Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It is time for the Left to reflect!

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I’m not a proponent of analogies – they always mean different things in different times in the minds of different people – so I would avoid one and come straight to the point. The right-wingers of the world are stuck in a bubble that would be hard to break without bringing a major disruption to their world. The right wing ideology across the world has a few things in common – the middle class with not too much but just about enough provide most of the strength in numbers, it is tightly tied to ideas of religion and an affiliation with the past (often misrepresented and glorified to suit an already formed belief), a sense of nationalism of hate and exclusionism. The holy books followers of white America, India and Middle-East have much in common – a right wing agenda and a pseudo sense of sacrifice for a cause. This sacrifice is more often than not suffered by the mass of people whom the right wing agenda tries to crush in the first place. 
All ideas that resonate with the ideas of right wing agenda – unity by means of common hate for a section of society – automatically find place in its propaganda. Discrimination along time lines of religion, color of the skin, sexuality and any other identity that creates a minority that can be easily exploited automatically becomes a cause that all right-wingers throng towards. It has much to do with the sheep like tendency of the middle-class masses to look for a figure of authority in order to find direction, too scared and unmotivated to find a path of their own, too involved in their petty grazing to be able to look up once in a while into the future. The future then becomes singular for all the followers with a single source and a narrow motivation.
The sad truth is that the world needs these people in the current scheme of things. The sheep that would follow orders believe propaganda and ask lesser questions. They are also quite weak to ever question those in power so the ‘expansion of their rights’ is limited to infringing upon the rights of those who are marginalized.
Most of the education for the right wing is limited to an ability to do their assigned work efficiently and being able to consume the propaganda dished out by those who enslave them. Even those considered the great right wing thinkers have had a very limited sense of the world, a myopic view of issues, non-empathetic policies but most importantly a message that is easily understood by the masses that have limited abilities as consumers of ideas and opinions. In the context of Indian politics it is no surprise then that a fiction writer with an open right wing agenda is one of India’s most popular authors even when his literature is devoid of quality, substance or any amount of literary merit. Donald Trump’s speeches are a good example of the same thing – a 5th grader has access to his message while a Clinton speech requires sensibilities and comprehension capabilities of at least a high school student.
Understanding the leftist argument requires a patient listen to the dialogue combined with a good amount of introspection. It is all about skepticism and a general mistrust of authority. The right wing message almost always comes with broken arguments with a heavy undercurrent of hate messages targeted towards marginalized sections of the society. The most fundamental quality of the right wing dialogue is that it is easy to understand – just like a religious sermon an idea of hell and Satan is created, a common enemy that the followers can unite against. A common sentiment that they could be manipulated by!
This becomes very clear when you look at Trump’s allegations about the power centers of American economy – all the big bad bankers pointed out in his messages are Jews! He kills two birds with a stone with such propaganda – he builds a sense of hate and mistrust for minorities (a vote bank he could do without if alienating them consolidates his white votes) and at the same time he sends out the message that the evils of the banking sector are due to bad influences of these ‘outsiders’ and are not the symptoms of a form of capitalism that has gone rogue! For his supporters, it is a lot easier to grasp a simple idea like this and blame their miseries on people who are ‘different’, than to question a system they are a part of and which is designed with many convoluted elements to escape a simpleton’s scrutiny.
Modi in India does the same – his speeches have a very distinctive ‘saas-bahu’ drama element in them; a strategy that has worked so well in the Indian society – a body of work in India cinema and television revolves around such romantic tragedies with an eventual triumphant hero figure with almost unrealistic abilities making the world better again, restoring the good and destroying the evil. Interestingly, one has to define what is ‘evil’ before one gets to destroy it! In a more realistic left centric ideology the evil is always the power hungry authoritative figures or ideologies with headstrong outlook but in a right propaganda power is good! Power is desired because the herd would be directionless without an authoritarian. The right wing herd does not want to think for itself which makes them more likely to choose an absolute political power than to have many arguments occupy the political space and force them to think for themselves. With such inability to question and comprehend complex arguments, they resort to simple rhetoric of hate and blaming ‘the others’ for their miseries. Such propaganda often resorts to slapstick and derogatory humor in order to make a point. Arguments are lost in memes and slanderous mockery. Since strong religious sentiments have already trained these people to have faith and not ask many questions, they go to any extent to protect their faith in a political idea. The right-wing ideology is the new religion of the world and it is spreading at an alarming rate! Since the right-wing ideology insulates them entirely from any sense of empathy for those that are not exactly like them in color, caste, religion, nationality, and any argument that tries to swing a policy matter in favor of these minorities then becomes a battle they throw their weight around to win at any cost. Their think tanks realize that any concession provided to a marginalized section of the society would attract focus towards empathy, which can defeat the ideas of a common hate so they stay away from it. Strength – both physical and economic – is given supreme importance for reasons that I outlined earlier. A weak section of the society fails to attract the respect that all individuals in a fair society should. A good case in point is how motivational videos of people with disabilities who have achieved big things in life is circulated heavily while denying basic rights to PWD in general in all matters of policy.
The solution to this dichotomy is not in ‘dumb-ing down’ the leftist dialogue but, to introduce new ways of educating the right wing. If humor is what they like then provide them access to quality humor. If their ideology is based on a bumper sticker education then give them clearer arguments. Don’t assume them to fill in the gaps of your argument, provide them the complete picture. Provide them access to unbiased historical accounts of important world events. Most importantly, make them question their belief system and provide them a warm hug when you demolish their arguments instead of offering them a cold, tall glass of ‘I told you so’. Not many people like to be in the wrong and with the current situation of the world where the most powerful and the most populous countries of the world are in the hands of extreme right wing individuals with autocratic tendencies we need to provide a voice of reason that goes beyond sarcasm and fear. There’s nothing in the world right now that might provide one hope but we need to move forward. Take this opportunity to create a better dialogue for the impenetrable right wing agenda.