Reflection space: Problems to be faced: Call for common global TO action
Recently I had some time to reflect on the quote from an Indian reformer Sree Ramkrishna in the 19th century. At first I thought I would not mention his name. I also suffer from a peer pressure which does not allow me to talk about spirituality. Spirituality is not considered as progressive politics by many in this world of modernity where many things are not modern. There is an economy called Neo liberal economy. I don’t understand when economy was liberal, therefore I don’t understand Neo Liberal. It would have registered with me if it was called anti- liberal economy. Coming back to Ramkrishna, he said: “ HE (God) has become everything”. (For an atheist HE can mean anything, A spiritual person doesn’t have to be necessarily a believer ,an atheist too can be spiritual)
One day he showed a bowl made of metal to his very close friend Vivekananda and said: “believe me this is also Bramha!” I sometimes think a bowl and me are two consolidated forms of energy. But I have a consciousness. Does that mean all energy has a consciousness? Or energy consolidated in shape has consciousness and when it has no shape it has no consciousness? I am trying to understand what it is. Is it an abstraction, imagination or a very higher logic? Is metaphysics coming closer to physics or vice-versa? The whole thing makes me question – why should we consider institutional religions as spiritual spaces? Religion as institution is a construct of capital to divide people into sects. It was the construct of monarchism and feudalism also. Beyond this construct can we find another religion of humanism? Can we negotiate with it? Have we lost the game because we could not integrate spirituality with the idea of equality and acquiesced with systems which destroyed that idea rather than nourishing it? Be it feudalism or modern aggressive capitalism? “Thou art that”: is this phrase an expression of equality human as well as nature centric? “He has become everything”, the very sentence uttered by Sree Ramakrishna, was responding to me from my understanding of physics and sociology of equality.
I was thinking in terms of deforestation happening rampantly here in West Bengal not very far from our base in the name of development. 4500 trees more than few hundred years old have been cut in the last few days. Operation cutting TREE is continuing. We want a wider road. What do these trees mean to us? A material resource for making profit and paving the way to logic of profit, market fundamentalism, or is the tree also me, as Ramakrishna suggests? If I take his definition, my relationship with trees will fundamentally change. On the question of climate change probably this can lead us to a nature-centric humanistic perception. In turn our war against market fundamentalismand the modern development paradigm can be founded on a logic much beyond its economic nature.
“Capitalist production…disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e. prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; it therefore violates the conditions necessary to lasting fertility of the soil…. The social combination and organization of the labor processes is turned into an organized mode of crushing out the workman’s individual vitality, freedom and independence.… Moreover, all progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is a progress towards ruining the more long-lasting sources of that fertility. The more a country starts its development on the foundation of modern industry, like the United States, for example, the more rapid is this process of destruction. Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology…only by sapping the original sources of all wealth—the soil and the worker.” (Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 New York: International Publishers, 1967, 505–07.)
In Monthly Review Bellamy Foster has quoted from Marx’s Ecology –
“Nature is man’s inorganic body, that is to say, nature in so far as it is not the human body. Man lives from nature, i.e. nature is his body, and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if he is not to die. To say man’s physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.”
Does this concept quite negatively contradict the metaphysical conclusion of Ramakrishna? Or it is that sometimes metaphysics realises the same truth as science?
The Neo Liberal (?) economy does not find anything wrong in cutting trees for the development of automobile and petro-chemical industries. They have changed the pattern of agriculture in many countries causing danger to human health as well as the health of the land, destroying ecology. They need to divide people and in so doing they sponsor an ugly face of religion based on fundamentalist attitudes. Ethnic identity and ethnic ego are getting mixed up. The rise of Hindu fanatics in India and Muslim fundamentalism are trying to pollute the culture of acceptance rooted in Indian culture. Racism in the global North, the rise of semi fascism, neo-Nazism today are global phenomena.
What can we do as Theatre of The Oppressed workers? Can we take global action collectively all across the globe to fight this pollution in democracy? Can we act as a united front against this modern development paradigm which essentially represents aggressive capital? If there is an initiative (either from TO/Non TO groups or from activist movements) of coming together on these questions, we, the Federation of TO, India will be there with our whole- hearted participation.
– contributed by Sanjoy Ganguly
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