Striptease of freedom

Since all authority regardless of its kind is against human nature, it becomes abhorrent. It either leads to alienation or meets with a serious repercussion

If human life is an archetype of freedom, civilisation is all about repression. Sigmund Freud stated these words without having bare minimum knowledge that his psychological analysis would bring comic relief to those who would suppress human thought for their own ends. Nietzsche was the other victim of same tragedy whose idea of free-will became an instrument in advancing the hideous ideology of Nazism. This is the irony yet the collections of these ironies are what we call history.

Nearly half a century ago, Herbert Marcuse stated that, “the Western world has reached a new stage of development: now, the defense of the capitalist system requires the organisation of counterrevolution at home and abroad… Torture has become a normal instrument of ‘interrogation’ around the world. The agony of religious wars revives at the height of Western civilisation, and a constant flow of arms from the rich countries to the poor helps to perpetuate the oppression of national and social liberation”. It looks as if he has scribbled all this only yesterday.

The language of coercion has deep-seated psychological roots. It is an expression of guilt, shame and helplessness. It alludes to the state of narcissism when rationality gives in to a twisted logic of conceding might being the only right. To maintain the authority every wrong regardless of its repercussions is justified on one pretext or another. The blood and soil, religion and nation, the security and authority become the buzzwords. The entire horror of law and legitimacy is condensed in the logic of guarding the sanctity of these constructs. The hegemony of this nature comes at a price; the ruling class compromises its justification to rule.

Since all authority regardless of its kind is against human nature, it becomes abhorrent. It either leads to alienation or meets with a serious repercussion. Eventually the necessity to resort to violence becomes irrevocable which in turn breeds violence. The latter, regarded as a source of salvation, finds its legitimacy on either side of the divide.  Such madness develops into a collective unconscious hence used as an end and not an aberration. The violence perpetrated in the name of state and/or freedom is condoned or condemned internationally, only if it derives its (dis)approval from the imperialist powers. For instance, the Rohingya massacre came as a rude shock to the global community’s conscience while the gory situations of Kashmir and Baloch, despite being no less despicable; barely irk the guardian de monde.

‘Violence’ Engels says ‘is not an act of will’. It requires certain preliminary conditions; the implements are one of those. The producer of better armament prevails upon the one having primitive resources of conducting violence. It all boils down to a single factor of production in general, which is the monopoly of the state based on its economic strength. Having the implements of violence at its disposal an innately violent state with clear class biases determines the moment of their use sensing any threat to its hegemony.

All modern states regardless of their democratic or totalitarian credentials look down upon dissent. The jealously guarded tolerance of the western democracies, which once offered a qualitative difference, has now skittle down to mere quantitative. The corporate democracy of the US always remained steadfast in its intolerance to the socialist ideology. The terror of McCarthyism took root in the consciousness of ruling class, which not only sent the Rosenberg couple to gallows but also annihilated the Panthers Party and persisted with its draconian laws until the last remaining non-conforming voices were stifled. That was the time when the dehumanised democracy of the US gave up the masquerade of civility.

From its moment of birth Pakistan nursed by totalitarian attitude of the ruling middle class fell victim to the only organised party of civil-military bureaucrats. Lacking in industry, capital and skilled labor power it looked to its former colonisers for any chance of redemption. At inner front, the state continued to flirt with theocracy, the premiers tumbled and behind the façade of democracy authoritarianism prevailed. The language crisis triggered the first wave of violence in Bengal, which was left to grieve its ‘martyrs’. Immediately after the partition, people began to get the unsavoury taste of the two-nation theory.

The alternate rule of generals and Lilliputian could not break the impasse created by peripheral capitalism embedded in feudal ties and neither it was meant to do so. Once accepted in the western fold Pakistan played the role of a front line state against socialism, forgetting its aftermaths. The fire now has come home to alight. One can only wish that the outcome may not be the same as that of Poland which in its impetuosity to play a lead role in confrontation of superpowers suffered a terrible fate from 1764 to 1918.

“Losing one parent” says Oscar Wilde is a misfortune, “losing both is carelessness”. After losing Bengal, losing any other province would be an idiocy. The omens are not auspicious. In a recent development, the looming threats from the rebels have forced the hawkers in Quetta to abandon the distribution of dailies to the readers (Dawn25/10/17). Have things come that far that the writ of the state has lost all legitimacy?  The echo of a similar story reverberates in one’s minds even now when nearly four decades ago, the army remained besieged in Dhaka and it was left to the Indian forces to finish its misery.

No one wants that dread to be repeated not in one’s wildest imagination. Time and again history has proven that division, separation and divorce have neither helped the cause of oppressor nor that of oppressed. The state of Pakistan refuses to learn its lesson. Now it is the job of the people of Pakistan to rescue their state. Aime Casaire has correctly stated that before becoming the victim of Nazism people not only tolerated it but exonerated and legalised it as well. The masses need to realise that hatred does not identify between its enemy and its accomplice. It destroys both with democratic disregard.

The saga of missing persons, disappearance ofbloggers, the mutilated bodies of undesired persons,even the religious bigotry can barely be understoodwithout exploring the country’s power structure

“All forms of exploitation” says Fanon, “are identical because all are applied against the same object, the man”, while the entire purpose of civilisation should be based on assumption that human being must be restored to its pedestal. Yet it is human being who is debased by the power structure in whose name the latter has taken over the power. The saga of missing persons, disappearance of bloggers, the mutilated bodies of undesired persons, even the religious bigotry can barely be understood without exploring the conditions of this structure, which led to this narcissistic sadism.

It is possible to coerce human body into silence but his unfulfilled ideas keep enlightening the hearts of progenies until realisation. As a psychologist, no one knew this reality better than Freud who says, “If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him from his every pore”. Severe those fingers to welcome Victor Jara who will dip the stump into his blood to play the tune of freedom.

During Algerian war of liberation, Sartre reminded his people the forgotten truth “that no indulgence can erase the marks of violence: violence alone can eliminate them. Our victims know us through their wounds and shackles that are what that make their testimony irrefutable. They only need to know what we have done to them, for us to realise what we have done to ourselves. Shame, Marx says is a revolutionary feeling. You see I, too cannot lose my subjective illusion. I too say to you; all is lost unless…”. Today without being lynched by the theocracy or apprehended by the Pretorian guards, albeit the possibility is remote, can we pose this question to our good sense, which Jasper asked; accept life for everyone or for none.


The writer has authored books on socialism and history. He blogs at and can be reached

Published in Daily Times, November 3rd 2017.