Should writers be vocal about political issues? A simple personal choice but a tough public call!

The question of whether writers should be vocal about political issues is a complex and nuanced one. There are valid arguments on both sides of the debate, and the answer may vary depending on individual beliefs, the context in which the writer operates, and the potential impact of their voice. While one cannot dictate what one should do, it should be a reasonable choice at the personal level as well. One cannot tell a writer how to write and what to write. Though readers do have their say when the book is published, they cannot hound the author even if they don’t like the final work. Nevertheless, in the case of political opinions, especially in a democracy, everyone wants to be heard loud and clear, especially those pushed out of power or being kept at bay for a long time. However, if you try to recall, in the great Indian context, seldom a case can be found where ‘liberals,’ ‘seculars,’ and ‘champions of freedom of speech’ have sided with the BJP – irrespective of the party’s status – whether in power or not! The so-called argument of lending one’s creative and artistic voice to the opposition consumes the alcohol of silence when the BJP is in opposition in any of the Indian states or the central power. Why so? We cannot conjecture… because it is almost certain.

Irrespective of the opening, let’s explore a few arguments on whether writers should be politically vocal or not. You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section.

1. Freedom of Speech and Expression:
Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental human right that should be protected and upheld. Writers, like all individuals, have the right to express their views on political matters. As artists and creators, they may feel compelled to use their platform to address societal issues, challenge norms, and advocate for change. In democratic societies, open discourse and diverse perspectives are essential for a healthy public debate, and writers can contribute to this by expressing their political views. However, it should be uniform, justified and a little dignified too. Not like the author of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, the wonderful Arundhati Roy who is jaundiced to the atrocities on A and vociferous when B is the victim.

2. Responsibility and Impact:
While writers have the right to express their political opinions, they also carry a responsibility for the potential impact of their words. Political issues can be divisive, and public figures, including writers, may influence the opinions and actions of their audience. It is crucial for writers to be mindful of the potential consequences of their words and to engage in thoughtful, well-informed discussions. Misinformation or incendiary rhetoric can fuel tensions and contribute to polarisation.

3. Balancing Art and Advocacy:
For some writers, politics and advocacy become an integral part of their art and creative expression. They may use their works to raise awareness about pressing issues, shed light on marginalized voices, and champion social justice causes. For others, art is a means of escapism and exploration, a sanctuary away from the demands of the political world. Both approaches are valid, and writers should be free to choose how they wish to incorporate or distance themselves from political themes.

4. Personal and Professional Impact:
Taking a strong political stance may have personal and professional repercussions for writers. Some readers may be drawn to their work precisely because of their views, while others may be put off. Writers must be prepared to face criticism and, at times, even backlash for their opinions. However, staying true to their beliefs can also foster a loyal readership that shares their values.

5. Intersectionality and Representation:
Political issues often intersect with matters of identity, race, gender, and class. Writers from marginalized communities may find it essential to speak up about political issues that directly impact their lives and experiences. In doing so, they can bring attention to systemic injustices and advocate for positive change.

In the end, there is no definitive right or wrong answer to whether writers should be vocal about political issues. It is a personal choice that should be made thoughtfully, considering the potential impact and the individual’s sense of responsibility. What is essential is to maintain a respectful and constructive dialogue, recognizing that diverse perspectives enrich public discourse. Writers, like everyone else, have a role in shaping the societal narrative, and with that role comes the opportunity to contribute to a more informed and engaged citizenry. The key lies in finding a balance between exercising the freedom of speech and expression while being aware of the power and influence of their words in shaping public opinion.

In the great Indian context, I will reiterate my argument, we cannot be certain if we have a dignified cadre of writers and intellectuals… they are openly siding with one side rather than being steadfast in their stance of lending their important voice to the opposition. Many events have bared their bones but to no avail! Let’s hope it may change, but we know it won’t!


Shivam for Literature News