Devil’s Advocacy on Moral Policing and the like


Yeah, Ram Sena etc etc is what inspired this post.

So basically, people are loth to be policed. Urbane Indians, most of all. At the slightest provocation, Times of India and their related concerns jump to ask “Who are THEY to tell us what to do and what not to do?”, and the P3Ps of Bangalore lend a chorus. I’m merely being matter-of-fact here.

I do not understand how adopting western culture has come to be seen as being more sophisticated and open-minded. Perhaps in the days when American clothes and food were a novelty, it made sense to envy the guy with the faded jeans. And his knowledge of American accents and the like was some rare knowledge. and his adoption of all of that culture was really being open-minded and experimentative.

But now every Senthil Arumugasamy wears denim. Every Kunjavva wears halter-neck tops. And pizzas and burgers are not experimental food anymore. So if you are speaking in a call-center accent now, you aren’t doing anything different from the 30K other people in Koramangala. Get over it, people.

And… alcohol. People wanting to get together and celebrate with alcohol, I can understand. But when an entire city can’t pass the evening without alcohol, something seems amiss.

The same socialite who will, with disgust, say that the laborer was stinking of alcohol will think nothing of socializing with equally drunk people of her own social class. Don’t give me the crap about these people being more cultured… Madesha gets drunk on IML and beats his wife, Adnan Sami gets drunk on scotch and beats his wife; I fail to see the difference.

And… why is it assumed that only Muthalik-like men have such attitudes towards women? I have seen men from very good families adopt the same patronizing ‘oh you’re a girl, you’ll get married soon why we should invest on you’ attitude. And you’d only be fooling yourself if you think there exist men who admire promiscuous – or rather, OPEN – women for what they are. The terminology might vary, but the attitude adopted is the same, irrespective of the social class they belong to, or the education levels.

There are men who think their wives shouldn’t go out and work in the garment factory. There are men who think their wives shouldn’t go out and pursue a career on Wall Street. There are men who are supportive of their wife’s vegetable patch in the acres of family farmland. There are men who educate their daughters beyond all limits. It has nothing to do with what syllabus you are taught, or how much money you have. It’s about what sort of women you’ve grown up seeing and what sort of men you’ve been influenced by.

I don’t get one thing. If you are open-minded, why do you get so irritated about folks who prefer not to be? Shouldn’t you be open enough to accept them too as a part of the world you live in?

Sometimes I wonder if people want all this ‘openness’ only for their own selfish ends? I mean, who wouldn’t want to say yes to a world where you could have sex and didn’t need accountability? Or where their alcoholism got a streak of legitimacy? Or where their laziness to follow rite and ritual got wider recognition as ‘rebellion’? Or their selfishness was seen to be inspired by Ayn Rand? I’ve begun to feel it’s not that people find an idealogy and then adapt to it, but find one which justifies their (sometimes unjustifiable) actions.

Now that the rant has been done about the ‘Oh, look! We are so open-minded!’ hypocrites, let’s get to the real post.

When any such moral-policing issue comes up, the first reaction we get is of “Who are they to police us? They need to understand this is how society evolves’.

But thinking more about this, and generalizing this argument, I wonder if everyone adopted this ‘understanding’ attitude, how society would progress. Three years back, I remember Tuna wrote something about Unreasonable Men and how they are the ones who give society its shape. If you are faced with a situation you do not like, do you just bend and give way?

And then there are those who say ‘Maybe their motives were fine, but their methods left a lot to be desired’. Yes, they were crudely ineffective. But so was Guevara. And the violence… well, Leftism talks of Force as the Midwife of Revolution. So, well, Ram Sena maybe fancied themselves Guevaras and Marxes?

Or maybe Stallman? Maybe Muthalik found that a lot was changing around him, and not all of it he felt good about. And he felt a divine call saying that no one was in as unique a position as him to be able to foment a revolution. And hence the creation of Rama Sene, a la the Free Software Foundation?

In which case I find the media associating these guys with a Right-Conservative party very amusing. Because Conservatives believe in slow change, not violent, bloody revolutions. Conservatives prefer to start with what we have and move slowly, but surely towards what we want to have. Conservatives believe in influencing the learning process, social policies, the thought of the common man, and not bringing about these changes by force, but by change in thought.

This post is Devil’s Advocacy, and is not necessarily my opinion. I would like these arguments countered, coz I want to know what I’m missing in constructing these. I would like logical flaws pointed out. I’m also having you know that any personal attack in the comments section will be promptly deleted.

And one last piece of information I ask for: Does social acceptance of drinking make the social evil of alcoholism better or worse?

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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22 Responses to Devil’s Advocacy on Moral Policing and the like

  1. Sunil Khajone says:

    This is really a thought provoker. There is no doubt that – those who hail in name of culture to go astray are stupid morons as much as those who thought you could beat that out of the system. The problem with sena is that is takes things too personal and doesnt understand that to change a person, fear is not a sustainable method. Actually freedom is the method to reform anything. Supressing desires donot solve the problem – the problems are solved by being free from the desires. And the education that is completely lacking in any prevailent systems of education in the present society. We are taught to sovle the biggest of equations without giving the knowledge of ourselves. This is where religion (true religion not hindu or musalmaan) comes into picture.

    Oops sorry for going astray so much. Things just kept flowing.
    About social acceptance – that bull – we are selfish. When i drink it should be accepted – when neighbour does it – it is obnoxious. This is our attitude.
    My call – allowing reasons for an individual to lose control can never improve society – because it can never improve an individual. It can only lead to deterioration of society.

  2. Lakshmi says:

    I totally agree with you. If they think dancing in pubs is not appropriate, does Shri Ram Sene advocate molesting unsuspecting women? What are they going to do about the5 out of 10 villagers whose husbands beat them to death every night?
    If they want to do moral policing, why not shut down all bars and cigarette shops !

  3. sg says:

    why does reading this blog(not just this post) makes me think that i hardly know u…this is a totally random comment..i know 🙂

  4. ego says:

    Nitin at Acorn asks an important question. “The Indian citizen is concerned about personal advantage not personal freedoms. Yes/No?. If Yes, then I guess it’s getting what it wants.” Reflect on this and you might find the answers to many of the questions you posed.

  5. Logik says:

    Shri Ram Sene is trying to get the same mileage from moral policing as Maharashtra Navanirman samithi tried to get out of regionalistic jingoism.
    About the Guevara and Stallman comparisons. I guess you got a wee bit carried away.
    The revolution bit however is very true. Which should put them in the shoes of reactionaries. There are some categories such as extreme right-winger though which would probably define the lot.
    Basically statistical mean should be around conservatives, and communism theorists. All the rest are loonies, regardless of their directional preferences.

    Coming to the point of jeans, yeah. totally agree. I feel all our bottoms have been normalized.

  6. Kaushik says:

    The Ram sene and other culture upholder’s have a right to think the way they want to think. No one should judge that they are wrong/right. But they have a responsibility about how they let the world know what they think. Those girls drinking in the bar was not doing anything that was ”illegal” by law, nor are the shops selling valentine day cards or the couples celebrating them. These culture upholders might believe that these are wrong, but they cannot go about beating people and damaging property. And, when they do, the police and the government cannot let them go free… In a country that prides itself in its democratic values and freedom, this should not happen.

    I agree totally with you that everyone has the right to an opinion, and that there is no “correct” opinion.

  7. wanderlust says:

    @khajone, lakshmi:
    did you guys read the post even?
    @logik:
    cmon, i was just giving a little competition to the media which was making muthalik out to be some O.B. Laden with the stallman and guevara thing. i just wanted to make the point that anything can be justified.
    they are NOT extreme right-wingers. if you take the definition of the Right wrt India, it isn’t one which recommends women stay at home and learn to make chapatis. don’t elevate their status by calling them so. they are just a bunch of jobless folks who want to make a splash. Read this for more info on that.
    one man’s loon is another man’s revolutionary, I guess.
    @kaushik:
    carrying on with the devil’s advocacy..
    Those girls drinking in the bar was not doing anything that was ”illegal” by law, nor are the shops selling valentine day cards or the couples celebrating them.
    When Indira declared emergency, she didn’t do anything that wasn’t constitutional 😛 Nor did Hitler 😉

  8. Logik says:

    “Don’t elevate their status by calling them so”. – I take that as a biased usage of elevate. Funny none the less.
    As to Indira being constitutional, rightly so. But then, she could edit as per her whims, right?.
    Hitler, no way. You make one valid point, then take it too far, trying to pack an assumption in. [ In some cases ]

  9. wanderlust says:

    my hitler ‘assumption’ is based on what is written/cited in LKA’s autobio. If you know any facts contrary to that, do link here.

  10. Shreevatsa says:

    Was wondering how much this post is in the “Shelley the Republican” spirit, and how much is real. 🙂
    [Anyway, since you point out that it’s devil’s advocacy and not your opinion, I hope (devilish) attacks on the arguments aren’t offensive…]

    (First on alcohol: alcohol is just a substance that is found in several drinks, which in excessive quantities causes intoxication and liver damage. It does not have any moral values attached to itself; “drinking” is not “alcoholism”. It is an issue of responsibility and indulgence and sense; in my view it fits with littering and consumerism and TV soaps and obesity and several things to rant about. :P)

    The pre-“real post” rant does have something related to Moral Policing and the like: “If you are open-minded, why do you get so irritated about folks who prefer not to be?”
    Being open-minded does not mean having the attitude that ‘anything goes’. Open-minded just means that you are willing to (re)consider ideas or opinions that do not fit into your own; it doesn’t mean you cannot have an opinion about what is good for the world (in particular, that it would be nice if more people were open-minded). “Open” is not “empty”. (And I agree that people latch on to ideologies that they find soothing.)

    “Maybe their motives were fine, but their methods left a lot to be desired” doesn’t make sense. They are defined by their methods — unless you count “let’s beat up people we don’t approve of” as the motives, in which case the motives aren’t fine either. The comparison to Guevara is absurd — in fact, I cannot think of any situation where violence for purely social change (and not political/legal) was justifiable. The comparison to Stallman even more so: I have never known RMS to even get angry, let alone violent. 😛

    “Association” is an independent observable: you can associate A with B because they just are, or because much of the people who sympathise with one also sympathise with the other, etc. If A and B are actually related/associated, and you have a syllogism that uses “A is not conservative. B is conservative”, then maybe the hypotheses are wrong, maybe B isn’t ‘conservative’ after all. 🙂 The labelling of all politics with “Left” and “Right” or “conservative” and “liberal” is too simplistic to be valid anyway.
    (This is just about the logic; I do not know if the Ram Sene is actually associated with anyone.)

    Anyway, returning to the main point, I find moral policing morally unjustifiable. If you cannot bring others to share the same values as you do, and there isn’t even popular support for yours (laws, etc.), you are still not entitled to persecute people you disagree with. Imagine if, like the bombing of abortion clinics, “gay rights” activists started destroying people who would vote against it, “metric martyrs” started murdering government officials, “cat people” started attacking dog owners…

    As you said, conservative communities are built on common thought and morals: on “What will the neighbours think?”, not “What if the neighbours beat us up?”

  11. wanderlust says:

    @shreevatsa:
    >>First on alcohol
    I very clearly ask about the correlation between drinking and alcoholism. I am not confusing the two. alcoholism is a ‘social evil’, as is taught by social science textbooks nationwide. drinking refers to the act of ingesting liquids.
    >>it doesn’t mean you cannot have an opinion about what is good for the world
    it does mean not saying ‘these people have no place in society’.
    >>doesn’t make sense
    their motive was probably to establish a civil society that does not depend on alcohol etc etc. there are people who subscribe to that. these people i mention would have preferred Rama Sene started a ‘say no to alcohol’ campaign.
    >>comparison to Guevara is absurd
    force is the midwife of revolution 🙂 that’s communist idealogy. yeah, we all know rama sene doesn’t really know what communism means, but im pointing out that if communism can be justified, so can rama sene.
    >>I have never known RMS to even get angry, let alone violent
    we are not talking about violence. the similarity was self-appointment. Rama Sene were self-appointed guardians of hindu culture, Stallman was of foss. he mentioned in a video-conference at NITK that he felt he was in a unique position to be a self-appointed agent of change etc etc… it sounded to me like ‘i hear voices in my head’, but what the hell.
    >>The labelling of all politics with “Left” and “Right” or “conservative” and “liberal” is too simplistic to be valid anyway
    it changes meanings in different contexts. it’s just another metric. it is not invalidated in the indian context.
    >>Ram Sene is actually associated with anyone
    it is not associated with any of BJP, VHP, RSS, Sangh Parivar. Muthalik was booted out of those places. And also from shiv sena. the media keeps harping on the past association, as if it is a valid explanation for the behaviour.

  12. Logik says:

    Actually I did, after a bit of googling, but didn’t want to put it up here.
    Here goes,
    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/6916/ww2.htm#two
    Before Hitler[ the nazi party] came into power most of germany’s constitution was defined by the Treaty of Versailles, that came into being in 1919, after the world war. This imposed harsh regulations on the germans. One of the first things that Hitler [ nazi party] did, when they came to power was to change the constitution.
    Quoting,
    “Instead of being lenient and making the Germans glad that they had signed the peace treaty, the authors of the Treaty of Versailles caused the whole German country to be angry and want to do away with the treaty. This humiliation was part of the reason the German people were eager to accept Hitler’s policies when the Nazi Party came to power later on.”
    I think the major reason of conflict lies in the definition of constitutional. Some attach moral qualities to the constitution, ascribing to the common notion that a sensible person framing the big book, would write stuff in the best interests of the people.
    But then, I can always win an Ad Hitlerum argument, can’t I?

    The fact is that the pre-nazi constitution was a screw up. And he did mod it later.Hence justifying Hitler’s acts as c*l is not a good assumption.[ Regardless of whether Advani said it or not, probably you read it out of context ]

  13. the Monk says:

    [i]I don’t get one thing. If you are open-minded, why do you get so irritated about folks who prefer not to be? Shouldn’t you be open enough to accept them too as a part of the world you live in?[/i]

    I have problems with this statement of yours, and I think that to a large extent, this is the basic issue at hand. The difference between the people who claim to be ‘open-minded’ (whether they are truly open-minded or not is something that deserves a post on its own merit) and the Shri Ram Sene is that the latter group actually physically forced their views upon the public. It is one thing to have an opinion, but no matter how strong it may be, you really have no right to force your opinions on anybody. It is one thing to accept people like these as a part of the world, but what is unacceptable is the violence, especially when nobody is breaking the law by going to a pub or by going on a date on Valentine’s Day. You have every right to get irritated, but keep the irritation to yourself.

    Let us forget the arguments, no matter how self-serving they are, that the people who do drink or go to pubs make to justify their drinking or alcoholism. They may be hypocrites, but at least their hypocrisy is not violating certain basic freedoms, such as the freedom to go to a pub, get drunk and make a fool of yourself. Also, let them embrace ‘openness’ for all the wrong reasons. I agree with you completely when you talk about the hypocrisy of people from perfectly ‘good’ families who force their daughters to get married against their wishes- these people are not really much better than the Sainiks, and even if they are, it is only by a degree or two. But as long as they don’t force their opinions on anybody, or break laws or violate basic human freedoms while being ‘open’, it doesn’t really matter. Let them screw up their lives, there’s nothing anybody can do about that.

    Also, violence is the midwife of revolution? There is a reason why the Indian independence movement is regarded so highly, you know. Also, given that a revolution generally involves the overthrow of a governing regime, the Indian independence movement certainly did invalidate that statement. Also, in the end, I think the revolution itself is irrelevant; and that the success of a revolution, viewed in a larger perspective, must be judged by the success of the ideology it espouses. The beauty of democracy, I think, lies in the fact that it is a reflection of the people, and nowhere is this truer than in India. Recommended further reading: for an excellent discussion of revolutions and ideologies, read Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, perhaps the Best Book Ever In My Book.

  14. Shreevatsa says:

    +1 to everything the_monk said.

    >>>>it doesn’t mean you cannot have an opinion about what is good for the world
    >>it does mean not saying ‘these people have no place in society’.

    What does it mean to say that? 🙂 That they do not have a right to live? That they do not exist? That they should stop doing what they’re doing?
    In any case, being open-minded does not mean not saying anything, other than “Shut up I’m not going to listen”. I think you’re confusing ‘open-minded’ with ‘liberal’ or even ‘apathetic’.

    No point second-guessing their motives without knowing what they are. 🙂

    >> im pointing out that if communism can be justified, so can rama sene
    It’s not fruitful to ask whether ‘communism’ can be justified (like whether ‘religion’ can be justified); it is only useful to ask whether particular acts can be justified. (With communism, as we have learnt again and again, the answer is usually No :)) So saying that ‘if communism can be justified, so can rama sene’ is a false syllogism again: it is not justified to inflict violence for whatever frivolous change you want to bring about (I can think of more frivolous examples than in the previous comment :p) Moreover, when Che Guevara writes about “force is the midwife of revolution”, even if we ignore deciding whether that’s baloney or not, we must remember that he’s seeing through a typical Communist narrow lens, and ‘revolution’ means something very specific, not any arbitrary change. The earth’s revolution requires no violence, most ‘scientific revolutions’ are remarkably bloodless,… :p

    Feeling a ‘calling’ or considering oneself to have a unique position or ability to do something is perfectly admirable; so did Gandhi, so did Mother Teresa, so did Hitler, so does Swami Ramdev, so does Al Gore, so does everyone who attacks a problem that others have tried and failed: as you quoted, “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. If this guy feels a calling to be a self-appointed preserver of Hindu culture, more power to him. Nothing entitles him to attack innocent people, though.

  15. Arjun says:

    I personally think all Hindus should be booted off to Siberia and we should start drinking on the streets.

    ‘Good omens’ is also an amazing book, although it has nothing to do with revolutions and/or ideologies.

  16. wanderlust says:

    @arjun:
    whoa… so many comments in a span of a few hours…. when I checked my mail this morning i thought there was a spambot called arjun which Akismet wasn’t able to detect.
    @others:
    replies coming soon.

  17. wanderlust says:

    @the Monk:
    you need to reject the violence. not their opinion. Invite them for a debate, something like that.
    and what do you mean You have every right to get irritated, but keep the irritation to yourself.?
    going by this, the folks irritated with rama sene’s behaviour should just keep it to themselves. You’ll say ‘but it’s VIOLENCE, ya?’. For which they should just let law take its course. We in India have something called a constitution which has enough provision to deal with people beating others up and molesting women.
    Did you by any chance mean to say ‘you have every right to get irritated, but please express yourself in constitutional ways’?

    See, it’s not about people violating the constitution or not. A society of debauchery which is so just because the people will it to be so is perfectly within the four corners of the constitution. So would a society of muthaliks. Or one where everyone is named Bob. But there are folks who like to think about where society is headed and things like that, and whether what is happening is really good for us. Some of them are happy at the way our culture is shaping. Some of them are not. A fair number express their feelings by berating random couples holding hands – perfectly constitutionally, mind you. A few write about it. In any group there are folks with a violent streak, so there are a few who use violence to make their point.
    >>violence is the midwife of revolution
    I didn’t say it. It’s part of communist idealogy.
    >>There is a reason why the Indian independence movement is regarded so highly, you know
    the ‘peaceful’ bit was what the congress had you believe. gandhi was just a media darling, and later, the election-winner for the Congress. Read about Ghadar Party. And about the violent folks in Bengal who blew up train tracks, threw molotov cocktails. And about the royal indian navy mutiny. And Azad Hind Fauj and Azad Hind Radio.
    >>the Indian independence movement certainly did invalidate that statement.
    The british were on their last legs. It was just after the war. what do you think they’d do, especially considering that they got to know they couldn’t trust the army to contain the population if they got violent.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_independence_movement#RIN_Mutiny
    Read this.
    @shreevatsa:
    >>It’s not fruitful to ask whether ‘communism’ can be justified
    No, it’s an if statement. If you condemn rama sene, you should also condemn communist philosophy. If you think communist philosophy is fine, so is rama sene.
    >>‘revolution’ means something very specific, not any arbitrary change.
    whatever it means, he endorses the use of force.
    >>Nothing entitles him to attack innocent people, though.
    it’s more a question of legal-illegal here. in which case gandhi had no business breaking salt laws, and inciting a hundred others to do the same. Or Bhagat Singh to throw a bomb…
    what i’m saying is, there always comes a point in any revolution where people cross the line of legality. the illegal aspect should be viewed independent of the rest of the context. life is not a bollywood movie where they let the hero off scot-free even if he committed a murder, just because the villain he killed was a menace to society.
    @ arjun:
    >>I personally think all Hindus should be booted off to Siberia and we should start drinking on the streets.
    If everyone’s in siberia, vodka becomes a requirement. to keep from freezing to death.

  18. Shreevatsa says:

    >> But there are folks who like to think about where society is headed and things like that, and whether what is happening is really good for us.
    Indeed. We need more people (everyone!) to be like that.

    In any group there are folks with a violent streak, so the existence of Rama Sene is perfectly understandable. Of course, not everything understandable is a good thing…

    >> If you condemn rama sene, you should also condemn communist philosophy. If you think communist philosophy is fine, so is rama sene.
    [FWIW: I personally don’t think communist philosophy is fine.] I was trying to say that there are two issues with this statement:
    * Communist “philosophy” only endorses violence for ‘Revolution’, not any arbitrary ‘revolution’. It is not right to say that either one thinks violence is fine and should accept it anywhere, or that one condemns violence no matter what. An “if this, then also that” does not follow; we are capable of maintaining a distinction.
    * I think we should not even speak of condemning or accepting philosophies or people anyway, only actions. We have seen that accepting ideologies or people can lead us too far.

    What is the point about legal-illegal here? Do you mean that we should look at things only through whether it is legal or not (which you seemed to disagree with yourself) or we should evaluate actions independently of legality? (In which case, I claim that under a reasonable system of such evaluation, breaking the law can be justified when “there comes a point in a revolution” where it is necessary, but that does not mean it is fine to break the law just because you want a piece of pound cake, or something similarly frivolous.)

    [Sorry if it seems we’re going in circles again. :)]

  19. harish says:

    Although I disagree with the rather ridiculous comparison between Ram Sena and free software foundation and also the Guevara bit, you make very valid points.
    Going to pubs is an individual’s choice. As long as there are no illegal activities, none can stop them, not even the Government. Even if there are illegal activities going on, Ram Sena activists have no business to attack people as they did. And doing that in the name of a culture that gives women a high place and also a culture that boasted of ‘Madhushaalas’ for millenia is a grave insult to Hindu culture. Saying pub culture is not our culture is giving too much credit to the western world.

    Having said that, there is an attempt by the influential elite to push certain things, that are really dangerous to society, in the name of modernism. Yes, not many would say no to sex without accountability and not many would say no to money without accountability too. So is modernity about legalizing the latter too? Even in a free society,, there are and should be things that you can’t do just for the overall health of the society.

    As you said, going to pubs is modernity, but the poor chap who drinks in a roadside liquor shop and lies inebriated on the pavement is someone whom modernity should despise? Why? He didn’t have money to go and drink in a suave, sophisticated bar.

    And coming to the point about right conservative parties. They aren’t really distancing unambiguously from these goonda outfits who are trying to defame Hindu culture rather than protecting it. Why do you have to protect these fringe elements? Beating women is not Hindu culture. The argument that there are so many atrocities against women in our society, so why blame only Ram Sema is a controverted one. So nothing really can justify their actions and nothing that they are doing is ‘Hindu’. On the contrary a right of centre Hindu party should have gone and challenged Ram Sena about their un-Hindu activities. But they act as if they are not clear about what is Hindu culture. Sad indeed.

  20. George says:

    I read only the first few comments. Before drawing poor analogies¹ between Guevara and Muthalik, you would be well advised to know the circumstances under which the two men operated. Guevara emphasised that force must be used _only when political opposition or civil struggle_ is impossible to conduct². India is not such a state.

    On to Stallman and Muthalik. I think the connection is extremely tenuous here (both of them being self-appointed guardians of some cause). If you want someone to argue against your contention that they’re similar, you’re going to have to make a stronger case than that. For reference, the recent Mangalore incident is unacceptable because it is violent, illegal, and because a group that was not authorised to police people did so.

    As for the ‘conservative’ label. In India, in the current context, a ‘(radical) conservative’ is someone who resists change from a particular base belief. If the radical conservative takes the view that society has moved too far from this base belief, or that this base belief has been corrupted, he may attempt to return society to it³. The fact that there has been confusion of the meaning is unsurprising – the term ‘conservative’ is rather vague.

    ¹ This is not an insult, or an attempt at one, merely an evaluation.
    ² Guerilla Warfare
    ³ Even through rapid reform, or through force. The essence of this conservative is his preference to a pre-existing system and his dedication to preserving it.

  21. wanderlust says:

    George,
    Please leave the violence out of this. we have long decided that was the unacceptable bit.
    what stallman does possibly is not illegal, but it does boggle the imagination how someone can tirelessly say gnu slash linux everytime someone says linux. it borders on something close to OCD or so it might seem. in other words, i meant to say it is such an emotion that drives people to work in ways they might otherwise not have. and possibly muthalik’s emotions against pub culture were as strong as stallman’s against proprietary software.
    and that was not guevara’s quote, but marx’s: http://www.marxists.org/archive/paul-william/articles/1922/force.htm.
    political opposition and civil struggle… how many parties are taking up the cause of Ram Setu? how many agitations are successful there? india is not such a country? think again.
    the bjp or rss has never involved itself in radical activities [babri masjid is another story, let’s just not go there], it’s always been the mns and shiv sena which are that sort. so if muthalik was associated with the latter two parties, big surprise… but bjp? that party of old fuddy-duddies who want to take us back to stone age? nyope.

  22. George says:

    Very well, no more talking of violence in that context then. I have no problem with people having emotions as strong as those of Muthalik and Stallman. Muthalik is welcome to his ideas that women must not drink, and he is welcome to speak on these topics wherever people might listen. He is, however, not permitted to put these ideas into action simply because, as of now, it is prohibited by law for him to do so. It is probably unfortunate for him that he will never be able to legally implement his ideas because our constitution would not permit it.

    That quote of Marx’s is clearer when fewer words are removed from the original:

    The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now, more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century, they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the national debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system. These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system. But, they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and organised force of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.

    Perhaps that will help understand this more easily. Essentially, the ‘force’ here is what Paul William (in the article you quoted) calls “social power derived from the organisation of individuals in such a manner as to enable them to enforce their will upon society. The real force of a revolutionary movement depends upon the way in which it is able to organise great masses of determined workers in every plane of social action, to setup new administrative organs to replace those of the old regime.” In case there are any doubts about this, he clarifies this further with “All this is peaceful work, and its success depends upon the organized force of the revolution.” Hence, your attempt at drawing a parallel between these two very disparate ideologies with the following statement would seem a gross misreading of the meaning of that quote.

    And the violence… well, Leftism talks of Force as the Midwife of Revolution. So, well, Ram Sena maybe fancied themselves Guevaras and Marxes?

    I was never very good at explaining Marxist ideology, I think if you wish to know the exact meaning of that quote in the right context, it would be sensible to contact someone who knows about that.

    On the Sethusamudram issue, people have recourse to the courts and to the upcoming elections in May. This ability means that political opposition (and civil resistance) is still possible.

    I also disagree that the BJP, RSS (and their affiliated ABVP, VHP and Bajrang Dal) are not radical extremists. As far as I can see, they are. However, we are unlikely to convince each other about this, so let’s just leave it out of the discussion.

    To summarise:
    Guevara comparison – Inaccurate. Guevara has additional requirements before armed force is used, none of which are satisfied here.
    Marx comparison – Inaccurate. Marx quote is out of context and misread to mean violence.
    Stallman comparison – Possible (if stretched much) but of no importance.
    Radicalism among Conservative parties – Disagreement.

    Since each of these arguments is independent of the other, we’ve nearly reached some sort of a conclusion.

    ¹ Section IV.

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