Readers Write In #523: How fiction and non-fiction compleme…

By G Waugh aka Jeeva P

Those that launched me to studying had been all individuals who had no prior expertise in non-fiction. Consequently, my early studying behavior centred round nothing aside from fiction. Jeffrey Archer, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens had been my first three authors. By this time (in 2011) after I was 23, I had determined that studying was going to be my lifetime ardour, a behavior none of my friends or relations had shared. This gave me a sense of proud exclusivity in my circle however I used to be but to chart a course for myself alongside the studying path. My pal who launched me to studying too was not fairly proficient then with respect to what to learn subsequent.

As I had talked about in certainly one of my earlier essays, similar to how I had picked movies belonging to the style of ‘Noir’ as my ‘early specialization’ or my first step into the world of movies as a way to develop a ardour for the medium, I made a decision to select genres regarding Marxism or ‘class wrestle’ to point out me the best way into the world of studying. My subsequent novel was John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, an American best-seller that was written by a communist that centred on the struggles of the poor and the dispossessed in the course of the Nice Despair of 1929-33.

This e book was the place the place I used to be launched to one thing known as a ‘commune’ the place individuals dwell as a neighborhood with none hierarchical divisions amongst them. Everybody should clear the bogs taking turns, everybody should take part in cooking no matter gender or different pre-defined roles and an important side of ‘communes’ resembling these was the absence of a better law-enforcing authority just like the police. Folks have to be mature sufficient to police themselves and in a spot the place there aren’t any financial or social divisions, crime is assumed to have completely no place. Grapes of Wrath in certainly one of its defining chapters describes lives of the protagonists in a single such commune and people chapters are the one areas in an in any other case largely bleak novel which supply the reader hope and comfort relating to the long run.

It was solely my father who then instantly instructed me that Steinbeck had not written one thing that was wholly fictional and the whole episode on the communes may have been impressed by the Paris Commune experiment of 1871. Karl Marx was closely impressed by the experiment and based mostly his ground-breaking principle of Communism(from the phrase ‘communes’) on that phenomenal occasion in historical past.

In case you assume you could have seen or heard in regards to the thought of communes someplace lately, you possibly can jog your reminiscence and when you had seen Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, you may be capable to simply find the place from the place all these waves of déjà vu in your head are emanating from. Rene’s drama troupe that shares a neighborhood to dwell is totally based mostly on the Marxist thought of communes and Ranjith introduces the viewer to the absence of hierarchies in such a society within the very first scene itself the place Arjun is requested to comb the flooring of the theatre.

Jayakanthan in his superbly involving memoir, OruIlakkiyavadhiyin Arasiyal Anubavangal additionally writes about his life in communes so long as he was a part of the Communist Social gathering of India within the early Nineteen Fifties. I’m not positive whether or not the apply of community-living continues to be in vogue within the Social gathering circles however a majority of post-Independence full-time Communist cadre had been requested to dwell in such situations by the Social gathering.

The explanation why I dwell on this idea of Communes was not solely due to my fascination with such a hierarchy or a division-free society but additionally as a result of it was solely a piece of fiction that had first taught me the which means of an ideology whom I had assumed I had already sufficient acquaintance with till then. The novel Grapes of Wrath additionally helped me witness and realise vicariouslythe immense human struggling that had occurred in actuality within the United Statessome ninety years in the past similar to the way it was the Schindler’s record and Roman Polanksi’s Pianist after I was 24,that gave me a peek into the actual depth of struggling endured by Jews and Communists underneath the Hitler Regime.

My passionate involvement quickly with the struggling of the Jewish races, commerce unionists and socialists by these movies ushered me into the world of Nazi Germany by a non-fiction e book titled The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich written by William J Shirer. No matter I had witnessed with ardour, feeling and emotion by the simulated worlds imagined by Spielberg and Polanski got here in a dispassionate, journalistic format with deep insights into how straightforward it’s for a poisonous ideology to get into the heads of the plenty and go away them poisoned for at the very least for a era. Identical to many different works of non-fiction that I’d later get launched to, William Shirer’s work was a easy and well-researched matter-of-fact commentary on the rise of Nazism and the way the remainder of the world dealt painfully with its menace.

My curiosity in Nazism/Fascism took me to movies resembling Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram which painted a vivid image of how an Indian variant of fascism may wreak havoc on unsuspecting plenty and poison even a non-political particular person into hate-filled extremism and violence.It was a cinematic work of fiction titled American Historical past X starring Edward Norton that launched me into the interval when some people in america had been drawn to fascism and Hitler-inspired white supremacist teams such because the Ku Klux Klan. It was the primary movie that taught me that America too had launched a type of affirmative motion into its recruitment processes for state providers and this information got here in good stead for me after I used to argue with my‘anti-reservationist’ associates in workplace who used to heap lies about how America grew into turning into one of many best powers of the world solely on the premise of meritocracy.

Regardless of having so many insights into the phenomena of fascism by books and movies talked about above, it was solely British historian Eric Hobsbawm’s best-seller Age of Extremes that gave me the actual definition of ‘Fascism’. Hobsbawm’s definitions of fascism weren’t for a change wholly summary or obscure (because it often is) and his chapter on fascism positioned the phenomena on a definitive historic context. He explains that at any second in historical past there are at all times two forces which might be in battle with each other and any historic occasion that takes place at that second relies on which of the forces takes the higher hand then. For instance, Galileo’s postulates on the heliocentric mannequin of the universe went towards the grain of Church-inspired pondering and therefore the hegemonic forces impressed by the faith then went after the prescient scientist-intellectual. It took just a few extra generations for the non secular Geo-centric mannequin to lose its relevance and it was solely at that time of time in historical past that Galileo’s postulates that the Earth was transferring across the Solar began gaining fashionable foreign money. On this story, the forces that compelled the society to stay to its foundations or ‘non secular fundamentals’ are ‘conservative’ or ‘fundamentalist’ forces and people like Galileo who tried to untether the society from its outdated concepts are known as the ‘progressive’ forces.

So Hobsbawm expounds that there are at all times progressive and regressive forces in a society that hold the society in a state of fixed flux and the brokers of fascism are all those who belong to the latter.Within the movie NatchathiramNagargiradhu too, this fixed combat between progress and ‘response’ types the core of the story with Rene and Arjun belonging to the alternative camps.One must keep in mind that Hobsbawm’s definition was not the truth is wholly his however that of Karl Marx who developed the time period dialectics (two forces) from his ideological forefather Hegel in the course of 1800s to elucidate and theorize sociological phenomena.

Even when my introduction to Marx got here to me at a really early age by oral lectures from my father, I used to be a theoretical illiterate until the age of 24. I had efficiently trudged throughout the pages of his Das Kapital Quantity One by then and my understanding of capitalism grew not solely from the large quantity but additionally by real-time experiences in my workplace life. My derision in the direction of company capitalism took one other dimension after I had completed John Perkins’ Confessions of an Financial Hitman which was a searing account of how monetary establishments such because the IMF decide and prepare ‘financial hitmen’ to influence, coerce and coax political leaders belonging to the Third World international locations to just accept monetary help from these banks by false and deceptive financial projections. These hitmen, Perkins being certainly one of them pressure the leaders of those smaller international locations to promote the nationwide belongings to American companies for throwaway costs, to award contracts for development of dams, metro railways and bridges to American firms all of which being the required pre-conditions for these governmentsto acquire fast monetary help.

Perkins mentions a bunch of nations in Latin American, African and Asian continents the place he had labored in the direction of economically subjugating sovereign international locations which quickly ended up turning into much more financially and politically unstable, finally surrendering their financial independence to those monetary establishments. I had examine the same disaster lengthy again that wrecked the nation of Argentina in 2001 that was engineered by establishments such because the IMF and the World Financial institution.

With out actually understanding which nation the movie belonged to, I had completed after I was 25 a movie known as The Secret in Their Eyes. I later discovered that the movie was an Argentinian one and the actor who had captivated me with such a restrained efficiency was named Ricardo Darin. I made a decision to observe some extra movies of his, certainly one of which was known as the Wild Tales which launched in 2014 and went on to win crucial acclaim. It was an anthology and one of many tales which Darin starred in was a strong critique of how screwed the system of privatization was in a metropolis of Argentina.

Darin is proven to be an professional within the area of managed explosion who retains paying fines to a personal company for parking his automotive in a ‘no-parking’ zone for no fault of his.Apparently, it’s implied that so long as the State was concerned in penalizing parking offenders there have been no such incidents of ‘extortion’ and Darin is extraordinarily resentful of how the company retains penalizing even harmless individuals. His rage quickly grows into some extent the place he packs his automotive with explosives and parks it deliberately in a no-parking zone. The automotive is towed away by the authorities to the corporate’s workplace the place he detonates the explosives resulting in a blast with no casualties. I cherished this episode within the movie very a lot which illustrated with a lot punchy vividness what I had examine free-market Argentina in non-fiction books and newspaper articles.

I’m reminded about NatchathiramNagargiradhu as soon as once more a couple of dialog Rene has with Iniyan. Rene says that she disapproves of the speculation that the disappearance of sophistication divisions will at some point result in the disappearance of casteism as nicely.Right here was the one level the place I differed ideologically from the movie/Rene’s argument. In keeping with Marxism, India’s caste divisions are a approach of reinforcing the normal class hierarchy and the collapse of the latter will inevitably result in the obliteration of the previous. Marxism regardless of arguing towards capitalism on nearly all counts doesn’t shrink back from appreciating its optimistic points as nicely.

The Marxist principle of historical past(Origin of Household, Personal Property and the State written by Friedrich Engels) says that human civilization ever because it entered the period of agriculture had unwittingly accepted a type of social and financial hierarchy. The period of agriculture was the time when landlords began using slaves to work of their farms which quickly gave approach to the period of feudalism the place the farmer was allowed to retain a share of what he had produced after paying his landlord, a apply which was not there within the period of slavery. Slaves had no proper to assert what they’d produced and therefore the approaching of the period of feudalism was a progressive step within the story of human civilization.

Feudalism gave rise to a number of guilds or manufacturing communities that specialised within the manufacturing of particular items. Households for essentially the most half transformed themselves into guilds every of which was engaged in a particular craft resembling weaving, pottery, carpentry, and so on. This phenomena of formation of guilds began giving the households one thing what’s at this time known as a conventional occupation which quickly congealed into the idea of caste, a apply which grew to become everlasting and inflexible over time. Folks started to be recognized based mostly on their births and therefore occupations started to be assigned based mostly on the identical.

However the creation of British merchants into India within the type of imperialism gave rise to a brand new type of society which India had hitherto not seen before- capitalism. One key distinction between feudalism and capitalism is, within the former, guilds and manufacturing communities are all small self-contained items which don’t make use of individuals in lots of or hundreds. The dimensions of a guild is often very small on account of which there’s completely no scope for commingling of individuals of various communities, births and different synthetic identities in a single frequent office. However the creation of commercial capitalism modified all that. Industrial equipment underneath the management of massive capitalistswas in a position to produce items extra cheaply than they had been being produced underneath guilds on account of which individuals began consuming industrial items an increasing number of(You possibly can see this occurring in Ram’s ThangaMeengal the place the hero loses his job in a small manufacturing facility). Folks working underneath guilds quickly began shedding their jobs and the method of their pauperization turned them into industrial employees for mere subsistence wages. Folks belonging to totally different communities and conventional occupations started to merge within the giant proletarian sea.

Submit 1991, when India moved into full-blown industrial, neoliberal capitalism you could possibly discover each conventional occupation turning into regularly mechanised. For the primary time in India, individuals as totally different as a conventional potter or a weaver or a barber or a farmerstarted studying newer crafts that hitherto was forbidden to him. The presence of a world commodity market on a big scale for the primary time on the planet began altering the dynamics of commodity manufacturing on account of which individuals from varied conventional backgrounds began transferring into professions or trades that served as the simplest approach to progress socially and economically. Lots of my colleagues in my office are all first time graduates whose mother and father and grandparents had been all engaged in numerous professions imposed upon them by start. For the primary time in human historical past, capitalism started to make use of hundreds and hundreds of individuals from totally different races, castes and faith underneath one roof- a phenomena earlier types of society resembling feudalism didn’t supply scope for.

So, to place it succinctly, Marx says that the extra you permit capitalism to invade your society and your market, there would be the inevitable dissolution of assorted ethnic and racial identities into one all-encompassing class- the working class. For this reason you see lesser and lesser caste discrimination within the cities of India the place individuals from totally different castes are engaged in professions historically unrelated to them whereas villages the place some quantity of feudalism continues to be prevalent, casteism is discovered to stay ineradicable.

So, all I wished to inform Rene was solely this – the arrival of capitalism marked the melting of assorted castes and ethnicities of the working individuals into one giant pot known as the proletariat or the working class. Alternatively, capitalism additionally has led to the creation of one other class- the employer or the ‘proprietariat’. Identical to how capitalism which succeededfeudalism as the brand new and a progressive type of societyunited individuals of assorted shades underneath one overarching class, Marx argues that the subsequent type of society known as socialism shall witness the fruits of the category conflict waged between the proprietariat and the proletariat (initiated underneath capitalism), resulting in the victory of the latter and the emergence of anew working class state, a state the place there is no such thing as a synthetic boundaries separating people. Therefore based on Marxist principle, the annihilation of sophistication divisions shall inevitably result in the annihilation of caste as nicely.

If the reader nonetheless thinks that caste divisions and prejudices nonetheless exist in a corporate-capitalist-urban society resembling ours, I’m positive that we in all probability are the earliest generations who’ve been uncovered to capitalism and with the progress of time, we are going to quickly see the glad disappearance of caste. In a company office resembling mine, I see no motive why I ought to discriminate towards my colleague who may belong to a distinct caste resembling mine. The identical applies to even company coiffure networks resembling Naturals and Greentrends the place I’m fairly positive that barbers and hairstylists employed there haven’t been employed based mostly on their births.

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