November 18, 2012

Of Victim's History

The anger of the wronged goes a long way in history. The wronged cry out for redress to governments, sovereigns, priests, fathers and newspapers. Many emerge on the side of the wronged as its locus grows into a force-field of power ( I borrow the concept of force-field from Benjamin’s writings on the historical nucleus emerging out of a battle between fore- and after- history).The historical juncture in which wronged cry out for justice, a sovereign rises in the horizon is the measurer and giver of such justice. An incumbent is sketched out in the marketplace. Some want him hanged upside down. Some want him to apologize in complete abjectness. A force-field of anger, sadness and righteous occupation of a historical stage is created each time history turns around the alley to right a wrong. Power is reconfigured along such stage-settings. One remembers the makings of the bipolar world and the arms race at the heels of the end of the  Nazi regime. A traumatized Europe, numbed by fear that its version of the world must never be allowed to  come so close to extinction. The growth of totalitarian left regimes in the Soviet Bloc were born out of movements that rebelled against the logics of exploitation by appropriation of surplus value in the ‘free world’. The latter again rose out of moves of hope and change from structures of feudal structures of ownership and monarchic rule. The death of Thackeray, who installed a political regime of ethnocentrism and violence, poses a question of dissolution of a nucleus of power and vacant space in which soluble power is to coagulate. It is, as much, a space of remembering and experiencing the trauma produced by a violent regime. All brutal leaders are figures of charisma. Charisma that makes for pithy journalistic prose such as the profiles written in the press in the past two days.

But I wish to take a moment here to ponder the impact of charisma and the rhizomatic growth of sovereign power. A large population, ethnically or otherwise marked, mourn the death of their leader. Just as the death of a less controversial leader would be mourned. All the while his tenure being resented by sections who suffered injustices. Nehru’s victimisation of Chinese Indian populations has recently been written about. Jyoti Basu’s death was mourned widely, though his regime has hardly a blood-free record. Mamata Banerjee’s rather totalitarian regime unraveled on the staircase of hope and relief from the Left Front’s violence. The Jewish state nourished on victim-history today wages a most heinous ethnocentric, political war on Palestine. Who is to say what kind of Palestinian regime will unfold in the chess pieces move differently in a future Gaza?

Language, religion, land are recurring canvases on which historical stage-settings are set and reset. History has seen numerous and timely force-fields based on victimhood that influence crucial reconfigurations in power maps at the times they emerge. At Thackeray’s death, I see the unfolding of a Kane-Abel battle, as also more indeterminate futures of this breakage in the regional (national?) force-field of power. The ones that profile his charisma, the mourners, the ones sitting in curfew, and the ones crying hate on the internet are all crucial pieces in this force-field.