Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 03 July 2024

Great expectations, liberalism in dark times

News Excerpt:

The fundamental aim of politics and philosophy is to find unity in diversity. This is particularly relevant in multiracial and multicultural societies like India where contradictions need to be reconciled.

More about the news:

  • The compelling global history of the fate of democracy leaves a glaring blemish on the very idea of liberalism which faces threats from across the spectrum. 
  • The growth of right-wing nationalism, the global problem of refugees and migrants throws light on the fissures that vividly exist in societies and in ideologies. 

Challenges to Liberalism:

  • Liberalism is defined as a political order that keeps power in check and safeguards fundamental rights.
  • The rise of right-wing nationalism globally is a major challenge to liberal values.
  • The global refugee and migrant crises are the factors exacerbating societal and ideological divisions.

Recent Political Trends:

  • In the face of rising sectarianism, a key question arises: Who holds the 'rights to have rights,' highlighting issues of civil discrimination, racist policies, and xenophobic attitudes.
  • Recent swing towards the right in the European Parliament, points towards public opinion veering in favor of climate skepticism, anti-immigration sentiment and the rising tide of divisiveness as a result of fervent nationalism. 
  • A similar victory of the right-wing conservative forces seemed to be the logical outcome in the recent general election in India. 
    • But the electorate took on the challenge and sent an unambiguous message to the world that the voter in India stands tall in stridently conveying her indignation at the rise of authoritarianism and sullied politics. 
  • The recent elections suggest that there is a hope for a strong opposition and constructive democratic debate in India. 
  • Hopefully the existing democratic institutions will continue to facilitate the procedures of the defense of our fundamental rights and the promotion of a diverse civil society. 

Democracy and Human Rights:

  • Human rights that are bestowed by the nation-state on some, while excluding others through forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing or even genocide, principally explains the origins of many of today’s crises. 
  • These issues are the root causes of many contemporary crises that the countries and societies are facing across the world today.
  • Importance should be placed upon rational legislation and justice in addressing societal issues.
  • There is a need to balance private religious faith with public and political life.

Political Discourse:

  • Democracy is losing importance as countries get caught up in degradation of political language and rhetoric. This is especially true when politicians use dramatic speeches to confuse and hypnotize voters.
  • Leaders who are obsessed with power and think too highly of themselves ignore common sense. They're quick to criticize anyone who speaks the truth about their actions or points out when their statements go against the constitution.
  • In a civil society, political speeches should be respectful and well-reasoned. Instead, many leaders create an environment of control and oppression by using the media and government power to intimidate people.
  • Hopefully those in power will start to adopt a more balanced and open-minded approach, moving away from their current unfair tactics. They also hope that opposition parties will meet people's expectations by creating a plan that values humility, diversity, and modesty.

Natural Order vs. Civil Society (Spinoza's perspective):

  • The philosopher Spinoza wrote about the difference between natural order and civil society. 
    • In nature, people only think about themselves and judge others based on their own ideas. 
    • In civil society, people are responsible to the state and can be punished for actions that cause harm or go against social rules.
  • Living in a society means following laws and morals that we've all agreed on. It's important that the state's right to govern doesn't turn into unfair power over people. Throughout history, this has sometimes led to the rise of anti-democratic ideas.

Reflections on Democracy:

  • Right now, democratic institutions around the world are being damaged by leaders who don't seem to care about wise political thinking. 
    • India, like many countries, is uncertain about its future after a recent election. 
    • This uncertainty will affect how its democracy develops and makes people think about the lack of good political leadership in the world today.
  • There is also a probability about the return of McCarthyism (a time of intense fear and suspicion in American politics). However, there's hope that democratic forces, even when they seem quiet, can fight against bad political ideas. These forces can help rebuild institutions and support individual rights.

Way Forward:

  • Indian politics needs to change to show that democratic forces are strong and ready to defend human dignity. 
  • The future isn't just about personal freedom or following the Constitution, but also about doing what's morally right.

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