Thursday, February 1, 2018
IS POLITICS A GAME OF INTEREST?
Yesterday, my brothers tried to convince me that politics is all about interest; that morality and humanism are far from it. It caused a heated argument that had only two of us on one side. I retreated at some point but not because I was satisfied with the position; our time was far spent.
But it was a troubled night for me because I dissipated my mental energy and spent time trying to reconcile that position with the human essence of living, the commonalities of our divine injunctions from across religious beliefs in terms of God's hand in the choice of who governs the affairs of men. The Christians claim that God makes leaders, Muslims also believe same.
But what interest are we talking about? Individual or collective? What are the implications of tying politics to interest and not giving room for morality and collective conscience? Is the advocacy of politics as a mere game of interest not the very foundation of leadership rascality, irresponsibility and corruption? Rather than declare and hold the view that politics is a game of interest, can't we identify the pursuit of personal interest in politics as an anomaly that should be discouraged.
Another thing that worries me is the fact that most political philosophers and social avatars who created the path to modern day politics, made their propositions of what politics should be in the realm of the ideal. The interest philosophy can only be traced to very few realists and utilitarians like Robert Dahl, Thrasymachus etc. The who gets what, when and how maxim is to me a narrow and vague description of what politics should be. For many, that statement is a justification for interest based politics.
The statement didn't tell us if the interest is that of the masses or individual interest. If it is individual interest, is it not then a contradiction to the principles of commonwealth and public good as advocated by democrats on one hand and communist on the other hand?
The concept of interest can be used to describe my preferences. But more attention should be paid to the motive behind my preferences. Interest as a word becomes sanctified in politics when it is used to describe collective benefit and public good. If I have interest in Mr A becoming a governor, that interest should ride on the wheel of what I think will benefit the people and the nation during his reign of leadership. A politician therefore, should be a 'public good' thinker; a self sacrificing fellow who is ready to offer himself for service to the people. Great satisfaction and fulfilment comes from knowing that you have affected lives positively and that your signatures are visible in all sectors.
We can talk about interest in politics but not in the sense that it is normal for individuals to pursue their personal gains while in places of public trust.
Sometimes during the process, the best approach can be realism but the end goal should anchor on idealism. Politics can be a game of interest, but wisdom is knowing the kind of interest. And, pursuing first the public good is the mark of godliness and a sign that you are a true Christian or a Muslim. God never abandoned politics.