Immunological thinking

Humans have gone through several ages of affliction. There was a microbial age that ended with the discovery of antibiotics. Thanks to immunological science and technology, we have left it behind although covid-19 virus threatened to usher it again. The 21st century from a pathological standpoint is said to be threatened by neurons. Neurological disorders such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, borderline personality disorder, and burnout syndrome seem to have cast dark clouds over our society. These are not infections but infarctions as they do not follow from the negativity of what is immunologically foreign but are a result of excess positivity. It is being said that our disciplinary societies taught by Michel Foucault and Societies of Control by Gilles Deleuze have given way to the Achievement or Societies of Enjoyment. We shall study this burnout syndrome on some other occasion.

Although, the boundaries are not clearly marked between the past societies of power ( Disciplinary Society and Society of Control) and the new present, as we find what may be called immunological thinking affecting us, especially in our country. We are still thinking with the categories of insider and outsider, friend and foe, self and the other. We still exhibit immunological responses as we think that minorities are pathological to our society. We have become immunological subjects. While serval societies have stepped away from these immunological foundations, we seem to be very much pushing ourselves into it. We have not yet come out of the immunological age. Every ‘Other’ triggers an immune response in our society.

Immunological thinking favours sameness and homogeneity. It sees otherness as pathological. Immunological models have entered our political discourse. We, therefore, uncritically accept binaries of us and them like tukde tukde gang as well as think through loyalty and disloyalty that defines a nationalist and the deshdrohi or sanskari Hindu and other Hindus. When immunity becomes an interpretive category, it divides a society and keeps it on the boil and attempts to hunt down all that is deemed to be pathological to it. The pathological is the immunological other. Such a society runs on the steam of dialectic of negativity. It takes up the mission to eliminate negativity. The other is viewed as negative. The moral order that undergirds immunological thinking thinks the elimination of otherness is an act of justice. It is a negation of negation. Therefore is negative dialectics.

The immunological subjects try to inoculate themselves against influence of otherness and leans to a (hybridized)tradition that is deemed as pure and safe. The inoculation usually takes the form of ethnocentrism, caste-centrism, racism, religion-centrism, nationalism etc. Often the migrant, minority, poor, tribal and women become the immunological other that has to expelled to save the nation, ethnic group, religion, caste, race etc. The immunological reaction is greeted as immunological self-assertion. There are several voices in our country that celebrate the so called fact that ‘Hindu zagrut ho gaya !’. The other is thought to be deadly and, therefore, on all counts has to be eliminated. We seem to notice this in thought that thinks that ‘Hindus Katre me hai’ .

The challenge is to think de-immunologically. We have to become de-immunological subjects. When wen begin to think de-immunologically, the other becomes therapeutic and not pathological. Goa is best suited to initiate de-immunological thinking. The tourists visit Goa seeking rejuvenation. Goa being exotic other becomes therapeutic and provides reenergizing experiences. Immunological thinking is a protective response in the face of risk. The paradox is that the tourist in Goa is not seeing Goa, the exotic other as toxic and pathological but sees Goa as a site of therapy and healing. His/her sense of rupture finds a sense of balance in the encounter with Goa, the exotic other.

Immunological thinking on the other hands treats the other as a source of rupture and sees the return of the equilibrium through the elimination of that toxic other. Therefore, the other is thought a contagion that infects and destroys oneself and one’s community. Hence, one thinks that the toxic other has to be eliminated. Hence, immunization against the caustic corrosiveness of the other is constantly sought. De-immunological thinking shuns aside the thought that the other is a contamination.

In fact, we have to save our society from becoming monoformically the same. When we homogenize our society. It becomes competitive and exhausts its energies on petty battles and lives on interpassivity. A tired society is lazy even to laugh. This is why it survives on canned laughter. We have several programs where we have the tv itself does the laughing for us. Immunological thinking seems to lead us to surrogate our enjoyment. Primetime television with its noisy debates does the fighting for us. Maybe we have put all our eggs in the basket of one man. This may explain why we believe: ‘ Modi hai to mumkin hai’.

We have the challenge to reject immunological thinking that pathologizes the other. de-immunological thinking has a munus, or a task or duty. It challenges us to accept the other not as a dialectical/ diabolical figure but a dialogical/ amicable figure. To arrive at the dialogical process, we have to give up our homeopathic protection practices that exclude those that are deemed as others by including those that are thought to be same as us. This homofilia has to embrace heterofilia. To achieve this we have being in Goa. Goa can truly be a site to initiate a herterofilia and hetero-thinking.

The otherness of Goa does not oppose the otherness or the sameness of the tourists. The Goa, Goans and tourists relation is not one of opposition. Hence, Goa is an important site to initiate de-immunological thinking that is an anti-dote to immunological thinking that is afflicting our country for now. There is therapy as well as emancipation in our de-immunological thinking. Immunological thinking does prolong life but is give us a taste of death via its fear. De-immunological thinking add life to our life and there is no shadow of the fear of death. It leads us to enjoy and live wholesome life alongside our other. The de-immunological thinking thinks the other as a therapy and is a vibrant vitaecracy while immunological thinking is a slow thanatocracy .

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao