THE OTHER SIDE : When destruction donns a glittery cloak

Saturday, 07 May | Paritosh Kimothi | Dehradun

Among the various enlightening aspects Erich Fromm reveals in his book ‘The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness’ is the example of E von Salomon, “one of the accessories to the murder in 1922 of W Rathenau, the liberal and gifted German foreign minister”.

Fromm writes that Salomon made friends with a like-minded fanatic group of ex-officers, among them Kern who later killed Rathenau. In a conversation the duo had, Salomon states, “I want power. I want an aim that fills my day, I want life totally with all the sweetness of this world. I want to know that the sacrifices are worth while.” Kern replies, “Damn it, stop your questions. Tell me, if you know it, a greater happiness, if it is happiness that you are greedy for, than the one we experience only by the violence by which we perish like dogs.” Kern further says, “I could not bear it if greatness could grow again out of the rubble of this time. We do not fight so that the nation is happy, we fight to force it into its line of fate…”There is much more interesting material which Fromm writes not only on such and more influential personalities but also on the various aspects of human destructiveness in his book. However, what one logically understands is that at least some aspects of the observations of even the most knowledgeable experts are liable to be specific to their own time and situation- both of which change. The observations of Fromm made at a time when the dissemination of information was affected by various hindrances and not as free flowing as now, could be enhanced or at least tweaked up considering the present times and the apparently new forms that violence and destructiveness have taken. Violence in its ‘organic’ form continues but there are various forms it has taken in this era which do not appear like traditional violence but are probably more destructive that physical violence. These forms might not really be new but rather recycled and smartly packaged versions of means used in the past too. However, these days the perpetrators may also feel like entitled victims putting in a lot of effort for betterment. Such personalities abound in both the establishment and its opponents.

In Uttarakhand, the environment, its destruction and exploitation for commercial purposes is a major issue. The infrastructural development often leads to environmental destruction and many oppose it too while also enjoying the fruits of the developments earlier opposed. However, many of those opposing the axing of trees appear to lead lives which are in now way environment friendly. There are many genuine people but some such protesters can be observed leading lives which thrive on the use or even abuse of fossil fuels and electricity- generated by building dams and drowning valleys and villages. So is destruction limited to axing trees or also involves the lifestyles which many lead? It is not only the environment but also the culture which is facing the brunt of human proclivity. Clips shared by media persons of Kedarnath a day before its portals were to open appeared very nice till one heard some persons who sounded like hailing a politician. I may appreciate some aspects of a politician and many may consider him great but at Kedarnath- it is lord Shiva and not some politician who is the presiding presence. Same goes for any shrine- the presiding deity is who matters not any other human personality. The next day after the portals were opened, we got photographs of another politician with his back to the shrine ‘acknowledging’ the greetings of people. Here again, this gent needs to know that it is not him but lord Shiva who is the centre of attraction at Kedarnath. From Kern to axing of trees, those protesting against it and others visiting destinations- there appears to be something that may not exactly be peaceful in all these. We may not comprehend it now but then the ground reality will not change according to our perception. We may soon learn how the repercussions of various activities affect us, when we start suffering more of the effects of such actions in the not too distant future.

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