The Limitations and Weaknesses of the Political Leadership of Modern Day States

The language of politics, everywhere in the world, tends to express noble ideals about what direction is best and how the society can be enhanced and benefited by giving a particular leadership the reins of government.  It is of course also possible that a government can gain control, not by appealing to the best and highest, but by appealing to the lowest and basest instincts, fears and prejudices of the society.  In some cases, even these base reactions are couched in language of noble purpose.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “…the modern politician in any part of the world…does not represent the soul of a people or its aspirations.  What he does usually represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about him and these he represents well enough as well as a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity and pretence.  Great issues often come to him for decision, but he does not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on his lips, but they become rapidly the claptrap of a party.  The disease and falsehood of modern political life is patent in every country of the world and only the hypnotised acquiescence of all, even of the intellectual classes, in the great organised sham, cloaks and prolongs the malady, the acquiescence that men yield to everything that is habitual and makes the present atmosphere of their lives.  Yet is is by such minds that the good of all has to be decided, to such hands that it has to be entrusted, to such an agency calling itself the State that the individual is being more and more called upon to give up the government of his activities.  As a matter of fact, it is in no way the largest good of all that is thus secured, but a great deal of organised blundering and evil with a certain amount of good which makes for real progress, because Nature moves forward always in the midst of all stumblings and secures her aims in the end more often in spite of man’s imperfect mentality than by its means.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 4, The Inadequacy of the State Idea, pp. 26-27