[Reader-list] anti-war campaign

Jeebesh Bagchi jeebesh at sarai.net
Wed Oct 3 16:03:02 IST 2001

Thank you Naga for the postings. Felt confused by the text.

Some comments:

October 1984  was listening to a radio commentary of a cricket match 
between India and Pakistan. I remember Sandeep Patil playing very well. 
Suddenly the commentary stopped and one realized that the then prime 
minister had been shot by two of her bodyguards. Over a period of 6 hours 
the city was gripped by an unfathomable terror. The next few days the city 
burnt and thousands of people belonging to a specific community (4000?) 
were butchered. The then ruling dispensation rationalized it as `when a big 
tree falls the earth shakes`. The suffering of those few days continues and 
few understand the trajectories of those wounds and scars.

1991  A friend came home shaking in terror. "Bombing has started in the 
deserts. It's being telecast live on CNN`. Those days the streets around my 
college had large numbers of Saddam Hussein being sold. Slowly, with time, 
images disappeared from the TV and the streets. No new images of the dead, 
the dying or would-be dying appeared.

Few years later another friend suffered a nervous breakdown. He was trying 
to help riot victims in camps in (the then) Bombay. The suffering inflicted 
then continues today.

Three films made after the events: Machis; Fiza; Mission Kashmir. What do 
these films tell us about the making of young men with hardened souls, 
seething anger, and a monocular vision? They are transformed by events that 
occur in their vicinity, it happens to them, to their near and dear ones. 
These were all victims of local events but linked to a larger play of 
power's cynical manipulation of `past suffering` and `present hardship`.

Convulsions and hardship are an everyday occurrence. They have their 
victims and perpetrators. New victims and new perpetrators. And endless 
permutations and combinations in which sometimes it is difficult to figure 
out who is what. An endless loop. But in the process we have stronger and 
lengthier barded wire fences, more earnest patrolling and waving of 
insignias of supposed identification. Balance barabar kabhi nahin hota hai 
(perfect balance will never be achieved). One death is never revenged by 
another death. It needs a higher quantum to compensate for the time of 
suffering and thus the spiral is upward and fiercer.

In difficult times it becomes important to ask questions that can cut into 
this endless loop of destruction and death.

States are fairly cold-blooded `organisms-machines-rationalities` with very 
little respect for hospitality. Their `outward look` is motivated by 
self-interest, ambition and suspicion. Their inner gaze is equally 
suspicious and obsessed with control and monitoring. Sometimes the `looks` 
collide and, at times, get interlocked. Depending on the military power of 
the states the `human cost` is factored in. Cynical times. Saddam Hussein 
uses dying children to justify his power and Bush and his global allies are 
using the 6000 dead as a rationale for his military action.

An impoverished man in a poster all around Delhi stares at us and the 
byline reads `no actors, all victims` (it's an ad for a television 
programme). The line keeps returning to my mind. Every power today wants to 
portray themselves as victims. No actors, and thus no question of 
responsibility and no ethical questioning of action or utterance.

Two words or phrases seem to have become common to explain the present 
juncture: - `international terrorism` and `US foreign policy`. Both are 
gathering an emotional shell and are capable of unleashing a reign of 
terror. These are political categories and do not help us to understand the 
complexity, contradictions and confusion of the present time. Amidst 
present `moral fuzziness` these concepts will create an emotional universe 
where any or every thing or people can be targets of assault either by 
states or by proto-state organizations with a stake in state power.

The global configuration of  `Empire` is layered, contradictory and 
complicatedly mediated through states and institutions, and the histories 
of its formation are bathed in blood. We need to address this configuration 
with concepts that cut through the fog and the eternal loop of 
`action-reaction`, 'victim-perpetrator".

This is the time to build solidarities and accelerate resistance. Time to 
think about suffering and imagine possible ways of living and thinking that 
speaks a different vocabulary.

Let us think about the everyday suspicions and brutalities that people live 
with. Otherwise a time will come when all of us will go so against each 
other that we will sing our way to our graves. Someone commented a century 
ago that the fall of capital would be a thousand times more barbaric than 
the fall of Rome. Maybe he was correct!


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