The Politic of Jumping Jacks

Goa was yet to get out of the pain of MLA’s crossing sides that yet another batch of 8 Congress MLAs crossed over to the BJP taking the number of these defections into BJP to 20 if we care to count these jumping Jacks of the last term as well as the present term respectively. Everyone has called out the treacherous act of chicanery and greed for wealth and power. But everyone has stopped with the MLAs who did the immoral defection. Very few seem to have questioned the impropriety of the BJP that received those that are rightly described as traitors and betrayers by the people. The issue that is standing before us is bigger and more complex and cannot be reduced to the crossing over of some apparently commodified self-interested legislators. Hence, we are forced to raise a question that asks; how are we to understand the precarious condition that is affecting our life in Goa?

Perhaps, we may have to hesitatingly agree that our present condition may be best described in the light of a book, titled, Parasite by a French thinker, Michel Serres. In this book. Serres outlines the basis of human relations as parasitic whereby human groups are organized with oneway relations where one eats the other and the second cannot benefit at all from the first. This simplest irreversible unidirectional exchange is the most basic unit among all beings. Serres employs this theoretical framework to build his theory beyond the individual and extend it to the construction and organization of society at large where different groups come together and feed of each other under the great beast that is the leviathan. Serres thinks that from the dawn of time, there was no prey but only a parasite (a relation of eating on the side). We, humans, are parasites. Our entire existence is unidirectional. We are only takers of the resources of our planet earth and hardly give back or leave anything for other beings. This relation of consummation extends beyond the death of the prey as the animal that is eaten is made to become a coat that protects us from a cold winter. The relationship is uneven and unbalanced tilting on the side of humanity.

Parasitism is everywhere. It defines the relation between animal to animal as well as humans to humans and human and other beings. Now it seems to have come to even include God. Some of our politicians had sworn in the name of God not to defect to the ruling BJP but did it unidirectionally to benefit themselves. This direction is a one-way street as the ruling BJP will be parasitic on them and benefit their cronies who will prey on the power of the BJP. What does it leave for the voters? Goa, Goans and our God? One of the MLAs even notoriously used God to justify his act of betrayal. We can only discern a clear self-interested line of a parasite working all through this dirty politics that has come to haunt Goa. Some among us can see how some of the chamchas of the jumping Jacks are waiting eagerly to draw their pound of flesh as their masters get rewarded by the top brass of the BJP offering them the perks of ministries and positions of power. But these rewards are again parasitic and unidirectional as they will come at cost of demotion and dislocation of some of the reining BJP ministers and the karykartas. We seem to have landed in the Hobbsian Leviantan where even some voters had made their vote count the cash that came into their hands during the election. All that we are left with is a chain of parasitism

Our pathetic condition, therefore, calls for profound soul searching. There is more to this unidirectional parasitic line that is animating our politics today. Maybe we have to understand its ambiguity. The chain is unidirectional and composes a web that makes each individual in the chain both a host and parasite depending on the lens of focus that one may choose to analyze the condition of any given relation. Here again, Serres becomes insightful. He teaches that what determines who is a host and who is a parasite at any given time is the interruption that pushes an exchange from an equilibrium. Perhaps, money bags, the promise of cabinet berths and other perks disturbed the equilibrium of Goan Politics, although we have to note that no system is ever in static equilibrium. There are always undercurrents in the guise of balanced harmony. We somehow always knew that the jumping Jacks and their BJP host were always up to something. It is only with time that this act of treachery came to light.

How are we redeem ourselves from this chain that produces nothing but a simulacra of hosts and parasites? Will this take us on the path of civil war in the image and likeness of Hobbes’ state of nature. Do we need a new social contract? Do we need a new stronger law? Do we need more power to the election Commission that will enable it to act sui motto to protect the interest of the voters? The answers to these questions are not so simple and easy. A mere change in anti-defection law has brought us where we are right now. There is never only order. if we could only hear perfect harmonies, we will have dreamless sleep. We do need the courage to dream even in this dark night of our souls. We can change our condition but the change has to begin with us. The parasite/host does not just have hostility attached to it. Its hostility can also melt into hospitality. Hence, beginning with ourselves we can become what Gandhi says; ‘ the change that we want to see in the world’. While we curse the darkness that is covering us for now, let us not forget to light a candle that will dispel the clouds of darkness that hover over us. Let’s once again pray to our eternal payer, ‘lead us from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to life’.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao