The release today of the manifesto of the BJP makes it all the more imperative that we begin a step-by-step understanding of the Principles under which Civil Government (not military government, not party government, not bureaucratic government) is established.
The idea of “civil government” implies a government by members of “civil society” – that is, those who survive through voluntary exchanges in the markets. They are not soldiers, they are not aristocrats, nor bureaucrats. They are not necessarily all businessmen – for the free market also sustains all the creative artists, like Sanjay Dutt. It is these people who get together in their respective Cities to form “civil government” – and the word “civil” has its root in the Latin word civitas, which means “city.” Markets are located in cities. There are also lots and lots of people in cities, which makes it necessary to form some institutions for attending to common needs and interests – especially roads, which no individual will build. In Europe, from where we obtain our ideas of Civil Government, mayors and buergermeisters are very old institutions. The institution of the Lord Mayor of the ancient City of London is older than the Magna Carta; that is, older than “constitutional government.”
India is a land of horrible cities and towns – while “government” is all about The State. Advani’s manifesto promises to build a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya when they control The State. Missing from the picture is the Mayor of Ayodhya. There is no “civil government” in Ayodhya. There is no root Their The State From On High has in Civil Society. They are floating on an island far above the people, as in Gulliver’s story of Laputa. Further, temples are built by institutions of piety – not The State.
Both the Congress and the BJP are talking of a “right to food” – but it is a matter of record that Lord Mayors of London always took strict measures to discourage beggary. A “civil government” is not a charitable institution. In their private lives, the mayors donated hugely towards charitable causes. But the civil government’s purpose is not charity. The people of Laputa-On-High have got all their fundas wrong.
It is interesting to note that the manifesto of the BJP has nothing in it for people who live through market exchanges. Indeed, they have promised not to allow FDI in retail – a very stupid thing to do. Like the rest, they do not believe in free trade and free markets. They do not believe in Economic Freedom – the end of The Predatory State. This, of course, would be top on the agenda of any truly “civil government.” The idea of a “constitutional civil service,” which we in India are supposed to be possessed of, is not predatory. They have become so because of 60 years of uncivil government. They have become a party bureaucracy – tools of “party government.”
The BJP manifesto offers tax-free status to the armed forces – who are not “civil society.” They have also promised to fight Maoist insurgents using a “Chattisgarh model.” As far as I know, Chattisgarh is not a model for anything but chaos. A civil government in Chattisgarh would be solidly based on the morality of trading in mahua – the local drink. And handia – the local brew. Just as feni and urak are freely sold in Goa.
The manifesto of the BJP makes it obvious that there is no truly civil politics in India, based on cities and markets. For such a bazaaroo hukumat, the top priority would be Roads, Electricity and Water – and the roads would be used to add to the overall supply of urban land, so that all citizens can afford themselves a decent urban accommodation. Roads add to the “common profit of the realm.” They are good for any “commonwealth.” All these ideals are totally alien to our political parties.
In any case, sitting here in sunny Goa, I find nothing in either the Congress or the BJP manifestoes that would strike a common chord with the people here – who need roads and reliable electricity, and not much else from government apart from the proper administration of their cities and towns.
And free trade and free markets. And complete economic freedom. And a rule of law based on the inviolability of private property.
The sad fact is that Goa is lost in the labyrinth of “national politics” – all about Their The State from On High.
I will continue on the Principles of Civil Government tomorrow.
In the meantime, readers are recommend two articles from LRC that are really worth reading.
The first is titled “Gold, Guns and Secession,” and talks about the ideas that are now spreading across the states of the USA, where states have the right to secede.
The second is on the G-20, titled "How Morgan Stanley Says to Sell S&P 500," on what should be called the "new world disorder."
Both these articles were top ranked by LRC readers last week.
Enjoy the read.