Tuesday 20 November 2018

Mob-Mindedness, Minority Exclusion and Institutional Communalism in the School of Arts and Aesthetics


The present situation in the country is on the verge of total collapse into conflict between opposing sections of society and different warring communities. In the midst of the communal name-changing of places and mob-lynching of Muslims, women and Dalits, BAPSA raises the clarion call for unity of the oppressed, by which is meant the co-optation of the oppressed sections of society as masses ready to transform society! What a huge task that is set upon the shoulders of people who everyday live a life and death struggle with humiliation and fear and an organization like BAPSA only claims unity with certain reserve representatives who can be characterized as the lumpen elements of the populace like OBC forum and Muslim Students Front well known for their anti-student stances on education policies at the larger level, with no intent of political education. Why and how would they take up the task of political education when they do not have a political program! While the Left in JNU is raised and fought on issues both within and outside campus such as the water problem and the lack of availability of hostels, DTC workers strike, and the movement of manual scavenging of the sewage workers, BAPSA has only paid lip service and has put zero efforts to mobilize students on these pressing issues. In SAA, where we are blessed with the presence of Sanjay Kumar, a councilor from BAPSA, you can look around, inside and outside the department and not find a single statement or poster on these issues. These factors do not bother the students of SAA anymore.

Why? Because of the unity of the oppressed? Who are the oppressed? These are the people who “feel” oppressed. These are students from well-to-do families guilt-ridden in a department where no empathy is to be found or experienced from the lot of the oppressed coming from villages and studying in JNU. For the students of SAA, the students coming to study in JNU from the countryside in departments like SL,L&CS are the mob. With this characterization of the mob that supports the Left-unity because organizations like AISA have fought for their essential rights as a student like RGNF, MANF and MCM scholarships which students in SAA seldom avail, the students of SAA characterize themselves as the torchbearers of the struggle against oppression. How do they struggle against oppression? By means of personal slandering of professors and students who are against them and their agenda of identity politics and targeting those who refuse to reduce people based on their immediate identity and choose to look at what the individual has to offer as a social being. They would dare not target a professor like Y. S Alone and Naman Ahuja, the former because he is believed to be a Buddhist and the latter because his academic standards are much greater than so-called scholars like Kancha Iliyah. Also because of the fact that these professors have not been as actively participating in the struggle against the draconian JNU administration as the Dean Kavita Singh who was replaced by Mazhar Asif because of her stance against mandatory attendance and its vociferous critique in public spaces and Ranjani Majumar who has been fighting the battle in the court and is vital to the legal team of JNU students and teachers against the administration.  You must not make the distinction that the former are good and the latter are bad, for then you will make the mistakes like the politically bankrupt BAPSA and DSU. DSU is a marginal presence in the campus, along with BASO who claim to be Leftists, Marxists, communists and so on and so forth but no student in the campus would validate these false claims, except the students of SAA. This is not to say that is a critique of the students of SAA and their ideological field of thought. No, the students of SAA are brilliant and smartest. So smart apparently that the issues of the world and the global rise of the right would be discussed in their classrooms and they would still have no political line to offer outside of that space.

Whose fault is it? It is the fault of the students of SAA and their problem of not being able to correctly handle the antagonisms created in society that permeates into the campus and raises problems between the different sections of students and between students and teachers due to the fascist authoritarianism of the administration which is a cog of the start machinery as an instrument of the semi-feudal semi-colonial ruling class which creates conflicts where there is peace so that the disruption leads to dispossession which can be at some point seized by the ruling class. This the ruling class does by furthering their personal interests into the field of politics, like the kangaroo court of the students who impeached the teachers and demanded responses for baseless claims. None of the people in BAPSA or individually can substantiate these claims in front of the students, let alone the teachers if there was any iota of concrete consideration given to the students to think about what they were doing. This is how ideology functions. They do not know it but they are doing it, and by doing it they are pursuing their own ruin which is evident in Prof. Majumdar’s decision of no longer teaching MA students. What or more pertinently who has driven her to take this radical action in her professional career? The answer is: the so-called “radical” politics of SAA, which is simply opportunism under the guise of radicalism. The minimum requirements of any SAA student are that s/he has a laptop, a luxury that many students in JNU still cannot afford. The other requirement is the proficiency of the English language. Other than these two basic requirements, the rest is upon the student, as to how many movies the person has seen or how many books s/he has read. Political correctness and an informed stance on political situations is neither required nor encouraged.

This was explicit in the school GB M where students like Ajay Pateer, whose films are as bad as his sense of humor and political correctness and Naman whose ideology goes only so far as the logic of scoring weed from Subhash Nagar and drinking in Kaveri. This is not to pass moral or personal judgments on individuals like those passed regularly in school GBMs and the recent debacle of an all-students and faculty meeting. The purpose of this piece is to make people think as people and not as a mob. This is applicable to those like Apeksha and Devika who have seen the political situation for long and have done nothing more than sharing content on the department WhatsApp. What is to be expected of a department where the former councilor Sourodeep could not even produce a written document for the analysis of the work he had done under his ‘reign’ when the movement against mandatory attendance led to the lockdown and Sourodeep was present in the capacity of BAPSA. One person is the capacity of BAPSA! And so it is that in SAA, what is practiced in the name of politics is the bare minimum. What else would you expect from a centre where students only talk about websites, memes and what is going wrong in their measly lives! The students of SAA are not a force of movement as they had proven with the downfall of the lockdown, to which BAPSA again only paid lip service and DSU was nowhere to be found!The students of SAA are a mob, and that is the reason they care so much about the minority question because they are guilty. They are a force that effects actions like mob-lynching and exclusion of marginal identities. The radical politics of the students should be directed more and more outwards but here we regretfully see the opposite happening. DSU and BASO as a marginal presence is tolerated by BAPSA in SAA so long as they are monkeys rubbing each other’s backs. Here they find no stratagems of conflict, because both DSU and BAPSA are opportunists whose politics will only benefit the ruling class. In the name of minority exclusion in SAA, these forces, or wisps of air are actually propagating communal politics by antagonizing the student community and the teaching community as two communities with opposing interests. The notion that a Dalit or a Muslim student is more exploited in the campus is baseless so long as nothing is done to empower them, and BAPSA has done nothing on this front, other than using this notion to create a mob of blind followers of agendas that ultimately serve the interests of the administration as it would be easier for the admin to put pressure on students and teachers separately. It cannot be denied that minority representation in SAA is abominable, and that is why communally speaking we have seen a lineage of Hindu councilors, savarna until BASPA came to the rescue, and Prof. Soumyabrata and Prof. Alone came to BAPSA’s rescue, as much as they could in their own personal terms. Because remember, “personal is political” is the ultimate motto of politics in SAA. There is no such thing as social. But what has BAPSA rescued the students from? From the social? Perhaps but… NO! The answer: their consciousness and reason. 
The real question then has to be posed: who needs mobs? Who needs to be in mobs? People who cannot fight for themselves and people who can make use of this uselessness; in a nutshell, cowards. The students of SAA in particular are afraid of what the students in JNU in general are afraid of and there is little need to mention it here because as has been stated before, the students are SAA are the smartest. They are not foolish but cowards, or at least motivated by cowardice. Why would they not be cowards? They are part of an institution, an institution much like the prison and the courts, an apparatus of the state. A civil service aspirant is not very different from a SAA student who spends his evenings and nights cooped up in reading spaces making their own labor a point of universal crisis to achieve resolution or redemption in the success of achieving an opportunity on passing the exams. So students of SAA are also opportunists and see situations, gravely politically incorrect ones like the signing of the letter, as an opportunity of having done a political task and brushing their hands off this dirty work, getting back to their ivory tower, i.e. in the reading space of the library. The opportunist rend in the students is what mobilizes them towards BAPSA and their political activities. An activist in AISA for instance, will have to paste posters, meet and discuss issues with students at the dhabas, got to each room of the hostel to notify them of any events happening and in this way build a political presence in the campus. The affiliates of BAPSA, and it is no error if it is written as BASPA in places (for two reasons, one is the that both of them practice identity politics along caste and religious lines using feudal consciousness and the other is the affiliation of leaders they uphold like Mayawati and Kashinath), formulate their politics in negation to the political work of the organized left, much like DSU/BASO (once they were one :() and their criticism is only limited in words.
 As soon as they are transformed into deeds, they create divisions within students through their hollow rhetoric which suits the hollow existence of SAA students and/as intellectuals, and someone or the other ends up being excluded. It is a paradox in politics that those fighting against exclusion exclude people from their struggles violently and deliberately, at least as violently as the left-leaning campus would allow. Now let us get a glimpse of what has happened structurally in the institution with the presence of these forces and the possibilities of what will happen. After successfully sidelining the actual champions of struggle because of who the students don’t even have to see the attendance registers, they have put students in a position that they are resentful, but still arrogant enough to believe the signature upholds a valid critique. The students of SAA are hopeless and helpless. Gone are the days when there was a move to constitute a grievance redressal cell between students and teachers, at least according to BAPSA, much like the demand Keerthana raised about having a regular gender sensitization cell, which culminated in one event and raised nothing out of it. Like Prof. Majumdar, Prof. Ira Bhaskar is also not taking any more classes for MA. If we apply the supply and demand logic of Sourodeep, , there is a demand of new professors, which is filled by Prof. Soumyabrata by calling his students to take classes, albeit unpaid but this would not be the case for very long. In light of the new national policies in education, there would be drastic rise in ad-hoc faculty which was never the case in JNU because of its indispensable academic excellence. This has paved way for the opportunist students and the opportunist BAPSA and the opportunist section of students to take the “risk” of signing the letter that impeaches the professors and make way for their own career as intellectuals in JNU, because the new intake of SAA students would see this step as heroic for the sheer violence in it. Sometimes, cowards are more prone to violence because of the fear that makes them show courage through cruel behavior, and heroism is not always bravery, but a historical feature of bourgeois individualism. It is the service of this bourgeois individualism that the students of in MA struggle with the professors as a class and mistake it for ‘class struggle’, when in actuality they are only fighting for themselves. For raising the issue of a Muslim student who was not admitted into the university, students like Debjyoti reduce the person to his immediate identity and fight for the absent presence of minority students in campus. This is the motto of SAA, to which the MA students follow Debjyoti quite heroically while paying no heed to the actual presence of minority students in SAA and their actual marginalized status. On the other hand, they further marginalize the minority so much so that they are forced to reduce every aspect of their social interaction along ethnic lines. In all of this certain things are clear as crystal, no struggle will achieve anything if it is undertaken by the students of SAA in this manner. This is a brand of politics serving the guilt-ridding mechanism of the students who have everything need in life, except a proper understanding of the world because they believe that they are the world and nothing is beyond them. This claim of self-righteousness in signing the letters to address discrimination is just co-optation into identity politics on moral grounds. There are two problems that arise out of it. One is that it denies any specific circumstantial considerations of the event and its validity form the side of the students more than the side of the teachers. The other is that as soon as the students of SAA believe they are right, they become right-wing in their firmness and lose all sense of self-criticism because they mistakenly believe themselves to be morally infallible in their position with respect to the issue of minority rights, and this is without any representation of the minority of that community among the signatories, if one is to borrow the logic of representation from BAPSA. The solution to the problem of discrimination does not lie with the students of SAA, because the students of SAA are discriminatory in nature, and this is not a personal judgment but the observation of people from other departments about SAA. In vain then, the foolish and coward students of SAA talk about justice in their department when their mobilization consists only in getting as much of their brethren as they can to lynch teachers.

The world of SAA students is communal, perhaps not as communal as BJP but most definitely similar to Congress, which pays lip service to the Muslims to increase their vote share and does nothing subsequently to improve their conditions. The students of SAA are soft-right in their radicalism if they are to be considered radical at all because in neoliberalism, these micro-political issues become rallying point for ethnic communities in their demise in ethnic conflicts, such as Suu Kyi in Myanmar and Putin in Russia. The hand with which Aakash and Debjyoti signed the poster near the canteen is the same hand which wields the machete to kill a Muslim for eating beef. The rise of micropolitics is the demise of a politics that is able to resolve differences, that is helpful in achieving certain goals in the course of social development. We need to address these issues of communalism and right-wing politics which is the weapon with which BAPSA has raised conflict upon the students and teachers and deliberately oppressed people in the name of the unity of the oppressed. The issues that must be brought to the GBM therefore must be the following:

Discrimination in the department and who is the authority to seek grievance

End to personal slandering and blaming students and teachers on moral grounds

Separate discussions forums for problems between students and problems between professors

Taking up the responsibility to ensure a more inclusive dialogue and not mobs, by the SFC

To state clearly the agenda of identity politics to besmirch the reputation of teachers

Ensure the professional integrity of students and teachers in the university

To lay aside all claims of anonymity and discuss things with the responsibility of an authority, even if it means becoming one

To address the question of false representation of minority is SAA by BAPSA

To repudiate the practice of mob-formation involving students without correct intent or clear consent.

End of Part I

Thursday 18 January 2018

The Critique of Subjectivity Or Why and How to Resist Mandatory Attendance

The question of attendance as a system which imposes oppressive structures on the subject whose being and presence is in prison by the ‘dictatorial dictat’ of the VC is also a very real situation which has to be understood in its ideal as well as its actual course of development. The VC, even in JNU campus, is absolute authority, and so long as it does not have objective knowledge of its subjects (students), it has no power to exercise upon us. The power he enjoys comes from the repression of the students as subjects under the objective system of control by the institutional authority of the VC . But the structure might appear as something leading to objectivity of ‘lived experiences’ and perception as the ultimate reality. Does perception live out of lived experience? Lived reality dwells too much upon the idea of the subjective. The present world schematism is such that the subject loses its place in the objective reality. If we see the case of students, their lived experiences are more generally so diverse that there always would be an incorrect definition in relation to the contradiction between a social group and a class. You could argue of either of the two. Between the student and the student community, the contradiction takes shape. For the administration, students are objects with substance but not essence. The very purpose of education has become the reproduction of ideas divorced from practice, in a manner, that we do not mostly realize what we study if we do not practice and what we actually practice is majorly a negation of our theoretical education, if we try to clearly understand it, by understanding reason as a notion of reality. The subjective notion of reality mostly celebrates the differences of lives of students, one from the other, while the administration has quantitative as well as qualitative understanding of students which is more actual and factual. The memories of lived experiences as objective data  come into conflict with fundamental laws imposed upon the subject that leaves no room but to find reason in  the objectivity and immediate actuality of practice. In a university, for the students, the administration is not much more than a mechanism and for the administration the students are not much more than organisms that it can and has to  affect because the environment has definite social construction governed by fixed laws. The truth is in all our lived experiences we have a subjective notion of reality in behaviour. There is a theoretical need to define objectivity as a higher stage of unity, a stage of absolute where it is almost possible qualitatively, where it ceases to be a mere stage wherein or upon which objectivity is achieved but the course of development of the movement.. On the one hand, there is the fact that all students come from similar and different social groups and classes, the bone of contention is how their lives are governed by reason manifest as the theorization of an actual phenomena, a scientific law because on the other hand the assault upon the classes antagonistic to the interests of the ruling  class. Can such a scientific theory, one that is realistic enough to materialize a longstanding movement, a dialectical movement wherein we can negatively realize the totalitarian tyranny of the VC be possible and subsequently to  act upon it as one?

Let us consider the case of DU where attendance is not only compulsory, as a form of subversion of subjectivity, but also the conditions of necessities and well as conditions of possibilities.  When a student goes to the class, s/he finds it overcrowded, along with a major chunk of students who feel completely  and have different opinions because of the disconnection of day scholars from the extracurricular work in college that should necessarily be a possibity of their objective existence. Just as work and no play makes one dull, similarly trying to become political or the trend of expectation that we can continue to resist in our own ways will never result in any realistic action. To gauge student activity as collective and objective as a social group would reveal the fact that objectivity is inherent in the structure and the fundamental contradiction of a capitalist society is such that through propagating that ideology, they are alienating the individual from the collective. By collective, I mean the rank and file of our elected officials in the union and the so-called ‘class representatives’, and the alt-left student group with other students. We live in an age where reality is negative and possibilities are positive but not material, and the self is split. The necessity of attendance is so real a phenomenon in the lived experiences of students that few would take the freedom to craft their own course and study it separately under the guidance of the University (or not!). While that would not only be a subjective notion of study, it would be a self-serving notion of subjectivism. The students expect  too much from the student organizations, and not all the student organizations deliver, especially when it comes to politicizing the students upon social issues to raise consciousness, they fall in the trap that the students have set for them. They have become subjectivists. We need to understand that the students are being subjective in their demand, because they are living in a negation of the power they have as a united force, but the manner in which the struggle is taken forward has a very subjectivist attitude. In practical terms, networking, alliances are essential tactically but what is good for the students in the university is what is good for the development of productive forces in the societies, if the activity or the struggle of the students is both pragmatic and prognostic and in the larger struggle is also the kind of unity to fight fascist authoritarianism in the whole country. The body and the mind cannot be separated from each other and only a scientific diagnosis and solution to the questions raised on the struggle against the subjective and the objective situations at play and only the highest unity between the Student masses, between the body and mind of the subject can be achieved. The best ally, the best friend of the students and the most productive force for the students is the union. Well not because they are in power, but precisely because they are not, and if we as students, do not look out for the interest of our union ‘friends’ who are actually struggling and getting served notices but we who study as students think consciously against the system of attendance and do not have a definite objective course planned for it. What is important for us is to actually struggle, not as intellectuals, but as students, learning in society how to make friends. Some friends would stab you in the back. Why? It is in their interest; but why should the student look at anyone differently? The student does not live in a life-and-death struggle. For them, most things are symbolic, as to a large section of youth in our country who are willing and able to work but the state has no employment to give.. Similarly, certain organizations have hoodwinked the students into believing that the students did not do their part in the disappearance of Najeeb and also the larger discourse of how ‘traditional’ vanguards become like the institutional police. These things the BAPSA cannot and will not understand, because they decentre the politics from the subject when they talk about the marginal and its impact on identity and consciousness. Their activity is for students who sit and pontificate on matters of discrimination and marginalization while themselves never consequentially being the voice of the voiceless also not considering a party of the most opppressed which is the propertyless laborer and by that they essentially create the subject in absence. The absent subject cannot speak for itself, therefore becomes an object to be spoken about, not an objective notion that caters to the lived experience of students as political activity. Working class politics then loses all its historical terminology and in the hands of petty bourgeois intellectuals becomes a method of propagating subjectivism. We should understand that fundamentally things can be objects about which one can think of anything. We can think about the attendance issue as another issue that is an objective necessity of our student life that is as structural or systemic oppression, which would obviously be a subjectivist compromise which students in JNU have often been making when they compare JNU to IIT and demand for the same possibilities in JNU at the same price. This is a demand which does not even sound good in the hallowed walls(!) of JNU, haunting us with the ghost of Chandrashekhar on the one hand and Najeeb on the other, wondering whether under the union of the former, the latter would have been the case with a student. Such questions are anyway futile, because nostalgia for/with the history of JNU is a bad trait, and against the interests of the subjectivists.

Who are the subjectivists? Those who think that proclaiming “Insha Allah” is a form of freedom (of expression) and thinking that it is in the interests of the minority, and by addressing the minority, we can really address the difference between a theory of political practice, that is not only a lived experience such as the practice of Islam rather than transforming the objective reality of being born into a Muslim family. Life is essential for the human species, and to ensure the prolongation of life, it is imperative to understand the laws of nature in the objective development of human society, and how certain subjects became backward or forward, and unequal or different not just in cultural respects but also in terms of the institutions they are in. In DU, students had stayed the continuation of the FYUP because the objective conditions were affected by the development of the various forces, particularly AISA, associated as another form of saffron terror in JNU, with the development of the student masses participating in that movement. If its defeat was the implementation of CBCS later, its victory was being repealed and setting up a model for the scientific method of struggle. The students have to be real actors in this movement not from the point of view of the subjectivists, but from the side of the union. The union is not just a collection of popular people, nor it the ‘Marvel’s Avengers’ or DCs ‘Justice League’, but the very apparatus of the union must be first put into its full utility before we ourselves as students transform it, hopefully by boycotting the Lyngdoh when the student movement of the JNU students reaches that stage. If a situation is reached wherein the negation can itself stand for the justification, the question in place of the answer, that has happened, not in the name of political polemics (which is negligible) but as the political line which they take to the masses, would you find it absurd or natural? If the question is hard to figuratively think about and definitively answered, what basis is there for catering as students to the interest of the subjectivists whose interests is to serve their own interest, but not to objectively participate and create movements that have lasting impact upon the masses and the student community. What remained the most dominant and decisive factor in the FYUP movement was precisely this lasting impact, when an academic issue became a mass issue for the student community about which organization and the students have the same definitive opinion. AISA knew the part DUSU would play after the elections as an apparatus and how as a mass organization to put pressure along with a variety of different groups of student and teachers who only shared a temporary alliance with the union. Now in JNU, when no student organization can boast of winning the elections for the union single-handedly, and with subjectivists frustrated in equating red terror with saffron terror because they are stuck naturally in their own lack, or rather the contradiction of the state and subject, to which the only essentially scientific resolution would be to be more practical and accept the logic of oppression inherent in the system but still not lose the subject. That can only be ensured when the people who represent you will be responsible for your political action and should so hold you accountable for it. Communication is necessary but lines must separate interest and the students must see for themselves the differences in political lines as separations. Wherever such is the case, the differences between the political constitutions of the students must not be antagonistic to the union and to themselves. This much is clear about the situation of political resistance in JNU.

The communication should be official and factual and the union in this case, has the only objective data, and as for the political path of the movement against mandatory resistance, it is negation of negation, the ultimate struggle for a higher for of political freedom has that has always been under the danger of an attack because university is still an institution run by the ruling class with a fascist government as the objective authority.
In the end then, since the development of subjectivity in the consciousness cannot be under the sole subjective question of identity, because an assault on the participation of students in classroom is a normative practice that now the administration wants to see as an objective criterion for the recognition of identity. The political pursuit of identity in the sphere of socio-economic reality cannot be dealt in isolation from the functioning of consciousness and the reasons for which attendance is made mandatory for the students so the kind of subjectivism that capitalism has led to in order to cover its contradiction is very evident in the reality that has made itself manifest in the actual body count who quantitatively and qualitatively stand for the administration and against the interest of the students and also the existence of individual identity outside or in the margins of the capitalist system. The student is reduced to the subject whose existence is under question, at most outside the classroom and the reason behind this is the reason given by the administration and the resultant silence on the part of the objective factual realityof the students and their rational demands for a more liberal administration.

 What we should strive to achieve as students therefore is the right to be members of a society divided by hierarchies but still united in the pursuit of concrete knowledge and scientific theories representative of the real field of study we undertake ‘for a living’ and in that living to overcome the hierarchies and reduce divisions to their minimum function. In order to live productively, we dwindle between sometimes good or bad and sometimes more or less. Such is the uncertain fate of subjectivity which destroys the unity of the student masses, like the Ramjas incident in DU has capability of mobililize thousands when a united activity is practiced and observed conscientiously by the students and the masses are diligent and vigilant about the issue and the politics of the enemy. The course of the development of history is always objective and that is what differentiates it from memories and remembering. In remembering and reminding ourselves of goals that ought to be achieved, the most definite is to repudiate both the “mandatory” as well as the man who enslaves students like the Roman empire in Coliseums to battle with each other and the loins of competitive struggle for existence , without the hope the next VC will be the same as previous. The objective task of the students and the necessary course of action of the students is to not fight ourselves, tame the lion and unleash it upon the despot.