Autocratic democracies – II

Patriotism is antithetical to the idea of democracy for it does not allow exposure of the rot within.

Farzana Versey August 30, 2010

Patriotism is antithetical to the idea of democracy for it does not allow exposure of the rot within. Double standards make it mandatory, however, for Indians to applaud Pakistanis who rip their own country apart; Pakistanis do the same for Indian media warriors. Societies whose unique selling proposition (USP) is poverty and go to the West with a begging bowl get self-righteous if, along with some coins, the mastahs throw in a few homilies because we quake at the country’s reputation being at stake. Nationalism becomes an obsessive compulsive disorder as we start on Operation Scrub-scrub from sanitised pedestals.

Democratic delusions must appear real. We are being had. A bunch of leaders decides how we should pay obeisance to the nation. Political groups assume extra-constitutional powers by being ‘servants of the people’ empowering themselves with a remote control to make the state cower before their diktats. A big fat line demarcates their freedom and ours.

Freedom of expression: Have you encountered any aspect of freedom that has not stepped on someone’s toes? The national anthem, national heroes, national holy cows, national sports all become prime property, but only when they are in eyeball-grabbing mode. Otherwise, they lie unclaimed in moratoria. Ridiculous painted faces in country colours provide a seal of approval even as t-shirts bellow, “I love New York”.

Some years ago, an industrialist member of parliament, Navin Jindal, fought and won a case for a licence to fly the national flag at his house. What do such gestures achieve? Do we see the irony of a pampered person flaunting national fealty while he sits in his feudal seat and audaciously takes up the cause of the khap panchayats that pronounce no marriage within the same sub-sect that resulted in honour killings?

Freedom of human dignity: Self-rule was built on the bodies of those who remain nameless. Gandhi did not die in a stampede. He was killed not because he fought the British, but because he aligned himself with the Khilafat Movement. This idea has been sanctified as ‘tolerance’ in India today, which is by far the worst aspect of democracy. It reeks of patronage of one ‘common man’ by another, brainwashed into a destructive thought process that grants an entry permit into the mainstream.

The ethnic Swadeshi Movement was essentially a phony idea trumped up to look labour class. It is a slap on our precious democratic faces that khadi is now designer clothing and even Indian government outlets have raised taxes on it, making it unaffordable.

Nehruvian socialism was yapping away at the Soviet model and merely gave more teeth to the government. This was organisation of power, not social idealism. The poor did not benefit from nationalisation of industry. The Licence Raj merely gave the rich incentives to grease the pockets of political parties.

Today, how does national self-esteem fit into the global initiative when we are dumped with Western waste? Why are we still on outdated British laws and religious edicts?

Freedom to be or not to be a nationalist: Terrorism, too, has a decided-upon colour based on a dictatorial concept. We conveniently want to be a cohesive whole when we are fighting amongst ourselves and overriding the rights of others. Our regionalism is no different from the principalities of the pre-Partition era. Democracy is scrawled on the flaky parchment of the past. The goal of history, Tagore believed, is not “the fierce self-idolatry of nation worship”. Nationalism is about conformity. It cannot survive if it provides choices, for in doing so it will threaten its own credibility.

A patriot is, therefore, the enemy of a truly free state of being.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st , 2010.


SKChadha | 11 years ago | Reply Farzana, Democracy does not mean dismantling the hierarchical system which existing in state’s administration and judicial system. It is other way round. As the democracy matures, it establishes the hierarchical system even in political class and we have still to wait for that in India or Pakistan. We do not only have weak political system, but also having moles in our Administrative and Judicial systems. The result, law makers themselves do not follow the law. The law becomes “the will of the political superiors which is imposed upon political inferiors”. This is also one of the definitions of law in legal theory. When Lalu became CM of Bihar, he precisely broke this barrier with his guts and wits. However, when he imposed Rabri Devi, he re-established his will as superior in politics. In times of history these two are diagonally opposite examples of our maturing democracy. Probably, the second one you are calling as Autocratic Democracy. To me, it is highly debatable question in India as to whether Nathu Ram Godse was patriotic or unpatriotic? Forget about ideology of Taliban, it is also debatable ‘whether Taliban are patriotic’? To me patriotism is sacrificing our own life, comforts and belongings for common good of the society of which we all are part. There are numerous examples where the people in Administration and Judiciary suffered in their life just for being upright in their approach. These unsung heroes in my opinion are patriotic. Similarly, your views make me realize that you are more patriotic than me in life. Please keep it up. Thanks and regards.
Amit Kumar | 11 years ago | Reply Farzana Your perspective. "Jindal, fought and won a case for a licence to fly the national flag at his house" Thats My perspective. Jindal enabled all Indians to fly their national flag at their house. Thats what i meant foor democratization of the national flag. I am nowhere near to your intellectuals and i respect your views. Patriotism is part of my identity. That motivates me to fight what all bad things (which are a plenty) in my country. Work towards the betterment of this. I am from Bihar and grew under the Lalu and Rabri raaj. I have seen the worst a democracy can offer. Then also i think our democracy is most precious thing we have. Its success is linked with 1/6th of humanity. We all have to work harder to make it work. So my patriotism is closely link with humanity. PS: My patriotism makes me ashamed the corruption exposed in CWG. My patriotism invokes special love for my fellow country man. So I have special love for you too. :)
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