By Mohammed Adamu
POLITICAL ideology is not always as intrinsically virtuous as political scientists would want us to believe. Politicians are ideologues only of the political beliefs or values that they have elected to be motivated or guided by. To partisan idealists ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are not always the same. They differ according to how political actors themselves differ in their chosen political beliefs or values. Thus, political ideology can sometimes be as bitchy and double-faced as ‘political man’ himself can be inherently or potentially Janus-faced.
To most of our politicians shifting always in the direction of the greenest pasture, or seeking only where the political bread gets the most butter, has now almost become the ‘ideal’ political ideology. It is now the ideology above all ideologies. It is in fact the new ‘political correctness’. And as ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’, so is political ideology now –especially in our own clime- altruistic only in the perception of the perceiver. Our politicians claim to be different even though they tend always to be the same. Whether they profess to be on the ‘left’, ‘right’ or ‘centre’; or whether they subscribe to being ‘a little to the left’ or ‘a little to the right’ of the ‘centre’, most of them are motivated by the same instincts and animated by the same stimuli –to feather their nests even if, in the process, they have to move from one nest to another.
Said H.L. Mencken: “An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup”. And this is not helped by the fact –theoretically- that any set of political beliefs that govern the affairs of man, no matter how strange or how heretical; no matter how outmoded or how avant-garde; no matter how sacred, or how profane, still bears the toga of idealism. So much that it has become politically ideological nowadays even to profess no known political ideology at all.
Or to contrive one’s own political ideology –no matter how un-altruistic- and to stick dogmatically to it. The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa said: “Real politics…has little to do with ideas… and everything to do with maneuvers, intrigues, plots, paranoias… and every kind of con game”. Our politicians especially are now only as credible as their most recent ideological leaning. Now they are here, now they are not! Like so called ‘women of easy virtue’, they are only as committed as their most recent commitment. Political ideologies unfortunately are not necessarily grounded in moral considerations; because the question will then be asked whose or what moral yardstick’ must we use to determine the right moral consideration? Nor are political ideologies to be justified or legitimised on the premise of logic; because again, ideology, like religion, often lends itself more to faith and belief than it does to reason and common sense.
Nowadays even the most propagated political ideas seem in fact often the less provident ones. And the most bizarre ones, ironically, often hold the profoundest promise. When Fela announced his ‘You-Chop-I-Chop’ political party, it had sounded, in the circumstances, more ludicrous than it was serious. It was nonetheless an espousal of already existing universal adages of fairness which our so called political parties appear sworn never to imbibe -such as ‘live and let live’, or the more equitable ‘let the eagle perch and let the kite perch too’, or the Justinian ‘to each according to its desert’. This is the ultimate political ideology –seeking to make life worth living for all. And not just for some, or for a few, or worst even strictly only for ‘self’.
A character contesting for political office in one of Kanny Wood’s dramatic satires provides practical demonstration of that ‘self-only’ ideology in the campaign song: ‘ku taru ku tara, in kwashe’; -meaning ‘let the people toil and moil, and I will rock and roll’. Which is the same as saying: ‘let the monkey work, and let the baboon eat. And although it is worse than Fayose’s propagandised ‘stomach infrastructure’, the people ‘toiling and moiling’ while the politician ‘rocks and rolls’, is no less decadent than PDP’s idea of ‘conquering and despoiling’ as the veritable political ideal.
And isn’t it amazing, by the way, that most PDP faithful are now no longer ashamed to even ask that we give them back their ‘corruption’? Or isn’t that now how heady and recalcitrant the goblin of corruption has finally gotten? –so much that it can now jostle for place no longer in the museum of the ignoble but right in the hall of ideological fame? Or isn’t ‘corruption’ now the veritable political ideology, so that every rotten political rogue is now an anointed angel? –not to be touched but rather to be tolerated. Or is every loot not now merely manna from heaven? –not to be recovered but to be made holy and permissible for the looters? Or is every ‘stealing’ and ‘thieving’ now not any more criminal? –not to be punished but to be commended and rewarded? Or has not the shedding of innocent blood not now been elevated to the height of partisan opposition? –so that life is no longer as sacred as the pursuit of political office?
And if, as the U.S. novelist Henry Miller said that “One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered for the sake of an idea, whether a good or a bad one”, then political ideology remains a non-starter.
Some say that members of the ‘nPDP’ who now go by the puritanical acronym the ‘Reformed-APC’ have no political ideology –having once disavowed the retrogressive policy of the PDP in favour of the progressivism of the APC, and having now threatened to return to their old vomit. Observers say that this crop of colourless politicians have no political ideology. But I dare to say that, that is not necessarily indicative of the absence of political ideology. On the contrary, that in itself is the political ideology –roving across ideological boundaries and political time lines in search of where the political grass is the greenest; or where the political bread gets the most butter –no matter whose ox is gored in the process. That is the new political ideology. Unfortunately.
IN his ‘The Hohenzollerns in America’, the British-born Canadian writer and economist Stephen Leacock, lampoons ideological double standard when he said “I am a Liberal Conservative, or, if you will, a Conservative Liberal with a strong dash of sympathy with the socialist idea, a friend of Labour and a believer in Progressive Radicalism. I… would take a seat in the Canadian Senate at five minutes’ notice”.
By the way, the Canadian Senate is usually an unelected chamber comprising appointed legislators (by the Prime Minister) and whose job principally is to dot the ‘I’s and to cross the ‘t’s of bills initiated and passed by the House of Commons. The Canadian parliament is generally considered as a constitutional chamber of “sober, second thought”; but which critics say is hardly sober enough to afford a ‘second thought’. Only the ideologically colourless happily takes up a seat in such parliament.