No, this blog post is not about Union Bank of Switzerland on top of Union Bank of India!
Late Wednesday night, I chanced upon this article in New York Times. The article was about how the society would have to redistribute sex just as it is contemplating income re-distribution. ‘Sexual inequality’ is an issue! I suppose just as our elites have come up Universal Basic Income (UBI), they may come up with Universal Basic Sex (UBS) as an answer.
One hare-brained solution deserves another or builds on another. Incidentally, there are reportsthat a widely-watched trial of UBI in Finland is being shelved. There are official denials. But, it is evident that there is some serious re-thinking going on.
Sexual inequality or a discussion of sexual redistirbution misses at least a few important things. It is not an asset or endowment that people are entitled to expect from their government. It makes a public policy issue of an almost entirely private matter. Second, it misses the point that sex involves two people and their mutual consent.
Apart from these angles, there was one sentence in the article that set me thinking. It comes at the end of an interesting discussion:
…. because the culture’s dominant message about sex is still essentially Hefnerian, despite certain revisions attempted by feminists since the heyday of the Playboy philosophy — a message that frequency and variety in sexual experience is as close to a summum bonum as the human condition has to offer, that the greatest possible diversity in sexual desires and tastes and identities should be not only accepted but cultivated, and that virginity and celibacy are at best strange and at worst pitiable states. And this master narrative, inevitably, makes both the new inequalities and the decline of actual relationships that much more difficult to bear …
… which in turn encourages people, as ever under modernity, to place their hope for escape from the costs of one revolution in a further one yet to come, be it political, social or technological, which will supply if not the promised utopia at least some form of redress for the many people that progress has obviously left behind.
There is an alternative, conservative response, of course — namely, that our widespread isolation and unhappiness and sterility might be dealt with by reviving or adapting older ideas about the virtues of monogamy and chastity and permanence and the special respect owed to the celibate.
But this is not the natural response for a society like ours. Instead we tend to look for fixes that seem to build on previous revolutions, rather than reverse them. [Emphasis mine]
The highlighted sentence is interesting. In many cases (not all), it makes sense for humans to roll back and reverse. Progress is not always building on what you already have. That is linear. Going back to something is circular. Life is not lived linearly. But, that is the western idea of progress.
Progress is the ability to accept that certain things are not progressive but regressie and that not all ‘incremental’ advances enhance well-being and happiness, on balance. If you are in the wrong lane, reversing course is not only sensible but also the only option.
But, it is very unlikely that humans can think like that because they have been conditioned to think that progress is ‘building on what you have’ and not letting go of what you have.
That is why sometimes, a logical and reasonable answer is that we are doomed, because we never pause to reflect and retrace. Very likely that such a capability has deserted us.
That is why I concluded my MINT column on Tuesday in a somewhat ‘hopeless’ or ‘helpless’ state but yet nurturing the hope that they ‘shock’ some readers into thinking deeper about it. Two of my friends were disappointed with the concluding sentiment and one of them had a solid explanation as to why it was not the most appropriate conclusion.
The restrictions of a column did not allow me to elaborate in detail the above and, in all honesty, I had not thought through. But, the article, ‘Redistribution of sex’ made me realise better for myself as to the wellspring of the ‘concluding hoplelessness’ of my column. That is, the vast majority of us – conditioned to the linear depiction of life on earth – life lived forward – are not capable of viewing it as circular and hence, reversing course on occasions.