10th Circle of Hell
Over the years, the world has been divided into 7 parts of a line- extreme left, left, center to left, center, center to right, right, extreme right- also known as left right continuum. From being liberal to being fundamentalist, this spectrum covers an individual’s political compass or ideology.
If you open any dating app, a common profile bio will be- swipe in the opposite direction of your political ideology. In simple terms, if you are a right wing, please excuse yourself. Humans have always been a social species and our need to communicate with our partner is biological. While few decades ago, people of different ideology were able to live together as they were mostly center to right or center to left or fluid (atleast in Indian context), today it is impossible to do so. Most people have been moving their compass towards left and right. We can thank the advent of social media triggers to provide us stimulus for extreme response or we can blame the promises of government to feed into hatred towards specific communities, there are plenty of reasons and research available for the same. This article is not about how we reached there. This is a mere observance over the years while interacting with a few thousand people, thanks to the profession of education sector. I believe that political spectrum is not a line rather a circle.
Like Dante’s 9 circles of Hell, political spectrum should be the 10th Circle for extremism. While the 7 parts live on the circumference of this circle, majority of people are inside the circle where they are fluid. They change their political identity with time and information. These can be divided into 3 types
- Fluid by force– those who struggle to make ends meet and will accept any political ideology which fulfills their basic needs
- Fluid by choice– those who keep unlearning and reading to understand themselves better and change it consciously with time
- Fluid by opportunity– basically politicians
Over the last decade, I have interacted with a lot of people who would place themselves on Left or Right spot but I could see they were on extreme ends. With more interactions, I started seeing the similarities among the two ends and I realized, it’s not a line, it’s a circle. The Left and the Right meet somewhere and become one, if not on the agreement of policies, on the treatment of politics. While the sense of superiority of being on the greater side is a psychological trait clearly visible among both, let me illustrate a few common grounds or beliefs they have-
- Hatred for Gandhi– Extreme Right needed their own Hindu fundamentalists to gain power as Gandhi was already hijacked by Congress, hence the hatred seems obvious. Ofcourse, Gandhi was killed by a person of their own ideological group. Extreme left hates Gandhi for his remarks and actions on caste and women. Somehow, both blame him for the partition.
- Love for Bhagat Singh- Extreme Left loves Bhagat for the belief in Communism and following Marx as well as Lenin. Extreme Right loves Bhagat for being a non-Gandhian non-non-violence freedom fighter. They discount the communism part or might not have read about it.
- Beef or Veganism- I have met two sets of people on both extremes. On Right, there are people who believe beef to be mentioned in Vedas and eaten by Brahmins so they consume it. The second who love cow so much that they are vegan. Both the groups are okay with lynching. On the extreme Left, there are ones who believe beef to be the indigenous food of tribals and minorities, so constitutionally they have the freedom to choose their food. The others who love all beings equally and consider veganism to be a part of feminism.
- Hatred for Congress and AAP- Kejriwal went against the established rules so it is obvious AAP gets hatred by both extreme factions, Right hates them for giving freebies and Left hates them for practicing soft Hindutva. Similarly, Congress gets a chunk of disliking these days owing to their corruption in their second term of last decade. Entire Right hates them for being Left, duh. Extreme Left does not find Congress left enough.
- Violence- Both the groups are comfortable with the idea of using violence and consider it as a resort for safeguarding the rights of oppressed. The idea or definition of oppressed differs by a diameter. It is the individual freedom and serving the society they relate to which trumps innocent lives or collateral damage. Thus, both have led to formation of militant organisations across the world.
- Indian Tradition- Yoga and Ayurveda, both are a part of daily routine for them and give them a sense of superiority for living this sustainable life closer to nature compared to others.
- Savior Complex- Both the sides feel good about themselves for helping others and consider it their job and purpose to save the society.
- Authoritarianism- Far left and far right have adhered to be against democracy and pro anarchy while being authoritarian about their views of how society should be. They keep an anti-capitalist anti-globalization stance for markets.
- Intolerance- While the far right might associate dissent with being anti-national, far left associates the same with not being woke enough to understand the concept. It’s pointless to debate with either of them and if we put both of them in the same room, the nation will win.
While these are just minute observations and there can be a sample bias and/or confirmation bias, some or the other points will apply in varied degrees. If the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain neutrality in moral crisis *coughs centrists*, what punishment do these people get for being on the extreme of this circle? Well, being there itself is enough of a punishment. We should wish them “Get well soon”.
After penning down the observations, I found references of similar studies in West and *pats the back* same outcomes. Most cited one was a paper by Herbert McClosky. Do give it a read.
(An extreme left and an extreme right person went to a bar, gunshots were heard but everyone got free drinks)