Who Or What Is The “Big Bad” In The Current World Order??

This is a googly or, if you are an American, a curve ball of a topic suggested by Shackman for this week’s 2 on 1 Blog Post.

I am not Buffy and do not have big bads in my life except for those that I keep reading about in our news papers or WhatsApp messages. I had to think hard and long to come up with an answer and after that too, I am not fully satisfied that it is the correct answer to this question.

I would choose Vladimir Putin for two reasons. You can read all about the first reason here and the second, here.

I have given enough reading material in the two links to support my conclusion and I have nothing more to add.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the question that he has raised. I will be very surprised if he and I agree on the answer.

Is Liberalism Dead?

Let me straight away confess that this topic for today’s 2 on 1 Friday posts by Shackman and me has been inspired by a remarkable book by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, “Twilight Falls On Liberalism”. It is a concise book which one can easily finish reading in one sitting if one is not distracted by domestic chores etc. In fact, as one starts reading it, one wishes that there will be no distractions.

RM looks at the issue of liberalism from the point of view of a historian and despite being in opposite ideological camps, I found his writing interesting though I don’t agree to some of the conclusions that he comes to about India. His choice of a message on the cover of the book – “Bigotry nurtured by a political ideology has made people, as it always does, blind and intolerant” clearly places him on the Liberal side! And, by inference, since I point that out, me, on the illiberal side.

The word “Liberal” means different things to different people but, in India is used mostly by people who have studied in the English Medium stream, still heavily under what we call Macaulayism. This self called elite, derisively called the Elite Liberal Intellectual Mafia (ELIMs) by lesser mortals, live mostly in cities and have no clue about the culture and value system of the vast majority of Indians who live in semi urban and rural areas of India. These vast majority march to completely different drum beats and the so called Liberals here do not understand that rhythm or value system. They exchange their views in the English media and condemn the populace who elects others perceived to be illiberals by their standards. So, if you were to read Indian newspapers in English, you will find words like majoritarianism, nationalism, patriotism, communalism, bigotry etc which mean different things to the English speaking minuscule minority and different and positive emotions for the vast majority of Indians.

John Stuart Mill put it well: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value … of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.” The problem with the Liberals of today is that they think that all the others who do not think like themselves are illiberal and are not worth the bother.  The others on the other hand, are not even aware of the existence of the so called liberal thought and how it tries to become the deep state.

It is this dichotomy that Rudrangshu Mukherjee has sensed and used to juxtapose to a global trend and comes to the conclusion that Liberalism is in its twilight days. I agree entirely with him on his conclusion but, am disappointed that he has not suggested a liberal solution to what he considers to be the problem.  I wish that I  could but, accept that I cannot and just be happy that I understand why Liberalism is in its twilight years and leave it at that.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same subject. I am willing to bet that he will be, for one of those rare occasions, on a very different wave length than mine.

NOTA.

It is the silly season in India. A crucial election is to take place in the next three days and there has been hectic canvassing, forecasting, hoping and what not besides the usual exchange of ideas between persons either of the same persuasion or from opposite camps.

One of my friends of the same ideology,  and I were discussing the probabilities when he came up with a great insight. He said that some people will vote for NOTA and this would enable some candidates to win as these votes would swing against their candidates as they would not have got them anyway. NOTA stands for None Of The Above.  This is an option that our ballot papers have to express our disgust with the candidates!

While explaining he mentioned some names of our mutual friends who are not for the main contestant but who are not for the opposition either. In other words they are simply against everything! Totally negative about everything!  They are not FOR anything.  They don’t have solutions for the problems that they keep highlighting.

On reflection I found great insight in this statement and assessment from my friend and I set about listing all the names that I could think of who are like that. I was surprised that there were so many among my friends who are like that.

My relationships with them have been cordial but I wonder if I should continue being friends with them! What do you think?

Could Communism Work Today?

There is a remarkable answer to this question by a responder in Quora. I find it quite logical except that the idealists of the communist movement overestimated the human factor. If human beings behaved as they morally ought to, perhaps communism would have worked.

I copy paste the response to make it easier for my readers to get the gist of the response.

“Yes.

Communism works—and has long worked—on the level of family. In a “normal” family, parents give to each other and to their kids according to their capacities and skills, often without expecting anything in return. Kids receive care according to their needs, often not giving anything in return. There’s an implicit promise that they will switch the roles when the parents get old and sick, and the kids become breadwinners. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is a Communist principle.

The system often malfunctions. Negligent parents and thankless kids are the stuff of a zillion tales, stories and soap operas. Amazingly, however, the arrangement reproduces itself generation after generation. It also inspires a powerful dream of extending the arrangement to the entire society. Every attempt to do it has down like a lead balloon—yet the dream resurfaced generation after generation.

Much of the Communist principle is also reproduced in faith-based communities (e.g., monasteries) and altruistic or idealistic organizations. Relief workers and their backers who distribute food and necessities in areas of distress help people out of charity. The recipients are not expected to give something back, apart from the implicit expectation that they in turn will lend a hand to others in need when the occasion arises.

The cartoon below is from a Soviet satirical magazine in the 1970s. The wife says to her husband: “You need to find a second job. Our kid has grown; he’s got a lot of advanced needs”. The reluctance of younger Soviet generations to sacrifice themselves in accordance with to the austere commandments of Communist ideology caused much chagrin to Soviet rulers during the sunset years of the USSR.”

If More Politicians Listened To Scientists Would The World Be A Safer Place?

Welcome to the weekly 2 on 1 blog post that Shackman and I write every Friday. Today’s topic has been chosen by Shackman who is more optimistic than I thought him to be on politicians. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

I have no hopes whatsoever of politicians ever doing anything that would make our world a safer place. It simply has not happened ever, nor is it likely to happen ever again. The political class marches to a drum beat that is entirely unique to it and the class is most unsuited to march to any other drum beat.  Politicians by definition cannot think long term.

I am in total agreement with George Carlin and for the purpose of this post, I equate the government to politicians.  I leave it to my readers to decide if we are smart or intelligent.

Media Bias.

And why would some people say this?

“Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet.”

My understanding of this activity was that the people involved in the media would report on events as factual representation of them leaving the audience to decide the merits. What however media has become now, is an opinion making institution. Like all other opinion making, here too there are many shades of opinion some strong and some weak and the trend in the recent past has been for the strong to bring out the heavy artillery swamping the weaker ones.

The comic part of this approach of bias has been its abject failure. Let me just take two examples, one from the West and one from the East.

From India, the media was totally against the BJP, the present ruling party in the Center and many States of India. The more that the bias was shown to the public, the more seats that the party won. It now looks as though it is unbeatable for the foreseeable future.

The other example is that of the POTUS. I distinctly remember the strong bias against Trump in the media while the campaigning was going on and the bias continued right up to the results being announced and even after the inauguration. He is still there and at least to his constituency, he seems unbeatable despite there being no let up in the bias against him in the media.

As a very dear friend recently observed, what seems to be happening is that the social media has become more effective in swaying public opinion. The wireless mobile telephony offering access to platforms like facebook and whatsapp,  has unleashed an information sharing method that has had a greater impact than the traditional media channels.

Shackman has suggested this week’s topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.