Election, Seduction and Demystification

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Greeted as the world largest democracy, elections in India have become the celebration of the kumbh mela  of people’s power. While we celebrate the greatest dance of democracy on the planet,    we cannot forget how in several ways democracy itself is undermined and subverted in our country.  In recent years, one can clearly notice that our Parliamentary form of democracy is undermined by the election process itself. By projecting a single supreme leader, the national parties have rendered the individual Member of Parliament irrelevant. We seem to have to look at the face of the supreme leader and elect our parliamentarians.  The dexterity of the individual candidate does not matter; we are seduced by the face of the so-called strong charismatic Iron leader and choose our candidate to represent us. Somehow the process of elections has become a process of seduction. It has become a religion whereby we are to simply have faith in a God-like supreme leader. One could see it  re-enacted in the 2014 elections when Modi was greeted by the slogan, ‘Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi!´ The 2019 elections are no different. They too have undermined our parliament as well as the sovereignty of the voter. While others are not left behind, BJP seems to have presided over it by lulling us to believe that Modi is still the iron man that India needs. Such iconization of single leader may fit in a presidential form of democracy, but does great damage to the parliamentary structure in our country. This is why often such a leader functions as if he/she is beyond the parliament and does not feel responsible to it as we saw in the regime of the present Government where often the PM missed crucial moments of the sessions of the parliamentary and bills were passed without any debate.  The opposition also did not observe the sanctity of the temple of democracy by not allowing the parliament to function. Noisy obstructionism has come to replace civilized debates.  Our seduction is complete. Democracy is dead in its practice.  Electorally as well in its deliberation democracy is squeezed and hallowed out. Democracy is taken over by the powerful and we are lulled by its empty masquerading effects. As the dust settles down on the electoral process, we have to reflect and understand the entire process of seduction that keeps us subdued in the name of democracy. 

 Seduction is thought of in a sexist manner.  It is generally viewed as a crafty act of a woman.  Some see feminine power in it.  It has been used by powers that be all over the world.  Sometimes it is called a honey trap.  Such an understanding of seduction does not enjoy positive currency and is viewed as laden with deception and untruth and reinforces patriarchy. Maybe that is the reason a male-centred phallic society attributes it to women. We have to view it beyond such sexist overtones of phallic logic in order to understand how we are lured and lulled by the dance of choreographed democracy in our society. Seduction is a ludic performance.  It has what we might call lila or performance of play dimension to it.  Its game is to reverse the order of things or positions.  It is not in opposition to masculine power.  It has a mode of reversibility written into it.  Thus, seduction is a game of reversal.  It is a game of displacement and breakdown of social hierarchies and structures. The sovereignty of the voter is deflated by seduction. The power of the voter is kept in check. Democracy is punctured and renders empty. All power used seduction as a tool.  Power chiefly seeks to be irreversible, cumulative and immortal while seduction seeks reversibility and death. One important power of seduction is the domestication of the power of defiance.  With fear and trembling, some among us may dare to say that the electoral process is seducing us.  The power of the voter is subverted and we the citizens are kept into subjection. 

Power satisfies the hegemonic order of reason while seduction derails that very logic and reverses the roles.  Resistance to our seduction may require a counter seduction.   It can bring about the reversal of roles in favour of the citizen.  Reversibility refers to poetic justice or the turn of the wheel of fortune.  It is an ultimate weapon against the linear notion of progress and hegemony.  It challenges the thought of inevitability of the occurrence of progress over the passage of time that afflicts our notion of progress and power.  Such a linear progressive manifestation of power and development is rooted in modernity and is explored by the political parties across the spectrum.  This is why I propose that counter seduction is an alternate power that can bring about the reversal of power equations. All institutions or systems have an in-built ability to undermine themselves by their very functioning.  We are vulnerable. We can see how democracy is being undermined in the process of its practice in our country. We can take another example. To protect ourselves from viruses we use anti-biotic but viruses mutate and we become vulnerable to their attack and have to use more powerful anti-biotics.  We have to contest the mythology dedicated to the irreversibility of time. We can demystify its seducing power.  We can turn the tables on the linear march of the myth of hegemony that has taken away the power of the individual citizen as well as our parliament. Awareness of our gullibility to the deception and seduction that is at play is the first step in this regard. The next important step is to get the parliament to function. To achieve this, we will have to close our eyes to the Mega Iron leaders and look at the face of the candidate who is projected to represent us.  If the candidate is merely a slave of the mega Iron leader then we can be assured that he/she will not speak for the citizens but will simply be a silent lamb of his/her masters. This little enlightenment is enough to recover the lost power of our vote. If we apply our mind, we can covert our vote into a surgical strike and restore the sanctity of democracy in our country. 

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao