A FEW THOUGHTS ON INDIA’S 2009 GENERAL ELECTIONS
Come Carpentier de Gourdon
On May 16th I talked to two good friends about the results of the general parliamentary elections in India which had just given the ruling Congress-led alliance a comfortable majority with the quasi-assurance of retaining power for the next five years. I knew the reactions of my two friends would be poles apart. The first one, a prominent business promoter and adviser to the government on economic and industrial matters was happy that both the Hindu Nationalist Opposition (BJP) and the Communist and other Left-wing parties would be kept out of power. The other, who belongs to the investment banking profession but holds highly unorthodox views was gloomy. “The neo-liberal globalizing agenda just got a new lease of life” was his verdict. I pointed out that the BJP’s political programme was not substantially different on economic issues from its Congress rival’s. He agreed and concluded that democracy tends to amount to Hobson’s choice, at least on critical issues where it generally offers hapless voters a choice between six of one and half a dozen of the other, as the saying goes.
The concern with the BJP of my first friend, shared by many in this vast country, is that the party’s ideology jeopardises the secular credentials which he believes are vital, not only to the nation’s standing in the world at large but also to its inner stability and continuity. It is my experience that Indians of all parties, at least those who follow “Indic” creeds, are in their very vast majority, instinctively or intellectually secular or rather ecumenical. They see themselves as part of the cosmic family in which many beliefs and traditions exist with a valid claim to truth, at least in their relative space-time context, a concept that finds its scientific expression in quantic physics but that Indian wisdom has professed for millennia. Many pious and scholarly Hindus, Jains and Sikhs feel that religion should not be mixed with partisan politics, though philosophy undeniably plays a seminal role in the Aristotelian description of politics. Therefore they remain unconvinced by the attempts of certain Hindu nationalist politicians to promote notions of religious activism and policing borrowed from the semitic faiths that have come to dominate much of the world.
As many have noted, one cannot attribute the results of these elections to any single factor, political or economic but rather to a combination of many local, regional and national issues, in decreasing order of importance. India has remained, as is most of mankind, an aristocratic society where a longing for dynastic power is pervasive. Largely irrespective of personal merits, the aura of the Nehru line still invests it with an image of order, stability and reliability. The very youthful country that is India is also attracted to a young leadership and Congress was able to catalyse that feeling in favour of the new generation of Nehrus, Rahul and Priyanka while the BJP sought, with questionable discernment, to promote a rival scion, Varun Gandhi. Despite its venerable age, the Indian National Congress was able to project itself as a party of the young, sophisticated, unprejudiced and worldly new generations while the BJP, on account of its leadership, could not shed its image as a bastion of ageing, conservative, chauvinist northern Indian middle classes.
This being said, there is more than meets the eye in the Congress victory. My second friend is probably right when he says that the liberal globalizing oligarchy has a commanding role in the ruling coalition. Some of its stalawarts are sophisticated, western trained economists and successful businessmen who put no hope outside the Eldorado of the Anglo-American world order in which they gleefully see India taking a high seat at the table. They may not have internalized the fact that both the USA and its sidekick Britain look more and more like dead men walking and their downfall is merely a matter of time. Well, they tell me, better be the first to collect the spoils and replace them…The king is dead, long live the king. Would India not be the best candidate to lead and preserve the relatively benign and open-minded international order built by the “free” Anglo-Saxon democratic powers during the last two centuries? Otherwise, will we not see instead the rise of much less predictable and reassuring hegemons such as China, Russia, some Muslim nations and Brazil with long traditions of totalitarianism or dictatorship?
There is much to be said about this apparently unexceptionable view. The “liberal” Anglo-Saxon powers have turned out to be less and less free and have shed their mask (or was it a figleaf?) of benevolence in recent decades as they have assumed the trappings of Orwellian national security states or apparently soft tyrannies, plotting and acting to subvert, attack, invade, occupy and plunder more and more countries under all sorts of fallacious pretexts. To carry out those neo-colonial ventures, they invoke the age-old Judeo-Christian excuse of being threatened or victimized (by Communism, Nazism, terrorism, paganism, Islamism etc…Let us not forget that semitic religions are historically rooted in persecution and oppression, real or alleged, be it flight, exile or martyrdom, and derive their legitimacy from them) and claim that they must proceed with their civilizing mission “urbi et orbi” and micro-manage other people’s affairs precisely now that they can no longer take care of the welfare of their own populations.
The US is trying to distract attention from its economic undoing by claiming that its survival, earlier jeopardized by ghost Iraqi WMD, is now imperiled by Taliban gunmen laying in ambush around the Khayber pass while its near eastern satrap Israel invokes a purportedly existential threat from Iran in order to evade the Palestinian issue and other fundamental questions about its economic viability as a nation-state. Imperial wars overseas provide a useful distraction from pressing problems at home and supply endless fodder to the lumbering military industrial giant machine. If there is one thing that the USA and Israel fear more than having many enemies, it is having no enemies left. They cannot be expected to forget about India in their great chess game for world domination and any party that rules in Delhi will only ignore or acquiesce this fact at its own risk.
The “West” may be described as attacking the “rest” by means of a “pincer” strategy, with one arm being the secular or atheistic doctrines of individualism and materialism entailing the rejection of native traditions while the other is Christian missionary conversion. In the long term one may see those two apparently contradictory influences as complementary (and they evince the peculiar Anglo-Saxon combination of Puritanism and depravity) since spiritual vacuum tends to be filled by whichever religious offering is made available and supported by aggressive promotion.
Born-again fanatical Christianity, which bans all spiritual practices and beliefs to the exclusion of a “personal – and highly subjective – relationship with Jesus” has been one of the great beneficiaries of the loss of ancestral religious and cultural moorings in the USA and more recently in Latin America, Africa and certain parts of Asia, including China. The fading of Confucianism and Buddhism in Korea paved the way for the birth and spread of the Moon Church and other rather bizarre Christian or non-Christian (i.e. Scientology) denominations that are in some cases used by US Intelligence agencies as recruiting grounds and support systems.
The prospect that India, under the unrelenting combined assault of American commercial “culture” and Biblical proselytizing, may lose large swathes of its traditional religious civilization to various forms of “materialistic imported monotheism” is unfolding in many areas and the Government should address that problem and not shun it with the excuse that religion is a matter of personal freedom and individual conscience. Governance is not just a matter of increasing the GDP, modernizing the armed forces or improving the welfare system. If France for one has been able to adopt and enforce the legal notion of a “cultural exception” in order to protect itself upto a point from the Anglo-Saxon onslaught, there is no reason why India should not implement a similar set of measures with regard to its native religions and ways of life. Such an agenda should not be left to any one party but rather can be a matter of national consensus. When regional ethnic groups and communities replace their traditional epics and legends with the Old Testament, they accept, in the guise of religious truth, the superiority of a foreign civilization and literature which enshrine the notion that God did not live on their native soil but rather chose the Near East and that their spiritual home is Zion.
Does India want to follow on the footsteps of so many nations in Latin America and Africa whose national cultures have become a mestizo or creole cocktail of Roman or Zionist Christianity with local lore? Those who say that it does not matter should reflect on the fact that the US-driven modern “value system”, adopted by Europe to a fault, despite surface differences, is neither tolerant nor peaceful, despite its claims to be inclusive and neutral. Westernization, now known as globalization, comes with a growing panoply of practices and commandments that are mandatory and allow for no discussion, such as the promotion of homosexuality, same sex unions and parenting, abortion, “commercial” child-bearing (rent-a-womb), pornography, avowedly satanic “art” forms, blasphemy, widespread mood-altering medication and the rejection of traditional morality along with the unquestioning acceptance of historical politically correct dogmas. Penalties are severe for those who object to ideas that used to be abhorrent to most just a few years ago and which are now held by the opinion-makers to be the new revealed truths.
Many probably feel that such matters, important as they might be, take a distant second or third place to the economic and social priorities which face India in this day and age. However, many states and civilizations perished when they neglected existential long-term considerations of that order and accepted decadence as if it were an inevitable facet of growing prosperity. Elections tend to expediently focus on short-term interests and do not provide fora for philosophical introspection on the meaning and destiny of civilization and the conditions for its perpetuation and bloom. Those latter issues transcend personalities and economic programmes.