By Mohamed Faizal –
It is the greatest of men who take to politics, and they do so due to the fear of being ruled, in their abstention from politics, by those who lack greatness and are below them. That was Plato talking.
Greatness of a ruler is not found in him simply being a ruler, but in being able to produce wise laws – laws that are good for everyone, both at present and in the future. If there was no wisdom in his laws, then there is no true greatness in his rule – whatever is perceived as greatness is only an illusion, which would soon be exposed; his foolish laws would cause a lot of suffering to his people, who would later curse him for it; and history would judge him unfavourably. Such a ruler who may temporarily be able to delude his people, before being eventually exposed, is an imposter, says Rousseau.
Rousseau also says that for a ruler to attain true greatness he must be not only wise, but also inspirational: since people don’t generally understand the wisdom in the laws of a wise ruler, a ruler deserving of true greatness must be able to make his people believe in his wise laws. He cites the example of Prophet Muhammad as one such a great ruler. Only a few might have truly understood the wisdom in his laws, but he inspired everyone to believe in them.
When people continue to believe in the wisdom of a ruler, he becomes immortalised: his death doesn’t harm his kingdom; despite his physical death, people continue to preserve and propagate his kingdom; if there is a decline in his kingdom, they try to revive it; and if there is a collapse, they try to re-establish it.
Today’s electoral system, which is being touted as the best system, belies Plato. In it, it is the lowest who have the greatest chance of winning; the greatest have none. Elections becoming almost unanimous with lies, deceit, fraud, intimidation and other forms of violence, the lowest take to it like a fish to water, while the greatest run away from it as if it were a leper. Surely, the rulers born of such a system are not the greatest. That might appear to be quite a harsh remark to make, but that is the truth, which any objective observer can see for himself. Our rulers, being not the greatest, aren’t taking up political positions for fear of being ruled by those who lack greatness and are below them, but for a different motive – perhaps it is wealth.
The ocean of lies, deceit, fraud, intimidation and other forms of violence, which a politician waddles through before being elected to an office, after all, doesn’t give him more than a few years in office. The gross legal income a politician would receive for his complete tenure is likely to be only a fraction of what he would have spent on his election campaign. What can we now expect from him? It would be foolish to expect him to spend his time on improving the quality of life for the masses he loathes – he certainly loathes the masses who fell for his lies, deceit, and fraud, and acquiesced to his intimidation and other forms of violence.
Unlike the general masses, politicians aren’t foolish: they know where their self-interest lie, and they know how to secure it. They spend their time in office recovering the money they spent on election campaigns and charging the public for whatever labour they put in to win the election. The relationship between these rulers and the masses is no different to the relationship that exists between the conqueror and the conquered; for the conquerors always get the conquered to foot the bill for the conquest. This is evident for some of us to see, but we have taught ourselves to quickly push this painful truth out of our consciousness.
A truly great leader unites all his people. What unites different people are common thoughts, which a ruler nurtures in his people via his laws. Uniting people of different languages, religions and ethnicities – such as we have in Sri Lanka – is a challenge which only a great leader can successfully accomplish. He does it with his wise laws, which treat everyone equally and benefit everyone equally. He inspires his people with belief in them.
An imposter on the other hands, unable to foster cooperation, only creates inter communal divisions. He incites racism, opening up chasms between communities and destroying any good relationship that may exist between the communities, but at the same time unifying individual communities internally. In the electoral voting system we have today, uniting internally the community that is numerically more than half, is enough to easily win elections. That is precisely what the imposters do: create intercommunal disunity and intra-communal unity.
These imposters make pompous claims to be nationalists and pretend to be religious, the goal of which is to deceive their people. Their claim to be nationalists is false, for they pit one community against the other and work against the national interest. Their claim to be pious is false too, for no pious person would ever seek political greatness by standing on the dead bodies and destroyed properties of other communities, as a result of the racism he aroused.
If the anti-nationalism of the ruler is hidden in his racism, his impiety is glossed over by the prelacy. A marriage of convenience exists in this country between corrupt politicians and the prelacy. Their marriage is so convenient that they keep forgiving each other: the sinful politician and the criminal priest keep forgiving each other so that they can continue sinning and committing crimes. The politician forgives the criminal priest and gets him out of the prison so that he can re-offend, while the priest forgives the sinful politician and erases all his sins, making it impossible for god to hold him to account after his death.
It was the divorce between Christianity and politics which led to the revival of what was Christian Europe. Conversely in secular Sri Lanka, the unholy marriage between politics and Buddhism is taking this country down a very slippery slope.
A politically mature nation is like a mature man, who is weaker in his sensualities, but stronger in his perceptive abilities. The governing force in a mature man or a mature nation is not emotions, but thoughts and ideas. Such nations are the least likely to react violently to any problems; in the unfortunate event of a conflict, they only resort to legal means. With politically immature nations, it is the opposite – they are too quick to resort to violence; on their frenzied march against their perceived enemies, the first thing they torch are the nation’s courts of law. Is it now too difficult for us to appreciate what sort of nation ours is? It is a politically immature nation with an abundance of irrational and emotional people, where our politicians with their callous realpolitik have got all of us to sit on a supersized powder keg, from which only a divine intervention can save us all, it appears.