On the Fear of Standing Together

The plight of an individual in the maze of a bloody society

It is human nature to huddle together. Form a family. A community. A society. A state. Precisely, we long for belongingness. Social scientists would tell us convincingly how it is inherent in us to be a part of a larger group. Then came Aristotle—his arrival had been such a long time that it has become a cliché—to state that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
All the images are sourced from
The Anonymous ART of Revolution

Contemporary governments like those in India have a lot to learn from the statement, while they preach state terrorism and declare the government is a natural successor to the individual. Reasons are just excuses; the real power is in the hands of a group that wields more authority, legal or otherwise. See, for instance, in the never-ending armed movements in several areas of the Northeast India for the last six to seven decades; in the groups which in some regions run a parallel government; and in the existence of de-facto pocket like Sajik Tampak in Manipur that borders Myanmar.

This is from the experience of growing up in a conflict-torn area. We are flooded by abundant natural beauty amidst lofty hills and valleys adjoining South and Southeast Asia, but then in our typical native style, the promises are broken by the ever prevailing ennui and other excrements of sociopolitical and economic conditions. As a matter of fact, life in such a milieu is harsh and brutish. At first glace, it might appear that a hunger for getting together, or accentuating the sense of belongingness is obvious as much as it is significant but the truth is quite different.

The individual is the true reality in life. A cosmos in himself, he does not exist for the State, nor for that abstraction called ‘society,’ or the ‘nation,’ which is only a collection of individuals. Man, the individual, has always been and, necessarily is the sole source and motive power of evolution and progress. Civilisation has been a continuous struggle of the individual or of groups of individuals against the State.

To put it bluntly, an individual is desperate to break ties with everything, so that it becomes a self: a normal self that can lead a normal life rather than diving further into an abyss of heartbreaks and frustration—and the normal is as in plain normal in our daily living. A pure self is detached, and is not above or below the time and possesses the qualities of an ideal human being.

“Freedom, morality, and the human dignity of the individual consist precisely in this; that he does good not because he is forced to do so, but because he freely conceives it, wants it, and loves it.” — Mikhail Bakunin

The Individual, Society and the State
by Emma Goldman
Individuality may be described as the consciousness of the individual as to what he is and how he lives. It is inherent in every human being and is a thing of growth. The State and social institutions come and go, but individuality remains and persists. The very essence of individuality is expression; the sense of dignity and independence is the soil wherein it thrives.

Stand in the queue

In my native tongue there is an expression of slipping in every step. It is a negative implication of failing in every task. That is how the society stands today. A cursory indication of the filth in the vicinity will make more sense:

  • The legal government aka the local government kills and loots. State terrorism is in our daily conversation and the corruption of the officials is a kind of social status—the more you loot, the more you are highly placed in the society. All the while the sole thing this government does is to wait for the charity from the union government, and the ruling class molests democracy like a criminal; and above the legal government, the layer is made more complicated with the hands of the union, as in backing up in the name of national boundary—for imposing direct authority and making a puppet of the local ruling class
  • Closely next to the people-selected masters, we have the illegal government. Its definition depends on which side of the fence you are in—they are redefining scavengers and parasites in the name of defining the sons of the soil. It is the same phenomenon: they kill and loots. Social revolution has been equated with social entrepreneurship obnoxiously. Power is truly in the barrel of a gun; and altruism is a foreign term as much alien as the term itself; and it is spineless just like its legal counterpart in capturing the attention of the people they are purportedly standing for.
  • The civilians (selected special amongst the lot) kill and loot; it is only a matter of time and place for the natives to imitate the mores of the two masters mentioned above. The rat race for jobs in the only available public sector is a glaring example. So once the source is identified and appropriated, there is nothing to resist them in the world, except for the couple of stray bullets that fly thick and fast, as always, in this deeply fragmented society. Even those officials who had been punished for corruption are standing in the election ‘to represent the people’. It is inexplicable.
  • In the name of inclusion, among the other stakeholders for the sake of sympathy, we can consider the larger civil society in Manipur. It is mired in a confusing of the 21st-century world and the condition of the existing medieval-copy society. It burns down houses, vandalises property, and gives verdicts in a direct challenge to the constitutionally founded judiciary system of the largest democracy in the world. The most important duty of this section is to wait for benevolent individuals and organisations in the exact manner as how the local government lean on New Delhi; and no—simply not it is possible to see the tiniest flickering of light in such a sociopolitical, cultural and economic setting.
To summarise, we have hit the rock bottom and unsurprisingly this is just the beginning. Freedom is so over-rated. The optimists might argue that there is hope; however the only problem is the lack of belief in any hopeful prediction. Human civilisation has been quite a long stage of evolution and instead of the desirables, we have been seeing and suffering in only the lowest layer that a society can fall to. In the name of sanity, let us agree that the future is bright.

The Theory of the Individual in Chinese Philosophy: Yang-Chou
by Alexandra David-Néel

No commandments! Live your life! Live your instinct! Let your organism blossom and evolve according to its deep constitutive elements. Be yourself! … Such is the language of Yang-tchou. 

Break the line

The tradition left, right and centre of politics and governance is too useless for solving the frustration of living in a failed state. This has been the first reason for the futility of standing together. Otherwise, it could have been the fashionable left. Cooperationists might be offended with this kind of thinking. Still, regardless of the political inclination, there has to be a haunt for individual realisation. An imaginary position can illustrate this point.

Once a stand is taken on an issue, for example, there is always a position that has been defined and delineated over the many years of our evolution. So if you find no fault with the existing powerplayers, you have taken a stand, irrespective of your willingness. Alternatively, you would find no issue in conforming to the ‘normal’. That is as well some sort of a liberal’s worldview. Similarly, if you are one amongst the religious fuckheads, you are a fundamentalist. I’d prefer to use, in this case, the term of religious shithead. There is no other option. If you are hell bent on spreading and following your unique, you might be grouped under the fascists. Yes again, we are left with no choice. Yet the most preferable way is to ignore all of them, and hence the request for separation.

Invidualism is promising though its actualisation is easier said than done. Besides, the caveat is in falling into the jaws of any existing groups and communities. Even worse, it might be negated as the substitute for inaction. When we know the rotten existence, it is hard to accept the naked truth, leave alone the yearning for realising goals and aspirations. A little bit of support to an idea is enough to classify us in the variegated and numberless categories, all of them sadly, equally damnable.

Always a hundred mile away from the counter

No matter the desperation for the single individual there is always a second individual hankering for a group or an organisation—because that is seemingly how we unite and become stronger and make our march to the goals easier and more convenient. That is how schools and colleges teach us about the merits of including ourselves in a group of our choice to prosper together. That is how we work together, live together, share together, care together, do everything together—while it is imperative to add that we are just a tiny speck of light, all alone in the vast universe that togetherness and belongingness make a lot of sense. It follows that no man is an island.

Man and Society
By A Spirkin

The individual is a link in the chain of the generations. His affairs are regulated not only by himself, but also by the social standards, by the collective reason or mind. The true token of individuality is the degree to which a certain individual in certain specific historical conditions has absorbed the essence of the society in which he lives.

However, we might lose the woods for the trees. When there is a slip in every step, we might need to change how we walk. As usual there is always a ‘but’. In being cautious we might fall in the wrong line or in some other lines against our choice. And that aggravates the fear of standing together, when we know not only we are on the wrong line but also that it is only complicating our lives and others as well. It is all for the sake of tolerance.

The issues are so delicate. First, there is the tragedy of collective living in a garbage dump and second, taking any step will put a label on us. We know the steps and the labels have been futile for a long period of time that the air reeks of hopelessness. Even in vocalising the thoughts, there is a great chance of oversimplifying the things on one hand, diving ourselves into a group that we have never cared about belonging to or heard of, and ignoring the human nature on the other. The individual is always mistaken, so concluded Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Perhaps the time is pushing us up, mindful of the human nature. It is ironical that the society is itself producing the individuals in the first place. Its mess is the primary reason for prompting another new path.

The lack of pragmatic solutions intends to create an uncommon approach, nevertheless, more assuring than standing amongst the faceless crowd even if it is open to question. Impartial, clean and hopeful, the existence of an individual is a kind of resistance as well. There is nothing to lose in retaining the basic structure of the most fundamental human being. Should society be the end in itself, or is it the means for individuals to achieve common goals while serving themselves their own interests, or is it something else altogether? If only the maze of the society is lesser complex than now!

Emile Durkheim on Individual and Society

When social regulations break down, the controlling influence of society on individual propensities is no longer effective and individuals are left to their own devices. Such a state of affairs Durkheim calls anomie, a tern that refers to a condition of relative normlessness in a whole society or in some of its component groups. Anomie does not refer to a state of mind, but to a property of the social structure. It characterises a condition in which individual desires are no longer regulated by common norms and where, as a consequence, individuals are left without moral guidance in the pursuit of their goals.




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