ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Anomie


Political norms have led to the anomic nature of political practice. In the current scenario, politics by manipulation and coercion has become the norm which has acquired an overriding force over democratic and constitutional norms. The frequent use of such ways has been intensified particularly during the last few years. Capturing power or forming the government through manipulation and coercion has been distressingly evident in major states in India. However, it is necessary to show the association and dissociation between the two ways that are deployed to achieve the desired goal. There is a distinction between the two terms, which is, however, not precise as there could be an overlap between the two.

Coercion involves the political intention of forcing an agent to do something that they do not want to do or what they do not consider to be right. This is true of those who have the capacity to feel guilt and who resist to be converted into a mercenary who is hired to attack norm-based politics by attacking those who have been marked as supporters of the norms of decent politics. Manipulation, on the contrary, seeks to induce both the manipulator and the manipulated to use each other rather secretively without being noticed by others. Although manipulation adopts the secretive mode, it eventually fails to escape the critical attention of those who show some degree of concern for the democratic and constitutional road map that politics is expected to follow. A sense of desperation is found in both acts as a form of internal coercion, as both these parties are becoming restive in achieving their particular goal.

Politics by manipulation and coercion is threatening to become the norm. This should become the core reference point for those political actors who see some merit in norm-based politics, that is, politics based on reasonable competition as sanctioned by the Constitution. Parties that pay lip service to democratic and constitutional norms by continuously doing the manipulative business as usual cannot take the self-righteous position that they are the role models of Indian politics.

Such parties may not realise that their own desire to be in power contributes to a form of politics that, by consequence, becomes anomic on the grounds that it tends to wipe out the normative basis of politics. They do not seem to admit that their manipulative design and desperate desire to stay in power essentially makes their politics normless. Manipulation and coercion do show that some parties have become desperate to acquire power by bypassing established norms that are “inconveniently” democratic and constitutional. The desperation is analogous to people jumping the queue in order to get into the public transport bus.

Such normless politics is expressed in the language which is akin to expressing the “futility” of norms for politics. For example, in print and electronic media, we often hear the expression, particularly in Marathi, correct karyakrum kela, which admits that the manipulator has cunningly trapped or fixed their opponent or dissident. It also implicates both the manipulator and the manipulated in its regressive logic.

The one who plunders and the one who offers themselves to be plundered are equally responsible in committing a moral fraud. In any case, those who are allegedly involved in committing a fraud on democratic norms obviously do not constitute public assets on the grounds that the transaction that happens between two parties does not have any bearing on orienting the common people towards a path of decent norms. Such politics, in a larger sense, does not have any impact on the fortune and the future of the common people. It makes no difference to value addition, especially in their quality of life. Because one corrupt person is defrauding another, just adds to the general devaluation or cheapening of the constitutional system or principled politics. It is like all of them fly in the dark without any advance being made towards reaching the light. It is in this sense that it is anomic, inasmuch as it disrupts the possibility of norm-based politics. Norms become ineffectual in politics; they almost disappear in the language of bartering transactions between various political players.

At the same time, those who flaunt the norms are unable to evaluate themselves in light of their normative commitment, implying a breakdown of political norms. These norms are seriously undermined due to the pervasive fear of living together based on shared interests and common goals. Those who uphold a normative politics must take a moral lead in demonstrating how political anomie violates not only the integrity of India’s political system but also any future of a decent society. The lack of internal critique within the manipulator and the manipulated alike does not take us too far in terms of achieving any democratic progress over the current anomic degeneration.



Updated On : 19th Mar, 2023
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