Politics is a game played by corrupt elements

By Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne

We hear the noise from all sides that politicians are corrupt and all are bandits of one kind or the other. The explanation is that is the nature of the game. Politics is a game played by corrupt elements. It is as simple as that. The telling line is this: ‘Power consists of making others play your version of their reality’.

Accordingly all politicians are automatically in a trap. One is not free to break out of this; hence they all become corrupt – that is the end of history. However, in this country in the past there were politicians who did not rob in any way, but spent their own money to serve the policies of their Government. This was true for all kinds of politicians; liberals, conservatives and Samasamajists. Even the most conservative politician did not take public money for private expenditure. Today things have changed. Now, one has to subjugate others so that others play the game as you wish. Even the moral law of end justifies the means cannot be applied. Because this definition of power can have applications outside the classical associations of power, i.e. the State, the military, use of force, visible subjugation and hierarchies. Authoritarianism is not only about keeping people out of decision-making processes, imposing arbitrary laws and creating and forcing people to practise a culture of impunity. There is also a soft and non-intrusive kind of control which persuades a different kind of inhabitation, claiming that is the cultured way of living.

However, is it not false to say that there is no god or a vile set of big bad men out there plotting the dimensions of common living, but society does get structured in ways that are more likely to produce the outcomes preferred by the powerful? The structures as well as those located in arm-twisting positions within them, not only define the parameters of resistance for the most part, but act in a fascistic manner arousing racism and religious sectarianism. Of course rupture is not impossible, but remains to be done by positive intervention. While laws and guns can obtain obedience, the more insidious instruments of subjugation are those which are so ‘goes-without-saying’ that few will even question why or how they came-without-saying. There are hidden appreciations and assumptions that creep in. It is also called taking things for granted, in the worst sense of that term.

We inhabit realities which we believe or are led to believe are not only unchangeable but are proper or at least the best they could be. Or do not we throw our hands up in aristocratic resignation, convincing ourselves that even our best efforts would not change anything; because they come from heroic ancestors. I am not saying that all conformities are enslaving; a certain code of ethics, for example, can be necessary, one could argue, to maintain ‘social coherence and keeping separation and break up’, out.

A conscious choice

It would be quite alright if it was a conscious choice, but for the most part people are ill-informed and less given to reflecting on the ‘things-as-they-are’. It is one thing to make sure one doesn’t step on tyranny’s foot because one knows the consequences.

But it is quite another to give that foot a wide berth because ‘that’s-how-it-should-be’. If one takes some time to analyze the last 100 acts, i.e. from the expression that materialized on face at a given moment to choice of sari and the use of certain words to address others, one will know that we inhabit ‘rule-universes’ as though it was second nature to do so in the ways we do.

Not all authoritarians and dictators arrive with a big placard and comprehensive communications. Nor do they come with a campaign claiming tyranny and demanding acquiescence on this account. The use of one word instead of another, the choice of voice over silence or vice versa in specific moments, the preference for this friend’s company and not that of that friend’s, none of these things are totally innocent although we might brush such claims off as ‘nonsense’. The most pernicious of tyrannies are not those which we do not have the strength to resist but those which we embrace on account of ignorance and greed for higher connections. While laws and guns can obtain obedience, the more insidious instruments of subjugation are those which are so goes-without-saying that few will even question why or how they came-without-saying.

It is also called taking things for granted, in the worst sense of that term. We inhabit realities which we believe or are led to believe are not only unchangeable but are proper or at least the best they could be. Or we throw our hands up in resignation, convincing ourselves that even our best efforts would not change anything. Let us repeat. Not all authoritarians arrive with a big placard and a comprehensive communications campaign claiming tyranny and demanding acquiescence on this account. The use of one word instead of another, the choice of voice over silence or vice versa in specific moments, the preference for this friend’s company and not that of that friend’s, none of these things are totally innocent although we might brush such claims off as ‘nonsense’.

The most pernicious of tyrannies are not those which we do not have the strength to overthrow, but those which we embrace on account of ignorance and fear of heritage.

Courtesy : CEYLON TODAY

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