Rule by messiahs

The AAP's appeal to a 'moral sense', and not to the intellect, is not accidental.

I do not doubt that the leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party are honest, well-meaning persons who may even bring some small material benefits to the people of Delhi, as the Dravidian parties have done in Tamil Nadu despite their alleged "corruption". But the AAP believes, by its own admission, that honest, well-intentioned and technocratic effort is all that is needed to solve social problems. This belief per se would not matter, but the hype around the AAP, generated partly by itself, is meant to hardsell this ideology. If one believes, for instance, that the AAP has "jolted the system" for the benefit of the people, which is the buzz these days, then one must ipso facto believe that the "system" is entirely reducible to venality and "corruption", that socio-economic structures are of little relevance, and that categories like "feudalism" and "capitalism" are inconsequential. Such naïve technocratic "do good"-ing views have always been pervasive among the professional middle classes in India. They are now seeking to acquire intellectual hegemony on the back of the AAP's electoral performance.

Since any scope for "theory" arises only because the intentions behind actions do not coincide with their consequences, the belief that honest, well-intentioned actions are all that is necessary amounts to a negation of any need for social theory, of any need for thought beyond mere technocratic nuts and bolts. The AAP ideology, in short, apotheosises non-thought. The fact that its appeal is to a "moral sense" and not to the intellect is not accidental. It is intrinsic to its ideology.

I consider this not only wrong but also fundamentally anti-democratic (notwithstanding all its celebration of the "aam aadmi"). What is more, it is the antithesis of the Left position, which apotheosises thought. Let me elaborate. Explaining all our social ills in terms of "corruption" or venality is a trivial, if not tautological, exercise. To say that caste exists because our politicians are too corrupt to get rid of it trivialises the enormity of the problem. And the same is true of "hunger", "poverty", "unemployment" and "inflation". Socio-economic structures, not being malleable, resist the efforts of well-meaning persons to improve the conditions of the people. To ignore the resistance of these structures is downright wrong.

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