Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The urban armchair activist

The urban arm chair activist is someone who you will see here and there and everywhere. It is easy to recognize them, even though they come in many shapes and sizes. Some of the traits they exhibit are that they scorn big industrial projects, heap insults on the "capitalists" who are "ruling" the world and demonstrate their activism by boycotting "some" things and buying "alternate" things. Next time you might want to ask them if they grow electricity.

They could work in IT and oppose "corporations" while collecting their paycheck rather meekly from the "corporations" they work for. They oppose the control that big software corporations have on software while discreetly checking with their friendly neighbourhood pirate if he has a copy of Windows Vista.

They could be your friendly neighbourhoods rich activist or their spouse. They croon about pollution while traveling in a chaffeur driven Skoda fuelled by the poor mans fuel, diesel. Occassionally they crib about large power plants while installing a genset in their houses that can handle the 3 air conditioners that they newly purchased. They also crib about dams while using fresh water to wash their roofs, no less.

They could even be writers - usually residing in the US of A or other developed nations while arguing for the enslavement of the ignorant idiots they left behind. They are a little peeved that the society they left behind is progressing. They are also upset about the rupee going up since that shrinks their real estate plans. They argue for a more egalitarian society, a society that takes care of their hinterland, shuns progress and votes for commies; a society that needs to be less global while using Google adsense and hoping that they get a few writing contracts from atleast one dollar euro paying magazine. They sometimes write about other halves and better halves while reducing their maids salary by half for missing half a day.

They could be journalists who write for a newspaper that prints reams upon reams of newsprint from vanishing forests. They could be eco e-activists who just purchased a new computer and threw the last one in their trash.

They may refuse to buy a cosmetic/softdrink on the grounds that it pollutes groundwater in Somalia, but their house may pollute the Bellandur or the Ulsoor lake - but thats because the local government has not done anything about it, right. They could even write a few words on protesting trees being cut on the sides of roads while simultaneously ensuring that there are no trees around their property which can damage the elevation of their house. They could protest about lack of public transport in Chickmaglur while travelling in their new Innova and talking on the new Nokia N series phone.

Truth be told, progress is unstoppable. If it were not for progress, most of us would not be alive much less kicking everybody else around us. If it were not for progress most of us would have been farmers or hunters, much less bloggers and activists. If it were not for progress, most of us would not be educated in schools, leave alone arguing in English.

If you are opposed to progress, there is one way to be an activist - give up progress and migrate to a village where you grow your own food, build your own house, stitch your own clothes from the cotton you grow and stay off the electricity grid - you get the picture. If you need more help, let me know - just dont ask me how since you cannot call me up, drive to my place or contact me on the net, right?


venkatramanan said...

Lets keep things straight!
Is it the 'Indiauncut' Amit Varma you are referring to?


P.S.I called you 'Neels' because Neelakanthan sounds so old & Neelu reminds theothernilu! So Neels!

Neelakantan said...

Nope, it is not Amit!!

Kavi said...

Hypocrites come in all forms. Armchair activism is one. By the way,in my opinion, 'Armchair activist' is an oxymoron !!

revathi said...

so what is your point? Do you say that everyone should keep polluting the earth and call it progress or that there can be no progress with out pollution? You seem to take a dim view of the future.

neelakantan said...

Revathi, great point. The point is that a lot this kind of activism is hypocrisy and does not solve problems.

Two things. Let us "progressed people" not oppose progress for the sake of letting someone stay primitive. Like the commies do. When people stay poor, the commies get the votes of the illiterates. Progress is a way of life. A farmer need not remain a farmer all his life. None of us were service industry chaps and journos by birth, right?
Second some pollution is inevitable. We pollute by our very existence. Make our own life sustainable, not someone elses alone...

A set of disjointed thoughts, but a post on it, surely, later...

ashish said...

I'm glad to have found a blog reading which I feel pleased. You are obviously a capitalist at heart and that is the only way the world has progressed so far. Communism, socialism and the so called mixed economy (India) experiments have all failed. To all those who feel capitalism is a zero sum game are completely wrong. If I make money as an entrpreneur someone doesn't have to lose. The entrpreneur creates jobs, opportunity, vitality in the system and most of all -it allows everyone to dream and hopefully one day realise them. I believe Capitalism evokes the most basic instincts in a human being which is to compete, beat and excel.

We need more capitalists in our ranks. For all those on the other side of the argument, the top 50 philanthropists in the world all come from capitalist systems.Surprise? Maybe not.

We shall overcome.....our socialist hangovers. I hope to be a regular on your blog. I write one too on a rather mundane topic


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