Friedrich von Hayek, Nobel Laureate, 1974 was quoted by Ayushin a piece referring to the concept he called “spontaneous order”, as demonstrative of how order seemingly spontaneously emerges despite a vacuum of intent. Millions of neurons firing in patterns make thoughts, thoughts arrange themselves in a coherent sequence, trigger muscle movements forming articulation of predetermined sounds heard and understood as words making sentences transferring complex thoughts from one brain to another. What if they suddenly do not fire in those set patterns? Do we hear garbled sounds holding the “speaker” insane? Quote: “He who marches out of step, hears a different drummer!”
Language– no one person put together various sounds in particular chunks, decided they were words, each carrying some meaning, decided how words could be arranged making sentences…
How did this become accepted to prevail universally, if no one planned it, no authority imposed it, especially as there are hundreds of languages many with different dialects, etc.? The Nobel Laureate, notes Ayush, holds languages are not imposed top-down, but evolve naturally from bottom-up. Deepak Gupta (Delhi University) believes revolutionary ideas percolate top down, for the capacity of the pyramidal pinnacle to think above mundane levels is not shared as intellectual capacity free from personal interest, at the pyramidal base. Let us shift focus to something of great current relevance. Electoral politics and electric current. Neurons firing indiscriminately, chaotically, producing fantasies euphemistically called history, extreme hate-speech euphemistically called oratory, and other “current” things… are currently in vogue.
Imagine evolution of political acceptability from bottom up! Imagine a mass of people comprising the lowest common denominator becoming the political dominator. Illustrative connects are made by the author of the write-up between an ant colony and the human brain: no ant alone (no neuron alone) has all the information on how to build an ant colony (all information on processing of thought) yet collectively ants build the colony and billions of neurons firing in patterns create complex thoughts. So why cannot 1.6 billion people create political order? Elementary, my dear Friedrich! They don’t fire neuron-like, in rhythmical patterns. They comprise of different groups that never work as a team: always competing, suspicious, apprehensive, insecure, their focus is to fire at each other! The author notes large decentralized “systems” made up of individualised units with deficient data, if interacting positively together, can create “emergent Intelligence”.
Friedrich von Hayek developed the idea and applied the idea to the economy.To test its actual viability, let’s apply it to politics.
Imagine billions of neurons firing in a single brain. Scale it down to just 1 billion in any given brain. Now imagine a 543 multiples of those billions. Why 543? Well, we have 543 Parliamentarians (the number of seats, a factor of population, will be reviewed in 2026). Any chance that these 543 billion: for better understanding, let me write it as 543,000,000,000 units: can work in unison? Still, some people in the country (misguided, of course) believe despite absence of visible, perceptible intent, the resulting social disorder is catastrophic and harmful.
Now assume all the billion neurons in any single brain of 543, are in perfect alignment, fire in unison, produce harmony in thought: appreciate that harmony for one person can be acute cacophony for another. Appreciate also that corrosive toxic thoughts, perfectly arranged and organised to inflict maximum damage, can vis-à-vis each other be in perfect harmony, whether what their application results in social disharmony being a different matter altogether to which the political and the powerful seem indifferent.
Why would that happen? Well, one brain, single track mind, single goal “throw them out”, so no conflict, therefore neurons controlled by the same soulless “collective soul”, working in tandem, generating what they see as harmonious melody, and others know as unconstitutional noise. Any extrapolation? Why?
Look, 543 people, 543 brains, assuming all perfectly wholesome internally, belonging to (read controlled by) a large number of divergent political philosophies, pulling in different directions, not working towards a common goal, doing overtime desperately trying to undo each other, outwit each other, pull the rug from under each other’s feet, project oneself as sole messiah, project other views as anti-something-or-the-other, what have you, each under control of a separate distinct self-serving soul, the souls an agglomeration thrown together by the compulsions of a single parliament, therefore given competing desires and demands incapable of operating cumulatively as a coherent collective, ipso facto a guaranteed source of disharmony.What do you then have? Spontaneous Disorder!
How does that sound as a sneak preview of democracy?
Add in several cases an absence of real meaningful education. Add self-interest. Add need to “make” the large sums spent (sorry, invested) in elections and compute “return on investment”. Add one-up-man-ship. Add need to stay on top, add need to hide the “return on investment” because it is not supposed to happen therefore cannot be seen, never mind how obscene. Add need to interdict interdictors: the occasional upright official out to interdict, add costs of said interdiction. Add the occasional or not-so-occasional criminal charges. Add costs of ensuring favourable press coverage, and of interdicting negative press coverage. Add costs of fulfilling need to maintain good relations with political bosses. Add costs to keep constituents happy… and add the need to “make” the “return on investment” to make all these happen… how on earth would one have time for irrelevant things like governance? Like, what are bureaucrats for if not to ensure government functions, leaving the politicos free to politic?!
Ayush notes decentralized “systems” made up of individualised units with deficient data, interacting positively together, can create “emergent Intelligence”.We will assume if they don’t interact positively together, they cannot.
If, however, under the mandate of a political floor-leader whip, they interact competitively in multi-directional, hostile tugs-of-war aiming at multiple self-serving projections of multi-layered nuanced versions of alleged events orchestrated towards fabricating a unipolar projection of alleged political intent, what is created is “emergent intolerance”. “Deficient data” is substituted with distorted data or alleged data, not infrequently conjured up out of thin air (more aptly, hot air), and you start getting the picture.
What are we citizens funding, in the process of elections [cost in 2019, Rs.50,000 crore (written Rs.50,000,00,00,000/- so you understand better)], salaries and perks of parliamentarians [just short of Rs.2000,00,00,000/- in 4 years, cost of running of parliament @ Rs.2.5 lakh per day or Rs.9,00,00,000/- a year… oops ! add sums for 28 states and 8 union territories… the mind, it boggles and wobbles. This must run into anything like 4 to 5 lakh crores. Okay, write Rs.4,00,000,00,00,000/-. Are we being governed as well as those expenses would require us to be governed?
In a corporate set-up, what would be the fate of those company officials who did not deliver? They would be out in the cold. How would the shareholders know they failed to deliver? Oh, the law requires audit of finances, filing of returns, holding of meetings and making of minutes, transparency, accountability, legal compliances…
Audit…returns…meetings…accountability…performance appraisal… all that for corporate employees? Wow!
And for nation-serving public servants controlling the nation’s wealth owned by the nation’s shareholder-citizens? Nothing?! What?! Absolutely nothing?
If a finance company’s man lends and can’t recover, what happens? Poof ! Out he goes. Unless of course it is a bank and its officials have lent zillion ns to people who set up schemes to vanish into thin air after 100s of crores in defaults… What happens to the bank officials? Nothing. Zilch. Zero. And, perks remain!
Ooof !! I mean, think! Pay packet. Perks. Publicity. Pomp. Pageantry. Paraphernalia. Paparazzi. Plus zero accountability. Transparency? Oh that (!) easily obfuscatedciting Official Secrets Act. Freedom to say amazing things (well, not amazing, but who wants to invite breach of privilege proceedings using expressions like outrageous?) in the House… In sum, politics… pays.
Move over, medicine, engineering, computer science, architecture, pharmacy, biochemistry, chartered accountancy, cost and works accountancy, management studies, literature, history (no, keep that in: extremely helpful to rewrite and create spontaneous hysteria (now, that’s a new one) in the twists and turns of political turmoil), geography (no, keep that in too: kaamaayega, redrawing boundaries of political landscape, delimitation of constituencies…aise time pe scapegoats are mandatory), mathematics (arre, nana, for counting cash maths too is mandatory), nuclear physics (or even any physics), chemistry…
Medicine, 2+10+2+5+2 specialization +3 super-specialization + 4 experience, then a reasonable income. IF you land a job, of course. Engineering, 2+10+2+4+2+3 specialization + 4 experience, then a reasonable income. Again, IF you land a job. Chartered accountancy… no, let’s not even countenance that.
Politics, 2+10 (its compulsory, dash it, this “education”) + “experience”, period. Preferably “hands-on” experience… and, of course, people with “personal hands on experience” preferred. Accompaniment of evocative slogans an added value, depending on the slogan, of course… Later? Later there will be security, boy. If there is any threat, Z-plus. And of course nothing precludes… “personal security”…sort of added reinforcement.
Politics without patriotic fervour can mean paisa, paisa today translates as power, power can engineer media-based concocted popularity contriving a paradigm shifts transforming the mediocre to the messianic, popularity gets votes, votes win seats… and popularity comes from either great achievement…or great disbursement! Disbursement requires disbursable assets to expend on “projects” ensuring public awareness of political potential (don’t ask me potential for what) to make a mark (don’t ask what mark, how made…bekaar questions… excuse me please… I invoke my Constitutional right against self-incrimination: sometimes exercise of freedom of speech can result in denial of freedom, and exercise of right of silence can ensure said right of silence is “freely exercised”) and said expenditure can (only can, mind you) “assist” in “public perception of suitability” of being voted for…
Now, tell me, what course would you advise today’s students to study for? My vote goes to …political science.
Politics, properly practised, shall yet lead our country to actualise Tagore’s dream. Presently, however, we take the cue from the brilliant idiot, and intone “Äll is well !” One day, this too shall pass.
Shafeeq R. Mahajir is a well-known lawyer based in Hyderabad.