Scanning the papers I discovered that the budget was not the only thing I didn’t understand. There was stuff about
There was a time in my early twenties though when I pretended to understand all these things, and managed to con not only myself but a number of other people into believing I did, through having mastered what had earlier seemed like totally incomprehensible themes. I started devouring newspaper editorials and books on political theory and began to bone up on international affairs and modern Indian politics and before long found myself using a lot of very important sounding words and phrases which I would give anything to remember now so as to reproduce them here and make you believe me. People began to look at me with new respect and the more admiration I got the more determined I became to plow through even more chunky tomes and articles to back up my impressive “grasp” of politics.
But then you see, the reason I got started on the road to politics was not because politics or economics interested me per se but because a handful of individuals I’d got to know at the time and whom I was trying desperately to befriend, were themselves deep into Marx and Mao or things like the Balfour Declaration (wow, I’m patting myself on the back for remembering that one!) and all kinds of really intellectually meaty stuff which provided us with so many hours of rich conversation over beer and kebabs in the evening.
So what went wrong? Did the beer lose its appeal? Was I waylaid by other interests? No. I think what happened was this. I realized one day in the midst of one of my really wise sounding statements on the future of Chinese agricultural reforms or something similar, that I was walking on thin ice. Although we seemed to be making a lot of sense to each other, I hadn’t a clue as to what I was saying. I had just become very (really very!) good at putting words and concepts and some basic information together on topics which my friends wanted to discuss, without knowing what I meant. I panicked to think that at any moment I might be found out. I felt a little like Frank Abagnale Jr . (Catch Me If You Can) attempting to pass himself off as the various people he really wasn’t.
Then I thought to myself, if I don’t know what I’m talking about, do the others? I couldn’t be that sure. I felt my entire world of ideas collapse about me. And to this day I am not convinced that people who spout clever sounding theories which remain inaccessible to the common man, really know what they are saying. I ask myself whether they are not being clever out of a deep rooted need to command the world’s attention the way I found myself doing years ago, rather than from a genuine concern for mankind. Because let’s face it, with such a large pool of intellectual talent at the world’s disposal and so many knowledgeable individuals in positions of power wherever you look, you would expect a lot more to happen in the way of peace, and economic justice than what you see happening.
I guess that’s why we prefer to bury our heads in the sands of abstractions which are meaningful only to an exclusive club of intellectuals and not to the ordinary people who make up the world. Oh well. Now you’re going to tell me that I shouldn’t be so judgmental and that all those debates and arguments and sermons do have their place in life. I know, I know. I agree with you totally, they do. Sigh. They go really well with beer and kebabs in the evenings.