Blowout State: The Politics of the Food We Eat

Campaign and lobbying to influence governmental food policies such as production, distribution and consumption became rampant at the turn of the twentieth century. Major political players affiliated to huge food associations started influencing the ideal diet of an average person by manipulating food policies. They kept their profits high with little or no regard for … Continue reading Blowout State: The Politics of the Food We Eat

Perfect Pace

My lethargy starts off transparent, hidden and invisible, but with every poke, every persistent peek it begins to possess a prominence that is impossible to ignore. Over time it portrays  its true colors staining my personality with a stubborn permanence. With every push it only pulls me in deeper until it peaks, prevails, it triumphs … Continue reading Perfect Pace

Is There Room For A Flood?

Seeing 02:23 in your 24 hour system daily, pinches in strange places, upsets ‘real’-time. Keep Notes can not process what you tell it now, not because it is foolish but because, it is always late. ~ Lying here today I wonder how honest I really am I wonder how candid is too candid I wonder … Continue reading Is There Room For A Flood?

The Muddle of Machine Ethics

“There are no objective values.” (J.L Mackie, 1977) Humanity has no moral canon which a common set of ethics can stem from. There is conflict all around us. Most conflicts, if not all, arise out of differences in opinions, which in turn occur because people have their own set of unique morals. The issue of … Continue reading The Muddle of Machine Ethics

The Asian Dream: Part I

At the time of writing this article, over 1,600,000 people had been infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the numbers are still piling. By the time you read the last word of this article, the numbers would have surged past 2 million or even hit 3 million. COVID-19 has taken the whole world by storm. It has become a major worldwide threat and has even been compared to the outbreak of influenza in 1957 by many scientists and doctors.

Investigating A New Reality

Looking through a list of ‘50 Best Movies to Watch on Netflix’, one gets quite tired of reading descriptions and synopses. The characters and plots begin to float off the screen as the mind is overwhelmed first by a sea of information and then the too white brightness. Yet, somehow every time you scroll past … Continue reading Investigating A New Reality

Democracy’s Last Stand

Disclaimer: This is a private blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the author. All readers are encouraged to critically analyse the opinions, arguments and facts put forward in the article in order to form an independent opinion. We live in a world where over 2.65 billon … Continue reading Democracy’s Last Stand

The Kashmir Princess

11th April, 1955. The Air India Constellation passenger airliner travelled at high speed through the clouds. One of the delegates of People’s Republic of China (PRC) checked his watch. 9.20 UTC. The passenger airliner, popularly known as the “Kashmir Princess” was carrying the whole of the PRC delegation, journalists and the aircraft crew over to … Continue reading The Kashmir Princess

Understanding Prejudices Through Hyperpolitics

“Even a dead log of wood can save lives, but live men can bring death upon fellow human beings”, this statement holds a great amount of truth. In fact, history has constantly verified this statement for us. In the long history of human beings, from the Cognitive Revolution to the digital age of today, human beings have kept warring with each other. If we study the timeline; Christians have fought the Muslims over the holy Jerusalem, men and women of science have fought the religious institutions over the idea of God, socialists have locked horns with capitalists over economic policies and the secessionists have fought the government over identity. So the question that arises is, “How is it that even a dead log of wood can save lives when such a successful species as ours can bring death upon fellow human beings?

Before we proceed, I think one little thing needs to be clarified. I am not trying to dwell into the negative or the positive effects of prejudices even though I might hint at them at some juncture in the post. More than the subjective nature of prejudices I am interested in the theoretical concept itself and in understanding their nature with the assistance of hyperpolitics.

James Patrick Kinney’s revolutionary poem ‘The Cold Within’ paints a highly vivid picture of this reality:

Six humans trapped by happenstance

In bleak and bitter cold.

Each one possessed a stick of wood

Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,

But the first one held hers back,

For of the faces round the fire,

She noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way

Saw one not of his church

And could not bring himself to give

The fire his strick of birch

The third one sat in tattered clothes.

He gave his coat a hitch.

Why should his log be put to use

To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

Of the wealth he had in store,

And how to keep what he had earned

From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge

As the fire passed from his sight.

For all he saw in his stick of wood

Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group

Did nought except for gain.

Giving only to those who gave

Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands

Was proof of human sin.

They did not die from the cold without.

They died from the cold within.

https://www.ferris.edu/RSS/fsus/Faculty/topics/pdfs-docs/diver-Cold.pdf

The last line of the poem can be called the crux of the humans’ undesirable behaviour towards its fellow human beings. The phrase “cold within” is in fact “prejudice” in our everyday language. Interpreting that last line will help us understand that compared to other animals, “the social animal” seems to be the most plagued by feuds and wars amongst its own species. For that we will have to start at the very beginning; that is two hundred thousand years ago, when in a small region in East Africa the first Homo sapien was born.

When Homo sapiens came into existence, five other species from the genus had already made Earth their home. Homo neanderthalensis- more popularly known as the “Neanderthals”- had occupied Europe, Homo erectus had occupied the Indonesian islands and the other three species were also spread around the globe.

The world was fairly peaceful until the birth of Homo sapiens and with it the beginning of the Cognitive Revolution. Yes, violence and wars existed even before the birth of Homo sapiens, however, when Homo sapiens came into existence they brought the epidemic of mass extinctions with them. During the Cognitive Revolution Homo sapiens evolved relatively larger brains. Then like any other animal, in need or greed of territory, they set out to acquire it. Due to the large size of the brain, Homo sapiens developed coordination skills greater than any other animal alive. This helped them to work in large groups and even defeat stronger enemies like the Neanderthals. The prejudices that we hold today can well be considered the result of this Cognitive Revolution because the large size of the brain allowed us to make more complex associations and deal with imaginary orders.1

The comparison between Homo sapiens (left) and Homo neanderthalensis’ (right) skulls and cranial capacity.
Source: Bradshaw Foundation

Humans are the only species on this planet which give importance to imaginary things and orders.2 For example, if we consider a government, it is a highly important institution in the modern world. But what exactly is it? It cannot be considered a real thing because it cannot be touched, held or seen. It is simply an idea, and this idea arises because unlike any other species humans have set themselves the task of creating an ideal world. As Aristotle himself pointed out, the state and the society; essentially the human beings as part of it are based on the teleological philosophy that they believe what they are doing “is in view to some good purpose” or something which is ideal for them.3 In hyperpolitics, the interactive dictionary of political science, the entries or concepts are constructed by using the interactions between the observer of the concept or the object being studied and the object itself as effective tools. In this respect, every observer views the world differently; and due to the tools mentioned the views of the ideal world also differ. To make the most extensive use of the interactive dictionary one needs to view the world from as many viewpoints as For example, a fisherman would think of the ideal world as the “seashore” because he lives on the coast, whereas a woodcutter would think of the ideal world as the “forest” because that is where he lives and that is what he sees everyday. If the fisherman were to travel to the forest he would feel completely lost and in fact even find the woodcutter and his family alien even though they are the same species. Culture has tied us so strong that we do not even need to go to the extent of species to alienate ourselves from each other.

To simply put it, prejudices are formed when one observer does not understand what the other observer is talking about. For both of them the idea of the ideal world is completely different. Naturally, the observers start generalising. Why does the white man insist on calling himself superior to the black man? The highly probable reason behind the white man’s assertion on his superiority is that the white man has not seen the world from the black man’s point of view and whatever the former sees of the world is correct and ideal for him.

However, none of this explains why the white man was successful in oppressing the black man even when the latter most certainly held similar prejudices against the white man. The answer to this, I believe, is exceptionally complex and unfortunately I do not have it.

As it can be seen in this cartoon, it explicitly brings out the underlying element of prejudicial thinking. Humans like to believe in ideas that they feel comfortable with and like.
Source: https://justicewithinsociety.weebly.com/

One can say that prejudices and biases are not formed due to the nature of the human being, but simply due to the environment they live in. It may as well be taken for granted that if the environment around a human being changes then the prejudices that he/she holds will change as well. It does not necessarily have to be that prejudices and biases are hard-wired . For example, if you live in a neighbourhood where stealing is rampant then you would associate “stealing” with something “natural”. Similarly, if you change your neighbourhood and go somewhere else where stealing is considered a criminal activity, however, bizarrely, murder is common, then over the years your sense of “natural” might eradicate the idea of stealing and simply accommodate murder in its place.

Humans can never fully get rid of prejudices because having an all-rounded view of the world is practically impossible. There will always exist some grey areas which we would not be able to explain. The best that can be done is to minimize the impact prejudices have on our thinking and lives; for if we do not do this then prejudicial thinking will swallow us long before COVID-19 or global warming have a chance to do so.

References

  1. Noah Harari, Yuval. (2011). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. London: Vintage.
  2. Noah Harari, Yuval. (2016). Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. London: Harvill Secker.
  3. Aristotle. (1905). Aristotle’s Politics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  4. Lowi, T. J. Hyperpolitics: An Interactive Dictionary of Political Science Concepts. The University of Chicago Press.

© Anurag Inamdar, 2020

Smudged Ink

Image Credit: https://www.123rf.com/profile_silatip

The story begins
with a cold draft
interwoven, in the
soft whispers of a hand
that stutters out its
first words.

As the blue fingers
tighten their grip,
utterances solidify.

They harden and sharpen
as the prose is chiseled
to an effigy of thought.

Words rise from the depths
where glistening thought bubbles
fallen between cracks ambled, aloof
until the pinpricks of reality
burst their taut surfaces.

They form sullen puddles
deepened by missed cuddles
and endless struggles
but smudged ink is not weakness,
it is to be treasured.

© Utsa Seth, 2019

The Dawn of the Cosmos

We live in an exciting era of growing intricacy and complexity where we can observe structures more complex than have ever been in existence – we live in “The Dawn of the Cosmos”

Age of Revolution

Indian society in the early colonial era In the early 19th century, Europe was going through the ‘enlightenment’, its greatest philosophical an intellectual movement, while in India; there was a period of stagnation. Indian society, as a whole remained detached from and indifferent to the political developments. It was an age of intolerant institutions and … Continue reading Age of Revolution

Bubble Wrap

It’s a ravenous hunger,an all-consuming clawin the tight trapI writhe and groana hunted animal,a prey captured, ensnaredwithout a chase, without a chance,I had NO CHOICE.My voice sat on,by the magic of 99now 9999999999,is small and whispers travelbut ears are shut. Agony roars and misery engulfsbut moneyis found in the bubblewhere vibrant reflectionscatch eyesand civilization floatson thin … Continue reading Bubble Wrap

Ghost Cities

The demons tower talltheir minions they drive the streets.The food is poisonousthe words senselessminds uselessuse less, no? Craving, greedy, hungrysouls they wander ruthless, fruitless. The air impossible to breathehappiness impossible to feelit’s a terrible ordealwill we ever,ever really heal? © Utsa Seth, 2019

Tagore and Indian Nationalism

Introduction Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta, West Bengal on the seventh of May in the year 1861. Unlike most of the nineteenth and early twentieth century Bengalis, Rabindranath’s family had quite benefited from the imperialistic British East India Company and had obtained a considerably large business interest and property. Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather, Dwarkanath Tagore … Continue reading Tagore and Indian Nationalism

Apocalypse Explained

‘Apocalypse’ is a term originally meaning a revelation or disclosure of knowledge. However, it is now widely used to refer to the belief that the ‘end of the world as we know it’ is imminent, usually accompanied by the idea that civilization will come to an explosive and turbulent end due to some catastrophic event. … Continue reading Apocalypse Explained

‘A transparent and an objective journalist media’

In 2016 the citizens of the United States of America witnessed the rapid downfall of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the rise of Donald Trump as their new ‘Mr. President’, succeeding Democrat Barrack Obama. During that time a number of political scientists claimed that ‘the United States of America’s presidential elections were Russia-influenced’ and that … Continue reading ‘A transparent and an objective journalist media’


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