Today, worldwide people/citizens have lost the spaces of freedom of expression. The dissent or a slight deviation of an individual from ‘largely accepted discourse’ which has ‘liberal’ labels are seen as an expression of either ‘conservatism’ or often abused term ‘extremism’. The liberal framework normalises its own conservatism/extremism through one way dialogues of preachers who denounce ‘other’ discourses which challenges the dogmatic worldview by pointing the weaknesses of a ‘largely accepted discourses’. Instead, ‘other’ cultural manifestations/narratives which have equally passed the test of ‘rationality/natural justice’ are bullied because it doesn’t even resonate into the ‘common’ sensibilities of in ‘a universalist framework’. So, those cultural sensibilities are suggested to liberalise their framework instead ‘liberal’ itself reforming its own pitfalls.

In ‘history of ideas’ the discursive formations have been intervening time to time to challenge the ‘largely accepted’ discourse because of ‘spaces’ available for freedom of expression. The subversive and transgressive nature of thought process has given birth to the dissenting traditions which indeed have been refining the ‘common’ sensibilities. Now, due to the changing character of liberalism turning more militant on ‘the meek and the weak’ cultures in contemporary times, overpowering them epistemologically as well as coercively has claimed to be victorious on all the spaces, be it social, economic and the political.

The rigid boundaries of liberal markers do not allow penetration of ‘alternative imagination’ for even namesake interactions. The dialectical imagination provides the space for convergences of wide-ranging contradictions and harbouring dissents as their own neighbour. Interestingly, intellectuals of our times have been engaging more of those questions which were not their own. This alienates intellectuals from the social needs and mores of cultural communities without addressing their anxieties. Perhaps this is also a reason for intellectuals who have been switching strategically their (ideological) positions from beginning with progressiveness to more belief in being ‘relevant’ to be in the club of ‘largely accepted’ discourse. The role of intellectuals with ‘progressive and counter-hegemonic’ intent has declined for obvious reason as they have lost their own authenticity because they listened to their own cacophony than the people’s voice. Now they have definitely got spaces to speak but they are accomplice in the production of the crises.

We are living in the times of abysmal abnormalities. Violence has taken the precedence over dialogue. Witch-hunting is becoming vogue in the social sphere. Hatred is cherished. Surveillance and censorship is no exception. Everyday life is shaped by confusion and uncertainty. Facts and emotions are wedded to construct logic and truth. Justice means denial of justice of one to suit the consciousness. All kinds of fallacies are palatable as science. This is happening under the banners of ‘liberalism’ and democracy which champions and promotes the numerical strength rather than saving the Truth. The truth seekers (rationalists) are dubbed as ‘threat to the indigeneity’ and their bodies are turned into corpses. We are living in the ‘state of exception’ (German political philosopher Schmitt explains that sovereign assumes special power to transcend the rule of law in the name of public good. So nation, national interest are always a buzz words and authorities creates a sense of insecurity of the nation) where any ‘alternative conception’ (even a simple question) becomes an impediment in the realization of installing a ‘glorious past’.

We are failing as a society, as a community, as a people to make our ‘nation’ stronger. The territorial consciousness has taken a leap forward in pushing marginalised and downtrodden communities into the ‘black hole’ never to be traced again. The militant autochthonous politics is on march and we as a society have become a silent spectator as if we endorse what is about to come. Everyone is busy in speaking but we have lost our listening capacity. The screams and maims of our own neighbours are going deaf on our ears. We are in the trap of liberal euphemism. We are watching but not seeing. We are unable to see the pain and sufferings of millions because of losing eyesight. We are unable to feel the goose bumps while witnessing the lynchings. We are unable to smell the stink of Power (populist authoritarianism/majoritarianism). This amounts to disability because gradually we are losing our senses. We have become a disabled society with lot of scars in our hearts and one day we will be doomed as a human race without any trace.

This may sound more apocalyptic but this is not the crises to go. This may not be substantiated with historical evidences because it is going to be first of its kind and it will remain the last. Carl Sagan puts it aptly: “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves”.

India is also into that same pale blue dot.

Parvez Alam teaches human rights as assistant professor at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.


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