The 21st century is the era of politicalness. Turn around and you will find a plethora of political opinions and judgments by the “woke” citizenry. Today, the air you breathe, the words you utter, the things you think, – basically, everything that you indulge in is political. Your choice to voice is political. Your choice to shush is political. Your choice to choose is political. In such a hyperpoliticized world, one often stumbles upon the vocabulary of apoliticalness. You must have come across statements like, “I am apolitical”. But what does this word endorse and connotes? Is it a human right? If yes, then how right is this right?
What Is Apoliticalness?
Every vocabulary has a denotation and a connotation according to the semiologists. Apoliticalness in simple layman’s term denotes disinterest in politics. One who is not interested in actively or passively participating in politics calls oneself as an apolitical. However, the definition doesn’t end here. The larger connotation of the word screams CHOICE – the choice to stay aloof from politics. Whenever we say there is a choice, we often talk about a decision actively made. Choice is a conscious decision made after proper analysis of the consequences. Thus, one who is apolitical has made an active or conscious choice of remaining aloof from politics.
Having established the two meanings of apoliticalness, we need to add a context to this understanding. We need to analyze the severity and veracity of apoliticalness in the light of the political developments that the world, in general and India, in particular is witnessing. Everywhere there are people on streets fighting against oppression, discrimination, subordination and stigmatization everyday. A world that reinforces ideas like equality, non-discrimination, freedom and acceptance, in sooth endorses the exact opposite. Turn your eyes, you will see glimpse of oppression and inequality. The society is highly stratified, by virtue of which, there is a social hierarchy that allows those on the top to oppress and stigmatize those at the bottom.
The Society Is The Engine, And The Politicians Its Driver.
The propensity to bring a change lies on the shoulder of politicians, who are either directly or indirectly elected to execute the will of the people. Politicians do execute the will of the people. Except, the people here are the majority/privileged section of the society who hold power and domination over the marginalized. Thus, the status quo is always the same. The privileged continue to oppress while the marginalized continue to be oppressed.
Problems With Apoliticalness:
1. It’s A Privilege
Apoliticalness is a privilege. Your choice to remain averse to politics is a privilege. Half of the population is dying, struggling and fighting against oppression, when you come up and say you are apolitical; your voice stems from the privilege you enjoy- the privilege of not being oppressed. The privilege of comfort. The privilege of unknowns. Since you have benefited from the inequalities and injustices, your choice to be silent is ‘apathy’, not ‘apoliticalness’.
While there is a significant population who doesn’t even have the means to be political and due to circumstances are apolitical. I do not ignore them or call their apoliticalness as a privilege. But those who have the means to rise up and contribute to the larger cause but rather sit in their living room, scrolling their Instagram feed, their apoliticalness is a privilege. This is problematic because under the garb of choice, you consciously choose to ignore the oppression- consequence of your choice because it doesn’t affect you.
2. Ignorance is not a bliss
Ignoring the larger political scenario and the everyday struggle is not a personal choice which you have a right to make. Two reasons substantiate it: Your choice to ignore doesn’t end oppression and your personal choice has a collective harm because you choose to keep quiet and indirectly let the oppression continue. Human beings are not selfish, nasty and brutish as Hobbes liked to label. They are different from animals because they have been bestowed with the ability to care. The ability to think and consciously decide. Your decision to be apolitical is an epitome of your ignorance which, as I stated above, is a privilege.
3. Active Choice Causing Active Harm
When you choose to ignore the oppression and inequality, you make an active choice. This choice of yours doesn’t exist in thin air. It has rather implicit consequences that you blissfully choose to ignore under your banner of “political neutrality” or “I have the right to be apolitical”. When you make this active choice, you cause active harm indirectly. You basically endorse the present structurally, social, economic, political and cultural inequality that characterizes our society. You actively establish that you have no problem with the oppression that women, LGBT+ community, minorities and other marginalized section of the society suffer.
This makes you no different than those who participate in the oppression, for the world functions only under binaries: oppressor and oppressed. You have but two choices to make. When you choose apoliticality, you shift to the oppressors paradigm.
Being Political Is Not Easy
My dear readers, I understand that being political is not an easy task especially in the kind of the world we live in. Your choice to be political makes you a target of the majority. You may be attacked, abused, labelled and demonized. But every time somebody stands for a cause they believe in, every time somebody speaks against the injustices; the world becomes a better place. A better place for all of us. Being political is being vocal about causes you believe in and asking questions. Ask questions. Look for answers. Judge for yourself.
Being apolitical is political. There is no in-between. You are not staying away from politics, instead you are engaging in a different form of politics- the politics of silence. Apoliticalness is a choice. Everybody has a choice to choose for themselves. However, the morality of such decision can always be questionable. My dear readers, you must wonder the subjectivity of morality. I have just one response: Do you add the lens of subjectivity when you are wronged?