Vantage point

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Grand March

This is a post I was planning to make a couple of months back, but I forgot. It is still as relevant, and will continue to be, sadly, for decades to come. Quoted below are a few passages from Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". Though he wrote it mainly about European liberals, it applies equally to Indian grand-marchers too. (the emphasis are mine)

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch. And no one knows this better than politicians. Kitsch is the aestethic ideal of all politicians and all political parties and movements. Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch.
The fantasy of the Grand March … is the political kitsch joining leftists of all times and tendencies. The Grand March is the splendid march on the road to brotherhood, equality, justice, happiness; it goes on and on, obstacles not withstanding, for obstacles there must be if the march is to be the Grand March. What makes a leftist a leftist is not this or that theory but his ability to integrate any theory into the kitsch called the Grand March.
The Grand March goes on, the world’s indifference notwithstanding, but it is growing nervous and hectic: yesterday against the American occupation of Vietnam, today against the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia; yesterday for Israel, today for the Palestinians; yesterday for Cuba, tomorrow against Cuba — and always against America; at times against massacres and at times in support of massacres; Europe marches on, and to keep up with events, to leave none of them out, its pace grows faster and faster, until finally the Grand March is a procession of rushing, galloping people and the platform is shrinking and shrinking until one day it will be reduced to a mere dimensionless dot.