criticalvoices

On issues that matter …

When liberalism degenerates into elitism… November 15, 2016

Honestly, I think Americans need to just hit the pause button in their brain and take a deep breath. Like the past several months of campaign cacophony wasn’t enough for them, their brains are now having to deal with the reality of wrapping around the outcome of the Presidential election.

When 61,047,207 people vote for Hillary Clinton to be their President, there is bound to be heartache when the guy that only 60,375,961 people voted for becomes the President. It was heartening however, to see the outpouring of angst and frustration onto the streets of American cities by kids who, in this age of technological interconnectedness, perhaps find the conservative call for exclusive societies unacceptable.

Still, for all those who voted for Hillary Clinton, and those who voted against Donald Trump, and those who wrote in their vote for Harambe, here’s a piece of advice: Get over it. It’s not Trump’s fault that he won. Remember the movie ‘How to lose a guy in 10 days’? Well, Trump’s campaign objective seemed to be, ‘How to lose an election in 10 months’. But what is a guy to do when 60 plus million people fall in love with him despite himself?

Who said democracy was an easy way of life anyway? As difficult as it is for those who run it, it is even more difficult for the people to decide who they want running it. There are no perfect choices, nor are there perfect voters. And when it comes to electing a President, more often than not, we are only electing the presumptive best of the given and not necessarily the best that ought to be.

Scarily enough, an emerging reality of democracies the world over is that increasingly, winning candidates are being perceived as standing singularly for those who voted for them rather than as unifying representatives for all including their ideological opponents.

We saw something similar in the election of Narendra Modi two years ago. It’s undeniable the popularity Modi still enjoys among his electorate and general followers.

Unfortunately such popularity of individuals of redoubtable agendas always seems to fall outside the sanctimonious ambit of the so called liberal media making them myopic to what some people on the conservative right see.

Sometimes, I feel, intellectualization and even over-analyzation, kills objectivity. But more than that it is the arrogance of the intellectuals, especially the armchair variety, that clouds their view of the polarizing political phenomena, which ride inherent inequalities in society. Like for instance, in this opinion piece in The New York Times the other day, one Pankaj Mishra writes that Modi “appears to be an opportunistic manipulator of disaffection with little to offer apart from the pornography of power and a bogus fantasy of machismo.” Mishra sees Trump following that lead.

Opinionators like Mishra should know that gobbledygook pontification such as this is not read by people who support the likes of Trump and Modi. Worse, such verbose ideation insulates those who do read it, from ground realities.

My liberal bashing does not automatically put me in the company of the irrational. It is just that I hate the ironic degeneration of liberalism into elitism.  My ilk does not wear labels.

But Mishra’s ilk should know that human society is not a factory assembly line where all products are identical. And that in a democracy, everyone – including racists and conspiracy theorists – get to be heard.  They have the vote. They just have to wait their turn.

Srirekha Chakravarty

 

 

 

 

 

‘Conservative’ is the new normal November 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — srirekha @ 11:47 am
Tags: , , ,

I’m writing this, prompted by a sense of déjà vu in the wake of the American presidential elections.

I am not calling out the loser in the election at this time. Who I do want to call out today are the ideological liberals of the world at large.

And here I’ll try to put forth my two pence on why I think liberals the world over owe themselves an apologetic explanation.

The socio-political, socio economic and socio-popular world as we know it today is largely the fallout of the communal churnings of the world wars, especially the Second World War when intelligentsia of the academic and artistic kind or the liberal elite as it were, self-appointed themselves to tell the world what it ought to think, feel, say, do, buy, eat and even look like. Though grudgingly, they did not mind when their de facto mandates degenerated into popular culture. Theirs was ‘normal’, while the rest were radical, extreme, conservative, traditional, or just backward.

Thus, this set of moralizers made it their prerogative to evolve at whim, not waiting to convince the slow adapters, rather confusing, ridiculing and belittling them, to leave behind massive populations across continents feeling suppressed, frustrated, angry and delegitimized. Indeed, the conservatives feel even legally condemned. Liberal is not only hip, it is politically correct, it is also legal. It’s a fashionable cloak that gets modeled and remodeled from season to season, while stashing and storing the conservatives deeper down the layers of society.

Personally, I do not wear any labels. Indeed, I am not one that gets swayed by either popular culture or the flavors of the season. Nor am I one to not believe in change or bucking convention. I do, however, see the hypocrisy that runs through the two ends of the spectrum that serve as potent fodder for the rise and growth of mercenary leadership, especially in the spheres of politics, religion, commerce and the arts.

The world today is ruled by the rich who thrive on the backs of a people so sodden in low self-esteem and perpetually looking for validation in one or the other idols. These masses are further lulled into a false sense of propriety by the technological emergence of social media.

It is a misnomer in democracies is that people can govern or rule themselves. The masses are more conducive to being led rather than to lead themselves, which explains the clout of not only politicians but also of the rich and the famous. And so with each leadership phenomena nations rise and fall as do communities, cultures and religious faiths.

Liberal jargon such as ‘progress’ and its variants seem to hold little meaning because, as I see it, societies do not, or perhaps they never were meant to move linearly. Rather, social upheavals I’d say, are part of a cyclical churn.

My surmise is by no means a theory of social evolution, but just as nature churns itself through calamity and lushness, human populations too undergo constant churning through ideology if not basic survival instinct. It is the strongest of intellect, not so much of might, that survive the upheavals to continue to revive or renew dominant cultures or give birth to entirely new realities. Absent an ideal, let alone a middle path, we can only choose our sides in this fight for survival, and await the outcomes, if not consequences.

What this American election cycle, historic by all measures, has thrown up is every wrong political metric that ideologically differing parties could possibly have followed in their partisan quest for power. Where they are at now, as politicians and as a people, mere introspection is not enough as a conscience building exercise. What they need is strength to withstand what is the beginning of a social churn that will have to go through the motions of reinvention as a society and as a democracy.

Srirekha Chakravarty