In Wrestling terms, “work” refers to anything part of the wrestling storyline. In the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s, wrestlers treated each aspect of their life as “work.” This led to hilarious results. Once, a wrestler’s wife arrived in the arena with a handgun. To kill the wrestler who had beaten her husband. Yes, wrestlers weren’t allowed to tell their wives about the “fake” aspect of wrestling. So, overall, their lives had become entrenched in show business; their lives had become about work. This happened with factory work as well. If you view the history of how Carnegie managed his companies, you’ll come across the story of “company towns.” By providing them with houses, with entire communities built around the company, they had made the workers dependent on them. Whenever they fight against the horrible conditions in the factories, they risk losing housing and their entire lives. So, they would never protest. They would never be able to have free time, and work would loom all around their lives. Lower salary bands and multiple ways of measuring productivity reconstruct the same scenario for today’s workers. A “bond” that fresher signs to work for a company for at least three years before quitting is a sign of this scenario. History repeats itself daily, and more aspects are repeated than ever before.

The Narratives Built

In the 2019 movie, “Velaikkaran,” the hero goes to work at an FMCG company. In a rousing speech on the first day, the manager (an inimitable villain played by Fahadh Fassil) asks everyone to scream, “We’re the best!” The narrative of being good is baked into every workplace’s philosophy. But it’s a philosophy meant to raise support, not one meant to build a better world. In the movie, the villain usurps power through complicated maneuvers. The hero still wins by creating a protest that lives on in the daily work ethic of the workers. But, we want to focus on the narrative first. How often have you heard of an open, inclusive, and welcoming workplace? How many times do start-ups offer unlimited PTOs? How many times do enterprises flaunt their LGBTQ-forward credentials? The unified narrative around a “good” workplace is created to foster a sense of safety. But a safe workplace doesn’t exist in principle. This is because work is not optional and is necessary for survival. In the same way, anything that is mandatory can never be safe. It has already violated every sense of consent. Sure, there are moments of respite, but that exists everywhere. Think of the times in schools where we’re taken on trips. Or the tiny spaces within the prison where the community plays together. Exceptions, in this case, prove the law. Crafting these exceptions (team fun days, casual Fridays, etc.) is to create a sense of community and safety where there isn’t any. In “Velaikkaran,” the hero realizes his workplace creates toxic chemicals. It’s poisoning the community it serves. On the other hand, he realizes that he’s in between these circumstances, being faced with defective products and costs rising on all fronts. While not as explicitly, how many of us can say that what we do isn’t harming someone down the chain?

Why does work suck?

We often see work as a unique relationship. This starts with the family. We have started viewing work as a family outside the family. So, the low pay and the underappreciated work hours all make sense in the large picture of the family. We’d sacrifice for our community, for our family. But, we’re not working in the family or having fun. Reframing work as a fun part of life is a difficult thing to do. It’s mechanical, most people work in an assembly line where they contribute one small portion repeatedly. And without the spirit of collaboration or the spirit of coming together. The spirit of work today demands that you have fun, that you create a family around your co-workers, and live your life with them. Your social apps become an extension of the workplace and suddenly you’re in a company town.

Against Work

One of Graeber’s central arguments focused on “play.” He observed that animals played with one another, even in nature, without goals or scores. Think of puppies engaging in small fighting competitions only to make up and lay with each other later. Think also of how cats often engage in small, silly explorations into the places they know very well. We did this as children, too, playing randomly, without scores, and without a uniform goal. In a way, you don’t want to go beyond that. You don’t want to build hierarchies and scorebooks and tire yourself out. The life against work needn’t be perfect, Community-led playing is a great way to move beyond work. Today, many systems can work without us putting in work at all. Focusing on creating an experience where you can have fun and do something collaborative is great. This can be anything from painting to writing to discussing knowledge. The point is to have fun while creating or destroying something (“Destruction is inherently a creative urge after all.) You won’t be alone in history to find these collaborations more efficient than normal work. For example – The Spanish Civil War brought together Anti-Fascists from all corners of the world and succeeded in thwarting the advance for a time before an overwhelming force.

Your Future and Mine

Many a communist rejoiced with the emergence of AI. The perspective was simple: if AI can automate our work, we can spend our lives doing something fruitful instead. However, this is a short-sighted view of the world. AI, Bitcoin, and other tech revolutions that promise an apparently free-er future are also gated by tech. Plus, the tech itself depends on a lot of energy and electricity. Both factors can complicate our future of the planet. I don’t advocate for AI because most of my comrades can’t afford or access with, and unless we remove the gating, we can’t dream of this future. And even with equal access, we might not want the future it’ll build. Being without work requires community. It might not be available to you right now, but you’ll have to build layers of mutual aid to survive without work. And these can’t only be urban or rural either. Your connections must transcend borders and limitations and grow like a rhizome to defeat work. But, you can, because I want you to. And you will, because you have will.

There’s something unique about Jawan. In the first half, before everything is turned up a notch due to different causes, SRK (whose name in this movie doesn’t matter) spends a moment with Suji (his soon-to-be-daughter). As she explains what she expects from a father, SRK looks on with an expression he has mastered, a calming, emotional expression that says he is falling in love. And as fans, you fall in love, too, mainly because you have seen the same expression in twenty other films. But also because you end up realizing something. SRK was a romantic hero at some point, but now, most of his relationships on-screen don’t scream out for romance. Instead, his relationships with his leading ladies and everyone else are friendly. His charm extends to every side character. And you don’t question his story when he kisses the forehead of a fallen comrade in the movie.

Not the Common Man

Atlee and Shankar's movies have a common thread. Their heroes look common but aren’t. They’re also good fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and other things. There’s no need for complexities here because the story is simple. It’s the story of a superhero is saving people. And if you could slap a pair of tights on Vijay in “Mersal,” you’d have felt the same. This follows Rajnikanth, Vijay, through Kamal Hassan (in the recently released “Vikram,” he shakes off a knife wound like nothing). SRK is following the same thread. He could have died a thousand times over in Jawan. But the story doesn’t need to make sense. The standard connection lies in them being the “common” man. Vijay’s character in Kaththi comes to mind. Of his two roles, only one is a superhero. The other one gets beat up and doesn’t have a way to escape prison, but the superhero can solve problems in a second, create a revolution with his words, and do so much more. Looking at “Revolution in Everyday Life,” we’re not discussing things that Vijay or SRK do in these movies. The all-powerful nature of the hero drives the plotline forward. And this has been a trope in Action movies forever. Forgive the blasphemy here, but in Kurosawa movie, when one Samurai cuts down everyone else, or when the outlaws win again in a Billy Wilder movie, it follows the same thread. Creating “Legends” out of ordinary men by covering them in plot armor is a time-honored legacy in movies. It can manifest in two ways. * The authority figure – A policeman doing the right thing (think Salman Khan in Dabbang) * The non-authority figure – An ordinary man taking on the ever-present system (Vijay movies in general) Movies from the South have long created these mythical characters in opposition to hierarchy. The “CM for a single day” trope was exploited in “Nayak” so efficiently. “Nayak” also shows that the system catches up with you eventually, and then you need to do things in queer ways to defeat the system (in this case, a brilliant Amrish Puri.) In Jawan, the system catches up to SRK even after the big win. And an all-out fight gives him the final win. It’s also an excellent metaphor for how the state works. Movements can drive changes but are silvery veneer on the rotting legislature underneath.

Of Illogic and Other Scenes

Illogic is the thread that ties a lot of masala movies together. This is by design because you can’t imagine these heroes to be the same people as us. No one looks at “Singham” and fantasizes that the pot-bellied cop in the neighborhood is the same person. No, it’s an ideal they follow and someone they aspire to become at the end of the day. SRK crafts this illogic with expertise. In the movie, the narrative often impressively shifts from him. When someone complains about him, his followers tell his long-winded story without breaks. He manages when he comes to the jail, and the ground applauds. In showing backbreaking work done by prisoners, we see him participating in the work. In a way, the “illogic” that Atlee crafts in his films is that of idealism beyond reason. This idealism might seem alien to anyone who follows the logical traps in capitalism; for communists and anarchists, this idealism is the core of our philosophy. But, no, the film isn’t communist. It defers to authority and depends on the Army and Police to mette out its justice (even if illegal, the authority figures are the only ones shown as being just.) The critical point to focus on in the film is that idealism is essential to drive changes, and it can make a significant dent. In this case, the stories of the girls who surround SRK help in a significant way. So does the collective disillusionment with the “system.” At points in the film, it’s said that if the system wanted to do right, it would. That’s where the film fails because the truth that Atlee won’t admit in movies is that the system can’t do right. It must be broken down from the outside to make the change. Something that SRK does in the film. This is also illogical, but an ideal system would do this. And if nothing else, masala movies are a function of belief.

Having fun and loving it

My partner is not a fan of SRK. But, in the middle of the film, we discussed how the performance seemed platonic by default. Even during implied sex, SRK looks more like a friend. He does not have lust but admiration in his eyes. And it doesn’t take away from the chemistry either. The film is filled with small, consequential details like these. SRK spends a long time having fun with his costars. The director has fun putting in dialogues from other films and creating long references that don’t make any extra additions to the movie. It’s a fun film because it seems like a collaboration between the people involved. When the blood drop falls into the dirt in the first scene, you feel the cameraman, who has waited for a shot like that for years, laughing. You also feel joy in the dialogues. “Naam to Suna Hoga” hasn’t sounded this joyful since the 2000s. And when other people have fun, having fun yourself is so much easier, which is what matters. Beyond philosophy, beyond long speeches, “Jawan” is about fun in the movies in a way we haven’t had in a while. Part of that is because of the heavy-handed politics that demand un-fun to be a part of Bollywood films throughout.

Nationalism isn’t Fun, yeah, really

In early 2014, Akshay Kumar could do no wrong. He had a long string of hits and was firing on all cylinders. But that fell short in the decade since then. It appears that nationalism is a strong story, but no one likes seeing the authority win repeatedly. Because, at the core, we all understand that the state is wrong. We have understood and internalized that fact quite effectively over the years. Even staunch bhakhts are aware of corruption and the small ways in which they miss out on their chances. They just blame the wrong people for it because of propaganda. But, the overarching story of authority winning is less resonant than other stories. This is why films like “Pushpa” and “RRR” work. They’re stories of people rising against the system and not for it. Thus, nationalism must hide behind the pretenses of rising against the system, craft separate narratives, and try to win that way. But it's no longer working, and the people are looking back at SRK. This isn’t a win, but it's something to celebrate, and we haven’t had one of those reasons in a decade. And that’s why “Jawan” works, and I love it. I love it so much.

My dad seldom picks up my calls to my mother every day. It is a part of my routine; I call my mother every night. I listen to her worries and her perturbations. In a few seconds, I become the mother, mothering my child.

But why do I call?

Most Indian children can relate to the daily call to their mothers and fathers. We’re used to calling people and always being in sync. We tally our numbers, discuss our dues, and then match up against everything. But there may be a deeper reason. Why is calling the family so important anyway? Why must we always know about each other?

The History of Everything

Family Keeps Watch

In the beginning, when the joint family was de rigeur, the eyes followed you everywhere. Of course, people built a community instead of a mother and father and child dynamic. But, then, we need to argue about what a community does. In all senses, these communities hadn’t killed the cops in their heads. So, they ended up creating rules and laws. Thematic guardrails became entrenched. And since people aren’t infallible, these guardrails came from a long line of guardrails, from the leaders, politicians, and everyone else watching the proceedings. The result was that the unit, the smallest unit, became subject to surveillance, and every single day became a jail. The family home was comforting. It provided all the essential comforts a man might want but ate off their morals and needs as it went forward.

It goes nuclear

When families became smaller, larger communities were built. These were built with gossip, with words, with vague whispers. Soon, people became used to watching their steps everywhere. The fear of living in a city where your parents are is also exacerbated by this very gossip. This very structure keeps increasing and eating everything in its path. So, when you smoke a cigarette, you’re not afraid of your mother finding out. Because your mother doesn’t go through that road because that isn’t how it’s structured, but if you’re worried a friend of hers will see you, they will notice. Then, it will ricochet from there. Become an entire thesis on how you’ve destroyed your life and have nowhere to go. And soon, you’re suffering everywhere.

The Panopticon

The concept is simple. It is a central tower that watches every prisoner all around the tower. So, you can never leave its gaze. Everything is reduced to brutal efficiency. If you think social media is a voluntary mode of this, you are right! The same principle repeats itself with social media, and then it causes a lot of conflict. So, you can wear your political badge with pride (and liberals will surely congratulate you for being brave), and suddenly, two people in your college will want to kill you one day. Private spaces are increasingly rare in this life. I do not know if my parents will read this blog and if they’ll decide to throw me out.

The policing construct

The family always polices you. It doesn’t do it out of love. It doesn’t do it out of respect. It doesn’t do it out of care. It polices because that’s what it knows how to do. In the history of things, the family has never been permissive. In the community, it was permissive because when you get a mixture of parental figures, the authority divides itself repeatedly, and you get weak authority, something you can depend on to grow.

So What to do

Nothing might be a silly answer. But, it is an accurate one. Not doing anything might be the best bet for you. If you stay still and never move, the family never has questions, it never polices. But you need to have questions, and you need to create conversation. You need to take action and move into a better place. So, what do you do? You create shields. You never leave trails. And then make your own way through the space. Of course, there’s no simple way out of this. So, you acknowledge the faults, the cracks, and everything in between. Then you grow. You grow despite policing because nothing else is possible.

One of my earliest encounters with violence happened quite normally. I was a teen who was drinking on the streets. And cops came in and ushered us into a world of violence. The truth was, we were just kids drinking. We had smoked a few cigarettes and sat around in the car. But we hadn’t done anything major. Why am I talking about this? Because violence from the state is often neither explicit nor created equally.

The Anatomy of Violence

Let’s assume we’re all living our lives normally. That in the brief history of everything, there has been nothing wrong at all. But then you realize that things are not as they were before. I think to recognize state violence, you likely need to flip the switch. Just think of what you’d consider as abuse in a relationship: * Verbal abuse: Cursing you, using slurs, using a variety of words to get you down * Emotional abuse: Bringing you down again and again * Isolation abuse: Leaving you alone * Food/money/other abuse: Depriving people of food, shelter, or monetary gains If you see this list, you will see that the state has been violent throughout. That personal violence has been an ongoing problem for you, and every time a politician curses you out, says hijra-mukto Jadavpur and something else, and every time they beat you up or deprive you of property that is already available and so easily given, or put a pre-requisite of money for any socialization.

Building Understanding

The second phase of uncovering state violence is creating understanding at every level. Now, this is admittedly difficult. We often don’t realize the violence being done to us because we can’t understand how something drives such inhuman conditions at the outset. Maybe because the level of abuse is not measurable, the idea of measuring is difficult, too. So, you spend a lot of time trying to bridge the gap between your relative ethics and the objective morality of the state. The point is simple: if you have a constant state of ethics that guides you, you’re better than the state. And because you’re a good person, you think no one else also violates this set of ethics. This isn’t true. The state will be a greater evil because it needs to be the greater evil. It needs to be something more than the average person. So, it creates chains of responses that deprive you of everything you desire. It creates frameworks that work against you directly, and then it continues to do this repeatedly for the next eighty years until you die.

Confronting Death and Surviving

Violence is difficult to understand. But, it is far more difficult to confront violence and come out alive. When you fight violence, you must build spaces where you can be violent. This doesn’t need to be exhaustive. You don’t need to knife a cop to be safe. But you need a space to scream, rant, and cry. A place where you can look at yourself and remind yourself that unethical behaviors should always be measured against the scale that the state drives at every second of the way. Also, you need to be anonymous in this space. You need to be more than yourself while simultaneously being less than. This is achievable through practice. Once you enter the space of violence, you let yourself leap. You sort through the masks you’ve worn for the state and let the real you peak from the curtain. You might argue that your real self is not anonymous, but we’re hiding so much of ourselves all the time that the real self is the only true masked representation we can find.

Defining the Space

Remember that state violence is not always physical. Remember that violence itself can grow like a fungus and control your soul. So, when you’re defining the space, it doesn’t need to be a Fight club; it needs to be * Safe * Secure * And Homely A community space where you can sing songs together is violence against the state program of isolation. A place where you make love to your partner is a violence against the state program of unlove. Heck, a place to serve food to your friends is violence against the state program of hunger.

You’ve won before. You will again

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mutual Aid groups were spreading like fungi across the lines of states and cities. People came together to cook for each other and then spent time talking to each other and building rapport across the space. This was the sign that the world was turning, maybe not upside down, maybe it never had the capacity to turn upside down. But, it was turning a little bit so as to give space for you to expand yourself, And trannies everywhere were making friends, building connections, and creating a story.

We can always create that same space again. It requires unyielding hope and an enemy we recognize and acknowledge. The first step, however, is understanding that violence exists, that it is forever, and to fight against is will never be the same level of violence because the state’s violence will always surpass yours. And your violence will always be just survival.

On a quiet evening in late June of 2023, the world ended. This was not the first time; I know it won't be the last. But, personally, it still felt like the end.

Capitalism and Needs

I hate hierarchy, but in the context of Capitalism, everything falls into one. My needs do, too. In search for context within which I can envelop myself, my needs were as follows - * Money – Because everything is governed by the perverse search for material to feed our basic needs * Love – Because money creates holes that materialism can't feed * Food – Because love has a way of leaving you hungry This is not to say that needs won't exist past Capitalism. In fact, to move past this philosophy, we need needs. Because nothing else motivates the human psyche like hunger and desire. But it's not that simple under the pre-established hierarchy. Since money is intricately linked with every need we have, we confuse our other needs with a need for cash. The next big salary, the next big client, the next big thing, becomes our governing motivation.

Money Usurps Everything

On a quiet evening in August 2021, I entered the workforce formally. The contract was signed, and I started working the next day. The premise was simple. > You had failed at everything else, so you now needed to write your way out. So, I started writing. And I did it well. I have always written well and made my way forward in the world. But it still missed a key point in my story. I was wrong in my assessment of the situation. I felt that money filled my need for stability. But, I wanted peace in love, in situations, and in different spaces. > So, money never did fill in the gaps, and I became incredibly infatuated with the concept of earning money instead of the need to have stability. This, then, is the central fallacy of life. Money chases us down in every aspect of life because, in terms of a hierarchy of needs, it falls on the top. Let's examine this with a few examples - 1. You need shelter, but to get shelter, you need money 2. You need food, but to get food, you need money 3. You need happiness, but you tie happiness to material possessions for which you need money This is not a condemnation of the need for material possessions. But, the summation of the fact that once you link everything you possess with money, you only crave that one thing.

When the World Ends

In 2023, I lost my job. It would come sooner or later and have sucked my life out. I was there, getting fat on a salary my paymaster's paymasters didn't think I deserved, so I was out. I would get money for the next two months and could continue being accessible. Good deal, right? I spent the evening when I got laid off searching for jobs. The core need was stability, a thing which I already had for two months, but I had already put money ahead of it because of the hierarchy. The theoretical instability that was two months away was scarier because money had already taken weed in my mind with a call for scarcity.

The Scarcity and the Abundance

Honestly, the mind never sees money as abundant. Now, you can see that as you like. But how long does the last raise in your salary take to become insignificant? This is not a function of your deserving to earn more. > Most people deserve to make more. This is a function of the fact that money is self-consuming. Your life quality will continually improve by very little with increasing money because every material possession that is 1.25x better costs 5x more. So, what seemed like a significant amount of money amounts to little when the paycheck comes through. The perceived abundance of cash is a bug, which always occurs from the outside in. Because every slight increase in life quality requires a blast of money, it looks like you're dying from the inside out.

This doesn't mean that there's no UNETHICAL amount of money

Billionaires are bastards from all sides

The point I am making is that of perception. By circling every benefit in life in increasing costs and building hierarchies that deem money the most essential, we have created a death pit we can't walk out of. Since money is always scarce, our life's missions must be connected. Forever growing, killing us.

No, the answer isn't forsaking everything

A knee-jerk reaction to learning about the scam around money is to ask yourself to give up all possessions. To adopt public property as the sole goal, to feel like desires must be cut short and tamed to build a story. This is not true. There are no positives in giving up desires. Desires are what make us hate Capitalism. In fact, we want to kill this philosophy because we desire for better. You see, capitalism has constructed its own enemy. Since the ultimate desire is Infinite money and capitalism can't give us that in its principle of scarcity, we build the opposing philosophies. If money could afford all we would ever want, we would never want Capitalism to end.

Building a new world

Next time you stand at a crossroads like mine, ask yourself, “Is money the thing I need most at this juncture?” Chances are you will answer yes. Chances are you will return to the grind and follow the same line as many have before. But, if you find other desires beneath money, those that aren't satisfied with a signature and a paystub, harness that desire. *If the need is food, learn to steal and grow. *If the need is shelter, squatting is an honorable act. *If the need is safety, a knife is often scarier than a 100 dialed on a phone. You might say these are not safe options for anyone. That's true. This isn't safe. Especially if you're queer and vulnerable from the start. But, the violence from society doesn't stop just because you're doing something legal. No one has stopped cops from killing trannies by being acceptable and smart. And finally, these are options. Illegality is mostly not fun, and there are consequences. So, if you get the chance to go there, do so cautiously. But remember, money is overrated, and the friends and community that'll feed you your next dinner are more valuable than a wad of cash and come with a lot fewer obligations.

Be safe, and remember that material possessions are so-called because they can be repossessed by a thousand stealing souls.