Deconstructing the Mask of Anarchy

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), February 6, 2014 | Go to article overview

Deconstructing the Mask of Anarchy


New Delhi, Feb. 6 -- When we saw Arvind Kejriwal and activists of AAP fighting a pitched battle with the Delhi Police, it offered a unique sight. Rarely have we seen a chief minister declaring himself an anarchist, an adherent of an ideology that believes that all forms of government or authority are oppressive and should be abolished in order to attain equality and justice. How can a person with all the trappings of power that a State provides disown them? One thought that AAP chose to acquiesce in power of its own accord.

Thus, when we see that the State, upon non-State assumptions of victimhood, tries even to wage a symbolic battle with itself, one sees a self-denial at work. Drawing popular imagination is one thing, but losing sight of priorities of governance, blinded, in effect, by populism, is another. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, a past master of street politics, is only lately beginning to learn the hard way that governing a state is way tougher than complaining against it.

Ironically, Kejriwal, a product of our system of indirect democracy, a method of governance consisting of elected representatives, seems more drawn to direct democracy whereby all citizens are permitted to influence policy through means of a direct vote (a referendum). In our parliamentary democracy, Kejriwal seems to forget that every claimant to power is condemned to be revisionist and reformist, because no matter whether one likes it or not, once in government one has the remit of changing the system from within, as Kejriwal did, by hitching himself to the electoral bandwagon.

Does Kejriwal agree to the diktats of the French writer Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, generally regarded as the father of modern anarchist theory, who in his famous 1840 pamphlet 'What Is Property?' argued that property was profit stolen from the worker, who was the true source of all wealth? Does he conform to the Russian aristocrat Mikhail Bakunin who preached that isolated acts of political terror would spur people on toward social revolution?

Could one ask him if India in 2014 is ripe for a zeitgeist of the 1880s and 1890s when anarchism was associated with a wave of assassinations of heads of States, including Russian Tzar Alexander II, the French President Sadi Carnot, and the US President William McKinley? …

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