28 Mayıs 2012 Pazartesi

STUMBLING HEGEL


Most of the rebellion movements are done without considering what will happen after they get what they want. In most of the films including Gandhi and The Wind that Shakes Barley, the rebellion acts start out of the oppression put on the nations by some occupying forces. And most of these acts are struggles for collective autonomy. That means these acts start with the intentions that people want to take control from occupying forces and use it collectively. In this struggle the method may either be civil disobedience or armed resistance but commonly the end is the same.

 
        What separates these acts from each other and what makes some of them failed is the end of this process. Hegel, in his master-slave dialectic, talked about three stages of mutual recognition between master and slave. In the first stage, one of the sides give up the struggle since instinct for survival which leads to fear becomes dominant for him/her. So in the first stage, the one who gives up become the slave and the other becomes the master. In these terms, master is free since he gives commands and slave is not free since s/he obeys. In the second stage, since master does not see the slave as equal to himself recognition from the slave becomes insufficient for him/her. Master becomes a mere consumer and dependent on the slave. For Hegel, slavery is a necessary process in the history because slaves’ fear, service and work liberate them by transforming their nature. Through service to the master, the slave gets rid of his/her ego and with the raising consciousness s/he liberates him/herself. Finally, at the last stage, since s/he overcomes his/her ego, s/he does not want to be the new master and builds a new world with no masters and slaves.
       Now let me consider the films in according with these stages. Both India and Ireland seem to give up the struggle against the occupying forces (which is in both films- not surprisingly- British forces) most probably out of fear from hunger, death… This give up out of fear, as Hegel stated, leads the British forces become the master over these nations. Both nations keep on giving their service and labor for a time to the dominant forces. In Hegelian terms we expect from the occupying forces to be dependent on the recognition from the oppressed ones. In both films this is visible. Most of the physical and psychological oppression implied to both Indian and Irish people caused by the fear of the dominant countries’ fear from being not recognized since being not recognized by the oppressed will be their end.
         The time when the oppressed start to question their situation and life, the occupying forces will be on guard since this will be a dangerous moment for their domination. Because of this reason they will appeal every mean (either violent or non-violent) to maintain their domination. This is not an unexpected or a conflicting reaction in the Hegelian picture. What is inconvenient in the comparison of these films and Hegelian framework is the reaction of the slaves, namely the oppressed countries. According to Hegel, the slaves should learn to overcome their ego and should not want to be the new masters since that would only be going in a cycle. I think, this is the common problem of all rebellion acts. They did not think what will happen if they get what they look for. Of course, there is an end and it is the source of motivation for their acts. But, having the power and the feeling of revenge may change the Hegelian picture.
          Most of the civil wars come out of these two problems. In the Wind that Shakes the Barley, for Teddy, though they did not fulfill their purpose (having a complete sovereignty of their own country), some power over the people became sufficient to forget about the rest of their purpose. In a sense, slaves became the new masters over those who want to pursue their purpose until the end. Then, the civil war emerges. The pleasure of having and exercising power over other people can be an end by itself for these kinds of people who are oppressed for a long time if it is integrated with the feeling of revenge and inferiority complex. That is what we call as the conflict between the means and ends. When the means and end conflict at some point of one’s way in such a rebellion act against oppression, civil war is inevitable.
       Likewise in Gandhi, we see that after the British decided to withdraw from India, there immediately start the dominance fight between Muslims and Hindus. This is much more surprising from The Wind that Shakes Barley since all the way to the independence is gone through non-violently. The people of India used civil disobedience to the occupying forces which is a best way to revolt against an occupying force. This is just because of what Hegel told us in master slave dialectics. The master needs to be recognized. If you don’t recognize it through using civil disobedience, the root of the system will collapse. So, until the gaining of independence both the means and the ends overlap in Gandhi. Still, we see a civil war between two religious groups at the end of the film which is stopped by the fasting of Gandhi. The reason for the civil war since it starts because of the dominance desires of these groups is again the desire of the slaves to be the new masters.

 
        So, the master and slave dialectics that Hegel mentioned cannot function in such a rational system. The feeling of revenge, the fear from being oppressed again or just the desire for power will be a motivation for any person no matter which background or ideology s/he came from as we see in both movies. One of them came to that point by a bloody war and the other came by using no violence but applying civil disobedience. At the end, both characters find themselves in a civil war since they cannot obtain what to do after they reach at least some of the things they fight for.

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