STOCKHOLM SYNDROME AND DEMOCRACY

Stockholm

Stockholm (Photo credit: hungryblank)

Most of us are worried about the declining moral standards and ethical values in public life , as well as widespread social evils, including in-equality and non governance on part of the government officials . All this has led to general feeling of despondency. Most people deem their duty over by criticizing /venting their wrath verbally, in print or otherwise. But there are some spirited people who go beyond tongue lashing/ lip service and involve themselves actively in bringing improvement in social governance of the society. Some of them have left lucrative careers to do their bit for the larger cause. These people are beacons of light for the society and people like me who feel shy of active role in bringing about the social change! Many of them are really doing commendable job.

Most people are too busy or too weak to react to the deteriorating standards except suffer in silence. In fact, whenever they do, they overreact to small positive actions on part of the government / powerful people. But sometimes, a feeling is gathered that even the public spirited people fall prey to strange Stockholm syndrome. They also, somehow feel obliged to thank the government for its pro-public decisions. Sometimes, while appreciating the government, they go to the extent of criticizing the public– who is mostly (if not always) at the receiving end. I’ll clarify with one example:

Incidents of chain snatching, hold up robberies and theft of vehicles from outside the houses is on the rise in every city. There are many reasons for it. Recently one of our crusaders has given a strange statement on these incidents. He said “why cannot we keep our cars in side our houses? If we don’t have the parking space, why do we purchase a car? Why the ladies come out on the roads flaunting their jewelry?”

It seems like questioning a hungry man “why should you have stomach if you cannot have bread?” He must be aware of cases where the owner was dragged out of the car and the car was driven away! Would he suggest keeping the car parked in secured garage? Recently Ludhiana witnessed a strange case where a ten tyre truck was robbed (not stolen)! And pray, should the women wear jewelry in their bed rooms? Asking for public cooperation and taking precautions is different than blaming the people like this!

I believe that any crusader for the up-liftment of the down trodden and protection of the rights of weaker people and have-nots has to be, by definition, anti establishment. He cannot afford to eulogize the powers that be for their isolated and scattered good actions here and there. It must be remembered that problems of the society cannot be traced to the existence of the poor people. The problems exist because of the failure of the powers that be in ensuring equitable opportunity and lopsided distribution of the social wealth. For me, providing good governance and protecting the rights of every individual is the duty of the government, irrespective of the political ideology it professes. If it cannot do so, it has no right to be in power.

What is Stockholm syndrome and why do I call these good Samaritans as victims of the syndrome? Stockholm syndrome is the term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in the light of the danger and risk endured by the victims, essentially mistaking a lack of abuse from the captors as their kindness. It is named after Norromalstorg robbery of Kreditbanken in Stockholm in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from 23.08 to 28.08.1973. The victims became emotionally attached to their captors. The term was coined by criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot who helped the police in this case.

In most developing democracies, including India, democratic traditions are followed more in violation than adherence. They are limited to voting which offers no real choice to the voters. As such, rulers always go scot free for their non – performance and worse, total failure! Our focus here is not on the performance or non-performance of the governments, but on the attitudes of the people and organizations claiming to be engaged in furthering the cause of the poor and the down trodden in the society. Ordinary people, in any case, are the victims of this Stockholm syndrome as, because of their meager resources they cannot really go against the governments. They feel obliged to be bestowed by small benefits emanating here and there! With their back always to the wall, they actually see the lack of abuse by the powerful clogs of the government machinery as their kindness! But the enlightened people, fighting for their cause need to know better!

Remember, in the criminal/ victim syndrome, these incidents are isolated and normally, have no real impact on rest of the society even if the victims eulogize the perpetrators of the crime. But in case of govt. /public victimization, Stockholm syndrome on the part of the people, particularly the powerful organizations fighting the government excesses, such attitude gives a legitimization to the government failures and makes them heroes where no heroism actually exists!

We all need to come out of this SS attitude and take on the governments head on to make them responsive to the public needs. Enlightened people need to be more careful in their observations. In my opinion, they are not obliged to appreciate the government even if it actually does something positive because it is the duty of the government! The governments are not small children who need to be patted and appreciated to motivate them further! People have sufficiently rewarded their good work by electing them to lead the state/ nation! After that they must be flogged for non-performance!

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