In Bangladesh, we were almost ruined by the conservatives. The principles and ideals of our Liberation War were thrown away by them; our commendable Constitution of 1972 torn and amputated. Communalism was unleashed-State and politics misdirected. In the comfortable space created, 'collaborators' of 1971 have given rise even to terrorist groups and activities. Some people tend to forget that political conservatives were not there alone. They forget that religious nationalism or communalism was the ideology of the feudal lords and capitalists who wanted to mislead and confuse the people with the help of these age-old tools quite dear to our pious people. That's why they held only the conservatives responsible for our sad plight. They were grievously wrong.
Of course, among us, there were certain other quarters that marked and talked about capitalists or exploiters only. They made the other important mistake of overlooking the ideological tool of these exploiter classes. Thus thatFaith was being put to big use for furthering ends of exploitation remained unmarked and unexposed. Taken together, exposures were seriously incomplete or partial here. And, we are paying a high price for lack of a balanced view or complete picture.
Actually, talk about incompleteness of exposures is incomplete until and unless we talk about the liberals also. Liberals have their own important roles to play against the conservatives; but that merely being liberal is not enough becomes clear if we remember that conservatism's harm also lies most in its defense and promotion of exploitation. It is by putting up false pictures of harm coming, not from exploiters, but Hindus, Jews, Muslims or Christians en masse, that conservatism serves the cause of exploitation. It thus hides and saves the true exploiters who are there among followers of all religions. That same harm may come from the liberals if they end up exposing conservatism only and not exploitation and exploiters. And, that has more and more become the gist of the situation of the Mahoutor 14-paty Government in recent times. We should not butwe do overlook this part of the rule by liberals of our country. And, this is the truth about neo-liberalism here and elsewhere This was the truth earlier also; but, situation has deteriorated more during the mean time. We now cannot but say that mere liberalism is not enough, at all.
We now find the same class of people-traders and tycoons among them-organised in a big number in the leadership of both the liberals and conservatives of Bangladesh. And, in their interests and activities to promote narrow interests, they often do not differ much. The difference between them will go more if the liberals do not take big care and let on and on their activists tarnish their image in ways similar to those of the conservatives. If misrule, misappropriation, and amassing of wealth are found to be equally true of both sets of people at the end of the day, tall talks about the Liberation War and its heroes will not matter or save much. For, that War also was important for its promises of economic welfare to be brought to mass people.
The moment that promise was betrayed or impressions of such betrayal anyhow reached masses, they veered in the opposite direction and appeared to be looking for spiritual salvation, for, that was the tantalizing pledge coming always from the killers and rapists of 1971. We may blame our people for their credulity; but to no purpose. Rather, we must stop failing in delivering real welfare to them. With exploitative interests driving them also, liberals find it more and more difficult to perform differently from the conservatives. Spiritual bliss is invisible; people may wait for that to come from the Conservatives until after death. Liberalism is mostly earth-bound; being liberals, they cannot afford to fail in ensuring real well-being in this-life. Liberals have lesser scopes of deceiving or failing, and they have chosen this difficult path.
I shall finish by pointing out how, in the latest situation, over the issues of killing of bloggers or grabbing minority property,the Conservatives are trying in all possible ways to fan up and tickle people's religious sentiments.
This old game they are indulging in for their high expectations from it. Can't we easily conjecture, in that case, that a separate and protracted program of liberalizing our masses remains the other essential pre-condition for any success of the liberals in Bangladesh? So long this is not understood in due depth and addressed through concrete steps, no volume of tall talk about the blood and sweat of martyrs and activists will be of any avail. And, for that to happen again, we are to bridge up the gaps between sets of liberals and sets of radicals again. To our big dismay and loss, this gap has been widening in the recent past. We-all of us--are so quickly making room for the conservatives.
The left politicians could not rely on their materialistic ideology and sort of spiritualized their political documents. I remember what was written about a major religion glorifying it when Comrade Mohammad Farhad was the General Secretary of CPB.Won't the two groups-liberal nationalists and radical liberals-all quickly get the reality of big harm coming from the gaps between them for our mass people? They can forge program-based alliance at the least. Time is possibly running out, and no word can exaggerate the significance of left-democratic unity for the good of our people at large. All concerned need to very truly realize this and do the need-full. It's not the responsibility and liability of any one of the two groups.
Kajal Bandyopadhyay is Professor,
Department of English, Dhaka University.