I have followed politics since the time I can remember yet I was never enamored by it. My FB profile states me as a ‘Liberal by mind and a Conservative’ by heart. I have spend a lot of time in my life trying to understand what is the difference between both the right and left wings of the political spectrum? Which is more important, is it the belief that:
- The development of the country comes first and it will percolate into the development of people.
- Or the development of the people and the various socio-economic factors that influence them that might lead to the development of the country.
A seasoned political observer who reads these lines above may argue that is not the correct way to define both the right vs. left. Please consider it only as my perspective.
I was raised up in a kingdom. I lived a good amount of life in a society where there was no left way or the right way-it was only the king’s way. As we were expatriates, we had to work hard, make money, pay the home rent, go for annual vacations, come back, work hard, make money…and the cycle goes on forever. This was what we had to be worried about-executing this cycle. There was no taxes to be paid, no need to worry about the condition of the roads, bureaucracy or even the plight of state transportation, there was no democratic engagement-there was never a democracy or even a representative. If you cannot continue the cycle of life, you can leave. The king ensured his subjects were pampered and well treated. The expatriates broke their back working hard for the glory of the king and kingdom.
Come to India, the native country and one is presented with a different picture. People pay taxes, elect their representatives, have a say in the decision making process, have to suffer with crumbling infrastructure-everything was a stark contrast to what was seen in the kingdom. Since I come from a politically sensitive state, where the worker class belonged to the left movement, the rich class and landowners belonged to the right and the nationalists were derided as religious fanatics and shunted away. My state was the first place in the entire world where there was a democratically elected communist government (it happened at a time when US was so sensitive to the communist movement that they had to intervene to get the government shunted out- a post for a different day).
The left movement of my state was a thrilling experience to be in. There was power in your voice- your thoughts and beliefs for a better world with equality and fairness can resonate quickly in this movement. For a staunchly raised Christian, I could resonate easily with the Kingdom of God concept and the communist movement. With exemplary leaders, scarred life long with the scars from their revolutionary past-it simply made sense. Left is the correct way. People come first, the country is next. But again life is never one-dimensional. Beliefs and thoughts are a free commodity since they come from within you- however acting on them can be costly.
So where does the money come from for the actions? It’s with the landowners and the business people. For them profit is the primary objective and they use their acumen to convert capital into business. Successful business generates cash flow and is built on human efforts. More cash flow equals more business people and more businesses. More people thus get employed and the cycle goes on. It is a noble cycle where the state gets its share from the taxes and uses it for infrastructure, economic and social development. This is where the right wing comes into play. They control businesses that run the country or in today’s times they run the country. Left may be correct- but there is only one right way.
Nationalistic parties prop up in the abyss of right wing and left wing politics. Mostly they latch on to an ideology that can be religious, linguistic or even based on societal systems and factors as a means to capture power and steer the country forward. They believe that they can be the best bet to balance both the business aspirations and worker desires as means to attain social equality in the long run i.e., they try to be the best of both worlds. Most of the time they end up doing too much or too little and in the end faltering into either the right wing or the left wing camps.
As you can see there are three different sets of political thoughts and process with many grey areas between them-unlike from a kingdom, where the king takes the final decision, wages wars, eliminates dissent and ensure free, fair rule for all. As much as power is concentrated on one individual to deliver, it also empowers him to do things, which he feels is right. However in a democracy it is not like that. Its all about either politics or governance. I think both can never be inclusive yet rather exclusive.
I spend a good amount of my time believing in either and getting disillusioned with the realization that as time goes on there seem to be not much difference between both of them. For e.g., in Canada, the province that I live has always voted Conservatives (right) for more than three decades. Most of the time the polling percentages are low with mostly farmer voters, who are frightened of the Liberals (left) with their tax increases. My province due to its abundant natural resources is wealthy with lowest taxes and crumbling infrastructure. If you take an Eastern province like Ontario, one can find very high taxes, increased voter participation with dwindling economic fortunes- causing people to migrate in large numbers to my province. If you take India, my state is alternatively ruled by the Left and Right-in startling precision that the socio-economic factors are among the highest in the country- however with poor infrastructure and high attrition (a common refrain is that young people are leaving and the old people are dying).
Which is right? I think all of them (kingdom, right, left and nationalistic) have only slowed the march of human progress and have delayed a society where there is equality and fairness, where every human is empowered to do the right thing. I believe that the latter exists only in a childhood fantasy will never be possible in a world like today. It is important to do your part in doing the right thing always with a greater perspective and focus for the betterment of human race because all political systems and beliefs may change, your liberal nature in accepting everyone and your passion to do the right thing for others will remain as your legacy-which in the end will only last.