Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Hugo Gorringe's new book 'Panthers in Parliament'

Reviewed in The Hindu The future of radical politics Excerpt:
"Radical politics of all hues is under stress and, by and large, waning. Among a maze of reasons is also the fact that we have realised at the turn of the century that we actually never knew how to bring about radical social change and what we knew was abysmally little. Our ideals never matched our techniques and techniques we knew were swallowed by the imperatives of everyday life. All idealism seems to stop at the doorstep of pragmatism, not because we always collectively will that but nobody seems to have the keys to get past.......
Gorringe's book lucidly explains how 'social mobilisation and protest is time-consuming, risky, and costly' and cannot be self-sustaining for too long. Individuals involved tend to lose steam, energy and also their determination. Enthusiasm of the 'take-off' phase of the movements gives way to stagnation, ideas become clichéd and slogans begin to sound repetitive. 
In order to keep the issue alive against such odds, political movements become bureaucratic, and depend heavily on front-ranking leaders. The leaders in turn become cautious not to lose their charisma and not to make big time mistakes in their strategies; they also feel the compulsion to keep a distance from followers in order to manage the expectations and various conflicting demands.
All of these in turn lead to disappointments, accusations, and defections and failure to encourage and nurture second-rank leaders. There is also the human element of insecurity and temptation to give into 'image traps' that the leaders are first given, then trapped into and then virulently critiqued for. In this game of 'rise and fall' individuals seem to be cogs in the wheel with very little capacity to manoeuvre the challenges of mass politics."

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