I live and work in Gujarat, where I think I see a version of capitalism. Ours is a middle class locality with its typicalities, but never before have I seen a more stifling ground for heterogeneity and individual freedom. Heterogeneity because I know that the residents see the same people and live identical lives, watch the same soaps, and visit the same temples, think the same thoughts(?). Individual freedom, because you are under constant scrutiny by neighbors who know and anticipate and keenly involve themselves in your doings and undertakings.
I think that the underlying ideals to this sort of world are lust greed and power. It’s an each creature to her or himself kind of world, where even things like religion are bent to serve the market.
I’m a Muslim. And I don’t want to proselytize but the application of reason is an important aspect of Islamic theology, I’ve come across the phrases, “In it are signs for those who think”, “You are responsible for bringing good into your own life”, “To each his own…” in places in the Quran. There is a great emphasis on individual responsibility and collective conscience, hand in glove. I have been for the past few months trying to think philosophically about Islam, using some ideas from liberation theology, in an Indian perspective.
Now that I’ve laid out the context let me get to Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand’s influence on my own thinking was profound in my growing years. A lot of young people I knew had the same experience. She’s a philosopher who wrote for the public. Her work therefore, like the writers of good science fiction was trying to make some very key concepts very accessible, through fiction. And what I’m attempting to do is give her ideas some testing ground in the milieu where I’m from.
Then, September 11, and Gujarat 2002 happened. And my mind had to be shattered open to let in all pluralistic and diverse points of view. I was part of the movement against US imperialism and capitalism. I didn’t understand all of what was going on but after a trip to Gujarat 8 months after the horror of February 2002, I realised what the violence of a homogenous society can be. The secular movement was where I stood, because it seemed to be the ideal ground for growing up. Not that that wasn’t a colonization of sorts but we’ll get to that later. But I owe a great deal to the movement for peace, democracy and cultural pluralism in India.
There is also a big impact of the media in all of this. Gujarat 2002 was largely the pits of charred remains which I’m still gathering in my head every day I live here. And September 11 was that enormous world-wide spectacle where you sat gaping disbelievingly at a screen knowing how entirely helpless you are as the New York World Trade Center was felled, by airplanes, and then as two whole countries were taken into war, strife and desolation.
Now in the backdrop of all of this is Capitalism, primarily, and its tendencies towards homogeneity. In an every creature for him or herrself;) model, I think that structures need to be created to breed difference, which sadly enough, our scientific technological rationality driven paradigm does not support, in my opinion.
Continuing the discussion from here https://raahi.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/ayn-rand/