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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014
Moving from activism to being merely active
Manas Chakravarty
January 18, 2014
First Published: 23:38 IST(18/1/2014)
Last Updated: 23:51 IST(18/1/2014)

AAP does not believe in any ‘-isms’ says Yogendra Yadav: Mint, January 13, 2014:

This is wonderful news. It’s great to see the party is against communism. Its distaste for ‘-isms’ means it also shuns Nazism and fascism, which is fantastic. Socialism goes out of the window, which is excellent.

Wait a bit. What happens to capitalism? Liberalism? Conservatism?  After all, these too are powerful ‘-isms’ that dominated the last century. That they are against parochialism is reassuring, given recent views on reserving the bulk of college seats in Delhi for local students. But hold on a second — they won’t believe in nationalism too, right, another outdated twentieth-century ‘-ism’? Interestingly, even internationalism is ruled out. What could take the place of nationalism and internationalism? Perhaps Prashant-Bhushanism? It’s nice to see the new party is so modern, but then it doesn’t believe in modernism either. Nor that other horrible ‘-ism’ called post-modernism.

Surrealism, cubism, existentialism are all out. Materialism, idealism, utilitarianism go in the trash can. Scepticism will probably be banned. Not to mention humanism and pluralism. In economics, they’ll be squarely against Keynesianism, monetarism and marginalism.

They’ll have to oppose atheism and agnosticism. But are they against theism too? What about religious ‘-isms’ such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Taoism? Or do they have a soft spot for non-ism religions like Christianity, Islam and voodoo?

And then there is a bewildering variety of everyday ‘-isms’ the party would have to object to. Take, for example, prism. It too is an ‘-ism’ — will the party ban all prisms? What about euphemisms? Is being against heroism a good thing? Is it really necessary for the party to take a stand against electromagnetism? What does it have against tourism? But it is splendid that they can manage to be against optimism, pessimism and realism all together.

Is the party anti-everything then? Not really, it disapproves of nihilism too. Perhaps the idea is to choose only what works, for how does it matter if the cat is black or white as long it catches mice? That sounds suspiciously like Dengism, after Deng Xiaoping. And pragmatism is also an ‘-ism’. Could they pick and choose from every programme? No, that is eclecticism. Could they believe in creating something new out of all these different ideologies? Nope, that’s syncretism.

The question is: how can the party be against so many contradictory ‘-isms’? It’s a bit like being pro-Arvind but anti-Kejriwal. Or pro-Aadmi but anti-Aam. The last one is tough but not impossible. In recent days, some AAP leaders have stopped describing themselves as aam aadmi (mango people in English) and instead call themselves Mamooli aadmi, which translates into Mother-radish people (ma being mother and mooli radish). The trend is increasingly anti-aam and pro-mooli.

Be that as it may, the way out is to allot a different time slot to every ‘-ism’. For example, you could allot Monday mornings to ranting against communism, while evenings are devoted to protesting against conservatism. So when a person asks an AAP chap whether he denounces alcoholism, he can confidently reply, “Yes, every alternate Thursday, between 2 and 3 am.” The party should, therefore, lose no time in drawing up a huge time-table of the ‘-isms’ it is against, through Janata darbars of course.

It’s time to stop, for I’ve just realised that both journalism and criticism end in ‘-ism’.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal


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