When facts change..
I enthused when Labour Party chose Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. It promised an escape from politics as usual, a break from the smooth-talking career politicians who came to dominate the Labour Party. It heralded an age of authenticity, which was missing from the politics of the left. A break, finally, I thought, from the weather-cock politics of the Blair-Cameron era!
Indeed, it was too good to be true, and I did not trust the Labour Party to change. A Blairite revolt was on the card, and it came almost immediately as posh politicians refused to serve in the shadow cabinet. Almost unbelievably, though, it never stopped - resurfaced again and again, whether in eagerness to bomb Syria or to overturn the members' mandate on the pretext of Brexit - and continued to demonstrate how Labour Party has become an apparatus without a purpose. While the career politicians ploughed on with the fantasist argument that someone else, who the Labour members won't vote for, is more electable than Mr Corbyn, I lived through periods of outrage and waited for dawning of authenticity.
But this never came. Rather, it is politics as usual that claimed Corbyn. His stylistic revolutions failed to go beyond the superficial, and the shallowness of the imagination was all too apparent when the big political questions arose. The existential problem of Labour - a party of working class when Working Class is no more - demanded not just authentic leadership, but an imaginative one: someone who could see the challenges of today not through the commitments of the past but in engaging with the future. Without this, the Corbyn moment was hopelessly doomed between the nationalism of the Tory Right and Nationalism of the SNP Left, one that was too bogged down in clarifying old questions to notice the emergent ones.
So, when politics changed, it was clueless. EU is no doubt a 'neo-liberal' institution committed to expansion of financial capitalism, benefiting certain sectors in the UK, such as London and its Financial Services, while wrecking a havoc elsewhere, particularly in local communities in industrial wastelands of the Northern England. However, for a political party like Labour, which is deeply scarred by the superficialism of the Blair era, the alternative - nationalism - was a bigger threat for the future. A politician stuck inside the Marxist cannon may easily miss this, but the debate around Brexit was not just technical, but highly emotional. Labour proved incapable to providing any hope - perhaps it lacked hope in itself - that an alternative future of international solidarity is possible, that Welfare state can be rescued, and it is the Tory government, rather than the EU, which is the biggest stumbling block in the way to Banking reform and unfettered power of a few over the many. Playing Cameron's second fiddle, the Labour under Corbyn lost its way and its identity, reaffirming the Party-without-a-Purpose sobriquet.
However, an even bigger crisis has come now, and Mr Corbyn, sticking to his nineteenth century playbook, has hopelessly walked into it. In his desperation to discover the missing working class, he has now committed to 'deliver Brexit for people' instead of delivering them from it. To prove that he has leadership mojo in him, he is now intent on delivering Brexit for Theresa May's Tories, at any cost. Utterly devoid of a vision, his team offers no ideas, not even a few words to add to the Spartan text of Brexit bill. And, against this pathetic Labour, everyone else seem heroic: The SNP, despite the Nationalist in their name, looks internationalist; Liberal Democrats, despite their history of collusion, contrarians; Ken Clark, despite his age, hopeful; Theresa May, despite her incompetence, in charge; the Eurosceptic Tories, patriotic; even Boris Johnson courageous enough to lie for his cause and George Osborn fair-minded despite his crustiness. And, just as the Labour Party thought it has swatted away the Brexit fly, it has squarely landed back in their lap yet again, with the House of Lords attempting to guarantee the rights of the EU citizens living in Britain.
Indeed, this is the right thing to do. These are people, who are legally living in Britain, and any transition must take into account. The river-of-blood Tories may envision a population transfer of the kind they inflicted on India (and on many other places), but that will destroy lives and destabilise economies. The argument of the Tory government that guaranteeing their rights without corresponding assurances from the EU for British citizens living there would weaken the negotiating position is apparent nonsense: It is Britain who wants to leave EU and therefore, it is incumbent on the British government to make the first move. This threat is also counter-productive, as this allows EU to grab the moral high ground. The only cynical reason behind this could be that the British government wants to use this issue to divide EU countries - citizens of friendly countries get to stay - but, in a true Tory manner, this approach does not take human costs into account.
The House of Lords, the higher chamber not beholden to electoral fortunes, has done the thing they are for: Rejected this utterly cynical stance! But this has accentuated the Brexit crisis for labour: Where does Comrade Corbyn now hide? Indeed, politics has changed him and he has become the same reed-in-the-wind politician, betraying the hope of authentic politics that we once had. But while he was carrying on the pretencion, his pathetic guilelessness is now in the open. That politics of Britain is no longer Tory or Labour, but structured around the fissures of Europe, and now is posed as an existential question to the Labour leadership: Are they in favour of a population transfer, driving out not the rich bankers - bankers always get their way - but poor Polish plumbers, Italian waiters and Spanish students out of Britain? House of Lords may or may not get their way, but they have at least forced judgement day on Corbyn and his team.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
A week into lockdown and things are beginning to change. Mornings are late, afternoons are lazier and evenings never end; meditations are filling out the time for Yoga routines and Netflix profiles are strewn with half-finished movies. This state-mandated, state-funded period of idleness is being likened to being called up to serve, but is nothing like that: Such a comparison is really an affront to the idea of service. Instead, this is just one long streak of panic; of the centre not holding and life not going on as usual. With the usual patterns and rules in suspended animation and business talk - and business - being rendered meaningless, space is opening up for unusual questions: Is Capitalism about to end? Is this the death of globalisation? Does it get uglier from here? My grandfather's generation would have scoffed at us. They saw through wars and pandemics. But, in fairness, we haven't had a life-ending crisis of our own. Notwithstanding the experiences of th
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.