Louis Althusser's 'Ideological State Apparatus' In The context Of Kashmir
By Sheikh Shahid
25 February, 2015
We all know that Sheikh Nazir is no more and we also know that he was the longest-serving General Secretary of National Conference and he never applied for an Indian passport. Well, that's quite true, but what we're currently being fed through various media outlets is that he was an Anti-Indian to the point that he seems to fall just short of Syed Ali Geelani and thus finishing up as a proxime accessit.
What makes this claim rather crabby & peevishly perplexing is that how 'not applying for an Indian passport' makes him 'Anti-Indian' & how 'being longest-serving General Sec. of a pro-Indian party' doesn't make him an Indian !
This set me thinking & I was promptly reminded of what the French Marxist theoretician Louis Althussar called 'ideological structures' or 'Ideological state apparatus'. He described ISA as the method by which an ideology is propagated to cement a particular cause (status quo). At the same time, he made a useful contradiction between what we might call state power & state control.
State power is maintained by what Althusser terms 'repressive state apparatus', which are used to gain abidance & cooperation from the public through physical coercion like the Police, Army, Prisons, Courts etc, which are supposed to operate in the last analysis, but unfortunately in Kashmir they come both at the first & last analysis.
But, the power of the state is also maintained more astutely by trying to secure the internal consent of the people & thus human beings are turned into wilful subjects through an ideolgy. And that's what Althusser called 'Ideological state apparatus' & unlike 'repressive state apparatus' it's sustained by the church,mosques,temples, the family, media, schools & arts (includeing Literature) which advance an ideolgy - a set of ideas & attitudes - toward the common masses which is supportive of the aims of the state & the political status quo, so that people ingest that ideology feeling like they're freely choosing something when in fact it's being imposed upon them. Both RSA & ISA operate together by combining repression & ideology to foster the 'status-quoist' ideology the difference being only in their workings.
While Kashmir has seen the full display of the 'repressive state apparatus' since the partition, - the witness being the legions of unknown mass-graves interspersed among the lush green meadows & the hollow graves bearing only the epithets & awaiting the 'rebellious bones'- the state is yet to understand the workings & nature of 'Ideological state apparatus' or what Michel Foucault would say the 'ponoptic surveillance'.
As I said, the subsequent reports from some media outlets about Sheikh Nazir's political outlook as 'anti-indian' prompted me to consider the workings of ISA.
I know the issue might be quite trivial politically, but when looked at in the context of 'state ideological apparatus' it
provides some good clues as to how they might start selling a pup through media & we go on buying heedlessly.
Take some examples. In a recent statement Azam Inqillabi said that at the time when Maqbool Bhat was hanged, radio pakistan didn't mention the grave incident & there was not much hue & cry in valley except in some selected pockets. That's was for sure 'ISA' at work to foster an ideology.
Second, if observed in right perspective, the coverage of the recent floods by some media shops was pathetic to say the least when they highlighted, out of proportion, the rescue efforts by the Army in Kashmir & downright neglected the matchless bravery of the local poulation. Obviously we knew the truth, but that was an effort to sell an idea to the outer world that unlike killing the local poulation the Army is doing a noble work in Kashmir. This must not be seen in isolation as we've witnessed myriads of instances where efforts are being made to sell what's generally 'unsellable' in an occupation. Take a look at the more recent fluster in Jamma't when some leaders had quite surreptitiously invited a mainstream politician to the utter surprise of the people & other Jamaa't leaders & later two leaders were expelled from Jamaa't & an apology was made.
Incidents like such, being profound, get to the limelight, but there're thousands of incidents in our day to day life where we witness & generally neglect the 'panoptic surveillance' at work. As responsible citizens, we've to be mindful of the developments taking around us. For instance, we don't know what our kids are being taught in schools away from the syllabi, we don't attend & hear what our Moulvi Sahab is preaching from the pulpit & cricticize him where we think it's right (I believe we wouldn't have witnessed Gulzar peers then). We don't attend the seminars or symposiums, religious,
political or whatever.
We need to be aware because 'Ideological state apparatus' is more dangerous than 'repressive apparatus' as it wounds our ideas & attitudes - the cornerstone of the actions thereby. These insidious 'ISA's are used by the state to cover up, rather justify the brutal actions of 'RSA's. They're used a sop or as a bait to incline people toward the dominant ideology & when they seem to fail in an urgent situation, 'repressive apparatuses' are brought in place like we remember thousands of massacres & fake-encounters were done through Army & Police & then to someway mollify the pain promises of those hollow probes & ever-evading justice were made. Kashmir has seen both the 'Repressive structures' as well as the 'Ideological structures' at work trying to suppress the dissent & glue the 'atoot-ang' with the help of pathological legion of troops & subtle ISAs.
Sheikh Shahid from Thammuna, Pulwama, Kashmir. He is a student of English Literature & Philosophy. On twitter @TheValeBoy
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