The Joy of Conversation

Light of truth

The saloons, bars, tea shops, places of work etc were social gathering places of the joy of conversation. The joy of communication, of understanding as well as misunderstandings and the lack of communication are discovered in these places where conversation happens. They bring to life the Enlightenment of humanism. The world of man, the overall condition in which he lives, grows out of communal work. Any work that consists of performances that can be learned by practice becomes self-satisfying. But if it ceases to be an enrichment of life and becomes instead an impoverishment of life, work can dehumanise. Work without the spiritual effort, which is an indispensable means of enhancing consciousness, becomes boring instead. Man then sinks into unconsciousness or lack of consciousness. The conditions of the age of technology have proved conducive to an outbreak of nihilistic possibilities in the whole of the population.

They arise almost from melancholy on the loss of the world as that fragile space of appearances that holds men together. H. Arendt writes, “The world lies between people, and this in-between is today the object of the greatest concern and the most obvious upheaval in almost all the countries of the globe. Even where the world is still halfway in order, or is kept halfway in order, the public realm has lost the power of illumination that was originally part of its very nature. The withdrawal from the world need not harm an individual; but with each such retreat an almost demonstrable loss to the world takes place; what is lost is the specific and usually irreplaceable in-between which should have formed between this individual and his fellow men.” The “recovery of the public world” of politics under conditions of modernity is a guiding theme of political philosophy. At one level, the “social” refers to the growth of a capitalist commodity exchange economy. In the second place, the social refers to aspects of “mass society.” Both of these creates communal tendencies where equality is the point of contention. Society equalizes under all circumstances, and the victory of equality in the modem world is only a political and legal recognition. Equality of condition, though it is certainly a basic requirement for justice, is nevertheless among the greatest and most uncertain ventures of modern mankind. The more equal conditions are, the less explanation there is for the differences that actually exist between people; and thus all the more unequal do individuals and groups become. There are chances that it will be mistaken for an innate quality of every individual, who is “normal” if he is like everybody else and “abnormal” if he happens to be different. This perversion of equality from a political into a social concept is all the more dangerous. It is within this sphere that the homogenization of tastes, attitudes, manners, and lifestyles begins to spread in modernity; this is the sphere which, in spite of jealousy thrives in the market system of personal interests than of community concerns. In our society the self-conscious insists on the fact of difference and distinction with the subject of caste or religion. The old venues of intermingling are lost in the so-called friendly conversations cutting across all sections. The social media emerge and become new venues of grouping and interacting. They are groups of the same feather, the same mind and the same ambitions. Social life easily becomes compartmentalised on the basis of interests which are fundamentally getting the larger share of the power and opportunities from the system which is economic. All groupings become interest groupings on the basis of communal orientation coloured with religion or caste or old tribal or local ambitions.

The end result is that our society is now sharply divided and communal. There are real antagonistic contradictions between the axis and the allies. There we have all varieties of fascism, from the enormous ones that surround and crush us to the petty ones that constitute the tyrannical bitterness of our everyday lives. There is only desire and the social, and nothing else. Subjects, individuals, or groups act manifestly according to their class interests. The leaders of the backlash may talk Christ, but they walk corporate. It is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for. What we desire and what we believe have consequences that are often beyond our own reckoning. It is not, then, just those others on whom we must keep an eye, although they have given us much reason to do so. We must also keep an eye on ourselves, lest the critique of fascism we employ become a type of fascism that we embrace.

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