Coming Together for Goa

There are many groups in Goa fighting for a change (emancipation). How are we to unite them against the perpetrators of oppression, the BJP Government today?

Karl Marx said that change comes when two classes fight. He thought that it is inevitable that the oppressed class will rise against the oppressing class. But this is not true. There is no inevitability about social change. It did not come through the clash of two privileged classes. There are always plural actors desiring social change.

The plural actors fighting for social change or emancipation make things more complex. Today we cannot simply mobilize people simply in class.

Let us learn from the post-Marxists. 

Post-Marxists, Enersto Laclau and Chantalle Mouffe from Argentina teach that social change requires a discourse that enables us to frame power inequality as oppression.

There is diversity of actors fighting for social emancipation. We cannot put these groups into two classes and mobilize the oppressed against the oppressor. This is because the oppressors do not just use coercive forces like the police and other power apparatus but also use cultural and religious elements to legitimate the oppressor’s position. We can see how BJP is using cultural nationalism and Hindutva to legitimate their rule and hide the transfer of people’s resources to the likes of Adanis and the Ambani

Enersto Laclau and Chantalle Mouffe use the notion: HEGEMONY of an Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci teaches that hegemony is power over others without coercion. Thus, for instance Bakts are ready to die for ideological reasons and are never really forced into action.

Laclau and Mouffe think that it is the power inequality that motivates several groups to struggle for change. This shows that the centre of power in a democracy is an empty space. In other words we can grab the site of power. Both Laclau and Mouffe teach that when several actors act separately without uniting against the common oppressor, they are less likely to be successful. They say that multiple diverse groups have to be brought together.

To bring together the multiple diverse groups , Lacalau and Mouffe think that we need a compelling narrative. In Goa, each group is fighting to stop destruction of Goa but on its own. Some fight coal and the infrastructure that is being built to transport it. Others fight the diversion of Mhadei , still others fight against the loss of agricultural land or mishandling of the pandemic, etc. But when divided we all lack the capacity to act hegemonically.

Laclau and Mouffe propose that equality of all in a democracy becomes a first step to frame the existing inequality as oppression. Here we have to note that there are many areas like parents and children, teachers and students, religious leaders and people where we accept subordination but it is not viewed as oppression.

We have to bring all Goans together. We have forgotten our divisions. To bring all the diverse groups in Goa together, we need a compelling story or a narrative. What can it be? ….. To win we need to unite and to unite, we need a story…. We have no choice. Goa is dying. We will lose everything. It is now or never. Could this be the compelling narrative?

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao