Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Indian Right

National Review, founded by the late William F Buckley, has long been the intellectual fuel behind the American conservative revolution.

When faced with John Derbyshire, one of its prized writers, having penned an astonishingly racist screed, it fired him.

This is what human decency and moral courage required.

It's also what conservatism demands. We conservatives, after all, respect people as individuals. Demonizing people on the basis of their group identities is the very antithesis of conservatism.


It's worth contrasting how the self-proclaimed Indian "Right" dealt with a near-identical situation recently.

Subramanian Swamy publicly demanded that Indian Muslims acknowledge their ancestral conversion from Hinduism or forfeit their vote.

When he was confronted, the Indian "Right" reacted with fury. They stood by Dr Swamy over fellow Indians whose right to vote he had brazenly challenged.

They cloaked their indignation in intellectual terms. Freedom of Speech is at stake, they falsely claimed. Then, they welcomed Dr Swamy into their political embrace.

The only morally appropriate response came from Harvard where he will no longer be allowed to teach.

There is no circumstance in which thought leaders of the Indian "Right" would have repudiated someone like John Derbyshire in their midst. Instead, their defensive reflexes would have kicked in and they'd have viciously - and personally - attacked attacked attacked anyone who had the temerity to challenge him.


The Indian "Right" is in crisis.

It has no intellectual foundation, no political coherence, and no moral courage.

Intellectually, its views seem indiscernible from social bigotry that litters history's discard pile.

Politically, its machinations seem identical to the establishment it seeks to replace.

Morally, to coin an expression, it has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to stand up for what is right.


The Indian "Right" seems to bundle pride in pre-modern tradition with a wooly notion of modern conservatism.

Not much more needs saying on its intellectual pretenses.


A social media star on the "Right" told me once (and I paraphrase) that pandering to India's sub-intellectual communal polity is a necessary means to come to power. Once in power, he asserted, the "Right" would do the right things.

Think about this for a minute.

He was saying that the political support Indian "Right" enjoys comes from people who he didn't think would support anything but the raw meat of soft bigotry.

He was also saying that the rabid views of these supporters could be ignored once the "Right" was in power.

The cynical and patronizing nature of this perspective is breathtaking.

Reminds one of the liberal establishment that this so-called "Right" seeks to displace, doesn't it?


The Dr Swamy episode is just one where the "Right" failed a moral test.

There are others.

What if the CM had gone to Zakia Jafri's home and said to her: you are like my mother. I can't possibly fathom your pain but I am sorry that you had to endure it. I can't reverse the horror of what happened and I can't make you less angry, but I can give you justice. This people, this state, this nation - and I -  owe you that.

She would still not forgive him. But he would be a mensch for doing this.

But being a mensch is not what the Indian "Right" does. Instead, its words and actions drip with a cauldron of complexes that are frequently ugly.

Even those who eschew such attitudes feel perfectly at home with those who embrace them.

The Indian Right needs to be reinvented.

God knows, we desperately need an intellectually honest, politically vital, and morally strong Right to confront the mediocrity of the Left-Liberal establishment.

But this Right will not emerge from sewers of bigotry, echo chambers of hate, or cultish adulation of individuals. Nor will it ride the horse of establishment mimicry.

Not until the Indian "Right" purges the bigots from its ranks, no matter how seemingly "respectable", will it have the legitimacy to confront the evil of the Left.

Too bad the self-proclaimed Indian "Right" couldn't be more ignorant about this reality.


Anonymous said...

In the name of left, secularism, Congress, SP and others playing openly religious politics, rallying Muslims to win vote.

Shameful the author of this blog doesnt care about these long term damage done to India, rather ranting against right.

Author is stroking religious division, rallying minorities, but should BJP do the same, he stars ranting!

The secularism of this author seems to be closer to Islamism, rather than genuine secularism.

Rana Safvi said...

If only

Junee said...

As always, very well thought out.
Genuine concern.

Anonymous said...

Moron, read the article again. He is saying that BJP should not do what the bad Congress is doing. That is the problem with you lemmings, same cliched replies when your problems are discussed. Grow a spine, acknowledge your problems and go fix them. If you do the same bad things that the ruling party does, how do you ever expect to come to power? Kapeesh?

Amith said...

God knows, we desperately need an intellectually honest, politically vital, and morally strong Right to confront the mediocrity of the Left-Liberal establishment.

Is Right inherently inferior that it needs to imbibe such superior qualities to confront just the "mediocrity" of the Left-liberal establishment?