Anything can be politically manipulated if it is significant enough to be manipulated and this manipulation plays a major role in framing our day to day understanding of history, law, justice, power, mercy and humanity.
For those who believe that they are acting and making decisions out of their free will, their instincts are unaffected and they are at liberty to revamp it whenever they want to, the time has come to differentiate the world you’re living in and the world you will never know, the time has come to awaken the dissenter in you who is audacious enough to assert that everything is manipulated, the opinions you have, the things you say, the rights you exercise, the society in which you live in and even the air you breathe. Since the time immemorial, you’re being governed by the amateurs who neither have the right nor the virtue to govern you. Ironically, they are not the megalomaniac dictators but the democratically elected demagogues. Your democracies catalysed false consciousness which propitiously stimulated populism over rationalism and replaced reason with emotions and cheers, here you’re living in technicolour post truth world!
To substantiate this, let’s name the one who must be named over and over again, the Machiavelli of Indian politics ‘Chanakya’. As per his most celebrated work ‘Arthashastra’, a ruler need not to bring his promises to fruition and when subjects begin questioning things, a ruler is recommended to respond by attacking a neighbouring country and in the twinkling of an eye, everything will fall into line as it is an undeniable fact that petrifying one’s own citizenry by synthetically created fear of foreign enemy is a tired old horse which the politicians have ridden to power for centuries.
Politicians of the largest democracies or may I say, kakistocracies have used this subterfuge time and again to deceive their own people and we being babe in the woods invariably welcome this manoeuvre with open arms which many a time, resulted in mass devastation of various countries, scores were killed, thousands were displaced and ultimately thrown a unipolar world at us with one dominant state asking other countries for veneration, not spiritual but material and I don’t think that this state is need to be named. It’s history of waging and sponsoring endless wars, vanishing civilizations, disfiguring thriving states and much loved wholesale murdering from Latin American countries to West Asian countries is internationally very well renowned.
The most recent of all is the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, second most powerful leader of Iran after religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Uncle Sam tried to legitimize this act of terror by fabricating various allegations against Soleimani, one of them being his involvement in various terrorist activities from London to New Delhi which is nothing more than an outright lie instead he was the major actor in terminating the Islamic State of Syria and Levant (ISIL). Most of us simply believe that Trump did so just to get away with Impeachment hearings just like all the other previous US presidents did for the fantasy lust for power. Not advocating for Iran but I would love to mention some facts here which can prove most of us right: United States first meddled in Iran’s internal affairs when Iranian government nationalized it’s oil as it was too much to bear for USA’s economic interests in the region that it launched a coup d’etat against democratically elected Mossadeq’s socialist government in 1953 and replace it with the USA’s loyalist Pahlavi dynasty. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule in Iran was quite similar to that of Kemal Ataturk’s in turkey. Although he was the stooge of USA, I admire him eminently for his persistent attempts to make Iran a modern secular state with ‘White Revolution’ consisting various political, economic and social reforms. These reforms eventually redistributed land to some 2.5 million families, established literacy and health corps to benefit Iran’s rural areas, furthered enfranchisement of women and ended the rule of Shariah. In subsequent decades, per capita income of Iranians skyrocketed and oil revenue fuelled an enormous increase in state funding for industrial development projects. Not rhapsodizing but being a law student, I cannot flunk the principle of ‘audi alteram partem’ and demonize the Shah just because he was conditionally westernized and not a parochial neo traditionalist like the majority of Iran.
As I say, ‘not only the religion but also the culture is opiate of masses’. Imposition of western values led to the countrywide resentment as people saw Shah as a threat to their culture which in turn resulted in the Iranian revolution of 1979 where a Shia leader, Ruhollah Khomenei successfully mobilized people on religious lines and usurped the throne. This act of Khomenei can be considered as a classic example political manipulation of religion.
The key intent behind putting the example of US and Iran here is not only to explain the political manipulation by reshaping the hearts, minds, hopes and dreams of the citizenry but also to put that all of us are same be it Americans, Iranians or Indians etc irrespective of the sanctity of our borders. We all are designed to serve, inundated with the constant barrage of propaganda, our minds are moulded, our tastes are influenced, our words are exploited and our actions are coerced to accept the plattered lies, to be satisfied with the shows of flags and bucket full of nukes, to believe that war is peace, red is blue and girls are boys and slavery is freedom.
By reversing the case here, it can be avowed that the assassination of Soleimani worked in Iran’s favour. Coincidentally, at the time of Soleimani’s assassination, people in Iran were protesting against the corrupt government, unemployment, human rights abuses, hike in fuel prices and demanding the overthrow of the religious leader, Khamenei but in the fraction of second, everything has changed. Now, people are not protesting against Khamenei but rallying to show their love for Soleimani, right hand of Khamenei which ultimately suppressed the popular dissent against the government. Now, you all are free to use your minds cum catacombs and relate this post truth idea with all the communal riots happened in India just before the elections.
Anyway, this uncontrollable phenomenon of psychological manipulation for political gains is inevitable and will stop only by overcoming the shortage of outlaws in your society, by outgrowing the knee-jerk reflection of what people wants you to think and most importantly, by decontrolling your own selves.
Sadaf Parvez Rajput
B.A. LLB, Jamia Millia Islamia
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.