A deadly dead-end!

In the last few days, Minister Raja has made a momentous comeback into limelight and therefore merits mention in these columns. And by some inscrutable association of thought, the Maoists too keep rising to the mind whenever the minister does. Now what earthy connection do the trigger-happy Maoists have with the tele minister? Nothing! And that’s precisely the point and problem!

But let’s rise a bit above Raja for he is no longer just an individual. This man has suddenly become a metaphor for ministerial malfeasance, a mega metaphor rather, valued at anywhere between Rs 60,000 to Rs 100,000 crores of public money. This mother of all scams at one stroke puts all other corrupt deals, jointly and severally, thus far, in the shade. And on the other end of the spectrum are the militant Maoists claiming to be fighting this very ‘entrenched’ establishment as represented by the corrupt ruling classes and their exploitation of the poor masses. At the risk of sounding sinisterly suggestive, does it not seem strange that the ‘moralistic’ Maoists have never had a tryst with such ministerial marauders and their minions yet?

We are now on dangerous terrain! But then, we all entertain dangerous thoughts, all of which do not become action, fortunately and unfortunately. The provocations of modern life are so dire to us, as individuals and as part of society. Even the primitive man had his primal fears and a resultant predatory instinct. But we are supposed to have evolved since and become ‘civilised’. We talk of such lofty things as rule of law, people’s will, freedom of expression and organised living as the touchstones of that ‘civilisation’. Modern instruments like Jurisprudence and Democracy are supposed to have insulated us from individual indignation and ire under the assurance that the higher power, State, in which they are vested instead, would take care. Indeed, the State is the modern God, protecting and preserving order. So, when such a State fails its dependent-subjects and worse, becomes itself their oppressor, will there not be righteous anger against those who personify it? And even more against those who perpetrate it personally?

Peaceful activism is the usual first response; but disillusionment sets in fast, thanks to public impotence and indifference. To such a disenchanted individual, the temptation to pick the gun and render vigilante justice to the most immediate and visible oppressor becomes pervasive. History is replete with groups that try to instituionalise this individual indignation, give it an ideological gloss and make it an organised mass movement. The Maoist label, having its roots in the Marxian stable, is one of the most popular brands in this anger-market. Classical Communist theory talks of the State ultimately ‘withering away’, after all inequalities have been levelled. By their book, that ‘red-letter day’, would be preceded by a revolution, often bloody. But even after many such revolutions and much blood, if egalitarian equality still eludes those societies, the fault clearly lies in both the mother ideology and the methods. The Marxist-Maoist ‘revolutionaries’ have only ended up converting vibrant righteous indignation aimed at deserving villains into raw anarchic violence against no one in particular.

And the contradictions have been stark too. Even in the Soviet Union, when the State actually withered away, it was not the culmination of the Communist ideolgy, but bad economics that made it happen. Or take China, the land of Mao that is also the current fatherland of the Maoists and the Marxists alike here. Chairman Mao, who is the posthumous mentor of all of these self-styled underground vigilante outfits, was in reality more of a ruler than a revolutionary. Much against the Communist moksha of withering away, the State under him was a nasty instrument of suppression. He purged his own comrades, pillaged the treasury, pulverised millions of his countrymen and put to nought all norms of governance. His personality took precedence over all professed principles. Indeed, Mao and his Leftism hardly had anything right in them. A movement born of his parentage is bound to be perverted. But even more incongruent are the targets chosen by the Maoists. These ‘Left-liberals’ who claim ‘public ownership’ as the cornerstone of their movement have no qualms in destroying public property; Their victims, running into several thousands, are rarely the classic exploiters like politicians or black-marketeers but predominantly, petty constables and poor civilians. Their ambit covers has fast Rajadhanis, not fradulent Rajas, wrought-iron bridges, not corrupt judges, the man on the street, not the street-smart babu or tout! We are not insinuating anything but only trying to highlight the Maoists’ skewed sense of justice!

There is a lesson here. The sum of all individual anger can hardly make for a mass movement, as mobilising minds is not a number game. Organised vigilantism simply does not work. The first few recruits may be highly motivated, but as the movement becomes an entity, it develops its own dynamics even as individual ire dissipates. The cadre swells not by the power of the idea, but by the accretion of lumpen, unemployable elements for whom Marx and Mao may well be distant uncles. In time, organisational challenges take precedence over goals, and as monetary interests rise, leaders get more paranoid and secretive. Comrades turn foes overnight as the fastest gun-puller becomes the undisputed despot. From Stalin to Mao to Castro to X, Y & Z, most dictators have had Marxism on their lips and revolvers at their hips. Having thus lost their script, violence for them becomes a way of life, a self-fulfilling orgasmic itch! In time, their guns are bound to backfire and the red corridor will get redder by their own blood too. But by their misplaced ‘priorities’ and misdirected violence, they would have also killed many legitimate causes that can actually do with some gunfire! For, even if I had a gun and a grouse, would I want to be dubbed a Maoist or join a band that knows not at who and why they are shooting? And that’s how the vile get their reprieve from retribution!

That really makes the world a safe place for the corrupt and the criminal. They are beyond the reach of law and the outlaw too. They dominate the ballot, can duck the bullet and easily dodge the adalat. The higher their position greater their impunity and immunity: None less than the CMs, PMs and super PMs of the land will rally around them to form a safety spectrum! So as Rajas go scot free with their bountiful booty, the prajas have no where to go: At the local police station the greasy cop may make a grab for your pocket, and if your are a woman, even grab you. At court, the judge may grab your land, given recent trends. And your elected rep, having already grabbed your vote by paying pittance, is in the grip of his own deals. Maybe some divine intervention is in order, but wonder why the Almighty is not taking our call! He had better hurry because 3G auctions are due anytime!

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Jawahar T R