“Capitulism” in the Age of Yogi Adityanath


“Capitulism” in the Age of Yogi Adityanath

Illustration: Akshita Monga

Aspectre is haunting the world – the spectre of Capitulism…

It happened precisely at 11.09 p.m. on a Saturday at a friend’s 30th birthday after only three glasses of wine. News had just broken that Yogi Adityanath was going to ascend to the highest seat in Lucknow and everyone was talking about how broken everything is. The world is wrecked, social structures have crumbled, philosophy is ruined, and capitalism is broken. That’s when realisation struck. I am no longer a capitalist – I am a capitulist.

It was one of those rare epiphanies that grace our ugly time in this ugly age. And this kalyug merits a new word and possibly a new philosophy. Capitulism.

Capitulism (noun)

An economic, political and philosophical system in which a person simply capitulates or gives in to whatever is happening around him/her.

When future generations write about the discovery of this word, they will invent fictions about its origins, because the truth is, I don’t know how it came about. But my educated guess would be that it emerged out of tiredness. Of alcohol. Of saffron dreams. Of knowing the many things wrong with the world and gracefully acknowledging my inability to do anything about it.

So I tend to capitulate, not fight. It’s a wonderful, content feeling – like falling asleep in the warm embrace of a cashmere cocoon.

I like to think of myself as a pacifist, but maybe I am just a coward. I have been the victim of the schoolyard bully. I have been asked to bend my will, break the pact I had made with myself to be the best version of me that I could be, and pour cold water all over my ego and follow. I followed. The option was too terrible to contemplate.

Something similar is happening all over the world. The bullies have left the schoolyard and entered our television screens, our homes. Saffron is rising. Dalits are dying. Lovers being hunted down. Leopards burnt alive. Wrongful arrests being made. Shots being fired. Terror. Hunger. War. Ecological devastation. Floods. Fires. Hate. Murder.

I tend to capitulate to every whim and fancy of my monkey mind. Let’s have a ciggie? Sure. Let’s jerk off. OK.

Nearly a hundred years ago, Irish poet WB Yeats wrote a poem titled “The Second Coming”. It begins:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

What are we to do in the face of the epic monstrosity of man? Collectively capitulate to the horror unfolding all around. The option is too terrible to contemplate.

Maybe it’s time to stop believing in anything anymore. I definitely believe that nations and religions are complete fabrications, yet the vast majority believe they are more real than trees and mountains. Religion is the biggest fabrication of them all. Power is empty, beauty transient, and God a myth. Barely anything that we are fighting for is real. So why fight at all?

The word capitulate owes its origins to the Medieval Latin word “caput”, meaning head. From there it became capitulare, to arrange under heads, draw up terms, hence to make terms of surrender.

Surrender, of course, is the cornerstone of Buddhism and almost all other religions. As the great Osho says “Surrender means – Now I am not. Only you are. Now there is no question of my protection. Now you are just a plain sky, an empty house. There is nothing left to be finished. I have finished myself long before you. The meaning of surrender is I am finished, there is no need for you to finish me. I will not give you that trouble. I will do it myself.”

I tend to capitulate to every whim and fancy of my monkey mind. Let’s have a ciggie? Sure. Let’s jerk off. OK. Let’s just lie down and do nothing. Kewl! Let’s have another drink. Awesome.

In a time when everything from democracy to truth has contorted into an ugly manifestation of what it should have been, surrender is just what humankind needs. We have tried the alternative and we have failed. We have ranted and written, and fought in living rooms and bars, signed petitions and voted carefully and taught our children right from wrong. And yet, what have we been able to do to prevent what is happening in the world? Have we even been able to stop forces like Yogi Adityanath at home?

Maybe it’s time for a new socio-economic philosophy. One that marries the best of Capitalism (self-interest above all), Buddhism (non-violence above all), Nihilism (meaninglessness at the end of day), Stoicism (grin and bear it), and Epicureanism (eat drink, and make merry for tomorrow you may die). And leave the rest up to life, fate, God, or whatever higher energy you believe in.

Go with the flow. Be like water.

Chi. Tai Chi. Tao Chi. Whatever-the-fuck-chi.

And for everyone who tells you that it is times like these that demand action, that only when our values and beliefs are tested do we know what we are made of, that “sabse khatarnaak hota hai humare sapnon ka mar jaana” (the death of our dreams is most dangerous)? For them I have only one answer.

Hurling yourself against a concrete wall hurts only one person.