~ By Mayuresh Didolkar
During a rather heated debate at the Jaipur Literature Festival two years ago, Swapan Dasgupta waded into the term post-truth in an epic takedown of the so-called liberal ecosystem that chose to see a crisis for the entire world for electoral outcomes (Modi/Brexit/Trump) that didn’t suit their political agenda. Since 2017, if anything, the left orthodoxy that has the intellectual corner in India’s opposition, have only doubled down on their rhetoric and I am afraid, if unchallenged, this rhetoric will have a chilling effect on the expression liberties of ordinary Indians who don’t share the left orthodoxy’s world view. The time for post-truth is done (if indeed there was a time for that), we, my fellow Indians, are heading towards post-reason. Like Geena Davis’s character says in the old horror flick, The Fly- Be afraid. Be very very afraid!
What is this post reason age then? Glad you asked.
A few years ago, I wrote elsewhere about how in today’s highly acrimonious political discourse, the left was simply unwilling to change their position, even when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I had used the term “Zombie lies” (borrowed from American journalist Bill Maher), to describe lies that even after being killed, keep getting up again and again, much like the zombies. The post-reason world is sort of a post-apocalyptic world overrun by these zombies. To the peddlers of these lies- evidence to the contrary quickly becomes propaganda from BJP IT Cell. Facts not only do not matter, but are seen as a tool by oppressors to victimize a section of the society. In the strangely, ‘everyone-is-a-victim’, intersectional, world of regressive left orthodoxy, those with monopoly on channels of expressions wield it as a tool to keep masses in line. Any attempt to correct this imbalance, through say social media, is dubbed as violence and is sought to be censored.
This is a short article and hence I will only give a couple of examples of how the regressive left orthodoxy has chosen to decouple the evidence from the outcome they peddle. Last year when Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated, there was no doubt in any sane person’s mind that this was the work of the jehadis operating in the valley. But not the left elites. Barkha Dutt wrote an op-ed discussing how entire India was unsafe for journalists, and how the troll armies on social media were partly responsible for that. A few of the same ilk actually went after JNU professor Anand Ranganathan, blaming his argument with the late journalist where Anand felt he was not moderate enough. Like the jehadis decided to kill Shujaat because Anand didn’t find him moderate enough! Now, last week, the same Barkha termed Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brazen lies on the Rafale issue as “setting the narrative”.
These are scary times my friends. Just imagine if you can be blamed for an assassination that you not only had nothing to do with, but where a clear line to the perpetrators can easily be traced! After the advent of social media, many of us have started participating in the discourse. How many ordinary citizens, with careers and families to take care of, will continue speaking out against the regressive left orthodoxy, if they know journalists can go after them so brazenly and in such a systematic manner?
On the other hand, consider how nice it must be to be Rahul Gandhi, the super-elite successor of the blue blood dynasty of Indian politics, in the post-reason world. You don’t have to provide evidence, you don’t have to refute arguments in a reasoned manner. You are never questioned for your lies, you are never asked for back up your claims and the onus of proving innocence is forever on the other person.
Why does it matter to us?
Because, unlike a political party, you and I do not have the resources to fight these lies if we ever find ourselves in the crosshairs of the regressive left orthodoxy. It doesn’t matter whether you have bull’s eye painted on back as an individual, like in the case of Chef Atul, or as a part of the Hindu community as a whole, as recent lies peddled by the likes of Indiaspend on religious violence try to, please remember once they have trained their guns, truth isn’t a valid defence and due process is just a tool of oppression. Guilty until proven innocent is so last year, we are at ‘guilty because we say so’, point in our discourse.
Have no doubt that the target of this post-reason age is the liberties of masses. Regressive left has never believed in the power of people to begin with. They subscribe to the Frank Underwood school of “people are like little children Claire, we have to hold their sticky fingers, and wipe their dirty mouths” of ruling. This is one of the reason, the most vehement opposition to social media has come from the left the world over. The idea that their world view is open for debate and dissection by anyone with a data plan must be positively driving them nuts. And as amusing as it might be on the face of it, an angry elite with power of several institutions behind him/her isn’t a laughing matter. The duty of holding onto our freedoms devolves upon all of us. This is the fight that requires both strategic acumen and nerve to withstand intense propaganda and falsifications at every stage. In the lead-up to the election of our lifetimes later this year, it is important to understand the long term effect of left orthodoxy making a return to power on our liberties.
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