Dr Dibyesh Anand is an Associate Professor in International Relations at London’s University of Westminster with interests in politics of state, democracy and identity, especially in the Himalayan borderlands.
He is almost always at https://www.facebook.com/dibyesh
If you question the state and the society seriously, you are deemed insane.
No, this is not simply about ‘you must be mad’ to spend time fighting for justice or freedom. It is more serious. The Soviets and the Chinese especially during the Cultural Revolution would often treat dissenters as insane and put them under all sorts of medicalised regime. Other systems and societies do the same.
Declaring you insane is a move to declare your goals and demands spurious, as stemming not from a sense of experience but from an aberration of mind. Declaring you insane is a move to depoliticise and dehumanise you, it is to then subject you to all sorts of forced medicalisation and ignore your politics.
If you are a woman, it is more likely you will suffer this because your agency cannot be accepted. It must be ‘hysteria’, your child-freeness, your non-married status, your insanity to not want a ‘normal’ (wedded/mothered who utters not a single word about public affairs) apolitical life. If you are married and have a child and yet raise your voice, then you must be mad to risk all that by raising your voice in any case!!!
Take for instance, Amina Tyler in Tunisia. For her political act of semi-nudity, she is reported to be subjected to all sorts of anti-depressants and treated as mad by her family and society. Another example, involving the state is of adivasi (indigenous) activist and teacher Soni Sori [pictured] who was tortured, raped and brutalised for a long time by the police because she was deemed to be pro-Maoists. The state dragged its feet while torturing her for raising her voice against injustice until it had to stop the torture after the intervention of the Supreme Court. And now it is trying to declare her insane to then justify once again her forced incarceration and torture, now under the guise of treatment.
As a human rights group explains: “This is a devious attempt to declare her mentally unsound and create doubts about the veracity of her complaints of sexual torture in police custody and subsequent harassment in jail”. [See].
Soni Sori is insane only if the war machinery, the violent state, the torturing police, the racist and casteist bourgeois society, the complicit media, and the colonial rule of Indian state in its tribal heartlands are considered as sane. And in that case, we should all rather be humanely insane than cruelly sane.