Dr. H M Marulasiddaiah
Former Prof. & Head, Department of Social Work, Bangalore University
To open the discussion on this quite exciting topic, 'Exploitation of man by man', we may put a question thus: "who else can exploit man other than the man himself?" For, the insects and the reptiles cannot, the birds and the animals cannot, and certainly not the inanimate elements of nature can exploit man.
'Exploitation' negatively means making use of factors & forces for one's own ends expressed in various ways enslaving, killing, taking bribes, robbing, threatening with dire consequences, deceiving, immoral trafficking, using things recklessly, etc. Further, exploitation may be understood from two viewpoints-the positive or constructive, and the negative or destructive: in two ways - the direct and the indirect; and may be applied in two areas-the physical world and the human society. Exploitation is understood, by and large, here in the negative view point.
Professor E.F. Schumacher has understood the Universe as a Great Chain of Being with four sections built into it, namely, the Mineral, the Plant, the Animal and the Human in that order of upward movement: the Mineral merely exists, the plant exists and has life in addition, the Animal exists, has life and has consciousness, while the man not only exists, has life and consciousness but also has the power of reasoning and is aware of this power. (We may incidentally remember the Indian concept of Koshas, namely Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya and Anandamya). Therefore, it is only the man who can think about himself, about his past and the future, and about the other three sections of this Great Chain. It is clear that the man shares all the properties and qualities of the other three in addition to the I power of thinking, while the latter I do not possess the human power of I thinking and the knowledge about it.
This exclusive power possessed by him has made the man I consider that he is a speciality and not a part of Nature. This power I has equipped him with the capacity of using the animals, the plants and the minerals; it is assumed, for the well-being of the mankind! In other words, the man assumes, thanks to his cognitive power, that the whole Universe the minerals and the soils, the water and the air, the space and the outer-space, the flora and the fauna exists for him not merely to be probed into with his superior power and knowledge but particularly to be used for his ends. He considers that nature can be used in any manner he desires and decides, and he would never tolerate Nature if she comes in his way: he digs deep into the earth and the oceans to fish out the oil, the coal and the minerals; he fells the forests and razes down the hills; he dams the rivers and hits the planets; he kills the insects, the birds and the animals. He does not care whether the ecological balance is disturbed or the environment is polluted. He goes on destroying nature by using the very objects he has obtained from Nature herself. The exploitation of Nature thus has been affecting the human society adversely both directly and indirectly.
Coming to the exploitation of man by man, we observed how he has been exploiting his own fellowmen. Though all the human beings are gifted with the power of thinking, it is unevenly distributed or it is socially arranged in such a way for its unequal distribution. Man has organized his society into a number of semi-circular areas of activities: religion and morals, politics and administration, economy and industry, education and recreation, law and justice, family and kinship, marriage and child rearing, etc., you can observe how men discriminated against each other in all these areas.
The modern technology, to take an example, has led, among several other things, to the creation of a situation whereas a sensitive British worker put it, "Machines have become as much like people as people have become like machines. They pulsate with life, while man becomes a robot. There is a premonition of man losing control, an awareness of doom. And Ananda Coomaraswamy considers that industry without art is brutality. And you know the modern industry is a brutality. The way the modern man has been advancing particularly with his scientific knowledge and the weapons of different kinds, to exploit Nature; he is aiming at a point of no return. He exploits and does not harness and conserve nature because he has become predacious, and he does not love his kinsman; and if he does, he does it only sensually or sentimentally, and not humanely or spiritually.
As a result of man's indiscriminate use of natural resources, unfortunately in the name of economic development and advancement, an uncongenial and hostile environment is created, not only for the flora and fauna, but also for man himself. The exhaustion of the non-renewable resources of energy, extinction of a variety of species of birds and animals-all these happen not merely because of evolution but because of predatory action of man.
When we observe man's direct exploitation of man, we see it both in its naked and surreptitious ways. Exploitation goes on not only consciously but also unconsciously supported by man-made Social Structure with its traditions, aided by the human knowledge and tools and techniques. The sex and the age, the position in the family, the social and ritual status, the ec on om i c cond i ti ons, the educational standard, the political and bureaucratic power, the racial situation, the community structure, and you can go on in identifying any number of factors and forces that have been enabling man to exploit the others: the man exploits the woman in various ways, the elder ones harass the younger ones, . the father or the husband rules the child or the wife, the higher castes humiliate the lower ones, the priest exploits the ignorant devotees, the capitalists and the businessmen fleece the workers and the customers, the educated misguide the illiterate, the politicians mislead the masses, the bureaucrats misuse their power, the white men destroy the vitality of the coloured, the city- dweller enjoys the exploits at the cost of the villagers, the big landlord exploits the energies of the landless, the village leaders keep the rest under their thumb, the developed countries subjugate the underdeveloped countries by various ways, even through their religious and so called secular voluntary organizations and that too in the name of welfare and development. It appears there is no end for the chain of exploitation. Why? It is because, as indicated earlier, I assume, the man has forgotten the friend in him, and he has given the full scope for the enemy in him to operate. He is drunk with power, and he wants to prove that he is all powerful by using the modem knowledge-both physical and phychosocial and the brutal weapons he has at his command.