Thursday, May 8, 2008

Left at the barricades

If there is one place where the intellectual is venerated and his or her presence in or influence upon politics celebrated, then it is leftist India. The left-wing Indian leaders are clever, articulate types usually well-travelled and better read than their contemporaries.

So it is always disappointing to see them entangling themselves in knots. The thinking is never a problem. The “thinking through“ a disagreeable situation is. So on the nuclear deal with India the communists see the risks but weigh them too heavily. Indian leftists want to be seized by the moment, rather than to seize it.

Take Sitaram Yechury's piece today in the Hindustan Times, which name checks the New Statesman as the source of analysis. Again the understanding of the situation is correct: the US seeks to be top dog and cloak the pursuit of its national interest by blaming the rise of the rest.

But the solution is not to ban a form of trading, a bugbear of the communists and the demand of a very clever left-wing economist at the Planning Commission. This is merely an attempt to popularize a key part of the left's agenda, one which spectacularly failed to capture the attention of the public.

What is worrying that this strategy of permanent opposition turns off the electorate, who understand that those who shy from the logic of events can never be trusted to be masters of fate.

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