Extracts of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar - Faridabad Workers Newspaper - from Collective Action Notes between 2002 and 2004, with accounts of working life and class struggle in India.
A means amongst the means of exchange of workers' experiences
and ideas for the purpose of seeking out and forging new trajectories.
My father's hip-bone broke. When we four brothers began running around for his treatment then people said he's an old man, you. shouldn't bother so much about him. These statements offended us. He was our father, he had brought us up, he had given us parental affection and love- if he has become old, should we forget him? It was not possible to take him on the bus, so we hired a jeep. From the village, we went to Chhapra district (a small city) then to Patna (the capital of Bihar). When our wives starting sneering about who will clean his shit, then we began cleaning him. 32,000 rupees was spent. The bone was joined and our father started walking around again.
Three of us brothers began slogging in factories and one stayed back in the village. In most of the factories, for a 8 hour day they pay 1200 rupees a month (25 US dollars). And if you don't work 12 hours each day, then you cannot make ends meet. Instead of paying wages monthly, they pay it every two months. That means you eat less. The money order that we send home takes 4 months to reach. (Because the post office uses the money order as interest, it should only take a week but because of this can take even a year). Family members think that in the job we are having lots of fun.
My father was direly neglected. He was treated with disrespect. One day in anger father
went to the field and there poured kerosene oil on his body and lit himself on fire.
"Relations based on 'what I get out of it'...Instrumental, shop-keeping relations, keeping accounts of relations, market-engendered behaviors and ideas—This is white darkness..."
Conversation...More Conversations...But What Should We Talk About?
Whether we are talking about children, the elderly or about ourselves, language of the market creeps in the conversation. The bad situation we are in today has been engendered by the market and it often happens that for those whom we have good heartfelt wishes, we advise them to make efforts in the swamp of the market. Having the notion that we are doing good, we are in fact part of the tragedy of the bad doings that are widespread. In the name of making a future for the children, things that feed the present the system take place in every home. The sharp knife of the market is deep down even in us victims. To overcome this poison in us is as important as dealing with or overcoming the market outside. Without creating yardsticks of success in life which are antagonistic to success in the market, the market can not be overcome.
The 'value' of human beings.
It has become very common to say that there is no value of human beings today. And on the other hand, while introducing a person show his price/market value. This is an expression of human beings becoming a commodity in the market. And this is a result of we all becoming so cheap that the glorification of a person's specialities is establishing new scales of vulgarity and uncouthness.
In fact, in hierarchic social systems, in place of the reality, the image dominates. For image, instead of the normal, the extreme is necessary. Instead of the routine, event is necessary. The stories of slave-owner Ram, slave-owner Ravana, emperor Ashok, emperor Akbar are widely disseminated, propagated whereas things about slaves and serfs are available in small fragments after a great search. The market system speaks of equality but is in fact, the height of hierarchic social systems. The market system that has reached the faceless stage today in the form of companies, institutions has produced an obsession for the desire for faces. The basic tenet has become - "Show that you've achieved something remarkable." The almost universal desire to become leader-actress-player-artist-officer-director-chief carries with it the torture of each body and soul by oneself. The repetition of media-propagated special persons' expressions-looks-lifestyles on our part has become a part of our daily activities. Thinking, discussing about humanness instead of the 'value' of human beings will help us recognize these incessant wounds. Efforts to break from the deceit of images are a step on the path of humane behavior.
Making the Future
Who doesn't know that competition in the market is endless? Who doesn't know that prices in the market keep changing? Who doesn't know that insecurity is the life-activity of the market?
Superficial, for-show, momentary and instrumental relations are in the character of the market. Is it right to call attempts to build such relations as 'making the future'?
Come, let's begin children.
"Good" school, costly education, tutoring after school- all these efforts are to increase the price of the child in the market. To hold back on one's own meals and to make the situation of children worse are justified in the name of making children's future. Be it only for children, isn't it necessary to rethink all this?
Instead of crying over compulsions, it seems necessary to us to raise question school as such. This is part of questioning the market. For natural, normal relations among generations and for the upbringing of community society. For this necessity, practice is knocking at our doors. So think, reflect, discuss it because we are all getting roasted in this oven.
* * *
There was a glimpse of life in the city, with fragments of life in the village.
* People are getting split into groups. If you sit with us, then don't sit with them. *People lose their temper on minor issues. Sitting together is decreasing. Even those who smoke hookah fill up their hookahs and go and sit in their own homes.
* What all can one do? One is not able to finish one's own work. How can one help one's brothers? And one doesn't get nutritious food. Bones are visible in youth. Trust on men is decreasing, the load of exchange is falling on women's heads. Men are falling for drinking and gambling while to meet the expenses of the house women are facing increasing difficulties. Tensions, quarrels between husband and wife are increasing.
* Earlier more young women used to commit suicides. Now more young men have started to commit suicide. There is hardly any report to the police. All get together and perform the last rites. Going to the police station is to force one more suicide. One is not able to get by through farming or artisanship. There are no jobs available. Many shops are opening. People are going insane, they keep telling any Tom-Dick-and Harry to secure them any job.
* Lumpenization is increasing. After sunset, one does not go out of the home due to the fear that one may come across some drunkard on the way who may something and get entangled. People are getting sucked into debts. Inability to refuse, forces one to loan money to relatives which rarely is returned. If agricultural land is mortgaged then it is difficult to get it free, it gets sold.
* Hypocrisy is increasing. Superstition is asserting. People adopt ritualistic postures and take refuge in sects. Whatsoever sect one adopts one calls it the best and calls others imposters.
* Youth calls the experiences of elders as 'barking'... The old, aged do not speak the truth...Falsely, they call their time as being great.
* Even only sons are living separately from mother and father. In old age, husband and wife have started living separately- mother with one son, and father with another son. Even conversations between old husband wife ceases- they say they have bore it for long, no more now. No one takes objection to someone tying up the buffalo on the path and causing inconvenience to all. When others do no object, why should I? People will change the path, people will bear the difficulty.
* One who dies is praised. Factual things are not spoken of. At the time of a tragedy, everyone's sympathy bursts forth. In normal conditions, people are unconcerned.
* People are becoming strange. Even if it's not to my advantage, it should be to your disadvantage. Backbiting and pointing out others' shortcomings has become an epidemic.
* People have become so weak that they hide their true opinions, intentions from everyone. In the village, many people simply go to vote so that they can tell the supporters of candidates that they voted for their leader. Telling a lie in front of a group, one talks of supporting them.
* A personal occupation or control of common goods is increasing. Let common interest go to hell. Personal interests surpass everything.
* These days one is struck more by speech. Talking in very crude, vulgar terms is increasing.
Life in the city, life in the, village are twins. They are copies of one another.
There is No Limit to the Worsening of Our Situation (2)
In the above, difficulties with the body and pains of the soul are reflected. The peasant-artisan prescription of labor for relief has itself become a disease…? Instead of one, two, three, four crops during less work in the villages, artisans-workers going to cities to slog;
rearing cows and buffalo for selling milk; farming chicken and fish; daily rounds of the market for seed-medicine-fertilizer-cotton seed-animal feed for buying these, for repairing motor fan and for selling grains, vegetables, eggs, milk, butter; also open a small shop....? In attempts to somehow stay afloat, people's bodies are taut all the time. And...increasing numbers going bankrupt are being eaten up by the idle, empty, and endless time. Where to go? What to do? To tell the increasing army of unemployed that they don't "work hard" is to pour molten lead in their arms.
Disappearance of time, of leisure...Time, leisure becoming a burden. Both carry the turmoil for the soul For peace of the soul, refuge in the sects is a mirage. Even a learned philosopher of those sitting on heads and shoulders had said 100-125 years ago that God is dead. It is true that the discoveries of science, technical means and management research being covered by mysterious paraphenalia, the incarnation of dead gods are still collecting crowds around them. But light leaders despite the use of all marketing techniques, the arenas and effects of sects and gurus are constricting. The major modern network's of those sitting on heads and shoulders to tie up and pierce souls are to encourage the obsession for consumption and to increase the army of degree holder psychiatrists. The lust for consumption and the hypocrisy of degree holders to blame the victims are one up on the gods. They are also very much fatal. Competition is swallowing normalcy and simplicity.
Again, the same question. What to do? In the present, each person is encircled and entrapped to such a degree that each one of us has to make innumerable compromises. Every day we have to bear such terrible things that our soul gets battered. Each day we ourselves commit such bad acts that we cannot speak about them. We cover these up in the garb of that which is forced upon us and try to placate our conscience. That which we felt was imposed on us, was it actually forced or was it put on? Should I have done this or should not have accepted that? Conflicts of this type chum inside us.
Whatsoever claims of being all-powerful we may be making outside, it is usually the case that at all times we find ourselves helpless. Generally, it is knowing that one is helpless that makes us fall in our own eyes. To look at oneself degradingly, the lack of respect of person for him or herself is very wide today and is increasing. And this lack of respect for oneself is expressed in disrespect for others.
More or less, such is the situation with each one of us. Therefore, those whom we come in close contact with, those whom we know more, towards them open or camouflaged disrespect is very large. Those who are far away, those whom we come into contact only once in awhile, those whom we know very little, it becomes easier to produce the sentiment of respect rather than actually respect those near us. [b] It is very fatal for the victim to blame him or herself in his or her inner thoughts or to find other victims as the culprits. This ensures our own entrapment and vissicious encirclement. Disrespect for those near to us and looking down on one another are among the major obstacles towards coordination with those close to us. Coordination amongst nearby ones are the point of departure to break the encirclement. [/h2]
That we contend isn't it in itself the basis for respect. Aren't our souls yearning for truth, love, respect, adequate basis for respect? The issue is not of overlooking others misdeeds or one's bad deeds. Rather, instead of, cursing oneself, others, the issue is of taking such steps that people encircled by compulsions can easily take. The feeling of helplessness of person is a strong basis for efforts to create a new society.
* * *
What All Do We Do..?
I am 32 years old. I work in a big company. My job is collecting dues from factories and offices situated in Faridabad and depositing them in the Delhi office. I work 6 days out of the week. I have to go to Delhi 18 to 20 days out of the month and in those days, my duty is from 9 am to 9:30 pm. On other days, from 9 to 6. My work is such that my body is getting out of shape. During these 4 months, every day I get up at 5:30 in the morning. I drink a lot of water and after going to the toilet, I go for a walk. We five, seven neighbors go for a 4 kilometer long walk and do half an hour exercise. While walking, we have a discussion on some topic. Here and in other places also, I have a lot of difficulty when similar people amongst themselves try to show themselves as superior or important.
We are all working. All are staff members. Some in Purchase, some in Accounts, some in Sales. We don't consider ourselves workers. In our definition, a worker is one who goes on a bicycle, has is lunchbox at the back, and a bid lit in his mouth. But we all are bothered by more work and low wages. If someone falls ill in the family, then a thousand to fifteen hundred have to be spent and it takes many months to recover from such a blow.
Refreshed by a walk and exercises, I return home by 7:15. My wife is often asleep till then. We have two children- three and a half and another one and a half years old. I wake my wife up and together we have tea and read the newspaper. Twenty days in the month, I make the morning tea. If the children wake up, then we are only able to have tea together and I read the paper alone. I have a bath at 8:30 and by then the children are usually awake. By placating them, and sometimes leaving the girl child crying, my wife makes breakfast and lunch, I pick up my bag after breakfast, take my son for a quick ride on the scooter and then leave for work at 9.
Collecting dues is a very difficult job. At some places, they put the condition of first getting the machine repaired. At many places, the customer is short of money and makes excuse upon excuse. At many places, the system is so inefficient and clogged, the payment is all in knots'. Everywhere, there is a demand from me for New Year and Diwali festival gifts. And sometimes, there is even a demand for bribes.
From one place to another, throughout the day, I'm busy running around on my scooter. At every place, I have to be a gentleman before entering. These days I have lo remove my muffler, remove my gloves, take off my windbreaker etc. It's compulsory to wear a tie but I don't wear it and instead keep it in my bag and only put it on before entering the Delhi office at 6 pm. We consider the person of tie whose monthly wage is 20,000 rupees. But they only give me 8,000. If they give me 20,000, then I'll accept the punishment of wearing a tie. Tie is the definition of gentleman.
At every place, I have to go through the process of enquiry and an enter myself in» the register with my name, address, and work. Meet the dealing clerk in the Account department. If the check is ready, take it, otherwise the next date. Out of 30 places at least 20 offer me tea. In dealing with one customer, it takes 30 to 45 minutes. One, then second, then third...Sometimes, at 1 pm, or at 2. I have lunch and again that factory-office round. Work is such that I have some flexibility. Therefore, there is some possibility for shifting time depending on my mood or other work. But the pressure of work is such that whether there is desire or not, one has to go to the customer. On average, I go to 30 customers. The need for money smothers my body and soul and the company has also put out the bait of commission.
When I have to go to Delhi, then at 4:30 pm, I park my scooter at Old Town or Balabgarh and catch the train. Then I take a bus to the company office. There I meet 8, 10 people like myself.
Giving a report and listening to the boss about this or that takes an hour or two. I take a bus and then the train back home. I pick up the scooter from the station and reach home at 9, 9:30 pm. Sometimes, the children are asleep, sometimes they are awake. After a wash, have my meal at 10. After dinner, my wife and I used to go for a walk at night but we've stopped this because of the winter. Now we talk about something that occurred in the day and watch t.v. for awhile. When I was a student I used to come from the village to Faridabad to watch films but now in these four years, I have not seen a single film in the hall. I don't feel like it. I am fed up with the job. I want to leave the job but where can I go? We sleep at 11 pm.
+ + +
I am not yet 35 years old. My husband and elder son both work. I look after the house and also earn some money from stitching and embroider. Every day I get up at 5 am. I have to go out for latrine in the open. It is dark. I fear pigs and dirty men. (Men sit and hide). It's forced on us. I have to prepare for it. After coming back, I fill up water from the public tap. If it is not crowded, it takes twenty minutes, otherwise it takes an hour.
'After bringing water, washing the dishes, cleaning the place then I cut the vegetables and grind the spices. I don't use readymade spices. My husband works in Okhla now and he has to catch the 7:40 am train. On one stove, I cook vegetables and on the other I make rotis (bread) after kneading the flour. Sometimes, on the kerosene stove, I have to heat up the water because my two kids have to get ready for school. After the vegetables are ready, I make tea. My husband has to leave home at .7:15 to catch the train. The children leave at 7:45. In the morning, they have breakfast of roti and vegetables and then drink tea. My husband also takes his rotis. The children come back at 1 and eat. After I've completed my work then if some tea is left, I drink that or I make another cup. I drink tea but I don't feel like having breakfast. I heat up water and have a bath. Then I wash the dishes, broom the place, fold up the beds. I work very fast but still it is ten to 11 before it's over and if some guests come in it takes more time. Then I take rest for an hour or two.
I again fill up water in the morning from the public tap. I have to collect water three times in a day. Then work for money. I stitch a pajama for ten rupees. An underwear for five. A peticoat (ladies dress) in ten rupees. Contractors bring clothes from factories on which I do embroidery at piece rate. It is 4 to 5 pm. By the time I bring milk and vegetables from the market, it is time to start preparing for dinner. Taking it all into consideration, it means that I cannot take care of my body. There is no time for myself.
My eldest son has night duty for 15 days in the month. Today he has night duty. He has to go at 8 pm from the house. I had prepared food by 7 because if he leaves immediately after a meal, then he'll have a stomach. He eats one hour before and takes some rest. At this time, he is also ill. His duty is of 12 hours. From 8 pm till 8 am tomorrow, the boy of 17 years old has to stand at a plastic-moulding machine for 12 hours everyday. I feel a lot of pain. I wish he didn't have to work but he is forced to. How can I have him sitting idle at home?
By 9:30 pm, everyone is free and lies down for bed and watches T.V. Sometimes, I am not able to sleep the whole night because of worries. When I've fall ill, I worry about who will do my work as my son and husband go to work and my children go to school. If you take help from someone then one fears the false allegations of neighbors of having a 'loose' character. My daughter is getting older (she is 13) and I keep thinking about her. I have to carry so many burdens, yet have to still keep going. How can I go on? I have not even lived half of my life. My blood-pressure goes down very low and I have very bad thoughts. If I die, what will happen to my children? Now I don't feel like meeting people whereas earlier I used to get-together a lot with people. Now my daughter has become a great support for me.
When I was 12 or 13 years old, I was married. And my husband and I stayed like two friends. Our children respect us. Again and again I try to convince myself that my children will support me. Like others’ children, my sons will not leave for their marriage. The fear of being left alone in old age. I cut down on meals to save some money so that at least their greed for money will make our children look after us in old age.
When I get too tired then I become irritated and think why is this life being given to me? Death is better than this life.
* * *
In the far north of Africa are the country-State-governments of Morrocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. The armed struggle challenging the government of France's occupation and attempting to form a new government had made Algeria hot news in the 1960's. Like Turkey and Indonesia, Algeria consists of a vast majority of Muslims but in 1964 a secular state was established there. Soon after, public discontent started getting out of control of the new government. During the elections whet the secular party lost to the religious party, the latter cancelled the elections and continued its stay in power behind the military. The religious party started an armed struggle for power. During these ten years, the secular and religious gangs were involved in bloodshed for power and only when hundreds were slaughtered did it become news. Beyond the bloodshed taking place to save the secular government and to establish an Islamic government, many other occurrences were taking place but the propaganda apparatus kept aloof from discussing them. In a little magazine Willful Disobedience, there is a brief description of a people's uprising that has been going on for 2 years in Algeria. Contending and overcoming old and new obstacles, public activities seem to be creating fissures in the present social system. Rejecting dead-end paths and searching for new ways, people's activities seem to be providing constructive material for alternatives, for creating a new society. Come, let us establish a dialogue with our friends in Algeria for an outline of the next stage of our present daily routine life.
Fissures... Flssures... Fissures...
* 70 kms. away from the capital Algiers in the Kabylia region of Algeria. On April 18. 2001, police killed a student in Benidola in Tiziozi area. There was opposition. It spread. Outbursts of anger took place. People attacked police stations and military detachments. People attacked with simple tactics like throwing stones and hitting with glass-bottles and hitting with lighted glass bottles with one-fourth petrol, burning down police vehicles, police stations, courts. Collective anger spread and every type of gov't office and political party office was attacked.
People's rebellion, revolt, uprising, insurgency spread to the whole of Kabylia region and millions of people joined it.
* At the beginning of May 2001, the people's upsurge started efforts to organize itself. It came face to face with the problems of committees, assemblies, councils, affinities, and -coordination between all of them. Means necessary for coordination and people who became the means had the danger of becoming or being made into delegates-representatives-leaders. But there were also processes occurring of dealing with these dangers.
* The government of Algeria was unsuccessful in crushing the people's upsurge. By mid-June 2001, government control in Kabylia region was almost completely done away with. To stop, contain, cash in on the people's upsurge, the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) offered support to the military president to bring about democratic change.
* Boycott of police by the people- people refused to sell food or give and food and other materials to the police. The government was forced to use helicopters and convoys of trucks through heavily armed detachments to supply goods to its other detachments in Kabylia region.
* Opportunists infiltrated the people's upsurge and attempted to manipulate in their own interests. At the end of June 2001, the coordination committee of people's groups refused to meet the representatives of the government. In the middle of July 2001, the coordination of Tiziozi drafted an oath of honor, respect, commitment to be taken by those people becoming means for coordination parts of which are...
-- not to be involved in any activities or acts whose aim is to make direct or indirect links with State power and its touts
-- not to use the people's upsurge in the interest for factional interests
-- not to use it for electoral competition or any other process for capturing power
-- not to accept any political appointment in institutions of power
* The attempts of leftists and unions to infiltrate the people's uprising and abduct it for their interests was defeated by the people. During the mass strike in Kabylia on July 26th, 2001, "Throw out the traitors! Throw out the unions!" slogans were in wide circulation and discussion.
* Government officials secretly contracted with such people who supported the idea of compromise with government. At this in mid-August, people threw out all government officials from Soumma Valley (a region in Kabylia). Soon after, all government officials from the whole of Kabylia region were forced out by the people. Mujahideen Minister had to cancel his tour of Tiziozo and the Home Minister was greeted by showers of stones when he came to install the new governor.
* At the beginning of October 2001, the government banned the demonstration being organized to give the charter demanding the release of prisoners, withdrawal of cases, and recalling of police from the whole to the President. The government used anti-insurgency armed bans in large numbers to disperse the demonstrators. On October 11, 2001, the coordination-arch and other self-organised meetings and committees, interregional coordination decided that no charter demand will be given to any government representative.
* It was also decided that the issue was beyond completely beyond negotations and anyone who would accept to talk or discuss with the government would be boycotted.
* People stopped paying their taxes and bills. People refused compulsory service in the army.
* On December 6,2001, people who were some means and coordination and claiming representatives or delegates of the coordination planned; to meet the head of the government. The whole of Kabylia region was shut down in protest. People surrounded police barracks and there were violent confrontations. In Amizor, offices of the gas company, tax department, and Mujahideen national organization were burned down. In Elqesaeur, the court and the judge's houses were attacked.
* Roads were obstructed. On February 7,2002 outside the United Nations office in the capital, coordination-arch people were arrested. People had quarantined the police in barracks. When the police again came onto the roads, there was a mass strike in all of Kabylia. At different places, people assembled in front of police barracks and confrontations with police took place at different places.
* At the end of February 2002, the president declared elections for May 30. In response, the people captured ballot boxes and administrative documents and burnt them. To appease the people, the President withdrew police from two different cities and offered to negotiate.
* At the people's no-compromise assertion, the government again began making large-scale arrests. On March 25, 2002, government forces attacked that theater in Tiziozo which was being used as an office for the coordination.' The government issued arrest warrants against 400 'representatives' of the coordination-arch.
* Increasing oppression was met by increasing opposition. On May 20, 2002, when the President went to Algiers University, then the students demanding the release of prisoners greeted the President by showering him with stones. The next day the students took over the University.
* In May 30, 2002, less than 2% polling took place in Kabylia region. People put up barricades in streets, on roads. Municipalities, government building, election offices were taken over. And burnt ballot boxes were littered on the roads.
* To derail the people's upsurge on June 19, 2002 with the mediation of two representatives, the government prepared a proposal and permitted prisoners to meet and discuss it. People at large rejected those 'representatives'. The prisoners refused to accept a proposal that contained their conditions of release for reaching a compromise with the government. With the people's upsurge continuing in August 2002, the government of Algeria released the prisoners and declared to hold elections in October 2002. Again confrontations of people with the police took place in different places. Despite the participation of Socialist Forces Front (SFS), merely 10% voting took place in Kabylia in place.
* The gov't could not have its way despite a second election within a year. In the last week of October 2002, the government again began a major attack on the people. Government armed bands are raiding those places where people hold meetings and coordination groups meet. Arrests and tortures occurred. Prisoners had gone on hunger strikes.
* From amongst the people and from the government side, hundreds have been killed and thousands injured. Despite this, people's uprising in Kabylia region has not come to a halt. For two years continuously, this people's upsurge has not allowed itself to be hijacked. Therefore, the propaganda apparatus is keeping mum about it. But it is necessary for ordinary people to discuss this people's upsurge. New language, new words, new idioms, new meanings seem necessary. And the continuing world-wide churning is making these indispensable.
In this people's upsurge there is no leader, there is no party, there is no charismatic spokesperson. Behind this people's upsurge, there is no letter-like hierarchic organization. There is no pyramid-like organization. Instead of being controlled and directed from above, this people's surge has attempted to organize itself. Opposite to top-down or bottom-up approaches, here those who are at the bottom have attempted a wider coordination by keeping those who are like them as themselves. As necessary means of coordination, people have been decided upon but they have not been given the rights of representation, delegation, leadership. It is not that everyone is alike or that everyone is equal rather...rather it has been not as unequal. Therefore, for two years, this people's upsurge has continued and parties, unions, politicians are other opportunist elements have not been able to hijack it, exploit it.
This people's upsurge is against all those in power, all those contending for power, all those anxious for power.
People surrounding confronting the armed bands of the government had placards in their hands in which was written "You cannot murder us, we are already corpses."
Government-power seeks, creates mediums-middle persons.
Compromise means the present itself !
Attempt after attempt to engender, become a representative, delegate, leader.
* * *
The results of the labor we put in becomes the means to oppress, squeeze, and further exploit us. For 5 to 7,000 years, the flow of the social river is running opposite its course.
* Humans who consist only a fraction of the earth, at a few places on the earth, began movement on the path of the exploitation of the earth. The violent domestication of animals, like the placing of reins on the horse's mouth to bring it under control, has also brought with it the slavery of human beings. From the pain of the body and the soul, pyramids? and epics arose. Of course, the slave's pain in body and soul was fathomless but there were no limits to the restlessness of the slave-owners. (Not merely life in slave-owning society rather) By declaring life itself as a curse, slave-owner Siddharth became Gautam Buddha and raised the flag of death as emancipation. (And for the destruction of society suggested the path of becoming monks.)
* Exploitation increased with the usage of plows that scraped the surface of the earth and brought in large numbers of serfs in vast areas throughout the earth. In tune (Jugalbandhi) with the construction of the fort-the palace, the entering into war, the forced taking away of produce, renunciation and ascetic practice and worship became the careers of the pain of body and soul. It is lords who left warfare who became saints...
* The present social system which began with steam and coal is moving towards piercing the womb of the earth, is taking over the whole of the earth with its tentacles. Electricity has gobbled up the night. The chain pf company-corporation-institution-computer-satellites has rendered the existence and non-existence of persons almost the same. As compared to the time of Gautam Buddha, the antagonism between person and society today has increased to such an extent that to express it or to articulate it in a relevant metaphor is a mind-boggling exercise.
* To create fissures in the increasing, enclosing vicious circles, coordination amongst neighbors seem to be a point of departure. And the ideas and practices of exploiting the weaknesses of one another become a painful barrier in the coordination among those in our life. (Milking the earth)
Methods of Worsening Our Situation
* At all times we are surrounded by difficulties and the difficulties are such that they keep on increasing. Often, it's heard and said that the whole social system is bad and it is itself the root of the problems. In addition, government-company-municipality-village panchayat-party-leader-officer are also identified as the direct producer of many of our immediate problems and difficulties. These feelings-evaluations of ours are generally correct. In this situation, when we take steps by coordinating amongst ourselves, we of course move forward on the path of obtaining relief and changing the system.
But we also do a lot against this movement...
* "The era is bad." "The world is an enemy." "Such a time has come(?)"...Such phrases are often heard. In our opinion, these statements are also reflections of truth.
But where are we lead by these accurate statements? What places, paths, and activities? Ones of hook or crook- get your needs taken care of...Somehow, just get through life...By any means, deal with what is before you...Who knows about tomorrow?...There is nothing right or wrong, everything goes—There's only one meaningful thing: get what you need to get done.
* Often, it does not seem possible to immediately deal with or overcome the present social system-government-company. They seem very powerful, but straight-forward confrontation with them seems to just increase the problem. So far, the above of "everything goes, nothing is right or wrong," seems to be okay. But—But intoxicated in the ideas and practices of the market, many times for immediate relief we push over and unleash our load on the weak amongst us, manipulate them with our problems. In doing this, we abandon ethics and designate no limits in the meanness we exercise towards our co-workers and neighbors. And then, for the laboring masses who are entangled amongst themselves, the government or company become the adjudicators for our everyday relations.
To spoil relations with those close to us for minor relief, to opt for anonymity with co-workers ? for minute self-interest is creating such a wound which keeps deepening and worsening the situation.
Immediate and momentary, superficial and shallow relations are the character of ideas and practices according to the market.
Ethics are being declared as superfluous remnants of tradition. To escape ethical constraints is being encouraged on a wide scale. Friend, this is the game of the market...
In the beginning of production for the market and its expansion, ethical norms were also a major barrier. Ethics were entangled and enmeshed in religions. And religions were the pillar of the cruel fuedal system. ?
Contending with religions to increase space for itself, the market system claiming to attack religious hypocrisy and inequality but was in reality targeting ethics and morality. After attaining dominance, the market actually fed the hypocrisy in religions. The point of departure for the creation of a new ethics seems to be a critique of science which brought about the market system that has brought life to the destructive narrowness of production-consumption. Let's question the very attitude, aim of exploitation of life and-non-life.
* * *
18-22 years age: Has to earn money. Has come to the city just to earn money. Sitting idle, he thinks, who will feed me, take care of my expenses. 1000,1200,1500 rupees per month pay. Each day 12-16 hours duty. Young, he is slightly flashy in appearance, a bit bouncy in his walk.
28-30 years age: Preoccupied with family expenses. Has to raise kids. Chooses duty over holiday, though it is not what he desires. Will do overtime shifts at single rate. For additional money, he will work 12 to 16 hours shifts or after 8 hours duty finds some other work on the side. The neglect of his body-clothes-relations is increasing.
Above 40 : There are no jobs for someone his age. Reluctantly, he is given work- 1200 rupees a month with the condition that he will work 12 hours everyday, 30 days of the month. He is visibly helpless...At every step, people are generating work for money- a shop in the house, shop on a handcart, shop on a cycle, shop on the side of the road...
With this state of things, the one upmanship vis-a-vis neighbors, co-workers, relatives, acquaintances, friends is like the ceaseless and gnawing itching of leprosy.
When will we live? Where is the time to live? And here many of us consider ourselves-humans beings- as the highest creation on earth...
Life vs. Work - Money, Work - Money
Probably not for all, but for many living beings, food, water, and shelter, can be considered indispensable necessities. These necessities in themselves give us pleasure and the activities for acquiring them are also pleasurable. But for quite sometime amongst human beings, acquiring food, water, and shelter has increasingly become a compulsion, a painful activity. In the present times especially, the majority of people's lives is withering away just in the obtainment of one's daily bread.
Besides maintaining life and continuing the existence of a species, various kinds of relations amongst a generation and across generations, gives life joy and meaning. Amongst many species, relations are generally harmonious and there is on attachment and affection towards life. But in these 5 to 7 thousand years among humans, there is an increasing tendency to see life as a curse. To escape from the cycle of life is considered emancipation and transcendence! Today, killing time, engaging in time-pass has become extensive.
Among many types of species, one generation exchanges knowledge-skill amongst itself and passes it onto the next generation. Amongst such species, exchanges between children and the aged are generally playful; learning and teaching one another gives both pleasure to both. But with the break-up of community and the advent of hierarchy/rich-poor divisions, relations amongst human beings have begun to be tortuous. To fulfill the needs of the market, an extensive noose and net of schools has emerged to teach and train young ones. This has meant not only the construction of torture houses for children on a wide scale but the increasing break-down of intergenerational relations making the elderly superfluous, transforming the aged into those waiting for death. Old-age homes and 'children are a nuisance' are two sides of the same coin...
(Of course, the accumulation of knowledge-skills and attempts at their transference across generations occur.) Besides human beings, many species accumulate in material form, i.e. add, create, collect. The creation of hives and collection of honey by bees. the stocking of nuts and food by squirrels, the construction of nests by sparrows...Various types of accumulation for making life richer, better, more secure. But since the break-up of community-type societies and the emergence of hierarchic/rich v. poor social systems, accumulation and increasing accumulation is worsening the life of more and more human beings, rendering it more painful and more insecure. Generation after generation, accumulation is intensifying on both macro and micro scales. And both the macro and the micro themselves are intensifying in form. The macro meaning bigger buildings and structures. The micro meaning greater technology, telescopes, minutes research to control populations. The accumulation has become so fearsome and demonic that persons being and not being are rendered almost the same. Increasing loneliness is biting at and absorbing every person. Even the non-living- the air, the water, the earth - has been deformed to such an extent that all living beings, all species are at stake.
The thing is not to blame oneself or this-that-and-the-other. Rather, it is necessary to think and meditate on the bad situation that work-money, work-money has made and is making. It seems necessary to scratch deeply underneath the surface of that which is being eulogized as progress and development by the 'best' among our species - the scholars, researchers, experts, and 'wisemen' and to uncover the vulgarity and absurdity of it's finesse propagation by artist and court jesters. Is there any other alternative to these paths and methods that are being disseminated through our schools, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and films...?
"If there's not enough for me, how can there be spare for you?!" There is an objective basis or criterion to believe that our relations are shrinking in the present system as seen through our time, means, and the energy of our bodies and souls. It is either work-work-work-more-work-more or sit idle, idle, idle...Both are narrow, vicious cycles. Money-money-the obsession-with-money certainly carries inside it many wounds, certainly shows how helpless we feel in the present state. It seems the script of helplessness is written on the wall, but are we really helpless? See the sparrow... What is life, we must ask? What is a fruitful life?
We human beings have created these conditions. The outcomes of the tussles that have taken place across many generations are in front of us. But the struggles have not stopped. The churning continues. Apart from the old forms, new beginnings, new methods, new paths and efforts to bury the present social system and create a new society are also continuing, are also increasing. It seems necessary to bring in new scales of measurement to recognize and understand the effect or importance of the steps persons are taking both separately and collectively. Then in the place of nothing is happening', all that is taking place will become visible to us...
Steps that increase relations with neighbors, co-workers, friends, relatives, acquaintances loosen the noose of work-money. These steps are steps on the path of life, a. fruitful life.
To deepen, increase, widen relations amongst human beings is the path to demolish the existing social system and create a new society on earth.
- Even today, sparrows sing and dance for quite some time. For most human beings, most time is absorbed in the obsession for money.
- Since domestication, donkeys are being made to carry loads but thankfully Donkey Resource Development Departments have not flourished and even today donkeys happily neigh. Human beings were already the topmost load carriers, but now, medicine, psychiatary. Human Resource Development Departments have made humans incomparable in load-carrying by cutting, molding, and transforming our body-minds-and-souls.'
- Dogs fight once in awhile but amongst street dogs, there is generally friendship. Often, in the morning and evening, dogs play, and that too, not warlike competitive sports. In contrast, human beings today engage in an uninterrupted process of preparation for competition and antagonistic conflicts.
- In forests, pigs ate roots and branches and to cool off, lay in clean, wet soils. By domesticating, and bringing them into cities, we have made pigs anonymous with dirtiness. But compared to the pig's body, if you look at our hearts and souls, perhaps there is nothing more dirty than us human beings...
Before calling someone donkey, ass, dog, pig, it is necessary to consider whether donkey, ass, dog, pig is being insulted or the human beings who are being called by these names are being praised.
"There is no time to die" people say, but if time is needed to live then conversations about the present social system and creating a new society have to take place.
* * *
11 Years AGE : Home-Family is a Jail. Parents sharp-finding eyes every time behind the child. If parents are doing any mistake, children are punished.
25 Years AGE : Family depends upon his own members exploitation. Present families are survive on members emotional exploitation – Blackmail and toughness – cruelties dual tactics. In vast exploitation by societies the family member themselves also very oppressive. But trouble is that the parents themselves seriously take the responsibility to mould the children in the same exploitation system very toughly at any cost. May be the peasant or workers, today the family are paralized and most families to keep survive the family all they do work and work, and work and play tricks. However, when the children grown the parents are do limitless effort for marriage. Why ? What purpose, for exploitation to provide new family set up, give new organise unit ?
Old Age : In family increasing gradually unpeacefulness and unpeacefulness. No sit together, no love among them. Live isolated and ignored. Extreme burden, responsibility, heavy expense, no respect anybody… Mostly feels innerly isolated however they seems everybody integrated in family. For everybody either younger or olders’ family cycle difficult chain. Gradually narrowed family now scattering. Family says I can’t take your burden more. For hand to mouth so many person run away from family ground and outside the family there is market. Now-a-days for hand to mouth very tough in a market. Persons one side unhappy by family and other side by society. What to do ?
Relations between Generations
-- Human species also like other species, they have generations-relationship and it make continuity. The community has been constitute society generally through generations-relationships which express till date at now also.
-- Scattering of Commune society are now express a very dangerous situation and problems for the human species. Hierarchic, oppressive, exploitative social systems have had a very bad impact on the body and soul of humans.
-- After birth, death is certain. This is natural. Happiness at birth and sadness at death are natural amongst living beings. But in a hierarchic social system, in a divided and split society, the pain of death becomes concentrated. No longer something of collective mourning, the pain becomes unbearable. Death which is natural becomes unacceptable. The obsession to become immortal is born.
- In the hierarchic social system that emerged with the break-up of the community, men acquired a central role. And men's "I"-ness became all-engulfing.
- On the hand, concepts of soul-rebirth rejecting death emerged and on the other, male-centered families arose to maintain the I, my blood, my lineage, my copy, my name alive. But without women, children were not possible. So man's 'my woman', marriage rituals emerged for my wife/wives.
- Nose-rings were used to establish control over animals. Nose-rings became the symbol of a husband's property. Thus, nose-ring were declared to be the ornament of woman. The formation of family was the institutionalization of the dominance of man over woman. Mother and father both became the nose-rings of children and without them the children were considered orphans. Marital institutions drew lines demarcating legal and illegal sexual relations between man and woman. Men kept on consuming illicit relations and the pain was borne by women and illegal (bastardized) children. The constraints on women and the guarding females has made woman irritable and overbearing. Woman as Mother, as giver of life has been transformed into woman as Mother of nagging.
* 'Blood relations' are supposedly considered an important part of the family yet girls through marriage becomes part of another family. With the creation of separate kitchens, even brothers by birth become parts of different families. Man by taking a woman constituted an economic unit in the form of family. Besides satisfying a man's sexual desires, marriage and family has become a means for producing children. There is an extreme desire for a son so that the rituals that have to be carried out by a son can be performed after one's death by him. There is an extreme desire for a son as a walking stick for old-age.
* To maintain the status quo, to climb the ladder of hierarchy, the whole family has to work as a unit. Family is a primary base in hierarchic social systems. The family works like the permanent military unit for these systems. To make life hell for children in the name of their welfare and to insult the elderly as a superfluous load is the normal function of family.
* Motherly love then love, attachment, feeling of one's being, entertainment, empathy, sentiments, respect, help, co-participation, happiness at arrival, pain at departure... There are multi-dimensional relations between generations. Between infants, boys and girls, young and old. (expand) Community-wide bonds that were there between generations in the family mold have shrunk and narrowed and now entered the stage of the break-up relations among generations. Slave-mother, foster mother, governess used to limit the motherly functions of a few women slave-owners, fuedals, bosses. But now daycare is limiting the motherly function of large numbers of working women. A handful of maternal and paternal grandparents of slave-owning/fuedal/boss class was limited by clowns, singers, storytellers, instructors. Whereas teachers and specialists through various mediums have side-lined maternal and paternal grandparents on a massive scale.
* With the break-up of community, with the coming of hierarchy, inter-generations relationships community-wide have shrunk and in the family become only narrow and limited intergenerational relationships. The domination and expansion of market has further limited the family, bringing it to husband-wife-daughter/son. Life has become a machine, leaving no time for love and romance between husband and wife. At the same time, desire and energy becoming scarce is emerging as the basis for industries that cater to produce sexual desire. The crisis of the present system whose axis is the market, its instability has shrunk the family to a single woman bringing up children in highly developed areas. As for the definition of the family, single person does not constitute the definition of the family—In highly developed areas of the earth, single persons numbers are continuously increasing.
In the past, having children so that they will look after you in old-age making it a shop-keeping, instrumental relation was of course painful. Nowadays, the gulping-biting in childhood to increase the marketability of children is resulting in the break-up of relations between the young and old.
The increasing dominance of the market in thought and practice together with the increasing tendency of one-upmanship in society is increasing the politics that goes on in the family. Family which has become the primary unit of the market in it today endless disrespectful behavior towards one another is flourishing which again and again by becoming insulting behavior reaches the depth of breast-beating and again comes back to the level of disrespect. Indifference/disrespect for the desires, tendencies of childhood, children is called 'love'.
In the said 'blood relations' mothers, women's role is dominant, almost the whole of it. Still recognition is given to the father, the man. "There should be at least one daughter otherwise the womb is not clean." And instead of the cursed this world to dwell in the blessed other world, offering a girl in marriage is a great charity. These beliefs kept some space for daughter in the pre-dominance of man and son in the family tradition. There has been the custom of killing girl on birth also but testing the fetus in the womb through modem technology and on finding it to be a girl, murder of the fetus is modem.
The formation and increase of old-age homes and the withering-dying desire for children are a reflection of massive disorientation in intergenerational relations in the human species. Rejecting the natural process of death after birth has given birth to social psychosis. This massively hideous condition is also an loud call for a new social constructs based on a new community.
Family acts like a permanent military detachment. But while a conscript army robs and then disperses a standing army or permanent army continuously loot.
Deep, long, extensive relationships are the yardsticks for a successful, fruitful life.
* * *
Aged worker : I worked for 22 years in East India Cotton Mill. East India Factory is closed since 1996 and till today I have not gotten all my dues (some monthly wages, severance pay, gratuity.. In these 8 years, after being shuffled from place to place, now I am working as a security guard in a factory in Sector 59. I see young boys and girls come to the factory gate every day in search for a job. I see those who are hired are squeezing and being squeezed by "Oh (hai) production! Oh production!" I feel sad when I see young people with tired, weary faces, coming out of the factory after duty and overtime. In our time, we used to go to factory gates with a desire for a permanent job but now merely for 5, 6 months employment, I see crowds gathering at the gate. I am troubled to see disheartened faces return on not being hired. It seems that the dues of my 22 years service have drowned but at least at my time there was the issue of permanent job and service dues. Whereas for this generation, there is absolutely nothing like dues. After 6 months, there is a certain break in service, there is dismissal. Today workers are being squeezed too greatly. Whatsoever happened to us, happened, but what will happen to our children?
What Kinds of Methods? What Kinds of Paths?
* What has passed was better. The present is beyond tolerance. Should this cycle remain than life in the future is impossible.
* Neither any person, nor any institution, nor any place is worth trusting. All around there is insecurity and insecurity.
* One cannot do anything. One can do everything. Getting slapped between extremes is your destiny. Sometimes, one extreme and sometimes the other extreme crush body and soul. Balancing has been made impossible by the reality.
* Since one has been born, one has to pass the time. If we think too much then the result would self-sacrifice or suicide. Nothing will change.
* Conditions will only go from bad to worse. This is not an expression of some desperation or pessimism. This is a statement of the bitter truth of reality.
This type of expression appear clearly during thought and reflection. Whether the person speaks after having thought over things or the person speaks in an emotional state, even then these types of expressions emerge. This psychic condition appears to be worldwide. This can be called a reflection of the present social system. It seems that the human species has become victim or prey of social psychosis.
What Not To Do
* Increasing difficulties will certainly engender anger. And towards what exists, there must be anger. What should our anger be directed towards?
* Through extremely active leaders and around them an active 5 to 10% population, attaining well-being remained a dream; there wasn't even any relief. And conditions have gone from bad to worse. Demonstration-meeting-movement-contributions proved to be ineffective. They have been also harmful by becoming the medium for negotiations deals at the cost of workers/laborers. In such a situation, it is a good thing that people in increasing numbers are distancing themselves from this. New leaders, new emancipators are a mirage and to repeatedly utilize them is not our negate but rather, a confirmation of our helplessness.
* Revolt, insurgency, revolution, uprising are said to be big, heavy words- "we have to raise children." Chanting these was widespread and now it has become more widespread. The dominance of the practices-ideas of moving forward, climbing higher, holding on in the arena of the present social system carries with a worsening of the situation. Instead of opposing human beings becoming commodities in the market, human beings being pushed into competition, and the falling of human beings rates as per the character of the market, what is being done is:
- More members of the family working.
- Buying and displaying good to show-increase one's status
- Wages are low. Do overtime. Don't take weekly leave. Go for work even when one is ill. Search for part-time work. Make children work.
- There is uncertainty and more uncertainty. In search of insecurity, besides the job, do some other work. To throttle one's interests. Not to take any rest. Not to meet anyone "without vested interest."
* This simple solving of the bad condition increases bad conditions.
What To Do
"If we oppose, they'll throw us out." "Opposition is simply not impossible." "Opposition has no effect- no one bothers." "People are not ready to oppose- people don't give support."
These types of expressions show the current meaning of opposition. The yardstick to measure opposition and the effect of opposition is the measuring rod of those sitting on heads and shoulders in hierarchic systems. All that is meaningful is visible, immediate and in concrete form. This yardstick is a means to show ordinary people as without any importance.
Whereas ordinary people and ordinary life alone are really important. We need those methods-paths which instead of making-showing the ordinary activities of ordinary people as helpless-insignificant establish their capability, their importance.
As it is ordinary people's ordinary work that has played an important role in creating this vicious-demonic situation. Similarly, if ordinary people take ordinary steps in opposition then it'll not take long for the present to become the past. Lifting pebbles by the finger can be done by every one, every day. This lifting of pebbles through coordination will erase the Himalayas of oppression-exploitation.
The basis of respect for person, social respect for person is mutual good behavior and togetherness. It is appears necessary to make these the means and aim of a fruitful-successful life.
Our labour worsens our conditions. As much as we labor, so much more is lost. New machines, ever new knowledge, instead of providing relief, is our misfortune. Our savings, accumulations are not only smashing human beings but rather the whole earth is being smoldered. In the name of straightwardness, everything is topsy-turvy. It is necessary to think and consider from a new angle.
Revolts against bosses, against the desire to be boss. Insurgency against the market, against human beings becoming a commodity in the market.
"If there is some vested interest then we'll certainly meet." Whereas meeting is that meeting where one meets without any vested interest.
From Collective Action Notes