Day 1: Wandering
I am still wandering. But I have one dilemma to add to my list of dilemmas.
This is about my political belief. I am one of those liberals who feel increasingly homeless. At a time when everyone is choosing sides and all conversations are increasingly ideological, my attempts feel increasingly futile. My biggest trouble is that I don't know what's right or wrong anymore. All 'experts' seem compromised, driven by agendas of their own. After the demise of subscriber-sponsored media, ad-supported news have very little credibility. Some high-value media brands, perhaps they can afford to attract subscribers paying for it (such as The Economist, which I continue to read), are perhaps exempt, but they struggle to escape the Anglo-American neo-imperialism which offends the Indian in me.
Further, I do get questioned whether I am right-wing or left-wing. In the past year, I have been classed as Fascist at least once (though not through an action of my own, but as a matter of collective identity of a think-tank I am part of). And, indeed, my outrage at climate activists throwing Tomato Ketchup at Van Gough's Sunflower got some climate warriors really angry at me. However, except for that, there is very little I say or do can actually make me right-wing. My distaste of consumer culture, celebrity obsession etc., and my work in non-elite education (and critique of meritocracy) should definitely get me a left-wing badge!
But not really! This is because I am hopeful about the future. The time I come from, the leftists used to be hopeful about the future and the right-wing used to be scared about how things were going, seeing commies popping up even in small band of street protesters. But today, I see that it is the Left that got into the sieze mentality, endlessly chronicoling how things are becoming worse and worse everyday. They have become purveyors of our collective fears. They find themselves competing for same sort of attention as Trump and his cronies, without hope in the human ability to solve its problems.
Since I signed up to be an entrepreneur, to continue my little crusades to make things better regardless of where I am, I have become more and more optimistic. Despite disappointments at personal level, that hope that things can get better is my fundamental belief. And, this puts me at odds with the doomsday Left, which is increasingly angry and completely clueless. In fact, I believe because the leftists in general have no ideas after their imagined paradise of Soviet Union collapsed and their Lenin-Stalin playbook was torn up, they have given up on coming up with new ideas. Not everyone, of course! But those who come up with hopeful ideas of how to make things are better are usually treated with suspicion and usually seen as class traitors.
Therefore, I am stuck. If anyone digs into my Twitter, they would see that I was even hopeful about Jeremy Corbyn once, before the whole thing became a negativity show while the 'intellectuals' couldn't come up with one straight answer about Brexit or Scotland. But when faced with this dilemma - whether I should give up my optimism or my left idenity - I find myself on the side of those who call themselves paleo-left, those self-declaredly out of touch group who would rather have hope and also aim for social justice and an attitude of care towards nature (I see the earth as one organism, as Gaia).
This is one more pivot among many other overdue pivots for me! But this dilemma gives me some guidance to me about how to conduct my intellectual project in 2023. This is no longer about reading widely but to focus, and perhaps to become an expert myself in some narrow area. For me, it is the history of the universities and particularly its development within the colonial context in India. Obviously, this is a many-faceted inquiry: This demands an exploration of university as an enlightenment institution, a key pillar of nineteenth century globalisation and also both an instrument of dominion and an enabler of global thinking in India.