The Banyan Shades

The weaponization of political retribution by Intellectuals

people, many, crowd-3288119.jpg

Retribution requires vindictiveness. Where there is vindictiveness, there is a sense of being wronged, and that wrongdoing being avenged. How does this principle apply to the justice systems we have created for dispute resolution? More importantly, does it create a repair in the wounded collective consciousness that is seeking a resolution to one or more members of its tribe being harmed in a particular way?

Let me explain further using an example. Let us say that a report of a terrible murder is being televised in halls, and it shakes the watchers to the core. In fact, there is a huge uproar, and people emerge out on the streets protesting and demanding the arrest of the guilty. This scenario is not uncommon. What this incident shows is whatever crime, although being committed privately, has public consequences. These consequences expand in terms of people identifying that they and their loved ones might not be immune to gruesome acts, and the actors themselves shake their core of moral safety. 

Protests, public or private in nature, are a response to the dehumanization of what was previously thought of as a basic human standard. However, there is a group, that sadly represents the “educated class” of the country, that has strategically learned to weaponize collective emotion to create chaos. I am obviously referring to the academic left-leaning intelligentsia. Salvatore Babones, an Australia-based US professor, recently rose to fame highlighting the political leaning of the “Public intellectuals” of India, people who are paid by the government to do the thinking for the country. These “intellectuals” live in their Eco chambers and have a very specific view of the country, its people, and the choices that people make, which is less than flattering. This group also has very tight-bound notions of what is right and wrong, which can be a subject matter of further essays. Their arguments come down to right-ing what they consider as unjust and wrong, and no nuance, perspective, or explanation can get in the way for a simple reason: the academic lot is driven by a sense of retribution. 

There are several problems with this, of course. The first one is that bodies responsible for producing knowledge should have a claim to objectivity. The second is that the group is disconnected from the overall consciousness of the masses. The third being it is deaf but not dumb to the rebuttals that come from the society that they are analyzing. The fourth is that they have a military zeal to straighten out what is not quite alright in their opinion. There is no denying that as part of the collective, we witness and experience a lot of powerlessness. 

This special group, which has been sadly entrusted with creating narratives for us, has mastered the technique of channelizing this collective powerlessness away from resolution. If you read an average academic paper, it will include a “critique” of a “capitalistic state”, which is full of evils. These papers draw heavily from Marxian lines of thought, with terms like “subversion”, and “overthrow of the hierarchical order”, etc being used quite frequently. These terms then get mapped onto disciplines like gender studies, caste studies, African studies, and so much more. So the state becomes the representative of everything bad, and so do people who are supposedly associated with the state. Given the powerlessness, and hence vindictiveness, that people feel in their day-to-day lives, it is not a surprise that most of us will be tempted to find a common enemy. The illusion is that if we find a common enemy and dismantle it, then our problems will be solved: that is the dream of the revolution, and the nightmare too. 

The truth is that our very valid problems are being used to create chaos and disorder in the collective. The resolution that the academicians offer lies in the chaos, after which there is a promised land where everyone is equal and everything is fair. However, the promised land never comes, simply because the human condition and behavior don’t fit in the map of what University training has to offer. The cries of injustice can be heard by people and the justice system so that people find a resolution. In reality, a crisis (in this case, let us say, a crime) is supposed to shake open the public consciousness to something gruesome. The next step is recalibration, and adaptation, of which enforcing strict punishment to the accused may need to be a part. For example, the protests around crimes against women have made people more conscious of the issues that women face. The collective conscious chooses several things alongside retribution to evolve. We need more objective intellectuals and academicians studying this phenomenon rather than people trained in Eurocentric notions of justice commenting on how dismal Indian democracy is.

1 thought on “The weaponization of political retribution by Intellectuals”

  1. Pingback: The importance of India that is Bharat book series: Part 1 - The Banyan Shades

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *