Why India Can be Democratic Culturalist and Capitalist but not Socialist Anymore
Indian politics, no wonder — irrespective of the political parties’ key ideologies, has been influenced by Gandhian and Nehruvian Socialism for decades to come. We may argue whether the policies of socialism were reasonable for the development of India or not. However, understanding our veriest of issues can be way easier if we read anthropology and aesthetic behaviours of human entities. My proposed conclusion is this — India as a vibrant democracy cannot adopt Socialism any more. It cannot adopt socialist methods at least the way stalwarts like Yogendra Yadav, Gautam Bhatia, Ramachandra Guha, Arundhati Roy and others ever want. Keeping some of the most respected lawyers and academics aside, some of them are really nasty, have no respect of India’s cultural renaissance and always use communication (not just Social Media) to disrupt the nation. I do not also mean that disruption is bad, but we must always question what kind of disruptions we can foresee, detect and understand.
Disruption can be positive, apprehensive, forceful, constructive, ideological and even can be like quicksand. You may have legal rights to categorically disrupt communities and even individual rights just for the sake of some ideological obscuration, which you yourself divert and change scathingly, with utmost honesty we can at least figure out. However, what is discernible is that Socialists and the Hard Left (unfortunately, the Center-Left is losing its ground now) have plundered their purpose of being reasonable and being the voice of the people.
Do not mistake Jacinda Ardern in comparison with Rahul Gandhi. Also, Justin Trudeau and Bernie Sanders have some basic flaws, but Ardern, Merkel and the leaders in Iceland, the Nordic countries, Republic of Korea and France are not left-liberals like Guha, Rahul Gandhi and the rest of the champagne lot. The global leaders in the Nordic, Korea and France are Centrist politicians, with obviously some divergence towards social democracy and individual responsibility in their own creative ways. That is the problem with Indian Socialists — they never realize why leaders in New Zealand and France are maintaining themselves, while they are losing the ground. My proposition is that despite BJP-led NDA Government’s 6 years of governance, they have never realized what are they, or they just do not wish to change.
Understanding why the United States is losing its Moral Capital
I will make a simple example of this. Let us go to the United States. The Democratic Party now has decided via their primaries amidst COVID19 that Joe Biden will battle Donald J Trump for the US Presidential Elections 2020. Now — I agree that President Trump has tried his best at his own political skills to convince authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID19 virus. However, the Democratic Party is reasonable to contend that Trump is unreasonable in his approach towards COVID19. He has failed to control mass collectivist activism that has run riot in the streets of New York against the State Governor Andrew Cuomo, and so forth in the rest of the states to be honest. What message did we and the international community get here, let us understand that:
- That President Trump despite his relevancy of stance against the People’s Republic of China is a failed President (I believe Trump is misusing this conviction, but let us see).
- That the American people (despite divides or judgementalism) are collectively stupid and have no reasonable means to adopt means of social distancing and lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID19. I agree that lockdown and social distancing are not the best way — but the American economy, after years of Reagan-to-Obama neoliberalism, must have learnt the Nordic model of economics from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, where liberals, social democrats and conservatives had united for years to make things work.
- Neither the US shifted to Denmark because of their mass fear towards Liberal Capitalism (which they wrongly assumed as of Democratic Socialism led by AOC and Sanders), nor both the GOP and the Democrats ever thought that as being a developed country — they have to focus on health as a culture, if not a socialist right.
- All of them have (the Democrat-GOP partisanship, the CIA-Pentagon, the Federal Government) failed, because they have no cultural ethos, to be honest. They are political atheists, with more ideological obscuration consumed to such a drastic level that they are now dying due to the Machiavellian trap they had once created for India, the Middle East and even Eastern Europe.
- Even if Bernie Sanders’ objectives were noble, the realization mechanism was not practicable, to be honest.
If you understand the aesthetics of strategy and geopolitics, then maybe Trump is doing smart. He is playing way efficiently and trying his best to strengthen the Asia-Pacific allies, Taiwan and ASEAN to stop the Chinese presence. However, the US needs legitimation and reality. This was too immature of them anyways.
What do we learn as Indians?
- Have a pacifist approach that focuses on our constraints and realities. Humility and purpose always work.
- Have a broader and futuristic mindset towards things. Do not assume to be a judgmental and fall prey to mass humanism.
- Read and understand all views, discuss and do mediation properly. Worship the word confidence-building and mean it.
- Spread empathy by creating a sustainable, real, honest and trust if not true (or reasonable way of) communication infrastructure.
- In economic models — always focus on progressive reforms, which balance labour and capital interest at the same time. You cannot venture a make-or-break strategy for this.
- To adopt and seek civilizational changes, stop adopting the strategy of mass consumerism and mass collectivism/humanism.
What about Champagne Socialism in India?
Champagne Socialism is a term derived from the UK, where wealthy people often dictate certain socialist values they adhere to. Abhijit Iyer-Mitra has beautifully enumerated on this:
There’s a reason movies do better than documentaries. The state of journalism is such that no one gets as excited by facts as they do by yarns and sharp, polarising opinions. That’s why digital media needs people like Rana Ayyub and Swati Chaturvedi. Many of them have formidable social media following, which always helps bring web traffic.
One test is to see how many of their articles are published in the print version of the newspapers they write for. The second point is the way publications pick columnists, which isn’t driven by the salience or substance of the authors’ arguments. The dirty secret of the publishing trade is that organisations choose someone they are socially and politically compatible with in this age of hyper partisanship.
Hyperpartisanship and ideological obscuration are not reasonable for democracies like India to have better communities, and in order to attain some political literacy, they have to abandon this partisan bias anyways.
So this partisanship has deflated the purpose of secularism as a social concept. State secularism too is a different conception altogether and does have legal and political ambits. However, Champagne socialism has affected the scope of what Secularism should stand for, and a secular community, which apprises the trust-faith mechanism must exist peacefully. Let us understand by the example of Secularism in a public domain.
Why Secularism is losing purpose? And why does it matter for us?
First things first — we are not in a system of oligarchs and monarchs, so it would be unreasonable to compare our secular times with those of Sultans, Kings and others. Secondly, when you do not compare that, you have to get deep into what exactly feudal lords, kings and dictators used to do and whether it has some ethical reasonability or not is to be tested.
I disagree with Prof Faizan Mustafa of NALSAR that secularism is divided into 2 models — the separation model we follow in the US, India and France and the jurisdiction model we follow in Spain, the UK, Israel etc. I think that the 2-model approach is reasonable for democracies which follow Semitic faiths. India is a home and the host to Semitic cultures like Islam, Christianity and Judaism, but that’s not the case with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. So maybe the argument needs a lot of improvisation.
The common fear people have is that in a procedural manner or so forth, is that they feel that everyone is Hitlerish. But in reality, nobody reads Mein Kampf. Nobody reads Hitler’ ideology.
And if you think Hitler was wrong, which I think he was — and still you feel our society can tend towards that — then you are the most coward person I have ever seen. Why? You cannot stand up for yourself when you have to, you cannot stop a crowd converting itself into a divisive mob which believes in staunch mass collectivism just because you think you can save some secular spirit and you cannot ever stand up to talk about what is reasonable.
Believe me or not — there is no truth in this world. If you think that what a mob or a crowd think is populist is everything, and then you don’t stand up for it — then maybe you have legal rights to condemn anybody. But that doesn’t legitimize you to impose your views on anybody.
Or let me imagine another narrative for you. What if our communities never thought this the same way? Like — they may think that irrespective of our differences, we have some common norms that can make us grow together, which must not grow the Orthodox nature of a culture or society, so how is it wrong?
Champagne Socialism and Religious Fundamentalism coupled with the Eurocentric bias of Machiavellianism where people and activists (pseudo) know nothing but to only reprimand people via their words is not the correct way to bring social change.
But I believe in civilizational change, what Einstein did, what Vivekananda wanted, what Bhagat Singh died for, what Chanakya wished, what Nikola Tesla wanted, what Steve Jobs wished for and what everyone somewhere down the line dies and lives for. So if you do not aim for civilizational change, then you cannot change and reshape what the rule of law should be and what political legitimacy is. If you want to save Secularism, then shape it the way India should have and not what Champagne Socialists and illiterate tabloid media people want.
Interestingly, if we would start thinking about the way cultures and identities work in the real pacifist and wiser way, without adding notions of power, hegemony, prestige, egoism, status quo-ism and perhaps the judgementalism, then I am convinced that maybe we can shut things down slowly.
How to Incentivise our Democratic Pluralism?
Well, in addition to the advice we must take from the US’ failed narrative of pseudo-populism and societal obscuration, we must try to understand that India fits within the Secular narrative because of the following reasons:
- Indians are open and have their self-sustainable abilities to avoid obscuration. It does not mean in a comparative or comparable sense. The idea here is that the Indic culture is dynamic, beautiful, different and positive. It may have some ethnocentric elements that it may and has have created in the past, but their ethnocentric virtues are more moral in comparison to those of the United States and the UK. In fact, it is the West that cares and now respects India’s cultural and ethical values, which strengthens them towards something reasonable and good.
- Stop ideological obscuration and start reading and discussing things properly.
- The role of culture and identity should be to connect people with their lives and their sociality. No mass of people can be sociopathic. Groups and individuals can be.
- Focus on measures that lead to civilizational change. Change the isolationist and discriminatory method of altruism.
- Bring economic measures that incentivize India’s public sector in such a way that both the babucracy and chronic capitalism, decay and end with time. Privatization and system improvements with some good faith can be better solutions.
- Change the way you volunteer and become a philanthropist. Do not adopt the pre-Eurozone Crisis of 2008 means to exploit what volunteerism is. Do not offer money or services just because you are showing some pomp altruism to people. Doing that is Champagne Socialism and it must be rejected. Provide them economic and stable incentives so that they grow and better themselves. India can change the way opportunities work, like Russia, Israel, Bangladesh and even the Nordic countries. So, let us hope that happens too.