ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Decisionism' and the Cult of Narendra Modi

A Note

The Indian electorate's endorsement of Narendra Modi is influenced by the ideology of "Decisionism" similar to that mobilised by the German intelligentsia in the 1930s to defend the Third Reich. Where could the expectations and the possible failure of the promises of Decisionism lead us to?

The German political idea of “Decisionism” (and its contemporary avatars in present-day India) may be germane to understanding the enchantment of the middle classes and the subalterns with Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of the Indian Union. Decisionism is an outcome of a deep craving for firm decisions by the political authority in a situation where things are perceived to be adrift. It was one of the ideological resources mobilised by the German intelligentsia to defend the Third Reich in the 1930s. While the Weimar Republic based on multiparty coalition was condemned for its inability to take decisions, the Nazis were lauded for their ability to take “bold” decisions.

The Decisionist desire is no doubt informed by structures of expectations and promises. Yet in its pure ideological moment, as argued by the well-known legal theorist and unrepentant critic of liberalism, Carl Schmitt, what matters in Decisionism is the very act of deciding in itself, irrespective of the content and consequences of such decisions. Thus, decisions do not draw their validity from their content but their form – what matters is that they are taken by the right kind of political authority. One well- known such decision was the 12-year-long suspension of the Weimar Constitution by Adolf Hitler in 1933, under emergency provisions.

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