Apr 15, 2016

Between Friendliness and Fascism

Continuous, complex, micro and macro movements of Divergence and Convergence define the murmurations of a flock of birds in flight, as they do human interactions in a dynamic civilization. Attitude determines altitude. A broken wing is a non-starter.
"He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool."
- Proverbs, 10:18
In torrid India, being seen as cool has always been popular: Never offend, never take offence; let bygones be bygones; rather be naive than confrontational. In the Indian Olympics, love is a losing game and the nice guy wins gold; where it is better not to see or know than be appalled at motives and agendas, and a saumya Bollywood Miss Congeniality is the most popular goddess of the season. It is almost religious commandment:
तृणाद् अपि सुनीचेन
तरोर् इव सहिष्णुना ।
अमानिना मानदेन
कीर्तनीयः सदा हरिः ॥ 
"Humbler than even a blade of grass,
Tolerant and stoic like a tree,
Always giving respect but not expecting any in return,
Only being like that, can one sing praise to the Lord!"
Of course, idolization of such ideals happens only in cleft cultures. Indian etiquette tries to stay true to the Golden Rule: "I will talk down to you before you talk down to me." It manifests as moralizing, class contempt, intellectual intimidation, or just plain bullying - depending on one's naturally designed Varna, I presume.

This schizophrenic sabhyata generates a diversity of political ideologies and moral mechanisms to achieve self-control at an individual level (varying attitudes on wealth and ambition, on diet, on the meaning of ritual, on sexual ethics and celibacy, on theological doctrine, on the role of the Rashtra in the individual's sadhana, etc.)... and achieve social control or influence at a Subcontinental level (casteism, religious fascism, Marxist yahoos, "chosen people" syndrome, real and imagined "victimhood" narratives).

The politics of Asmita is not for people who can't think beyond merely managing divergence to minimize its chaotic potentials, instead of capitalizing on its creative evolutionary potentials; it is not for those to whom 'service' and 'conflict' are unrelated - as for those who sloganeer only half the doctrine: अहिंसा परमो धर्मः, धर्महिंसा तथैव च - "Non-violence is the highest Dharma, and so is violence for the sake of Dharma."

Perhaps Indians are imbalanced in the Divergence-Convergence cycle of civilization - scattering but not gathering, or conserving but not evolving:

The fundamentally meta-cultural Arya system assimilated many peoples and cultures due to its integral Asmita process philosophy. But that is only half the cycle. The Arya system also excreted out certain subcultures and peoples from time to time - and in doing so it first freed new possibilities, then selected some in a perpetual cycle of the Principle of Selection:

That excretion can happen in two ways: One, when Arya civilization is dynamic and evolving, then excretion happens when some subcultures choose not to evolve because their intellectual priesthoods prefer a legalistic social control or personal behavioral discipline over the mercurial, curious, loving, spiritually intoxicated and unpredictable current of the soul. Therefore, the Vedic exhortation to make war against the "illiberal", with the help of Indra (as Soma). This is the first way of excretion - like moulting old skin. It creates choice, and it continuously learns from circumstance in the light of fundamentals. The second, decadent, way is when those illiberal priesthoods are dominant, and they exile or excommunicate people who dare to be creatively different in their own journey, or are less than deferential to authority and its set paths. It kills choice, and suffocates Nature's dynamic of Necessity and Possibility.

This much is well understood in India. But the second half of the cycle is not given due justice holistically, either in the modern democratic space, or even by many schools of traditional Vedanta. The hoped-for denouement is a cataclysmic convergence upon a choice, or at least to set up new hierarchies based on the next stage of evolution of meanings, values, and purposes. But perhaps this is understood in an autistic fashion - in a limited individual sphere disconnected from the interpersonal social empathy and political energy. Politically, a mobilization in favour of new, better values, meanings and purposes - or conversely the creative re-tribalization of society back to fresh recognition of rudiments - is de-emphasized, or condemned as uncool, or even inherently Fascist.

For sure, there is some truth to the danger of Fascism in this process. After all, the second half of the cycle is an attempt to seek control of the self and society by re-normalizing social and interpersonal values, hierarchies and potentials on a new cultural platform. No matter how high these new ideals and values, the attempt at self-control and communal power is fraught with dangers of excess. This suppresses the other interlinked aspects of the soul - such as friendliness, a deeper understanding of reality, and how to oppose an adversary while taking responsibility for him, by being invested in understanding his/her viewpoint and devoting energy to communicating, rather than being contemptuously indifferent or fearfully insular. In this, service and conflict are closely related. [See Dasyu-Dāsa dynamic vs. "class struggle" theory] These form 3 points of an equilateral triangle. If one vertex widens too much, then the other two angles will be suppressed; if one is suppressed, the other two will become obtusely wishy-washy:

One is reminded of wise words from someone whose selective glorification of the rudiments of noble Samurai culture lead to Japanese fascism - exactly what he cautions against:
"Discipline in self-control can easily go too far. It can well repress the genial current of the soul. It can force pliant natures into distortions and monstrosities. It can beget bigotry, breed hypocrisy, or habituate affections."

- Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan
Taken from:
At the moment, Indian civilization is one up on Bushido, because it could be walking down two opposite ways of total bullshit simultaneously. One, of totally Friendly wishy-washy "all is well" refusal to confront direct provocations, or call out invidious agendas and double standards, and always be at the receiving end of a social dialectic. This is the type who still thinks its OK to have roads and cities named after people like Aurangzeb, or who gush unequivocally over Kipling. Two, of totally clumsy, culturally inept and weak-but-aggressive Hindutva that scores triumphant self-goals (because a majority of Hindus are walking down the first path of total bullshit) and gets painted into the Fascist corner. This is like the squint-eyed pracharak who scowled at the camera and threatened a 'Ghar Wapasi' devoid of brotherly love.

That some sort of Divergence is in process is a foregone conclusion. It remains to be seen if the Gurus who can shepherd Convergence will find themselves in positions of influence when the time is right.

A classic touchstone of the Divergence Convergence process was Dr. Ambedkar - he sacrificed congenial etiquette and chose confrontation to break entrenched aristocratic priesthoods and their hypocritical ideologies - though he himself was educated and mentored by people from that very same aristocratic background. But he also pointed out the boundaries of that divergence, when he went to the radical extent of declaring conversion to non-Indic faith-systems as "denationalization" (which I do not subscribe to as a general rule):

Further, he also pointed towards the Convergence he preferred - championing the cause of the mass revival of Sanskrit literacy, for example, for a new platform for diversity to re-normalize Indian subcultures and society:
What is happening is a natural process of nonsense begetting nonsense: for every pinko Leftist at JNU there will soon be an opposite on the Right. The former misuses Ambedkar's name by highlighting only a portion of his Divergence-Convergence schema to further social division. The latter hates Ambedkar because he broke affinity with the medieval tradition.

An example of scattering but not gathering: The emergence of Sikhism from Hinduism that was struggling against foreign oppression was a spectacular example of constructive Divergence and Convergence over an inter-generational span. It learned from circumstance, returned to fundamentals, created choice at various levels of society, and imbued it with Charhdi Kala and regenerated both wings: Bhakti and Shakti. But in present time, there is a failure to harvest and develop those memes again - as a continuing process within the civilization, rather than as purely schismatic cult. Instead, yet another cleft has been introduced by a hidebound Sikh priesthood and superficially appreciative Hindus. The excretion in process is of the illiberal type on the Sikh side, and of the obtusely liberal type on the other.

Theologically, this manifests as a new trend of irrational aversion to "monotheism" among politically-aware Hindutva, under the spell of a shallow Atheism, or a neo-Advaita philosophy of compromise that makes a hodge-podge of possibilities by scuttling the Principle and Process of Selection. The rich and deep tradition of Indic Monotheism gets the short shrift - Any similarity with historical manifestations of Christian or Islamic monotheism is seen as identitical. There is an unwillingness to distinguish differences between an Infinite but Unique Monotheism that bounds the two ends of the Divergence-Convergence process of Selection, and a fundamentally Angry Schismatic Monotheism that chokes the process of discovery. There is a discomfort with accepting that some level of violence may be part of both processes, but its role and employment in each differ significantly in value, meaning and purpose. Here is another view on this subject by an author I love, and who is of non-theistic bent:
Gods, God, Unity, Unit - by Aravindan Neelakandan
In my view, there is only one way to gather all parts of society and all Varnas of human into one flock. Perhaps, only when the civilization can gather itself to the Gurus to learn the holistic process of Divergence-and-Convergence that sits in the lap of the Monotheistic Infinite, can the flock take flight again.

Happy Ram Navami!