Thursday, May 2, 2019

Democracy as Majoritarianism

Democracy as Majoritarianism

Written by Subhash Gatade | Published on: April 30, 2019
Subhash Gatade's Hinduta's Second Coming deals with the question of normalisation of majoritarianism which India is currently witnessing. The book is divided into three sections. The first section tries to situate this issue in a larger South-Asian context and to find any commonality in the experiences of people and the societal roots of the current political shift in South-Asia. Section two of the book deals with the "pioneers of the Hindutva Supremacist" movement and their upcoming icons for the "New India". Section three is devoted to finding ways to fight this menace that is attempting to destroy India. 

The following is an extract from the Preface of the book.

Democracy as Majoritarianism

We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if  I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal… we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not creators of  tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

— Martin Luther King, Jr
What is the signature of democracy?

It is the understanding that minority voices will be allowed to flourish and they will not be bulldozed. At  the  apparent  level  majoritarianism  –  rule  by  majority –  sounds  very  similar  to  democracy  but  it  essentially  stands democracy  on  its  head.  For  real  democracy  to  thrive,  it  is essential that ideas and principles of  secularism are at its core. The idea that there will be a clear separation between state and religion and there won’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion has to be its guiding principle.
Majoritarianism clearly defeats democracy in idea as well as practice.

While democracy’s metamorphosis into majoritarianism is a real danger, under rule of capital – especially its present phase of neoliberalism – another lurking danger is its evolution into what can be called as plutocracy – government by the rich.
As India enters the race for elections to the 17th Lok Sabha, these are the two broad questions which are staring in everyone’s mind, whether the same dynamic – which has made the last five years as unique in Independent India’s history – will continue or we will witness a rupture.

It is a disturbing scenario when the biggest democracy in the world seems to have taken a ‘[Q]uantum Jump In Wrong Direction Since 2014’ (Amartya Sen) – prompting even the normally reticent community of scientists to ask people to reject the politics which
‘.[d]ivides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society’ and remind them that “[D]iversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.’

Whether   there   would   be   further   normalisation   of majoritarianism or ordinary people’s desire to live a more inclusive, egalitarian life and in a less toxic world would ultimately triumph the designs of the hatemongers and secondly, whether free run being given to the crony capitalists and moneybags would be over and ideas of redistribution would make a comeback with vengeance.

What has added a new dimension to this dynamic is the existence of a ‘self-proclaimed cultural organisation’ called RSS – whose principles, ideology and activities contravene the very basis of Constitution – which is de factoruling the country. It  is  an  organisation  whose  principles  “[d]epicting  Indian nationalism in terms of the faith of the religious majority – have serious negative social and political implications for sections of  the citizen-body and are in violation of  the Constitution.” ( constitution-detrimental-to-india-hamid-ansari/)

It was exactly 42 years back that Indian people defeated the attempts to throttle the democratic experiment by their more secretive, sinister and communal forces are on ascent who are also popular among a significant section of people.

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