Human Identities and Liberation

Tabrez new

The liberation of humanity is dependent on raising above immediate ‘identities’. The identities may be that of caste, class, religion, region, race, gender, ethnicity, language etc. However, it becomes a challenge in a society where differences and unequal relationship based on these factors already exist in society.

Those subjected to oppression on the basis of caste, class, religion, region, race, gender, ethnicity, region, language etc. have lesser alternatives than utilize their specific identities and challenge the traditional patterns of hierarchy created on the basis of these differences. The beneficiaries of the traditional ‘privileges’ would like to maintain the status quo and current pattern of differences and hence would never give space to the marginalised communities.

Both the Marxian and Liberal ideologies spoke of raising above the ‘immediate’ human identities and creation of a ‘citizen’ defined by more secular values. While Marxian ideology laid a larger emphasis on ‘equality’ through creation of ‘classless’ society, liberal perspectives as that of Ambedkar emphasized on ‘annihilation of caste’. Movements by Feminist groups, movements by blacks, movements of the workers in different ways have challenged and fought for equality.

Indian constitution did provide a space for the ‘marginal’ groups to move towards a society based on the concept of ‘equality’ and freedom from ‘discrimination’. It did allow organizing by marginal groups for challenging traditional hierarchies and fighting for ‘equality’.

However, the societal search for an ‘egalitarian’ and ‘liberated’ society as that advocated by both the Marxian and Liberal ideologies is under threat. The rise of the ‘right’ across the world poses a threat of going back to a ‘pre-modern’ society built on a ‘modern economy’. ‘Equality’ is no longer a political value. Justification of ‘racial inequality’ in United States or ‘caste and religious based inequality’ in India is a result of the raise of right across the globe.

The raise of the right has resulted in ‘defence of unreason’ where traditional privileges, discrimination and inequality is justified in the name of inequality being a natural phenomenon. It is built on a ‘false morality’ to justify ‘oppression’. A nation is sought to be defined in a manner where differences are justified. Hence it is not each Indian being ‘equal and universal citizen’ but based on one’s identity. People belonging to a certain ‘religion, caste, language, and region’ is more Indian than the other.

The rejection of the concept of ‘equality’ gives raise to justification of violence by oppressed sections. Hence lynching’s taking place in the name of religion and caste are either justified or not acted upon. There is inaction on those who indulge in incidents of rape just because they were from the majority religion and even such incidents are seen as a way to show the minorities their place.

The increase in violence in the name of ‘cow’ or ‘Jai shree ram’ in recent times can be seen as a way to go back to a society based on ‘pre-modern values’ where inequality is embedded among human beings and structure society accordingly. Violence is sought to be justified based on the ‘false morality’ as these are seen as a way to establish ‘majoritarian supremacy’.

The rise of ‘right’ creates challenge of bringing back ‘equality’ and ‘human liberation’ back to the core of debate on universal political values.

T Navin is a Researcher and works with an NGO.


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