Friday, June 21, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

A counting up of actions

Update : 04 May 2015, 06:20 PM

It has been the same game, rules unchanged, since before the Liberation War. The motivational words of consolation are wrong: Winning is, has been, and will be more important than how it is played.

The sole objective, therefore, is absolute power. Successive governments have tried and failed. The current one remains in situ, but the fine margins set by those cursed rules make strongholds vulnerable, success impermanent, failure impending.

Past players, licking their wounds, are not to be trusted either. Their sorrow comes from envy, wishing to trade places with the ruling regime. They did not do better during their purple patches, and will do worse if their wish is somehow granted.

Their misdeeds during their fleeting victories are responsible for the present desperation and devastation, as today will inspire tomorrow’s carnage.

Unless there is a unanimous, an unequivocal rejection of the game, there is no other way. Absolute power, repeated as a mantra, is a self-fulfilling prophecy that produces only one outcome.

During the latest phase of play, the BNP’s 2006-2007 moves were rendered ineffectual, the Awami League’s 2013-2014 were not. It is a perpetual race to the top of the mountain, hoping to be closer to the summit than base camp. When, never if, the mountain is conquered, the flag that is planted -- regardless of whether it has stars and stripes or is a dreaded black, has a boat or an ear of rice -- signifies the pursuit of absolute power, and its establishment, of various levels of temporariness.

The sticks used to beat the opposition increases in size, giving way to knives. They, in turn, get sharper and give way to guns, ever more efficient. The ruthless endeavours do not differentiate between political opposition and observers or well-wishers.

The binary view, adopted by the politicians and codified in laws governing the populace, makes dissenters of everyone.

Consider the process briefly, and it becomes clear why it matters little. In a straight choice between legitimacy and control, only one paves the road to victory. It is, thus, the only one that is of any consequence.

An authoritarian regime that believes in its own myth of invincibility will be less inclined to add a veneer of legitimacy than one that is more pragmatic.

The occasional member of the ruling party or governmental activist being punished for one of the several deplorable acts committed by the regime would be a shrewd strategy that shows a just, humane side of said autocracy.

The odd election would have a similar effect, making the people believe. Instead, oppression and dominance have been the preferred poisons. Every instance of them producing the desired result -- celebrating the inexcusable, the heinous, the repulsive, and propagating the fallacy of a divine right to rule -- reinforces the belief in a godlike invincibility, the reaffirmation confirming further deployments of the same strategy in the future.

Individual incidents may be met with approval or submission, but a growing litany is less manageable. When counting the cost of extending its victory, the government should pause to study the people’s ledger. Dismissing it because those numbers tell a very different story to the delusional narrative of the rulers will be to their own peril.

Redacting them or replacing them with more favourable alternatives may rewrite perceptions and perspectives, but does not change the truth. The process may be immaterial in attaining victory, but it has a part to play in extending it, because the process determines when the people, who are counting up actions, become the enemy.

Heightening partisanship, using terrorism for effect, prevents discussions and debates that are necessary for improvement. Civil rights activists fighting the race war in the US and suffragettes demanding women’s rights in the UK were labelled terrorists. Martin Luther King Jr, however, can be told apart from Osama bin Laden, even by the dullest or most unhinged minds.

The government of Bangladesh, like all governments in the history of the human race, is fallible. Displaying humility to accept this rather than forcing people to believe in its arrogant presumption of being flawless, with threats and intimidation when coaxing and cajoling do not work, serves the objective of absolute power better.

The people know that perfection is impossible, thus they seek betterment. The government is convinced it is the better choice. It is long past time the AL started to prove this hypothesis. Making an enemy of a people that historically does not tolerate oppression or respond well to it is not the way. 

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