Saturday, 22 November 2014

Choosing politics as a career

It is beneath the dignity of any person who has self respect to beg for votes, observed Nietzsche

Living in a world where:
~ “Politics has replaced philosophy” and we find, around us, politicians rather than statesmen.
~“Politics as industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country”  — and then declares itself puzzled that [people] have lost trust in its politicians.
~One is bound to be soiled by mudslinging which is “in politics, anything bad the opponent says about our candidate; in contrast, when our candidate does this, it is called 'making a good point.”
~“We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate.”
~Politics has been “concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” “There are many men of principle in both parties …but there is no party of principle.” It is the rich that fund campaigns implying justice has been sold.
Isn’t it vain to expect significant results from current sound and fury?  Better we ignore it but it is difficult to ignore dangerous and ominous voices and forces that affect us all, including the souls of politicians. While politicians are busy campaigning for principles they uphold (are there any for them in a world that is controlled by money power, by vote bank bought with money, by majority that is always servant of lower desires and defined best as consuming animals?) let us note what we, including our friends and enemies in politics all know. If these points I list below can’t be denied I wonder if we have any other choice than to choose our place in the opposition camp – not the opposition party’s camp but what is better called resistance camp, but not the separatist resistance camp we identify with certain people around but abstract category of resistance camp that always opposes, scrutinizes and helps make power more accountable – not the power of opposite party but power of politicians, of bureaucrats, of Capitalist elite or Corporates.
Granted that some politicians can be saintly, at least in intentions; not all are after money (one minister  had not enough for his coffin) and many do succeed in some ways in serving people and given our conditions one can’t expect many saintly politicians in a world rotten at core, the following points need a consideration:

1) Current secular understanding of democratic politics is against every religion or every tradition and any great ethical philosophy. From Plato to Al-Farabi to St. Augustine to Vogelin to Guenon we are told by great thinkers with one voice that ‘ king can properly order a state only so long as he has a fair knowledge of the true ordering principles.” 
2) Politics is not a career. In Plato’s famous dialogue Statesman, we find the traditional concept of statesman defined as one who looks beyond the political or what Eric Voegelin says, who is ‘meta-political’. “Statesman is involved ‘in politics’ because that is his vocation but he is not ‘of politics.’”
3) Politicians can’t be or aren’t much trusted even by fellow politicians. Politicians can be bought or sold in the market. They can change parties. They can betray own parties. And most people and almost all political thinkers would agree that they betray people. 
4) It is beneath the dignity of any person who has self respect to beg for votes, observed Nietzsche. So what about campaigns? 
5) They promise the moon they know they can never give.  An important Indian politician was asked why aren’t promises made in elections he replied that if they fulfilled they would be jobless for life as they have to keep problems alive to make possible future elections and campaigning. “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river”(Nikita Khrushchev).
6) Politicians not pained by the agony of the unemployed, mess in public transport, failing cooperatives, messy educational system, ailing health sector,  threatened environment so if they really want to serve us – all service is a sacrifice- they leave us alone and remove family raj, remove themselves from the scene.
7) Politicians covet ministership or power. Why? The best statesmen like Gandhi couldn’t  or wouldn’t accept posts in independent India; he was in Calcutta and not in Delhi when the nation was celebrating independence.”
8)  “Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.” Leaving alone understanding of intellectuals and political scientists even most commoners believe that politicians are there to serve themselves. (Panen gari baren !)
9) They trade in lies.  I am not saying that they are forced to resort to lies or routinely use lies to be in power but that “Truth is not determined by majority vote.”
10) Politician’s lot is the least enviable because he has to trade soul for things that are not worthy of human state. “What does a man gain if he gains the whole world and loses his soul.” So should one choose a career in which such divisive and idolatrous ideologies as nationalism backed by military industrial elite are dogmas, one may gain power but often at the cost of losing one’s soul 
 Postscript: It has been noted that the suffering and death of the Holocaust did not happen because a few psychopaths held ignoble ideologies; for Baum, the Holocaust happened because the vast majority of people simply did not care. Do we care about the deaths, losses, illusions, delusions, false hopes, deferred revolution we have been seeing or living through? If yes how? To vote or not to vote is not the question. There is a much deeper question that we all need to ask.

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