Crisis of Freedom

What is a substantive form of democracy? Do we want to share power or be protected from its accesses/ abuses? Do we want to generate a future together or navigate, survive and hesitatingly reach what is fantasized as a golden Hindu Rashtra? Will this push give us emancipatory freedom? It does not seem so as we know that freedom today has been subverted to suit un-emancipatory political ends. What is worse is that we are subjected as well as co-opted to these ends. The new Indian is a subjected subject. Poststructuralists teach us that the subject is born through a process of subjection. Subjection is an unfreedom. Hence, what is thought of as freedom is an un-emancipatory form of subjection. This is why the way we have constituted our majoritarian democracy leads us to a kind of distribution of power which has rendered us paradoxically undemocratic. What is operationalized is not a distribution of power but a distribution of goods which seems to play into the sense of entitlement among the brethren of the majority community while the minoritized other is left to feel that his/her status as Indian is put under erasure.

We seem to have submitted to a post-individualist concept of freedom where the individual does not matter when nations or aggregates of individuals/ crowds have to appear as free. Such as freedom cannot be enjoyed in the present. It is a promised freedom that always remains in the coming. Thus, freedom has become an idea whose time will come in the future. This creates legitimacy to the belief of the present as unfree and legitimizes violence, crimes, as well deprivations handed often mindlessly to the minority in search of true freedom. But the promised freedom in the future makes us blind to several unfreedoms that we suffer hoping that good days that will make us great will come in the future. Unfortunately, this even deafens our conscience to the fact that we are participating with our silence in the practice of imperialism. The post-individualist notion of freedom is thus, used as a tool to make us think that the majority has collectively lost something precious in the past due to invasions and colonization who are identified by their religions. These losses in turn then are easily projected onto the minorities of today who are then called to answer for the crimes of the invaders and the colonizers. Thus, the loss of the notion of atomistic freedom or individual freedom has led to our present condition.

What actually troubles us is a philosophical crisis of freedom. The people massified by the market, silenced by a kind of education that is nothing more than domestication have become lambs that are ready to sacrifice democracy and be subjected to totalitarian power. This submission of the mind is a sign of colonization reaching its completion with the colonization of our mind long after the colonizers left the shores of our country. This is why it seems to have become difficult if not impossible to contest the anti-democratic configuration of power hiding within our democracy. We have been cancelling our own freedom in the quest of coming of some future greatness. We are bewitched by the glitter of the pie in the sky. Karl Marx had called for such a futurist freedom that the masses almost postponed life after life through the workings of religion as the opium of the masses. We may be witnessing a new opium of the masses in our country. This new opium has almost changed the ethical calculus of our society and we are accepting a recycled imagined enemy of our nation both within and outside. Maybe this recycled enemy has become a cover for the several incompetences of our ruling benches.

The post-individual notion of freedom invites us to imagine an India without its minorities. It makes us think of India as free without a section of its sons and daughters. If the minorities were to imagine such an India without its majority community, it will naturally be deemed as anti-national. Thus, what passes as anti-national for the minorities can pass as a nationalist for the majority because of the twist in the notion of freedom. The post-individual notion of freedom sees the individual in terms of loyalty and disloyalty to the nation. Maybe it is an opportune time to revisit the kind of notion of freedom that is controlling us. It is only by returning to the individual freedom enshrined in our constitution that we might be able to weather this crisis of freedom that is afflicting our country. Otherwise, we will be haunted by a future coming of freedom which is a state of being that will have several noble names in several places across the globe. We have the coming of the Hindu Rastra, a fullness of post-individual freedom in our country. What is thought of as post-individual freedom is not free from totalitarianism and is not merely a Hindu communitarianism. Maybe it is left to the Hindus to discern this. This is why we may have to come to the notion of freedom as a practice rather than a state of being. Michel Foucault taught us to think of freedom as practice. When we think of freedom as a state of being, we are easily manipulated by the vested interests who wish to dominate our present by leading us to imagine and wish for the future state of being that will be flowing with milk and honey. But if we think of freedom as practice we stay in the present and democratize freedom and lead to a happy fulfilled life. This is why we cannot let the ontology of freedom control us but let the ethics of freedom lead us. Freedom to us has to become ethics and not ontology. Unfortunately, freedom has become an ontology to us and therefore, we Indians have become ontological and are unable to discern subjection to unfreedom.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao