Saturday, March 26, 2011

You are a Communist!

A few days ago, in an early morning International Economics class while the Professor was sharing some views on how Globalization and Free-Trade have impeded the growth of the developing nations, came a comment from the guy sitting next to me (not loudly): "This guy is a communist". The tone was humorous as well as derogatory. In a class where he was supposed to tell the merits of free-trade, this guy was teaching the cons of it.

This I have found is quite a general trend. I won't comment on whether this is specific to India, or the rest of the world as well! However, in India the reason is pretty clear- fed by American movies, pop-culture and economic growth in the post-liberalization era Indians have few reasons to be pessimistic about free-markets, globalization and immense capitalism which they believe has put India as the 2nd fastest growing economy today. Moreover, a crumbling and corrupt defamed Government provides hardly any reason to be optimistic about the alternates.

However, the matter is of tolerance to other's views. India boasts about Freedom to Speech of Expression. The masses have not investigated deeply into the facts, statistics and policies and other factors affecting global trade. They believe what the media says. The media prints what sells among the public. Thus it is a circular process of getting updated with the news, while being fed with views which are your own. This is one factor in itself, what promotes intolerance in people.

With immense choice, if a publication boguses the perception of the masses and maybe is more correct than another which praises the public view, the audience will shift towards the latter. To retain its sales, the former would have to slightly neutralize itself to the latter's methods. Thus bigotry prevails within people, sticking to their opinions and expressing intolerance to other's views. Thus, hardcore capitalism in the simplest of explanations suffers from drawbacks.

Yet while expressing discontent with this system, people don't argue much and rather end terming you as a 'Communist'. I don't admit to being a Communist myself ,but I think even a hardcore Communist should have a say rather than being silenced. Being a Communist is not a crime, nor is it bad. It did have its own drawbacks, which brought the collapse of USSR as does every system. Yet it draws hostility. What's worse, views which can be remotely connected to communism are termed communist and not heard. It can become a nightmare for the intellectuals! Intolerance I feel is in the air, and Freedom of Speech is a hypocrisy. It's not the Government, who is the perpetrator of the rights as is portrayed by the media, rather it is a group of citizens towards other citizens. The only hope here is, you are not jailed if you are perceived as a Communist (as Communism is famous for jailing you if you not a Communist).


Anonymous said...

You know what's ironic? The very freedom of expression you so blithely espouse is one which is brutally repressed in every Communist country ever known. People don't reject the economic and socio-political implications of Communism. They reject its assault on personal liberty.

Sadly, one has come to imply the other. That is the problem.

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

I am not ardently promoting communism.
But one must realize the system had its own pros. Even forget that, we witness the world today in times of recession requires government intervention. At least, during the time of bailouts all the banks demand government spending and later criticize further spending to raise demand levels.
Someone professing more government spending is labeled a communist. Look at the Obama pic, the man is trying to bring US to the growth curve which can be long-termed but short-termed people feast by calling him a communist, which really works with the masses since it happens to be a derogatory term today.
Thus, the ones who profess 'freedom of speech' must abide to it themselves and tolerate the views of each other.

Prashant said...

Dont know what exactly the professor said (and in which manner), before the guy made the comment..

Though, in any case, its not justified to be humorous or derogatory on the fact that his views were communist.

But yeah, a large section of our masses are like that, they dont care to think.. they just dont..
Though, this kind should (in my assumptions) be relatively scarce there at IIT..

In fact, I too have found people reacting in similar ways on mere instance of spiritual, spirituality, meditation, etc.
When they have no clue what it is!

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

Prashant, you have understood my point to a good level, and I agree with what you said.
The special reference to Communism was due to the propaganda by the liberals of being tolerant.
I seriously pray, logic prevail one day and people make such remarks after thought.

Bismark Singh said...

I do not think Communism ever said you do not have freedom of speech. As far as I understand communism was shaped on putting Marxist ideologies into practice-which sadly could not be done very well( Lenin started off very well people do not dislike him infact people idolize him(Bhagat Singh, Azad, Nehru etc) , Stalin's rule was a blot on communism-despite USSR achieving an unprecedented economic rise- but if we think of that too it was because of the war-anyways we are not discussing what if situations). I also do not deny that Cuba, China and the USSR had a large scale suppression of freedom of speech.
The best example I think of people ardently and bluntly and un-thinkigly promoting capitalism is that of India. Had it not been for Nehru's superb leadership half of us would still have been poor. For a new, underdeveloped country with over half of populace poor socialism + capitalism(with a dominance on the former) was the best option.
Back to the speech question, when did Marx ever tell you to not question his system? Every country has its own laws to maintain decorum : in some places this decorum breaks due to people speaking against the existing law and "order" ; in others the decorum breaks due to a large price.
(ok i am not editing this so dunno how this reads!)

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

Nicely reacted Bismark.
First of all, Socialism and Communism are separate- India has never been a communist country, but has lived with socialism for about 45 years. I also believe (having read on it in courses + otherwise) on the merits of this regime towards shaping the growth story we boast of today.
I have never been able to entirely support Communism, and frankly offered an option between a Communist and Capitalism regime I would always opt for Capitalist one. However the hypocrisy of the liberals (the founding principles of capitalism) troubles me, who despite their proclamation of free speech, thinking oppose any different idea by labeling it as Communist.

On the other hand, Socialism- like Bismark- I feel has been successful in various parts, because it allows the industry to function with Government playing the role of arbitrator to keep check of inequalities blowing out of proportion. Yeah, Karl Marx was indeed a free-thinking liberal who was troubled by the condition of the Proletariat. He never opposed Free Speech. There have been immense failures in implementation of its principle- true, but just made the point here of free-thinking liberals given the power heading to the same intolerance.

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