New Year with a bangLust for power will govern the ways of the politicians and the passion of Statism in the years to come.
We are conditioned to hear the limited expressions, phrases and linguistic noises made by the senior leaders of the Nepali political parties in their leadership disputes. Considering the length of the essay, I am only focussing on the discourses emanating from the Nepal Communist Party. Who speaks and who listens constitute the texture of the argument. People who enter the fray and those who remain outside it play their roles differently; that we can see in the intense arguments, criticisms and counter-criticisms triggered by the dissolution of Parliament by Prime Minister KP Oli on December 20, 2020.
The bygone year left 'not with a whimper but with a bang', to use the expression from the poem of one of my favourite English poets, TS Eliot. The past year was, to use the expression of my favourite Irish poet WB Yeats, was 'slouching towards Bethlehem to be born', a rather dismal apocalyptic imaginaire about the new avatar of the coming times anywhere in the world. By all standards, the past year was grim, challenging and difficult for people all over the world. But the message that is coming from the coronavirus vaccines rolling out from a number of places, assures humanity with a promise of hope and continuity. An eerie silence pervades around the world to see how it all proceeds. What we also saw is that politics and its architects all around the world projected their images that were both human and cynical or opportunist. Lust for power, predicted the British philosopher Bertrand Russell many years ago, will govern the ways of the politicians and the passion of Statism in the years to come. We have become the recipients and sufferers of that, which has pervaded the political, moral and creative worlds. The vehicle of the lust of power becomes manifest in the exercise of fake or alternate reality.
The single most important energy that propelled the activities of the Nepali politics throughout last year is the selfsame lust for power practised at the cost of democracy, socialism and order. One important element of politics is the interpretation of the text of its guiding philosophy, and its ethical principles. Misinterpretation of the moral principles of democracy, constitutionality and power has become the order of the day in the political sphere of Nepal. The term politics itself requires a careful interpretation. The plethora of interpretations about the legality, ethics and politics of the dissolution of Parliament is showing ironically provisions that should have been discussed and settled. That they were postponed is a mystery. Now the entire political turmoil revolves around the question: Does the Nepali constitution give the prime minister the right to dissolve the Parliament? But most of the interpretations show that the lawmakers, political parties and people in government want to justify their actions differently.
But what has struck me most in the past year, actually in recent times, is the role of education in the politics of Nepal. To be more specific, the level of educational ability among the Nepali politicians at all sections is conspicuously low. That becomes clear from the quality of the political interpretations of their own actions, and their political philosophies that appear to guide their karma. The gap that appears between their actions and their interest is worth noting. The level of education can also be gauged mostly by their selfish motives like making money or indulging in the small games of give and take. A kind of inertia appears to dampen their spirit—needed to conduct responsible politics and speak at the right time.
Education plays a great role in all these actions. It is wrong, however, to theorise that education is the panacea of all the problems that we see in the actions of the politicians. Moreover, education that can be seen playing a role in people's actions and characters is absolutely an abstract and fluid phenomenon. By the same token, it is difficult to discern the direct correlation between educational level and the actions of the politicians. But the impact of education can be seen more easily in the actions of those who are engaged in politics and in running the government. In both cases, they perform both linguistically and pragmatically. In other words, they go to the podium and address a mass waiting to listen to them. When you as a politician or the member of the government rise to defend your action, your ability and your philosophy become exposed in the language you choose, and in the way you try to defend your actions. Defending the alternative truth and justifying the controversial actions also ironically requires education. We should distinguish between deceit and sincerity. In reality, though, those politicians who appear inefficient and unable to interpret their actions easily betray their educational ability.
But the other side of this correlation between politics and education demands more questions. In Nepal, those who are in power in party and government speak the most. And it is the senior people who do so. Never in Nepali political history had the politicians of a single party in power, as the Nepal Communist Party now, engaged in the exchange of political criticism of each other in the same manner. But the language is limited and repetitive. And the most important part of this is that they are all politicians of an older generation. I always wait to hear what the leaders of the younger generation of communists, like Ramkumari Jhakri, Raghuji Panta or Ghanashyam Bhusal, just to name a few, say. But they are almost caught in a system that they had accepted to remain quiet.
Gramsci sees such hush, such acceptance, as the condition of hegemony. This condition of hegemony within a party is not studied in Nepal. And when it comes from the younger generation who are educated, that will be tantamount to accepting the status quo. They were waiting for things to settle before speaking. A few days ago, a sharp journalist asked Ramkumari Jhakri, who is a dynamic and smart politician and a thoroughly educated person, to speak about the actions of some women's caucuses. She said 'we should wait for the disputes to settle first'. That speaks volumes about the question—who speaks and what she or he speaks in the hegemonic realms of political leadership.
What do you think?
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