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Animal Spirits
By Badri Raina
Between the 1830s and 1850s, the human race, chiefly in Britannia, evolved into animal spirits.

Darwinism and Industrial Capitalism came together to catapult humankind from lazy ethical medievalisms to the heights of prowess and productivity. All that based on the clear recognition that the only demonstrable impetus behind the dynamics of the material world was the will-to-power of those whom evolution had made fitter to survive than others, both among animals and homo sapiens. The idle notion that equality ought to be the driving principle behind human thought and effort was consigned to idle pedlars of baseless ideals, the French Revolution and its slogans notwithstanding. Invocations to god, the alleged and allegedly benign creator, were put to rest by Nietzsche towards the 1870s as he pronounced the death of god.

For a century or two, this conjuncture yielded great advances to the dominant animals among the Western world, as the earth’s hinterlands continued to be sunk in the miasma of myths and superstitions, and, at their noblest, in the search for a truth that could furnish a peace that passeth understanding but without disturbing the material conditions that obtained. That the hinterlands had had their own social and spiritual predators was a fact not often recognised. Rather, the enslavement of millions by the very few made considerations of things like economic transformation unnecessary, since human beasts of burden could be trusted to carry out any sort of begar apportioned to them.

In India, for example, ignorantly idealistic leaderships continued to pursue policies that may be justified by the best ethical reason well after the foreign predators went away. A circumstance that, as we now realise, stymied our growth into superpowerdom by many decades.

It was not until 1990 that India leaped into “animal spirits” under the able financial guidance of none other than our current Prime Minister, the then Finance Minsiter, Manmohan Singh.

It came to be recognised that if India still failed to adopt and implement the principle of predatory prowess, letting the animals with the most killer bite free to devour wherever they would with active state support, leaving the weak and unfit of the species to their own devices and indeed to their destined victimhood in the corporate food chain, all of that no doubt issuing from their ordained karma, the lords of the Indian jungle would miss the gravy train that leads to world dominance. Somehow, it was not enough to dominate some eight out of ten Indians; the weak of all nations needed to be brought to heel in close collaboration with the successful predators of other nations.

The one-time British poet laureate, Lord Alfred Tennyson, had lamented at the heyday of Geological and Darwinian findings how Nature seemed so “red in tooth and claw”. Subsequent generations of course understood that were it not so, neither the colonial, nor imperialist dominance of the world could have been possible—a historical course that continues to be pursued by the likes of Uncle Sam and his “strategic partners”, even as they preach the ideals of democracy and social equality to the billions whom they seek to enslave and exploit, sparing neither napalm, nor agent orange, nor dirty uranium, nor white phosphorus bombs, nor patronage to rouges of all variety—from spiffy corporates to armed, extra-constitutional mercenaries and bandits—wherever they be useful in dislodging recalcitrant regimes in favour of “our own sons of bitches”. Be that as it may, here at home, the last few years having allegedly seen a slackening of “development” and capital accumulation (read untrammelled profit maximisation by private predators), as laggard and backward-looking elements within the power structure insist on wasting resources on those that need most to be uplifted, he who had first made the leap to “animal spirits” in 1990 now gives the call again to return the nation to those same “animal spirits”. (You may well wonder why a pious, spartan, and practising spiritualist Sikh should be so enamoured of “animal spirits”.) And, as if to bring home the point, the clarion call is accompanied by the expulsion from the National Advisory Council of domesticated pets, weak-ened by the thoughts of justice and equity, those so obviously flawed by civilised notions Freud might have said, such as M.S. Swaminathan, Madhav Gadgil, Harsh Mander—all three advocates of policies that might keep the predator at bay from the dredges who deserve a morsel or two. Thus, keep your fingers crossed. India is once again poised to that high growth path theory of private predatorship which may have brought calamity to the Western world but which it is now our burden to carry forward and be loyal to.

News Updated at : Wednesday, July 18, 2012
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