CAA Protests: Resorting to ‘Manufactured Consent’ after failing in electoral politics
Unable to get elected democratically, the opposition is wriggling over an act that was part of the BJP manifesto. Sensing political irrelevance and obscurity, opposition parties are indulging in a campaign of calumny and irrelevant analogies.
- Sujay Iyer
How do you beat a guy that can’t be beat? How do you defeat a duo that hasn’t seen defeat over the last two decades? How do you unsettle a government that has no opposition? How do you make the state vulnerable when it has a mandate that hasn’t been seen since 1984?
You distort, obfuscate, contrive and manipulate a narrative that causes outrage amongst the elite. You orchestrate, construct, formulate and regulate protests amongst the middle class and the underprivileged. And then you wait.
Welcome to Indian politics and today’s motif is ‘Manufactured Consent’.
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian neo-Marxist and perhaps the most authentic thinkers of his time and his politics (Trotskyites can go suck it). He postulated the concept of cultural hegemony and how the proletariat (the have-nots) get a raw deal because they’re made to believe they deserve it. Not by the economic structure that patronizes them but by institutions that develop artificial social constructs. These institutions include the media, the universities, the intellectuals, the philosophers/authors, the legal system, the religious institutions and big business. Ever since, Gramsci came up with this seminal theory, the new Left has appropriated his ideas and put them into practice.
I know it sounds esoteric and implausible but humor me for a bit.
Look at all the universities of India. Most of the professors are left leaning giants whose opinions are imbibed by their students. Peer at big media; most news of news until this decade was overshadowed by the Left: Prannoy Roy and his disciples (Dutt, Sardesai, Ravish). Read the Op-Eds of all the major newspapers; most, if not all have left leaning intellectuals writing copious amount of ferocious critique against the Right (Guha, Mehta, Roy). The Supremes always make sure they’re on the left side of history with the possible exception of Ram Mandir (Sabarimala, Jallikattu, LGBTQ).
The new Left, with their armchair intellectuals and their institutions erected ivory towers from where it decided what’s right and what’s not, what’s moral and immoral, what’s evil and what’s banality, what’s appropriate and what’s not. They manufactured the consent of the masses. Through coercion, manipulation and manipulation, they’ve decided the proclivity of the people of India. For seventy odd years, the people of India falsely assumed they were steering their own destinies. Enter Narendra Damodardas Modi & Amitabh Anilchandra Shah.
The ultimate disrupters brought this ivory tower down. They appealed to the masses and the real India. Not the one that has air-conditioned rooms and paintings and books and Pinot noirs. But the one that found it hard to cobble a meal for their children even while toiling through sweat and heat. Not the one that was privileged and entitled but instead the one that was frustrated of economic, political, moral, social and religious corruption. The new Left presumed with hubris that branding the duo as monsters and homicidal lunatic maniacs would stop their surge. Except, this time, the people of India, decided to reject their farce and take control of their own destiny. The Left lost 2014 and 2019 and maybe a bit of themselves. Decimation leads to introspection. There was cultural revolution taking place the world over with the advent of Trumps and the Johnsons and the Bannons. The new Left did not understand it at first, so it retreated, to organize.
Wilderness and six months later, the Left has made a grand re-entry into the dust bowl of Indian politics. Their narrative is still pretty much the same. Paint the Right in Nazi colors (nevermind Mao, Lenin and Stalin trounce the Holocaust in terms of genocide numbers). Call Modi & Shah autocratic and totalitarian. Conjure up outrage over a bill that has poor optics. And then wait.
Because after two decades of routs, they believe they’ve finally engineered the formula to vanquish Modi & Shah. Kinda like what Ali did with Foreman or Rocky with Clubber. Modi-Shah will attack, will strike and will shut you down. They always have. Only this time; desist from rolling your sleeves and vilify, cease from calling them chor and chaiwala. Let them assault. Play the victim. Don’t counter, instead simply amplify the tears and the screams and the sense of persecution. Don’t counterpunch, just keep getting hit. Because Modi-Shah are war-time consigliere, they won’t stop until they feel they’ve won. They don’t know a world of peace time. Their entire lives have been about battles and defiance. They don’t have one subtle bone in their bodies. They will try and crush you. Close your eyes and take a page from the Mahatma. Ahimsa. Become the martyr. That is how this ends.
But how do you manufacture outrage over a bill that was a part of the BJP manifesto? How do you infuriate people over a policy that Shah spoke to the likes of Karan Thapar about for a good fifteen minutes on primetime television? This was always a part of their public drive. Call it Islamophobia. That’s the magic word. Nevermind, it really isn’t. All it really does is make it easier for persecuted religious minorities in neighbouring Islamic nations to become citizens of India. Why aren’t Muslims a part of the bill? Because these are Muslim majority nations and majorities aren’t persecuted! What about Rohingya Muslims or the Uyghurs in China? Would they really want to come to India? And aren’t there Islamic nations around them that would welcome them with open arms? Isn’t the northeast already suffering from the influx of Bangladeshi illegal migrants?
There is no country in the world that welcomes persecuted Hindus, Jains, Parsis or Sikhs except maybe Trudeu-land with open arms. But the Left says the bill is islamophobic and so it is. Much like when they said Sabrimala was anti-women or the repeal of Article 370 was undemocratic. But how do you induce people to protest? Tell them Muslims will lose their citizenship. Tell them Modi & Shah are on their journey towards forging a Hindu nation where Islam isn’t welcome. Nevermind, the citizenship bill doesn’t talk about people losing their citizenship. All it really does is, half the number of years required to become a citizen for persecuted minorities. People wouldn’t buy the argument then, what do you do now? Oh well, bring up the NRC that was done in Assam to remove illegal immigrants in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court by the way, to conserve and protect the multicultural and diverse society, all of us are so proud of. Bull’s eye. False outrage has been manifested. Protest now! Bring forth the students because what total revolution doesn’t include them. JNU is infamous, It’s Jamia’s turn. Modi & Shah will release the cops because they don’t know any better. Police brutality will cause more outrage. More protests. More candle marches. More violence. Riot. Hate. Triumph.
This is how you beat a man that can’t be beat. This is how you defeat a dup that hasn’t seen defeat over the last two decades. This is how you unsettle a government and make the State vulnerable. This is how it ends.
Welcome to Indian politics and today’s motif, ‘Manufactured Consent’.