Skip to main content

Religious, rightist puritans rely on 'godly' ideas, nationalism to exercise authority

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

The principles and ideological commitments in politics, culture, religion and social practices breed culture of puritanism both in its progressive and regressive forms. The transformation of society to lead an exemplary life is the core in the politics of puritanism as a movement of divinity. Both right wing reactionaries and left-wing radicals use puritanism like applied theology to the concerns of their followers.
The confident control of individual conscience and sanctification in the name of purity is central to this gradual and subtle process of puritan socialisation. Such puritan praxis shapes individual rights, liberties, duties and obligations for the society, state, community and family in different stages of history.
The puritan provocations change with the change of time, place and public opinion but certain unchanging core doctrinal elements of puritanism continue to exist in spite of growth of science and technology. In the idea of purity of race, religion, gender, sexuality, caste, language, region and nationalism, the puritans use core doctrinal elements to appeal to public for its legitimacy.
The purity and coherence between thoughts and actions are central to the core of puritanism, which individuals and communities tend to practice as daily discipline in matters of all forms of relationships and interactions. Puritanism as an ideological force has influenced religious, cultural, political, secular, liberal, conservative and radical trends in the society.
The religious, right wing and reactionary puritans have relied heavily on the idea of god and nationalism in their effort to exercise political authority, influence government policies and control the state by forming informal and voluntary associations with missionary spirit. It is the idea of god and religion that works as the core and heart of puritanism.
Religions provide ideological foundation to puritanism as an ideology of conformism, which emphasised on ‘work is god and god is truth’ for salvation. Such a narrow puritan essence has helped to hinder working class abilities to embrace emancipatory ideals of their own consciousness from their own work and workplace.
Further, the religious puritanism has destroyed the organic relationship between the ‘work’ and ‘worker’ by converting it into a contractual language of ‘‘Covenant of Works’’ and the ‘‘Covenant of Grace’’ in Christianity. The spiritual relationship between the ‘work’ and the ‘worker’ was further destroyed by asking for desire free work (niskama karma) in Hindu religion as outline in the Bhagavad Gita.
All major world religions follow this pattern of theological arguments, which are adopted by puritanism and its advocates. Any deviation is regarded as sin; a path towards hell and blind following is sacred; a path towards heaven.
In this process, the glorification of god, complete surrender to work, unquestionable truth and morality become the core of right-wing puritanism that helps to domesticate individual freedom, individual labour and community space in the service of power; rulers, industrialists and capitalists.
Similarly, the radical sectarians and democratic dissenters have also reconfigured puritanism as a revolutionary ideology of counter culture led by marginalised communities to transform existing social, political and economic order. The mechanical understanding of historical transformations and conceptualisation of revolutionary processes follow certain outdated and unchanging narratives like puritans.
Glorification of god, complete surrender to work, unquestionable truth and morality are core of right-wing puritanism that helps to domesticate individual freedom
Class struggle as a revolutionary project need to get away from the orientation of puritanism. Class struggle often demands political and ideological manoeuvres within different contexts. It is an adultery of ideas, people and strategies to uphold working class values and interests.
The revolutionary organisational structure, its mechanisms and style of functioning need to get away from everything that disciplines individuals and their creativity abilities. The idea of disciplining is the core of puritanism that drags revolutionary processes into the reactionary puritan path.
The individuals find themselves in an environment of disorientation; be it in religious congregations or in revolutionary political projects. Puritanism provides simple and readymade answers to higher questions guided by puritan morality. In this way, puritanism and its frameworks create a theological understanding of human life and natural world. Puritanism discourages individuals for scientific scrutiny and inquiry into existing knowledge and its advancement.
The re-emergence of religious puritanism and its right-wing avatars are product of this larger philosophical terrain, which is concomitant with capitalism and its hegemonic control over individuals and communities. The domesticated labour is a central requirement for the growth of capitalism.
The religious puritanism can only create conformist and subservient individuals. Therefore, capitalism promotes authoritarian and religious right-wing force in politics and society to nourish conformist and domesticated individuals, who live with limited resources with unlimited manufactured desires.
The gap between reality and desire is so vast that individuals fall in line to fulfil the gaps in their life. Puritanism itself is a desire that exploits such a situation of unnecessary emptiness created by the capitalist system to control individuals and communities.
Puritanism fortifies the spirit of capitalism and ensures the survival of unequal economic relationships based on social and religious morality. The religious foundations of puritanism shape everyday lives by controlling our choices and freedoms in the name of morality devoid of any substance and materiality.
Puritanism as a movement, it has sanctified the ruling classes virtues as natural social and political order. The ideas of subordination, hierarchy, exploitations and inequalities are normalised within puritan frameworks of divine order.
In this way, puritanism is a detrimental ideology, which is against progressive social and political transformations. It is within this context, it is important to reject all forms of puritan ideals to pave a clear path for scientific inquiry for the advancement of knowledge for social and political change.
---
*Glasgow University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Lost to commercialisation, vanity? Ashram awaits 'second assassination' of Gandhiji

Counterview Desk  Around 130 “concerned” citizens, in a statement, have protested against the Government of India and Gujarat government decision to turn Gandhi Ashram into a ‘world-class’ tourist destination spread over 54 acres at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which would include a Gandhi Ashram Memorial, an amphitheater, a VIP lounge, shops and a food court, stating it would compromise and trivialize the “sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum.”

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest externment notice to Barwani tribal rights leader

By Harsing Jamre, Nasri Bai Ningwal, Prakash Bandod*  Over 2,500 Adivasis mobilized in response to Barwani district administration’s recent move to issue a show cause notice to Valsingh Saste, a prominent Adivasi activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), Madhya Pradesh. For two decades, Valsingh Saste as an activist of JADS has been continuously leading struggles for the constitutional and fundamental rights of Adivasis.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How Madhya Pradesh cops, ABVP 'pressured' varsity to cancel scientific temper webinar

Apoorvanand, Gauhar Raza Counterview Desk  An online petition, signed* by over a thousand citizens -- mainly activists and academics -- titled “Attack on scientific temper”, floated by the civil rights group Anhad, has strongly protested against  to use of administration to cancel an International Webinar on Cultural and Linguistic Hurdles in the Achievement of Scientific Temper under the pressure of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP's student wing.