May Day musings: Why the Left deserves a ‘lal salaam’

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ejazr, May 2, 2012.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Interesting take on the Left parties on FP

    May Day musings: Why the Left deserves a ‘lal salaam’ | Firstpost

    This may sound heretical, but this May Day, I actually miss the Left parties.

    I know, I know, they are ideological dinosaurs, relics of a failed economic philosophy that has been nuked out of existence in many parts of the erstwhile Communist world. And yet in India, Communists thrive – like cockroaches that have survived a nuclear war. Fascination with erstwhile Communist dictators extends even to centrist party leaders in India: a former Chief Minister of a southern State, for instance, named his son after Stalin – a nomenclatural mishap from 50 years ago that doesn’t embarrass either the benighted father or the son to this day.

    Up until 2009, the Left parties were even influencing policy at the central level, offering the Congress-led UPA government support from the outside. At that time, of course, you couldn’t wait for the earth to open up and swallow them whole, particularly when we were compelled to hear Sitaram Yechury pontificate on prime time television or were subjected to D Raja’s grating diction as he held forth on every policy proposal with an authority that vastly exceeded his party’s feeble representation in Parliament.

    So long as the Left parties were supporting the government, the Manmohan Singh government had an alibi for not being bold with its economic reforms. Based on the excuses that the UPA government trotted out, and the shadowboxing over the Common Minimum Programme that they had ironed out, we wondered idly about the things that “Manmohan the reformer” would do if he weren’t burdened by the millstone of the “loony Left”.

    Which is why when Manmohan Singh, in a rare moment of political courage, stood up to the Left parties’ blackmail on the issue of a civil nuclear agreement with the US, we celebrated the moment. And when the Left parties were comprehensively trounced in the 2009 elections, we saw it as the chance to make progress on long-delayed reforms.

    The fund manager for a leading FII told me in June 2009 that ahead of the May 2009 elections, he had misread the likely political outcome. “I adhered to the theory that there will be more fragmentation, that provincial parties would increase their influence,” Ed Pulling of JF Asset Management said. From a political perspective, the election results were the best possible outcome, he added. “If the Congress executes well over the next three to five years, there is a chance that the next time their position could be even stronger. I haven’t been able to say that for at least 10 years.” (More here.)

    And, yet, look at where we are today. Not only have we not made progress on reforms, but – as Shekhar Gupta noted recently – “the UPA has completely changed the reformist mood to a dark, negative povertarian discourse of the seventies.”

    The problem, of course, is that in our enthusiasm about seeing the Left off, we didn’t realise that the fault really lay elsewhere: in the sheer political cowardice of the Congress and its allies in government – and, yes, in the Opposition parties too. The Left parties may have been the lightning rod for media criticism, but the real loony Left mindset resided in the Congress and in the Trinamool Congress and, yes, even in the BJP.

    With all their faults and ideological rigidity, the Left parties were at least consistent in their position on political and economic issues: even when they withdrew support in 2008 on the civilian nuclear agreement with the US, they were being faithful to their ideological position, however much of a losing proposition it turned out to be.

    But the ideological bankruptcy of the Congress and the others effectively means that they don’t stand for anything – except the most brazen populism. Which is why all we’ve seen is reflexive, knee-jerk do-goodism masquerading as “social justice.”

    And even within the Left, parties, for instance, there was room for a Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to articulate a less ideologically rigid position on the economy and even attempt tentative reforms. But of course, along came Mamata Banerjee to out-left the Left by pandering the lowest common denominator of populism.

    So long as the Left parties were part of the ruling arrangement at the Centre, they at least acted as the last line of opposition to any reform measure. They were the yardstick against which parties measured themselves to hold their “loony Left” instincts in check. But without them, it’s a virtual slippery slope, with each party plunging into the bottomless pit of cynical populist politics. And with the Congress afraid of its own shadow, there’s not even the pretence of implementing any meaningful reforms.

    The Italian political philosopher Machiavelli said there was merit in keeping your friends close to you – and your enemies even closer. I honestly think the Congress was well served by having the Left supporting the government – and playing within the policy pen that it had to itself. Now, it has to deal with its own insecurities, multiplied manifold by the infirmity of ideologically vacuous coalition partners who reflexively block any attempt at reforms.

    Which is why, I offer a feeble lal salam to the Left parties this May Day, however much it may hurt my pride. They honestly make me yearn for the “good old days” of 2004 – when we at least knew what we wouldn’t get and therefore didn’t get our hopes crushed on a daily basis.
     
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  3. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    I have difficulty taking left/communists(i am assuming they are almost same. let me know if i am wrong ) seriously. they are torch bearer of an idea which didn't survive even a century. had influence for less then fifty years. i am guessing a thousand years from now when history books are written they won't find a mention even in the footnotes.
     
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  4. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Are u trying to say we won't have May 1st as holiday or a 8-hour working day? That's pretty sad.:confused:
     
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  5. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    8 hrs working day !
    Holiday !!
    what are u talking about ???
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Hardly.

    Because of May Day, I did not get my newspapers!

    I don't know why we Indians follow foreign customs - Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Mother's Day, May Day and other freakish days that have no cultural or historical ties with India.
     
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  7. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    It is now easy to mock leftist economic ideology. But, go back to the days when the concept of market economy was emerging. Think of the conditions of the workers who had no right and left to be exploited by the factory owners.True, the socialist ideology didnt survive but it forced the western thinkers to take more lenient stance for the workers and to improve their condition. BTW, do you consider free economy (no State control) flawless while buying Onion for Rs 60/ kg or when read about farmers commiting suicide after not getting proper price of crops. If you see the charts of many essensial commodities you can find wide swing in their price regularly. It would not happen if market economy is flawless.
     
  8. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    All I can say is that long live communism.

    Even if it may be too idealistic and utopian, at least people will have some standards to aim for. As they say, "aim for the Moon, and you'll land among the stars!"

    Happy May Day Tovarishi!

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Basically what the author is saying that well even if you don't agree with their socio-economic philosophy, you have to atleast admire their ideological consistency. No flip flops like other parties

    And because the left were considered to be on the extreme as far as populism is concerned, it kept the populism of the ruling parties in check.
     
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  10. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Nice. Could you please put down Bengal's achievements, while we're hated all over India. Long live communism, my arse!
     
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  11. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Long live communism! :D

    Who cares if we're hated all over India? Duh. You should be in complete harmony with your conscience first. Don't let your self hate you. Don't worry about the rest of India.

    Speak out your mind, without fear or prejudice. Believe in what you belive in, and be proud of that! :thumb:

    I will always hold the ideals of communism is great reverence.

    P.S.: I have answered your question over and over and over again, in several threads, because this question was asked many times. Everytime I give an answer, people don't even respond back. So I will not answer your question this time.
    :namaste:
     
  12. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    :facepalm:

    I guess this is the crossroad where we take different routes.

    Cheers!
     
  13. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Happy May Day comrade! :)
     
  14. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Haha I treat it just any other holiday. :)

    You're trying to piss me off, aren't ya? : D

    Happy Martyr's day!
     

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