But no, there is a quality here that goes beyond the strange and the bizarre and right down into the tragicomic, if not even the farcical.
For this year witnessed the transformation, nay, the transmogrification, of our long established national charlatans and villains, both alive and recently hanged, into long-awaited national saviors and saintly heroes, sometimes reluctantly but often wholeheartedly and popularly endorsed. And we all fell into the trap of this endorsement by aligning with this or that set of equally questionable figures on our increasingly impoverished and farcical political scene, often with eyes wide shut, or blindfolded more likely with fear, ignorance, wishful thinking and too many vested interests, real and/or imagined, material and/or psychological, in the potential outcome, and sometimes with eyes wide open, pried open in fact, perhaps for the very aforesaid motives.
In this regard, I lay no claim to innocence and seek no refuge in any alleged good intentions on my part. Such defensive stratagems are nonsensical, inconsequential and often even dishonest. After all, in popular imagination and perception, – and where else is politics played out? – we are all tainted now, the idealists and well-intentioned more so than any others. Attempts at self-defense and justification are but exercises in futility at this stage.
Therefore, the only assertion I will make in this regard is that I have long known that the odds have always been more in favor of such disastrous development than any other. The quality of the decision-makers involved on all sides was and continues to be just too mediocre for one to expect a different outcome, and popular awareness and understanding of the issues involved continues to be flawed and hostage to the whims and influences of a myriad unscrupulous characters, and to the undying lure of certain popular myths, beliefs and misconceptions. Meanwhile, the challenges that we face, political, social, economic and developmental, remain much too enormous than most people are willing to acknowledge. As such the proposed solutions, no matter how realistic, moderate, reasonable and pragmatic they appear to be, have always tended to fall much too short of what is required to make even the smallest adjustment in the disastrous course that lies ahead.
To say that the fate of so many hundreds of millions of people is at stake here does not appear as a romantic exaggeration to me, but a downplayed reality that is coming back to haunt us all with every passing day.
This is probably why I ended up venturing into this “gamble”, because it is really not a gamble at all as far as I am concerned. From where I stand, the way our various plans and schemes are unfolding seems to reflect a certain inevitability (albeit in objective socio-historical rather than metaphysical terms) than a gamble, calculated or not. In other words, I can see no way out of or around the looming and potentially disastrous confrontation, necessitated by the global clash of values, expectations (mostly consumerist in nature) and deeply held beliefs (mostly medievalist in basic ethos and outlook). In fact, everything that we do at this stage seems destined to help chart our path right into the thick of it, perhaps not as fast as some of us dread, but definitely not as a slow as many of us would like to think.
With America’s increasing troubles in the region, the continuing reaffirmation of sectarian identities there, and the new sense of legitimacy now ascribed to the positions and persons of national leaders and spokesmen of the new resistance doctrine, indeed, with the popular adoption of the concept of stand-off as a necessary and sufficient victory in the political discourse and popular awareness, the sun of this long period in the East and West is now about to set. What world will emerge out of the inevitable darkness is anyone’s guess.
So, how can we, the foolhardy few who still think that they can and should compete for the role of “national” saviors where it counts, on the grounds and in the face of all odds, and not necessarily, if at all, in popular imagination (where the battle will, for the foreseeable future at least, be always won by thugs and charlatans) manage a conflict that will take place in the darkest recesses of our minds and souls, not to mention our actual streets and neighborhoods? The only real strategy that can be recommended, it seems, is one of continuous experimentation with various approaches and mechanisms until we stumble, one hapless day, upon the most effective and viable ones.
Meanwhile, the least of our risks and worries should be how we will end up being labeled, not to mention often used and always abused by the various forces competing in our midst. For this, too, is inevitable. More importantly though, this happens to be a two-way street. Indeed, with careful planning, we could do some labeling and using of our own and, if we are not careful, we could even do some abusing. After all, playing god or savior is never a safe exercise, and the risk of falling under the delusion of self-ascribed grandeur is much greater than any other in this particular venture.
Indeed, caught between the fear and ignorance of most segments of our peoples, the corruption and authoritarian predilections of our rulers, and the constant profiteering and ignorant dabbling of external powers, we, the liberal reforming democrats (or however we choose to label ourselves these days) risk something that is much more serious than loss and defeat, we risk becoming part and parcel of the very destructive mechanisms that are currently at play in our midst.
In order to avoid falling into this particular trap myself, or, to be more specific, in order to climb out of it while there is still time, I should probably focus over the next few weeks and months into making some necessary course corrections. Course corrections, I said, not about-faces or jumping-ships or turning-on-dimes, I am neither a political gymnast nor a career oppositionist, I am just a heretic in search of relevance, belonging and peace of mind at continuingly troubling and often farcical times.
Facilis descensus Averno.
(The descent to hell is easy)