On 2015, January 23, we were about to board for the very flight which would change our entire life for the years to come. The sheer joy of new excitement and hard goodbyes to our families were still clouded while we were waiting for our flight.
We had our flight from Air Asia with 80 minutes transit in the airport of Malaysia. With all our fellow Nepalese brothers heading to gulf countries, we were the only one going to Australia. But none of us knew, even though the countries are different, we were about to fall into the same fate of labour.
There was a guy with his “Dillibazar Tailoring” as his backpack resting down at his feet. A pang of frustration had actually started in me already why remittance is the only major source of economy in my country.
After about two hours, right when air hostesses started checking boarding pass for the flight lunch, one of the Nepalese guys started acting strange. At first, he was talking with the air hostess, tapping his pants all over around. But soon he started checking all the hand carries rested at the top of the passengers. My husband said he could be that one of the agent bringing workers in overseas and he added he is faking to his companions as though he had boarding pass for the lunch. I gave my quick glance to the guy with that shopping bag and to that supposed agent guy.
Relying on the quick judgement of my husband, I noticed that guy with a golden ring and think chain around his neck and silver watch, indeed he was fairly dressed than other people on board. He frantically searched almost all the luggage of his clients for like fifteen minutes. Clearly, it seemed like he was just pretending it with a promise that he had had actually boarding pass for lunch to be served. Rest of the brothers were silent and were staring in each other doubting if they are getting it. Eventually, he gave up with the request of air-hostess to get back to the seat for trolleys to be run.
After 15minutes our meal arrived, and it made me partly awkward to be only passengers on a row with lunch being served especially when my fellow native brothers went on curious as air hostesses started dragging down the food trolleys.
It was almost 8:38 PM when we landed into the Malaysian Airport. We had barely 80 minutes of transit.Though there were no words of goodbyes among us, we parted our ways. We were anxiously queueing in the line when I noticed another fellow with all of his backpacks and luggage was standing after me. My husband casually told him, ” yo line Hami Australia janeharuko go, tapaiko yah bata hoina justo lagyo”
Shocked and terrified, we pointed the direction where his group headed where he quickly ran to catch them. And we ran through the corridor of Malaysian Airline for one last time to change the fate of our promised life after that flight…
Photo Comments: My Christmas Story
This Christmas Day, we asked our followers to post their Christmas moments. Below are the best ones that we received.
On the occasion of Christmas,-2019 we had asked our followers to post their Christmas moments. Below are the best ones that we received. Thank you all for sharing these pictures and letting us be a part of this happiness.
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On Materialism – Basic background and Marxian thoughts
Materialism is basically a theory that states that nothing but matter exists. Thus, the study of matter and its movements and its changes is the study of materialism. This theory further claims that the consciousness and mental states are results of material movements and modifications. Mind and consciousness are by-products of matter itself (human brain, the nervous system). So, basically existence of thought is only possible because of the existence of matter.
Materialism is considered by many philosophers to be a synonym to philosophical physicalism which views that everything and all that exists is physical in form. The contradictions to these theories are idealism, pluralism, dualism and other forms of monism (these shall be dealt with by other articles).
Karl Marx was a German philosopher who was heavily influenced by the works of Ludwig Feuerbach – a fellow German philosopher who was a critique of Christianity. Feuerbach insisted that “to prove that something exists means to prove that it exists not only in mind.” He stated that it (something) must exist outside the mind and should be constant.
This theory was what inspired Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx to develop a notion of historical materialism. They stated that the real problems are what exist and not what are thought inside a group’s mind. Real problems are politico-socio-economic problems as per Marx and Engels. They thus shifted their discourses on production, producers and workers. The focal point of Marxian philosophy was thus the distribution of wealth among the labors and employers.
Friedrich Engels states that “The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in men’s better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch.” (Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Scientific and Utopian).
Marx’s concept of materialism is simply the theory of determination of a society’s growth based on the struggles between the economic forces. These economic forces are material in nature, since they are what exist in a living society. The phrase “dialectical materialism” was coined by Karl Kautsky, after the death of Marx.
Karl Marx opined that we could learn in history that progression (in law, religion, morality, etc) was possible through conflict between forces. The Marxist theory of dialectics was pretty inspired by Hegel’s dialectics.
Dialectical materialism can also be understood as a socio-politico-economic and philosophical subject that states ways to understand the reality. Dialectical materialism is a theory that insists that reasoning should exist while aiming to understand the movement, change and interconnection of things.
Dialectics opposes the metaphysical mode of thought practices. For example ‘a bird is something that has wings’. Charles Darwin also a materialist rejected these sort of thoughts claiming that not all things that have wings are birds, bats for example are not birds.
This is exactly what Marxist philosophers opine. They say that everything must be observed empirically. If something cannot be applied then they are to be rejected. Practical approaches to matter is required.
Marxism derives economic principles on the basis of these forms of thoughts.
It was his (Marx’s) belief that workers are a class in a society who have it installed in their brains that “individual” self-interest is the basic foundation of a society, that working class should either give in to the material world (greed) or use religion/mysticism to “rise above the material world.”
Human greed is “natural” and that the society cannot be changed – this was the basic theory that Marx rejected. So basically the theory that Marx rejects are that – workers are only left with two options – to accept the natural greed or use religion to rise above. Marx however does not explain “what” is rising above religion.
Marx opines that progress is not defined by individual self-interest or “greed” and that this greed is not the natural part of human characteristic.
This problem as per Marx can be solved through Dialectical Materialism. Materialism is what represents the Marxist “reality” that “dialectics” analyzes.
So Dialectics as per Marx is a method of analysis.
Dialectics simply accepts that every thing is constantly changing and this continuous changes are results of interactions and conflicts between two or more forces – as per Marx there are many little and unnoticed changes that in conclusion brings in a qualitative transformation in a society. For example, reactions between chemicals – Parts of Hydrogen and Oxygen mixing up to form water, or, even reaction between water and fire to create steam.
Materialism as per Marx is nature as it is – with no adulteration of religion or mysticism. So materialism is basically the reality that exists beyond our mind.
Our thoughts, consciousness and characteristics are shaped by the environment that we live in – the material world. This is what Marxian materialism says.
So basically, when you look around on the basis of dialectical materialism you see that there is a logical development of beliefs and opinions, events, actions and the history.
All development as per Marx is based on conflicts and interactions in the material world.
Marx and Engels were students of Hegelian dialectics (meaning they heavily studied it) and were in opposition to what Hegel theorized – that human experience is dependent on the mind’s perceptions. Marx and Engels tried more of a realistic approach and emphasized importance of real-world conditions in terms of class, labor and socio-economic interactions.
‘Marx and Engels do not deny the reality of mental or spiritual processes but only accept that ideas could arise only as products and reflections of material conditions.’ (Dialectical materialism, Encyclopedia Britannica). They opined that combining or reconciling materialism with idealism would lead to confusion.
They (Marx and Engels) were avid supporters of Feuerbach, but soon became a critic to Feuerbach in order to restore Hegelian dialectic with a principle modification. They tried to free Hegelian dialectics from idealism and install materialism.
As per Marx, “Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity.” (Karl Marx , Theses On Feuerbach, 1845/Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One).
Marx opposed Feuerbach since he thought that Feuerbach did not see the importance of practical activity.
Engels thought that “Hegel was an idealist. To him, the thoughts within his brain were not the more or less abstract pictures of actual things and processes, but, conversely, things and their evolution were only the realized pictures of the ‘Idea’, existing somewhere from eternity before the world was. This way of thinking turned everything upside down, and completely reversed the actual connection of things in the world. ” (Fredrick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific). This was what they wanted to change.
“Thoughts” for Marx and Engels were not separate from materialism, or to say that they were not independent reflections. Thoughts were products of human labor, and they contradicted with each other because of the contradictions within human society. This was the prime change Marxism developed to amend Hegelian Dialectics.
This theory was accepted by people like GyorgyLukacs, Lenin, Stalin and even Mao. So much so, that evolutionary biologists around the world even install the concept of dialectical materialism in their scientific approach – they accept that this theory does not provide a programmatic method but provides warning signs against narrowness of thoughts and dogmatism.
Though his ideas have in history been used to legitimize ill dictatorships, Karl Marx actually had a decent philosophy relating to societal development through dialectics on materialism.
However, there are flaws to the ideas of Marx. One is that development and progression is not always dependent upon the accounts of pure materialism.
Some philosophers even argue that dialectical materialism fails because in an authoritarian environment (which most communist states have faced) “dialectics” and “creative and critical thinking” are impossible.
In theory the core principle of dialectical materialism – dialogues between forces – is good. But, in reality the society does not only develop on realistic or existing objects, they also depend on human thoughts and ideas that can be formed upon logical ideologies.
So basically a society will get good values if a group of people come together and lay out their ideas – be it good or bad or even evil. The group would have a moral compass to pick up good values that everyone could agree upon. But Marx’s materialisms cannot be ignored either, because societal forces do exist.
Individual Interest as individual thoughts and ideas are thus pretty important. Individual ideas are actually the basis of development since they go on to make ideas of groups when accepted or rejected.
Marxist dialectics have given birth tomany modern communist philosophies. The ideas of Marx were modified by many Marxists, including Vladimir Lenin. Lenin went on to propound a concept of “Democratic centralism” which is a practice of reaching political decisions through voting processes inside a party. In party meetings debates motions are proposed by members and then debates are held to logically explain the motions. When certain motions are accepted through votes they are to be followed by all participants. Lenin discouraged propagandizing once votes have been placed and decisions are taken. Lenin said the theory consisted of “freedom of discussion, unity of action” (Vladimir Lenin, 1906 “Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P”).
This principle has been directly installed in the Chinese Constitution. Article 3 of the constitution provides that “the state organs of the People’s Republic of China apply the principle of democratic centralism. The National People’s Congress and the local people’s congresses at different levels are instituted through democratic election. They are responsible to the people and subject to their supervision. All administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the state are created by the people’s congresses to which they are responsible and under whose supervision they operate. The division of functions and powers between the central and local state organs is guided by the principle of giving full play to the initiative and enthusiasm of the local authorities under the unified leadership of the central authorities.”
This principle of Lenin created a new communist-political philosophy termed as “Marxism-Leninism” which is being followed by several political parties around the world including the Nepal Communist Party.
The death of myths and the age of anxiety – the great existential dilemma
Author of this article is Mr. Atit Shanti Rijal. Mr. Atit holds a great interest in philosophy and is an avid reader and likes to share his knowledge and understanding and sometimes, his own philosophical ideas and thoughts through publishing platform like us.
Myths have remained an integral part of human history. We believe that we are being looked after and that we are loved unconditionally – by a “creator” and a “controller” force.
We believe that there is a meaning to life and that we have a central place in the cosmic existence. We have believed in myths for they have provided easy answers to our questions. We believe we have a duty to fulfill and that we expect others to fulfill theirs’.
We humans have found comfort in religious documents and in romantic literature. But, as we moved on in time, our natural tendency to question things gave rise to realism. Realistic views of the world has made several of us fearful of the huge void that is our existence. We now have varied answers to how and why we exist, we have varied philosophies dealing with human existence.
We do not know for a fact what existence actually means and, now find it harder to give meaning and purpose to life.
As answer-hungry beings, we suffer. We suffer, since we do not know why “we” exist in a rock that hangs on a vast nothingness.
We do not know the beginning and might never know the end.
Does a moral life lead to a smooth after-life? Does an immoral life continue the circle of birth and death? What is a moral life? How do we define a “normal” course of human action? Is life what a group of people (society) define it to be?
These questions are asked by many of us, but, find it hard to put forward because our society has made us to believe that life is in fact beautiful, that success is the ultimate goal, failure devalues life, that love can be easily found, and, that respect is gained through our taste in and choice of class. The “meaning” of life is pre-determined “for us” by those who were born before us.
We fear of being judged – judged of our sanity being questioned, since these are not normal topics for a normal societal person. How dare you rise above the general mass and ask questions that we do not seem to like? Existentialism bores us, do you not understand? Reality is what we have made it to be. This is existence. This right here is the reality.
We would rather believe that human civilization is “certain”.
We are afraid of changes.
And, thus, as we grow older, we slowly begin to “accept” the normality, that is society. We go to functions with the intention of showing our class to people – our class that has been defined by our societies. We have less intellectual discussions and try to stay away from topics that do not suit our liking. We confirm with the norms of the society no matter how hard some are to achieve, or, how meaningless and futile they are to perform.
We build our image as our society wants it to be. We find it extremely tiring to revolt against some of the childish illusions our society wants us to put up with.
But some have indeed started to question myths. They have started questioning the “existence and creation myth” that we are made to believe. From the 129th hymn Nasadiya Sukta to modern thinking and discourses, some of us have started to revolt.
Some of us have started to separate myths and the existence of consciousness.
We have started to question our being. Why are we here? What purpose are we to serve? We have stopped sticking to a singular idea of creation – we have started questioning all of them.
“To some this is a welcome release from the restraints of moral, social, and spiritual dogma. To others it is a dangerous and terrifying breach with reason and sanity, tending to plunge human life into hopeless chaos. To most, perhaps, the immediate sense of release has given a brief exhilaration, to be followed by the deepest anxiety.” (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Alan Watts)
Those of us who have now started revolting the old ideas are but faced with anxiety. We are very desperate to rid ourselves of this angst. We are anxious because we as humans have killed myths and now have no answers.
“For if all is relative, if life is a torrent without form or goal in whose flood absolutely nothing save change itself can last, it seems to be something in which there is “no future” and thus no hope.” (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Alan Watts)
One clearer thing is that we are not promised with an after-life, neither are we promised with God’s love and affection for maintaining our life as per our religious standards. We might have no purpose after all. We will study, work for the rest of our lives, retire and then die – quietly around a group of a few people and, then slowly and gradually be forgotten.
This knowledge, however, creates a dilemma – and the dilemma creates an existential crisis.
Many of us find liberation in being able to question the long known traditions of our family, our social life, of our government, the economy of our nation and of our religious belief. We begin to understand that only few things can be regarded to be true and fixed.
But many of us are anxious because we see these institutions fail and now have no rock to hold on to. We have been accustomed to believe that the pain and suffering of our life has some meaning and that we will be able to grab some surplus in the future. It is hard for some of us to believe that we as humans can however, fail.
We cannot accept that we as humans are insignificant in this cosmic reality because, we have, for much of our history, found comfort in myths – we have believed them to be true. But since myths are debunked, we find it hard to grant them positions in our consciousness.
We have abandoned gods and their mythical stories and have said frequently that our scientifically enlightened mind rejects something that has no basis in reality.
In the course of our scientific development, we forgot that myth while still alive had helped us with our existential questions. “Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are a good many who in other ages would not have been neurotic—that is, divided against themselves. If they had lived in a period… in which man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors…. they would have been spared this division within themselves.” (Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
Myths provided ready answers to our questions about the unknown, it helped us to construct a meaningful story about the existence of life. Nietzsche and Jung point out that myths and religions in a teleological manner provide meaning to life. “The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man in our own civilization who knows that he is (and will remain) nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life.” (Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols). “Considered from the standpoint of realism, the symbol is not of course an external truth, but it is psychologically true, for it was and is the bridge to all that is best in humanity.” (Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation)
We are now enlightened and have “killed” all the existing gods, and cannot go back to a debunked theory that we now know was never true. Carl Gustav Jung in his autobiography explains how we cannot go back now for we have been aware. But, Jung also saw the psychological problems of not having myths around and, how uncomfortable he was after having realized this fact.
“Man today, stripped of myth, stands famished among all his pasts and must dig frantically for roots…” (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy). Since the death of myths, we are unable to make sense of our existence and are desperately trying to run away from the existential angst. We are frantically looking for distractions, to avoid anxious thoughts of our insignificance in this universe.
Now, we have built a coping mechanism against the death of myths – we have found comfort in entertainment. We are pleasured by television programs, photos and stories in magazines, shiny vehicles, alcohol and pornographies. We want to find good looking partners, easy payments and, less disputes. We find comfort in the lives of celebrities and search for their stories in internet where we spend countless of daily hours without realizing how wasteful our search for pleasure actually is. We would rather scroll downwards to new Facebook and Instagram posts than getting things done that we have been promising ourselves to complete.
We have time and again realized that pleasures are addictive because they are short lived. But they have temporarily ridden us of our existential angst and, have thus become important aspects of our lives. We thus exceed our limits to attain them. We are irritated and angry at ourselves and others when we fail to receive pleasure.
We require distractions so much so that we will sub-consciously jerk our legs or bite our lips frequently to avoid thoughts when we have our eyes off our phone, television and computer screens. Though we have killed our myths, we are still frantically searching for the meaning of our existence and thus are in a dilemma because we do not know how to.
According to Nietzsche and Jung we have replaced myths with other collectivist ideologies like politics. These ideologies have made us believe that they are indeed contributing to something big. We worship certain ideologies like the communism and democracy or whatever form these ideologies take. But they have time and again proven inadequate. Through multiple failed revolutions we have chosen our rulers and we still are in agony.
We have found pleasures and comfort in identity politics, but have lost our individual being. We have forgotten cultural unity by tying them with political theories. We have encountered multiple examples of how political ideologies have failed to provide happiness to people but we still run after them with desperation to find meaning. Jung portrays state as a mere modern pretence, a shield, a make-belief, a concept. Politics fails to provide individual importance. Politics is thus another myth that we have used to replace the original one.
Now, that we realize that these myths are not true and that they have died, can we remain intact with our being? The real question is, do we succumb to a nihilistic attitude after finding out how our existence is meaningless or, that we are not as important as we think? Do we have a rather negative view on life or, our existence as a whole?
Jung and Nietzsche argue that a nihilistic attitude would certainly lead to a wasted life. But what are we to do about the anxieties that follow the existential angst?
Nietzsche points out that we are in dire need of organizing our “own” individual meaning to our individual life. We are not in an age of the death of god but are in an age of the hero. The hero as per Nietzsche is someone who has the strength of his/her willpower to control his/her inner chaos which has been built because of our attachment to myths. The hero takes the challenge and faces up to the existing “individual” chaos and discovers “individual” solutions. The hero does not negate the past myths, but acknowledges them as sources of knowledge to find solutions for existential burdens of our time.
In order to be this “hero”, Nietzsche thought that it is necessary to stop clinging to religious theories or, mass movements and, to start to look within oneself. Every single individual according to him has a seed of unrealized potential, and the purpose of life is to see that potential and work towards actualizing it.
Nietzsche thought that “…we are not humans from the start; we need to become human. Toward this end, we need the insight “that only we are responsible for ourselves, that accusations that we have missed our life’s calling can be directed only at us, not some higher powers”. We are in no need of the delusion of a supernatural world, because the very task of becoming human is the truly colossal achievement.” (Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography: Rudiger Safranski).
Though everyone has an inner desire to become their best self, the path to self-realization and self-improvement is hindered by fear and laziness, which according to Nietzsche are two universal human characteristics which prevent people from realizing their potential. These characteristics stop people from realizing their dreams and for most part of their life, people are disappointed and regret that they have missed several opportunities. A human’s life is thus filled with guilt and anxiety of not being able to achieve.
Nietzsche provided some solutions to these innate characteristics. He thought that humans need an “organizing idea”. He urged people to set an ultimate goal that they desired to achieve. The harder the goal, the greater one has to become to achieve it.
On the path towards the realization of such goals, the individual according to Nietzsche will find plenty of setbacks and pain. Nietzsche also thought that many individuals will run back to the comforts of ordinariness once they are faced with such difficulties and thus, leave their goals midway to their realization. These individuals are thus, ignorant regarding the value of such goals.
People are accustomed to believe that suffering is malevolent. The first reaction of people on suffering is to flee. We will again try and find sources of distractions to be temporarily released from these psychological pain. We do not wish to believe that our life can have sufferings.
Nietzsche on the other hand, saw value in suffering. He explained that “there is as much wisdom in pain as there is in pleasure…that it hurts is no argument against it but its essence.” (The Gay Science, Friedrich Nietzsche). This idea was also explained by Jung, who thought that anxieties and other forms of neuroses were not negative phenomenon. These neuroses may produce suffering, but they also inform us that our current way of living is concerning and that we are in need to improve it.
Nietzsche in his famous “the will to power” says “To those human beings who are of any concern to me, I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self contempt, the torture of self mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.” (The Will to Power, Friedrich Nietzsche).
Nietzsche thought that suffering could be the key to liberation, if one learns how to utilize it to his/her advantage. An individual is to acknowledge his/her suffering, willingly face it and see that there is an opportunity to grow and increase his/her wisdom.
Anxieties are an innate human characteristic. We as humans are troubled by everyday existential angst. But we need to understand that, that is the only true reality of life. We will experience births, illnesses and deaths of people around us and ultimately ours’ own. We will not be here forever, we will not see or experience everything since our lives are very short. We need to understand that our existence is nothing more important than a mere dandelion. This realization would lessen our ego and we would start seeing everyone and everything as having an equal existence. This awareness should liberate us from holding on to things that have become problematic.
We need to know and accept that life has no meaning, and that it would be foolish of us to find something that does not exist. We are here to not find meaning but experience our “personal” existence and create our “personal” meaning as we move towards the basic truth – the end.
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