Mises Wire

Leftists and Nationalists: A Brotherly Conflict in India

Currently, the brawl between the so-called left wing and right wing has taken places in India. Nationalism is on the rise, as the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is in power, and those who oppose them are generally called leftists or liberals, these two terms are very often used interchangeably. Leftism is known for socialism, communism, anarchism, social democracy, etc. These are simply species of collectivism. The Left can’t deny the fact that they are collectivists, maybe they are quite proud of it. But collectivists have always been antiliberals in history.

If one wants to implement it, then they must do it with the sacrifice of individual liberty. So calling anyone with left ideology a liberal is nothing but rightly put by F. A. Hayek as “The End of Truth.”

But, this shouldn’t be a surprise, we are living in a country that has achieved greater lengths in ending many truths. The terms like “democracy,” “equality,” “justice,” “rights,” “secularism,” and “feminism” have been changed to the complete opposite of their original meaning. Indian politics is highly dominated or more accurately completely dominated by collectivists. The Nationalists today in power aren’t liberals too but just another form of collectivists.

This is the reason behind the title of this write-up, the Left and Right today in India are just two brothers fighting to prove which form of the antiliberal system should prevail in this country. The end of truth in India has been since independence, whether in our man-made cultures and traditions or in our textbooks which we are studying since childhood.

Earlier in India, only one party was in dominance at the Central level but now as the other side of collectivists have gained power, we are now able to see tussles between the two groups/communities every year and then. The people are now engaged in combats collectively! Hopefully, those intellectuals who supported the means are now proud of their intellect seeing the ends. It may look like these two sides are against each other but they are also very much united too, united against liberals (the original liberals).

In Individualism everyone is dependent on one another, like a buyer needs a seller but the seller also needs a buyer. So, it isn’t one-sided, there is a mutual dependency on one another. This builds a cooperative society with responsible people. Responsible because responsibility is something that is always attached to the liberty of an individual. Individualism isn’t just about “a person can do whatever he wants” but when people can do whatever they want and are accountable for it too!

They will have to face the consequences of it accordingly. When a person is doing the job of his will, spends of his choice, and lives in his style then he will also have to work hard to find that job, check his budget constraint, and manage his lifestyle on his own.

Collectivism is a system in which a few people decide what is well-being for all, whether in a community, in a society, or at a country level. Society doesn’t take decisions but the people do and in this system only a few people do. In these decisions many minorities might be ignored too, also people are going to be controlled by a small group like robots. We are at present in some ways robots only, the remote control is in parliament.

The intellectuals and other advocates of collectivism might disagree on one very important belief. The people think under this system public opinion would be respected and society will be based on that but an intellectual supporting this system might not agree because they think the thoughts of the masses might be based on propaganda or ignorance. This isn’t wrong because if we go out taking a sample of people asking whether they would like the central bank supply more money giving it to people then the majority might agree but any economist would know how much disastrous that would be. Therefore, we can say that public opinions aren’t always reliable. But to this F.A. Hayek said something stirring:

It certainly does not justify the presumption of any group of people to claim the right to determine what people ought to think and believe…. What is essential to make it serve its function as the prime mover of intellectual progress is not that everybody may be able to think or write anything but that any cause or idea is argued by somebody. So as long as dissent is not suppressed, there will always be some who will query the ideas ruling their contemporaries and put new ideas to the test of argument and propaganda. This interaction of individuals, possessing different knowledge and different views, is what constitutes the life of thought.

Today in the era of the internet, this aged very well. Now millions of people around the world can share their thoughts and most importantly others can respond to them too.

A famous argument says that individualism makes people “selfish.” An individual working, living, taking care of himself without harming anyone is not selfish but an epitome. He is someone who doesn’t need government or its welfare but needs liberty. But we can call collectivism a machine that produces selfish individuals, because the consequences of one’s deed are paid by all.

Who can ignore the fact of how much corruption on/off records our public sector has, the employees there aren’t robbing the money of the government, but they are stealing the money from the taxpayers, from those who have to sacrifice their hard-earned money. The inflation caused by the central bank is also a way to steal the savings of people. The progressive nature of income tax and the regressive nature of indirect taxes are also highly immoral and unfair to the public.

Another argument is emerging that free market capitalism is also a form of collectivism; this might seem interesting but the reason isn’t. They say the workers work collectively and there’s a leader/manager/CEO/Owner who like a dictator commands them and exploits them. The same people living in their dream world failed to acknowledge that the employer and employee are engaged in a voluntary exchange, the workers aren’t forced to work in a particular firm, there is an agreement between employer and employee, and a contract is signed as a proof of that agreement.

People might work together but what they do after and before their work is something left to them. It is true that in case of fewer options he will have to face issues, but free market capitalism can enhance more competition when in a market there is freedom of players to enter and exit with price system working on its own assuring consumer sovereignty.

Zero collectivism? Not a bad option but India should restrict it as much as they can, we are quite far from that actually. People here think the way the politicians want them to think. In India authoritarianism, communalism, casteism, nationalism, etc. are a sign of how compact collectivism is to this country. Here, if one belongs to a particular community/society and doesn’t follow the norms then he becomes unrighteous or is unacceptable to society, or when the person minding his own business and not harming anyone violates a “law” then he becomes a criminal. So, instead of thinking about how much collectivism is required we should rather start eliminating them in society and uplift more peace, cooperation, freedom, and independence.

Public education is acceptable because education is needed. To enter the competition, people require education as the biggest weapon but seeing the history of Indian public education just like other welfare programs with inefficiency, corruption, low quality, etc. They aren’t trustworthy either. For this, we need to encourage more private welfares which have been restricted by the state, consider the concept of Friedman’s negative tax or a safety net by which an individual is capable of competing by fulfilling his basic needs.

India is a country that has a great legacy of Unity in Diversity. Especially in a country like ours, there is a need for a system that can deal with heterogeneity in society. This legacy is being tried to break by a group of a small number of people in the country and we can acknowledge that they are nicely succeeding in it too. Antiliberalism is on a rise in India, to abandon it the people should first learn to identify true liberals.

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