While reading the article, Making brutes of us all……dehumanising…. although I agree that the present socio-political system makes us too occupied with securing our basic needs and hardly gives us the leisure which is required for higher intellectual growth and overall benefit for the society (Marx). But then again, basic survival instinct of human being as a species kicks in during crisis.
The true nature of humans does come out when pushed to corners, conflict or during crisis situation. During my fieldwork days with prisoners, drug traffickers, what I found was, for a prisoner the most important goal for him is to move out of the prison, gain his freedom. He would probably go to any length to attain that. The parameters of morality become very different and what matters is the end result. Similar conditions during riots, etc. Survival becomes the first priority.
Hence, in the present crisis, what I understood is, uncertainty about the future and basic survival instinct. Therefore, this hoarding of essential/food items irrespective of government instructions and assurance.
But there are some exceptions, humans are known to be slaves of their habit/s they develop. I have seen many individuals (not to mention few of my close relatives) who out of sheer habit of going out to market daily, would venture out even if he/she is not required to go out. They would either carry a big bag or a doctor’s prescription as means to avoid being beaten by police lathi ke maar se bachne ke liye. Now this habit made me compare to another incident – During my field work days, I had observed that villagers (predominantly women) would go to nearest market or sit near the main highway to sell whatever excess they have produced in their field or kitchen garden. They would probably sell the items at a lower rate than usual market rate. Their main motive was not to sell and earn money but more of socializing with outside world, interacting, since they hardly get the opportunity to move out of their village.
But, where do I put this present category of people who keep defying their own safety and their family members and also risking the safety of larger population. I am sure it does not fit into the need to socialize, get in touch with other people. Without going out physically they have the modern means to stay connected like mobile phones, good internet connection, voice/video calls, etc.
I don’t see a way out, seems depressing, negative and I might be termed as cynical and not critical. But what I feel is, unless the entire system changes, either I accept the system, be a part and keep toiling or make a new system. It’s like the paradigm shift of Popper, Kuhn. Unless that happens, we being part of the present system have to keep toiling and such crisis situation will keep bringing the basic nature of humans as nasty brutish and short (Hobbes, 1651), or in psychology, as per Freud’s model of the psyche, the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, It consists of all the inherited (i.e., biological) components of personality present at birth, including the sex (life) instinct and the aggressive (death) instinct, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id. Crisis brings the id in the forefront.
Courtesy: In conversation with Dr. Dibesh, Agartala
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