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The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

- Second coming. (W.B. Yeats)

That’s all I feel, nothing more nothing less. Quite succinctly put by one of my favourite
poets, capturing the eternal dilemma of all turbulent times, ‘to be or not to be’ , to join
the fry or stand by and let the battle progress. To choose a side only when the fog of war
has settled , but would that be of any worth, an act without any significance, an empty
and dispassionate action of the historian deciding, which side was more justified .

This whole philosophical procrastination, is a fitting introduction to what we feel, each


and every one of us, the generation “y”, the generation ‘next’ in the face of this current
political, philosophical and intrinsically moral turmoil that has engulfed this state and
consequently spilled over into our college and university campuses, progress vs. sanity ,
profit vs. right. S.F.I. vs. the other.

Some time ago it was the time for college and university council elections, calling into
question party loyalties among a largely apolitical mass of students, forcing them to
decide, while casting the ballot, for or against, for fear or for courage. Now and now to be
decided on the unassuming piece of paper, making people in a flash question what they
stand for and what they think? What they are?

Is it such a grave question to stand by the party that most of your parents thought to be
good and progressive and cast your vote in their favour ? Showing loyalty to the people
whom you all ways knew to be progressive and rightly ‘left’, but something has changed
hasn’t it . No more do you, I and we like that all knowing dada, on the campus, the
Marxist hardliner know for his revolutionary punches and punch lines, his dexterity in
using both the hockey stick and progressive rhetoric. He and his tribe has morphed ,
dwarfed, mutated in our eyes, into something that resembles the unseen monsters of the
night.14th march changed us all, all of us … the disc hopping, pub banging, coffee
loving, book hugging load … the ‘antles’ and the ‘non-antels’ , the C.A.T. getters, the
I.I.T. breakers and the W.B.C.S. aspirants … we were forced to witness, what we had
firmly and obviously naively relegated to be possible in those barbarous zones of our
country far from the civilizing influence of left front rule, but it happened didn’t it, not in
some village in Jharkhand or Bihar, right near our door steps and the same picture
continues all through the ensuing butchery of the current Panchyat elections.

Red goons on motor bikes, leading and perpetrating acts of genocide and violence, which
would put the crimes of the Ranbir sena to shame. The left continues to treat this state as
its personal fiefdom, and every fiefdom has its army and retainers, and here the flag and
festoon bearing bike riders come into the picture, carrying with them weapons and an
immitigable rage at any opposition.
This inability to withstand criticism and opposition is the lacunae, the epicenter of all the
corruption that infects the Indian democratic system. Where parties start treating their
political constituencies as personal fiefdoms… this feudal mentality exists in all political
minds. The reason of this feudal mindset lies in the birth and the growth of not an
imperfect democracy but a monstrous one. One so deformed by the influences of
feudalism, casteism, ignorance and apathy that it is almost unrecognisable as the fair
dream child of the founding fathers of our state. This is the enigma of the still birth of
free and democratic India haunting us through the actions of a blood thirsty political
system that will not stop at murder to continue staying in power.

What the question primarily is, that the problem ultimately is not goondaism of one or
the other political party but, the wholly undemocratic mentality of all political parties.
We have managed to banalise the one great freedom accorded to us by the constitution
that was born out of the turmoil of the 1940’s, our right to choose our rulers, but the
whole act has become trivialized, vulgarized to the point of turning it into a farce. An
incomplete nation constantly tries to play at state building but fails at it like children
attempting to build palaces with mud bricks.

The ones to blame in the left front burdened west Bengal is not only the perpetrators of
the CPIM hegemony but also us the ordinary citizen. Who for some cases due to the
accident of under development inflicted by colonial history has forgotten to grasp the
difference between the subject and the citizen, and for others it is a case of sheer apathy
and cynicism. The subject is governed and does not bear a responsibility for his
governance; the citizen on the other hand is collectively the architect of national destiny
in choosing the rulers who rule over him or her. This strict demarcation of this fine but
truly, important and precious line has been blurred. The citizen acts as the subject by
failing to exercise his political liberty.

Easily and in a way inevitably one is sucked into the politics of the governed. What is
immeasurable is the indignity and failure in embracing the politics of being governed , in
relinquishing ones liberty to political and social clout and the inevitable pressures of the
system. Some might argue that the ideal is unreachable but one thing is certain a journey
towards the ideal is not unreachable. It is an absolutely plausible possible and necessary
endeavour. A action so important to our fragmenting concepts of civil , political and
national identity that it is as necessary as the raising of the tri colour at every
independence day.

“All changed, changed utterly:


A terrible beauty is born.”
Easter 1916. (W.B. Yeats)

We changed, those images that floated out through the TV and implanted themselves into
our collective unconscious to be replayed again and again when our friends get beaten up
by hired goons of people we knew to be the friendly ‘partier-dada’. It changed us and
may be for the first time in all our collective lives we asked , is the ‘left’ right? That is
anything right of the ‘left’ now?
What did it bring for us who strove to find out for the first time what is true
independence of thought, of action… well, except in a few elite colleges and universities,
they were crushed and terrorized. Forced to flee the campus, humiliated into accepting
the farcical rhetoric of the S.F.I. thought police, that ‘The left is always right’. Right
when it rapes, when it kills, when it barges into your college campus with muscled goons
brandishing iron rods in their ‘right’ hands, asking for your cooperation in winning the
student elections. Pure terror and hegemonic organization… that’s S.F.I. for you. It is
both ‘The goon and the god’.

The goon and the god:

“ by choice they made themselves immune.


To pity and what ever moans in man
Before the last sea and hapless stars;”
Insensibility. (Wilfred Owen.)

You might be lead to think that the heading of this piece was inspired off Somerset
Maugham’s , The moon and the six pence, but it is not … it just my attempt to grasp in a
phrase what S.F.I. and the C.P.M.’s consortium of youth wings has become but more so
for the S.F.I. because it deals with students of higher education , in colleges and
universities dealing with the future intellectual and social elite. It is both the shadowy
mafia like presence in all the functioning of the meagrest of political spaces in the
campus , it at the same time is like god omnipresent , omnipotent holding the individual
and collective destinies in its hands. The professors and other teaching staff obey the
orders of these so called Partier dadas. The actions of SFI resembles goons in their
effective use of rigging and muscle power at the same time they are established at the
scene with all their shinning glory as the politically conscious progressive student force.
its dealings , its current image and obviously its nature is my object of observation and
some contemplation here .
In attempting to coherently relate a train of thought that keeps on haunting me when ever
I see respectable looking , soberly dressed even some times well spoken youth giving
‘bytes’ on television channels denying a lynching .. A rampage, a teacher beating…
forced and rigged elections. Brazenly seen on the camera, wrecking a news van of a TV
channel and in the next second denying it on the very same channel.

What has engulfed him or her , the certainty of knowing that might is right , that in order
to contain, to keep under control, all means are justified. The goons of SFI are the least
worrying part of it, all parties have muscle men, why blame them, when all parties try to
garner that crucial edge which allows victory at the polls but the self righteous, holier
than thou rhetoric of the party is threatening. When one party looses all semblance of
morality and conscience and can with impunity engage in political violence , they mirror
the terrible rise of the storm troopers and the NAZI party that monopolized violence to
climb the wrungs of power to be elected to the Reichstag during 1930’s in Germany. The
ability not to be swayed by pity and remorse, completely confident of their own
dogmatism …. gives an air of self righteousness to the SFI, that is ironic, as the fact
remains that progressive forces are purported to be open to debate, a dialogue. The very
basis of dialectism.

This phenomenon by the SFI, of controlling even the most trivial political spaces is
smack out of Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony , where the dominant rulers fear of
intellectual or political non-conformism becomes paranoiac, declining to leave even the
slightest space of resistance to it unconquered.

What space am I talking off ? The free and fertile space of the, young minds. That is
where the seeds of conformist ideology must be implanted and the tools of the master in
this situation is the SFI , the van guard of the CPM youth, peopled by the worst lot of
hangers on of the student community. The most ardent SFI activist sees less than the
average Joe, understands still lesser , but the most dangerous of this community of
politicians is the cynics , who are aware of the insanity of the S.F.I.’s situation , the
cynicism , the conformism and mindless mimicry or far worse towing the party line set
by Alimuddin street blindly without a vestige of questioning or qualms of a sensitive
mind. Here the question of right or wrong, does not arise, what creeps to the fore is the
question of viability. What is profitable and what allows some progress up the political
pecking order. The worst lot of the people who subscribe to the S.F.I.’s policies is that
part of its cadre who are aware of the futility of their action , but continue to do so. One
of these ‘smart’ SFI’S once said in my presence that “ SFI is not a party, it is a courier.”

Isn’t this dangerous the awareness of the cynicism involved in running the party not a
drop of idealism left , turning the whole political process into a tool for retention of
power. Single and one only function and intention of the current SFI is to enforce the
CPM’s hegemony over the next generation of voters, creating a dependent conformist
group of people , only able to see the world through the eye’s of the party in concern. It is
one big JONTOR MONTOR GHAR using which the CPM wishes to brain wash all in
seeing the world through the CPM tinged glasses, of thinking what the party thinks is
correct.

During college election a very unparliamentary slogan is often used in defense of the
party in question , ‘amra holam SFI, baki sobai ch***r bhai’ , we are SFI rest are sister
f**kers, is this only reflection of the vulgar joviality of the party cadre? No, it also
reflects a much more sinister approach of the party towards the opposition and the rest of
the student community denying to be taken into its fold. One of dehumanizing , the
claiming of the SFI cadre of the prototype of being human and the model of worth while
of the student is affiliation to the party. This attitude is used against people with no party
allegiance , projecting them as of no consequence. Either you are ours or you are nobody.
Yard stick of this judgment is, mediocrity, which is the watch word of the party. It silent
motto , if you are mediocre and wish for ticket to social and professional advancement
this is the ticket you are looking for. ‘ join the SFI and improve your chances of getting a
government job.’ The more I write about this I am kept reminding of Chinua Achebe’s
novel “The man of the people”, where the cynicism of the youth is so high that they deny
to protest ,even when glaring inconsistencies arise in the affairs of public men and
politicians. Ultimately the situation gets so out of hand with political goons running
amock in the country, that the army has to perform a coup to restore normalcy.
Worshipping the mediocre creating places for it in governance and education , denying
the deserving that is what this party perpetrates and by this act garners support of the
worst of th greedy good for nothings of the student community. This is largely the mass
behind it, thaey aid it to indoctrinate a greater mass of non political students. Franz
Fanon in the wretched of the earth

In the SFI, if you are mediocre, average, ask no questions, your rewarded and encouraged
to continue on the that path, but beg to differ and then you, become witness to the naked
dances of power. Nebulas reach of the party extends beyond the college campuses, if you
are non conformist openly confront the SFI unit in your college likely you will be
heckled in your locality aided by the CPM local committee, in the educational institutions
professors and teachers affiliated to the party will make it a point to turn your academic
life into a very literal reading of the myth of Sisyphus, allowing you no chance to
improve your score sheet. Things change only you let and give and in the resigned
manner of Galileo except the Ptolemaic universe against the heliocentric one in fear of
the church inquisition. Faces of dogma in all ages are similar , so are their actions.

If the countless self appointed moral minders of this state had their way they would shut
us up, gag us and put all of us on flights heading for Timbuktu, but , sadly for them , this
is at least a hobbling democracy and that cant be done . We exist, brandishing our
stylishly faded or ware tattered jeans. sporting our goatees, pony tails ,our bare bodies,
but the biggest and obviously the most important dimension of the situation our ‘moral’
elders have missed and continue do so is the fact that, WE ARE ALIVE, we exist , we
breathe , we booze , we love, we dance and most disturbingly, we THINK.

Few days back , actually three days , I heard one of my friends comment over his
cappuccino that –“ I love my cappuccino but sure as hell, wont kill to get it.” He said it
sitting at one of the swankiest coffee joints of the city discussing his CAT scores. Call us
Hippocrates, all you great men and women of the cause, but what is so morally deviant in
liking a coffee and at the same time to feel sorry for murder or rape, or simply deny to
carry the onus and responsibility of murders committed in our name. That our great
leaders keep shoving on to our shoulders.
We love our life, our little freedoms, our discs and pubs, our book shops and coffee joints
but we don’t ask you to kill for it. We have our own problems don’t add an ailing
conscience to it.

So, when we try to dissociate ourselves from things we consider criminal and inhuman,
let us express in our own little niches that we disagree , we don’t retain any more our
confidence in your party tricks and dusty mirages of the good for all … but in spite of it,
if you wish to take away my right to disagree, deny my will to differ. Then please do
take away my voice, for my silence will whisper to the wind stories of your defeat, are
you sure you want that to happen?