ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Instrumental Use of Liberal Ideals


It has always been intriguing as to how one should understand both the intellectual as well as moral relationship between the communal, parochial ideologies and liberal ideals. Arguably, such an ideology and the suggested ideals are mutually exclusive on both epistemic as well as moral grounds. A communal standpoint, arguably, is epistemically incapable of producing both social as well as normative understanding of society. The epistemic deficiency of the right-wing or their communal standpoint, for example, could be understood in terms of the deep disinterestedness that the upholders of such standpoints show in the discursive practices or while giving moral orientation to society. Since such a standpoint has no interest in finding out the truth of social realities, such as caste, it is unable to acquire the deep understanding of the social, which is constitutive of caste discrimination. Correspondingly, such a standpoint is equally incapable of gaining normative understanding as it does not have interest in reorienting society on egalitarian lines. Given this background, it would be extremely interesting to explore the possible connection between communal standpoints and liberal ideals.

The lead question that one must ask is, does the communal/parochial standpoint exist in permanent hostility with the liberal ideal? This question has been addressed by Sudipta Kaviraj in his article “Languages of Secularity” (Economic & Political Weekly, 14 December 2013), which is packed with several ­insights. Kaviraj argues that “two anti-liberal strands of Indian politics—the left and the Hindu nationalists—slowly reduced their hostility to these liberal ideals and began using them as a matter of course.” Consequent upon this important observation, one is encouraged to state that in the more recent decades, the Indian left has increasingly found itself supporting liberal ideals that are incorporated in the Constitution. But, this may be a less interesting intellectual development as it would be considered to be in line with left revolutionary strategy that involves taking two steps backwards.

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Updated On : 24th Feb, 2020
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