Rethinking The Kashmir Conflict In The Light Of Marx’s Concept Of Religion

Posted by Mansoor Dar in Politics
January 3, 2018

Known for its natural beauty globally, Kashmir is torn between the two nations of India and Pakistan. Kashmir is not a zone of peace. It is actually a zone of chaos, a militarised zone in the world, where insecurity and tensions over its territory by both India and Pakistan hold sway. Kashmir is the bone of contention between the two nuclear nations.

They have already fought three wars over Kashmir so far. The matter of the fact is that the conflict has been taking a toll on human lives. The need of the hour is for people of the state to be proactive in their approach to get rid of the conflict, instead of hoping that the parties or leaders they follow (mainstream parties, separatists or any other organisation) will find a way out of the conflict.

People also believe that if these leaders or parties do not fulfill their promises made to the people, they should resolve it themselves. That God (Allah) will solve this problem. We (common masses) need to wake up from the illusion of hoping and believing that everything will be alright one day without striving to get things right.

In Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx writes:

Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

For Marx, the problem lies in the obvious fact that an opiate fails to fix a physical injury; it merely helps you forget pain and suffering. Relief from pain may be fine up to a point, but only as long as you are also trying to solve the underlying problems causing the pain. Similarly, religion does not fix the underlying causes of people’s pain and suffering; instead, it helps them forget why they are suffering and gets them to look forward to an imaginary future when the pain will cease.

Religion is the opium of the masses; this is probably the best-known quotation by Karl Marx, the German economist and communist political philosopher. In this context, I take it to mean that without doing anything concrete to solve this conflict, people are hoping (religious hope) that everything will be fine by the grace of Allah or hoping that Allah will take our revenge against those who are oppressing us.

Some scholars have demonstrated that the Kashmir conflict started right from the Dogra rule in 1931, when people protested against the atrocities of Dogra rulers. For some, the struggle started in 1947 and the partition between India and Pakistan added fuel to the fire.

Whenever this struggle or confrontation is thought to have started, the fact is that Kashmir has been losing its own people from the very beginning and these people belong to every age group, ranging from kids to elders, including both men and women. People are hoping that Allah will do justice and solve this conflict.

When the security personnel are killed by rebels, his family hopes that Allah will not spare his killers. Similarly, when cops kill rebels, the family of the rebels hope that Allah will destroy all the cops. They believe that their son died as a martyr, whom they will meet in Heaven after death. On the other hand, there are those people who have disappeared decades ago. Although they have searched for them from pillar to post, they have no knowledge of their whereabouts. Their families are still hoping against hope that one day Allah will be merciful enough to bring them back to their homes.

A common assumption among ordinary Kashmiris is that we are helpless. The Almighty is supreme and will resolve the Kashmir issue once for all. There is no doubt that when people are in distress, religion provides solace, just as people who are physically injured receive relief from opiate-based drugs. But only when people stop taking opium will they shake off the opium-induced feelings of illusory well-being and strive towards real well-being. The problem is not with religion but with the mentality of people, who put everything on God/Allah. People have to stand up for the change they want to see in the society. Making religion an excuse to escape from reality will not work.

ALLAH says in the Quran, Chapter 13, (The Thunder):

Verily, ALLAH does not change the condition of people until they change what is within themselves. (Sura ar-Ra`d 13:1)

People have to act as a pressure group to press for their genuine demands, including resolution of conflict with the help of political parties or leaders they follow irrespective of the party, mainstream or separatist. At times, vested interests and personal egos of these parties or so called leaders prevent them from doing what they are supposed to do.

So it is our (common masses) responsibility to act collectively and practically, rather than idyllically. Only then will Allah help us. We need to change the socio-political scenario of the state and for that we have to act as a people, rather than feeling helpless and alienated and hoping for mercy from Heaven. If we do not strive for change, nothing will change. As David Augsburger writes: “The more we run from conflict, / The more it masters us, / The more we try to avoid it, / The more it controls us, / The less we fear conflict, / The less it confuses us, / The less we deny our differences, / The less they divide us.”

Originally published on Cafe Dissensus Everyday.

Image source: Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images