Mr. V.K.Talithaya is the President of Primacy Industries Limited an Export Oriented Unit at Mangalore. He is an HR professional both in Public and
Private enterprises. He has served with distinction in organizations such as Steel Authority of India, Metallurgical & Engineering Consultants, Deccan Herald group of publications, Kinetic Honda Motors, Bharat Electronics Ltd., Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. A thinker and practitioner, known for his transparent and solution based approach for long term benefits. His areas of specialization are Human Resource Management, Transactional Analysis, Communication and Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Monday 18 April 2011

Civil Society - The argument for Intimidation


Ayan Rand called it the argument for intimidation. I have a view-point. If you disagree, there is no use arguing with you. If you agree, there is no need to argue with you. Either way, I don’t have to argue. This is the pattern of conviction amongst a section of the so called civil society.

Civil society is the liberal, democratic, action oriented, socially concerned section of the society. Liberal and democratic people are called so because they respect and have patience to hear other points of view. But that is old fashioned liberalism, not the rabble-raising, decibel focused, media hungry liberalism of today. Today, this section of liberals seems to have come to the conclusion that only their view-point need be heard. Others don’t, even have to be given the floor to be heard.
One of the versions is what we saw during the Taslima Nasreen episode a few months ago. They strongly defended Taslima’s right to stay in any part of India, so long as it is outside that den of self styled champions of liberalism – West Bengal. Besides they are liberal enough to defend her right to speak what she wanted, so long as, of course, she did not speak or write what did not “hurt” us. Translation: Taslima, better stop writing except letters to your friends, and speaking except to your pets. But they are so committed to liberalism that they argue M.F.Hussain should be allowed to paint what he wants so that it should hurt some, so that the votes of those who are not hurt will swing in their favour. (I personally support M.F.Hussain’s right to paint what he wants, just as Taslima’s right to write what she thinks!)

Then, there is this version of civil society, in the shape of mostly writers and ‘intellectuals”. They have taken to writing as their profession just as the doctor to medicine, the surgeon to surgery, the engineer to designing the barber to hair cutting, and the lawyer to legal practice. But since their ability to write is God’s gift to the society, the society should bestow on them favours such as out-of-turn allotment of house-building sites in posh localities of metropolitan cities. It is a small price society pays for their sacrifice by taking up the profession of their choice, or of necessity! Once they have cornered the privileges, their liberal heart bleeds and their conscience pricks so much for the underprivileged that they take up causes of the homeless in Bangalore, equity in house site allotment, and discrimination against women and so on.
The third comes in the shape of activists. They run organizations which take up different causes voluntarily – so they call themselves Voluntary Organisations. As though the Bar Association, the Medical Association, the business organizations, educational organizations, not speak of the eponymous youth clubs, are all non voluntary bodies into which their members are conscripted. The argument for intimidation is the Kalashnikov of this type. Their bodies have election, but like Hoshni Mubarak or his ilk, the same office bearers are voluntarily and delightfully elected by the members year after year. Like Creaser’s wife, this version of civil society  no wrong; and therefore they cannot be questioned on many counts.
  • They speak for the poor. Others do not. So they are always right, and others are not. Since this is the truth there is no need to argue on this.
  • They are voluntary organizations. Therefore, they have no self interest. Others are “not voluntary” organizations. So, they have self-interest.
  • They are a Non-Government organizations. So they have to oppose. Others are part of the establishment. They are incapable of opposingo without self-interest.
  • They are not-for-profit organizations. So, their motives cannot be questioned. All others are unadulterated charlatans of Adam Smith, trying to maximize profits.
These views foreclose any argument. They are all truths a priori.  
Now, let us take up this piece itself. It argues about the fallacy of the argument for intimidation so often resorted to by civil society. One can foresee how this piece and its line of thinking will be countered. The Kalashnikovs, fully loaded will be drawn. After all who has written this? A stooge of industrialists. One who has conspired with those who have built the system of exploitation. One who has no interest except vested-interest. But what of the issues one raised? What issues? You are doubting our motives, you are questioning our rightness, you are doubting our cause... I do not, but pray tell me three reasons why only you are always right, why only you have the right intentions, why you only are free of motives, why you only do not have self interest? I know the answer – because ‘we are’. No argument. Period.
 © copyright by V  K Talithaya

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