Ours is an age of ideology. Ideology is a means of submerging everyday existence into a dream-like waiting room. Ideologically-sustained life is a relentless deferral of presence on behalf of a hoped-for glorious future. Our gaze is prompted backward and forward, the future being the domain wherein the past may be rectified. If the criterion of truth is not in agreement with reality, but in agreement with the spirit of a nation, class or caste, then apparently, truth has been replaced by perspective; theory by interpretation; presence by transience; and actuality by possibility. We are left with neither knowledge nor wisdom, but recipes for endless conflict and linguistic chaos. Such are the dimensions of contemporary nihilism.
Dilip Simeon taught history at Delhi University till 1994. He has been a visiting scholar in campuses in India and abroad; and is a public intellectual interested in questions of conflict, labour and communal harmony. His publications include a book titled, The Politics of Labour under Late Colonialism: Workers,Unions and the State in Chota Nagpur, 1928 – 1939 (Manohar, 1995). His first novel, Revolution Highway, was published in 2010 (Penguin Books).