Circa 400 BC….Scintillating discussions, debates and arguments on what constituted a perfect governing system; de-constructing justice, demos, kratias (from where we get the word “democracy”) and other such notions into their constituent elements. Socrates, Glaucon, Thrasymachus & gang at it. Relentlessly.
“In fact, The Republic does address the danger that power will corrupt. Yet at its core is a related but deeper insight: that the desire for power corrupts, and more than that, destroys. It destroys people, who in a never-ending pursuit of power undermine their psychological health. And it destroys politics, as rulers desiring power for self-gratification undermine political unity” wrote Melissa Lane in the introduction to Plato’s The Republic (translated by Desmond Lee) in the year 1974.
“Democracies were in danger of being ruled by whim, mass ignorance and hysteria rather than by reason, making them fatally inconsistent over time…..both democracies and oligarchies were in danger of being laid low by ambition for power, which blinded them to criticism” she went on to state. The events, historical or mythical, that The Republic talks about were unfolding in ancient Athens and Sparta sometime around 400 B.C. And those scintillating discussions are brilliantly captured in the dialogues between Socrates and a few more gentlemen of great learning, including a sophist or two, in The Republic.
It appears, we have not learnt anything from those dialogues in ancient Athens and Sparta, the pomp and celebrations that the Parliamentarians in India shoved into our face through television channels yesterday, notwithstanding.
Taking off from of an article on Firstpost titled Pardon us, MPs, but your slip is showing… by Venky Vembu , whose articles usually leave me mulling over a few things not entirely frivolous, this post here will expand upon those perfectively understandable rants bordering on boilerplate drivel, by various people who mistakenly call all MPs looters, plunderers and other such endearing names. One can understand those emotions; they reflect the angst and the outrage, and hence get mistaken as generalized sweeping statements, which they are not. It usually takes the forever smiling, enchanting Miss Shazia Ilmi to appear on a TV debate and save the day for the likes of Kejriwal and Baba Ramdev.
Unfortunately, the proportion of those with less than impeccable credentials lodged in the dark underbelly of Indian Polity, is not entirely insignificant…and it would definitely help if the MPs go beyond symbolic gestures of introspection and special sittings to commemorate 60 years of India’s Parliamentary democracy…
Here are a few facts and figures that may be mulled over:
As is clear from the figures presented above, the scene is bleaker than what is made out to be by those who come out in support of MPs – in most cases, the MPs themselves. And it cuts across party lines. Unfortunately, the explanations that MPs offer in order to claim the moral high-ground are - to quote Richard Dawkins from his demolition job on another much revered institution - so “spectacularly weak that it renders even more comical the airy confidence with which they are asserted”.
Continues on the next page: