Dialogue Fails Is the Declining Social Capital undermining Our Political Culture? By Md. Eleus Mia

Issue, National

Dialogue Fails Is the Declining Social Capital underminingThe country is ahead of national polls scheduled in late December. Political mayhem, intimidation, resentment and a national catastrophe are arising out of political uncertainty. But a spontaneous action and thoughtfulness of political parties can fly away from this calamity that seems unattainable. The political history of Bangladesh since dynasty rule is full of anarchy, turbulence and disorder, almost all time. Siraj-Ud-Daula was dethroned by his relative while Aurangzeb betrayed his kin to climb in the throne. Thus, politics of power are rooted in ancient Bengal that became a common ingredient of our politics. The political culture we patronize is deeply flawed which reform is exigent but overlooked by every government. Anthropologist characterized the population of this region as “Hybrid”. In other words what Stanly A. kouchak described as “extremely homogeneous”. A nation coalesced from Aryan, central Asian Muslim and white European. Having large similarity in terms of ethnicity, language and religion people of this country are deeply divided into interpersonal relationships.
General people always choose an appropriate person in power and they were decisively right. it is the political elite who manipulate and control the transition of power what Bangabandhu quoted in his autobiography “Bangle’s are politically sensitive and they know who to elect”. Although the birth of this nation was for establishing the rule of downtrodden and mass peoples long cherished democracy, sudden induction of one-party system swelled country’s political direction that crippled it almost for decade corresponding with the evolution of military rule. The western version of democracy introduced except setting up the appropriate functional institution. Later on, condition worsens steadily that are still rampant. From local to national, the culture of politics can be defined as intolerance, blame-game, revenge, harassment, and disintegration. A popular term “village politics” undermined stability and tranquility in the rural area. The altercation over a meaningless issue, suing opposition for political leverage, the order of high-ups results in dismantling security and infusing dismay among villagers.
And in the macro level, Absence of charismatic leader, organized and disciplined political party, questionable election, arbitrary intervention of power holder and what amendment of the constitution for self and parties interest are a key factor of democratic failure in Bangladesh amendment. Hence political instability is a perennial phenomenon in our country. Trust, reciprocity, solidarity, and co-operation are largely absent in our politics. Sociologist claimed that declining social capital that is indispensable for maintaining social integration, political stability, and economic efficiency. It is the product of religion, tradition, shared historical experiences and other cultural norms. Robert Putnam who bolstered the importance of social capital defined it as the connection among individual, social network; the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness which he argued are the key component in building and maintain democracy. He related it with political participation that is a relationship with the political institution. Here, trust is the key factor in social capital. Political disaffection at all level clearly indicates lack of interpersonal trust among political leaders. Social trust id fabric of social life that enhances cooperative relation that builds effective social and political organization. Like social trust, political trust is also a crucial part of a healthy democracy. Citizenship, public interest, public involvement, tolerance, ability to compromise and confidence in the political institution are undeniable in democracy. This function influences democracy in two ways, first, it introduces democratic culture where it absence and second, it maintains and flourishes democracy where it dysfunctional. High level of social capital can affect Quantity and quality of people’s participation in political arrangement significantly. Hence associational life of a community can play a catalyst role in making the decision promptly and effectively that hardly seen in our culture. This capital resides not in an individual but in the relation between individual. Such ambivalence can be better explained by “prisoner’s dilemma” where two-person suspect each other and intrigue against opposition that led both in harsh consequences. In contrast, if they would have mutual trust and understanding they may end up preferring the better choice that privilege both. An improper verdict of one party thus may drive the politics on the verge of demolition.
Dialogue Fails Is the Declining Social Capital underminingPolitical negotiations have a long history in Bangladesh. The negotiation led by Kamal Hossain to resolve Current political ended up not compromising on a single issue. It’s not they had no option but their doubt and distrust on opposition motive. Little sacrifice could earn large benefit and appease the situation. The art of negotiation, by the way, consists of the ability of adversaries to look each other in the eye and carry on a fair conversation. Eminent researcher outlined the political culture of Bangladesh in three main categories. First, what Hobbes and Lock introduced as social atomism. It states individuals are fundamentally self-interested and self-sufficient who the basic unit of social life is. Political leaders reflect this spirit in our country. Second, Patron-clientelism means an individual of higher socio-economic status (patron) use his own authority and resource to provide protection and benefit for lower status (client) who in return reciprocate by affecting greater support and assistance including personal service. Finally, the political chief and his agent exercise power mainly through personal whim and material incentives rather than ideology or rule of law.
Futures of democracy and successful negotiation lie on the hand of political leaders whose conscious effort could reap the benefit of dialogue and introduce a new version of political culture. It’s beyond controversy that our political culture needs to overhaul through progressive political socialization at all level.

The writer is studying BSS in Social Welfare at
the University of Dhaka.