On why left-liberals are more mean

I am a recovering left-liberal. I would like to believe to have fully recovered from the fundamental defects within the broad spectrum of liberal and leftist political thought; especially the contradictions that provoked me to leave the camp for good. But my belief could very well be a self serving defense mechanism and only time will tell. The immediate consequence of these defects appears in a subscriber’s behavior — you are more prone to be mean. Now there is a very specific reason and context why I harp this point. The #metoo campaign and the latest cacophony created by waring tribes of left-leaning feminists (the liberals vs identity politics wing) over the list of alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct from academia would have been funny, if not for being tragic. The list does include very important names, and I for one do not find it shocking that a substantial number of them are self-proclaimed left-liberals. But the conversation that goes on has the trademark meanness. And hence my point — left liberals are more likely to be mean to each other and outsiders, than right wingers.

Let us look at the crux of the current issue. Make no mistake, I am noway suggesting that sexual misconduct of various degrees is not a serious problem to be tackled. I am willing to believe that a huge majority of people in that allegation list could be simply guilty as charged.  But what I am unwilling to concede is that there is absolutely no chance that at least one of the people in the list might be innocent of the alleged crime and was in fact a victim of a vendetta of some sort. The fact that 60 out of 61 being guilty does not exonerate the makers and its supporters, from the most heinous crime one can perpetuate by insinuating an innocent person. You can shout a lot about media trials by unscrupulous journalists and conveniently forget what you are doing by claiming a moral high ground.  Now, I can bet a substantial sum that the first reaction from the more mean tribe in this battle for this logical suggestion will be that this is a privileged savarna/male/ liberal (which I very doubt to be) or in worst case a Sanghi (you have to be one if you cannot be even called a liberal) mindset. The most unscrupulous would also suggest that any one questioning their methods is a rape apologist or even a rapist. I will not be surprised at the irony of tremendously powerful men and women with a huge social media following, sitting in safe havens of a first world country, pointing fingers at anyone who believes in having a conscience, and be responsible for own actions.

Why do they behave so? A left liberal mindset, in my opinion and experience, has a shocking aversion towards philosophical consistency. I do not claim that there are entirely consistent political philosophies.  Other major schools more often acknowledges their inconsistency on matters, and at least do not moralize their particular stands to the extend left leaning political entities do. They thrive on an uncontested belief on moral superiority, and insinuates any doctrinal disagreement as sign of moral unworthiness. To put it simple, somebody who takes a principled different view on an important matter does not do so for a mistaken belief, logic or fact, but necessarily because they are evil. In this particular case, every woman who believes that this kind of naming and shaming is principally wrong is a morally bereft female, who is therefore necessarily a white feminist (or it’s Indian counterpart — savarna), whose only reason for challenging the same is her identity consciousness and prejudice. If it were a man, there is not even a question that such a person has to be a rape apologist! The funny thing is that there is absolutely no reason to believe that if a list containing non upper caste sounding names were to come up, there would not have been enough people, including the ones who objects now, who would raise the same principled objection. No! That burden of proof is not up on them.

Nothing could be more Catholic than a left-liberal’s obsession with people being evil and sinners. Some of them honestly believe that they follow the holy gospel of some high volume activists or overrated academics, aimed at cleansing the world of sins. All political groupings without exception behave like tribes. Left-liberals in general and  the identity politics champions in particular are classic cases of cannibalistic tribes.  The fundamental difference between a garden variety tribe and a cannibalistic tribe is their penchant for annihilation and consumption of the erred tribe that lives around them. Their basic belief system is derived from a notion of pure and victimized self, against a hostile and vile group of others who are better, wealthier, more powerful and so on because they are evil.  It is their fundamental belief that in a fair world everybody would think like them, but then they stand for pluralism and all such fantastic ideas!!

An interesting aspect of the left-liberal attitude is extreme territoriality in an anthropological sense. The nearer others are to their beliefs, the more hostile they are for their differences in beliefs. One should not be surprised in knowing about the countless factions of Maoists who are at war with each other, the LTTE who systematically murdered other revolutionary liberation organizations for the same cause (or simply put terrorists), the identity politics groups who want every self-serving aspect of liberalism and some variant of socialism but are at constant war with the mainstream socialists and liberals etc. This attitude also is so universal among all left-liberals. Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ got it on dot with the  People’s Front of Judea.

My point is that a mean behavior derives directly from a left-liberal mindset. In contrast to this, right wingers are often more prone to be violent, obnoxious and  dumb. But their territoriality is much less.  When was the last time that you heard about a clash — ideological or fist fight — between a Sangh outfit and another ultra Hindu right wing sena?

The neutrality charade

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
~ Desmond Tutu

I have been wanting to write about the prevalence of muddled thinking among both left and right from the political spectrum for quite some time. The theme of ‘neutrality’ as employed by people, is a classic example of muddled thinking. Neutrality works like a rubber band— immensely stretchable, and extremely convenient. The right, including those who are not so rabid, have a completely mistaken idea regarding this. The radical left on the other hand, uses the negation of the concept (i.e. there is no neutrality) to justify their preferences.

As I write this, an incident involving mob violence led by an individual with a very shady history, against another student whom I know personally — R. Sooraj — is the talk of the town at IIT Madras where I do research. Now let me make clear that, this was not a ‘fist fight’ between two as is being said in some media or by individuals who know nothing better. I have personally verified so much with trustworthy sources with no particular affiliations. It was a case of attack from one side that can have no justification what so ever. Without surprises, I have come to hear the word ‘neutrality’ used in various uninspiring and absolutely nonsensical ways. So what does it mean to be neutral in such an incident?

Sooraj

Sooraj in hospital bed before the surgery

Let us look at this case. Imagine that there is a bunch of people who go hyper with a few fantastic jargons. They often use the jargons indiscriminately and in a declarative manner. These jargons are related to isms like fascism , Brahmanism and any number of such varieties. Well, they also raise relevant issues pertaining to language (Sanskrit and Hindi imposition?), regional biases, caste and class based discrimination etc. but in, what I would like to call as, counter productive style. They are few, and exist as a feeble voice, though often portrayed outside as louder than what they really are. They also have as friends (better word is not-opponents) individuals who agree with them on particular issues, but have serious differences with their style of functioning. As you can see, we are not talking about a single monolithic group but people with a spectrum of opinions that can be differentiated from right-wing ideals. You will find romantic idiots who want love and world peace to opinionated ideologues for whom the theory of revolution is no less than the ten commandments for an ardent Christian, among them.  They are often shrill and I have found many vocal people from this group as boring and unimaginative. Let us call this amorphous collection as ‘high pitches‘ in our context. Apparently, a few individuals with various degrees of affiliation to this bunch, came together to conduct a discussion on the new regulations imposed by the central Government on a taboo. The taboo in question is beef, which by the way is not illegal in the land where this happens. I am calling it the taboo event.

Now, imagine another group. These people are more closed knit, with less to zero diversity in terms of religion, region, caste and gender. Their lack of diversity could be explained by Shahrukh Khan’s dialogue from the Bollywood flick ‘Chak De’ : “Ek team mein, do gundey nahi ho sakta. Aur is team ka gunda mein hoon”. (There cannot be two goons in the same team, and I am the goon of this team.) The closest they have come to a coherent political sentence without expletives and threats is ‘Bharat mata ki jai‘, which is fine. But there are also not-so-fine hot tempered gentlemen within, who are anything but gentle. Expect no bright ideas from this bunch. Their concerns are all related to maintenance of the status quo.  Some particularly  obnoxious characters from the gang expect a Maharaja service for themselves from hapless mess workers.  Then there are circles of supporters who generally agree with these people, but would not like to associate with them because of temperamental issues.  Still outside are individuals whose disagreements with the core are visible, although they continue to justify them citing the shrillness of the other group. Let me call this progressively worse by every yardstick as we go to the core gang as dhamakas. Their response to every argument is predictable, but then rule of the thumb is to expect the worse.

Note that I have not included the moderates from both ends of political spectrum, libertarians, generally uninterested people and many other categories into my classification scheme.

Manish

The perpetrator threatening others at the hospital.

There is a nasty person from the dhamakas with a well documented history of disrupting events and engaging in unprovoked physical assault. He is supported, possibly instigated, by a gang whose only difference from him is the ability to keep themselves safe. This gang assaults a person who was seen at the taboo event, because he ate that which is unacceptable for them and probably because they assumed him from the high pitches.  And no, it was not a mutual fight, but a pre-planned attack. The main character has openly made death threats against high pitchers in full public view, in real world as well as in facebook. Witnesses who have no stake in these issues confirm that this was a deadly attack, primarily by the nasty guy, with full support from the group. These people then change stories on every passing day after the attack. Or at least somebody is doing on their behalf. To cut a long story short, nothing that the nasty guy and his gang says (dhamakas), should have any credibility in the eyes of people who were not born yesterday. Even if we give them the benefit of doubt, no evidence, either physical or  human witnesses, attests their claims. You could read the detailed account of the incidents from the document here. So, how do we maintain neutrality about this case?

The ex-speaker of the Students Legislative Council of IIT Madras writes to an international media where in he mentions that there was a fight between left and right in student legislative council (SLC) meeting, which at its best is only semantically correct. Is “fight” the appropriate word to describe an incident when a person attacks a member of SLC without any provocation, and a friend of his responds in weak and spontaneous self-defense? There are things that I agree with him, at least in a minimal sense, about destruction of engagement spaces. Both parties have responsibility, if not at an equal level. But there is no way to bring in the question of differences of opinion and styles of functioning, to justify violent acts. I do not buy the left-liberal versions with ifs and buts while they talk about Paris or London attacks. Now that holds equally well when US and its allies goes for its holy ‘save democracy’ war in Iraq or Syria.  Much less should one admit that argument in the context of violence within a university, where intellectual growth is one’s own responsibility and purpose.

Neutrality cannot be defined as taking both opinions on an equal footage, as some from center-right or self proclaimed apolitical pretends. The fact that you do not like an ideology, should not blind you from seeing that injustice done to a person  with sympathies to that ideology is unacceptable. It’s negation does not imply lending support to the ‘powerless’ for the only reason that they are so, as left would have when it is favorable to their stands.  Neutrality, if there is ever such a thing, is remaining in suspended animation without passing a comment. Nobody is neutral by stating that both versions are possible. No cookies for that. Most importantly it is about stating known facts as they are.

Supporting an individual or group because they are apparently the underdog is not a principled way to overcome neutrality. We have to philosophize here. It is possible that some people might rank certain kinds of emotional violence over and above physical violence. This does not prove that a subjective emotional violence, would in anyway justify a physically violent (so-called) retaliation. Violence on physical existence is qualitatively grave than what anybody could do with words, generally speaking. May be one could imagine a few extra ordinary circumstances.  But even those have to pass the litmus test of targeted, personal, verbal assaults with an intention to provoke irrational response. So long as one cannot ascertain those, stating that both sides are at fault is not neutral, but a lazy self justification for one’s own biases.

The enigma called Indian conservativism

Conservative movement in India is a big enigma. Accuse me a conservative when I state the obvious — India does not have a conservative movement as far as the commonly accepted meanings of that word in the modern sense is concerned. And yes, I actually mean no conservative political movement— nacht, nyet, naHi, illai. The only time the word conservatism can ever be used in its proper sense is in its past tense; to refer to Swatantra Party by C. R. Rajagopalachari.

C_Rajagopalachari_1944

C. Rajagopalachari

We do have a not so subtle potpourri of various groups like traditionalists, anti-liberals, hardcore religious fanatics and cultural nationalists with varying degrees of bigotry, mostly controlled by populists  the from the last group. No points for the guesses, as they are the current ruling party that commands a stable electoral majority in the parliament. They are considered to be the nearest to, or in some cases proclaims themselves to be the voice as in the case of their fellow traveler publication Swarajya, Indian conservatives. May be, it is the comparison with Republican party of United States in terms of composition, that makes people say this. In any case, this bunch makes an interesting subject for a study.

The rise of Modi to power did give some commentators the hope that this time the general course would change. After demonetization, higher indirect taxes, bringing in new red tapism in the form of making Aadhar mandatory for every inconsequential thing and new regulations on cattle markets (which is nothing but a devious way to restrict supply of beef — the ideological agenda), I believe that no intelligent observer will argue that we are in the direction of a small government.

The late Malayalam novelist O. V. Vijayan made a brilliant observation about the predecessor of today’s ruling party, the Jan Sangh. Let me quote him (translation mine).

O._V._Vijayan

O. V. Vijayan

I remember the conversation with O. Rajagopal (the veteran Jan Sangh/BJP leader and current MLA) many years ago while he was getting ready to leave after spending the night at my home as a guest. I asked:

Where will the divisive politics of Jan Sangh lead to? You do not have a contemporary economic vision. You do not have a democratic solution to the linguistic and geographic contradictions.”    

We will be accepted pan India“, he replied.

“How?”

My friend expressed sympathy at my silliness with a kind smile. He said:

Any movement that is born from the (holy) Sindhu-Ganga basin should necessarily succeed.”

I was shocked at this half baked mysticism….. Sangh’s primary concern is not the failure of Indian democracy. It is not any of the contemporary issues. Their concern is mythology, the great war between Devas and Asuras!

 ~ O. V. Vijayan, from Haidavanum athiHaindavanum, 1987 (roughly translated as ‘The Hindu and the ultra Hindu’)

I believe Vijayan’s observation is right on the mark even about the new avatar of Sangh. Of course, the organization has expanded and become a little more diverse and inclusive. But one cannot miss the fact that apart from the cultural flank based on Hindu mythology, none of its successes are its own making as against its opponents’ failures. Even today, the only agenda it is able to set is the nationalism turf plays. It is still not confident enough to talk about the economics or a social vision. This is in sharp contrast with the conservative movements from Europe or North America which has confident spokespersons who can handle the economic doctrine or its ideas about society, and I’m not talking about the fringe Christian fundamentalists who might ally with them.  To that extend, ideologically Sangh is a more confused mirror image of Jamaat-e-Islami from the Muslim world. And that in itself will resist the core from taking any rational economic policy. Even if the government comes up with one in certain sectors, it has to balance that by spending a proportional amount as archana (paid prayer ritual in the Hindu context) for the arcane cultural (read ideological) causes.

So, why aren’t there many electorally popular or intellectually appealing Indian conservatives? The standard right wing answer to this will be the so-called hijack of the  academia by the left (after Indira Gandhi) and dominance of the Indian National Congress which championed the populist left ideals. I agree that there is some merit to these accusations. Still, it does not account for the full picture. In my opinion, the missing link is the high prevalence of muddled thinking among the people at large, from the centre to right  spectrum. Liberals are prone to muddled thinking when it comes to the questions of economics. But generally, they get many socio-cultural questions right. It is another matter that they often display double standards. Most self identified conservatives from India, except a few libertarians, carry an unnecessary burden of ‘cultural victimhood‘ (the wounded civilization rhetoric of V. S. Naipaul) which has no basis and they tend to blame the leftist discourse for their own incompetence. The prevalence of outdated to horribly bad cultural practices in third world countries is a fact. No amount of blaming colonialism, can hide this. On top of these, Indian conservatives have no equivalent for a Protestant work ethic to hang on.

I have observed that self confessed conservatives from India, often (unnecessarily) take up on themselves the duty to find justifications for elements in a far from admirable past. It is a common feature in most post colonial states that conservatism takes a strong anti-modern position. This puts a severe limit on the rationality of conservatives, furthering the nonsense of  ideas like our sciences vs western sciences.  This becomes a hurdle in pursuing rational economic policy and their substitute becomes no better than status quo or in worst cases akin to Marxian dogma. On top of this,  except for a handful of people, the self identified conservatives are least knowledgeable when it comes to the native systems. I have always been baffled by this contradiction that people from the left-liberal camp (myself included then) had a better grasp over the broad picture and finer details of India’s history. And that is not because of some conspiracy by leftist historians, for conservatives are generally unaware of even traditional sources. How do we reconcile with the contradiction that these people are the default nationalists but without any fundamental idea about the idea or history of the nation they were defending, except as fragmented myths and emotional euphemisms!

I am not a conservative (or a leftist). But I would like to see more intelligent modern conservatives without the bigotry against non (upper caste) Hindu cultures and traditions, speaking their minds about politics, economics and society, and engaging rationally . We need a social debate on ideas and not the cacophony in the offering today. Can Indian conservatives for once prove to be an exception to the inward looking third world traditionalism?

On the all pervasive shrillness and the “liberals”

sjw

A “postmodern” activist, often referred derogatorily as a Social Justice Warrior.

I have used “liberals” here in the American sense of the word that includes all left of the centre political stands including main stream, the identity politics thumping new left and far left. To my mind, the best political cartoon that describes this decade is that of a hysteric activist with a placard reading “Stop profanity against the oppressed! Down with the racist, classist, homophobic, misogynist pigs !”, shouting the same at others while holding a selfie stick. Irony is the most hard to get figure of speech from the repertoire of a skillful writer. Even intelligent people misses it out very often, and less said about wannabes, the better. Coming from somewhere in the political left spectrum, I started wondering about the members of my erstwhile clan since quite some time; not to mention the fact that we were in a clan or a tribe with its unique superstitions, Gods and rituals that we accused others of, was the beginning of the dawn. In my observation, other than learning from the tactics of the political left, right has not done much on its own. As movements go, right-wing in various cultural contexts have always been driven by insecurity, reaction to the change in status-quo, predictable aggression and violence. But what has fundamentally changed is the way and manner in which the political left, mostly from the academia and the media, have started developing the narrative of the world and the events.

Consider this image. A vocal social media persona who spares no effort in bashing what she describes as the patriarchal, anti-Dalit, Islamophobic nexus of main stream left, liberals, right and popular culture of this third world country. She doesn’t spare any one mind you, although sometimes it done is for right reasons like that proverbial dead clock. Now she proudly presents herself as a supporter of Hillary Clinton in that numero uno first world country. This irony will not be lost by any intelligent Dalit or Muslim woman on the street. Again, meet this grand pretender of a theoretician for the glorious just causes, who possess detective skills to deduce appropriation of the ideas and icons of oppressed people, though he is not one among them. Let us forget the fact that the most charitable way to look at his theories are as a bunch of adhoc arguments without coherence but with enough wow sounding words. If you did not know that logic in itself is a Eurocentric violence against the colonial subjects by the white hereto-normative hegemony, you are a privilege blind, lackey of the oppressors. Okay just pretend that those bombastic words are full of deep meanings with mystical connotations that nobody has really been able to explain them in a cogent manner, lest you be called ignorant or arrogant, often both. If you really thought that these two anecdotes or its various alternative forms are either insignificant exceptions or exaggerations, let me tell you that you are part of the political left’s delusion.

liberal_arguments1

In my opinion the worst failure of the left political spectrum in general is not lack of imagination, which although is definitely one from the list. It is getting caught in one’s own rhetoric. They have long forgot to ask relevant questions, not that they were very good with answers any time. Marxists were wrong about economics and political rights. It took almost a century for people at large to understand this. The perceptive economists and philosophers from the twentieth century itself never had a doubt about the same though. The failure of theory gave rise to various schools of (spurious) public intellectuals who went on with non-falsifiable discourses surrounding identities and culture. With extensive verbiage and appeal to emotions, they made a large section of people convinced about the plausibility of those proposals, without moving the larger social debate an inch forward. It is not that these people were necessarily fraud, but only incompetents who found a short cut to avoid a rigorous philosophic justification- a Machiavellian tactic of selective application of relativism. In fact, these discourse peddling has hurt the third world countries more than the industrialized first world, although that is a different topic of discussion. The cacophony of today’s media driven political agenda was essentially a ghost unleashed by the new left, and if you are honest, do not blame it on the right or centrists. The worst part of the whole process is that today the only argument of the new left and people influenced by its doctrine is that your opponent is a bad person!! There is no need to debate the whys and hows of political questions, for the discussion is surrounded on some cuss words.

The question that everyone who do not subscribe to right’s cultural dogmas should ask is whether this meanness has generated anything beneficial. Let me be bold enough to predict that it will not do any good, even in future. I do not believe in left’s politically correct speak that all people are equally kind, intelligent or ethical. No, but the division is not on the basis of gender, caste, religion, ethnicity or creed, but as individuals who are conscientious and those who are not. Very often people who are not conscientious flock together in groups where their interests meet or because they can be manipulated. To that extend all mobs which display aggression, disregard for other people’s rights, thoughtlessness and lack of intelligence have to be called out. There is no need to be apologetic about doing that. However manipulating the intellectual space to the extend of disallowing your critics by tagging them with your chosen cuss words is not going to help. I sincerely believe that even the least wise people are saner than the twitter throw ups.


Also published as facebook note here.

Why is victimhood the new cool?

Warning : This post does not present an argument that there are no victims and aggressors. Also, it does not intend to propose that people who portray themselves as victims, in whatever context, most often are not. The purpose is to explore the logic behind the growing popularity of victimhood narratives across the political spectrum. Other readings that raise such insinuations or arbitrary deconstructions suiting various political positions are either malevolent or uninformed.


Think about it, why does a media showman like Arnab Goswami known for aggression, machismo and complete disregard for journalistic ethics, describe his newly found media as a defensive venture against the oppressive liberal elite? Why does an introduction written by Arundhati Roy to Ambedkar’s Anihilation of Caste, attract extreme wrath from certain Dalit intellectuals and activists. This campaign which was objectively more visible in the social media circles,  was projected as a tirade against oppression by the so-called Savarna elite, way more than a grass root level resistance against caste motivated physical attacks?

We must ask ourselves a question. Has the world suddenly gone so bad and horrible, that narratives from all kind of political positions are centered around how bad they are treated? The left, and quite unsurprisingly so, maintains that the people from working class are the victims of the cruel machinations of the global financial capital and imperialist state policies dictated by an elite political class. The new left, or the more identitarian version that sprung from 1960’s (the self described social justice fighters), describes their politics as a resistance to the oppression by the hetero-patriarchal, white (or Brahminical in India) hegemony that is all pervasive. And now, the right has learned the trick and describes themselves as fighters against the oppression of the nexus of academic liberal left, biased liberal media and villains from outside their civilizations, hellbent on destroying their glorious traditions. The villains of the right changes religion as we cross national boundaries, even though the liberals of various hues and colours remain a constant. If all of them are to be believed, we are really screwed from all directions! Is that so?

the_better_angels_of_our_nature Has the world gone bad?

Steven Pinker argues in this 2011 book, The better angels of our nature, that extreme forms of violence have been decreasing with the passing of age. The book in itself got quite a bit of ire from various sources, from postmodern theorists to Nicholas Taleb. However, one argument that it raises is still worthy of consideration. Even if we cannot assert that extreme violence has not gone down (substantially), it can certainly be asserted that there is no upward trend. This may not sit well with the political propositions of the new left, which is only bad for them. Another important thinker, Yual Noah Harari  argues in his book Homo Deus that:

In 2012 about 56 million people died throughout the world; 620,000 of them died due to human violence (war killed 120,000 people, and crime killed another 500,000). In contrast, 800,000 committed suicide, and 1.5 million died of diabetes. Sugar is now more dangerous than gunpowder.”

homo_deus

If we go by any available statistics it is unmistakable that with all the challenges, humanity as a whole is not worse off today than it were 25 years before. What is true for the world is true for India too, though there is a huge variation among the people who reaped the benefits of the political changes and technological advancement. If such is the case, why are political positions and justifications increasingly built up on victimhood premise?

Possible explanations

I want to consider three possibilities here:

  1. The success of left wing’s  victimhood narrative in establishing dominance in the high culture spheres  has made the right wing follow suit. It is just a catching up phenomena.
  2. The increasing awareness of own rights, isolation and growing ability to express due to social media, in that order is responsible.
  3. Though extreme violence might not be on increase, more subtle forms of dominations are on the rise because overt violence is not cool. Therefore, the new victimhood narratives are the result of growth in repressed violence combined with democratization of media.

Repressed violence

Let us take case 3 first. The  idea is explained through the block diagram below. Simply put, this proposition states that because of the process unleashed by technologically driven modernity, the left and the right are more mean to each other than ever before. There is heavy polarization in ideological lines with little space in between. The moral consciousness prevalent inside the society makes violent expression of the same distasteful if not highly infrequent, unless the tag of enemy is given. Hence all political positions are more passively aggressive against each other. A sense of victim hood comes from this ground reality. We are more vocal than ever, but so are others around. There is no currency for showcasing dominance through overt power displays. Hence there is a psychological phenomena at play, so that one’s inability to display dominance translates to a feeling of powerlessness. In real sense societies are becoming more egalitarian though people consider themselves oppressed, more than before.

flowchart_blog_1There is a large and expanding media space today. This means that there is enough opportunity to vent this passive aggression. People who are subjected to repressed or overt violence can easily connect with such a narrative than evaluating political propositions. It is a truism that emotions connect people to politics than logical propositions. This also explains why the traditional left and classical liberals, who relied more on analytical method, are failing. It is not because Marxist theories are objectively more wrong than that of Donald Trump’s ideas that the former has less appeal. Personally, I do not believe the fact that grand narratives are unable to explain the whole complex world today is any proof that multiple lesser grand narratives are better off than them at any level. But the failure of the grand narratives have given the inward looking, self centered and sympathy seeking narratives more edge. All the political entities are recognizing it.

The individualist drive

The proposition made in case 2, can be described as the individualist drive. The flowchart of the argument is given below.

flowchart_blog_2This argument is similar to the previous case, except for the fact that the emphasis is not on the group dynamics that has resulted from the technologically driven modernity. Here the focus is on people at an individual level. Whether part or sympathizer of any political ideology or not, individuals at large are becoming more self-centered every where. The growing appeal for the victimhood narratives is like a cry in the dark, against isolation. The growth of media in the information age has catalyzed and currently is accelerating the effect.

Ape the ‘masters’

It is undeniable fact that left, both mainstream and identity politics groups, have traditionally been the champions of formulating political propositions based on victimhood narratives. Although classical Marxists chartered the path by defining the need of revolution as to give historical justice to the oppressed classes, the real success story has been the social justice politics that emerged in the mid twentieth century. flowchart_blog_3Right wing groups had often played the victim card, very disingenuously and dangerously, but not as the primary political plank. The Nazi party’s ideology had very little to do with whether Germany was betrayed by Jews, Communists and other non-German ethnic groups. That part was just a mobilizing plank. It was supposed to serve only the initial phase. But right wing parties too have learned from the workings of the modern democratic politics. Today it is not cool to be a recognized totalitarian. Still, continued presence in the democratic spaces need a tool to remind people that they need you. A real or invented sense of victimhood really fits the bill.  The argument is that right and other segments of political spectrum are in effect aping the left who made remarkable changes in the social and cultural sphere during the last century. Even if left  have become electorally less relevant in many places, their contribution within society lives on. Right on the other hand has nothing to claim for itself. Their presence can only be guaranteed by capturing the imagination of the society; they need to be the shining knights in armor! And that means, they need to create a damsel in distress.

In my opinion, all the three processes are at work. It is difficult to put a number on their respective weights. As far as rightwing parties are concerned, the ape the masters theory is more relevant. Repressed violence and individualist drive perhaps explains the preference of people at large for victimhood stories and imaging to be part of it, often wrongly. Political left of various hues are following the course of the social trend, which was initially unleashed by them. People’s preferences does affect the right, but it is not in line with the cultural hegemony that they generally subscribe to. It is not because many people who might sympathize with the right feel victimized that they comes up with that narrative. The story of being victimized by the academic left, though mostly cooked up, does not follow from the trends in society. It is their way of turning the table in light of the left’s own arguments. An interesting case study at this level is the American presidential election 2017 when the populist alt-right turned the traditionally left backed victimhood narrative on its head.

I do believe that a lot of the narrative spins are created by processes over which individuals or political groups have very little control. Having said that, it is my opinion that the academic left should be held responsible for unleashing a victimhood fetish. The culture has percolated into the media too. Now, this is not to say that there are no reprehensible power structures or that certain identities and individuals are not treated sub human in ways. This is only to say that the outcomes of these discourses are often too simplistic and create a typical Hollywood style good guy vs bad guy story, and a horribly inaccurate one at that. Though two decades late, the right has understood this. While all these things happen, as individuals we are psychologically feeling more pressure and isolation even when as human beings we are doing better and powerful than ever. It is a complex tale, but one that must be analyzed carefully.

Why connect jots?

curve_fitting_00

“… thoughts and ideas are like a mysterious time series data. Once you figure out the periodicity and trend, a picture about you, if not anything else, emerges.”

This is my third blog. The first one, started in 2005, had survived for an year or so before I migrated to wordpress. The second one was very much alive until a couple of years ago, although the activity reduced significantly over time. The reason for a fresh start is many fold. I realize and recognize to have changed significantly over time as a person, and this is not just about the 12 years blogging period. Most important aspect of this change as per my self evaluation is the growth in the ability to not take myself too seriously. Sermons, exhortations and outrages are no longer appealing.  It is a phase when personally the genius of Douglas Adams outwits the socio-economic analysis of Karl Marx (or Hayek for that matter), the truth experiments of Gandhi, Ambedkar’s civil right discourse or the dialogues of professional philosophers around the world over time.

May be this too shall pass. Even then, I believe it is relevant to set the right tune and background for this phase. Hence, I am trying to connect the jots. These jots are scattered  thoughts which have occurred to me at different points of time and space. Of course, this attempt is based on a hypothesis that I subscribe to. It is my observation that thoughts and ideas are like a mysterious time series data. Once you figure out the periodicity and trend, a picture about you, if not anything else, emerges. Although there is no guarantee for an outcome, this is an attempt to connect jots in a quest for an emergent picture which might be an absurd one too.