet. This view is consolidated by a perspective that sees pleasure as only a transgression and one has to make concessions to it as long as it does not add up to our numbers. We have indeed stepped into a contraceptive society.

All actions have the compulsions to be justified by a utilitarian principle in our society. Even what is construed as loss is calculated on a use-value register and is evoked only if it is felt that it will produce a utilitarian dividend. This gives no room for non-productive expenditures. Maybe we might have to understand how Colonization, Christianization, English education at the primary level etc are being evoked as losses. Although these issues are complex and resist such reductions, we have seen that they are being used to divide Goans from time to time. This economy of loss itself provides useful benefit for those who use it in our society. It does provide political capital for some and it is being evoked precisely for that reason. All this shows that we in Goa produce our society both collectively and individually on the basis of the principle of utility. All our being and becoming Goans / goanising is determined by it,l although all our life is not confined to it. There are still residues of the non-productive expenditures. These can be traced in the modes of celebrations of excessive events like feasts, weddings, funerals etc. It is these giving without counting cost that binds us to non-productive expenditures of our ancestors and also provides glue of bonding to our society strangled by crass individualism erupting from our enslavement to the principle of utility

Today these unproductive expenditures are also being used to derive utilitarian dividends to oneself, one’s caste and community. Goa is not a society that indulges in excess of non-productive expenditures like building of extravagant statues of heroes and Gods. But what we have seen for some time is that major developmental projects like a bridge and the stadium were/are being named after some national political leaders. Goans have silently rejected these national appropriations and called these bridges by the name of the rivers and the stadium by the name of place and left the official names for official purposes. This manifests that we do have a way of restoring the economy of unproductive expenditures which seems to be the basis of our society. The way people in the villages have embraced carnival floats might also be another instance of attempts to contest the commercialized as well as politicized floats in the four major cities in Goa. Although, these floats at the village level may offer some concessions for the politicians and become effectively the last nail in the coffin our old modes of celebration with masked man and women, we can still consider them as people’s indulgence in the economy of unproductive expenditures in opposition of the reigning economy of use-value.

Goan society like other societies does exhibit modes of non-productive expenditures that protect our distinctive Goan-ness. Our Goan-ness lives and breathes in these generous modes of non-productive expenditures. Unfortunately, elements of Goan-ness are commoditised and exist for now in commercial avatars. The fate of Goan Mando, Karvi or Kunbi dance thus have exited our life and have moved on to a commercial stage provided by our tourism industry. There are people who still indulge in these activities for a price. Often, these commercialised avatars are disincarnated from the real communities and those who enact these performances have little or nothing to do with them in their personal as well as community life. They embrace them for their commercial value. There are several questions that we might raise about the modes of production of self and our society in Goa. Indeed, we can save authentic Goan-ness through these unconditional expenditures. This is why it is important that we understand and carefully discern as well as promote the role of excessive unproductive expenditures that would build Goan society both individually and collectively.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao