Saturday, May 17, 2014
India 2014: Endings and Beginnings
There are many remarkable things about the Indian Elections 2014. Many in the country believe that this will mark an end and a beginning: Which end and which beginning are being contested, though. It may be the end of the unipolar politics of Congress versus the others, but then only to be replaced by Hindu Nationalists versus the other politics. It may be the decline of India's most prominent political family, the Gandhis, which is drawing most attention: The family scion, Rahul Gandhi, has been comprehensively rejected by the Indian voters. This may also be the end of the Indian Republic as conceived by its founding fathers, and what comes next can be reasonably called the Second Republic.
That may mark a new beginning. Indian Second Republic may not have any of the indecisiveness of the French. Duke of Wellington mused during the Second Republic "France needs a Napoleon and I can't yet see him", but India has its Bonaparte now. This election marks a firm choice about what kind of India one wants, and by handing the victory to RSS, a body which sponsored the assassination of Gandhi on 30th January 1948 because they disapproved the kind of India he helped bring about, that choice represents a decisive break from the idea of India originally conceived. In many ways, this may be the start of a new nation building - an equivalent of Cultural Revolution - and an attempt to build an India with a more unified culture, if not around the majority religion, may be made. The original cosmopolitan conception of India may now be decisively discarded, and a new beginning can be made modeled after the European 'pure' nations of the Nineteenth century.
In this breaking point of a nation, one ending seems rather unremarkable, one that is marked by a whimper and not necessarily succeeded by a new beginning: That of the Democratic Left. This election reduced the once mighty Communist Parties of India (of various hues) to a rump. Once the kingmakers during the multi-polar world of India's politics of the Nineties, they are now decisively overcome by various regional interests and chieftains. And, this is not just a temporal reversal of fortune, submerged by a tidal wave of public fancy, but a continuous and seemingly irreversible decline, the onset of senility that must affect in the absence of any conscious efforts of regeneration or engagement. The leaders of the Democratic Left no longer offer any ideas about what kind of India they may want, and instead offer opportunistic rhetoric borrowed from the antiquated world of the pre-globalisation politics. This end is a perfect demise, even a peaceful one perhaps, a slow obsolescence that invariably follow lack of debate and dissent.
This is surprising: The globalised India, on its long road from Manmohan to Modi, created a vast social class of the dispossessed, disaffected, disadvantaged and disenchanted. Strangely, the rhetoric of hatred and reaction, as offered by the Hindu Nationalists, have won over the same people who it would eventually dispossess further. The left, their supposed champions, could neither leverage their fear nor inspire any hope. They could not counter the empty rhetoric of 'good times' because their ideas were equally empty and out-of-touch. They had nothing to offer: their demise is, therefore, unmourned.
This ending, however, is not without consequence. Does this not clear the space for revolutionary left, who were all but forgotten, primarily because they were pushed out of the margins by the appeal of the democratic left? India's dispossessed are already organised, are already in a battle and are outside the 'good times' parties being organised all over India by the Middle Classes. If anything, they are preparing themselves for an even more brutal assault of the government forces and the rapacious industrialists: The helicopter gunships must be coming. The absence of Democratic Left will surely shift the primary responsibility of opposition to the Revolutionary Left.
But the revolutionary possibilities are not just to be found in the jungles and battle fatigues of the dispossessed, but increasingly among those disquieted by the nature of globalised rigging of the rules: This is the 99%, self-organising, temporal but outraged, that has proved to be effective. Call it anarchism, but they offer an alternative at the time when state itself has become a degenerative mechanism. The democratic socialism has tied itself to the State and degenerated when the state degenerated into an apparatus of privileged accumulation; the revolutionary left remained outside the margins, too preoccupied by the struggles of existence to alter the course of politics, in the waiting for an 'objective condition' to arrive. The anarchic mechanics of the self-organising left, however, drew its lifeblood from the technologies of self-organisation and conversation, and were without the trappings of the state. They, therefore, offer an alternative after the decline of democratic left, to be the voice of the dispossessed, against the rule of the few, against the repressive state.
This may be the most interesting beginning wrapped around in the tidings of the Indian election. The work of resistance must necessarily begin.
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How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
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