Thursday, April 24, 2008

The King is Dead!Long Live the King

The Hindu today has an editorial,a leader page article and an opinion page article on the US primaries/elections and the accompanying hullabaloo

While the leading campaigner against the evils of L P & G would like us to believe that this is nothing but a reflection of the importance of these elections to the world at large, methinks The Hindu too has been seduced by the sheer drama that this election has brought with it to the living rooms and offices of a lot of us.

(It's my responsibility at this point to admit that yours truly was seduced a very long time ago by the abovementioned sheer drama)

Its very rarely that one will one find such extensive and intensive coverage of a foreign nation's pre-electoral hungama.If anything, it once again indicates the admirable genius of the American nation in dramatizing and hence commodifying everything under the sun.In fact the very act of conducting primaries for over a year and spending those insane amounts itself indicates a flair for self- absorption and self-obsession and a determination to ensure that others too are caught up in it.

The only parallel I can think of is the arranged marriage where the bride and the groom are excuses for a grand feudal ritual.

The whole world and half of America knows by now that Iraq,Iran,Global warming and host of other issues will still be in the headlines in 2012 when the whole process will be repeated again.It is also to be noted that the powers of the President of The US are actually considerably restricted by Congress.Yet the soundbyte-driven fest just goes on and on(the latest soundbyte is the appeal for an end to soundbyte driven politics).

Of course one can argue that the involvement of so many people in a nation's politics is a sign of a healthy democracy.Hey we are talking about the nation which elected George Bush twice,still esteems Bill Clinton and has established a pretty amazing record of dynasty politics(and what dynasties!)

At the end of the day the politics of a nation is dominated by large scale productions of images and this is why the mere participation of people alone does not a "healthy democracy" make.It's a cyclical process-the people make the images which dupe people to strengthen them and make more of them thus establishing a narrative beyond which the politics of that society will not move irrespective of the quantum of people's participation.At its most literal, we saw an example of this process in the Narendra Modi masks.In the US, it's just that more money is spent and the media used are both more direct and subtle at the same time.

So what do we do? As the educated intelligentsia aren't we supposed to be resisting the imposition of this foreign agenda tooth and claw and nail? Aren't we supposed to focussing on the manifold issues that are haunting our society? The only catch:navigate(with great difficulty) away from the US primaries/elections and th next thing you get to watch is the IPL.So you see-its Catch-1000..crores

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