The political philosophy of cow

Faisal C.K

Cow has turned a ferocious god in contemporary India. The latest victim sacrificed in the altar of cow is Subodh Kumar Singh, a police inspector in Bulandshahr District, U.P. These incidents demand a probe into the philosophy of bovine politics. Tracing out of this philosophy navigates us to the Caligula’s horse-politics and much more.

Emperor Caligula, who ruled Rome from C.E.37 to 41, epitomised tyranny and irrationality. According to Suetonius, in the Lives of the Twelve Caesars (121 AD), Caligula planned to make Incitatus, his favoured horse, a consul, and that the horse would “invite” dignitaries to dine with him in a house outfitted with servants there to entertain such events. One suggestion is that the treatment of Incitatus by Caligula was an elaborate prank, intended to ridicule and provoke the senate, rather than a sign of insanity, or perhaps a form of satire, with the implication that a horse could perform a senator’s duties.

         Caligula (1979), Italian-American erotic historical drama film focusing on the rise and fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula, uncovers psychotic reign of Caligula. Even though the explicit eroticism invoked backlash to film, its political nuances cannot overlooked. On one scene Caligula orders his consort to dance for entertaining his favoured horse.On another Caligula declares himself god in the Senate but the Senate is initially hesitant to endorse the apotheosis. But at his threatening gaze, the Senators rush to endorse the royal prank. Then he bleats like a goat and the Senators too start bleating!

Caligula’s Horse: A painting by Salvador Dali

         Now a resurrected Caligula is roaming free in the political landscape of India. The Sangh’s cow is the reincarnation of Caligula’s horse. Lynching by the self-styled cow-guards has turned a normal daily affair. Caligula appointed his favoured horse as a consul; but the Indian Caligula has anointed holy cow as the ruthless master of 1.32 billion Indians. Caligula made his queen dancing for the horse; Indian Caligula made whole Indians kowtow before cow. Romans had to suffer only a single horse; but Indians have to suffer countless holy cows.

         In Jonathan Swift’s satire, A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms, horses are ruling over the human beings called Yahoos.Yahoos are naked, warlike and murderous humans. In stark contrast, the Houyhnhnms are a race of intelligent horses that enjoy a peaceful society based upon reason. In the land of Houyhnhnms, irrational Yahoos indulge in senseless controversies like whether whistling is virtuous or sinful, that claim numerous lives. The contemporary Indian politics where human beings are made inferior to cow in reason and dignity has become a replica of the country of the Houyhnhnms.

         ‘’ Is man naturally rational or irrational?’’is a primary question in political philosophy. The political ideologies like Liberalism, Anarchism and Socialism emanates from the assumption that human beings are essentially rational and intrinsically altruistic. Let us examine the concept of State of Nature, envisaged by John Locke as a basic premise of his Social Contract theory. Locke believed that man is essentially rational and co-operative. Anarchism overestimated the rationality and co-operative nature of human beings and dismissed the need of state and government.

         In contrast to Locke, Thomas Hobbes argued that all humans are naturally irrational and aggressive. The State came into being by the surrender of man’s rights before an absolute sovereign. The political ideology of Fascism essentially emanates from Hobbesian concept of irrational and brutish man.  In Fascist view, State is divine entity incarnated to tame the brutal and aggressive man.

         An irrational and emotionally-driven population,akin to the Yahoos in the Jonathan Swift’s satire, is the very first pre-condition of a Fascist state based on totalitarianism and autocracy. The irrational cow-politics is primarily aimed to mould such a Yahoo-like population in India. An indiscriminate and thoughtless citizenry is the fundamental justification for Fascism.

         ‘’1789 is Dead’’ was a slogan of the Italian Fascists. C.E.1789 is the year of French Revolution that upheld the ideal of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Thus Fascism is the negation of and anti-thesis to the ideals of Liberty,Equality and Fraternity. Remember, the ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the Preamble-Principles of Indian Constitution too. Enlightenment was the ideological premise of French Revolution.

         Immanuel Kant, in his treatise What is Enlightenment? (1784)explains the spirit and essence of Enlightenment.  Kant answers the question in the first sentence of the essay: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.” He argues that the immaturity is self-inflicted not from a lack of understanding, but from the lack of courage to use one’s reason, intellect, and wisdom without the guidance of another.By placing French Revolution and Enlightenment in the enemy-line, Fascism defined and clarified its anti-rational agenda.

         ‘’Ignorance is Strength’’ is the slogan of Ingsoc Party in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Knowledge and Reason are the arch-enemies of Fascism. Orwell explains the Newspeak, the official language of Oceania: “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.’’ By imposing the words like Gau mathaupon Indian social psyche, Indian Fascists have created an Indian Newspeak.

         The Prosecutor who conducted the prosecution of Antonio Gramsci, Italian Communist ideologue,before the Fascist court notoriously concluded that “For twenty years we must stop this brain from functioning”. The court convicted Gramsci and granted an immediate sentence of five years in confinement on the island of Ustica and the following year he received a sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment in Turi, near Bari.

But Fascists could not deactivate Gramsci’s brain. During incarceration, Gramsci’s brain functioned well and penned many political classics of 20th century that rightly guide anti-Fascist struggle. Fascism wants to deactivate the brains of people for its self-justification.  Therefore activating brains is the sole effective method for resisting Fascism and cow-politics.

Faisal CK is an independent researcher with graduation in law and post-graduation in political science. He writes on Philosophy, Law, and Diplomacy.

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