In the real world one has to accept that the imperfections cannot be wished away in any society, and, however one may labour, all the shortcomings cannot be overcome in totality. A picture perfect society, is the imagined oasis of the idealist in the desert of human infirmities. But the march towards it must continue, the eternal quest must go on writes Prof H C Pande
In the first lecture on systems design, it is made clear, that, no ideal system is physically reliable. The same is true of concepts. Freedom, equality, justice, democracy et al, are fine as concepts but their adoption in real life is possible only within the limitations of human dynamics. The frailties of human nature, whether collective or individual, are real and ever present.
In the words of Barnard Shaw ‘We are human beings, we are, all of us. And that’s what the people are liable to forget. Human beings don’t like peace and goodwill and everybody loving everybody else. However much they may think they do, they don’t really because they are not made like that. Human beings love eating and drinking and loving and hating. They also like showing off, grabbing all they can, fighting for their privileges and bossing anybody who will give them half a chance’. So much so, for the individual.
As for the collective will, in the shape of a system, in the words of John Adams, “It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less selfish or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple Government. When unchecked, they produce the same effects of fraud and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most consciences moralists to resist the temptation”. This being the case,the drama about freedom, justice, welfare etc. being enacted by the political parties when in power, and, particularly, when not in power, can only be classed as a song and dance entertainment, not to be given any serious thought. Quite often the jokes may be flat, the dancing out of step, the songs tuneless, and, acting clumsy, but then, we the people have elected them, so have to suffer through the performance.
Democracy is commonly considered the ideal system of governance. In Plato’s words “Democracy….Is a charming form of government full of variety and disorder, and, dispensing a sort equality to equals and unequals alike”.So, almost by definition, a bit of chaos, and, a dash of inequality are ever present in the system. The watchword of the French revolution,“liberate’,egalite’,fraternite’, is still the war- cry of the youthful revolutionaries unaware of the fact that Napoleon, a prominent commander of the revolution, himself seized power within ten years and soon afterwards crowned himself as King. Ideals, slogans, and, reality, at best, match only for a short time and then the human frailties take over. In the real world one has to accept that the imperfections can not be wished away in any society, and, however one may labour, all the shortcomings cannot be overcome in totality. A picture perfect society, is the imagined oasis of the idealist in the desert of human infirmities. But the march towards it must continue, the eternal quest must go on.
After all “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s the heaven for.
(Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus , BITS, Mesra)