Friday, 28 November 2014

The Entertainment called Election

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right.  
—H.L. Mencken
I begin with the meaning or definition of modern politics in The Devil’s Dictionary: Politics, n: [Poly “many” + tics “blood-sucking parasites”]. I am terribly shocked by some confessional statements of world famous politicians. One is from the former US President Ronald Reagan who confessed that his career in politics has convinced him more and more that politics considered to be the second oldest profession has many resemblances with the first or the oldest profession. Other confessions are from de Gaulle and Jefferson, French and US Presidents respectively. “In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.”  “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct,” are the sayings of these two presidents respectively.
Given these widely shared perceptions, given time tested disillusionment resulting from repeated rules of opposite parties, given almost universal alienation of common people, given our understanding of relationship between money power and political power, who is not convinced that elections don’t change people’s destinies, that only faces change and not policies, especially the policies of fooling people, giving the illusion of democratic process, feeding them false hopes and selling them dreams? Who believes politicians? I can bet not even politicians of opposite parties. They know what sells and how to sell that, so that somehow they gain power. Or may be we can hope they are sincere this time, that they have no motives other than serving people without any regard for political affiliation or capacity to fund later election or capacity to pay somehow for the favours rendered. But still the fact remains that even their sincerity can’t help because what they promise is contradicting interests of those that fund them, that make them leaders. The question we explore today is if all Kashmiris believe that they(politicians) serve only themselves (panyen gar-i- chi baren). Why do they vote or attend election rallies, then? I think they do this because of three things: entertainment, possibility of career/money attached and lihaz (courtesy). They don’t think real or massive change will come or any of the series of promises made in manifestos is going to be kept.
A few days back an acquaintance of mine confided to me that he has a mountain of guilt for participating in previous parliamentary elections to please an acquaintance who had been a candidate. He said he casted his vote but rejected it there to appease his conscience. He had even campaigned for the candidate though felt that it was wrong. I wanted to say a few words of consolation to apparently terribly remorseful heart and struggled a lot to choose them. I told him that for the weak, the uneducated, the sold or enslaved people votes for or against, casted or rejected, this or that party hardly makes a difference. Freedom is not the manifesto of any party. And those “separatist” parties too are not going to win freedom. People, common people, are fooled anyway, deluded anyhow. Elections don’t really matter. Let us weep over it or laugh at it. It is a tragicomedy or more accurately a farce, a spectacle, an entertainment in which different performers or actors are hired. From those who hoist flags in streets (I wonder why tenders are not advertised to hire those who can do so on lowest payment–we see, reportedly, the same people hoist flags of different parties) to those who write or deliver speeches and prepare ads for media it is a paid business. Party patrons too are paid by those who really control politics. Votes or loyalties are bought or sold, campaigns launched, propaganda against other party is the most – and according to some – only reliable thing in speeches and when we add all the points from all the speeches we find enough evidence to distrust or discredit all. One can’t deny some noble idealistic souls too are in the melting pot but that doesn’t mean one can be naïve enough to think that they will be allowed to deliver.
All this means that we can take election frenzy primarily as entertainment that neither politicians nor workers nor people participating in it really believe in. I wish this entertainment were harmless as well. And it was not associated with the question of destiny of the people.
Postscript:Let us hope one day people will be educated enough to see what divides them, why they need representatives, why they can't better govern themselves. They will see truth of ideologies of nationalism, concept of political party and majoritarianism.
http://kashmirreader.com/the-entertainment-called-election-26866

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