Friday, September 12, 2014

Why I don't subscribe to any of these 'isms'?

There are many sets of ideologies in our society (or world), specially there are so many 'isms' with which people like to associate themselves; like communism, socialism, capitalism, theism, atheism, etc. These are some set of principals with which people like to associate themselves (or others). After this association they create labels to label themselves as well as others accordingly (like communist, capitalist, theist or atheist, etc). Most people who follow these ideologies try to defend each and every aspect of their own ideology as if that is the only best way for progress of entire human civilization. Many of them try to convert it into some sort of organized religion or cult movement where whatever they believe is right and all others who don't believe in their ideas are wrong. This what I don't like about any organized religion or cult movement or for that matter any of these 'isms', they all try to impose their own values and principals on others (people not belonging to their group) believing that whatever others believe is wrong. Capitalists think any welfare scheme is socialism, socialists and communists think that every industry is set up to suck worker's blood and loot customers, atheists think that all who believe in concept of god and religion are stupid, theist think that all atheists are evil, etc. These boundaries and differences between these 'isms' are becoming so rigid that many times people belonging to different groups can not come to consensus even for betterment of their society or country. They keep on fighting with each other just because some of the proposals don't fit their 'ism' ideology.Actually each one of these ideologies or 'isms' have some very good and some very bad aspects, one can pick good points from each of them and implement them for betterment of our society, but this can happen only when people associating themselves with these ideologies learn to listen to each others ideas patiently, consider merits and demerits of each of them and finally, learn to accept that one ideology can not be accepted by all people.

Actually all these 'isms' or different religions or groups are human made things, we created these ideologies during various stages of human civilizations. Some of these were needed that time because of particular situation of society that time, many of them served very good purpose when they were introduced. But when slowly these things were converted in some 'ism' or some cult movement then they became rigid, almost like some organized religion where there are some very rigid rules for dos and don'ts. Once this rigidity is introduced then there is no scope for discussion as any serious or uncomfortable question is considered as a challenge to basic fundamentals of that philosophy. Any attack or even question on core principal of that group, no matter how relevant that question is, is considered as a blasphemy. Once you bar certain questions from being asked then these 'isms' are no different than any cult movement (or organized religion) and I don't want to be the part of any cult movement. Every philosophy or 'ism' is full of many great ideas, together they can deliver lot of good for our society but at the same time purely political use of these things have resulted in introduction of some populist features who are only beneficial to limited sections of society. This was clearly done to create a set of loyal followers (called as vote bank). As every coin has two sides, every policy can be used for betterment of society or just for the political gains. When the focus shifts from society's benefit to political benefit then we witness the disaster where certain policy which was introduced with noble intentions is exploited just for political gains. Caste based reservation in India can be quoted as ideal example of this type of debacle, the current policy is so messed up that no political party is even willing to take any measure to correct it, everyone (including political parties and common people) are trying to exploit it for their own selfish gains.

I like many ideas which come from many of these 'isms', I endorse them without being bothered about from which ideology they come. For me the idea or thought is important not its source. I choose to follow principles which I find are logical and non discriminatory. I use very simple criteria to accept them or reject them, may be this is the reason I don't subscribe to any of these 'isms' because I believe in something from each one of them. I am a capitalist who supports open market, I am a socialist who support social welfare schemes for really needy sections of society, I am a communist also who believes in rights of workers and in their fair share in profit, etc. If we think of ourselves as a human first and also look at all others as humans without associating any tags or labels with them then I think we can look beyond these artificial boundaries created by all these 'isms', religions or any other things. This will help us to listen to each other without getting mad at each other and may be we can agree on many points, after all each of these groups claim to work for betterment for society so let's do it. Fighting with each other just to prove each other wrong is definitely not going to do any better so let's unite and go forward, we have lot of work to do.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]


  1. Very nice article Vinay!

    I have been an "atheist" now for close to 16 years. I am using the term "atheist" so that people can readily understand what I mean, but it just doesn't end there. I spent the initial of these 16 years only in debating or arguing against theists or in staunchly defending atheism. Needless to say, none of these bore any fruit. As the theists still remain so as they were 16 years back. But I have changed in the later period. This transformation took place when I began wondering why the theists (or any "-ists" for that matter) became violent and hostile while defending their points. Then I started studying my own psychology whenever I engaged myself in such debates or arguments. And I noticed that I too was becoming violent in the same manner (though not in physical terms) when it came to defend my own ideology or my own set of principles, almost as if the opposite party were my enemies. That's when I realised how perilous this game is. Any sort of -ism consciously or unconsciously breeds hatred and violence within us. The moment I subscribe to an -ism, all those who do not fall within its domain automatically become my anti-ists (if I can use this term). So I start looking down upon them or in some subtle or acute manner start hating them. The same is more or less true of these so-called opponents. My anti-ism becomes their -ism. And since it is an –ism for them, they defend it in the same way that I do to my own. So both parties fall into the same trap never realising the dangers involved. It's a vicious circle.

    Now comes the funny part. When I try to explain my present position to others it needs much more effort and skill on my part. For I now fall outside the domain of both the theists as well as the atheists. Therefore both cannot understand this "new position" of mine. Since there is no "-ism" any longer they fail to give a suitable "label" to me. Just indicates how much this world craves to identify people with "labels".

    Reminds me of a couplet:
    किसकी मिल्लतमें गिनूं आपको बतला ऐ शेख |
    तू मुझे गबरू कहे गबरू मुसलमां मुझको ||
    [In which category or class should I count myself, O priest ?
    You call me a non-believer (kafir), and the non-believers (kafirs) call me a Muslim]

    Pardon errors in translation if any. But I hope the message is clear.

    1. I totally agree with you on everything which you wrote in your comment. It is very easy to attack or defend any ism, people do it all the time. The time you try to take a different stand it is almost impossible to convince people your stand, because they don't understand it. Most of them just refuse to believe that you can believe in something without being part of any of these groups (that is without becoming a believer or devotee or some 'iest'). They refuse to believe that a person can be a political or very much interested in politics without being part of any political party. Most find it difficult to understand and digest that there can be a independent voice which can find good or bad in everything without getting emotional about it. The interesting part is that this type of behavior is not considered as normal behavior, but not because it is not normal but because most people don't behave like this.

      It is easy to be a part of group, when you are a part of any group or subscribe to any 'isms' it is easy to criticize other group, that is what we all see happening around us. It is going on so many years without producing any desired result which each of these groups wanted to produce, just because they refuse to share or implement each others good ideas. Still we are not willing to accept that any of these isms alone are not going to get accepted by entire human population; we need a collective effort, peaceful dialogue and logical discussions. Debates and arguments are necessary but not just to blame each other or prove each other wrong but to understand each other and then try to find out most logical solution for the problem in hand.

      The couplet which you shared summarizes our situation very well, this happens with me all the time. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this topic, you put it so nicely, actually your comment takes message of this post even further, you put it in much more nicer way. I loved reading it. Thanks.

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  3. Very good article Vinay, I agree with non-subscription.

    Here is how I consider. We can look at articulation for or against an ism as an expression of energy (like Claustrophobe said that people can become violent when expressing). Then, in reality, either of the positions will have an energy expended and therefore can be questioned for the direction.

    Someone told me a beautiful story today.. apparently a human went to Kokila (black Cuckoo) and said you sign so beautifully, wish you were white in colour. Went to a sea and said wish your water was not salty, and so on. And the nature has come back to the human to say, wish you did not wish and instead took nature as is.

    I think there can be a position no position and therefore no energy expended.

    1. Thanks a lot Subbu for sharing your thoughts about this topic. Actually flow of energy is always there no matter what we do. I also agree that people often become passionate and aggressive while defending what they believe or while criticizing what they don't believe. Actually humans don't have capacity to accept the things as it is and this can be called as the major reason for success of our species. We also originated on this planet via process of evolution like any other species but while others depended heavily on nature for their survival we tried to make our own way because we refused to accept that things can not be changed. One can very much argue merits and demerits of this approach but that is what differentiated us from all other species on this planet.

      I just hope that people learn to respect each others view and try to discuss them in very civilized way. They also should learn to accept merits and demerits (or right and wrong) of their own beliefs. If this happens then we will see better exchange of ideas, I know this sounds too ideal but we humans believe in idealism so let's try to practice it as much possible. Let's keep flow of energy in right direction. Thanks again for your input.