The Strange Cases Of National Interest and Collective Conscience

National interest and collective conscience/consciousness-a pair of notions Kashmir was unfamiliar with till a fateful morning of 9 Feb,2013,when Afzal Guru was hanged at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail to satisfy the same of the Indian state.Though two different concepts,these have come to be as alike in the contemporary world as a pair of beans.
The ideas have been defined by many theists of international politics and sociology but it still seems challenging for a Kashmiri to identify his interests and merge with the collective sentiments of the Indian society.
The term ‘national interest’,however finds its roots in the times of Niccolo Machiavelli and many people ascribe the development of the notion to him.It is a diverse concept meaning of which varies from office to office.Statesmen use it to their design for claiming the actions of their states like Hitler justified his wrong policies in the name of “Germany’s national interests”.The idea received booming criticism after the First World War giving upsurge to ideas like ‘balance of power’ and ‘collective security’ and at the end of Second World War,when role of power came to be recognized,League of Nations was blamed by many political commentators for its helplessness before power.
The Cold War era,which was not a general war age though,encompassed chiefly the US national interests of its global dominance and the throwing away of Communism.The Cold War era presents before us the picture-perfect scene of how the national interest of America assisted in controlling the judicial system and media by letting them succumb to political pressures and fears prevailing in and outside the country.However,to most of the nation-states,genesis of the very national interest amounts to its foreign policy.
‘Collective conscience’ or ‘collective consciousness’ was mainly dealt with by Emile Durkheim in his work on ‘Crime and Punishment’.To Durkheim,every society has a collective morality and crime is simply an act that offends the collective sentiment.He goes on saying,”where crime exists,collective sentiments are sufficiently flexible to take on a new form,and crime sometimes helps to determine the form they will take.”So,the aim of punishment lies in what Durkheim calls “passionate reaction” and its function is to satisfy the collective consciousness.
The forms of punishment have changed with time but it has still been used as a tool by political agencies and statesmen to fulfil their dreadful interests.Coming to the case of Afzal Guru,one may raise a few askings as who decides the collective consciousness of a society or what is the criteria which can be used to determine the collective consciousness of a society.For a multicultural society,it is a difficult task to identify its collective sentiments and yet on 9 Feb,2013,Afzal Guru became the victim of  brutalization of jingoistic Muslimophobic groups who represented the collective consciousness of the nation.Did anyone take care of the collective sentiments of an oppressed Kashmiri populace?No!
Capital punishment was given to Afzal,which is awarded in the rarest of rare cases.He was made a scapegoat of an unsolved riddle which simply had no direct evidence to offer against him.
The fact remains that the interests and the wrongly named collective sentiments have always destroyed human civilizations and very sadly,we have to admit that judiciary and media have performed no better and have always succumbed to ‘political pressures,passions and fears’.

( Published here – )


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