Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flush with Pride: Bindeshwar Pathak

Bathos is the word to describe it: What should be tragic is actually a laughing matter. He was a young guy on the road in a Third World country who decided he's accustom himself to local conditions, wanting to "go native" for some reason, a Romantic kid. I have done monstrously stupid and sometimes evil things in my life, but I had the good fortune to live long enough to change and regret my ways, to learn and to try to do better. Lucky for me I never felt any desire to "go native." Our buddy did. He decided to sip a bit of local water every day to "get used to it and build up a tolerance." No amount of talking him out of it worked. He sipped a bit of water, got sick, and tried again next day, convinced that he'd develop an immunity to the water and its problems, just like the locals. Telling him the locals die from drinking the water didn't impress him, there being many locals living quite nicely who drink the water. To make a long and obvious story short, our buddy laid in bed for a week with something like lizards in his guts eating him to death. There is no immunity from things that kill. The locals die. Eventually poison kills everyone. Bathos. It's not possible to sympathize with anyone so foolish. The locals drink the local water because they have no choice. When they do, they don't drink it because it's poisonous. One of the many great things about our Modern world is that the water is drinkable, that it doesn't kill us and our children. Few of us ever give it a second thought, instead worrying ourselves silly with concerns that drive us to bottled water at the price of a peasant worker's daily wage. Our ordinary tap water is like manna from Heaven. Thank God.

Water is a boring thing. I use it to make coffee in the morning, and I shower in it and such. I really don't even think about it. It's just water. It comes out of the tap and goes down the drain till next time. Here. In the Modern world. Do that other places and you will likely end up dead or wrecked in the guts for all of your life. Not to be too graphic about it, many people in the Third World drink liquid shit because there is no sanitation programme to save them from it. It's enough to make an ordinary man howl with rage.

I'm an ordinary man and I get completely upset. An extraordinary man sits down and thinks about the problem well enough to come up with a solution to poisoned drinking water. I have some things in life yet to learn:

"DR. BINDESHWAR PATHAK is the leader of a national crusade for restoration of human rights and dignity to millions of scavengers (cleaner and carrier of human excreta), traditionally known as untouchables; and for providing safe and hygienic human waste disposal system to 700 million Indian population who go outside for open defecation even along roads and railway tracks...."1.

Sanitation is so simple that when there is a place without it it's enough to make one weep. India is such a place, and the untouchables are the caste that suffer from the effect more than all others. So Dr Pathak made it his life to attempt a solution to the question of Untouchables and the hygiene problem. In India not everyone can have a flush toilet and a sewer connection. Instead, millions of buckets stand on the streets for the population to use as they will, and the Untouchables deal with it as a life. They are the caste that is "untouchable." No wonder. The solution? Pathak came up with the Sulabh toilet:

"The Sulabh technology is a very simple device. It consists of two pits and sealed cover. While one is in use, the other pit is left to manure. And, finally, it is cleared to be used as manure. By using this technology, there will be no need to physically clean human excreta."1.

There are two kinds of people on this Earth, according to me: there are the reactionaries, those who wage constant war against the triune revolutions of Modernity, i.e., the Industrial, American, and French Revolutions, revolutions of democracy and rationality, of individualism and positive common law, revolutions against privilege and entitled tyranny; and there are the progressives, those who work to incrementally improve the life of man by adding piece by piece to our beautiful Modernity. I mean, for example, toilets and sewers.

"[T]he Sulabh Shauchalaya is a low cost, pour flush, water-seal toilet with twin leach pits for on-site disposal of human waste. The technology has many advantages. It is affordable, even by the economically weaker sections of the society, and is designed to suit different levels of income. Flushing requires only two litres of water, instead of 10 litres needed by a conventional toilet. The toilet can never be out of commission since one of the two pits can always be used while the other is being serviced. The latrine can be built with locally available material. It can be conveniently upgraded as it is a stand-alone, on-site unit that can be connected to a sewer system as and when the latter is introduced in the area."1.

We can ask ourselves what our priorities are in this life. I copy this from Jihad Watch:

V.S. Naipaul writes of my favorite Moslem, a man living in Pakistan:

"His world had shrunk to a hut in a crumbling village. He was prepared for even that to crumble away further, once the faith was served."

Among the Believers, Penguin: p. 89.

It's a matter of epistemology, of eschatology, of the simple view of Human life's worth. I favor Modernity, even with its attendant problems. The living can deal with them.

"Dr. Pathak sought to abolish scavenging not only out of sympathy for scavengers but also out of the belief that it is a primitive, expensive and unhygienic practice which may create an explosive situation in which case a highly dissatisfied group will turn lumpen and work to destroy the social system. For that matter, the Sulabh Movement is different from other social movements: it is an indigenous concept based on experience and tested scientifically, combining in itself an appropriate technology and demand for social morality. In simpler words, while other movements identified problems and injustices in society but failed to find solutions, Dr. Pathak identified problems, developed a self-sustaining system, gave an appropriate technology and, finally, solved the problem."1.

The problem. Solving the problem. "Solving the problem" is a problem for fascists. It's not so much that they don't know how, it's that they do not want the problem solved; and in fact, they like the problem and want more of it. That is a central pillar of fascism. White, Red, Green or Muslim, all fascisms demand a return to a state of primitivism, a return to "authenticity." All fascisms share a hatred of Modernity, even a hatred of toilets and sewers. All fascisms demand a return to feudalism or worse. They all demand a communitarian peasant life at best, a non-market economy, a cashless economy, an economy of trade and barter, of simplicity in social relations, there being a leader and the rest following in a "natural" order, a hierarchy of the powerful and the slaves, all together, and none apart. Cities must disappear so people will again live authentic lives communally, sharing, caring, and cetera. People must remove from alienating environments, from cities, to "the land." Back to the state of Nature, people will find authenticity and natural order. No fascism can accommodate Modernity. There can be no individuals alone and private. Every man is but a sliver of the whole, nothing in himself without the group giving him identity. Having ones own toilet? Anti-social. From workers' communes to mass extermination camp showers to group nudist hippie mud baths to the communal ritual foot-washing, all fascisms demand a collective life. And it is a poverty.

Living for the faith, living for little else than the faith, it is a poverty that is a "povertarianism." The Romantic reaction against the triune progressive revolutions is a utopian nightmare, a dystopian vision of the worth of Man, an anti-Humanism. The Party, the Fuehrer, the Umma, Mother Nature, all despise Man. All, at best, demand that Man live as a farm animal, tended and minded and herded, and eventually slaughtered. For the Communists, kill all the rich and the class traitors; for the Nazis, kill all the Jews and the inferior people who are outside the purity of Nature; for the Muslims, kill all the kufar; and for the ecologists, kill everyone and let Nature resume its course. In every case of fascism, those who live must live simply, i.e. in poverty, hence "povertarianism." No Modernity, no cities, no privacy, no sewers, no toilets. All are one, all are poor. It is the vision of the Left, of Islam, of Nazis, of ecologists. Crush Humanity!

Without a market economy, without privacy, without a high regard for the worth of Man, there will be no toilets and no sewers. Those who hate Modernity will condemn Man to a squalid life of filth, illness, and death. Leftists who unite with Rightist to gang together with Muslims and ecologists are all fascists, all hating Modernity and Humanity. When you hear: "Yankees go Home," hear: "No toilets, no sewers for the people." Hear the voice of fascism. Hear the life of Man going down the drain forever. Pathetic.

1. http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/profile.htm

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