Dr Jay Dubashi
Our old friend, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is once again in the news, as usual, for wrong reasons. This man, who used to be head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and was a socialist finance minister, has been charged with involvement in an organised vice-ring that procured young women for sexual purpose, in other words, for pimping. From the IMF to pimping is quite a fall for a man who was at one time a strong candidate for the French presidency.
How a man with such bizarre proclivities can ever be a candidate for top political posts is a mystery. In the West, it seems, anything can happen, and voters don’t care whether their President is involved in sexual peccadilloes or keeps running after women of doubtful character. Kahn is no exception. The current President of France, Nicholas Sarcozy, was chasing a model before he became President, dumped his wife and married this other woman who, however, kept seeing other men even after she was married to the President. And nobody apparently cared.
The West is not what it used to be. Europe is in deep trouble and its economy is in decline. In fact, you can say that European civilisation itself is in decline, and while India and China are surging forward, Europe, which means the West, is sinking and may barely survive, if at all, by the middle of this century. The question I want to ask is – has the dissolute character of its society something to do with it?
The Western society is supposed to be secular, which, in effect, means it is irreligious. Religion in any form or shape has no place in it. This also means there is no place for morality in the Western society. If you cheat and you are caught, you go to jail. If you are not caught, you go scot-free. You can go on cheating people and milking them, as the so-called financial experts have been doing in the United States, and nothing happens to you, unless the government decides to punish you. In nine cases out of ten, the government does nothing. You can legally milk your company, collect millions of dollars as your fees, and nobody will bother you, even though it is clear to everyone that you are cheating. There is no place for morality in public affairs, and the laws allow you to cock a snook of the government and get away with it.
A secular person is one who does not believe in God and is not afraid of God. You thus operate in a moral vacuum where anything goes. You are supposed to be a rational person, guided only by reason. You do what you think is reasonable – reasonable to whom? To you, of course. If you are starving and you steal somebody’s bread, you are being reasonable, for you are doing it for your survival. And what can be more reasonable than your survival?
The West is a highly reasonable society. Everything, from developing an atom bomb to invading a country five thousand miles away for the sake of its oil, is reasonable, because it helps you and your society. It does not matter how it affects those whom you invade or those on whom you drop the bomb. President Truman never thought twice before dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, because, he said, he would do anything to save the lives of his soldiers. A single US soldier was more valuable than a hundred thousand Japanese citizens of Hiroshima. It is a perfectly reasonable equation, and, I am sure, his advisers, who must have been reasonable men and women, must have told him so. Morality does not enter into it, only reason, cold, dry reason. And if you are reasonable, you are right and proper, for it is your duty to be cold and reasonable, rather than moral and confused.
We Easterners, or, rather, we Indians, are suspect because we let morality into the scheme of things and mess up everything. We tend to be very careful about what we do, and more than that, how we do it. There are also times when we ask why we do it. The “what”, the “how” and the “why” are very important, because they define what we call integrity. Integrity is not just being honest, fair and good; it is also being whole or unified. We are not alone in this world but the world is being ruled by certain laws which apply uniformly to every being. And as long as we are part of this world, they apply to us as well.
Demonique Strauss-Kahn used to be Managing Director of International Monetery Fund. He may have believed that he was IMF boss from 9 am to 6 pm, after which he was free to do what he liked. He could go after women, he could consort with streetwalkers, or even commit murders, if he so wanted. It was not written in his contract that he could not do any of these things. So he went out and did what he pleased. He was, after all, a Western, not a God-fearing Indian.
President John F Kennedy, a Catholic, also did what Strauss-Kahn did. He was sexually, even more dissolute than Kahn. Although he was warned several times by his own, intelligence people to desist in that kind of loose behaviour, he persisted in his activities. From a rational point of view, he did nothing wrong. He did what he pleased. Pleased whom? Not his wife, or his mother. He pleased himself. What he forgot was that, as US President, he was supposed to be man of integrity, that is, a whole man, that is, a unified being, not a man of parts. According to reports, he was issued a number of warnings, and when he did not listen, they got rid of him. I have absolutely no doubt that President John F Kennedy was eliminated by his own men, elther his intelligence men or his own family, because the man lacked moral integrity, and was therefore unfit to be President.
And this is true also of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He may be a brilliant economist and a capable administrator. But the man lacks moral integrity. Of course, the secular people will ask, what is moral integrity? In their book, there is no such thing as morality, and probably, no such thing as integrity either. Which is why they are leading such dissolute lives, totally rudderless, just like their economics. The Greek Prime Minister acknowledged recently that the nation’s troubles were caused by lack of moral integrity, in other words, lack of capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.
It is the lack of capacity to distinguish between right and wrong that destroyed Rome, and which is destroying Europe two millennia after the collapse of Rome. It will also destroy the West, for it is following the same road. When you play duck and drakes with your morals, you play duck and drakes with your economy, and ultimately, or simultaneously, with your society. You may have a GDP growth rate of 20 per cent, but if your leaders behave like Kennedy or Strauss-Kahn, you are doomed. Gross National Product does not fall from the heavens; it is what you earn from your labours. And your labours bear fruit only when you know what is right and what is wrong. There is a close and indelible link between your actions and the results form your actions, and the link operates through your moral integrity. A society full of Suresh Kalmadis, A Raja, Sharad Pawars and Mayawatis is a society without hope. For there is but a short distance between lack of moral integrity, and corruption, and between corruption and collapse. If you do not believe me, go and ask Dominique Strauss-Kahn, if you can find him.