The beatification of Saint Judt
The last 30-45 days has seen a surge on obits, reviews and tributes to Tony Judt.
Tony who? Exactly. An unknown writer till a few months ago, has suddenly become famous in his death. Media (at least in India) has gone overboard. But when Marathi media started on Tony Judt, it was high noon. The straw on the camel’s back.
OK, guilty of misrepresentation. Not the camel’ back! It was my back.
There seems an effort at beatification of Tony Judt. In the modern era, temporal authorities, award a quick Nobel Prize, pin a Congressional Medal of Honor – and the process of ‘secular’ sainthood is completed. Media aids by marching to the drumbeat of the State. These ‘secular’ sainthoods by the ‘modern-secular-liberal-progressive-democratic’ establishment are not meant to be enduring or important. They , the latter-day, disposable, ‘secular’ saints, serve a utilitarian purpose to their masters – the State.
Tony Judt is no exception.
From the safety of a university cloister
By being overtly anti-Israel, Tony Judt, gets an inside track into the Islamic mind – to start his ideas of ‘identity’.
A self-confessed, Social Democrat (but that is not ‘identity’) Tony Judt is the type who speaks from the comfort of a winning side.
We know enough of ideological and political movements to be wary of exclusive solidarity in all its forms. One should keep one’s distance not only from the obviously unappealing “-isms”—fascism, jingoism, chauvinism—but also from the more seductive variety: communism, to be sure, but nationalism and Zionism too. And then there is national pride: more than two centuries after Samuel Johnson first made the point, patriotism—as anyone who passed the last decade in America can testify—is still the last refuge of the scoundrel. (via Edge People | The New York Review of Books).
As fortunes shifted and wavered, Tony Judt’s recounts how his family moved from one declining economy to another growing economy. From Eastern Europe, vaguely in a region near Russia, to Antwerp in Belgium thereon to Britain and finally to the USA. He finds
over the years these fierce unconditional loyalties—to a country, a God, an idea, or a man—have come to terrify me. The thin veneer of civilization rests upon what may well be an illusory faith in our common humanity.
To people like Tony Judt, identity is a matter of convenience. And they rightly, recommend that people must have no identity – and by extension, no loyalty. Fly flags of convenience. May the highest bidder win.
I wonder where Judt’s family was, when the Belgians were flogging the Congolese.
Sainthood by the Vatican
The ‘modern’ State and the media of the Free World have it easy when it comes to cannonising people like Tony Judt!
The Catholic Church has a rather exacting process, stretching over a few years, at the very least. The Catholic Church even appoints a Devil’s Advocate – someone who tries to find reasons why the candidate should NOT be declared a saint.
This process has sometimes taken decades too. After multiple processes and steps, a committee. the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decides on these issues. With the kind of rigour that the Vatican process follows, Saints have ‘public memory’ life span extending to centuries.
Coming to Saint Judt
Today when the West is paying the price for creating a misshapen Islamic identity, people like Judt thinly speak out against identity – an Islamic identity. Or when the West faces a challenge from Asia, China and India, it pays to talk of less identity.
This idea of less identity would not be such a bad idea – if you have so little of identity, to start with!
Within 18 months of the start of the WW1, the British and the French had started discussing how to ‘dispose’ the territories of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, the people of the Middle East were not consulted – as they did not matter.
Demonising communism and now Islam. Without taking the responsibility for their own actions – and further interventions, creating further instability. Like the demonisation of the Jews before and the Red Indians after, this too is having disastrous effects – in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.