Politics and the need to manufacture consent

One of the things that Prime Minister Modi has often been admired for (or criticized, depending on your preferences) is that he can spin a narrative exceptionally well. After all, what is politics if not the art of manufacturing just enough consent.

Smirking in the face of an incapacitated opposition in the Lok Sabha, he had once pointed out (to grudging admiration and sycophantic amusement) that in spite of all their disagreements, they could all agree that Modi understood politics.

It is not difficult to see that this is in fact true of any individual or organization that has managed to hold on to power for a period long enough to demand analysis.

The pursuit of power or hegemony is impossible without the taming of masses, hypnotizing them in fact into believing your narrative. Influence, in turn, is a direct beneficiary of proximity to the source of power.

Every politician worth his votes understands and exploits this fact. Really, what do you know of a distant land and its peoples other than a few generalities that are fed to you in the form of somebody else’s opinion? In light of this, the idea of Globalization seems like an illusion sustained by the need of the powerful to maintain status quo.

The point is, it is at once breathtaking and terrifying that someone can alter the way you think, leverage the blind spots in your thought landscape to influence your actions.

On the one hand, it tells me that success in any form is not only immediately possible, but also wildly so, provided one is willing to perfect the art of manufacturing consent. I can do what I want, as and when I want it, provided I can tilt the system just enough in my favor.

On the other hand, it also tells me that as long as I am a part of this system, I must be a politician. How can I escape? I can either command or be ordered around. The often glamorized choice of opting out of this rat-race is merely an illusion.

There are no rats here. There are only wolves and sheep. And some among us are particularly hungry wolves.

You could disagree.

Well, believe what you will. What is truth anyway except an approximately rational analysis of the facts that are known and reasonably well understood.