A Conservative’s call to action
This post is part of the CRI’s 1st year anniversary celebrations. We have launched a blogging festival where every member of the CRI Commentariat will participate and write on issues that affect their political outlook. Podcasts with Conservative intellectuals are also coming up, so stay tuned!
Every time I’m asked to explain my interest in politics I struggle. It is not that I’m found wanting for answers. Far from it – struggle to find a justification that would best suit the person that asked me. I struggle to explain that politics is perhaps the noblest callings of the rational human. I fail to describe in words the phenomena of inherently political minds, restless in any station of life, possessed by the burning desire to rise ever a bit higher until ultimately going on to control the collective destiny of Humanity itself. I struggle to explain how it has forever remained that an undying passion for Power and a self-less empathetic disposition for the masses are the two ideas that motivate men and women towards political ambitions, and it is through these very instruments does organization of Human society happen. Allow me then, this time to put on record my arguably erroneous outlook on politics. (I can now point my curious interlocutors to this page when asked next time)
I must begin with Power and Patriotism but about the desire for power there isn’t much to add. It is the idea of self-less empathy affecting great minds towards political activities that needs a little explaining. An impressive commitment to altruism as the idea may seem it is not entirely unheard of. As a self-claimed fan of Richard Dawkins I can’t but help point to the possibility of patriotism explained away as a manifestation of social altruism. There have always been political men who moved by injustice, suffering and a sense of kinship give their cause all they have. Some would even argue it is this very empathy for the suffering of fellow humans that moved the likes of Thomas Paine and John Locke to pen their now immortal works. Albeit built on the shaky foundations of divinely ordained equality of men one cannot be deny that it was the inherent injustice of the monarchy in denying equity and justice to the ordinary people was what moved John Locke to pen his masterpiece on the organisation of government and rights.
Even in the annals of the Indic civilisation service rendered to one’s subjects have always been considered the solemnest of all duties, in fact it has been the cornerstone of the Kings code of ethics also known as theRajdharma. The Arthashastra does not tire of reminding the King about his duties to the subjects. The King’s life he says must be entwined completely with that of his people to the extent that the ruler negates his wishes for those of his subjects. Infact Kautilya does not stop at prescribing good governance but rather goes beyond to elevate the King’s fulfilment of his duties towards subjects as the greatest sacrifice possible. But in our age how can the Indian Conservative match up to the standards of Chanakya? What great deeds of Statecraft await the arrival of our Conservative giants and how does he stake his claim to the matchless merits reserved for those abiding by the ancient idea of Rajdharma?
Within the sub-continent it is easy to find political challenges worthy of Conservative vigour. The country maybe free from the tyranny of a foreign force; but it has only been replaced by a self-serving ossified post-independence establishment. The masses appear not to have the slightest discomfort even as evidence after evidence piles in on us, establishing without doubt the near complete breakdown of the apparatuses of State. Nor is there the slightest discomfort in the social discourse of the evils that permeate the society to this day. Even as the rest of the humanity is pioneering into areas hitherto unheard of, our country languishes quite contentedly in the cesspool of 18th century social practices justified proudly in the name of tradition. The tree is rotten from the inside. The iron frame that held it together for so long is slowly rusting away – without the insulation of leadership, direction and vigour the restless winds are taking their toll on whatever strength is left. Even as the deceptive peace that holds in this part of the world is set to one day unravel into the most frightening security nightmares the sub-continent has witnessed in the recent past the State struggles so much as to even cast a few artillery guns in hard metal.
So it is agreed unanimously that the continuation of present state of affairs is unacceptable. Now it cannot escape any thinking mind that if Progress is what we seek then the damage caused by haughty Nehruvians and unthinking liberals needs to be undone. The State as a functioning organism is now deformed; the idol of mother India that has effected the minds of millions into seeking the common ground of nationhood lies desecrated. The grand edifice of Nationhood that we inherited from our struggle for independence from the tyranny of outsiders now lies in ruins, undone by the very hands of those that sought to claim the credit of having constructed it.
Will we now pretend to have not seen anything and move on with our lives in unmoved apathy? The answer is an emphatic no, we shall not consent to the ignominy of having the future look back at us as the delinquent. The alternative is to throw ourselves head first into the currents of national politics and unreservedly commit ourselves to the task of reforming the society and rebuilding the Nation.
But by what means is the Nation to be rebuilt? How is the State to be reformed? How do we bring together the shattered pieces of our beloved deity and give her form so she may once again reign supreme in the minds of millions of her devotees? These I respectfully submit are the questions that must ceaselessly exercise the mind of the Indian conservative. In solving these riddles, and yet retaining the avowed admiration of the masses lies the deliverance of the Conservative political geniuses. It is my hope that when the epic of modern India will be written in the future it would contain a small note somewhere in the margins mentioning sans embellishments that perhaps the Indian Conservative began it all by debating these very questions.