I have been feeling uneasy and scatterbrained ever since the election results were announced. Two weeks and the symptoms have not subsided. Every day I wake up feeling more foolish. How could I have not seen it? If there was a wave, surely I must have shut my eyes to not see it. Did I not read everything that came out in the papers, on the tube, on the gossip networks? I have never felt so unsure of my mental faculties as I do now. Do I even know what’s going on? Clearly I don’t. And I blame no one but me. Not my friends, not my media sources, not my reporter friends. I am a left-leaning liberal. And I think I am the problem.
A passive political animal, the left-leaning liberal thrives on self conscious irony: they don’t just wear a Che Guevara T shirt but can also articulate the deep political irony of the action; they don’t watch Arnab Goswami to learn something about the state of the nation but to be able to make fun of him later. A left leaning liberal will eat beef, will enthusiastically complain about it being buffalo meat, but will forever lack the courage to take to the streets demanding universal cow slaughter. Similarly, a left-leaning liberal will smoke marijuana, snort cocaine and pop ecstasy, but will never be found signing a petition demanding legalisation of drugs.
A left-leaning liberal believes in democracy but will never entertain, even in jest, the possibility of a revolutionary idea. Like perhaps it is time we explored corporate democracy and elected our business leaders; a left-leaning liberal has never seen a government school or a government hospital, unless it is for work (reporter, pharma rep) which is why a left-leaning liberal is not likely to fight for free health care and free education for every Indian.
A left-leaning liberal has no other problem with the political Right other than religious bigotry. It is the only plank on which a left-leaning liberal can attack the Right. Stripped of its religious agenda, the Right appears invulnerable, for it fights for the same principals as its opponents, the left-leaning liberals. As far as I can tell, the political ideology of the right supports big business in the name of political freedom and resists any regulation that is likely to interfere with the invisible hand of the market. Ditto for the left-leaning liberals who demand growth from the nation like a petulant child demands milk from a hungry mother.
I am convinced that there is no political binary anymore. The Congress and the BJP are two units of a larger political outfit just the way two competing ad agencies are actually owned by the same holding group. On really important fundamental issues, these two political parties have the same agenda. Both parties are against taxing agricultural income, both parties are opposed to a substantial increase in government funding of public health, both parties are opposed to any out-of-the-box thinking on Kashmir etc.
The real problem with the left-leaning liberal is that any shift in position brings him uncomfortably close to the Left, which is an idea that young India seems to have abandoned. So with a lot of anxiety the left-leaning liberal stays put.
Like everyone everywhere on the political spectrum, the left-leaning liberal recognises the power of latent capitalism, its subterranean fascism. Yet doesn’t dare question it. One reason could be that the left-leaning liberal is a corporate employee. Any real political opposition is an attack on the economic status quo, an attack the markets cannot tolerate, a war none of us is really prepared to fight.