Friday, 1 January 2021

Pratap Bhanu Mehta as a Malayali Marilyn Monroe

Ushering in the New Year, the always ridiculous Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes in the Indian Express-
(Narendra Modi) exemplifies the core of the prophetic mode, which is the disguising of a failure.

Modi is Hindu. Hinduism has no Prophets. True, Mahatma Gandhi- because of his engagement with Christianity, Judaism and Islam- may be considered a 'prophet' who heard God and who promised to deliver Swaraj within 18 months and deliver India from poverty through the Spinning Wheel and to achieve Hindu Muslim Unity and so on and so forth. But Indians know that Gandhi was not a prophet. He was a politician who, for selfish reasons of our own, we may from time to time chose to treat as a 'Great Soul' revealing Divine Truths. 

As the political theorist, Eric Voegelin, once wrote in a totally different context, “precisely when its dubiousness as a pragmatic record is recognised, the narrative reveals its function in creating a people in politics, and history.”

Voegelin died long before Google Search and Wikipedia became available. Also he wasn't talking about countries like India which rejected hystresis ridden history for the pure game-theoretic ergodics of 'Itihasasa'. That is perfectly sensible. We employ Economists, not Historians, to manage our Pension funds and design our fiscal policy and so forth.

 Still, in Vogelin's own time, there was the notion that 'cognitive dissonance' led to a hard-core of 'believers' sticking with failed eschatological prophesies. Indeed, Radhakrishnan dismisses Christianity as founded on the cognitive dissonance of those Jews who expected the End of Days to occur in their own life time. Nowadays, we understand this phenomenon in terms of the advantage of using a costly signal to establish a separating equilibrium. Cognitive dissonance is reinforced where it is regret minimizing to prefer a discoordination game. 

But, Jews pre-existed its prophets (as opposed to legendary figures like Abraham or Moses) as did the Arabs and the Latins and the Greeks and so forth. Hinduism has been around for thousands of years. India exists because Hindus of the former British Empire preferred to club together. 

Indian politics is not based on prophesy. It is based on expected relative performance. Even if a politician fails, if people think his closest rival would do even worse then the guy gets re-elected.

Mehta won't admit that Modi is P.M because no rival candidate has been offered for the top job. We all believed that Rahul would be the Congress candidate in 2014. We didn't know whether the BJP would put up Advani or hedge its bets by saying that the P.M would be picked after the elections in consultation with allies. Nobody thought Rahul would both refuse to put himself forward and prevent anybody else  from acting as caretaker. 

Mehta refuses to acknowledge this fact. He thinks Modi remains unassailable because of some theological or mystical process which surpasses all understanding. 

It is not the practical record, it is the ability to occupy the space of prophetic deliverance in the face of failure that is the attraction.

Why doesn't Mehta himself start prophesying? Is he afraid that Ind's womanhood will find him so attractive that they will drown him in their pussy juices? Or, is it just me who has nightmares of that sort? 

This is linked to a second theme: That of sacrifice — the people not just as objects to be served, but to be elevated by enlisting them in a higher cause.

As opposed to what? The people being subjugated by enlisting them in a lower cause- e.g. that of drowning Mehta in their pussy juices?  

And the third theme is the invocation of constant danger:

Sensible heads of government stress that constant danger exists till COVID is conquered 

This project of the redemption of the people is always at risk from an enemy.

Mehta's enemy is Modi. His vacuous shite is intended to save the Indian people from the constant danger posed by the BJP   

The narrative of redemption needs an enemy, against which to define itself, to get charged; if there isn’t one, one will be invented for you.

Mehta & Co invented an enemy called 'Hindutva' which was supposed to have set up concentration camps and gas chambers by now.  Sadly, this was not a 'common' enemy at all.  

This deeply charged invocation of the people has been a disruptive force in a democracy.

No. A military coup may 'disrupt' democracy as may pervasive corruption and incompetence under a cozy cartel of dynastic parties of a casteist type.  But, so long as at least one party is meritocratic and bothers with 'last mile delivery', Democracy isn't 'disrupted' at all. Some political dynasties may die out. Others may re-invent themselves with the aid of less shite darbari intellectual than Mehta & Co. 

It is otiose

no. It is pointless 

to deny its ability to politically mobilise, especially in the absence of any counter prophetic narrative that is more elevating.

We have had plenty of prophets of the doom that was bound to descend on India if the BJP got elected. Nobody may be listening to them, but they do get published in the Indian Express- probably as a cruel joke. 

But its overwhelming danger should be apparent. For one thing, the people in this construction are an abstraction, unified and marching to the same drum beat.

Mehta is decrying only the abstractions he has himself constructed. 

The minute any actual people assert their reservations, express their individuality, or pose pragmatic facts against wild prophecy, they are immediately branded as being outside of the pale of the people, they are the anti-nationals.

Whereas Mehta & Co are the business of branding anyone they don't like a Fascist. 

So the rhetoric of the people can be turned against groups of actual people, one at a time. It is an enemy of both freedom and fraternity.

Mehta is a Professor of some shite subject which thinks 'rhetoric' matters. It doesn't. Modi knows that. That's why he is Prime Minister despite only having an  M.A in Poli Sci (that too as an external student) whereas Mehta has a PhD from Princeton. 

It is a threat to individual freedom because it has no commitment to its value.

Threats to individual freedom can come from guys who have strong commitments to its value. This is because individual freedoms are costly to maintain. Sometimes they have to be reduced so as to survive and burgeon later on.  

Concrete individuals, with their own histories and concerns, temperament and ambitions, loves and identities, are of no interest and are a threat, if they are not drum beating for the prophetic cause.

Or, in the case of Modi, actually ruling the country to the great chagrin of this mere rhetorician or sophist.  

It is an enemy of whatever fraternity exists, because it is deeply communal:

In which case it is the friend of at least one type of fraternity- viz that which subsists within its own community.  

The only deliverance it can promise is the dominance of that ugly construct, Hindutva, whose content is nothing but the raw assertion of power.

But Hindus have dominated Hindu majority parts of British India more or less continuously since 1937. 'Raw assertion of power' is what has preserved India's territorial integrity. The Balakot strike probably helped Modi win re-election. Mehta may disapprove of the Indian people. He is welcome to go seek fraternity elsewhere. 


But if the BJP ultimately mobilises the people,

or turns them into a bunch of flowers 

but then converts them into an abstraction

& then converts that bunch of flowers into a purely notional bouquet 

that can be deployed for violent purposes,

because a notional bouquet could shoot out deadly lasers 

the BJP’s critics also have a kind of problem with the people.

because the people are now a notional bouquet shooting out deadly lasers at all and sundry 

This is true in both political and non-political circles. To put it bluntly, the problem can be put this way.

 To put it even more bluntly, Mehta put the problem up his arse.  

In the wake of the BJP’s growing success and the ascendancy of Hindutva, there is a new kind of misanthropy towards the people.

Which means there was an old kind of misanthropy towards the people on the part of those who are anti-BJP. No wonder the Indian people didn't vote for cunts who hated them. 

If some elites are embarrassed that the people don’t understand economic development,

Which elites? The ones who didn't understand economic development was about actually growing the economy- not talking bollocks incessantly?  

others are horrified that large numbers have thrown in their lot with the BJP.

So what? They were already horrified that so many people were Indian rather than Norwegian.  

This worry might be understandable,

if 'elites' are, by nature, misanthropic and racist to their own 

but it is a challenge for democracy.

Fuck off! If cunts like Mehta don't like Indian democracy they are welcome to emigrate.  

Some might console themselves that the people might have been duped by unfair means. But the refrain you constantly hear, that “India has changed”, is not meant so much as a description as an alibi, as if to say it is going to be difficult to actually redeem the people.

Coz that's Mehta's forte, right? Redeeming people in between walking on water. Hail to our Redeemer! 

This misanthropy is, of course, politically self-defeating.

It is irrelevant. These guys aren't standing for election.  

Exuding the sense that people are dupes or evil is not a propitious starting point for a democracy, and only reinforces the political pathologies it is meant to encounter.

Democracy in India started twenty years before this cunt was born.  

When there are shards of resistance, a CAA movement or a Punjab farmers’ movement, an occasional local electoral victory, the Opposition suddenly embraces the people in all its glory. But the blunt truth is that it has been difficult to translate these movements into a broader fraternity or political coalition. And as soon as they are managed, repressed, or negotiated, we will go back to wondering what the people want. The truth is we have not learnt a political language that can thread the needle of calling out the authoritarian and communal poison now in our democracy, without at the same time indicting the people. We exude the paradoxical air of fighting for democracy without faith in the people.

The truth is plain to all. Mehta & Co never fought for shit- except tenure or worthless credentials. Nobody gives a toss for their opinion of anything. 

Outside of political contexts there is enough vitality, creativity and reciprocity, where the people are expressing themselves in all their concreteness, individuality and complexity, more than enough to sustain faith in the face of political disillusionment. But we will need a new mode of conversation to capture that. T S Eliot once wrote that “last year’s words belong to last year’s language; and next year’s words await another voice.”

In 2021, Mehta will talk Malayalam in the voice of Marilyn Monroe. Shashi Tharoor will marry him coz them Jains be loaded right? Then Mehta will be discovered dead in a 5 star Hotel Room. 

So the question for Indian democracy is: In which language will we learn to speak of the people where we don’t avoid the horrifying impasse we are at?

Come to think of it, Rahul will have to learn Malayalam to stay in Parliament. Sonia will beat Dr. Tharoor with her chappal if he comes sniffing around.  

The BJP claims to speak the language of the people without democracy, and the Opposition wants to speak the language of democracy without the people. Happy New Year.

In fairness, the Opposition isn't Mehta level stupid. All they need to do is get better organized at the booth level and show they can do last mile delivery even better than the BJP. However, which Party rules isn't really that important. Indeed, Politics doesn't matter very much. But Mechanism Design does. But that's a subject for Economists- not the Academic sort but people who can actually deliver more of what is needed for less than it currently costs. 

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