Left is Right. Right is Wrong.

 How leftists and pseudo-liberals have crowded out debate in public discourse in an attempt to muzzle the right by their obdurate head butting. But things are changing.

These two pithy statements are actually modern aphorisms, and as attractively poised in their contradiction as they may look, there is a seminal synonymity between them if we were to go by the modern version of liberalism – a stark polarization where, without much evidence, leave alone logic, conservative is taken to mean retrograde and liberal, progressive.

The liberal occupies centre stage in public discourse not because he or she represents the larger, more popular or truer view of things but because he or she has claimed to occupy – from the time of Moses, it might seem – what is called the moral high ground. And since occupation is nine tenth of the law, dislodging them has not been easy. To that extent it is also anomalously interpreted that there can be only one moral high ground, viz., the ground beneath their feet, which in a reasonably diverse environment of views and counterviews would seem absurd because it contradicts itself – morality is not an absolute idea – one man’s….you know, all that.

But idealism is a fine art, and the liberals excel at it. Ah!, the glorious irresponsibility of articulating an unattainable objective, of painting a surreal picture, citing an impossibility. As a matter of strategy, liberals always deal in larger issues, macro positions and paint landscapes that arch from biblical rhetoric to genteel fussiness but the arguments posited by them almost always fail in real time, in the context of real life values. The rightist, on the other hand, deals with the actual – his views are more realistic – the behaviour of man in his relationship with others – the physiological, the psychological or the spiritual dimensions of what affects him and his life directly, socially, politically and which shapes his operating opinions, not subjective views.

The constant lecturing by the liberals, the centrists and left of centrists, sooner or later transforms into a symphony of agreed, standardized, boxed and labeled views that have the potential of paralyzing the body politic by their sheer sonority. Then there are trained liberals who have spent years spinning on the wheel of western value judgements until their rules apply to all. In the Indian context particularly, most of what we know as liberalism is an acquired taste – remnants of a political regime that was constantly at odds with its self image and tried to impose a new reality on the consciousness of the people even though it militates against the grain of the people. It was part of the new servitude to a new culture, an imported, contrived philosophy that got its respectability from the west but only after cauterizing the flavour of the celebrated liberalism of the Hindus.

The brotherhood of liberals is as much a multinational burger chain as anything, for it is sustained by a commonality of view that breaches borders irrespective of applicability and indeed, raison d’etre. A conservative [rightist] in the context of the west – say the US or UK – is epitomized by highly polarized views on specific issues – taxation, abortion, security, immigration, religion – and an equal intolerance for the opposite. India never had a tradition of such intolerance due to the syncretic nature of Hinduism and to that extent it could be argued that peddling liberalism in India has actually served only to push people into more rightist positions than were necessary, had a natural course been followed. For evidence I present to you the rise of Hindutva, the celebrated term ‘pseudo-secular’ and the attendant political diffusion that had since given rise to the forces supporting the BJP.

But the liberal is not singly powerful. They hunt in packs. They act in concert, being a cartel as I have argued, paralyse debate with their pre-programmed, regurgitated content that is inbuilt with a machinery of psychological keys, subtle inflexions and caustic innuendos designed to shock and awe, but mostly to hawk and shove, being peddlers essentially.

As is always the case with equal and opposing forces, Liberals too are nothing more than an international cartel, intolerant of any view other than their own and in a democratic milieu they exhibit illustratively anti-democratic, even phobic behaviour. Liberals, it is said, argue for freedom and choice – they actually subvert it, for while their motive scould be assigned to a childish love of variety, with their extremist commitment to the idea of freedom they are eventually beholden to encourage splinter groups, even separatists and insurgents, rendering the state susceptible to balkanization, weakening it and endangering the very freedom that comes with secure boundaries and which they love so much to uphold. It is suggested that liberals represent openness to change and new ideas – I propose that it is in fact the exact opposite. Liberals refuse to see change except from where they stand, in which case it is not a predilection for change at all – more a resistance to it unless it conforms to their pre-existing views and stand point.

It is also not as if all of this were harmless banter. The liberal with his lack of realism, insensitivity to time and effort, muddled understanding of intent and subject often debauches the dialogue to the detriment of entire nations, not to speak of people. This intractable linkage predicts that the liberal will trade tomorrow’s disaster for today’s relative peace. Remember he does not deal in solutions, but in positions; not in time but in relativity, not in qualifiable transactions, but in genial intransigence – anything, in other words, to not disturb the status quo, even if it means sleeping through a crisis, with the gumption of calling a more concerned fellow citizen alarmist should he raise a cry.

History is replete with examples of how much damage this can do – we don’t have to look far – our most prominent military and foreign affairs failures have stemmed from this weakness. Now the spectre of tangoing with Pakistan at the Foreign Secretary talks even as they blow up bakeries in town is yet another shining example of the paralysis of independent thinking that liberals induce. To the argument, so should we stop talking to Pakistan is the answer: at least have the same self respect that the US reserves for itself. Our law and order and internal security apparatus is also moribund for the simple reason that the stranglehold of the liberal lobby won’t allow progress. Look at the priorities of the liberals who sweated blood at the thought of a recent movie screening being blocked, against the backdrop of the blood that spilled in Pune merely because once again, the liberals forced the government to take its eye off the target. Guarding cinema hall premiers became a greater testament to our nationhood than guarding our cities.

It would be naive to suggest that the rise of the liberals is merely due to the junta or the sheer brilliance of their methods or the depth of their cadres. The right too, in India has for long served their interest in as much as not speaking up, not speaking up enough, or not speaking up in a language that would challenge their methods. They have been in thrall of the liberals for some time now and some are finding it difficult to maintain the balance and poise required to counter their subtle tactics while some are still hesitating to come out of the closet, or having come out, have frequent bouts of withdrawal and keep rethinking positions worrying about their approval ratings – in a strange quirk – among the very liberals they decry! – the same dodgy professors in moth eaten tweed jackets and scruffy jhola wallahas who revel in their penury of new ideas.

Leftist, and left of centre demagogues have wreaked havoc on the intellectual temperament of the Indian people for close to half a century, where the state’s writ, composed by them, has run riot with a people’s conscience, their sense of self and identity – the vein and sap of personality.

The earlier success of the liberals and the left liberals in crowding our text books with their version of Indian social history is also a classic reason for this: most of my generation had to lose thirty years of conditioning to even emerge from the chrysalis and find in the kernel of Hindu thought the real tone, tenor and import of liberalism. It took that much time to also realize that we don’t need to be at odds with who we are and how we think and that we can’t be judged or judge on the basis of western thought and philosophy. Besides it could be said with some certainty that a large body of western liberal philosophical theory is beholden to the tenets of Hindu thought for the very version they come back to sell back to us through their re-sellers. Consequently, it is a fact that it takes a longer growth curve to find oneself before being lumped as a rightist: the liberal has merely to walk the course set by his predecessor masters: the rightist has to take a u-turn after all is said and done and come back to his roots and almost start again.

The Hindu’s traditional aversion for conflict, a quality not many cultures can claim, is also part of the misconception that his views are in subtle consonance with the liberals as they preen around in our country in borrowed clothes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is intrinsic in the make of our people to be able to revel in dichotomy: what looks like a contradiction to a westerner is often merely two sides of the coin to an Indian. Remember the Hindu can handle two kinds of truths; and at the same time too! To people with one God, the idea of many Gods is abhorrent. And there starts the trend of intolerance that is spawned by undercover fascism, masquerading as liberalism.

The marginalization of pseudo-liberals in India is a given not because of rising rightism, but because it was never a really original product and its moorings were always suspect. It is for just that reason that the scope of such liberals has constantly reduced and now their most celebrated festivals are things like valentine’s day, a Gujarat riot court hearing, a shahrukh khan flick or some cute indo-pak music festival.

But this trend is changing and a new breed of ‘write-ists’ must emerge, who will redefine liberalism vis-à-vis conservativeness, left from right, and right from wrong. They must underline that in the Indian context, the right is more centre than the liberal. They must shift the fulcrum of the equation and lay down the new fundamentals of bipolar debate in the context of India, where moderation must now be tempered with a bias for self preservation, where centuries of socio-political erosion must be stemmed with a new apparatus of definitions, where indigenous political awakening must sear through the mask of pseudo-liberalism and give birth to a more realistic version of active liberalism, more commonly called the middle path, more commonly known as our gift to the world.

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This piece has also appeared in an edited version under a different headline in The Daily Pioneer of 20th Febryary, 2010

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Comments
One Response to “Left is Right. Right is Wrong.”
  1. R SUNDERARAJAN says:

    Absolutely brilliant!
    A piece of advice, though unsolicited,the entire media [print and electronic] is not only anti-BJP but also anti-Hindu. Therefore I wish BJP projects articulate people on TV and rebutts all the trash written in the print media.

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