By Jamal Drammeh
‘We need fuel to make fire!’
If government is the fire, the fuel that makes it possible is the society. Government and society rise and fall together, but their ‘characteristic origins’ or purpose remain distinct. The forces that sustain both government and society are diametrically opposed – but they work in unison like the centrifugal and the centripetal forces of gravity.
Government is the result of man’s propensity for expediency. This attitude of expediency makes us vulnerable to do injustice to ourselves and injure our fellows, hence the need to be governed. Society on the other hand, is the result of our noble aspirations, our natural affinity for one another, and our love for the common good.
Government, in essence, is to restrain our vices – by limiting injury to our fellows, to protect property and punish crimes. Society unites our affections in order to promote our common interest, seek happiness and support the wellbeing of the members. Society patronizes and promotes intercourse for a common goal. To the contrary, government creates distinctions and embrace brute force to execute its will, and label everything it does as ‘virtuous’.
Society comes to being for wholesome benefit, but its lost innocence facilitate the creation of governments. So government brings along whips, clads and chains – but they are handed to it by the society to rein in her lost innocence.
In summary, government is the instrument of last resort in the making of a society; ideally, to mend the defects of our moral virtues, and the punisher of those that bend the rules. In other words; we create it to ‘save ourselves, from ourselves’.
Recently; I’ve been left perplexed at the turn of fortunes of a political icon that I truly revered. I’ve long admired him for his prolific thinking, oratory skills and his near perfect disposition. His force of character he rightfully garnered through a generation of ceaseless pursuit for justice, equality and for the general welfare of all his fellow citizens.
This same prodigious visionary seem to be suddenly embarking on a path to undo his own triumphs – like a man possessed by demons and left stunned with an intellectual disease.
Sadly, the ‘scrambling ramblings’ of this intellectual giant left a political vacuum in a new democracy. The way he twisted his tongue in indignation to redefine government, sovereignty, democracy and the role of citizenry left me rather more confuse than enlightened. He also, left me inspired to reflect on these subjects more critically.
The sentiments I expressed might not receive general favor but I feel the need to give the full context of this ‘doctrine’. It is a venture into a delicate territory; but what is life without adventure, if the end we seek resides in truth and benefaction? My hope is not to amuse hears, but to stimulate minds and inspire critical thinking with clear reason. To examine the question of individual responsibility and our dues to the society and to our new democracy.
Henceforth, the object of attention of this series is to be the subjects under examination and not the writer or the ‘intellectual obfuscation’ of the political icon that inspired this series. Despite by admiration for this figure, I also wish to make it clear that I have no political affiliations now, or ever before – not out of simp pride, but as a simple choice.
Finally, I shall attempt to examine these subjects under no particular political or philosophical lenses – but from sheer reasons and the principles that makes civil society possible.
If recent history taught us anything; even under the best systems of government, people brought to power by democratic means, though often slowly, would perverted democracy and turn it into repression and cronyism. If there are no term limits, they often morph into tyranny, and the ultimate persecution of all oppositions.
To ensure the liberty of the people, the government should be strong enough to protect the individual rights and safeguard the collective interests. More importantly, the strength of such government should correspond to strong and well informed citizenry in order to maintain their sovereign control over the government.
It’s also important to remember that – we are the government; it is our very selves that constitute the government, and the state of affairs is often the reflection of the state of the people. It is not an alien entity enforcing its will over us.
The custodian of every democracy are the voters. If the people alienate their own government and cannot trust it to do the job for which it exists – it will be self-defeating or counterproductive. Our job is not to become perpetual antagonists to our government, but to aid and command its will towards the building of a more just and more prosperous society.
Government can also be used by few cunning and greedy men to their own selfish ends. Mischievous men of government are often the patrons of virtue; turning their whims and caprices to making even murder a virtuous act – often in the name of national security. Any tyrant that a society allows to exist will certainly bend the act of a government to his will.
All machine have the points of friction in operation; yet the goal isn’t to create friction but to render benefit for which it is assembled. The fiction in workings of society and government is unavoidable, but it must never be the goal.
If the society is perfect, there would be no need for government. Since we don’t live in a perfect society, we also cannot produce a perfect government, but we must demand to have a good government that is also responsive to needs of the society.
Power that resides with the government or the president, is only the power the people or the society give them. But for the government to be better; the people of the society have to be better!
To be continued…….