Indian Left and Paradoxes
It is not an exaggeration to say that majority of inconsistencies in today’s public discourse and paradoxical socio-political conditions owe their sustenance if not creation, to the Indian left. So while the effects of left are well known, it still makes sense to enlist these paradoxes – because their correction cannot happen without getting them into public discourse. This short write-up aims at enlisting the major ones, and not at an analysis – for it has been sufficiently done by scholars with firsthand experience of leftist movements as well as their corrective movements. Sitaram Goel for instance.
The paradox of revolution is not the biggest, but needs to be mentioned first because it is perhaps the least noticed at common man level.
The leftist doctrine uses revolution as a means to overthrow the tyrannical state, and to establish a socialist rule. Before Indian independence, several freedom fighters used this concept to motivate their followers – right from Bhagat Singh. And from that viewpoint it is also logical that such notion would work – showing a tyrannical British state. The point to note however, is that none of the major thinkers who used the words like socialism in a positive sense, whether it was Swamy Vivekananda or Bhagat Singh or Netaji, used it in an economic sense.
However after independence Nehru and his successors embraced the idea of socialism. He had the state align with Russia and China more than with US, implemented several non-democratic policies politically, and socialist policies economically. Even constitution was made to say India is a socialist republic. Communist governments formed in some of the states. Academics was given almost entirely to the control of leftist establishment. Six decades of rule with even today policies like RTE and FSB being forced on the nation, the congress had been faithful to its version of socialism.
After decades of continuing socialist rule, how on earth can one make case for the revolutionary anti-state movements like Naxalism and Maoism against a socialist state? Revolution by definition is required to overthrow a tyrannical state, not to overthrow a socialist state! But, it happens only in India!
The Indian left has several themes, four main ones being economic, social, political and academic. Each of them have their great contributions in the current plight of India. But all these have some things in common, and the most common thing is the word that it claims to hate the most – FAITH. Faith is pervasive in leftist thought, examples –
Faith in an untested ideal and experimenting with the fate of the society for the sake of achieving it. Not admitting the illogic of the ideal even after millions of lives have suffered with the experiment and the world has even realized its failure.
Faith in state and not nation, while claiming to renounce the notion of nation and at the same time claiming to achieve the good of the common man who comprises the nation.
While leftist thought is against theology and religion, Indian left is unique. It did not align with any of the anti-theistic traditions of India. On the contrary, it aligned itself with the most theistic dogma of Islam. It is not a coincidence that Islamic ghettoization and communist consolidation happened simultaneously as happened in Bengal and Kerala. You want to call it not a paradox but hypocrisy? I would say the reason is just logical, because both communism and Islam are about faith – although in apparently opposite sides, which is the paradoxical part.
The biggest claim of leftist academicians was their objectivity, in contrast to the lack of it in the “right-wingers”. Of course, the leftists are self-proclaimed, and right is the name they give to people they oppose. In India whatever is called the Hindu right never had the left-right discrimination, because its spectrum of activity and worldview never went by this dichotomy.
Yet majority of literature produced by the leftists happens to be negative and non-constructive. It is critical of anything native and Hindu on one hand in the name of objectivity, and on the other hand opposed to any objective analysis or debate of its own claims – either about its own principles or about its take on Hinduism. The oppression of disagreement went on for decades, so much so that it created an environment where any positive speech became difficult.
While one might argue that the very function of leftist thought is criticism and not creation, and that creation is the function of the right, it does not explain any reason for their opposition to an objective and fair argument.
While there are many more paradoxes, I would like to end this note with a famous quote that seems best suited for Indian left:
There is nothing right in the left of your mind and there is nothing left in the right of your mind.