Skip to main content

How political citizenship is being undermined to favour 'moral and religious' agenda

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* 
Citizenship is a product of working-class struggles against feudalism, colonialism, fascism, Nazism, capitalism, imperialism, and all other forms of authoritarian dominance. These struggles have led to the deepening of democracy and expansion of citizenship rights. Therefore, citizenship is a product of political struggles to ensure the collective realization of inalienable individual freedom. Essentialist freedoms are based on the immediate needs of individuals, families, societies, and states, while emancipatory freedoms are rooted in struggles to change conditions that act as obstacles to realizing both essentialist and emancipatory freedoms. Essentialist freedom contributes to emancipatory freedom, establishing conditions central to the creation of global citizenship without any form of discrimination and exploitation.
Political citizenship questions all forms of exploitation, discrimination, and inequality imposed on people by different powers that govern societies, states, and governments. Political citizenship is based on the collective realization of individual rights and freedoms rooted in solidarity. This political process of local, regional, national, and global transformation towards global citizenship is under threat due to the onslaught of various forces, including patriarchy, religious entities, reactionary political parties, and capitalist market forces, on citizenship and individual rights. These forces are dismantling political, democratic, secular, liberal, constitutional, and progressive citizenship to create conditions conducive to the development of moral and religious citizens. Moral and religious citizenship are essential criteria and conditions for the durability of religion, the circulation of elites, and the sustainability of capitalism in the age of technological revolution.
Patriarchal and feudal forces organize families, societies, individuals, and states in a hierarchical manner, where age and gender-based social, economic, cultural, and religious discriminations are socialized, normalized, and naturalized. This process occurs under the guise of morality. A good daughter, son, brother, sister, husband, wife, and friend are those who never question the power and control of elders in the family in the name of moral cultures and traditions. Questioning is considered as bad karma. All religions and reactionary nationalist institutions and processes promote the domestication of individuals, citizens, families, states, and governments based on hierarchical ideals to normalize inequality that breeds exploitation.
Various forms of capitalism, along with their institutional processes, domesticate citizens and transform them into mere consumers seeking commodity pleasures. This is achieved through an unbridled culture of consumerism, aiming to establish market societies and market democracies in the name of efficiency, prosperity, and superficial individual freedom. Fictitious freedom and consumerism are twin traps employed by capitalism to undermine political citizenship and its collective characteristics, ultimately shaping a society of orderly objects— the consumers.
In this process, capitalism and its market forces dismantle the social character of markets, businesses, and other economic activities and institutions by separating consumers from producers, both as social beings and as political citizens. The emergence of competitive consumerism, rooted in access to commodity markets, has eroded the collective foundations of society and led to a decline in political citizenship. The weakening of political citizenship and its collective foundation is pivotal to the expansion of capitalism and its purported free-market economy.
Reactionary political parties, states, and governments also perceive political citizenship as problematic, viewing it as a threat to dominant power structures and the circulation of elites that govern our society and everyday lives. Consequently, these entities promote reactionary religious and narrow nationalist politics with the aim of domesticating and suppressing political citizens who question and advocate for their freedoms and rights as democratic stakeholders in societies, states, and governments. States, governments, and political parties are actively engaged in reviving and reconstructing the abode for gods and goddesses, diverting attention from the real issues citizens face, such as homelessness, hunger, and ill health. This diversion serves to perpetuate the existing power dynamics and hinder the collective consciousness and efforts of political citizens striving for their democratic rights.
Competitive consumerism and religious politics operate in tandem to undermine political citizenship and foster conditions conducive to the creation of moral and religious citizens and consumers who refrain from questioning their current predicaments. They blame themselves for their own predicaments. Moral and religious citizens tend not to hold states, governments, ruling and non-ruling elites accountable for their past and present challenges. Instead, they outsource their everyday struggles to gods and goddesses, praying for future prosperity and peace, without relying on the states and governments they themselves establish. This helps capitalism, capitalist states, and governments to survive all inherent ordeals and sustain itself as only dominant system with sheer power of exploitation and discrimination.
The process of domesticating political citizenship and fostering socialization with moral and religious idealism is expedited by the religious education curriculum offered by various educational institutions endorsed by states and governments. Moral education based on religion in the 21st century diminishes citizens' ability to critically engage with each other as a collective. The moral and religious construction of citizenship is crucial for the sustainability of capitalism and all its religious and corporate alliances.
The struggle against such moral construction and religious domestication is central to the emancipation of people from exploitation and inequality in all its forms. The working class needs to uphold its morality based on collective solidarity and reject morality based on individual purity. Working-class morality is grounded in secular, scientific, and social experiences of the masses in their everyday lives, whereas religious morality is founded on self-realization. Individual self-realization is crucial for the growth of a market society and democracy, aligning with the requirements of capitalism for its sustainable growth.
Political citizenship and working-class emancipation are integral to each other; they are not divisible based on dubious moral and religious arguments. The success of the working class will determine whether the future entails collective servitude or collective emancipation from the shackles of religion and capitalism. Therefore, working-class people must actively fight for the collective foundation of their emancipation based on political citizenship and reject the narrow religious and market trap of 'self-realization and self-satisfaction.'
University of Glasgow, UK



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.