Centrism, the saviour of democracy: Mild zealotry or zealous mildness?

By PITAMBER KAUSHIK

A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.” – Ludwig Erhard

This maxim by former the German Chancellor hasn’t yet waned in pertinence to democracy.

In Second World nations, electoral maximisation is often achieved by optimisers, not inductive-polarists or extremists.

Education efforts among the under privileged.

The average literacy rate in South India, a Dravidian-origin bloc comprising the five peninsular states of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra-Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is 15 per cent higher than Northern India.

Per capita incomes in the South have risen fast lately, attributed to better leadership and political stability, according to the Public Affairs Centre.

Roughly, South India was half as impoverished as the Hindi Heartland, and per-capita income twice as much, in 2009-10, a figure contrasting with their relative statuses quo, in immediate wake of independence.

Relatively better life among the common people in South India as compared to north.

South India is better-educated and enjoys better living standards, to the extent to foster enough thoughtfulness to spare to progressive-conscious electoral choice.

It has traditionally observed materialism in politics and is one of the few places in India, besides West Bengal, where liberal ethic is the prevailing paradigm, over communitarian politics.

Thus, analytical, pragmatic acumen, rather than zealous idiosyncrasy governs electoral choice and vernacular, grassroots parties have largely kept the patronising, bipolarising advance of communal, sectarian and even national parties checked, by and large.

Such a progressive semblance is conducive to the natural budding of fresh, grassroots, modernist parties, as the Makkal Needhi Maiam, veteran auteur and legendary actor Kamal Hassan’s infantile faction, launched in February.

Kamal Hassan

It translates to “People’s Justice Centre”, a pun-allusion to its vehemently self-proclaimed centrist nature.

With the recently up-surging trend of incoherence and non-concomitance between social and economic leftism, centrism has become more relevant than ever.

Acting as a diagonal, rather than a mere midpoint, centrism is morphing the entire political-spectrum into a rhomboid, than a sphere.

The ideology has increasingly been about self-restoring dynamism, an inflexibility, not to be ambiguated with stasis.

Its adaptability to accommodate social changes, while remaining rigidly pinned to an absolute kernel of basal ideals, which survive the exfoliation of radical winds, is meta-testimony to its reconciliatory ability.

The greatest of which, is that of its own identity, unflinching adherence to a certain uncompromisable core set of ideals, while wholeheartedly embracing sociocultural fluidities as gender reform, abortion freedom, identity flexibilities and sustainability.

Accommodativeness has thus transcended from being a leftwing virtue to a mutualistic political volition, with either side, inching, loosening and shifting to foster a sure, stable, yet flexible, teeming structure founded over the reliable plinth of few shared ideals.

This pedestal typically constitutes of peace, gradualism of reform, freedom, brotherhood and equanimity, also entailing ambivalent entertainment of ideas, while resisting drastic inflections or rigid fundamentals of any sort.

Centrist parties typically impart a humane, considerate perspective to complement indiscriminate pragmatism.

Meanwhile, the centrist parties appear to be the likeliest and perhaps, best bids in contests where democracy itself, is at stake, preventing both, authoritarian stasis, with incumbency transitioning to autocracy, as well as, the terrible transience of tumults into anarchy, two disordered faces of the same violent coin.

MNM has affirmed the extent of its inclusiveness by dedicating a sixth of its emblem to the tiny Union-Territory of Puducherry, an otherwise unassuming state, whose very existence, vast swathes of North Indians are ignorant of.

With his emblem of a wreath comprising six interlocked hands, Hassan has stratified both superficial and subconscious tones and innuendos of egalitarianism and consideration of the backward and non-neglect of the diminutive, as well as alluded to cross-state Dravidian solidarity against upper-caste exploitation and Brahmanism.

The clenched red and white fists, also seem an attempt to invoke socialist iconography of protest, and the omniprevalent symbol of solidarity of dissent across oppressed classes, a motif popular in South India, since the dawn of the 20th century.

Socialist and Communist principles have been all-pervasive in South India, and despite translating to overall limited success, has proven to inculcate one of the world’s most stable, democratically-elected and successful implementations of the ideology, worldwide, that in Kerala.

Kamal Hassan has clarified, nay, insistently asserted, either of his own volition, or in response to reporters’ queries, how he doesn’t belong to the Right or the Left.

In the present scenario, it appears, radical centrism is the most tantalising yet most promising of oxymoron.

 

  • The author is a freelance journalist, having written for, amongst others, The Telegraph, The New Delhi Times, The Gulf News, The Sunday Independent, The Quint, Rising Kashmir, The MilliGazette and Sudharma. He is also an amateur researcher in minority studies, a writer and an activist.

 

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.