On Left Extremism, Justice And The Sustainability Crisis
With An Impassioned Appeal For Development
Mindful Of The Laws Of Thermodynamics !
Rahul Banerjee is an alumnus of my alma mater. He lives the rational life and his work has almost entirely been in causes that are upper-most in my heart – among the marginalised and the oppressed. You may know more about him from his blog @ http://anar-kali.blogspot.in/ and of his sight on diverse current issues from his page @ https://www.facebook.com/rahul.banerjee.146?fref=ts .
In one such interaction on Facebook that covered Left extremists and Sustainability issues, I found his views worthy of reiteration here, on my blog. He expresses well …
Compassion and respect, not extremism …
” One could be a tribal sympathiser, critical of Capitalism (not liberal democracy, mind you, which unfortunately has come to be associated with capitalism) and its rapacious destruction of the environment and society, especially that of the tribals, but sympathising with the poor and being critical of those who exploit and oppress them does not mean being sympathetic to the Maoists.
Rapacious Capitalism is a zero sum game …
“There are farmers who have become millionnaires in indore too, and in the vicinity of most cities, but these are still few in number compared to the total number of farmers in and around these cities. The statement holds good for India entire, where farming has become a loss making profession. Even America, which has become 95% urban by looting the whole world, will find it impossible to survive if it stops doing so. Its a zero sum game – urban prosperity for a few is built on misery for the many across the world. It’s an unpalatable truth that cannot be wished away by resorting to sophistry. Gurgaon is sinking under its own load and the day is not far when it will collapse !!
Yes, it’s a zero sum …
“We are going over the same ground again and again. The zero sum game is a very correct depiction of the natural world because it is based on the first and second laws of thermodynamics. I would advise you to do a deep study of those before suggesting me to read more sophistry based on neo-classical economics, which itself is based on unscientific assumptions. Simon’s book is dated and current exorbitantly rising prices of metals in particular, and commodities and food in general, have taken the bottom out of his reasoning. Anyway there is no point in continuing this debate because it is endless. We can debate with each other endlessly without agreeing, but we cannot do so with nature. The time is not far when nature will hit back with a vengeance… The present selfish mode of development is going to lead to disaster then there will be a reversion to communitarian, unselfish and egalitarian modes. If not, we will all perish !!
Tribal rights with self-rule …
“Not just tribal rights but tribal self-rule of a new kind, in which there is equality and justice for women; because the traditional tribal societies are highly patriarchal. Regarding Maoists, the best thing to do is to ignore them altogether. Their locus and modus operandi ensures they will remain peripheral to both the tribal and the country’s future. It is the Indian State, which continually mismanages its responses, that has led to the Maoists being able to do what they are doing.
Churchill’s Secret War, through wreaking famine …
“To understand this one will have to digress first a bit. Madhusree Mukerjee has written an excellent book called “Churchill’s Secret War”, in which she details on the basis of original historiography how the British Government, led by Churchill, deliberately caused the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 in which, according to conservative estimates, 3 million people were killed.
The Just Rebels, possessed and ruthless …
“What is more interesting in this book is her history of the Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar. When the Quit India
Movement was announced on 9th August 1942, the Gandhians in south Bengal region of Tamluk, led by Matangini Hazra, came out onto the streets in large numbers. The British response was to fire on them. Hazra and others died; many were arrested. Those who escaped their fate felt that there was only one way to respond to the British : set aside non-violent methods and take to an underground armed struggle.
“But the only way they could, with their rudimentary arms, was to fight a guerrilla war while ensuring that their movements were not reported to the British. So they conducted a hugely efficient programme of annihilating all the informers. So efficient was this programme that not only were all the informers eliminated but a pervasive fear was created among the people. Effectively, all information flow to the British stopped and the Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar or Tamralipta “national government” was able to rule over their small region for three years. It was only after Gandhi came out of jail and admonished them for what they had done that they gave up their armed struggle and surrendered to the police in 1946.
Recent Darbha Ghati attack by Maoists …
must eliminate all informers, present and potential. And this is what the Maoists have done very efficiently in rural areas; there is little information flow to the Indian State about their local movements. It is inconceivable that, in the recent attack, 200 heavily armed Maoists could have gathered in the Darbha Ghati just 30 kilometers from Jagdalpur without the local people knowing about it. But such is the fear of reprisal on informers by the Maoists that no information of this build up leaked to the police. All they had was an alert from the Centre that Maoist cadre were collecting in Bastar in large numbers for a strike, but nothing about where exactly this was to be executed. Saddled with this information blindness, the team that went to Sukma failed to follow Standard Operating Procedures yet again and came back along the same route, all in one group, and got annihilated. One is left wondering whether the security establishment dealing with the Maoists is a professional institution or a bunch of fools.
How the Maoists succeed …
“That the Maoists do not have an urban connection is a myth. Many politbureau members like Kobad Gandhi have been arrested from urban areas and are now in jail. It is impossible in the present day to conduct an armed struggle in a remote rural area without urban support of various kinds. There is an active urban network of the Maoists that secretly works to provide them with arms and ammunitions, funds, and technical and medical support. While the State may find it difficult to get informers in the rural areas, it is not so in urban areas where the population is too vast and the Maoists operate too secretly for them to be able to eliminate all informers. The State, in its efforts to curtail the Maoists, will obviously crackdown on their urban support lines and in this it has gained considerable success even if tailors, merchants and doctors like Binayak Sen have had to suffer in the process.
Our concern …
“I repeat, the conflict between the State and the Maoists is none of our concern; but for the tribals who die in it, due to operations from both sides, are. We should condemn the murder of tribals regardless of whether it is the State or the Maoists who are killing them, even if it is that of a killer like Mahendra Karma. We should leave both parties to their shenanigans and concentrate on our own struggles.
The immutable laws of thermodynamics …
“I had asked you to study the laws of thermodynamics and not Georgescu Rogen’s suspect attempt at conflating thermodynamics with economics, which has been rightly critiqued by many. That is why I did not mention his name or the later Marxist extensions of his theories or give links to the voluminous literature along these lines. I will now try to show from first principles, in a simple way, that a lay person can also understand how an “anarchist” interpretation can be done of these laws !!
“The first law says that energy is conserved and, due to the fact that energy and matter are interchangeable, matter too is conserved. So the total energy (including matter) in a closed system like the earth is constant and cannot be increased or decreased. Actually, the earth is an open system because meteorites crash into it from time to time, delivering matter, and the sun continually pumps energy into it; but the meteorite contribution is minimal and the sun’s energy is difficult to convert usefully, for machines to do our work.
“Therefore, if one form of energy or matter, especially non renewable energy or matter source, is depleted then it will be converted into another form, limiting the possibilities of its use in future. If soils are exhausted of their natural nutrients and, after some time, artificial nutrients are also exhausted, then it will not be possible to grow food anymore. Similarly, if fresh water sources are exhausted, we will face a more serious crisis. This can be extended to innumerable more examples that are today creating serious problems of sustainability.
“Theoretically, it is possible to convert any form of matter into any other form; there is substitutability potential for energy from matter. But, in practice, this is difficult and requires huge centralised systems which, even if invented, may create their own unforeseen problems. This is why, for all practical purposes, life on earth is a zero sum game.
“Now coming to the more difficult second law : any form of work converts some amount of energy expended into heat energy, which dissipates into the environment increasing disorder due to the increase in temperature within a closed system.
“Fortunately, the earth is not a closed system; it can release the added energy into space. Also, through photo synthesis, plants continually convert solar energy into bound energy we have in wood and food they sythesise. Animals eat this bound energy and do work, producing heat energy in the process. Some of these plant and animal remains have been transformed into fossil fuels, which too have bound energy. However, when we burn these fuels, their energy becomes unbound and contribute heat to the environment.
“Normally, due to the fact that the earth is an open system, the exponentially increasing production of heat energy would not have been a problem because it is miniscule compared to the solar energy added to the earth’s biosphere. But now, due to the increasing concentration of green house gases, especially carbon dioxide, we are slowly converting the earth into a closed system. The pathways to dissipation of heat into space is getting increasingly choked. Simultaneously, we are decimating plant life that convert unbound energy into bound energy. Climate change is a serious reality because of the twin factors we have just described.
The anarchist suggestion …
“We all must pause and seriously ponder over this transition of earth from being an open system it was to being a closed system it is now turning into. The world is experiencing a dangerous rise in temperatures on account of non-dissipation of heat we are adding to our biosphere. Yes, what I am saying is that there is a serious problem and not that there is no solution to it. Since the solution is not yet known, many people are working on it.
“As an anarchist, I feel the solution is in moderating our consumption. Mindful use of matter and energy would regulate the rate of our approach to ecological catastrophy. Ever since the neolithic revolution ten thousand years ago, humans have continually increased their exploitation of nature and it has now reached a crescendo. We need to have a relook at what we are doing. I may be wrong but that is my preference. It is still possible to have a high level of development with environmentally clean technologies, if implemented in a decentralised and egalitarian manner.
Ishavasyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyam jagat
Tena tyaktena bhunjitha maa gridha kasvid dhanam
“Even though this is from the famoust spiritual text Ishavasya Upanishad, as an atheistic anarchist I translate it thus –
All of these in the universe
Belong to Nature;
Partake of it with moderation.
Do do not covet but ponder –
Who do these riches belong to !
“Let us all heed the rational view : There is a severe crisis, of apocalyptic scale, we are building up through our own doing, through the capitalist greed we have allowed for ourselves and the consumerist lifestyle they propagate globally, repeatedly, day in and day out, for their own profit.”
A Sustainable Economy
Is Built On Sustainability Values
- Jairam Ramesh hits out at intellectuals who ‘romanticise Maoists’ (ibnlive.in.com)
- Maoism, structural violence and the silent dreams (colourofadream.wordpress.com)
- Nakshals and Congshals (sambhalkezabaan.wordpress.com)
- Terror strikes again, Maoist guerrilla ambush kills 27 (obervatoriorrii.wordpress.com)
- Misplaced focus of development alienating tribals (madhubaganiar.wordpress.com)