Yesterday, we saw many faces and forces converging on the streets, whom we missed during many programmes against the operation greenhunt over the past several months.
Binayak Sen’s conviction only reaffirms for those who forgot the simple civic science fact that the judiciary is ultimately part of the State, and it has to complement other organs of the State. This complementarity is sometimes contradictory. Such contradictory complementarity has its own functions, which are not simply ideological. Only through such contradictions the state subsumes its own excesses – resolving the problem of coordination between its various organs. One must not confuse these contradictions as some sort of autonomy, as many rights activists do. The overall tenor that the State acquires at a particular phase of societal development is what informs all its organs, one complementing another, even at many times by countering, so that the normality is established.
In India there has been a growing demand from political, media and business elites for stringent ANTI-TERROR legislation. In their pursuit to repress their own fear, they demand fear among the public so that the public doesn’t terrorise the masters. At opportune moments and places, to aid them (one can never tell whether there is conscious mutuality or not) we have ghastly incidences like yesterday’s in Delhi, or earlier this year’s in the BJP run states. Such incidences effectively create a required legitimation for such McCarthyite demands. You need to just watch the tv news channels with their distinguished guests and “ex”s from politics, police-military bureaucracy and new ‘security intellectuals’ who unabashedly demand repressive laws to control their own fear and create fear among the “faceless” “terrorists”.
Probably matters of coincidence – in the morning of the tragic day we read about “the UPA government speaking in different voices over the need for enacting tough anti-terror laws by the States”. The government’s National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan openly favours the Gujarat government’s proposal for a state law against “terrorism”. And there was a considerable coverage on the opposition party’s three-day conclave which was entitled “Terrorism to be the BJP’s major poll plank”. The party leader Rajnath Singh said that “only after Advani becomes Prime Minister will there be a decisive initiative”. And in the evening there are blasts throughout Delhi. What a day-case for anti-terrorism.
If you are conscious of the material organisation of newspapers and media reporting, you will find this pattern repeated daily.
US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis while disagreeing with the Court’s analysis in upholding a conviction for aiding the Communist Party in Whitney v. California (1927) (though concurring with the disposition of the case on technical grounds), made the most brilliant case possible within a liberal democratic framework against fascistic ideologico-legal regimentation:
Those who won our independence… knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law — the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed.
Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women.
Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive in the US, made a simple, but significant point: “The Rosenberg case illustrates the excesses that can occur when we’re afraid.”
“In the 1950s, we were afraid of communism; today, we’re afraid of terrorism. We don’t want to make the same mistakes we made 50 years ago.”
This is an important lesson for us too…
Being the only “policeman” who “has ever risen to so much influence in India”, Indian National Security Adviser MK Narayanan seldom minces words in revealing the designs of the Indian State for “national security”. He recently pronounced the focus of the state’s strategy against leftist militancy in the country. In an interview to The Straits Times, he clearly emphasised that it is the intellectual appeal of the Maoists that is letting down the Indian state in its fight against the Maoists. “…[W]e haven’t been able to break their intellectual appeal that they seem to still have”.
Narayanan further adds that “large numbers of the intellectual elite and civil liberties bodies provide a backup to the movement in terms of agitprop and other activities”. The fact that the Maoists “are still able to get support of intellectual classes is disturbing. Unless we can divorce the two … [defeating the Maoists] is not that easy”.
When asked if the Maoists are getting outside support, he said, “we have not seen any kind of infusion of arms or ammunition”. However it is the “educated elite…that gives them a connection to the outside world”. Evidently, it is that “connection” which needs to be broken.
In order to sever this “connection”, the Indian state must find intellectual scapegoats (like the Americans had the Rosenbergs and others) to terrorise the “educated elite”. Hence, we have Binayak Sen, Ajay TG… And the list is daily growing.