Politics continues to degenerate as cowards, dishonest, spineless rule the roost


Any system of governance which is devoid of truth and morality is bound to aggravate the misery of the people whom they govern. This all-pervading amoral culture of mal- governance has brought immense misery to billions of people across countries on this planet, writes former IAS officer V.S.Pandey


After the current phase of elections are over, some party will emerge victorious and its candidates will rejoice while others will lose and   bemoan the rotten political landscape. The public response will be divided – some will applaud, others will be disappointed. However, both sides, deep down in their hearts know that nothing will change, it will be business as usual – with corruption pervading and permeating every echelon of governance. But, as is proclaimed, the dance of democracy will continue and we will keep dancing , in sync, to the latest tune crafted   deviously by our ruling class. This is not only true for our nation but true for human civilisation from its very inception. The most unfortunate part of human history has been that since the beginning of the creation of the  state apparatus- cowards, sycophants , corrupt and immoral  people have consistently been part of the ruling brigade for centuries- across all governments of all  nations. Why is it so , is not difficult to decipher. The famous mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell, not long ago , wrote “…Wherever organization exists , cowardice will be found more advantageous than courage. Of the men at the head of businesses, schools, lunatic asylums, and the like, nine out of ten will prefer the supple lickspittle to the outspoken man of independent judgement.” He was spot on in exposing the unethical political culture  prevalent in most organisations and said “In politics it is necessary to profess the party programme and flatter the leaders; in the navy it is necessary to profess antiquated views on naval strategy; in the army it is necessary to maintain a medieval outlook on everything; in journalism wage slaves have to use their brains to give expression to the opinions of millionaires; in education professors lose their jobs if they do not respect the prejudices of the illiterate.”


He had very succinctly predicted the consequences of these state of affairs and wrote “The result of this state of affairs is that in practically every walk of life the men who come to the top have served a long apprenticeship in cowardice, while the honest and courageous have to be sought for in workhouses and prisons.”


Regrettably, we are faced with these tendencies overwhelmingly even more today- with cataclysmic consequences. Any system of governance which is devoid of truth and morality is bound to aggravate the misery of the people whom they govern. This all-pervading amoral culture of mal- governance has brought immense misery to billions of people across countries on this planet.


Why does the system not tolerate honest and fearless people and prefers cowards, corrupt and the supine? The problem of politics and governance  lies in solving this conundrum. As soon as moral conduct and action  predominate in any system anywhere , most of the problems faced by the people are alleviated – this is the age old thesis propounded by all sages, religions, philosophers and thinkers across the globe .


                               Why does  politics continue to degenerate? This  has been well answered by Bertrand Russell,“The modern world, owing to industrialism, requires social cooperation more than it was required in any earlier stage in the world’s history. Now there are three reasons for which you may cooperate with a man: because you love him, because you fear him, or because you hope to share the swag. These three motives are of differing importance in different regions of human cooperation: the first govern procreation, and the third governs politics. But the ordinary everyday business of government, whether in the state or in any other social institution depends upon fear. A collection of fearless men would be ungovernable. The Vikings were men whom the King of Norway found ungovernable; they left Norway because they would not submit themselves to his sway. After a few centuries of adventure, they became peasants in the frozen valleys of Iceland.”

Every one has the free will to choose the path he wants to follow. As the famous French philosopher Satre had said-“ we are our choices” , Certainly each one needs  to introspect and confront the question of making  the choice for himself / herself. And in this regard the profound advice of Russell to people of all hue and color is

“…To those, therefore, whose ambition it is to die in the odour of sanctity, respected by bank managers, admired by friends and neighbours, and universally regarded as models of what a citizen should be, my advice is: don’t express your own opinions but those of your boss; don’t endeavour to realize ends which you yourself think good, but pursue rather those aimed at by some organization supported by millionaires; in your private friendships select influential men if you can, or, failing that, men whom you judge likely to become influential. Do this, and you will win the good opinion of all the best elements in the community.


This is sound advice, but, for my part, I would sooner die than follow it.”  Unlike Russel, we have made this death wish. The horrific results are its natural consequence.  


(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary Government of India)

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