Friday, December 26, 2014

Con, Sense And Us

Dear Consensus,

Why dost thou so tormentest us so sore?
Our destiny is so inextricably tied to your appearance. At times, you have been within our grasp, only to slither away into oblivion.
We’ve heard so much about you in the last eight years. But do we really know you?
General agreement, we thought you were. Or was it concord? The variants – harmony, concurrence, accord, unity, unanimity, solidarity – all have that positive ring.
What is it that you actually embody – general opinion, majority opinion, common view? Or do you arrive – to paraphrase Abba Eban – when everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually?
We’re not the only ones debating your character, you may say. Take climate change, and humanity’s role in it. The world is still unable to agree on how conclusive computer models are that they should be allowed to regulate our behavior. But that’s all in the future.
We’re in the here and now. Our new constitution is struggling to emerge on account of your adamancy. The ruling parties have the votes to promulgate the statute by a two-thirds majority. We can understand why the Maoists don’t want that to happen. But why are the two principal democratic parties appeasing the former rebels?
The Indian prime minister, too, tells us not go for a majority-backed constitution. Loyalists in his country are acting as if they represent a one-party theocracy. But, no, we have to have everyone on board.
Forget the number of provinces, for a moment. We have a polity that spans the hard secular left to the religious right. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal may or may not want a return of the monarchy, but it certainly wants the reinstatement of Hindu statehood. The leader of the original Rastriya Prajatantra Party has gone on record that he wants a Hindu republic.
The ranks of anti-secularists are said to be burgeoning in the Nepali Congress, while a few luminaries close to the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist have been spotted at pro-Hindu-state conclaves. (And who knows how many Maoists in their splintered existence might acquiesce in Hindu statehood just to settle scores with rivals?)
As a non-party polity, the Panchayat system could not enforce its every-Nepali-is-a-Pancha-and-every-Pancha-is-a-Nepali credo.  Nor could the repression of the Rana regime, before that, enforce conformity in perpetuity. Yet, we are told that a popularly elected multiparty assembly cannot promulgate the new basic law without your august arrival.
Pity our leaders. They got what they wanted without really wanting it. They play-acted their way toward opening that Pandora’s Box fully realizing what lay within. Today, they are ready to acknowledge failure, but only after devising a formula that equitably apportions responsibility.
That’s not likely to happen soon, especially when the parties are using their last fig-leaf: a new power-sharing blueprint.
So, as hard as it is to say, it’s up to you to make a grand appearance. Tell us, unequivocally, that you are entirely unachievable. The pols would be forced to deliver or craft a more credible excuse. As for the people, our belief that we have been conned for so long will have been validated.
And the constitution, you might still ask. With you out of the way, we’ll keep trying with a new sense of earnestness.