Sunday, September 20, 2020

Ordinay Life and Emancipatory Politics

     Struggles against the violations of ordinary life may be said to constitute the political, in an emancipatory sense.

     State, Science and Capital are the sources of violation of ordinary life in the contemporary world. So struggles against Science, against Capital and against the State constitute emancipatory activities, activities for the recovery of the human in the ordinary sense of the word. In common parlance they will be radical political activities. But there arises a strange situation thereby. That activity is thus called political activity which aims at uprooting the political society.  Political society is the one which has emerged with the appearance of Science, Capital and the State. By now almost all language, at least the language of the public domain, is largely the language of this political society. So properly speaking emancipatory struggles are not political struggles and yet they are called 'political struggle’ in common parlance .  This terminological or linguistic problem is solvable may be in the context of a  radical knowledge movement. So if one wants to do or talk of politics in the emancipatory sense then one must locate his/her activity and discourse in a knowledge movement. Some of these things become very clear when we see these things happening during Gandhi’s time. We may see Gandhi as the builder of a new knowledge movement and a new political movement, both of which may be justifiably called emancipatory movements.

     If we see this country as divided between India and Bharat then all politics after Independence represents India.  If you see Science, State and Capital intertwined with one another you would be seeing India.  Politics worth  its salt would be produced perhaps by coming together of a knowledge movement of the people, a lokaidya movement, and an assertion that ordinary life needs to be restored to its pre-eminent  status.

      In the modern world separation of ‘knowledge ‘ and ‘being’ again dates back to the period of emergence of Science, Capital and the State. Seeing them as chief sources of violation of ordinary life, also gives us that conceptual space where knowledge and being are not separated. Lokavidya and ordinary life are then inseparable. Cognition of one without the other is not possible. Ordinary life is the only dwelling that lokavidya knows and lokavidya is what knowledge in ordinary life is called. Then we will see that an emancipatory political movement is not separable from a peoples’ knowledge movement.

       Bharat and India may also be seen as each being in the other. One can easily point out various aspects of life and aspirations in Bharat which are similar to the life and aspirations in India and conversely, one may see various aspects of life in Bharat spread out in India. The idea of ordinary life bridges division, ought not to create new ones. Ordinary life is not just the life of ordinary men and women, it is ubiquitous. The sant-parampara is the tradition of creation and re-creation of ordinary life in thought and in practice in ever new circumstances (of violation, marginalization, suppression etc.).

Sunil Sahasrabudhey