As if on cue, a psychologist at Stanford finds out why everyone finds moral leaders annoying:

Moral leadership is challenging for an obvious reason — you have to know what’s right and wrong. But it’s also difficult because, on the whole, people are ambivalent about moral crusaders. Now there’s a name for that strange mixture of admiration, guilt, and defensive dismissiveness you feel when you encounter someone better than you: it’s called “anticipated reproach,” and Benoît Monin, a psychologist at Stanford, has studied it in a number of fascinating experiments. His essential finding: The more we feel as though good people might be judging us, the lower they tend to fall in our regard. As he explains in a recent paper, coauthored with Julia Minson of Wharton, “overtly moral behavior can elicit annoyance and ridicule rather than admiration and respect” when we feel threatened by someone else’s high ethical standards.

Link via The Atlantic.


Certainly a very strong argument can be made against Anna Hazare’s movement even after studying the path that brought Hazare, Kejriwal, et al to this point. But  all critiques I have read have been lazy when they haven’t been wrong. The movement has made otherwise sane folks praise India’s wonderful democracy. [That to me sounds like a Jat deserving praise for he letting his daughter marry her lover from the same gothra .. before he killed them both that is.]

And like Wikileaks, folks reject it because the movement has “power without responsibility”. Again, otherwise intelligent folks. [If I had to list acceptable entities that had power without responsibility, I’d start with kids. Further, these movements tend to breed only in places where excessive power can misused without being held responsible.]

Then there are those who’d rather stick with existing laws and the constitution because it works in favour of their argument. Anyone following politics closely can name a handful of existing laws that are ridiculous.

Then there are the ad hominem attacks.

Now I am constructing a strawman of sorts because these are not the only arguments. But if you come across one critique (or 5 consecutive tweets) that is spot on from start to end, please share.


On the pro-Hazare side, anyone not a fanboy is assumed to be against the movement. Although in fairness, the law of averages requires that you will only find average intelligence in a mass movement. And that is a huge turn off for intelligent people who didn’t join the movement before it was popular.

Not to say that anyone joining now is not intelligent. I didn’t say that. I might have given the impression of implying it though. And I also put this idea in your mind now.


What I’m saying is, both sides can make the debate much much better.


The only way to be agreeable these days is by criticizing both sides and never letting your side take tangible form. I learnt that from Jon Stewart.