Politics, in its purest sense and in terms of our simple language, is Service. That’s why we have great personalities like Ambedkar, Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, Lincoln who all lived and died in the service of their people and country. Even Aristotle himself considered politics to be “a noble activity” in this sense. However, for the most part (of human history), politics has been primarily concerned about one thing- Power. Power, which determines how much wealth he can accumulate in his life, how much influential and important he will be to others, how many wives he may have and all these stuffs. In simple words, it has been the means to attain the highest possible legitimate power and status in life. However, due to this very reason, it makes the political arena very competitive even to the extent of being brutal, inhuman and cruel. Throughout history, Power politics was all about-
1. A prince Ashoka slaughtering his own prince brothers to become the emperor he was to despise later on.
2. A king Yudhisthira being forced, against his will, to kill his own kin, friends, gurus and relatives to regain his throne.
3. A prince Aurangzeb murdering all his brothers and even imprisoning his own father Shah Jahan to claim the coveted throne of Delhi.
4. A Socrates getting killed ( forced to commit suicide) for not conforming to the dictates of those in power.
5. A power hungry Stalin or Mao exterminating all their deemed opponents to get there where they want to be.
And these are not some random, rare events from history but rather it was the general norm throughout most part of human history. A change in power was almost invariably preceeded or succeeded by shedding of somebody’s blood. And if we don’t see politicians openly killing each other nowadays, it’s not because things have really changed but it’s because the modern formal laws don’t allow it. If these laws are removed for a while, we may find them doing just what they have been doing for the past 5000 years. And guess what they are still doing the same thing, although in other ways- killing each other atleast with their words, indulging in each other’s character assassination, plotting and intriguing behind each other’s back, taking or giving bribes etc. And even in our own times we saw how failed state politics claimed the life of one of our most beloved state leaders- Late KalikhoPul in 2016. It’s not really because of his age, tribe, gender or place of birth or faith/religion. It’s primarily because of the very nature of Political life itself- it can be a very cruel and harsh place one can ever find herself or himself into and it often is.
Dr.Jordan Peterson says that it is because of these (and other) reasons that historically more men have been in positions of political power than women. Just like more men have been in other “dangerous” and low-status occupations such as- in Coal mining, as Roughnecks, Hard manual labours, Army, Firefighter services, Construction workers, Sewer workers and so on. He says that it is not because of gender discrimination or some vague entity like patriarchy but because of the perceived nature of the requirement of these jobs.
And the political arena is such an expensive and savage matrix. If one aspires to be successful there, one should be equally brutal, cunning and thick skinned and take accountability for their success as well as failures in order to grow. Even Socrates, who was highly skeptical of democracy, said that in a democracy, it’s not necessarily the good people or the ‘best person’ who comes to the position of power (to serve), but the one( man or woman) who can best manipulate the existing political affairs and others to put himself/herself into that position of power( to serve his own ends). And with this, Socrates also tells us that contrary to our popular belief, the persons we have elected to the positions of power in Loksabha or Assemblies need not be the best person we have chosen. You might have elected him/her only because he/she was better at manipulating you to put him/her to that position and not because of the intrinsic value or character or quality of that person.