By Sana Shah
Emotions have always been central to everyday human interactions and drive our social relations. Lately emotions have penetrated the realm of politics with a greater force than before. As politics- international, national or local- is flooded with emotions of all kinds, politics of hate, opportunism and anger seems to be the new normal. Not to talk of the reasons which pave way for such negative cathartic vent, the imperative thing is to highlight an alternative, as incidents of hate ranging from lynching, sexual assaults, riots, prejudice, killings, recent threats to freedom of expressions grow increasingly with each passing day, weaving this politics of hate.
With greater technological interference in our lives in form of social media, the question to be asked is: are we, as humans, turning less into humans who are social, sensitive to waves in the real world and more in robotic entities who are slaves to phone screens or social media? Is this affecting our thinking capabilities? Is too much technological interference frustrating the human in us, alienating it from reality, creating the potential ground for politics of hate and striking our ability for empathy, compassion and love?
In “Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice”, Martha C. Nussbaum has rightly argued that ‘liberal political philosophers have dangerously ignored ‘the political cultivation of emotion’. And, it is in this sense, when love as a political force is reduced to a tool in the hands of politicians who advance the politics of hate brewed by anger and animosity towards the other, choking the passages of love for a controlled and partial flow of love which must stop only at jingoism and not branch into the all-inclusive tree of humanism.
It is to this politics of hate that love provides a counter-force and it is on this we must rely. Phillip McKibbin endorses imagining our politics entirely in terms of love. Often , when issues like Romeo squad, moral policing, attacks on minorities do the rounds of our centre stage, it is actually the spaces of love which certain elements, who run their shops of politics with the items of hate, seek to aim symbolically, for they know if love is allowed to grow, it can turn into a revolutionary force which shall even redefine the meaning of revolution itself. Mahatma Gandhi could foresee life in love; however the actualization of his vision calls for us to first bring love in our lives and politics is no exception to that.
Utopian, it may seem, I , but hesitate, to doubt the potential of humans to love with equal capacity as to hate. It all comes down to a complex question of choice. On the electoral side of it, perhaps the Congress party in India has gotten the clue as they talk about politics of love, epitomized by symbolic gesture-the bear hug to the PM by Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha. However in real terms, love as a radical force is manifest in social movements. How can one forget the self-respect movement led by Periyar where marriage pivoted by love was envisioned to break the barriers of oppression? Love essentially entails compassion, concern, accommodation, plurality and warmth directed at the other and the self. It does not focus at temporary plasters of problems but goes deeper to analyze the roots of the problems that surface as challenges to our world.
Love has the capacity to view problems we are faced with from the multi-dimensional prisms; it fosters understanding! As we consider politics of love to be the antidote to politics of hate, there will be and must be difficulties in establishing this as the alternative and the harmless paradigm, however, if that is accomplished once, it shall go a long way in the book of humankind, adorning each chapter with soft poetic finesse as Tagore would have imagined while critiquing nationalism. Nothing is above humanity and this is what politics of love will cherish as its foundation.
“Politics of love”, though ironic a phrase as it may sound, is to be seriously considered and inculcated for love as a value has the power to cure the irony of the phrase. We are humans and love is the basic emotion which drives this world, then why not our politics? Why to keep love in abeyance when it comes to politics? Why has politics been kept in isolation from love- why have we allowed politics to be a breeding ground for hate? Why have we allowed love to be instrumentalized as a selective force in the hands of the ones who rule, only to be invoked for a political roulette for elections.
The commotion brought in by modernity and technology on an uneven ground, the rigours of competition ushered in by neo-liberalism is gradually taking a toll on our emotional health, alienating humans from their own humanity; it leaves us with little time to think of the world as the place for love, ‘the other’ as our ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ and we happen to grow indifferent to the politics of hate- and indifference is another potent ground for hate. And the agent ‘rhetoric’ does wonder in selling hate- for silence is the language of love and not vain rhetoric.
It is high time we better understand to acknowledge that if it is religion, race, caste, gender, ethnicity, ideology, borders, etc, that divides us- it is love as the prime human emotion that unites us and heals the wounds once declared incurable by the politics of hate. Hence politics of love becomes indispensable not only to treat politics of hate, as the antidote to it, but also to transform it for reimagining the politics of our times.
The author, pursuing an MA in Political Science at JNU, New Delhi, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org