Wali Ejaz Nekokara
Francis Fukuyama’s book “Identity: The demand for dignity and the politics of resentment” debates the concept of dignity in a very comprehensive manner. He emphasizes on inner-self of human beings as dignity lies in the inner-side. Human beings want recognition of their worth and the absence of recognition leads to resentment and that further paves way for identity politics. He also indicates to Hegel who maintains that the quest for recognition propelled human history. Fukuyama further writes that “Self-esteem arises out of esteem by others” it means human worth without recognition by others is not worth at all.
In this book, he uses three interesting terminologies that could be used as a framework for analysis. The first terminology is Megalothymia that deals with the desire to be superior, second is Isothymia that talk about respect on equal basis and third is thymos that seeks recognition. According to Fukuyama, existing liberal democracy has not solved the issue of Thymos. To him, thymos is the seat of anger, pride, the judgment of worth and driver of today’s identity politics. In 1789, corruption, nepotism, repression of people’s freedom, gagged press freedom, absence of uniform law and unbearable financial burden on peasants scuttled the worth of common people that resulted in revolution. Similarly, a very recent example is Arab spring. When a police woman manhandled a street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi and seized his car for not having license. Bouazizi approached different officials but couldn’t get back his car. After getting fed up of the system he adopted the way of self immolation. This incident in Tunisia disseminated like wild fire and people felt that human worth or dignity was being compromised. The sense of worthlessness and vanishing dignity led to Arab Spring. These revolutions were stirred by thymos.
Question arises, what is the situation of megalothymia, Isothymia and Thymos in our society? First we talk about Thymos as it deals with recognition of dignity (worth or honor) and resentment of people. In earlier aristocratic societies, people used to think that the worth, dignity, esteem and honor was only for warriors. Those who were putting their lives at stake and saving the lives of common people, they deserved dignity and honor. With the passage of time, democracy changed the notion and people became equally important and honorable.
In Pakistan, first seat of dignity is reserved for establishment or ruling elite, Second seat is reserved for religious clerics due to their efficacy for attaining political objectives and owing to their massive clout on people. Third seat is occupied by the Mafias. Forth seat is definitely for politicians especially those who toe the agenda of ruling elite. The politicians’ dignity depends upon the priorities of ruling elite. One of the strongest among these dignified groups is establishment that can dictate others to perform in a certain way.
Under the aegis of so called democracy, ruling elite is pursuing its objective of maintaining status quo. For sustaining this status quo, ruling elite can push second most dignified group (clergy) to play its role by bringing the state activities at standstill for example, Faizabad sit-in by TLP. All those people and institutions which are not hurting establishment’s interests and working for him have dignity because recognition of dignity comes from establishment. As far as Mafias are concerned, they are free to perform their illicit activities and no one can hinder their way by dint of their financial and political roots in institutions.
Furthermore, resentment is reserved for common people and downtrodden ethnic groups who want recognition of their dignity. Their dignity is not reserved and they are trying to achieve it through politics of resentment. Example of PTM is before us, when a group of young Pukhtuns felt that they were being treated as small fry and their dignity was compromised then they adopted the path of resentment. Secondly, a section of Baloch people and students perceived a sense of alienation. They felt that they were being deprived of their rights and their dignity was being compromised. This mindset of being bereft of their prerogatives infused resentment that further led to militancy. Similarly, the calls for separate provinces like South Punjab and Hazara both are driven by either resentment or dignity along with other administrative issues.
Secondly, we talk about Isothymia that is akin to respect on equal basis. Minorities in Pakistan are the most important part of our society that is seeking isothymia. Attacks on Hindu temples and forced conversion of religion of Hindu girls is the order of the day. Christians’ women are equally targeted and kidnapped. Due to inefficiency of government to confront with clergy, most of these kinds of anti-minorities activities go scot free. In current situation, the case of temple’s construction is before us, in which religious groups vehemently opposed the construction of temple. This is tantamount to consider minorities unequal citizens but same Hippocratic religious groups criticize the Indian government for not giving Muslims an equal status. Minorities can’t afford politics of resentment for recognition in this country of massive clerical influence.
Thirdly, there is megalothymia that deals with desire to be superior. The desire to be superior can be divided in two levels. First is at state level and second is at societal level. At state level, civilians have desire to be superior but superiority is already reserved for military. At societal level, an elitist stratum of society is already superior, middle class has desire to be superior and common people just want to live.
According to Fukuyama, the liberal democracy transformed the society from megalothymia (desire to be superior) to Isothymia (respect on an equal basis) but in pseudo-democratic societies like Pakistan such kind of change is not noticed.
The writer is a student of the School of Politics and International relations at QAU.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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