By Tenzin Sangmo
Prof. Ashis Nandy at The Other Space, Dharamshala. Sept 11, 2019
DHARAMSHALA, August 12: Prominent political psychologist, social theorist, and critic Prof. Ashis Nandy said although authoritarian regimes tend to further subjugate the minority as it accumulates power, their longevity is poor. The 82 year intellectual was speaking at the Other Space to a group of audience comprising of Tibetan activists, journalists and students.
Titled ‘Cultural Sovereignty and Nationalism: Tibet in the age of Globalization’ and organized by Tibet Writes, the award-winning political psychologist shared his concern about how cultural survival is becoming a major issue.
Nandy noted that cultural sovereignty and hard nationalism spawned by the idea of the modern nation-state in the last 250 years had become mutually exclusive.
“The modern nation-state is the prime enemy of cultural survival and diversity,” he proposed, “because it celebrates monolithic culture and structure of the state, with less federal elements for its efficacy in administration and government control.” He said its efficacy enables it to tread the model of development laid down by the economically and militarily successful countries in the world as absolutely necessary for survival.
“To not bow down to development would be calling for blasphemy. Development is God,” he noted.
The idea of this kind of nation-states leaves no room to celebrate diversity. He cited the Hindi, Hindu and Hindustani ideology of Hindutva proponents in today’s India and state’s patronage of Sankrit and Hindi over other Indian languages as an example of threat modern nation-state poses to cultural sovereignty and diversity.
“The world today is hostile to diversity, despite all the talk about diversity,” he said adding that regimes’ claim to multiculturalism is usually preceded by the annihilation of most cultures.
He, instead emphasized on valuing the otherness of others, instead of sameness of others, masked as tolerance in contemporary liberal politics.
“Culture knows how to learn and borrow from each other but when politics gets involved, it ends up supporting one over another.”
The professor anticipated similar fate for the Tibetan government because China like India, with its large population, access to arms and ammunition, and rising GDP is bent on the idea of the nation-state and in the run to become the superpower and the situation of the minorities will only worsen.
“The only silver lining here that I see is that authoritarian regime has poor longevity,” he said and alluded that Beijing could usher its own downfall because of its use of nationalism as a tool of continuing suppression and over-reliance on indoctrination and high-pitched propaganda necessitated by it.
In conclusion, he said Marxism is the primitive form of Communism just as the Soviet’s Socialist economy was the primitive and worst kind of capitalism that ultimately failed in less than 70 years.
Beijing is set to mark its 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st amidst continuing mass protests in Hong Kong, the trade war with the US, and more defiant world leaders starting to rise against China to protect their democratic values.
Prof. Nandy was in Dharamshala to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with other Indian experts.