Life but a walking shadow

Was Shakespeare intuitively reflecting over the twenty-first century when life was to become a mere reflection of a walking shadow droned by imperialism, exploded by religious fanaticism and stifled by state terrorism?

One can only wonder about Shakespeare’s cataclysmic state of mind when he wrote the lines that gave life an authentic aura.

In Macbeth, he defines life a possibility of which inexorably terminates at the impossibility, ‘a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more’.

Was Shakespeare intuitively reflecting about the twenty-first century when life was to become a mere reflection of a walking shadow droned by imperialism, exploded by religious fanaticism and stifled by state terrorism?

This invariably brings Auschwitz in one’s mind which begins only when those in power ‘look at a slaughterhouse and think; they are only animals’ (Adorno).

History keeps reminding us that Auschwitz has nothing to do with a race or ethnicity; it is about class and power. All powerless in their moment of vulnerability are likely to experience a grisly phenomenon akin to this, especially when the balance of power is not in their favour; it is merely the faces of the victims that are different. Led by the civilisation, the humanity is only facing the continuation of its barbarism under different pretexts.

Pakistan is always ready to put axe on its on foot; after inflicting pain on its enemy, it finds itself wounded too. Excluded from the international community and left in the wilderness to fend for itself, Pakistan has limited choices

The world’, Camus said, had suddenly shown its wrinkles and its wounds, old and new. It had aged all at once’. It suffers the shame and guilt piled up by those who are imposing the death on humankind by transforming their impotence into omnipotence, their failure to rule through coercion rather than consent, which according to Eric Fromm is a religion of psychical cripples. It is not the lack of trust in their ideology — the essence of which they never believed in — but it is the demand of the market, of realization of capital that forces them to submit to the ‘production of means of destruction’.

It is a silent professional agreement against life in which all the ruling classes are unequivocally involved. Death, invariably feared, sometimes glorified and at other times projected as fate has lost its natural character of liberation but has become an instrument of repression in the hands of expropriators and their pimps.

Humanity suffers the culture of negation, of barbarity and of death, of un-freedom that denies utopia, a possibility of hope of a future without an alienated labour, and of the possibility of a death without anxiety. Hegel was succinct, “When philosophy paints its gloomy picture a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by the gloomy picture, but only understood”.

Robert Stevenson was not wrong to predict that every Jekyll has to embrace the fate of a Hyde if he insists on creating one. Once the Pretorian guards of a land of Pure enthusiastically created their Hydes, the Lilliputians to destroy an ‘evil state’ that promised at least pacification of existence and organization of peace. However, a life of equality, social justice and dignity could not find a place on the agenda of those who wanted to glorify death for a life in an alternative world which they themselves had no clue.

The evil that men do live after them and it comes to haunt the coming generations and it has come more violently than the ‘doers’ anticipated or comprehended. After all, something with a name of retributive justice does exist. Those who dig a well for others cannot think of escaping themselves from falling into it. The Nietzschean abyss gazes and gazes with magnetic might.

How about the public confession of the crimes the institution committed in the past while attempting to defeat enemy’s enemy that consciously or unconsciously helped to guide the tempest of hate and terrorism towards home. In the recent past, the chief gladiator has confessed to the folly but does confession provide a cure, the eclipse of Christianity from the horizon of the world does not support this supposition. One needs to do a lot more to undo the consequences of one’s sins else they entail a heavy price that people are already paying through penury of both kinds, physical and psychological.

To pay the penance the habit of domination, the narcissism, a primary ailment needs to be treated if not cured. Domination is malignant yet requires an urgent therapy else, its expression through aggression proves lethal for the body, in this case the state. History stands witness that apart from the barrel of a gun, which massacred million in the former eastern wing, the aggression took the form of unsublimated libido. The uninhibited discharge led to the weakness that resulted in a disgraceful surrender. The myth of invincibility was exposed, though the national boarders squeezed, the affliction refuses to restrict itself even when the country is shifted back to the ‘grey’ area by FATF courtesy the foes and friends alike.

‘Introspection’ Sartre says ‘is retrospection’. Is not it time for the hegemons to heed to Sartre’s advice. Even in capitalism, no domination unless backed by the mass is permanent. The rule of hate by disseminating infantile- neurosis through various urbanized version of Islam has reached to its acme. The savagery of state’s coercive institutions knows no-holds-barred. In its ability to dispense justice, the judiciary seems to have gone berserk. The corrupt politicians have hazed the climate even further. Bureaucracy, the most parasitic stratum of the society is marching on the street to guard its interests. Does the class of expropriators feel threatened at the remote possibility of expropriation?

In this flux where do they ordinary people stand? Probably nowhere, the ruling class, a comprador bourgeoisie is minimally interested in the state- affairs. For the latter every calamity is an opportunity to make money and secure it abroad. The fate-less 99 percent are mere hoard, they can be lynched, crucified or liquidated, because they are walking shadows who neither strut nor fret. The whole trauma and drama revolve around a feeble middle class and the lumpen element comprised of a religious ragtag for which as for Ovid gods are useful, hence worth believing, they help to make a splendid career.

These careerist are the new Frankenstein, finding no future in the world of technology, they are fighting against the history. They are free to damage, destroy and incinerate anything with impunity. The withering state finds itself helpless against the goons who can crib, moor or bar anyone appealing to rationality. The religious minorities and the non-conformists are the favourite victims. The not-so-invisible hand which uses them is too naïve or too overconfident that it will not let them bite but the recollection of past suggests otherwise. Nihilism and self-deception have no limits especially when isolation and self-pity are added to them.

No state but the state of Pakistan is so apt in putting axe on its own foot.

After inflicting every pain on its enemy, it finds itself wounded too. Excluded from the international community, left in the wilderness to fend for itself, it has limited choices.

The Frankenstein meant to serve the imperialism has become a tool in the hands of latter to bludgeon the Napoleonic — republic facing its Waterloo. Both China and Saudi Arabia, the so-called friends, have failed it. Pandering to religion or pimping for the Arabs will bring no respite to the state. The question is do the hegemons want to give prudence a chance or continue to live with the status of ‘an army-with-a-rogue state’?

Gramsci has warned about the perniciousness of the horde, the 99 percent, ‘humanity’ he says ‘will need another bloodbath to abolish many of these injustices — and then it will be too late for the rulers to be sorry they left the hordes in that state of ignorance and savagery they enjoy today’.

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

Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.