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

Error and Its Politics

In recent times, open confessions by political leaders that in their political judgment and decisions they have committed errors have become quite a rare virtue. Many leaders do not opt for a confession as they do not have a stake in finding the truth. However, there are a few who, in their spirited efforts, have demonstrated the ethical stamina to openly confess the occurrence of an error in their political judgment.

In recent times, open confessions by political leaders that in their political judgment and decisions they have committed errors have become quite a rare virtue. Many leaders do not opt for a confession as they do not have a stake in finding the truth. However, there are a few who, in their spirited efforts, have demonstrated the ethical stamina to openly confess the occurrence of an error in their political judgment. Thus, a lack of confession on the one hand and its articulation on the other suggest that there is both a troubled and complex relationship between an error and the politics of its rectification. Thus, in a kind of transparent but uncertain politics, an error becomes the logical necessity to strengthen the moral foundation of politics through its rectification. The uncertain nature of politics tends to provide space for learning from experience and reaching towards a benign end.

Error can occur on two basic counts: first that there is a fixed aim to approach, and second, that this aim has to be approached in political conditions that are both transparent and at the same time quite uncertain. Put differently, if there is a prior given, a straightforward road map or the perfect blueprint, there is little chance for an error to occur. This, by and large, is true of left politics in the country. Arguably, these forces seem to have treated politics as a sphere of certainty regulated by codified principles. Infallibility of principles may, therefore, convince or prompt the political leaders, particularly those who are Gandhian and left-leaning, to treat even a forward-looking opportunity as a regressive error. Such principles that regulate politics will not entertain an idea where error is considered as a missed opportunity.

Similarly, error would not occur with those who refuse to make any judgment or take a political position publicly. Some of the leaders and public personalities, like cine stars, feel safe as they are less likely to commit any error on account of their inability to take any position on an issue, howsoever important. Put differently, the occurrence of error creates the possibility to keeping unhealthy scepticism at bay. However, erring regularly without seeking rectification can also result in cynicism and, hence, error as the opportunity for correction tends to lose its moral significance. For example, there are a few politicians who are known to have been in the cynical business of foul-mouthing.

In this regard, it is important to address the question: Under what conditions could the occurrence of error be corrected? Arguably, given the political mood of the politicians, particularly in contemporary times, it is a fact the error cannot be corrected by writing a thesis or a research paper on the concept of error. It is interesting to note that it is the sphere of politics that provides space for the rectification of error. It is the moral demagogy that is used by the seasoned but concerned political leaders to admit error so as to move people on their side; perhaps on the side of truth. Confessing publicly about error helps the parties expand the moral basis of politics. Such a confession was effectively used in the recent assembly elections in Maharashtra. The confession of errors, and the readiness to rectify them, thus, does have moral value inasmuch as they disallow any repetition in the political judgment and decision that would be taken in the future. Detecting errors in the past, rectifying them in the present, and ensuring that these do not occur in the future contribute to the consolidation of the moral foundation of politics. Thus, the correction of error in politics is not out of personal vendetta, but is aimed politics of emancipation. It would be a mistake to link error to instrumental politics. In fact, the rectification of error contributes to the creation of moral hegemony, which serves as the precondition for political solidarity against forces whose political project is to impose social dominance through engineering defection of certain motivated elements, particularly from the marginalised communities. Taking responsibility for error and self-blaming has moral value. It creates the possibility of forging moral hegemony, and that should precede political solidarity. In fact, such disabuse of discretion constitutes error which is morally culpable. Those who do not have a stake in an egalitarian, democratic, and inclusive India choose to build their career on erring in the present by continuously referring to the errors of the past.

Updated On : 12th Nov, 2019

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top