In its cover story of September 4th, 2021, “The Threat from the Illiberal Left”, The Economist dropped a bombshell – it warned its readers of the dangers of “The Illiberal Left” and asked them to distinguish between what it called “classic liberalism” – to which they claimed their publication belonged to – and radical liberalism that they said was called by different names – “left liberal identity politics”, “social justice activism”, “progressive liberals” or simply “wokeness”. For the sake of this article, we will call the former as classic liberals and the latter as illiberal liberals / wokes
In “Echoes of the Confessional State”, it says that classic liberalism started 350 years ago as a challenge to the fanaticism of the Roman Catholic Church that had since medieval times “employed a transnational army of black-coated clerics who demanded obedience on all matters spiritual and moral, and had a monopoly on education”. It gives the example of French theologian and pastor, John Calvin who “crushed dissent in Geneva with imprisonment, exile and execution. Henry VIII took to boiling dissenters alive. The Roman Catholic Church invented the Inquisition and the Index of Forbidden books”
Against that, liberal values meant that “scripture must be interpreted like any other book” (Baruch Spinoza) and “The best way to establish truth is by vigorous debate” (John Stuart Mill). And no less a person like Thomas Jefferson called “the loathsome combination of church and state, the root of the world’s ills”. It implied that liberal values were supposed to be the antithesis of the confessional state, which emphasized the supremacy of a particular religion/ sect and where in most cases, minorities were treated either as 2nd class citizens or worse, severely prosecuted. In such a confessional state, individuals’ rights and freedom did not matter, and the state reserved the right to curtail its citizens’ liberties, for which many methods were used. For that matter, similar tactics have also been used by Islamist and Communist / authoritarian regimes.
Methods used by wokes
The Economist argues that the methods that are being used by today’s illiberal liberals mirror those that were being used by the confessional state. It explains some of the methods as the following:
Imposing Orthodoxy: Wokes demand “enforcement of codes of behavior and speech”. The publication quotes a Knight Foundation poll that showed more than 68% of 4,000 four-year college students felt that students could not say what they thought because their classmates would find it offensive.
Another study done by The Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology survey 2021 showed that 1 in 3 conservative academics and graduate students had been disciplined or threatened with disciplinary action.
The same survey also found that 4 in 10 American academics indicated they would not hire a known Trump supporter for a job; likewise in Britain 1 in 3 academics wouldn’t hire a Brexit supporter.
The Economist is disturbed that such kind of woke liberals are fast turning mainstream, with universities after universities subscribing to their illogical beliefs. Students with known right-wing views have never felt as threatened today as before.
Right now, they are targetting classrooms, for example the publication mentions California’s recently approved ethnic-studies curriculum, where 1/6th of the state’s proposed maths instruction would be devoted to social justice! Now, wokes are demanding a reservation policy for blacks that looks a lot like reservations granted to “lower castes” in Bharat.
Though some American intellectuals like Yukong Zhao, the president of the Asian American Coalition for Education and a survivor of Mao’s “Cultural revolution” have taken a strong stance against affirmative education programs believing that leftist policy makers need to learn from the mistakes of Mao’s policies between 1966-1976. such persons are increasingly finding themselves in a minority.
Proselytizing: Like proselytizing religious faiths that consider “saving souls” a non-negotiable requirement, the illiberal left too insists on everyone conforming to their belief system, which they believe is the only correct one. There is no room for alternate thought. If you don’t agree with them, you are cast the villain.
A Pew Research Centre survey, quoted in the Economist, finds that “40% of millennials favour suppressing, in various unspecified ways, speech deemed offensive to minorities as compared to only 12% among the oldest cohorts”.
Further the publication makes an unsettling observation that wokes believe that “white people can be guilty of racism even if they don’t consciously discriminate against others on the basis of race, because they are beneficiaries of a system of exploitation”.
On the same lines, we can also see that this group is open to criticism of Christianity and Judaism, and enthusiastic about attacks on the state of Israel and Hindu Dharma. However, no criticism of Muslims / Islam, blacks are allowed. This can go to ridiculous levels, just as Yazidi Nobel laureate, Nadia Murad found out.
Murad, who suffered horrible condition as a sexual slave for ISIS solely because she belonged to a religious minority in Iraq, had her talks cancelled by the Toronto District School Board because her narrating of her horrific and beastly ordeal by Islamists, could foster “Islamophobia”.
In short, since Muslims are generally poor and illiterate due to which they suffer from higher unemployment, Woke ideology that blindly follows Marxist philosophy implies that such people would necessarily be discriminated against and couldn’t be capable of instigating violence. They could never be perpetrators, even if some of them did commit a crime! Such lopsided viewpoints are fast becoming mainstream.
Expelling Heretics: Anyone who takes a stand against what the woke generation stands for is immediately called a racist, fascist, fanatic, and all sorts of crude words. For example, it narrates the example of Colin Wright, a post-doctoral student at Penn State University, who wrote that sex is a “biological reality, not a social construct”, a statement that is still accepted by most people in the world, but for daring to make this statement, he was called a “transphobe who supports race science” and even sympathetic academics “told him privately they could not offer him a job as it was too risky”.
As a result of this, The Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology found that 70% conservative academics self-censor their research and academic discussions and shy away from asking questions that may infuriate the mainstream progressive viewpoint. In order not to jeopardize their careers, some of these otherwise conservative professors will not just conceal their viewpoints altogether but even go to the extent of pretending to be on the illiberal side.
Book burning, blasphemy: Just like religious states burnt books that were considered against their religious beliefs, today’s woke academics “at the very least put books on the blacklist, warning its flock not to read them, or at the worst, put pressure on publishers not to publish books that they deemed right-wing, or not liberal enough.”
Even tech companies whose goal is pure capitalism have bent backwards to support these Woke elements. Realizing the rising support among the young towards woke causes, big tech companies – from Facebook to Twitter, from Google to Apple – have been collaborating with Wokes even though they are hypocrites, as their goals have always been to maximize profits which should be against liberal objectives.
The publication quotes Vivek Ramaswamy, a former biotechnology executive and author of “Woke, Inc” that “A lot of Big Tech has agreed to bend to the progressive left, but they effectively expect that the new left look the other way when it comes to leaving their monopoly power”
But such wokes have dominated the Indian scene since so long…
While the publication is concerned about all these happenings taking place in the West, it is pertinent to understand how these things that are now becoming a central piece in western discourse, have always been a part of the mainstream narrative in Bharat, thanks to the stranglehold of Marxist ideology. They may not have been called as illiberals and Wokes then, but they were nothing less than that.
a) Since Marxists control all our humanities and social sciences institutions, even after 7+ years of BJP government, Marxist professors have blacklisted all other opinions of those who dared to challenge their views. Genuine historians have borne the brunt. Noted medieval historian, KS Lal narrates in his books how he started getting sidelined by his erstwhile colleagues when he started writing about the crimes committed by Muslim rulers.
Arun Shourie’s book “Eminent Historians… ” revealed how the Marxist historian professors worked like a coterie, refusing to promote and in fact, sidelining if not throwing out anyone who dared to go against their established stands. It’s a common feature in Bharat that no one who speaks for RSS / BJP or has any nationalistic leanings, will get any job in academia, think tanks, fashion, film fraternities or any other institute which are leftist controlled. This was true in 1952, it remains true in 2022.
b) In Bharat, since the 1950s, anything deemed offensive against minorities have been suppressed, if not banned. Bharat was the 1st country to ban Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Brahmins have to always be considered bad, whereas Muslims and Christians are always supposed to be good. If Dalits are killed by high castes, then it is presumed they had been following the Manu Samhita, but when Dalits are killed by Muslims, there is total silence.
A victim is only considered a victim if he’s a minority or a low caste Hindu, otherwise the victim must be at fault. The identities of the perpetrators and of the victims are more important to them, instead of the merits of the case. Bharatiya films will ridicule Hindu cultural traditions and religion, may occasionally even talk about sexual transgressions of a Catholic priest (SINS) but will never ever point out anything about issues concerning Muslims – polygamy, triple talaq, and historical genocides of Hindus by medieval invaders.
In Bharatiya films, even Muslim characters who are criminals appear as saints, whereas Hindu characters who are saints are shown as demonic. Likewise, name-calling and shaming of people who have dared to support Modi or BJP has been a common feature; anyone who has displayed any cultural Hindu symbol was lampooned as being regressive, backward, while those wearing hijab or religious symbols of other religions were considered progressive.
c) Wokes have always targetted anyone who has professed pride in one’s Hindu identity, not just those from the RSS background. Not just in Bharat, but Indian born wokes working in foreign universities can be the most notorious. The recent case of Rashmi Sawant, who was forced to quit as president of Oxford University Students’ Union, is a case in point. Her chief tormentor in Oxford, Professor Abhijit Sarkar, led an online abuse of Rashmi’s family and of her Hindu heritage. He went on to use sexual pejoratives on Bharatiya women, and worse even took pride in the fact that as a child, he had broken deities of Saraswati.
Yet, despite an online petition of 44,000 students asking for Prof Sarkar’s removal, the university did nothing. Imagine if even a fraction of this had been said against anything Islamic, what would have been the reaction? Islamophobic, genuine or fake, is taken seriously, whereas hatred towards Hindus, whether in Bharat or abroad, is not just discounted by these wokes and illiberals, but in fact welcomed with open arms.
d) Publishers of books that toe the Hindutva line are routinely pressured not to publish, for example Monika Arora’s book on Delhi riots was withdrawn by Bloomsbury India. Many Hindutva writers are unable to get their books published by reputed publishing houses. Whereas, books written by the Marxist types that simply parrot each other and offer nothing new, which would be extremely boring to readers, are published and kept in prominent places at bookshops because they are referenced by the same coterie of Marxist “scholars”.
It is only recently that people like Sai Deepak have broken their jinx and managed to get his book published by Bloomsberg owing to his popularity on social media. However, the crusading spirit of illiberals against such authors continues with the same zeal. The latest person to fall on their radar is Vikram Sampath, the author of the 2-volume book on Veer Savarkar.
e) Companies like Dabur, Fabindia and Tanishq routinely insult Hindus, and lecture Hindus on topics such as the “beauty” of Muslim boys marrying Hindu girls or lesbian couples celebrating Karwa Chauth but dare not say anything about other religions. PETA instructs Hindus on their wasting milk on Shivratri, or using leather for Raksha Bandhan but doesn’t have the spine to speak on Bakra-Id or Christmas trees.
Film celebrities routinely condemn fireworks on Diwali or lampoon Hindu festivals, but do not have the courage to speak on triple talaq or patriarchal festivals of minorities. They condemn the noise made in maha-aartis, but no word said about 5 times azaan or noise made in secular events like parties and political rallies. Muslims blocking roads on Namaz is their right, but Hindus celebrating their festivals on streets is an eyesore to them.
It’s true that at one point of time in history, Whites played a major role in the slave trade and severely discriminated against blacks and perpetuated genocides on indigenous communities in the Americas.
However, in Bharat, even though the Hindus suffered a comparable situation, as they were brutally murdered, their temples of worship broken and were victims of racial discrimination by the 1,200 years foreign rule, yet these illiberals will always cast Hindus are as aggressors and minorities as victims!!!!
Thus, long before the Economist’s article pointing out about the growing illiberalism and wokeism in the West, it already existed in Bharat, where these kinds of people displayed an obsessive hatred for anything remotely connected to Hindu Dharma and Bharatiya traditions.
The Economist not an innocent lamb as they’re portraying themselves
Today, The Economist may choose to take a moral high ground but a peep into their history shows that as the doyens of liberal media publications in the West, they have played a major role in encouraging these lumpen elements that are now called as Woke.
This can be best reflected in how they initially either supported radical movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM) or else had a soft corner for it. For example, its founder, Patrisse Cullors who resigned last May due to financial irregularities, had never hidden her Communist views, having called Lenin and Mao as her ideals, and considering herself as a “trained Marxist”.
She had been influenced by the likes of such extremists as Eric Mann, a former member of the Weather Underground group, who continues seeking world revolution, and Angela Davis, radical Communist Party USA leader who had even been awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the ruthless East German regime. All of this could have easily been dug up by the Economist, however they continued giving it the long rope, something which it would have definitely denied to the rightwing groups.
The credibility of BLM finally went down after it was revealed that Cullors allegedly took money raised for black families to purchase four high-end houses worth US$3.2 million. BLM’s role actually had been nothing short of the illiberal Left that the Economist is now criticizing.
They have been generally tolerant of left-leaning leaders, while being harsh on those to the right including Trump, Johnson and Bolsanaro. Thus, even when leftist Dilma Rousseff of Brazil was being embroiled in one scandal after another, it chose to give it “covering fire” by saying that not just her, but the entire political spectrum had betrayed the country.
However no such consolation was given to Bolsanaro. Similarly, in Peru the extremely left wing President, Pedro Castillo was given a beautiful headline that he appeared “less left-wing” to make him more palatable. Trump was severely castigated for his handling of COVID and insurmountable daily cases and deaths, however when even higher numbers are being reported today in the US, leftist Biden gets away with just being chided.
Even as recently as October, 2020, the publication continued claiming that the right-wing was far more dangerous than the left-wing, it alleged that far-right terrorist plots far outnumbered the far-left ones. The entire article in fact, downplayed the dangers of the far-left, whom they were criticizing today.
And in sync with all leftist publications, it has mostly been critical of Israel while bring soft on Palestinians. It has tried its best to downplay the dangers of openly supporting refugees /migrants from the Middle East. It has chosen to blame poverty or the host country for terrorist violence and growing Muslim radicalization in Europe.
It wants Europe to go on welcoming mostly Muslim refugees from Syria and Africa, it even attacks Denmark, Hungary, the UK among others on not allowing them to come in, but doesn’t want to question why extremely rich Arab countries, with sparse populations such as Saudi Arabia and UAE do not take in more fellow Muslims. Just asking these kinds of questions would invite a label of right-wing on the questioner.
But of course, nothing can compare with how the publication has been having a pathological hatred for Modi and anyone connected to BJP / Sangh Parivar. Prior to the 2014 general elections, they dumped all pretensions of being neutral by putting a picture of Narendra Modi on its cover demanding, “Can anyone stop him”.
It went on to blame Modi for all kinds of situations, and has been steadfast in refusing to give even small credit, which other left-wing publications may still have given, for successful social projects like Swachh Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojna, toilet connectivity, water outreach. Instead, it went on to dismiss all of this as farce undoubtedly due to the fact that their correspondents writing on Bharat belonged to the same strata of extreme left – liberals and wokes who can’t think or act straight when it comes to Modi. Its digital editor, Adam Roberts, has a special allergy towards Modi, Yogi and anything that appears Hindu.
It has connived with all shades of ultraleft – Marxist journalists. Some like Arundhati Roy write favorably on the Maoist rebels, who have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, including forcing young children to fight for them, calling them as “Gandhians but with guns”
Right from the 1990s, it has had a soft corner for Kashmiri terrorists who have been responsible for so much barbarity and mayhem, instead blaming the Indian state for being insensitive. Yet it is not bothered or concerned about the ethnic cleansing of the 600,000 Kashmiri Pundits who were forced to flee to escape genocide. Their plight has hardly been acknowledged. Ethnic cleansing when it happens in Bosnia and Myanmar is highlighted by this publication, yet Kashmiri Hindus who were removed almost “lock, stock and barrel” from their ancestral homes never got any coverage or write-ups in their magazine.
Similarly in JNU fiasco of 2016, it completely backed up Woke and Islamist students who had been bashing up anyone who dared to oppose them, refused any alternate thought to be displayed (Vivek Agnihotri and Anupam Kher) and adopting typical “cancel culture” norms on anyone who supported Modi or any Hindu cause
Even Olympian P V Sindhu was attacked by this “cancel culture” and wokes for visiting Kanaka Durga Mandir, which according to them was regressive. The Economist, always super vigilant on Bharat when it comes to Muslim issues, didn’t speak a single word on it, implying that attacking Hindus for following their traditions was deemed cool!
Like typical Marxist jargon of trying to equate poverty with victimhood, it has always portrayed the Indian state as being antagonistic to Muslims, using the services of ultra-left Marxist – leftist journalists to write for them. It has also supported the cause of radical Islamists and Marxists, for example supporting the people who were arrested for Bhima Koregaoan.
Worse, at a time when COVID-19 had been killing thousands in Bharat, like elsewhere, it didn’t say a single word against one of its favorites, intensely insane Rana Ayyub when she said “what else is there for coronovirus to kill in a morally bankrupt state” a statement that it wouldn’t have tolerated had someone made fun of Covid-19 victims in Europe, or for that matter anywhere else. Thus, a radical woke speaking most derogatory words on Bharat or Hindus was acceptable to them.
However, when it came to the persecution of Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, etc, the publication has more or less been moderate in response, or even quiet.
The chickens have come home to roost
So the question that arises is that if The Economist had all along been supporting all these radical Left voices for so long, what suddenly happened for it to come out strongly against this “cancel culture” and “woke” liberals?
Like the BBC, The Economist believes that it has the right to lecture and patronize Bharatiyas and all colonized persons. They maintain a colonial mindset and ideas of superiority that firmly believes that Bharat’s unity was nothing but an accident made possible by British rule and that without their benevolent rule, Bharat should have broken up long back because it failed to fulfill any conditions that go into making Western / European ideas of nationalism.
As such, every single ethnic and linguistic group must have the right to challenge the Indian state, and seek autonomy / independence if necessary, and towards that aim, such publications will back the craziest radicals ever to walk on planet Earth, including Kashmiri terrorists and Maoists. They will be bitterly opposed to nationalistic feelings among Bharatiyas, instead considering the Fabian socialist British inspired Nehruvian state as sacrosanct.
There is a colonial era disdain for Hindu Dharma which is demeaned as fatalistic, cow-worshipping and bound by caste system, and this religion must fail. On the contrary, Islam must be superior to Hindu Dharma as it is also Abrahamic. The publication blames Muslims poverty and illiteracy on discrimination by the state, even though no other country in the world offers more benefits and subsidies for its minorities as Bharat has been doing since 1947.
They will not investigate to see if the fault for their condition does not lie within the community which prefers to send their kids to religious schools and spends more time in trying to remain aloof from the mainstream in their own neighbourhoods / ghettos. Its because it too is a firm believer in the Marxist diction of considering the poor to be necessarily persecuted and subjugated.
However, while they will set their radical leftist pets loose on Bharat or some other colonized countries, the same is not the case when it comes to Great Britain, Europe or the West in general. True, it carries the elitist Leftist viewpoint, which will be critical of right-wing ideologies and anything that doesn’t sit well with the general Left Liberal viewpoints.
This bunch, which calls itself genuine liberals, is a strong votary of European values and champion of the EU and will be critical of British nationalists like UKIP and Conservatives. But yet finally, just like the BBC, the Economist is also very proud of its British identity and heritage
So it was appalled when those illiberals started striking closer to home by defacing statues of Winston Churchill and other icons of British history. They were OK with statues of people like notorious slave-trader Edward Colston, Rhodes and Robert Milligan being toppled but people like Churchill was getting too close to comfort. Worse, wokes are today attacking their beloved British and European institutions, which hold great pride of place in this and other elite leftist publications.
However, the final salvo was fired with the New York Times (NYT), which had earlier been “comrades in arms” with The Economist and other such publications. They were appalled that NYT had tilted too much to the Woke side, even criticizing fellow leftist publications. The advent of Donald Trump as president saw the NYT slide into absolute one-sidedness and extreme wokeness.
The Economist broke its silence over NYT wokeism by hiring James Bennett, ex-editorial page editor of NYT who was forced to resign for allowing the publication of an op-ed by a Republican Senator, Tom Cotton who had said troops should be called to, if necessary, to bolster local authorities dealing with rioting by those who were supposedly fighting for racial injustice. What is astounding is that NYT had in the past printed op-ends by Putin, countless dictators and their representatives and even the Taliban! Cotton had severely criticized NYT for surrendering to a “woke child mob from their own newsroom.”
The feeling in the Economist and among the BBC and other such Left Liberal establishment was that these Wokes and illiberals who were earlier welcomed in Bharat and other so-called 3rd world countries were now striking back at their masters in the West. They had already taken over NYT and were coming closer to becoming the dominant voice in the West, even upstaging the Economist.
In short, “The chickens have come home to roost”. That’s why the publication changed track, now acknowledging that these illiberals could be as dangerous as the right-wing.
Well as they say, “as you sow, so shall you reap”
Conclusion – Hindu society has always been intrinsically liberal and welcoming to different viewpoints
Actually, these Leftist or for that matter Rightist publications have no business sermonizing Hindus about the values of genuine liberalism. Because genuine Liberal and pluralistic values are intrinsic to Bharatiya samskriti and Hindu Dharma.
Unlike in the West or in the Arab world, there were no Shankaracharyas or Hindu clerics who tried to control the state or its citizens. There has been no parallel to what the Economist has described as the confessional state that had existed in Europe, or for that matter in authoritarian / fanatical states that chose to clamp down on other religions, denominations, sects or viewpoints. There was no room for book-burning in ancient Bharat. The Rig Vedic ”Aano bhadra krtavo yantu vishwatah”(1.89.1 Rigveda), Let Noble thought come to me from all directions” has remained the core foundation of the Indic state.
On the contrary, even crass materialists and atheists like Charvak who criticized the Vedas, and Vatysyana, who wrote the Kamasutra, were considered as Munis. They didn’t represent mainstream thought but they were respected.
While the Greeks, Hunas, Javanese, Balinese and countless other people adopted Hindu Dharma, there was no force or allurements offered to anyone for anyone choosing to become a part of Vedic Dharma. There was no proselytizing like the Abrahamic faiths.
We can see how Vedic, Buddhist and Jain shrines have existed side by side in the country – right from Ellora, Pattadakal, Girnar, Osian, Khajuraho, etc. whereas one would be even hard-pressed to find Shia-Sunni or Catholic-Protestant shrines side by side anywhere else
This can also be illustrated by the ancient Bharatiya universities of Taxila and Nalanda. In the Vedic University of Takshashila / Taxila established 3,000 years back (one of the oldest in the world) besides spiritual subjects, science, medicine, astrology, archery and many other secular subjects were also taught.
Despite being a Hindu institution, where both Panini and Chanakya (Kautilya) taught, it was also spoken of by very favorably in the Buddhist Jatakas. which mentioned students attending the university. According to Scottish Buddhist author, Stephen Batchelor, Gautam Buddha “may have been actually influenced by the experiences and knowledge acquired by some of his closest followers in Taxila University”
Likewise Nalanda, one of the greatest universities of the world established in the 5th century was Buddhist, yet was patronized and financed by the Hindu Gupta kings. Despite being primarily a Mahayana Buddhist establishment, it also taught the Vedas and Upanishads, Shad-darshans, Sanskrit grammar, literature, astronomy, medicine, mathematics and scores of other subjects, boasting a library that had 9 million manuscripts of diverse subjects!
More than 10,000 students studied in its university, many of them foreign including the most famous Chinese pilgrim and traveller Hiuen-Tsang, who was mesmerized and enchanted by his experience. He never complained of any xenophobia or any other discrimination that was a common feature in other parts of the world at that time.
So the ancient Hindu society represented the best of genuine democratic, liberal and pluralistic values, which are unfortunately lacking in the current secular state of Bharat. Instead, the left-liberal institutions of today severely persecute counter viewpoints that do not suit their narrative. And international publications like the Economist which today cry hoarse about growing illiberalism back home have had a big role to play int this sorry state of affairs.
- https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/12/10/six-months-after-mass-protests-began-what-is-the-future-of-blm INITIALLY SUPPORTIVE OF BLACK LIVES MATTER
- https://www.economist.com/leaders/2016/04/23/the-great-betrayal = ON DILMA ROUSSEF
- https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2021/10/23/pedro-castillo-perus-new-president-tries-to-seem-less-left-wingf our nation’s schools have become.
- https://www.economist.com/leaders/2016/04/23/the-great-betrayal = ON DILMA ROUSSEF
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