Monday, May 23, 2005

Battling the Ocean

Midway through the journey of our life, I found myself within a dark wood, for the right way had been lost. Dante Alighieri

If you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche

We were silent the past week while on vacation; on return, we've been welcomed by amusing vitriol. More on the latter later.

But first, on Saturday, we found ourselves in sunny San Francisco, freshly washed by unseasonable rain -- where on a beach by the Golden Gate, we sat on water-softened rocks debating environmental politics with a close friend, a San Francisco liberal with keen intellect, when after a particularly biting expression of our contempt for tree-hugging (!), the "Pacific" seemingly could take it no more. A freak & vicious ocean swell doused us both head-to-toe, and with that our illiberal argument drowned in the raging saline-spit.

Our friend mirthfully argued that the ocean spitting at us was our just deserts for confronting her environmentalism, thus nature itself, forcefully. At that moment of our drenching, we could be forgiven for thinking this might just have been the case!

On Sunday, we re-connected to the world, and (courtesy our blogger friends) found this vitriol (partly) directed at us. What provoked this was our recently expressed frustration with Indian liberalism (see here and here).

As we see it, our dispute is with liberal ideas that have, paraphrasing Dante, led India into a dark wood, for the right way has been lost; our dispute is (by & large) not with individual liberals (some of whom we've called white-hats and to whom we've been respectful at a personal level.) Regrettably, some liberals still find it necessary to spew personal vitriol at us, instead of debating the merits of our arguments.

Why is this? Well, this is likely because liberals have had the run of our land much too long that they see any anti-dogma ideas as a profound threat. Also, most (not all) Indians have inherited muddled liberal ideas from their parents and/or absorbed them from our collective intellectual ether (such as it is) without much critical analysis.

Into this intellectual abyss then, if an argument is hurled that confronts not cowtows, the abysmal response is personal, seeking not to persuade, but to stare down and destroy the challenger offering new, and better, ideas.

It's like a lone man hurling ideological stones at the ocean, and the vast ocean spitting back all its venom at him.

As we retreated to our convertible from the water-softened rocks, the two of us (one liberal, other not!) walked shoes-in-hand over burning sand, confident in the knowledge that the California sun would soon burn away the ocean's spit, leaving intact the ideas that provoked the rage in the first place. The vast ocean was still there, but now smaller for its rage. As for us, with warm breeze drying out our skin as we drove over the Golden Gate towards hiking trails in brighter woods, we felt we'd battled the spiteful ocean and had come out ahead, if only for one day.


Laks said...

I think it comes as a shock to many people (like that blogger who criticized you guys) that there are Indian right-wingers (who cannot be accused of being a religious fundi, bigot, etc.) So far the Indian intellectual (or pseudo) space has been occupied by Leftists. They look scared when they said: "I respect their opinion even though I don't share it. But I find it reprehensible that they state it in public space with no remorse".

Primary Red said...

You are absolutely right, Laks. In their minds, paraphrasing Gore Vidal, the myth about the validity of their ideas has overturned the history of constant failure of the same. Too bad.

Best regards.

Laks said...

Yeah, I live in France where mainstream 'intellectuals' judiciously follow the state-party-line albeit some petty disagreements (Euros are nuanced this way!). Any lateral thinking (e.g., pro-American, pro-free-markets) will get you brandished severely.

Fortunately India is more heterogeneous relatively. Indian govt. does not allow FDI in print, no private radio stations for news. But how can they stop the millions of podcasts which is going to take-off?? Interesting times ahead.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Yeah Primary Red, but here I was thinking it was "game on", and you never did take the discussion further here. Why?

I have no idea whether I'm leftist or what, but Laks might enjoy knowing that I am not in the least scared when I say "I respect your opinion even though I don't share it." I even mean it.

Primary Red said...


To give you the final word on the matter!

We're sure we'll tangle again (!) on other subjects, and in those exchanges over time, the game will surely go on.

Best regards.

Laks said...

Dilip, that was'nt meant for you (since you yourself ain't sure of being a Leftist). The original context in Abi's blog was about P. Bidwai. And we all know you enjoy debating ;-)



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