Check Your Tamil ‘Progressive Intellectual’ Privilege

Posted in Society and Culture by Karthick RM on September 20, 2014

After deep consideration, discussion and deliberation for about 20 minutes, we decided that Tamil ‘progressive intellectuals’ have too many privileges in our society. So, since we are pretty jobless at the moment, and since we also want to try fighting privileges by naming and shaming instead of participating in deep theoretical and political struggles, we have come out with the following list of privileges that Tamil ‘progressive intellectuals’ have. We use ‘progressive intellectual’ as a generic pejorative term to designate those writers, journalists, academics, artists, (non)thinkers, poets, sculptors, wine-shop owners, dappankuthu dancers, etc. who consider themselves as ‘progressive intellectuals’ and feel that it is their task to criticize real or imagined injustices even if they are absolutely clueless on how to change them, who also take it as their divine right to pass judgments on people’s movements.

We place ‘progressive intellectuals’ within single quotes because that sounds a lot cooler.

These points were jointly written by myself, Catwoman*, and Bane*. Mostly myself [expects standing ovation]. Many thanks to Magneto* and Mystique* for their feedback. [*Names changed to protect identities.]

Please, please, please like and share this post. The authors will also send private mails/fb messages/tweets to their contacts appealing to circulate this post as much as possible.

  1. You call yourself a ‘progressive intellectual’. That is the first joke. A bad one at that.
  2. You think your lived experience validates your political position. FYI, it doesn’t.
  3. You do not want to take responsibility for your choices.
  4. You want to criticize everyone who has contributed in practical terms to the Tamil cause, be it Periyar or Pirapaharan. Fine. But if your criticism is criticized, you react like a monkey whose ass is on fire.
  5. You demand the freedom to criticism as an inviolable right, but you can stay aloof from a people’s movement while judging it in your terms.
  6. You can have no knowledge of Tamil history, politics, culture, art or philosophy but can still claim validity to your arguments just because of lived experience.
  7. You say that there is no essential Tamil culture and yet use an essentialized notion of a Tamil culture to condemn it.
  8. You can only identify differences in Tamil society – and there are many indeed – but you would deliberately thwart all attempts to create a unity.
  9. The reason you would give for doing the above is that you claim to oppose the domination of a particular region, caste, or gender. Nothing new. That was Karuna’s rationale for splitting.
  10. You want to solve the problem of class, caste, gender and region disparities by just talking (mostly whining) about the same. The idea of these being resolved in a struggle led by a genuinely progressive party does not strike you.
  11. This brings us to the next point – you want to replace political struggle with political correctness. Since we do not want to be like you, we want to say that we think that you are a bunch of whiny wimps.
  12. You want to celebrate the difference of identities while refusing to acknowledge that a brutal free market capitalism precisely thrives on the proliferation of different identities.
  13. Your excuse for political and theoretical bankruptcy is usually a sad life story designed to provoke cheap sympathy.
  14. You (half)read Marxists, anti-racists, feminists and other culture critics from a western context and try to apply their methodologies to a totally different Tamil context. Again, you will explain your lack of originality with a sad story.
  15. You take Marxism totally out of context and judge social revolutionaries like Periyar for being ‘reformist’ or a liberation struggle like LTTE for being ‘fascist’.
  16. Your idea of feminism or gender justice is derived solely from advanced liberal democracies. The gender justice of movements like the LTTE, PKK, FARC are anathema to you.
  17. To quote the bard, your wit makes wise things foolish.
  18. You think a dozen likes by dullards on facebook has won you allies and you write in a manner to appeal to their unrefined emotions. You are the Tamil academic version of TR Silambarasan. [And the authors apologize to simbu for this analogy]
  19. You can call Tamil Nadu activists as ‘mobs’ and ‘fascists’ when they democratically criticize an anti-Eelam movie, but remain conveniently silent when the Indian state bans and censors pro-Eelam movies.
  20. You can ally with a thoroughly brahminical CPI(M) to degrade Tamil nationalists and Periyarists.
  21. You can use brahminical establishments and the space that they provide to condemn Tamil society as casteist.
  22. You can claim to be above the Tamil identity while at the same time forcing Tamils to subscribe to micro-identities. If you can transcend your Tamil identity, why cannot Tamils transcend their caste identity?
  23. You can drop terms like intersectionality in abstract without any principled consideration or sober assessment of the concrete.
  24. You can claim to oppose White-imperialist-capitalist-patriarchy (only because that’s the easiest way to get attention) but you welcome the pro-LLRC US resolution.
  25. Tell the truth. You are afraid of freedom.

[points 26-999 are just repetitions of above points, reworded in more cool sounding academese.]

1000. Ok. We need to go out now. It’s SATURDAY. WE HAVE A LIFE. To quote the bard again, you are not worth another word.

1001. But maybe we can spare three words as a goodbye. Piss off losers.

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4 Responses

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  1. geethageetha said, on September 22, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Wow, it’s hard out here for a misogynist eh?

    • Karthick RM said, on September 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Not sure about that. But I presume it is a lot easier to be a sellout. Maybe you can enlighten us more on the same…

  2. சினம் said, on September 29, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Strange that it has the satire tag, when it is not satire. The Iyer bio was satire and specific enough to be quite funny. This is a series of generalizations that are not quite fair and not pithy enough to overlook it.

    I’d like to read you disagree with someone with the courtesy of engaging with their ideas, without resorting to contemptuous generalizations and imputing wicked motives, with a little more empathy and a little less eagerness to polarize further.

    • Karthick RM said, on September 29, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Hello ‘Sinam’. Thank you for your comment. Could you point out which points you felt were generalizing?

      To be honest, I am not sure what ideas are there to engage with. I mean, I dont think screaming, whining and grumbling instead of a sober assessment of reality constitute ideas. I dont think copy-pasting methodologies without context sensitivity constitutes an idea. I dont think substituting knowledge gained from rigorous historical research with lived experience constitutes an idea. Parody seemed the most sensible option to deal with this.

      I can debate with someone who has some theoretical outlook. How can you debate with someone who claims validity for his/her arguments on the sole basis of his/her life experiences? I would strongly suggest you read Slavoj Zizek on how this form of culturalization of politics is making things a lot worse for emancipatory struggles.

      That is precisely the reason for tagging this post as a satire. It was meant to satirize those politically correct intellectuals who appear to be obsessed with “checking privileges” but in practice do everything possible to obstruct the work of those who are actually fighting those privileges. I thought that should have been obvious.

      But then, it isn’t.

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