Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

American “democracy” is an utter perversion

In discussions of French inflected Marxist political theory I often get the sense that democracy is treated as a dirty word or the contrary of Marxism. The subtext seems to be that somehow neoliberalism and democracy are one and the same thing, or that the concept of democracy is identical to the actually existing system of something like American “democracy”. I find this idea very odd.

For me Marxism and communism are synonyms for democracy, and the issues that motivate Marxist activists arise from the fact that our actually existing governmental systems aren’t democratic enough. Equating democracy with American “democracy” is like equating socialism with Stalinist socialism. In both cases we have an utter perversion of the political concept and the precise opposite of what these things are supposed to be. What am I missing?

James Lewis, in showing how completely absurd an article on the National Geographic website is ("Liberals, Atheists More Highly Evolved?"), makes the following perceptive comment:
The National Geographic headline is therefore characteristically absurd, but it's also typical of the cultural Left today -- and of its hopeless cravings to validate itself as being smarter, better-educated, and of course, more compassionate than those conservative throwbacks to a brute past. Somehow the Left always needs to boast, and like any other compulsive boaster, it is compensating for its own feelings of inferiority. I suspect that that's the real inner nature of the Left: Most of its followers worry about their personal adequacy in life. And somehow liberals never get to the most obvious question, which is: Why has the Left ended up killing 100 million people in the 20th century, according to French Marxist historian Courtois and his team?

The political left, whose policies always end up enabling and exposing the worse aspects of human nature, are the same people who are always coming up with all those utopian schemes that promise a veritable paradise of human love, compassion, kindness and brotherhood. Why is it then, you might ask, that they end up delivering a toxic brew of hate, envy, misery and discord? How can they be so completely clueless about something as obvious as the reality of human nature?

Perhaps, the best answer to that question is that, when it comes to themselves, the left is constitutionally unable to understand or accept the dark side of their own natures with any degree of clarity, let alone honesty (see here for further discussion).

So, in order to compensate for the inadequacies that they cannot admit to in themselves, they must constantly"validate [themselves] as being smarter, better-educated, and of course, more compassionate than those conservative throwbacks to a brute past." […]

This heroic self image must comfort leftists greatly, since in the "fascist" state that is the America of their imagination, this was the only kind of vile "persecution" they suffer when they dared to question or oppose BushHitler and Darth Cheney in days gone by.

More recently, they conveniently forget that they are the ones who now are in possession of the reins of powerand who control all houses of Congress as well as the White House. Nevertheless, they persist in maintaining the ridiculous charade of being daring crusaders for peace and social justice (and now health care for all).
The Spirit and Form of an Ethical Polity: a Meditation on Aurobindo’s Thought by Sugata Bose, Modern Intellectual History, 4, 1 (2007), By debbanerji Posthuman Destinies
It engages in that exercise of elucidation by interpreting a few of the key texts by Aurobindo Ghose on the relationship between ethics and politics in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Both secularist and subalternist ...
The misappropriation of Aurobindo by the Hindu right has been facilitated by the secularists’ abandonment of the domain of religion to the religious bigots. To a secularist historian like Sumit Sarkar the invocation to sanatan dharma by Aurobindo is deeply troubling and makes him implicitly, if not explicitly, the harbinger of communalism in the pejorative sense the term came to acquire some two decades after Aurobindo had retired from active political life.4 To an anti-secularist scholar like Ashis Nandy the “nationalist passions” of Aurobindo located in “a theory of transcendence” are mistakenly deemed to be too narrowly conceived compared to the broader humanism of the more universalist, civilizational discourses ascribed to Tagore and Gandhi.5 The specific failures in fathoming the depths of Aurobindo’s thought are related to more general infirmities that have afflicted the history of political and economic ideas in colonial India…
The Indian intellectual deserves to be put on a par with the European thinker and, as Kris Manjapra argues, ought to be viewed “as engaging and revising through phronesis” the full range of Indian, European and in-between ideational traditions which he or she encountered.9 … In 1905 Bepin Pal wrote of the new patriotism in India, different from the period when Pym, Hampden, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Kossuth and Washington were “the models of young India”. The old patriotism “panted for the realities of Europe and America only under an Indian name”. “We loved the abstraction we called India”, Pal wrote, “but, yes, we hated the thing that it actually was”…
“And so”, Sumit Sarkar writes somewhat derisively, “the revolutionary leader becomes the yogi of Pondicherry”. 31 Aurobindo may have retired from active participation in politics, but his days as a thinker on the problem of ethics and politics were far from over. In that respect the best was perhaps yet to come.

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