Why do we have Political Parties?
Why should we have political parties?
Human is different from all other forms of life. Only the animal in human is social, and likes to be in groups. This can be confirmed easily. We always yearn for company while attempting things we aren’t very sure of. Or, more interestingly, all our discoveries and inventions came out as individual streaks of brilliance, none of those being attributable to group effort. Also, take our approach to serious issues, especially on matters of defence. It is a well established tactic by all well trained forces to split and reposition itself with as low a profile as possible, to escape from dangers. All our achievements and successes in other areas also fall, into what can be called streaks of personal excellence. But, for doing the most important job in relation to our existence itself, the formation of an identity, we have opted for political parties. And it has become the ultimate organization of our society. How did it happen? Why did we take this, seemingly unnatural route?
The earliest party?
The earlier days of democracy would have been great, the vast treasure of ancient literature pointing to unparalleled intellectual wealth, to note one thing we can deduce from the signs left by bygone eras. Whoever is chosen by people would have had to try their utmost and deliver the expected results. Suppose some of them couldn’t, for whatever reason. And they would have had to face unmentionable atrocities, as a result of people’s wrath. (I think such was the case of Socrates, he might have been forced to drink poison for some horrible misdeed or failure by his followers. And the misdeeds escaped attention of the historians.) It is possible that such a thing led serious contemplation among the learned. And they wanted to do something to save themselves from future miseries of similar nature. It is also possible that there were some more disgruntled elements, like we find these days in all our endeavors, who in addition wanted to harm the flourishing society. In all probability, such elements joined together and formed themselves into a group, calling themselves a ‘party’. And since that day democracy has never been the same.
I think, democracy as we follow leaves a lot to be desired, is a well known fact. There is no one who hasn’t felt the incongruities of ‘party democracy’, I suppose, since, improvements are being contemplated for the existing political system of governance in all democratic countries. Otherwise, what is the need to devote a lion’s share of governmental efforts, not towards the activities of governance, but in bettering governance? Also, which government does not spend a lion’s share of its efforts for correcting what its predecessor did?
Look into Past
But it has been so since the earliest days I can remember, and in any part of the world. I have attended scores of political meetings, where, allocating resources for improving the existing system governance (especially those involving public service) was cited as the most urgent need facing the nation, to justify additional taxes and other expenses. Nowadays also, this remains as a priority area for all governments. It seems we have not been able to improve our system of governance or we failed in identifying the right cause for ‘democracies not being able to deliver the goods’.
In fact, it is the party or party politics that have destroyed the fundamental character of democracy, one that makes it self governance. It has unceremoniously negated the primary condition which would have ensured rational decision making at all levels. That all who participates will do so according to their free will, expressing their views without fear or favor. Hence, the party system has converted democracy, just to a maker of ‘qualified’ decisions. Not only that, it has reduced the function of opposition to one of always opposing the ruling side, a rather meaningless task. As a result of this, in cases where such decisions do not produce the desired effect or lead to a failure, rather than re-examining the decisions, the ruling side can always find an easy excuse, the ‘opposition’.
Parties are a waste
Society is better without Parties
What Good Parties do?
The party politics however is accepted wholeheartedly by all. Why? The advantage I think is that no failure can ever get attributed to a single group. But every group can gloat in case of success, and a party can shoulder all failures, that too, with impunity to all its members. Also, all parties can have a share in the glory of success. This is thus a unique system where none of the constituents of a system is responsible for its failure. Also, which I think is more significant, since we saw earlier how, people with less self confidence is always on the lookout for ‘company’, the attraction to party politics is a clear sign of the abject incompetence of our race.
This I think is a time for reckoning. We can delay the horrific future ahead for the human race, which I have described elsewhere, if we re-imbibe the meaning of party to make it help humans grow. Unlike what is mentioned above, a party should be able to add to one’s brilliance. In which case, it will act as a facilitator to let populace enjoy the glories of success, while providing a platform to absorb the shocks of failure. This can let our society follow its natural path.