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The rule by average man

Is Pakistan governed by average politicians? For how does one consider the equivalence of general competence in a politician? If the essential principles are based on equality then Pakistan has failed miserably. Human equality is not sameness but in the sameness there are radical differences and matters are not held to account when the sameness is so pluralistic in nature. We have failed in trying to sort out the excluded and where there is inclusiveness there even there are people that are more equal then others.

The issue is that the differences are not only in economic terms but also in physical vigour, moral stamina and capacity to learn by experience. Experience can be both in cumulative or in exponential terms. In cumulative terms one is dealing with policies of the status quo while in exponential experience we are dealing with a very diverse experience and thus enriching one’s mental capacity.

Critics have always held that democracy is an impossible ideal and is irrational. In fact, the conquest of the weak by the strong, the stupid by the wise, the timid by the courageous, the poor by the rich is visible in our society. The criticism is due to the characteristic weaknesses of ordinary people and by political institutions. Government by popular majorities, it is said, means rule by the average man. The average man is unintelligent, controlled in his opinions by a lack of reason, of limited knowledge, lacking the focus to increase and acquire knowledge and suspicious of any superior ability in others. Witness what happens in talk shows in Pakistan. Noise, unintelligible uttering, the answer devoid of the question asked. What political virtue is there in superiority in numbers? What standard of judgement can make us believe that the majority has reason on its side? Is majority rule then more or less the rule by physical force rather than mental application?

There is superficial sentimentalism about democracy at the moment. It is only a totalitarian aspect of the political parties. Is there not a disparagement of excellence, unfriendliness to true scientific nurturing? Examination of the standing committees’ work will provide the required evidence. Examine the culture of the political parties and one will understand how in the name of democracy and hypocrisy centralised command and control structures have been set up. Can any one go against the centralised command? The army has to have this kind of centralised command but the civilian gentry do not need it if there is a requirement for genuine democratic traditions. Is democracy then the most unfriendly form of government? Does it not curb freedom and liberty? In certain issues before these committees of the state even the recorded minutes have been wrongly recorded. The certainty is that these committees genuinely lack and militate against self-reliance, courage and resoluteness. Only those individuals can understand the value of human dignity as practice it themselves in their daily lives. Karachi and the marginal areas is a good pointer to the functions of a democracy. That democracy can lead to one-man rule is a fact that is visible where the powerful of the political parties broach no arguments against their own thinking. The extraordinary individual is levelled to the lowest common denominator from amongst the group. A democracy can be the most meddlesome morally and intellectually of all policies.

What then are the options? Where is moral grounding to be found? Will it be in the degreed individual or will it be in the higher realms of the political system? Economically and socially have we looked after the many or have the few looked after themselves. Imagine Pakistan’s political system and come to an honest assessment. One understands that the asset list is with the Election Commission. I do not think that this has been analysed by anyone within the commission or without. Let’s ask some students to examine the political economy of the elected members.

The moral systems that we commend in our society are based on power and fear and servility. The power structure is so perverse that with the coming of the TV the opinions formed are so outlandish that it seems that cudgels by idiots are being furthered at the expense of the intellectual. There is so much noise and intolerance visible in TV programmes that it is better to close the idiot box. The sociology of the talk shows has never been examined by any intellectual. The talk show anchorman has never had it so good. He can use them in and out for making money. Money is the end and they are getting exorbitant amount. I know some of the political party members that are regularly interviewed. It is always a case of referral to some other country or some other individual. The culture of that other country seldom comes in to play. There are some elected women representatives who show extreme loyalty to their party bosses. The oath of office that they have taken is about being loyal to the state and not the party or the government when it comes to managing the state of affairs of the country. What a pity that this nation has not been able to bring out the best in themselves. Is democracy then the most inefficient and extravagant, the most factional and intolerant, the most hostile or indifferent to progress?

Is it also true that reasoned men tend to lose their identity in the surge for party mobilisation? The chemistry of the individual is modified or changed by the group. It is tantamount to mob rule on occasion. The only exception has been the ‘long march’ of Dr Qadri. It is certainly visible that the individual takes on a different personality when in the crowd and the surge of power that comes with that in the first instance and in the second instance he is not recognised in a mob and therefore escapes the responsibility which surely is the representatives’. Why not hold the public representative of the area responsible for what is happening in Karachi and other areas? It is not possible as the parties that are governing us in Pakistan are hardly democratic. How and who develops a development project? The same autocratic system that existed from Ayub Khan’s time and we call ourselves democratic? Take any current project. Was Chak Shahzad project for the poor or to serve the requirements of the powerful? Were the dedicated electricity lines for the poor shops that were demolished as the general could not see the poverty in this country? Is the tram system at an exorbitant cost does not carry an opportunity cost with it? What stupidity and naivety to call ourselves democratic and all the channels’ suggestions that democracy must be saved? Is this fair to the people of Pakistan? The young doctors strike? The harassment and the workings of the Punjab Police; the IG and Chief Secretary’s appointments and the abuse that is hurled at them by the so-called democrats. It is simple. A democrat is one who tells the time what it wills and means and then brings it to completion is the great person of the time… Who does not learn to despise public opinion, which is one thing in one place and another in another, will never achieve anything great. It is simple and yet complicated for a number of disciplines come in to play. Is the psyche of Kharadar and marginal areas’ people not different from the ones living in Clifton? Is there not a mismatch of minds? Let us not live in inherited familiarity. Take a mental walk and a change in the atmosphere and culture of decency or there will be hell to play.

Great democrats have the chance to rise to the occasion and not whimper like the Pakistani cricketers in South Africa. A nation of cribbers or will the cricket team and the nation rise and fall together? Is the one reflection of the other? Can we get some democrats in both situations. Chaudhry Nisar may be ideally placed for doing both (his brother had he been alive may have done a better job than the present incumbent in PCB). Graft sooner or later rebounds. Its pleasures are transient and its pain lasts for a life time. Who will be wise, practical and benevolent director(s) of this society? Your guess may be better than mine!!

Dr. Zafar Altaf, "The rule by average man," Business recorder. 2013-02-09.