The Broad Mind | Kejriwal and the Myth of Sisyphus

There is a case for Arvind Kejriwal to be heard and be taken seriously.

His audiences, we are told, gaze adoringly at him as he spills the beans on the inner workings of Government and spits vitriol at anyone who dares to hold an opinion contrary to his. Those of us who are aghast at some of the outlandish statements he makes, have, perhaps, taken the man at mere face value without understanding the larger canvas he presents.

There is something quite tragicomic about Kejriwal and his utterances which remind one of Sisyphus who was condemned, in perpetuity, to repeat the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.

In his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus sees Sisyphus as the rebellious, absurd hero who symbolises man’s futile search for meaning, in a seemingly “unintelligible world, devoid of God and eternal values.”

One of the only coherent philosophical positions is thus revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his own obscurity. It is an insistence upon an impossible transparency …. The absurd is his extreme tension, which he maintains constantly by solitary effort, for he knows that in that consciousness and that day-to-day revolt he gives proof of his only truth, which is defiance.

Kejriwal’s pearls were strewn quite liberally at the IAC’s non-election rallies (how else could these meetings be termed?) in Hisar, last week. Reflect on just a few.

At one meeting, he told us that even a beggar who buys a matchbox or a bar of soap pays revenue to the Government and, thereby, wields the power that a master has, over his servants. Extrapolating from this statement, a number of questions come to mind. Mr Kejriwal will not be available for comment, so we must draw our own conclusions.

We all buy soap, matches and a host of other taxable/excisable goods, commodities and services. For several years, when Mr Kejriwal was an officer in the IRS, obviously, his salary was paid by the Government of India. By his own arguments and admission, he was my servant by virtue of the soap and matches I bought. Not to forget the beer and petrol. Similarly, several others may also stake a claim to his services by having contributed towards his emoluments.

Carrying the master – slave analogy a bit further, who owns Mr Kejriwal? Or bits and pieces of him?
Staying with the same analogy, people in Government also buy soap and matches and so pay for their own employment: dog eat its tail?

Another disturbing issue. If the entire government is slave to its public, surely that would include the police and its officers, like Kiran Bedi. So, heroic stories of Ms Bedi caning protestors and towing away cars is really a case of biting the hand that feeds you.

The strawberry on the icing on the cake came when Mr Kejriwal said that Anna Hazare was above Parliament. Really, Mr Kejriwal? If each one of us is above Parliament, then we are all above Government and all above law. We have no need for law enforcement officers, or courts and judges. And so on.

Another dark question comes to mind: is Mr Kejriwal an anarchist?

I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.