Friday, February 25, 2011

Response from Shamik Sarkar and Jiten Nandi from Kolkata

For several years now the concept of `lokavidya' has been developed by Varanasi ashram and associated people. We are summarizing the concept below, as we understand it :

1) Human social existence compels it to acquire knowledge for its own sake, and the knowledge evolves from social interaction and human interaction with nature. Lokavidya is this fundamental form of knowledge.

2) This fundamental knowledge form never ceases to evolve, rather it's continuously evolving, and originating.

3) This knowledge form doesn't have any organisation.

4) Peasant, workers, artisan, street vendors and women are embodiment of this knowledge.

5) A different knowledge form exists also, broadly it can be defined as organised knowledge. Often it is associated and sponsored by State. Capital favours this knowledge form.

6) This organised knowledge form gathers by taking the fundamental knowledge away from it's embodiement, and through subsequent structurisation of it, thereby facilitating the making of knowledge-fetish to the society as a whole. Then it creates its own structured route of evolution.

7) In the process of fetishisation, the embodiement of the fundamental knowledge form is made to believe in this structured knowledge form as the only form of legitimate knowledge in the society.

8) This systematic robing off the embodiement of fundamental knowledge takes a new and perhaps most predatory shape in the form of information and communication technology.

9) The struggle for emancipation of the society as whole from the shackles of its alienated offshoots (State, Capital, Structured knowledge etc.) must put itself into the stream of fundamental knowledge form.

The idea of Lokavidya Jana Andolon is a rather new one and it is a process of reckoning for the embodiement of fundamental knowledge form about its own, in term of knowledge.

Our observations

a) The concept of Lokavidya, as we perceived, is very important.

b) Lokavidya remains there amidst the embodiment of it. It is the only knowledge form by which large part of human society, particularly societies in our countries, survive.

c) A very large part of humanity, embodiment of fundamental knowledge form, is continuously rejecting organised knowledge forms like religious, scientific etc. The rejection is not a vocal/propagandist one, but a silent refusal to follow and grasp the organised knowledge forms. This refusal is not a conscious one, but from the perception of practicality. Organised knowledge forms are not practically relevant at the level of a petit human being with very little or no means of livelihood, who is trying to survive with social interactions and interaction with nature.

d) Soft database technology is the latest idea of organisation of knowledge. Earlier form, the scientific form took `why' and `how' out of context of fundamental knowledge stream, overblown it, and shaped the organisation. The new idea takes `how' and `what' out of Lokavidya, puts extra-relevance upon it, and is intending to shape a knowledge organisation. The aim of the sponsors of it is very similar to that of the earlier organised knowledge forms, to put forth a knowledge-fetish before the society.

e) Like all other knowledge organisations, this new one is also proving to be incapable to be practically useful for the large part of humanity, may be the absolute majority. Despite all out effort of Capital and State to make it work, it is a large failure till now. Despite everything is perceived as `good' for years what a Mobile phone can deliver, mobile connection is not available to the majority of our countrymen till now (and it's already showing its limit. The switching to 3G from simple phone would hamper mobile's expansion, would facilitate consolidation). And not to forget the fact that people use mobile as a mere mean of broader social interactions, and refuse to consider it as an instrument of knowledge fetish.

f) There is always an effort by the human social existence to make the organised knowledge form a part of fundamental knowledge stream. Often this is done by transforming the purpose of the pieces of an organised knowledge.

g) There is also an effort by human social existence to make the organised knowledge form a knowledge-fetish to the society as a whole. Most of the people who are engaged in that knowledge organisation favour this.

h) Formation of social knowledge-fetish is sponsored by capital, state, and the populace who are survived by other people's social and natural interactions, i.e., labour.

i) In our days, the knowledge fetish has got a new social proponent, which is corporate and elite social existence.

j) It is better to chalk out a strategy/process for the elite and corporate social existence, and not for the social embodiment of fundamental knowledge form.

k) Peasants, adivasis, workers, artisans, pavement retailers and their families (the lokavidyadhar samaj) constitute the informal social existence. It exists side by side of the formal social existence or State. It uses the formal society and associated elite organised knowledge system for its exsistence and creates the stream of fundamental knowledge which is subsequently used by the formal society. People are always `conscious' about their own `knowledge', in their ways. It is the knowledge-fetish, like every fetish, always puts itself as a shackle. So it is not the question of consciosness or claim, but to liberate themselves from the shackle of fetish. It is a matter of long-term struggle/job, not a matter of short-term movement. The mass movements in short-term (even revolutions) may only contribute to this process. We are saying this from our observation of the history of humanity.

l) The strategy/process for the elite social existence must include the deconstruction of knowledge-fetish, the recognition of Lokavidya as fundamental form of knowledge, the dissolution of organised knowledge form into that fundamental form of knowledge. There is a need for reckoning of the elite social existence about its own historical limitation, and destabilize itself.

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