Ajai R. Singh MD

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A peep into man's histority (Contd. III)

 
 
 

a peep into man's histority       33

 

The Inevitable Conclusions

 

The problem with the Renaissance Movement and the Romanticists (as also the Lokayata ideology) was not as much their psychology as their standards of values. They admired strong passion, of no matter what kind, and whatever may be their social consequence. The cult of the hero, as developed by Carlyle and Nietzsche, was typical of this philosophy. There was vehement assertion of the right of rebellion in the name of nationalism and of the splendour of war in defence of liberty. The Romantics for example had a contempt for the trammels of convention which contempt they extended over the whole sphere of traditional norms, behaviour and morals. It is not the case that they were without morals. It is rather that their moral judgements were sharp and vehement and based on principles quite different from those that seemed good to their predecessors or their contemporaries.

 

What happens in such circumstances is that since heroism is worshipped and rebellion praised, and since according to this argument everyone's will can prevail, it leads, as must such school of anarchism, to the tyrannical rule of the successful amongst the heroes. When this occurs, and even while achieving it, they suppress in others precisely that desire for self-assertion which makes them rise to the helm. Thus a paradox is established: liberalism directed against dogma and undue authority itself rises to become a dogma and represses others. The truth of the Hegelian dialectic establishes itself.

 

The ancient West sought an end to anarchy in the Roman Empire which was a brute fact, not an idea. The Catholic world sought an end to anarchy in the Church, which idea could never be fully realised in fact. Neither of the two solutions was satisfactory since one was not idealized and the other could not be actualized. The Renaissance sought solution to the narrowness of medieval culture and, although not totally rejecting of antiquity, did make people of its times aware that a variety of opinions were possible on almost every subject. The Renaissance favoured individual development, but it also bred instability. In fact this individualism and instability were closely con­nected. As Russell asks, "How much murder and anarchy are we prepared to endure for the sake of great achievements such as those of the Renaissance? In the past, a great deal; in our own time, much less. No solution to this problem has hitherto been found although increase of social organization is making it continually more important' (Russell 1985; 490).

 

The appeal of anarchism is but a manifestation of the eternal fight of human nature with human circumstance. By circumstance man may have become gregarious and conventional, but by nature he has remained solitary and hedonistic. Religion, morality, norms and ethos try to restrain the latter and formulate a social structure that sustains itself as it sustains the man. "But the habit of foregoing present satisfaction for the sake of future advanta­ges is irksome, and when passions are aroused the prudent restraints of social behaviour become difficult to endure" (Russell 1985; 656). With its overthrow, a new sense of power and energy is experienced, with a god-like exaltation,


34  AJAI R.  SINGH AND SHAKUNTALA ASINGH

 


never otherwise in the reach of a laity. The anarchic rebel  

feels himself not only one with god, like the mystic who experiences similar exaltation, but God himself. "Truth and duty, which represent our subjection to matter and to our neighbours, exist no longer for the man who has become God; for others, truth is what he posits, duty what he commands. If we could all live solitary and without labour, we could all enjoy this ecstasy of independence; since we cannot, its delights are only available to madmen and dictators" (Russell 1985; 657).

To extrapolate this argument on the social plane: as long as governing authority, whether religious, rational, bureaucratic, scientific, or individualistic and political ideology, whether totalitarian, democratic or communist, does not surrender its predilection to impose social order by force, and continues to represent the will of the powerful rather than the hopes of common man albeit in his name, the goal of a durable and egalitarian socio-political order will remain a mirage. For this, a new philosophy is needed that establishes the values-power equilibrium. Something that combines the idealism of a St. Augustine's City of God with the solidity of a Roman Empire? The power of a blind Prakrti with the values of a lame Samkhya Purusa?

How best to articulate these has become today the challenge of man's histority to his philosophizing.

 

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