Year: 2013

Aam Aadmi Party and Politics of the Impossible

(Published in Kindle Magazine || December, 2013) Contrary to the revised emotions from electoral pundits and wild psephologists, Delhi elections have not ushered in any new kind of empowering politics for India. Poll results have merely sided with populism, the central tenet in the politics of hopelessness that pervades the country today. Aam Aadmi Party is the New Right – a nationalist party aimed at dislodging Congress and weakening the Left – using a milder, a more acceptable version of BJP politics, Saswat Pattanayak opines. The exaggerated climate of pessimism that may follow once Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) resorts to compromise politics with Congress must remain a secondary concern; at the root of crisis lies the ready admittance that the Aam Aadmi even had a stake in those polls results, to begin with. While crediting the commoner with this half-baked victory, power-grabbing exercises are well underway in the country’s capital; the difference this time is merely in the subtlety of it. What remains impressive is the sheer brilliance with which political imagery has been handled …

Fashion Dialectics

  By Saswat Pattanayak “Fashion determines, in each case, the acceptable limit of empathy.” – Walter Benjamin. Benjamin belonged to the interwar period that witnessed rise of fascism, actively aided by European intellectuals who were hostile to the masses. The bourgeois was disdainful of the “mass society”, and the ways in which new electronic media were displaying potentials for mass liberations. Its high-brow standards were being threatened by the low-brow tastes of American consumer capitalism. Its exclusive access to the sophisticated art forms was being undermined by the new medium of photography. “Socialist realism” was connecting the masses to what was historically being denied to them in the name of “art”. Writers and intellectuals were becoming the “engineers of the soul” in communist societies that thwarted elitism.