The Politics of Culture
of the working classes, we can readily see that the various kinds of media - print media and even more centrally electronic media - are not just entertainments outside the spheres of culture but are the very central element in cultural control, as a well-oiled cultural industry that dispenses ideology not as an abstract set of beliefs but as image and narrative that seeks to inhabit the soul and colonize the unconscious on behalf of those who control the heights of this culture industry. The working class movements have to devise new ways of dealing with this problem.
The past decade has witnessed three fundamental shifts in the cultural field. First, the Hindutva forces, which used to be marginal to national culture in the days of the National Movement and in the opening decades of the Republic, are now the main contenders for political dominance and cultural hegemony, especially in North India. Second, economic liberalisation has vastly accelerated the creation of a pan-Indian culture of commodity fetishism which the electronics media is carrying far beyond the urban habitats of the bourgeoisie, fairly deep into the countryside. Together, these far-reaching attacks on the founding principles of the Republic have led to an immense brutalisation of day-to-day cultural life, certainly of the affluent but with far-reaching consequences for society at large, as competing spectres of greed satisfied and of greed unsatisfied stalk the land. Third, the lack of a national project for social justice and the acceptance of the supremacy of the market as the final arbiter of the social good, combined with full commodification of competing religiosities, has led to a new eruption of the savage identities of caste and denomination, which gets intellectual respectability from the indigenist scholars for whom secularism is the sin of modernity while savage identities of religion and community are the very essence of what they call 'tradition'. Of these indigenism is arising as a particular pathology of 'high culture', and Hindutva poses the most immediate danger to the culture of secular civility, but the greatest long-term danger comes from that worship of the market that goes currently under the name of 'liberalisation'. For, unleashing of an uncontrolled market in a multi-cultural society that rests on such concentrations of wealth and magnitudes of deprivation promises to create a culture so brutish, so much at odds with itself, so devoid of any sense of culture as a 'common way of life' that neither political democracy nor the compact of a united nation may survive this brutalisation.