Civilisation’s most cherished idea is terminally ill
Trump’s victory is the latest link in the chain of events where lads and lasses who had one vote to cast voted for Brexit in Europe, made Shri Modi — an avowed Hindutva proponent — PM of the world’s largest democracy in Asia, re-elected Vladimir Putin in such succession that Tzars of 19th century would envy Mr Putin’s faith
‘Democracy is the best form of government,’ I could still hear those words of my teacher uttered with religious conviction during a lecture on political science. The line has become a much-ridiculed, much-criticised cliché and no one has a jot of faith in. Although I, in my heart of hearts, nurtured a tiny fanatic who believed in the maxim wholeheartedly.
I’ve stopped feeding that fanatic for some time now. And left it to rot and wither away forever.
The dilemma with idealism is that when maintained for too long, the brutal, horrid day-to-day events gnaw at it till it vanishes. The void left is filled either with downright defeatism or hope in some never-never land that awaits one in the hereafter.
I had a final meeting with reality when the ideals of democracy that once conquered Fascism, wrecked Communism, ushered in freedom, wealth and prosperity for the downtrodden of the world, an idea that was deemed best mechanism devised by mankind to govern its affairs, got trounced by the Honourable American President-elect, Mr Trump.
Trump’s victory is the latest link in the chain of events where lads and lasses who had one vote to cast voted for Brexit in Europe, made Shri Modi — an avowed Hindutva proponent — PM of the world’s largest democracy in Asia, re-elected Vladimir Putin in such succession that Tzars of 19th century would envy Mr Putin’s faith.
The whole edifice of democracy with all its bells and minarets, its glory and grandeur stands crippled beyond repair or redemption. Individual, and I say this with a very heavy heart, gave in to all that is base and vile in human nature when scared of bogeymen by Big Brother.
All the lofty ideas, all the tall claims, all the hymns about all things nice and good have dashed. The dominos have started to fall. The wisdom of our age goes thus: Hatred, not love unites a threatened, frustrated group of people.
The recipe was the same everywhere: Tell them a bogeyman is after them, sell them tales of crypt, pinpoint the rascals responsible for their misery, show them you have the elixir and can administer it too, pit them against those who call your bluff and voila victory shall be thine. As every vice when, sugarcoated in sweet syrup of nationalism, peppered with delusions of grandeur, becomes the most sought after virtue.
In the world’s quest of choosing good managers, it has ended up electing Macbeths and Richard IIIs. The scribe of the future will write precisely what happened before America went to the dogs: It was ruled by a certain Mr Trump, a man who pocketed Oval Office by selling yarns from a bully pulpit.
Now, the joke is on everyone who thought Mr T as a farcical dummy who doesn’t stand a chance. Honestly, who still has that signature smirk on his face? It’s neither you nor me.
We are hooked on novelty, fixated on information and we thrive on hearsay. The practice of making an informed voting decision after taking stock of pros and cons has gone the way of dinosaurs. Once in democracies all over, folks voted for what a candidate stood for. Now, they vote for a candidate who enunciates what and whom he stands against.
The promise of churning out best men is dead. Scaremongering rascals who’ve mastered the art and tact of manipulating fears and anxieties of people rule the roost the world over.
I have observed different groups of people taking a jibe at politics; they include intellectuals and academics, friends chatting over a cup of tea and co-workers gossiping in their idle time, unemployed university graduate and fellas doing good in life
‘I learned that what you sign up for and what you get are two different things,’ says a character from comic strip Peanuts. In Pakistan, a young scion of an old party calls it the best revenge, all four dictators found solace in ‘controlled democracy’, a former cricketer-turned-politico, some time back, said that he wanted no one to lecture him about it and the great masses put up with it, as they are told that the remedy of all ills lies in having more of democracy.
May be things have come full circle. Aristotle, the philosopher who theorised democracy in ancient Greece, termed democracy as perverted rule of a mob. He thought polity as a good rule by many. Two millennia and birth and death of countless -isms later the world has begun to unshackle itself from civilisation’s favourite child.
A good job, steady income, promotions on time, a home of one’s own, a car or two, affordable education for kids, splendid medical facilities for a fraction of a cost. This is the utopia an average individual wants for himself. All these wants, needs or desires are real and concrete. Every time a democratic leader promises to deliver and falls short, the apathy of the masses doubles.
I have observed different groups of people taking a jibe at politics; they include intellectuals and academics, friends chatting over a cup of tea and co-workers gossiping in their idle time, unemployed university graduate and fellas doing good in life. Few among them give a tosh to democracy, many remember the rosy, prosperous days of Musharraf’s regime, and a sizable chunk stoically wait for a sky-sanctioned miracle.
Speaking of miracles, let us recount a few that happened recently; four days back a miracle happened in America. Another miracle is calling the shots in Russia. The world’s largest democracy catapulted Shri Modi ji to premiership to wade off the curse of secularism.
Democracy, dearest sirs and ma’am, got badly battered this time around. Although it was immediately rushed to an ICU. The question is not whether it will survive or not, the query is when this terminally ill patient will give up the ghost.
And give up the ghost it must.
Not quite. Even if in ICU, good care sometimes works even in Pakistan.
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