200 Years Of The Black Flag

black flag

Although there are dark imprints of Anarchist thoughts in Chinese philosophy of Zhuang Zhou, and in works of Roman philosophers (Christian Anarchists), there is no doubt that Anarchism started taking shape from the Enlightenment eras of late 17th century, with basic idea of questioning authority as it is not self-justifiable. Then it grew stronger with socialist movements and class struggles of 19th century. Marxism and Anarchism , for most part of history, have not been happy. But they have definitely helped shape each other, drawing broader lines between ‘centralists’ and ‘federalists’ within Marxism. This was a very interesting period,  as it started with Marx criticizing Proudhon’ economic theory (1847, The Poverty of Philosophy). In 1860’s, Michail Bakunin took place of Proudhon as Marx’s Anarchist opponent.


 Michail Bakunin was born on this date 200 years ago (30 May 1814), a prominent Atheist and Anarchist.

“The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.”

Bakunin argued that there was a good amount of truth in Marx’s criticism of Proudhon. But he also pointed out the limits of Marx’s own theory. Bakunin and fellow Federalist socialists and Anarchists rejected the idea of a revolutionary government. Marx believed that Government can be changed by the change of party, and if a communist party takes over, it will end the class struggle and make a proletarian dictatorship. In response Bakunin wrote,

“[Marx] holds that the political condition of each country is always the product and the faithful expression of it’s economical situation… He takes no account of other factors in history, such as the present political, juridical and religious institutions on the economic situation. He says “Poverty produces political slavery, the State”, but he does not allow this expression to be turned around, to say:”Political slavery, the State, reproduces in its turn and maintains poverty as a condition for its own existence; so that to destroy poverty. it is necessary to destroy the State”

 There is much truth in this expression. The neo-liberal economical practices and the conditions which it renders in present day maintain poverty, poor working conditions, orthodox education system , extremist religious militants and corporate tyrannies. A recent example:

‘Saint Alan’ [Greenspan]: ““That’s a very healthy thing, because if workers are insecure, they’re not going to ask for benefits, they’re not going to strike, they’re not going to call for an increase in wages.”

There has been a split in Socialists since the Bolshevik (October) Revolution all over the world, which turned bloody for Russia in a way similar to Chinese Cultural Revolution in some respects and made the Red Flag something to be feared. But let us not forget that Stalin and Mao were never federalists, they were the result of what Bakunin called the ‘Red Bureaucracy’. In recent times Anarchists of the New-Left have also given up on the Class Struggle, which lacks future commitment for any cause, for example the LGBT movements. They are very important, but even after everyone has been granted equal rights, there will be no change in the form of operation.

The Red and Black Flags have been successful in creating the living utopia in Spain (1936), Cuba, Venezuela, Algeria, and some were short-lived not because of insufficiency but because of military coups. Anarchism and Socialism are meant to go hand in hand, and one is not bound to use their slogans or flags. But the present dark ages of economic, corporate and state dictatorship can only be brought to an end by “Stateless Socialism: Anarchism” (Bakunin)

Civil war - CNT
Two hundred years ago a legend was born, and his ideas are most relevant today. It’s a call for all the Anarchists in India and around the world to organize, occupy streets, let your presence be known, fight against operation, most importantly disobey. A new world is possible only if we start building it today.

“We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.”

“Man becomes conscious of himself and his humanity only in society and only by the collective action of the whole society”

Excerpts from my oeuvre as a photographer.

Psychological Pluralism- Why Everyone Is A Hypocrite.

“The road to power is paved with hypocrisy”
 – Frank Underwood

The one human trait I used to hate most profoundly was hypocrisy. Notice how I mention ‘used to’? It is because one random day, out of nowhere, I had an epiphany. How can I justify the term hypocrisy, when I myself do not possess a singular string of thought? Do you? When we sit and gather all our ideas to decide on something, are we not faced by contradictions, fallacies and comparisons? This in turn makes me think, do all the quotes about being ‘you’ even matter. Because I can’t possibly believe that I am contained of a singular self. No. Both you and I possess an internal pluralism. For every particular thought in your mind is not derived from a single source or even based on a single ideology. Within you, there are, for the lack of a better word, multiple ‘yous’. There is no singular identity we possess. Instead it is a congregation of multiple identities that regularly clash with each other. This is what gives rise to the term ‘Hypocrisy’- the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case. In layman terms, when you criticize your friend for checking in at Facebook, and then go ahead and do the same the very next day, you theoretically become a hypocrite. But what I believe is that in each of the two cases, a different identity from your multiple identities rose above the others. Most of us fail to realize this because of the basic human attribute of only acknowledging the winner or of only accepting the results. At a particular time, we only confirm the identity that won, every other voice fades into the background. And it is not just two voices- the good and the bad, the pros and the cons, the positive and the negative. Blacks and Whites do not exist; it’s multiple non-uniform shades of grey. One overpowers the others, and becomes you. At different times, you are different versions of yourself. If all of your psychological identities start to agree with each other, you become too much of an idealist, and as the term itself suggests, no man can really be a perfect idealist. We can try, and in fact I persist that we should. For as we strive for singularity in thought, we tend to detach ourselves from all our psychological identities and observe them from a distance. This allows us to acknowledge not just the winner, but hand out a participation certificate to every identity. As we move further and further away from this boardroom-meeting between our identities, our view becomes more and more eternal. And with this eagle vision, we can explore each and every nook and cranny, and extract any hidden/suppressed identities of ourselves. Who knows how this might change our principles and beliefs. With every step that we take into this direction, our thinking becomes more logical and more consistent, and we eliminate or at least reduce everyday hypocrisy.

As I read what I have written, I realize one might question how simple I’m making it look. With so many thoughts/media/content being thrown at you every second, how can you comprehend each and every one of them and align them across a single straight line? This is a question for learned men and women, and unfortunately I don’t happen to be one. However, I need you to know that a voice within me fights the other on the toughness of this path of ‘singularity in thought’. But the very fact that I can at least acknowledge two aspects of this argument, somehow gives me comfort. There are still multiple aspects to be found, analysed and channelled into a singular self. In every thought, I struggle with the multiple psychological identities that exist within me, and maybe so do you. Each day I strive towards singularity, and so should you. I might overcome this pluralism one day, but as of today I am a hypocrite. But then again, I am pretty sure, so are you!

My Best Friend

Nothing can stop her. She’s been like this for a few weeks now. And though she’s been living like nothing has happened, I know better than to believe what she wants me to believe. Today is the day; I can feel it. She’s been piling up a lot lately and she’s finally decided to write it all down. I’m a bit scared for her, though. She never knows how her write up is going to end. And, she gets too worked up if it doesn’t have a happy ending. I just hope…oh, there she comes. No wonder she’s chosen this day to write. Nobody is at home and the speakers on her computer have finally been repaired. She looks serious as she selects her songs for today and sets the volume just enough so she could hear the music but not the words. She has brought the words today. She opens a blank MS Word Document and begins to type:

“Everything’s going to be fine.” That’s the most wretched lie that mankind has ever devised. Combined with a sorry, sympathetic, seen-it-all face, this lie is spoken with such finesse by certain people in our lives that we can’t help but believe them. But why can’t we see the truth? Why can’t we see what’s right in front of us! People will always leave and things will always go wrong. We’re all going to repeat our mistakes for the rest of our lives. We’ll believe in happy endings. We’ll trust people and our own feelings. We will tie our wishes to things and people we think are our own. We will dream with closed eyes and a heart full of hope. And if we don’t luck out, we’re going to survive to see the dreams shatter and the wishes being trampled upon. We will cry with all the broken pieces of our heart because we know that everything is never going to be fine again. Ever. Yet, even in that pathetic moment, all that our heart will really want from deep inside is for someone to say “Everything will be fine.” How fucked up can we really be?”

I wish I could talk to her, you know? It’s at a time like this that I really miss her. She’s shut me out. I have tried reaching out to her, but she just doesn’t want to hear me out anymore. I know what she must be feeling like. It breaks my heart to see her like this. It’s as if she’s giving up, you know? She no longer feels anything. She laughs so much through the day sometimes; you’d think everything is great in her life. But as the night comes closer, you begin to notice how empty all that is. How empty is everything that she does or says. She’d tell her friends how happy she is with them, how good they make her feel. But really, she doesn’t care one bit. She knows that, like everything else in her life, they too will leave. And the fact that it happens as often as she thinks it will happen, doesn’t help. She pulls back right at the moment when she begins to get close to someone, right at the moment she begins to trust and think that may be she really can be a friend and have a friend.

“Screw second chances. Screw the bloody struggle to live each day. Screw the self pity. And screw each one of the phonies who tell me that everything will be fine. It fucking won’t. What do they know anyway? They won’t ever know what the feeling is…to be able to touch your dream and not hold it; to see it and never get to touch it. To…to live with that feeling of loss, to live that life all day, everyday knowing in your heart that it’s never going to be; that you’ll never be good enough. I am never good enough. Everyone has to leave with another fucking lie. “It’s not you, it’s me.” Bloody hell, it’s you. And then there are all these dreams and expectations. God, I feel so heavy in my heart. It hurts so much to even think of everything that I am supposed to do in this life. Everything that I know I’d never be able to accomplish; all that disappointment that I’ll bring to the people around me and more than them, to myself – it scares me to death. It’s like my heart is clenching itself so tight that it’d choke itself. I feel as if the burning inside would consume me. As if the cold inside would freeze me to death. Am I really that helpless, that weak? Do I really have no chance to change the end of my story?”

Hey, come on, sweetheart. You do have the chance to change the end of your story. You’re stronger than the rock, remember? You…you can’t let the tricks that life plays get the better of you. Listen to me, for once! God, I don’t like it when she’s like this. That’s the problem with the books. You think they’d make everything alright; but for how long, really? They can tell you how to go on with the rest of your life but they can’t teach you how to spend that silence without them when working isn’t an option and sleep is a mile away. I just hope she listens to me. It’s okay, sweetheart. Just let it out. It’ll help. And don’t you worry…because everything is going to be okay and –

“But there’s a long way to go. Surely, I have a chance at changing the end of my story? I can go on. I can make the best of the life I have. I don’t have to drag the past along everywhere I go. I don’t always have to think about how I am going to spend my next ten years. I can live in the present. I can take one day at a time. I am not old enough to stop making mistakes and fear getting hurt. I can never be old enough. What am I, like, 21? I’ve got a place to stay, food to eat, a family to call my own. And I’ve never remained without a friend in my life. Who am I kidding, I have everything one needs to live. Everything.”

Now, that’s my girl! See why I like her so much? She always comes back. I can see her smile. Hell, I can feel her smile. And now that she has saved the Word Doc and cranked up the volume, I can finally feel that I have got my best friend back. Phew! Oh, oh! She’s opened my favorite folder! The photographs! She must have wanted to thank these beautiful people in her life who have brought her back, yet again. I feel so good, watching her like this. She smiles every time she remembers a story about her friends and family as their pictures come. Perhaps it’s my cue; she’d be here for a while. She’s happy, what else do I need? She doesn’t need me; time to go! Or… Not. That was pretty quick. She’s done with the folder, already? I watch her as she walks towards her bedroom. My heart quickens its beat. May be…may be she wants to talk to me. I wait for her with my eyes full of dreams and heart full of hope. She comes and sits in front of the mirror. She looks at me. She smiles at me. And right at the moment when I begin to smile back at her, she cuts my throat with a knife.

How the new “Karbonn” advert exploits us!

Before I begin, I’d like you to watch these seemingly innocuous advertisements linked below so that you can better comprehend what I’m trying to say.

So recently I came across these advertisements on the television while watching IPL and they made me sit up and think. They are for a mobile phone brand known as “Karbonn”. I looked it up on Wikipedia to confirm my apprehensions and yes, there it was. It is definitely an Indian brand and more importantly, its prime consumer base is India as well. That means their advertisements are tailor made for Indian citizens.

Now some of you might have understood the bone I am trying to pick here.
Nevertheless, the thing that struck me as really odd was that in both of these ads, none of the actors in any frame look even remotely “Indian”, so to say. Even the people in background don’t seem to fit the profile. Now this would have been completely understandable(acceptable?) had it been any other multinational brand that thought better to recycle the ad they made for US/Europe instead of spending funds on making another one for our third world country. But keeping in mind that “Karbonn” is a brand based out of India and targets the subcontinent primarily, this seems a farce. As these products are low-range mobile phones, they aim to sell a consumer good to a person by showing him a person which he can’t even relate with, enjoy that product.

But the more I think of it, the more I get it. Hell, I’d go even so far as so to say that this is a very clever move. And I don’t really blame them for exploiting what is out in the open. It is a well known fact that most Indians have a low self-esteem and Karbonn just took advantage of that inferiority complex. Isn’t that what marketing is all about? They just advertised their product to a specific section of the common folk by showing them that “If it is good enough for these “Inglish peoplez”, it must be good enough for you!” And if this isn’t clever marketing, I don’t know what is.

This all is just a by-product of the society we live in. This all encompassing consumerism that seeks to seep to into every crevice, every fissure, every chasm it can make its way into. Exploiting the tendencies that somehow bring us down in our own eyes. Just helping us keep that looming existential crisis at arm’s length, oh how considerate of them! Marketing us with a plethora of products and services that guarantee to help us lift ourselves so that we can see eye-to-eye with the person staring back at us through the other side of the mirror. Exceptional, it truly is.