The de-ideology Glasses

(un)democratising  democracy 

The eruption of binary of national/anti-national into the public sphere of our country appears to be a way of (un)democratising of our democracy.   We as a nation are passing through narcissistic crises that trigger most of us to view everything that afflicts us through the prism of nationalism which itself is not national enough. We seem to have steadily migrated into a society of spectacle that wants to ratify/ enjoy its nationalism by slamming anti-nationalism on its others. A new Narcissus Indicus is born in our country that continuously draws the lines between itself and so called its anti-national other. We can trace this narcissism that masks as nationalism almost everywhere in our society. Students in national universities become victims of sedition.  The cow vigilante’s  brigade simply takes laws in its hands against even imagined beef eaters.  The baktas of  BJP put out posters  that may have portrayed Gods in bad light while they depicted the human  PM Modi as divine.  The army is strong when it comes to Pakistan but becomes weak if questioned by some Indians. All dissent is viewed as anti-national.  The sense and the nonsense of this politics of anti-nationalism  lies in a dislocated sense of insecurity acutely felt by the one who feels the need to make a public claim of  purity of one’s  nationalism.  I judge someone as anti-national and by that token think that I affirm my nationalism seems to have become the way of becoming Indian.    

The phallic logic that seems to be at play in our context upholds the law of the father ( ultra-Nationalism ) and appears to say “you are anti-national, therefore I am national”.  What is this phallic logic that has held us captive today? It is a repose that we often give when we are faced with fear and anxieties. This fear is described as castration phobia by the psychoanalyst. It is a response that is triggered by a sense of loss.  The loss of self that a person/ community may feel in the face of its other demands a recovery of the lost self.  This recovery is an actualizing of the image of the other in and through the cultural matrix of the self. Hence, the self carries its  own other within it.   Thus, for instance, we can discern how the colonial mission of civilization is carried forward in multiple ways by their mimic men who follow the hindutva ideology. This means the self is defined in relation to its other.  The phallic logic having its relation to the phallus, (the symbol of procreation/ order of things) in any society is essentially logic of the body. Hence, it necessarily brings a feeling of alignment of the individual’s body with the body of a nation which is brought about by exclusion of its otherised anti-national other.  This is the umbilical cord that has to be cut to make one feel that one is   national, pure and triumphant.  Indeed, we have to examine this new felt need by a triumphant Indian subject to reconceive its loyalties to India by exorcising its other as a demonized anti-national.   The colonial demand that said ‘turn white or disappear’ seems to have undergone a mimicked translation that says ‘turn national or disappear’.   

The national/ anti-national binary distributes anti-nationality to every opponent or dissident.  The nation’s ideal (see it as enlargement of Freud’s ego ideal and ideal ego) is differed/ delayed in its actualization.  It is therefore,  easy to mask one’s anti-nationalism by calling one’s other anti-national.  This means that one imagines that one becomes ideal citizen/ nationalist by dumping the other as anti-national. While this drama of assigning national / anti-national space continues, what is important is to ask ourselves what it does to our democracy.  We seem to feel our nationalism in the event of acting upon that which is deemed as anti-national.  This enactment of nationalism and anti-nationalism takes place on the body. What is deemed as anti-national has a profound body relation. Thus, beef eating, dressing of jeans by the women or their entry into pubs, the discourse about the sacrifice of the army, anti-national sloganeering, politics of the surgical strikes etc., all are bodily. While doing this a sharp question arises:  Are we enjoying our death drive? Is our democracy being sacrificed on the altar of nationalism and with what consequence? We have to scrutinize these questions so that we can respond to the narcissistic crisis afflicting our society. 

 It appears that nationalism has become the new opium for us Indians.  Under its intoxication, we have silenced all dissenting voices. Every dissident and dissent is construed as anti-national as a result all shades of opposing voices  are de-authorized and democracy has been transformed into oligarchy, the rule of elite for the elite.  This social engineering that is (un)democratising our democracy remains unchallenged as we odipalise ourselves fearing of being branded as anti-national.   But the choice of silence kills all dissent and our democracy loses it teeth. The question is why should we allow these voices of the controlling parents in our society to father us? Why do we fear being orphaned by these de-natationalizing forces?  Unfortunately oedipal behaviour of the majority allows a minority to control our destiny. Therefore, it is important that we find our voice of dissent. Democracy without dissent is nothing but the rule of despotic power elite. We seem to be on fast tract to reach this point. All opposition or counter opinion being ridiculed as anti-national, several among us are choosing silence.  The hegemonic articulations of the Government pass of without opposition because every shade of dissident is framed as anti-national.  With no debate, contestation and effective interrogation, the spirit of democracy dies and a strong monologue of the ruling elite begin to hide under the mask of democracy.  The mask of democracy is (un)democratising the democracy in our country right in front of our eyes.  This is a death of democracy. It is like the Freud’s dream where he saw that his father was dead but felt that his father did not know of his own death. In our case, it is we and not the dad father in Freud’s dream who do not know about the death of democracy in it is very functioning. We need to reclaim our right to dissent by contesting the brand of nationalism that deems others anti-national and thus save our (un)democratising of our democracy. 

The Politics of Loyalty and Betrayal    

All societies undergo social conflict. Dissent and dissenters are essential component of a healthy society. The crises that is afflicting our democracy in our country is that nothing can remain open or undecided. Almost everything is foreclosed and determined on the basis of nationalism. The politics of loyalty and betrayal is than  played to check dissent.  This means that the one who detracts from these ‘salvific  teleologies’ is  branded as anti-national.  Therefore, we may have to ask ourselves:  are we unknowingly subscribing to  the erasure of democracy in the very practice of the same?  Have we fallen prey to the logic of hegemony of the politics of loyalty and betrayal? Unfortunately, It seems that we have become captives of to the politics of  loyalty and betray at play in our society.  The hegemony of this politics has weakened our democracy. But we cannot become active signatories of crumbling of democracy while it is being practiced in our country.  We need to understand how our active silence contributes to the (un)democratising of democracy. May be the post-Marxist thinkers like Ernest Laclau assist us to understand our pathetic condition.  He teaches that politics of hegemony (in our case politics of loyalty and betrayal)  has specific dynamics. He says that the power elite captures the empty signifier of the social order and foists its principles on the other constituents of the social whole. Thus, in our context, we can see how the BJP claim that is represents the interest of the Indian Hindus while it simply represents the interest of the corporate in India. But to mask this it foists the politics of loyalty and betrayal.  Same may be said of Congress who has cast its nets among the minorities and others in the name of secularism. Both had enjoyed hegemony as active representatives and organisers of totality (of reality) for us Indians and Goans.  Although, there are alternate narratives of AAP nationally and Goa Forward in Goa, they are still to find their firm foot in our society. With the politics of loyalty and betray going gaga, the death of our democracy seems imminent. It going to come sooner than we expect as we seems to have reached the monarchical totality under BJP where no opposition seems have the teeth to contest the power (un)democratization of our democracy that is unleashed in our society.  

The impending death of democracy in the very practice of democracy means that democracy is not totally supplanted by the power elite (BJP and its visible and invisible allies) in our country. It is in the mask of democracy that they hide their interest and present it with the veil of patriotism and hence cannot be opposed without being chastised as anti-national.   That is why we may have to painfully agree that we have become an ensemble, a silent multitude unable to interrogate the dying democracy around us.  This domestication and the taming of the multitude in the power of the politics of loyalty and betray calls for a resistance that will inscribe dissent and dissensus as the essential way of being an Indian.  The discursive totality has to be broken. The salvific teleologies of the ruling BJP and its visible and invisible allies have to be deconstructed. Being fed on the so called  lost golden past , the BJP and its allies  propose to recover the lost golden past for us  in the coming future. Thus it has successfully created a desire of the sublime that is yet to come, the so called the Hindu Rasthra. Faced with the forever delayed coming of the pure Hindu Rasthra, we Indians take different positions which move from one of celebratory expectations to those that see it as gloom and doom. The discursive totality that has disabled and arrested our thinking of the alternatives has lead us to fed our egos on the fantasy of the ‘second coming’ of the Hindu Rasthra (even when there was no original Hindu Rasthra). What we have is only a counterfeit copy which is being flashed at us. Thus, the discourse of one nation one law, the surgical attacks, terror and Pakistan has captured our minds and we have lost sight of farmer suicides, atrocities on dalits, women, tribals and other minorities  in our country. We have been craftily anaesthetized and led into a collective amnesia under the maya of counterfeit copies of the sublime, the Hindu Rastra.

While we are given a hope of the return of Hindu Rastra, whose fore-glow seems to have put us into a state of numbness, a narrsicus Indicus has become opium of the masses in our country. We seem to be happy to enjoy it being enacted in the images that allow us seeing ourselves migrating into the PM while he holds the sword or play Ram or Krishna much to the ecstasy of the mindless public both in huge mass rallies as well as often stage managed and even doctored images in the television.  Thus, the withering of our democracy under the cover of a nationalism that is denationalising a sizable part of our citizenry with the arm of politics of loyalty and betrayal remains undetected.  The fact that we do not seem to notice the eroding of our democracy shows that we seem to have suffered what is called the messianic arrest of our thought. We have found a messiah who will bring good days for us and we are happy waiting for the rising sun which never seems to come on the horizon. The corrosive poison that is crippling our democracy is already corroding us.  Some of us have become active foot soldiers of the intoxicating ‘sublime’, the Hindu Rastra. Therefore, we may have to ask a difficult question:  Can our democracy and the ideology of Hindutva cohabit without bring any mortal harm to the practice of democracy in our country? Is Hindutva the opium that kills our democracy in its practice?  May be we have stepped into a mystification that has converted our democracy into an Ideology. When a discourse and practise legitimates and justifies oppression and presents it as a sine quanon or the only available option, it becomes an Ideology. It places the oppressive condition as the only alternative although it may be imperfect. Thus, it put foreclosures on every other alternate response to our precarious condition. Hence, we need a new leap of consciousness or a new upanisadic watershed that will contest the political abuse of our religions and cultures in our country. The West saw it in the French revolution and the enlightenment.  Perhaps, we have to take a long march to restore real democracy in our country. Our loyality and betrayal is visible in the practice of democracy and we can see who is really loyal and who betrays the interest of every citizen of our country.

The de-ideology Glasses  

Led by Karl Marx,  we thought that that ideology distorts our reality. We think that it is something which is blurring our straight view.  But today scholars like Slavoj Zizek teach us something completely different.   He say that ideology is not something that is introduced from outside on us. We in a way enjoy our ideology. We resist getting out of it. We seem to have to be forced to be free from it and it is discomforting and painful.  He says that we are already eating the thrash from the thrash can that we may call ideology. May be we might understand this with a help of a film. The film, ‘They lived from 1988’ is one of the forgotten master pieces of Hollywood.  It tells the story of John Nada. Nada in Spanish means nothing. It stands for a subject deprived of all substantial content.  Nada was a homeless worker drifting around; who one day happens to enter an abandoned Church and finds a box full of sun glasses. When he puts on the glasses something strange happens.  The sun glasses begin to function like de-ideology glasses. They allow him to see the real message beneath all glitz, propaganda and publicity. Thus, when he watches a hording that says have a holiday of your life time with his glasses on, he sees a grey inscription on a white background that says: ‘marry and reproduce’.  When he puts the glasses on he begins to see dictatorship in democracy. It is an invisible order that seem to sustain our apparent freedom.  The truth is that we seem to live a lie.  

The paradox is that we ascribe an absent invisible quality to everything. There is this absent excess in everything. This is how we feed on ideology. Thus, for instance the burning of the effigy of PM as Ravana on Vijayadashami day has offended some baktas because they seem to step out of the ideology enjoyed by the students and see the excess meaning that is hurdled on the effigy due the symbolism  of Ravana and the choice of the day. It is as if this baktas had the luxury of putting the de-ideology sun glasses but only in this isolated case. Is that really so? Or are they really feeling the discomfort of standing out of their own ideology (even for a short time) which seems to have a temporary fall? Things are truly complex. May be we are led to detect our own enslavement to our ideology when faced with a temporary collapse of the same. It is as if the scales in our eyes fall and we seem to wear the de-ideological glasses and are enabled to see our plight for a brief moment.  It is like the stain that blemishes the canvas that sustains our ideology laden picture of our life. Today when we are living under the command of a narrow hate ridden nationalism which several among have begun to enjoy because under its command we  seem to feel an experience an absent presence of a quality  that we consume with a sense of triumph and a feeling of being ahead of those that can be viewed as not national enough. Yes, we seem to enjoy the obligation to live a nationalism that is soaked in our religion  cutting across all religions mimicking the  (Lacanian) big other, the Hindu nationalist  even when the our big other may ridicule our nationalism declaring that it  is not national enough.  The big other approves and legitimate the satisfaction of desire. the question is how we face the enjoyment of the big other, the triumphant Hindu nationalist. Majority among us enjoy the miming of nationalism that copies the enjoyment of the Big other while several others enjoy producing alternate nationalism which are different but mark remarkable sameness to the tenor and texture (form ) of the one enjoyed by the big other. All enjoy loving  their motherland but in different ways some in approved ways others  in  contra rebellious ways  to the way of the mainstream big other. 

The reining Hindu nationalism has produced its other nationalisms soaked in religions, castes, regions etc. This means that nationalism has become an ideology. We can only detect the ideology of the other and fail to see our own starring into our eyes.  India is living under the command of nationalism and we seem to be enjoying it like a coke that never really satisfies our thirsts. The vital issue is to discern what this ideology laden shades of nationalisms that can be identified among the different national and regional parties in the political spectrum  are doing to our democracy. We may have to  put on the de-ideological glasses to understand the strangulating damage that it has done to our democracy. It along with the economic policies that we pursue seem to have converted the practice of our democracy into an ideology. That is why what afflicts our society is nothing but ideological battles centred around the nationalism legitimated by the big other (the Hindu nationalism). Urgent issues like rising prices, famers suicides, black money stashed abroad, growing  unemployment atrocities on the dalits, minorities and tribals etc do not have place even in our prime time of our television. In this scenario, the dissident and any form of dissent  becomes an offence against the nation. We cannot see the love of the  nation that triggers the dissent. But over simplify it as anti-national.  This means we can violate our democracy  but cannot stand the violation of the spirit of nationalism which of course is not embracive of other nationalisms. Ironically, this ideologically laden narrow nationalism urgently requires  de-ideologizing glasses. Who will provide us the same? We seem to have been taken captive to this desire for the coming of the pure nation that always remains absent. It is the mysterious something absent that remains in an anticipatory form in the enjoyment in our practice of nationalism that derives our practice of democracy. It is like the kinder surprise egg enjoyed by our children. The chocolate egg carries a surprise gift, the inner treasure that we get for free.   Likewise,  we chase our democracy and what we get today is the lure of the surprise gift, the promise of pure nationalism that always fail to satisfy like the surprise gift hidden in the kinder egg. In some way, we are infantilized and have become children fighting over an intoxicating drive for a coming of a perfect nationalism unmindful of the destruction of democracy in the very practice of the same. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao