Demonarchy Part I
De’mo-narchy, De’mo-narchization, & DemonarchizationOfDemocratic Republic of India(Part 1)ByShree VinekarIntroduction
Monarchy, one of the oldest forms of government, is indigenous to India and many other nations of the world, including Great Britain. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a genius statesman of independent India, eliminated monarchy in India while neither having to resort to a “Magna Carta”-like manifesto, nor to any violence. The Indian kings and queens received their privy purses for many years, and some of them were appointed to Rajya Sabha as members. The unaware Indian citizens believed that it was the end of monarchy. Alas! Little did they know that, while Sardar Patel could liberate the Indian citizens from the clutches of monarchy, it has been nearly impossible to remove the deep-seated psychological attachment to monarchy from the citizens of India. Indeed, most Indians did not even realize that they won their independence, not only from the British rule, but also from a millennium of Muslim strongholds of the past, centuries of other foreign rulers, and even from India’s own independent monarchs who had imposed their rule upon the masses for many millennia before. Monarchy has been romanticized in historical and literary texts the world over, even within India. And, remarkably, under benevolent rule, monarchy served the people of the most prosperous India, even at times for peaceful spans of 800 years or more. In fact, to see this, one need only study the histories of the Gupta and Maurya Dynasties, as described by A. L. Basham in his book, “The Wonder That Was India.” (see also,http://www.adolphus.nl/xcrpts/xcbasham.html). Indeed, monarchy is deeply ingrained in the Unconscious of the world culture. This article explores the psychological roots of the fascination for monarchy, and examines the reasons for the die-hard monarchy in many countries with a specific focus on India. Finally, the author creates a new set of terminology or nomenclature to describe some, as yet unidentified, growing political phenomena whereby an incognito “Monarchy” in disguise struggles to survive amidst its larger and more powerful foe, “Democracy.”
While the Vedic roots of advaita philosophy of India and the Sankhya darshana present the Ultimate Reality in the Universe as Consciousness, which is indescribable, having no personality attributes, the popular religion and culture of the vast majority of the Hindus representing the 82% to 85% of the population of India have created a picture that their “God” who is given human attributes (Ishta Devata) was usually a “king.” Shri Rama and Shri Krishna being the most popular Gods, and Gautama the Buddha, having been given the status of the ninth “avatar,” were all Kshatriya kings (or as in the case of Gautama, a prince, the only son, who was the heir to his King father’s throne).
The Monarchist Political System prevailed for nearly five thousand years in India, and for similarly lengthy stretches in surrounding countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. While Monarchist societies the world over have, for the most part, fully evolved into democratic ones (The oldest democracy evolved in Great Britain only in the last few centuries, yet to this day the country retains its monarchy for decorative and historical reasons. However, France and Russia Indeed there is much fascination among the European and American people for monarchy as evidenced by the enormous media coverage given to Princess Diana and other Royal celebrities from time to time. eliminated their monarchies with violent means.), the fascination for monarchy, its wealth, palaces, and grandeur is still seen in many European countries today.
It is indeed a surprising phenomenon to watch this fascination in the United States of America, a country that gained its independence from the British Royalty after a Revolutionary War for Independence ending in 1783. Canada has its own reverence for British monarchy by virtue of its status as part of the British Commonwealth. Many Middle Eastern countries are under the strongholds of monarchies. Even Japan remains enamored with monarchy to this day.
A quick “aside” – One need not question the psychology of the Muslims (for whom Caliphate has been totally acceptable) as regards choosing monarchy and dynasty. In this respect the psychology of the Indian Muslims is not any different than that of the Indian Hindus. And, since almost all of the Indian Christians (most of whom accept the age old religious monarchy of the Pope) are converts, and originally mostly Hindus, they are culturally not any different as regards their unconscious preference for monarchy.
This state of affairs begs a question. How does the politically immature and unsophisticated population resolve its ambivalence towards monarchy and evolve a true democratic political system for itself, when it is so difficult to do so for the mature democracies like Great Britain, Canada, Australia and even the United States where the name “Bush”, for example, may stand in the modern American Unconscious for monarchy? From a psychoanalytic viewpoint, the elimination or dethroning of monarchs is tantamount to patricide and/or matricide in the Unconscious mind. These democracies will form a compromise in their psyche by not dethroning the individuals (representing monarchy in the Unconscious) but by electing them to the highest office in the democratic government.
Why did human beings choose to become the property of the monarchs and allow them to hold the ownership and control rights over the lands and wealth of a society and, in some instances, even over their very individual lives? The answer is hidden in the primitive dependency of the Human Being. It is comfortable to go to sleep every day knowing that there is a parent figure that will protect them at all times and maintain law and order. This basic trust implicitly placed in the monarchs made life easier for the general population of many countries.
Monarchs provide the basic security of maintaining law and order which is more important than (or at least predominates) other basic needs like Roti, Kapada, and Makaan. Monarchs also offer security from external dangers. Of course, oxygen (free at present), and water (free in the old days), and the land (cheap, yet plentiful) were the basic necessities. And, national and internal security was a priority to be able to enjoy these commodities necessary for life. Land was to be cultivated under the peaceful umbrella of the monarchs to happily pay the taxes in return for what the monarchs provided, the security and the law and order, basically. The benevolent monarch figuratively holding such umbrella and providing protection to his subjects was called “Chatrapati” a term ridiculously translated by the ignoble James Laine as the “Lord of the Umbrella” to assert his ill-informed academic freedom.
However, this seemingly healthy trade between the monarchs and the society at large, as democracy became more and more prevalent, began to deteriorate. In fact, the duty or obligation of the monarchy to offer protection to the masses began to be sometimes exploited by the monarchs, dictators, or those who are symbols of monarchy in the democracies by exaggerating the external dangers or creating situations presenting external dangers to the national security in order to maintain and perpetuate their positions of power. In the more recent times monarchs are seen as the providers of all natural resources necessary to sustain complex industrialized civilizations dependent upon oil and gas, nuclear fuels, and many health needs, as well as protectors from weapons of mass destruction assuring sustained existence for their subjects.
Many monarchs of the past, and even in present-day it must be granted, may have superior administrative, political and statesmanship skills. They may even do a better job at governing than the elected officials. Democracy has not been viewed as “stable” in many other new democratic countries. Immature democracies do fall prey to dictatorships or autocratic governments. There is a basic insecurity as regards the trust in the Democratic Government. Even the most powerful democracies, while they pay lip service to the “necessity for democracy,” or even to the degree of “how much democracy is desirable” in the less mature or developing countries, in designing and formulating their foreign policies, they have on the contrary consistently supported dictatorship in those countries whom they call their allies. Curiously enough, when these democratic countries with obvious duplicity in their foreign policy go to sell democracy to other countries, they are viewed as inconsistent and less than honest. No wonder then if they are viewed with suspicion as possibly driven by an ulterior motive to exploit the natural or human resources for their own advantage.
Human beings are the most dependent in the animal world and have the longest phase of their life spent in a state of dependency as children. Also, thanks to the modern scientific advances the life span of human beings is now up to seventy-six years in developed countries. That means an average human being will be blessed to have their parents around them for a span of forty to eighty years. When a politically immature population chooses through elections to post a dynasty, a dictator, or a string of related leaders at the helm of affairs of its democracy for sixty years or more, the population in essence is, consciously or unconsciously, electing to have its parent figures take care of it.
To classify certain ideas proposed above, the author presents here a newly coined term (which will be further defined later in the article): “DE’MO-NARCHY” refers to the concept whereby a newly developing democratic society’s leadership choices are influenced more by the unconscious attachment to, and unwillingness to separate from, the sense of security associated with monarchic rule, rather than the recognition of the potential rewards derived from a collective societal government. This unconscious meaning of de’mo-narchy is hardly interpreted by the media to the population under the de’mo-narchic rule. Indeed, the illiterate in India form the largest vote bank, and at one time viewed Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi as their “Nehru Raja” and “Indira Rani,” respectively. Such psychological stronghold on the majority of Indians is very difficult to dispel. These are just benign and perhaps banal psychological explanations for the current state of affairs in developing countries or immature democracies like the one in India. However, there are other more pernicious reasons for the existence of this curious political phenomenon of “de’mo-narchy” that need to be looked at.
“Laachari” is worse than poverty. There is no real equivalent for this word in English. It may be translated as an extreme helplessness resulting from abject poverty, total lack of resources to meet the basic needs, and chronic traumatization of the human body and mind under material and psychological deprivation and abuse. Such traumatization almost, and sometimes totally, kills the soul of the human beings. This is the “violence” Mahatma Gandhi focused upon when he said keeping a large section of the population poor is an act of violence. Poverty is a root cause of ignorance and disease, both of which in addition to poverty heavily contribute to “laachari.” A laachar population is more likely to retain a monarchy for psychological reasons other than ignorance. It is also more prone to be easily controlled by a dictator. This has not happened in India as the armed forces have been trained to remain loyal to the Center no matter who is controlling it. However, the economic system that is failing the poor and the rural population is perpetuating “laachari.” It is high time this psychological abuse resulting from abject poverty be recognized as a nefarious perpetuating factor likely to favor monarchy or dictatorship in one form or the other at the center or locally at the grass roots level.
De’mo-narchy, however, may be theoretically preferable to dictatorship. The 15 percent of votes received by President George W. Bush were said to have been given to him under the belief that he was the senior Bush, his father, running for the Presidency. This is a reflection of the ignorance and laziness of the voting population in the U.S. most of whom do have easy access to media. However, we cannot confuse such factors as ignorance with “laachari” in India. The latter is far more sinister and a unique social evil in India (and probably in some African countries and other developing countries.) Laachari is very rarely found in the U.S. The so-called poor population in the U.S. and other Western countries usually has access to radio and T.V. and other creature comforts and is more likely to be somewhat literate. This author, therefore, wants to identify “laachari” as an as yet unidentified factor by the sociologists, psychologists, and political economists. Maintaining laachari and perpetuating it in large sections of the population and becoming a friend of the poverty (not the friend of the poor or friend of the minorities) needs to be recognized as one of the consciously or unconsciously selected political tool to stay in power. and in the Western world although some sections of the population do live below the poverty line.
In an immature democracy it allows for buying votes rather cheaply or promising the basics which are truly already owed and long overdue to the citizens but have not been forthcoming after decades of gaining independence and after the ruling political party gaining control of the central government. It also can justify corruption as a humanitarian solution to relieve “laachari” in the government officers as well as the population that is governed. The usual justification is: “How can these poor government servants survive without ‘under the table income’ when they are so poorly paid?” Perpetuating laachari within the nation’s poor as well as within the government servants through a silent conspiracy is an investment in its future for the ruling party to buy its longevity to stay in power. Wooing the minorities and buying the votes of the poor, and playing on the insecurities of the government servants and the armed services, employing divide and rule tactics to perpetuate the power are ways to prolong the demonarchy favorable to the ruling party. Thus the “monarchs in disguise” in demonarchy have a symbiotic relationship with the ruling party.
The political immaturity of the Indian population is a simplistic explanation for India’s choice to retain the “Nehru-Gandhi dynasty” for nearly 52 of the 60 years since independence. It is not uncommon to find similar political choices being made in other Asian, South Asian, and African countries, whereby the “educated” child, or the wife (sometimes even if she is not educated), of a former head-of-state is selected to lead the country. When this pattern exists under the guise of democracy, it is necessary to distinguish it as a separate political system as distinguished from democracy. This author has, therefore, chosen to “invent” new terms to refer to these political phenomena:
De’mo-narchy is defined as the system of political rule wherein a leader comes into power, elected or is selected, based upon his or her family relation to the past or one of the previous leaders rather than upon his own merit or achievements.
De’mo-narchization is defined as the political act of creating a De’mo-narchy through a slow process of constructing the veil of a democratically ruled government around the society in order that “unconsciously” and complacently it accepts monarchy in disguise.
Demonarchization is the process of “dethroning” the “disguised monarchs” in a democracy by deconstructing and removing the democratic veil of de’mo-narchy in order to re-establish true democracy.
Demonarchization is a matter for public education and similar to the process of “secularization” of the society, both “de-monarchization” and “secularization” being peaceful projects and not to be viewed as violent or revolutionary efforts. As a side comment it needs to be noted that the majority of Hindus in India are seen as in need of “secularization” although they have a track record of thousands of years of well ingrained attitude of “pantha-nirapekshata” and “dharmasahishnuta” (see my article on “Hinduness for World Peace and Harmony” onwww.swaveda.com ) while some of the other minorities are the ones that are historically more deficient in this respect. The “Hinduness” as defined in the article referred to above includes inherent “secularistic” and “integrationistic” qualities. That will become obvious to any serious reader. Also, see my other article, “Dhee: Essence of Hinduness” on www.swaveda.com for more elaboration. Hinduness, pantha-nirapekshata and dharmasahishnuta are not at all new to “Bharatam.”
By combining the terms “democracy” and “monarchy,” and corresponding above-mentioned ideas behind corrupted “democracy” and “monarchy,” the author hopes to convey these in the context of India’s current governmental structure to clarify these specific new terms and concepts. It is not the intent of this author to demonize monarchy totally and categorically in the Indian context, as the concept of “demon” is foreign to the majority in India. In 2047, India will celebrate 100 years of Independence. Whether the current de’mo-narchy within the Indian government will continue and, perhaps even prove itself as “demon-archy” by then, time alone will tell.
****End of Part I****