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Politics of Ethics in law: changing scenario

Politics of Ethics in law: changing scenario

Politics is the highest form of all social activities. It involves the understanding and knowledge of the state and the craft of conducting it. Since the inception of this phenomenon, several approaches to its study have evolved which are speculative, prescriptive, empirical or even scientific in nature. Ethics as a relative ideology has always remained associated with politics either conjointly or adversely. When it was said that politics is a profession of scoundrels, it completely dissociated ethics from politics and considered it to be an act of disaster! Law then came to its rescue and thus started a never-ending saga of politico legal affair. Social structure and value system have shaped law to its various forms at different civilizations.

The conflicts between the two forces have been a constructive force in social action and the ultimate formation of a just and strong society. Then the possibility of an order socio-legal in nature was realised and the foundation of a value based system was laid. Native ethos and the new legal formulations communicated and an amalgamation was resulted. With increasing acceptance this socio-legal order became an authority. There was a time when rule of law became the ultimate force. It was then that the democracies were bred in the cradles of civilizations and future social orders were shaped. But the legal orders were also criticized for being authoritative and against law of nature. The concept of ‘dharma’ in India was like an ethical code of conduct lying down several stringent rules and regulations. Though the value incompatibility hypothesis strongly advocates the idea of value system and such ethical codes, but some scholars declare that over recourse and non recourse to courts is the failure of the adjudicative ideal. With such a dichotomy of concept the legal system entered the modern era.

Modern era came with the concept of globalization. Globalization is the highest form of modernity in human history. It has brought the best of every civilization to converse and bring out a combine view of the total picture. The basic rules of the contemporary world remain as they have always been: the rule of law for the weak, the rule of force for the strong. The traditional task remains ‘to shape past and current history in the interest of power or to challenge and unmask unethical illegitimate authority’. The unmarried opportunism of the rogue super power compels us to think for reassessing the ethical element in politics that has provided the powerful a schadenfreude (German word for enjoying the troubles of others) madness. Violence is abhorrent to politics in a civil society. Restraining from 'lawless use of force' and work with the proper exercise of judgement and imagination with practical reasoning keeping core-values intact and commitment can make world a better place to live in. Conventions are the socially acceptable behaviour, a way in which things are usually done. The contrived notion of alteration in the existing system challenges the already existing norms. But a dynamic change requires much to be done. Generally people abstain from breaking norms but the real power of the societies in the world are those people who have conviction and have tried to break norms for the betterment of their people. They are disgrace on the human concept of living that does not endeavour to unlock the assumed mysteries of life.

What is wanted in life is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out. Any human endeavour should aim at universal benefit to mankind. The education should aim to teach the child the fine art of living-'living and letting others live'. Infact, humanity should be the greatest virtue in education. Today, civil society is considered to be the main moral rescuer of the social order, but the real question remains that whether it is capable to cope up the demands of structural changes. An ethical evaluation of the ideology of globalization reveals another dangerous dimension. The rationalizations of ideologies have created pseudo-gods, feel scholars, which claim submission and demand sacrifice. In this malefic milieu the enemies like the technological terrorism and environmental invasion have aggravated to the extent where even sky is not the limit. So the process demands liquidation of native ethos and surrender to other's domination. In this era of politics, ethics has only ideological standing and no practical importance. The world has become more and more concerned about development together with the vices of pollution, terrorism and socio-economic dependence. So ethics in practical sense may seem to loose relevance in such existing scenario. It has largely become of relative and textual importance. The real configuration suggests that though law involves politics and vice versa but they have been in confrontation since inception. The concept of judicial review and extension of Schedule IX presents the best picture of the contemporary politico legal affair in India. Lives have always been guided by the virtues of a set standard of living. And the basic approach of this standard remains the minimum requirements for a good living. So over flooded ethical politics or politics sans ethics, both remains virtual realities and the practical possibility takes us to the state of agreement, the state of equilibrium where the harmonious construction between politics and ethics has been achieved. Law remains at a distance to take the best review and declare the rest null and void ab initio. 

By Neeraj Dubey

Writer Profile

Neeraj Dubey - The author is a delhi based corporate lawyer and is currently an Associate Attorney with Seth Associates

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