Why ‘they’ are afraid of women’s movement!
By: PRATYUSH NIRJHER
“I strongly believe in the movements run by women. If they are truly taken in to confidence, they may change the present picture of society which is very miserable. In past, they have played a significant role in improving the condition of weaker section and classes.”
The women’s revolt which started with the questioning of the patriarcho-brahmnical rule book will go down in the history of HCU by the name of the woman, who voiced the collective angst of students by shouting the first slogan-‘sexist warden go back!’, followed by more than 70 male students who were present at the site of the ‘event’, which happened at the midnight of the 3rd of November. Although this ‘event’ started within some particular situation and location, but slowly this moment of revolt is capturing the imagination of student community, especially women students. The politico-ideological culmination of which is the formation of some independent women’s group, qualitatively different in structure and functioning than the well established bureaucratic party-organisation. This formulation of women’s group is creating a possibility of a new opening in women’s movement , because it is not only addressing the questions which have been already addressed during the past movements with its different dynamics, but also trying to create a new form of collective/ organisation, which goes beyond the structure of bureaucratic party-organisation who claims to be the sole representative of every movement, and in the name of maintaining the unity of ‘numbers’ and ‘things’ they tries to homogenize each and every ‘difference’ by appropriating different voices into One. This process of homogenization is continuously creating different forms and kinds of subalternisation / oppression by (re)producing the same patriarcho-brahmnical hierarchy it claims to fight against. This homogenization-subalternisation process always (re)constructs different forms of hierarchical segmentation of social labour, which is a necessary condition for functioning of neo-liberal Capital. In this situation, a women’s group formation is creating a space where women from different caste-community and locations can critically engage with each other and can start a process of breaking of the hierarchical segmentation of social labour by challenging each and every location where these patriarcho-brahminical rules, opinions and norms are functioning.
But, as happens with every possibility of new politico-ideological formulation, almost all pre-existing forces of the time rejects it by framing it in the image of the past or something old for which they can give an already existing ‘encyclopedic’ critique. And the more this type of framing happens more it gives the proof of the crisis of the politico-ideological foundation of the hitherto existing so called ‘progressive’ and ‘revolutionary’ forces. So, the question is, what are the crisis of these so called ‘progressive’ Left and Ambedkarite forces which is stopping them from any active engagement with the new possibility in the struggle against the patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms ? Are they really capable of waging a war against these patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms, either inside or outside of campus ? And if not, why? Let us try to analyse one by one.
First, let us analyse the prevailing tendency of Left in our campus, who still think students as privileged class and university as a liberal-bourgeois free space of thinking/knowledge existing ‘above’ and ‘outside’ the society. In that case, students have two tasks to perform- first, ‘SAVE’ these so-called liberal democratic spaces of ‘free thinking’ which is under attack by the ‘fascist’ regime and second, prepare ourselves for larger fight which is there in the ‘outside’ society. So the task of student wing of the party is to gather more and more cadres and transform them into ‘vanguards’ of the ‘revolutionary’ party who will finally lead the emancipatory struggle of working-class. Because, for them, the minds of the Indian working-class (as a socio-economic category) is still occupied with many ‘pre-modern’ or ‘feudal’ remnants, like-patriarchy, caste, religion etc. and therefore will always need a ‘vanguard party’ for the actualization of the emancipatory politics!
But the crisis of these bureaucratic party-organisation of Left, in both- theory and practice, begins with the emergence of neo-liberal era of capital. When these so-called pre-modern or feudal remnants openly started functioning inside the boundaries of university itself. We can also say that modern bourgeois Indian universities were always patriarchal and brahminical, but its patriarcho-brahminical nature openly came to surface in the form of reactionary movement of the upper caste and privileged class students against the increased number of entry and cultural assertion of the students from underprivileged caste and class after implementation of Mandal commission recommendations. This reactionary movement is creating and consolidating the hierarchical segmentation within and between students on two basis – first, by the instrumental mobilization of the entirely valid material basis of the disaffection and cultural resentment of a large section of students who comes into the university with the dream of fulfillment of the ‘middle class’ ‘western’ desires which they could not fulfill outside university because of their socio-cultural location in the society, but become disillusioned by the fact that this so-called free space is also culturally segmented in the same way the entire society is. Second, the anxieties and reaction of ‘middle class’ students against the shrinking of their so-called liberal bourgeois free space where their ‘western’ desires, which they were practicing till now, is being supressed. And the university administration is using this reactionary mobilization of one segment of students against other to legitimize and strictly re-inforce the patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms, which is a tool to control and discipline the entire student community.
So, this changed socio-cultural compositions of students and reactionary movement of each segment of students against other is creating a deep rooted crisis for Left politics in our universities. Where they are not able to decide, what they have to ‘SAVE’ first, their so-called ‘revolutionary’ party as a collection of ‘numbers’, ’votes’ and ‘things’ Or the university as so-called liberal bourgeois space of ‘free thinking’ ! Because the dilemma is that, the moment they will try to ‘SAVE’ the One they are definitely going to lose the Other ! This dilemma is only the reflection of the contradiction between their political ‘ideology’ and ‘the concrete material conditions’ of the present. They are still not able to see that in this neo-liberal era, ‘Nothing’ is ‘Outside’ Capital. Today the entire globe is transformed into a big giant factory and our universities are only small links in the assembly line which is functioning inside this factory. So, the working-class (as universal political-subject and not as a socio-economic category) struggle against global capital can start from here and now(!) , only by waging a war against the patriarcho-brahminical basis of hierarchical segmentation of social labour by addressing the diverse forms of anxieties, disaffections and anger of different segments of student-workers. Failing to which these Left bureaucratic party-organisations are themselves transforming into a patriarcho-brahminical structure.
Now, let us try to analyse the politics of Dalit party-organisations. In their emergence, they not only challenged the dominant caste-culture of the so-called liberal bourgeois universities, but also challenged the brahminical tendencies within the so-called ‘progressive’ Left. But in the name of waging a long term war against patriarcho-brahminical reactionary forces by forming ‘Unity of oppressed’ ,they tried to homogenize different cultures of oppressed communities and different layers within them, like-sub-castes , gender , religious beliefs , tribes etc, into One big fixed identity under the banner of an Ambedkarite party-organisation. This process of homogenization finally produced more subalternisation. The result of which was the more division within these Ambedkarite party-organisations and politico-ideological formation of different parties on the basis of different castes, sub-castes, tribes, religious beliefs etc. And this is one of the reasons of their trauma with the emergence of the possibility of a women’s movement. They are afraid that if women from oppressed caste-community will start raising their voice by themselves, it will break their patriarcho-brahminical ‘unity’. So, in this moment of crisis, the only thing they are capable of doing is to maintain political power for immediate gains, through electoral means, by gathering different fragmented parties/groups under one banner of ‘social justice’, which is actually a process of fixation of different identities in the same patriarcho-brahminical hierarchical order against which they are fighting. This form of ‘unity’ formation is not only in contradiction with , but also blocking , Ambedkar’s project of Annihilation of caste and patriarchy, because it reduced different party/groups/community/organisation and people associated with it into mere ‘numbers’, ’votes’ and ‘things’.
So, now we can clearly see that the crisis of the ‘OLD’ ‘progressive’ Left and Ambedkarite party-organisation in this era of dictatorship of neo-liberal capital, and their reactionary effort to ‘SAVE’ it, has transformed them into a patriarcho-brahminical structure and the agents of the neo-liberal capital. In that case, they are scared of any possibility of a new form of movement and organisation, in specific case of HCU – the possibility of emergence of a women’s movement, which can break their ‘fascistic unity’ of ‘numbers’, ‘votes’ and ‘things’.. In exact words of Rohith Vemula:
“The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.”
The politics of ‘Unity’ and ‘difference’ are only two sides of the same coin, which finally reduces every universal political-subject or mind into his/her immediate identity. Then the question is, how we can envisage a politics of singularity in the light of the possibility of emergence of a women’s movement in the particular situation of our campus?
What we need is not unity but solidarity – unity in struggle and struggle in unity!!!
Note: this pamphlet was distributed on 25th November 2017 at hyderabad central university (HCU).