“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich” Napoleon Bonaparte
The above is a very thought-provoking and profound observation from one of the greatest revolutionaries of our time. Think for a moment. What is the one thing that helps governments of the 21st century get away with poor governance and high ended corruption ? The ability to indulge in the art of politics. Let us take the example of Egypt. This Middle Eastern country is the home of one of the most ancient civilisations of the world. Couple of years ago this country was rocked by violent protests of people wanting to free the country from the despotic and oppressive regime of general Hosni Mubarak. In a largely peaceful demonstration, the dictator was disposed and a newly elected civilian government took office. However there was a caveat here. This government was made of the religious fundamentalists. Within no time, this civilian government was removed and a new military government took office, this time under a new general. To any external observer, nothing changed in the Egypt. It was military rule followed by religious rule which was again followed by military rule.
From time immemorial, various methods were employed by humans that enabled them to control people and their aspirations so that they fit within the norms of a society or a group. Think about the ancient men, they hunted in groups. There were no lone wolves. Everyone went together, hunted together and lived among each other. There is nothing wrong with this picture, only for the fact that if it was a group of equals it would have been a worthwhile arrangement. It all boiled down to someone who took the realms of the leader of the group. This person who gets control over the group always had a hard time to let go off or even share his power with others. That is when politics originated-because playing politics helped him to survive!
Times were not the same for men. Like varying seasons in a year, the fortunes of men also changed. And as human sought for consistent and steady fortunes, beliefs originated and as these truths or beliefs took root, in order to control the message and milk the truth, the leaders adopted religion so that control never ends and is lasting.
There is absolutely no difference between organised religion and the modern political systems of today. One can find a lot of synergies to the Catholic church of yesteryear and the communist ideals developed by Karl Marx and others. All systems need the complete collaboration of everyone involved. And all systems are created with the ultimate motive to control people. And that is where they fail, because even though humans can be controlled for a little while, you can never keep a bird caged for ever. And that free spirit of humans is the biggest threat to all systems and establishments world over. Today there is hardly any remanent left of a communist party worldwide because ideology was used to control people and achieve nefarious objectives. About the Catholic Church, the less said is the better, though Pope Francis is trying to change the place. Only time will say whether he was successful or not.
There is a certain truth in the teachings of great men like Valmiki, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Prophet Muhammad etc. There is absolutely no truth in the religions that carry their name because if one looks within these organised groups, it is the insatiable hunger and appetite for controlling humans and extracting maximum capital from their vulnerabilities. Normal people get accustomed to varying fortunes and opportunities in life. Smart leaders understand them and play politics to keep them under their control. When someone does well in life, they will be the first ones to celebrate and when someone does bad, they will be there to partake in their sorrow. This allows them to obtain a loyal following and gives them the ability to execute their agendas. If you look at organized religion or even the democratic societies of today, they are simply alike.
So what should we understand from all these? There are a few pointers I would like to leave this conversation with:
- Belief in a truth is good, it helps you concentrate and align yourself to a greater good.
- Have zero trust in any organised religion. They have only agendas and no truths.
- Politics will exist everywhere and anywhere where groups of humans co-exist, both in the virtual and real worlds.
- Politics must be the art of aligning people to achieve greater good and continue the search for the truth.
- Organised religion needs politics to survive but good politics need only willing people and good intent to survive.
Image courtesy: http://churchandstate.org.uk/wordpressRM/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/religion-politics.jpg