Violence and Postcolony

Violence is not just normalized. It is also almost constructed as a moral action. This is why mob lynching which is otherwise a heinous act of violence begins to look like a just action. When the line between violence and crime is blurred, violence appears to become a moral force and becomes a compelling moral Imperative. This is why it is very difficult to oppose such violence. The promoters of such violence usurp an arbitrary facticity or givenness. Violent action then begins to be their moral Imperative. We have the challenge to contest this arbitrary facticity assumed by employers of violence. There is no arbitrary facticity that is given to anyone. But violence and crime begin to look acceptable when it is intertwined with ideology, nationalism and religion. Colonizers may have used such arbitrary facticity, but under no circumstance could we use such facticity, given our moral conscience in the 21st century.

Maybe we have to discern how this assumption of arbitrary facticity is being accessed in the violence that is spreading in Manipur. When one community demonizes and ideologicaly and politically de-territorialize , de-recognize another community, and seeks to legitimise its claim to territory, culture and tribality, that community is already operationalizing arbitrary facticity. The other community perceived the allocation of tribal status to the aggressor as a denial of the same to itself. Then, violence that was already bloodless was set in a spiral of bloody violence. Such a condition has taken India into a Postcolony and the condition of our independence is put under erasure. The condition of independence is not frozen in time. It is dynamically created or destroyed by us from time to time. We can draw this conclusion based on the notion of postcolonial of Achille Mbembe although I have not used it in a strict sense.

To me the notion of postcolony provides a way of understanding the violence that puts on the mask of a work of justice. Thus, it enables a reigning discourse that legitimizes violence and vandalism as acts of justice in the name of religio-cultural nationalism. It becomes a conceptual tool to understand how by accessing arbitrary facticity that propels some of us to use the right of the sword when such use is nothing but an act of crime. This means when anyone tries to use mass or group violence disregarding the law and order of our country, for that brief moment. we slip into postcolony and we push our independence under erasure. Such a condition was seen during violent riots, terror attacks, ethnic violence etc. Thus, the notion of postcolony shows how violence itself creates its own legitimacy and masquerades as a work of justice.

We have to be free of violence from the imaginary that sees it as a work of justice. In fact, when we imagine violence as a work of justice, we break all morality. Thus, the notion of right and wrong are erased and violence with all its brutality puts on the mask of the work of justice. This is why we need enlightenment to see through the mask of innocence in the face of violence. To do this we have to derail the position from where arbitrary facticity is accessed by violent groups or communities. While we hope that peace returns to Manipur and stay concerned about the plight of those who have lost their precious life, home and property, may we learn that all forms of violence are moral. We also have to unrevel the mind of violence and challenge the assumption that violence is mindless. We have a huge challenge to prevent our country from becoming a permanent Postcolony.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao