• Friday 10th April 2020

On Cultures

  • Published on: December 18, 2019

  • Behavioral studies such as political science have made much distinction between elite and mass cultures as tools of analyses. In many ways perhaps the challenge for democracy was to narrow the gap between the political elite and the masses. The current discourses on democracy as an increasingly threatened concept cannot but escape demands for a more in depth look into the elite and mass political culture. Perhaps one finds clues in the shape western democracies are taking. Is Donald Trump, for example, for example, part of the American elite or its mass culture? His critics of the left pronounce that he is extreme right. In this case he would be part of that elite culture that American political science often sees as undemocratic. But much of Trump’s criticism emanates from the fact that his ‘rightist’ approach is too populist. Indeed, democracy would mean populism in many ways and if the ‘right’ is popular Trump would represent democracy. Where, hen, would this place his opponents? They, as ‘leftists’, would be more distant from the mass culture? As much, perhaps, as Beijing’s distant Communist ‘left’ from Hong Kong’s democrats or that from the Uighur and Tibetan nationalists? Or perhaps we should shift to Boris Johnson’s Britain where his thumping Brexit based win now threatens the United Kingdom. H is from the conservative party as much as Trump is republican. But, is his popular endorsement by vote a popular push to allow for Scottish independence. After all, the Scottish party which wants that independence gained the Scottish vote and the Scots voted against Brexit which won Boris Johnson his votes. This is not even touching the he Irish sensitivities that Boris has raised by his win. So which vote reflects the elite or the mass cultures? And, this is not even touching upon Putin’s Russia where, along with his votes, he still claims runaway poll popularity. Is Putin an ‘elite’ or ‘mass’ specimen?
    This somewhat confusing argument is somewhat indulgently being placed in this column also because of its use in the Nepali context. Has the ‘elite’ and ‘mass’culture dichotomy so narrowed in Nepal as to render the Nepal Communist Party one with the masses? Is this why Pushpa Kamal Dehal’ s political program being placed for discussion in his party wants now to create a communist state? His party has the vote after all and he claims one-ness with the masses. He is certainly not part of the traditional political elite. So, if he is representative of the mass culture, why can’t he claim to be the modernist he says he is? If he is, then communism in the Nepali case is democracy or else democracy must have to do something else than mere reflect the vote. Or else, democracy must mean something more than the masses. Regardless of the vote, neither comrade Prachanda nor his alter ego Prie Minister Oli are neither part of the mass culture nor are they politicalelites in the actual sense of the term. They are political elites by strength of political organizations. It counterparts in western organizational terms is perhaps showing only now. It is the times that is forcing the transparency in that part of the world while that transparency, long known in our parts, have been ignored by the west for their own purposes.


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