Challenges To Modern Politics
Dev Raj Dahal
The challenge of modern politics in Nepal is to frame good laws, institutions and behaviour fit to realise the principles and policies set by the Constitution of Nepal. The conditions for political stability can be achieved if political actors adopt converging tendencies on its fundamentals. Modern politics operates under habitual self-discipline and institutional mindset. In Nepal, the ruling parties’ lure for presidential form of polity and the opposition for parliamentary one will, however, keep prompting the forays of obstreperous actors to unsettle these lurking passions.
So long as national parties cannot get rid of personalised factionalism consuming each other’s virtues, accept the basics of Constitution and muster the authority and capacity of Nepali state to execute them, risks to the decay of polity remains. It defies party discipline and allows political boundary-crossing for the satisfaction of a raft of vested interests straining effective rule. The struggle of rule abiding and polity-smashing forces has pervaded the exhaustion of political power cutting its ability to serve Nepali public. The end of modern politics is to get things done justly.
The core interests and strategies of many political actors for inter- and intra-party dynamics have screwed the stamina of Nepali polity to discipline aspiring leaders’ bent to ride in power by a haggling within and across parties. It has sustained the prime dynamics hindering pro-activeness of the government and disorientation of the opposition. This is less helpful for the rule of law-based modern politics. It rather makes Nepali democracy a zero-sum game where losers having no stake in it but opt for eternal agitation. Modern politics aims to manage the losers of political game through institutional incentives and dampens their disloyal spirit. Management of demand side of public goods can be useful for golden rule of behaviour in Nepal and garner a modicum of output legitimacy. Ethics of modern political life goes beyond utilitarian power and wealth calculation. Nepali leaders must acquire ability to fulfil their promises and ignite a politics of hope.
The closure of predatory violence as a tool of politics is vital. It belongs to the pre-modern period of human history when the concepts of civic rights, sovereignty, social justice and peace were not founded. Nepali leadership, therefore, needs to look beyond ritual politics of status and privilege which are now rendered illegal by the mandate of change. Good performance of institutions can set up a new political culture of fairer society. Between the sovereignty in Nepali people and the state stands the infirmity of national polity. The state’s weakness has turned the ability of polity to promote civic culture rooted in popular sovereignty.
The dilemma of centralism versus federalism in Nepal is, therefore, peculiar to the spirit of modern politics and in no way stands to the universal validity which endorses the realisation of this sovereignty through a robust local self-governance. But the polity of Nepal lacks a sound institutional edifice to resolve the fatal dialectic of proportional inclusion and alienation, perform democratic duty to execute the constitution whereby citizens commonly agree on the foundation of society and the state and facilitate the effectiveness of multi-level governance in service delivery. Nepalis judge legitimacy not only from electoral and legal process but also from high equity gain.
Unfulfilled needs drift politics to human nature and fail to become public-spirited. What distinguishes civil coexistence from the state of nature is the growth of human rights and norms which cultivate the habits of cooperation and competition. They spurn violence, if not conflict, which is considered a creative catalyst of social change. The rationalisation of Nepali polity along democratic values abolishes the symbiosis of violence and politics, allows diverse citizens live under the same state, subdues disorder and satisfies their legitimate needs and rights.
In this situation, minorities of Nepal do not feel that the Constitution is the imposition of the will of political majority rather it is arduously negotiated social contract. In a multicultural society like Nepal satisfaction of essential needs strengthens constitutional regime. The problem of democracy in Nepal is rooted in the primacy of grand narrative of empirical units, such as polity, party, class, caste, gender, religion and region rather than synthesising their visions into a golden mean and nourishing the wisdom of the ends and means of modern politics of positive collective action.
The fulcrum of modern politics of Nepal rests on rule of law, freedom and equity to everyone. It refuses the privileges for only the wealthy. Democratic socialisation enables to learn the art of rule-based system. Its acculturation controls their primitive drive of ego, error of judgment and even misreading of ground reality. The capitulation of national leaders to moneyed groups skews the distribution of public good. It cuts the power of popular sovereignty, the locus of modern politics. The alienation, non-participation and revolt of certain forces against the Constitution show the flaw of power of grand narrative to grip dissidents and inability of polity to make binding decisions of public will on private ethics.
Alternative to violence expects a new tool to score political goals so that Nepalis are back to the heritage of civilised life. Natural selection, in no way, leads to unselfishness. Democracy, therefore, defends win-win game of modern politics. The economic model of politics based on self-interest as an engine of efficiency proved disastrous as rational choice failed to keep self-control, even constitutional limits. Exclusive self-love does not cultivate social solidarity, the foci of modern politics.
Good life cannot be divorced from economic momentum left to eradicate poverty, inequality, monopoly on power and resources, etc. which denies the choice of many Nepalis for happy life. It resolves the grievances against illicit status quo of interest groups which has weakened the public order essential to create a space for all Nepalis to evenly coexist, engage, communicate and effect law-based pursuit of freedom and wealth. The loss of integrity of political order in Nepal has incurred huge costs for the majority of poor caught in hierarchically steered structural injustice while their foes are resorting to various positions, looking for primitive roots and stressing differences which clog national unity.
When modern politics is at real stake, the pre-rational conception of politics does not fill up the chasm of democratic life torn by unattended promises. In this politics, power is pitted against power for survival, supremacy and recognition. The political contest of this sort spells out a hard choice for the leadership as to how to reconcile the particular interest of each actor with the general interests of Nepalis for a fair society. Primacy of particular interest corrupts political decency as the highest civic virtue. The normative public purpose of modern politics in Nepal is important to overcome the ordinary citizens’ suffering from collective national stress. Political power, in the dearth of democratic dissent and critical eyes of public intellectuals, blinds its users to human feeling, experience and knowledge of grassroots.
Modern politics as a solution of multi-causality of problems in Nepal needs multi-side approaches, innovation and entrepreneurship. Political communication opens diverse lens from the nation’s diversity and effect positive change. Think tank’s role lies in responding to the reaction of social causation in public sphere and using media techniques, such as early warning, awareness raising, communication and mutual understanding for the fulfilment of rival groups’ legitimate needs. The choice for Nepali leadership now is to find political union according to national affinities, thereby engraining the priority on the reason of state which can outlaw illicit demands and maintain democratic dynamic through a feedback. The vigour of state is vital for the activation of democratic process.
Likewise, governance reform must embody an element of trust building between civil and security ties so that national security and democracy can go together. This enforces rules, pursues moral ideals of equal human dignity and transcends the dark side of geopolitics. Legal insight or institutional equilibrium of power can set state-citizens coherence and coordinate national goals. Civil society need to enthuse a sense of duty among political actors to mend the modern problem of civil co-existence created by pre-modern politics of tribalism and post-modern doubt.
Leaders in the government and opposition have special duty to create a sound frame of social justice across multi-level rule and full reconciliation throughout Nepali society. Honing community resilience set a balance between order and justice so that diverse Nepalis cooperate out of their instinct, interest and need. Unresolved problems, like human diseases, find their remedy in addressing the causes through a chain of diagnosis, analysis, foresight and prescription. It is the task of modern politics of reason and reasonable action. It expands the space for the civil coexistence of all Nepalis and their emotionally balanced individual and collective wellbeing.