The Left had overwhelmed the USA post World War II itself. They were simply everywhere. The USA, Britain, France, Germany, and Japan had sent military aid to the Tsar’s Military during the October Revolution in Tsarist Russia in 1917, but the Tsars were defeated and executed. The United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) came into existence and as the Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin became all powerful, the Soviets grew increasingly distrustful of the US and wanted their man in the White House.
After Lenin’s death, his successor, Joseph Stalin managed to exile, assassinate, or send all his opponents to Siberian labour camps. He abolished Lenin’s New Economic Policy and his maxim ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ actually became ‘Dictatorship of Stalin’ over a period of time.
Writers such as George Orwell, Boris Pasternak and George Welsh portrayed the horrors of living in Communist Russia under Stalinist dictatorship. Despite stiff opposition from the Kremlin, they continued to write. The Stalinist State struck back; Pasternak, for example, was not allowed to receive his Nobel Prize for Literature and had to hide his writings and keep many of them unpublished. Censorship was very strict in the Stalinist State, and most of Pasternak’s works were not published before Stalin’s death in 1953.
Some Soviet filmmakers truly believed that the Soviets had the potential to house a prosperous, global film industry that would be as successful as Hollywood. Unfortunately, this idea was junked and only those films whose scripts Stalin liked were allowed to be produced.
Stalin personally supervised the works of distinguished Soviet painters, filmmakers, sculptors, writers, etc. He asked them to depict images of the toiling Soviet masses rather than those of aristocrats. He loved images of farmers cultivating fields in the harsh weather and the workers building impressive structures in the face of adversities. He respected the works of Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekov and called them ‘intellectual revolutionaries’.
The works of Charles Dickens, especially novels such as ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘Christmas Carol’ inspired Stalin. He felt these novels would make the Soviets proud of their system; a system he believed to generate maximum employment, guarantee minimum wages to all, promote gender and financial equality, and make the people patriotic and willing to fight for their country.
Everyone knows what eventually happened to the USSR, but years later, the masses still find themselves at the receiving end of the Left.
One of the major reasons behind the decline of the Conservatives is the outright hostility they receive from Leftist intellectuals everywhere. It might be surprising to some, but it is a fact that most Conservatives have been erstwhile Leftists/Centrists. The Late Dr Roger Scruton, who is undoubtedly the most academic of all Conservatives, once said that he became a Conservative upon seeing the violent nature of the Leftists after the Paris University uprising in the spring of 1968.
He was undoubtedly shaken by the activities of US Leftists at Columbia and Chicago Universities and felt that the Conservatives could not challenge the Leftists because the State then was not sympathetic to the Conservatives. It took President Richard Milhous Nixon to clean the mess, end anarchy, and put an end to lawlessness and public disorder in the USA.
Conservatives who dared to challenge the Leftists were victims of State repression, social ostracization, assault, alienation, censorship, etc. The Left never allowed them to rise. Even today, the Left speaks about including the last man in the queue, but fails to do precisely that.
Should they be opposed in any manner, the Left accuses the State and the society of intolerance, majoritarianism and obscurantism. The story in India is not much different. They never shy away from returning their awards and moreover, consider that to be a sacrifice. They are extremely detached from the masses and remain in their echo chamber. Indeed, State repression during the Emergency and the inability to listen to the masses due to media and public censorship cost the Congress dear in the 1977 General Election.
PM Nehru’s government rightly jailed thousands of Communists after Independence when they proclaimed India’s independence to be false and the Constitution of India a ‘Charter of Slavery’ and vowed to continue their insurrection against the legitimate government of India. Nehru was a socialist at heart, but he was not blind to the anti-India activities of the Left and neither he nor PM Indira Gandhi hesitated from banning the Left as and when required.
Conservatives have a long way to go. What they first need to do is offer the public much more benefits than the Left ever can. They should counter the Leftist strategy of rioting and festering people’s grievances by reaching out to people directly and solving their problems and promoting law and order strictly.
Conservatives, in India at least, need to build their own ecosystem. An advantage that they have is that they are not only patriots, but also nationalists. They have never hesitated to defend their nation and have always been swift responders to any crisis, be it a natural calamity, a riot, or a national emergency. Governments should recognize this virtue and must aid them.
Conservatives need to rope in a good number of academics, experts, bureaucrats, media persons, celebrities, and all sorts of public figures, and ensure that anti-national elements, whether within or outside the country, do not get any traction. Intellectuals, especially in India, should seriously reflect on whether they are truly benefitting the country or even themselves by lambasting Conservatives, when, in fact, they should be actually implementing the welfare agenda of the Left on the ground with sincerity of purpose.
Lastly, but most importantly, Conservatives should embrace all minorities and remove the element of fear within them, while reining in anti-minority and regressive people within their own ranks. As tides turn, Conservatives are steadily gaining power, but with power comes responsibility, and it is time Conservatives fulfil that.
(Read Part I of the two-part series here)
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.