Class vs. Cause

No, today is not a holiday! Nevertheless I am here.


I do not want it to be a chronology of events. Not much of fun in that, at least not for me.

Putting up something I have been rambling over for quite sometime. Well, got nothing specific to do with IITK life. Guess many would experience it, in any kind of social settings. Probably I myself would have felt this way, even without IITK. But as it is, I have been rambling over it in IITK, due to people, things, events which are here. So, if the book is ever published this will be in it 🙂

If it is to be given a title, I would name it as “Class vs. Cause Problem”. This is intriguing me for a long time now. We are all aware of classes/groups around us. Classes not just in terms of economic classes, but any kind of grouping, formal or informal. We have different political parties as classes, may be the followers of different religious gurus form separate classes. In an institute like this also, there are several classes. People feel like belonging to certain groups based on political and philosophical ideologies. Even on the basis of being windows or linux users 🙂 A division specific to the institute brings out the class of students and that of administration.

Now the very existence of such classes gives me a curious feeling. What is the meaning of belonging to a class? As far as I understand it, classes are supposed to be consisting of “like-minded” people, probably having same or similar purposes and believing in same or similar means to achieve those purposes. All right, but there are just too many things in it. Let me start with similar/same purposes? How many “purposes” can two people in the world have in common? And then how may “purposes” can two hundred or two thousand and more people have in common? Once that is done, how many of them would agree on some common means? And if this too is done, in how many cases can all these commonalities be found successfully? Do you really think, it is possible to have as many classes/groups as we see around? Well I fail to see, when it is such a difficult task to reach at a consensus even in a small family on most of the matters, when almost all the people sharing a room or an apartment in the world have got differences amongst them, which they just can’t sort out, and when no two neighbours in the world have been able to avoid problems with each other.

How come then, that the classes come into existence at all? Explaining that does not involve much of difficulty. Classes are normally formed around a cause. It is possible that at some point of time, a group (large or small) of people come together for a particular purpose and also agree on common means. There is no problem so long as they are working towards that goal. The anomaly comes when the cause around which the class was formed disappears and the class is not dissolved. That people agreed on one original cause is no guarantee that they will agree on all the subsequent issues that come up. This is when these classes whether political or philosophical or based on any other issue start becoming ridiculous. They claim unconditional loyalty of their members till eternity which is not sustainable. Because the membership of the class no longer remains the means of fulfilling some genuine purpose. If anything, it remains a symbol of security or power depending on the personality of the individual. Probably at times even an escape from the risk of taking a stand on issues. Why are people switching political parties such a news material? That’s because the parties claim the unconditional and eternal loyalty of its members. When it is not possible to have common causes, there are all reasons why such kind of behavior will be seen in the classes. People will leave either because they do not see their purpose aligned with the class anymore. Or because the class has just become a power symbol for them and leaving it will give them more power! Those who are left behind try to reason out the break-up by all their wit and still claiming the loyalty of the “genuine” members, because they are not to accept the basic flaw that the concept of the very existence of their class has. Those who leave will probably form another class, around the cause of opposing the class they have just left and then later falling prey to the same trap. While the weirdness and double speak of political parties would give the most dramatic example of it, the phenomenon is present in all forms of classes.

So, the idea is there is a problem with the classes that exist even after the cause around which they were formed has disappeared. An ideology which was suitable at a particular point of time in a given situation might just be useless in some other situation. If the class which was formed then, still exists, all we will have is a group which will, whether or not it is valid, look at the issues through the same old glass. Don’t we all see group of people cribbing about changes all the time?


More later…. I am sure issues are left, but now I better settle down to read all those protocols taught in the last “class” 🙂 of networks, otherwise I will be at a loss in today’s lecture.

Since I am removing the Haloscan Comments, I am copy-pasting the comments I got on this post here.


I think that the Class vs Cause hypothesis is partly true. One pertinent counter-argument can be found in our culture. I guess, I read somewhere in your weblog that new generation is unwilling to accept the orthodox view because our elders are unable to justify the basic tenets. Pricisely, the case presents an orthodox class with no explicable causes! (the causes may be there, or may not be. But our elders don’t have a clue. So, in effect it is not there)
Probably, it takes times for the older class to disappear, until we find a better one (to one’s senses, of course). A vague counter-argument though!
Sandeep | 12.27.04 – 4:53 pm | #

The longevity of Class reminds me of Hysteresis. The Amount (or extent) of hysteresis, though, is subjective, but probably is a function of the level of acceptance of the members to the cause of the specific class vis-a-vis other causes (and other class).
Moreover, sometimes the class itself disappers even though the cause remains. Consider, Buddhism or Jainism, for instance. These Classes were born to India and the most basic cause was the dire straits of outcastes. Altough, the Cause remains, the Class has almost disappeared! (in India)
Sandeep | 12.27.04 – 5:25 pm | #


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