Gurmehar Kaur, a free-speech world-peace activist, has been accused of threatening young boys for making memes. And, this is nothing unexceptional from the Social Justice Warriors (SJW) of India. A JNU student named Shehla Rashid, another free-speech activist projected by media, had denied the right to free speech to a reporter of television news channel Republic.
There is stupendous authoritarianism from the Indian Social Justice warriors who are least tolerant of any dissident views, and interestingly most of them are present on various educational campuses. For example, Vivek Agnihotri had to face violence when he attempted a show of his anti-left movie at Jadavpur University in West Bengal.
Much of the Social Justice warrior-ship of India is worrisome from that perspective — it is violent intolerance wrapped in attractive packaging being sold to the youth.
When I find students in prestigious B-schools who have received fat salary packages, arguing romancing the left as a wonderful ideology, I see in them this hypocrisy of a Gurmehar or a Shehla in a diminutive form. They — driven by their ideological zeal — are almost completely hooked on enlisting the social problems than offering any solution for social betterment, very much unlike their pragmatic decisions in their personal sphere. This hypocrisy is an integral part of social Justice warrior-ship and is manifested in their action once they taste power.
Labels like “Born Communist” or own party affiliation are often integral part of a leftist debate. Therefore, I clarify here that my maternal grandfather Shanti Sarkar (whose pioneering role in establishing communist peasant movement in Bengal in pre-independence times is partially mentioned here [pdf]) was a functionary of a communist party for long years from pre-independence days. My father too—among many other relatives of mine — was a communist by heart during formative years of his life.
My mention of these facts regarding my family background is not to claim any air of superiority — after all, lakhs of Bengali families have sacrificed for the same communist cause — but if I wanted to claim the easy option of having a nice label instead of having right ideas, I could have easily accomplished that.
One needs to go beyond this self-labelling or virtue signalling. What ideas do Social Justice Warriors like Comrade Shehla Rashid put forth? When they talk about problems of social inequality like caste, religion, economic disparity, what solution do they offer? Going back to Marx, the only solution is creation of a dictatorship — justified as dictatorship of the proletariat — that abolishes ownership of capital.
All ideologies look wonderful in paper but what we should be interested in, is an application — a case study called North Korea.
Why North Korea? It is quite common to find harrowing human experiences in other communist countries such as description of Gulag in Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, or an personal account of fatal post-revolution living in Cambodia narrated in the movie The Killing Fields, based on Dith Pran’s experience, or dreadful stories of the Chinese cultural revolution penned by historian Jung Chang in the book Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China.
However, those human sufferings were all addressed by the respective societies through moving to different social structure by repealing the idea of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” to a large extent and by giving society back the ownership of the Capital. North Korea on the other hand, still continues with the original plan.
Hyeonseo Lee, the daughter of a North Korean army officer, braved authorities for her epic journey in search of her freedom from North Korea. The picture of North Korea she penned in her book makes me empathise with her. On the one hand, I feel blessed to know that our family did not need to hang the two portraits of any Indian version of “Kim Il-sung” and “Kim Jong-il” which were to be periodically examined by local party/government officials for cleanliness, and one can land up straight in prison for their failure to keep the portraits shinny and dirtless. On the other hand, I could visualise politicisation in every sphere of social activity and unacceptable intrusion even about personal choices that Ms. Lee stated.
My childhood experience with West Bengal was a definitely watered down version of hers yet strikingly similar — the Communist party used to decide which newspaper is acceptable at one’s home, or which dramas/theatres at a local club should receive the award, or whether personal letters could remain a personal affair.
Our Social Justice Warriors always complain about India’s tryst with social discriminations — mainly caste based. In North Korea, the State rigorously enforces Songbun system under which everybody is demarcated into 51 castes under three broad categories of “Loyal”, “Wavering” or “Hostile” and everybody’s destiny of life including choice of profession is decided at birth. Persons from the “Hostile” families are sent for manual labour; even if one of them, as was the case with Hyeonseo’s classmate, fortunately clears the university entrance test against great adversity, she is denied of the opportunity to higher studies by the State on account of her birth.
When famine struck North Korea, a province with more proportion of “Hostile” population was taken out of the ambit of the Public Distribution System, which is the only official channel for a citizen to get food legally. People were, therefore, compelled either to starve to death in hundreds or scavenging in the dirt for food. In a few exceptional cases, some of them resorted to cannibalism too. Right at that time, food was in abundance in the Capital city of Pyongyang, and the elite were completely unaffected by this famine to the extent that they were having their cosmetic surgeries too!
The ideological indoctrination in North Korea begins in the very childhood. When Hyeonseo entered her kindergarten school, her school had a jumbo picture in which a North Korean Soldier is killing a Japanese, an American and a South Korean soldier together, all using a single bayonet. This picture defied history, rationality and any idea of a global humanity. Yet this is only the beginning which eventually creates a perception in every person of North Korea that any American is a devil personified.
When Hyeonseo’s mother and brother met her would-be husband, an American, tolerating him just over a meal was too much for them on account of this intense ideological indoctrination. If our Social Justice Warriors are aghast with India for fighting Pakistan — a country which regularly exports terror to India — and apparently ignoring the goodwill of common people from Pakistan, they may note that every school in North Korea encourages students to kill South Koreans and Americans.
By now you must be thinking that if the Government of India is heavily denounced by our Social Justice Warriors, North Korea must be an insufferable state for them, Right?
Wrong! I did not find a single tweet from Kanhaiya, Rashid, and Gurmehar where they have ever criticised North Korea. So far, I failed to observe even any non-appreciative comment about North Korea from any affiliate organisation of any Communist party of India of any variety — forget about any real denouncement. When India made the nuclear detonation at Pokhran in 1998, the communists of India were aghast. When North Korea did the same in 2017, they are conspicuously mum.
It is not that our Social Justice Warriors don’t comment on international issues. They can’t stop talking about Israel, they can’t curse Trump and Putin enough, and recently they are all experts on Myanmar. But why is North Korea absent from their radar?
The only time some of them, or their friends, mentioned ever-mysterious North Korea is when Arun Shourie called some Indian media channels, which were not spewing venom against Narendra Modi, as “North Korean TV channels”. It took a “Right Wing” Shourie for these left-wing activists to realise that North Korea may not be exactly the heaven. But that’s all. There are no speeches denouncing North Korea as the evil personified, as the epitome of casteism, social apathy, corruption and hate-mongering.
It is a fashion in leftist circles to compare any anti-left politician to Hitler and create a fear-mongering about an impending Nazi Germany if that politician receives authority. Contrary to popular perception, Nazis were “anti-bourgeoisie” socialists (who called themselves National Socialists) with a predominantly red flag, where red expressed “the social thought underlying the movement” (Mein Kampf; Volume 2 Chapter 7). If one self-declared brand of socialism can be used by the leftists to describe someone they hate, why should we not talk about another socialism called North Korea as the benchmark for the zombie Social Justice Warriors without introspection?
Why should not we call our own Social Justice Warriors “Mini Kims”?