THE ARBITER AND THE WIDENING FERMENT
By Uthman Shodipe
There is a creeping sense of foreboding and the frightful unknown everywhere. There is now a lurking grip of the mysterious, the veiled undefined portent looming upon us all. This land is restless, swamped in the throes of anxiety, deepened in relentless dislocations, fraught in self-inflicted flurries of dark, bruising, uncertainties.
There are no defined certitudes anywhere. There are no illustrations of a shepherding clarity. There is no observable mastery of the confronting contentions. Indeed, there is a troubling ferment in our horizon. But there is a ruinous consistency, a heedless lock-step in self-delusion that perceives no truth beyond its blind imaginings, that imposes its own dubious caprice as the infallible gospel of the hour.
Everywhere, the fronts are widening in furious progressions, scarifying the most distant outpost, intruding upon the civilized curtains of the cities, violating the sanctity of the private hearths, exposing our collective vulnerability to the venomous intrusions of the reckless wanderings of the all-knowing arbiter.
It appears there are no tempering restraint anymore. The arbiter is now in full riotous caprice, disdainful of all cautionary tenets, contemptuous of all articulated indices of the democratic expanse without which no enlightened republic can safeguard its freedom.
He has unloosened the goon squad in a desperate vindictive campaign to cower the alternative visions, to vitiate the plural contentions, thereby enforcing a thoughtless herd mentality, whipping every opposing voice into the sickening unanimity of the graveyard. In this encroaching restrictiveness of the gulag, we are confronted with a cruel, arbitrary iron fist that insists on a narrow compulsion without a plea, that pulverizes the conscionable redoubts with the arrogant indifference of the virulent panjandrum whose will must be stamped deep into our recesses with uncomplaining robotized adherence.
Ours is to obey without a thought. Ours is to submit without reflection. We are to concede to a blatant incoherence and muddled spectacle that deludes itself as wisdom. We are to acquiesce in a vacuous, undiscerning rigidity that insists on its own pre-eminence. Armed with this wretched illogic, deepened in a warped self-glorification, the arbiter extends the fray in implacable, blind, consuming frenzy.
Now, the rule of law is gesturally abandoned, hastily discarded to pronounce the guilt of the branded enemy. The moral inhibitory logic of the presumption of innocence before the impartial pronouncement of the court is recklessly discounted and usurped by an arbitrary lynching by transient actors who are unthoughtful of their own inevitable terminus.
Every opposing voice must be silenced. Every conscionable advocacy must be blackmailed into submission, crudely hurried into grim detention, denied the rectifying logic of the rule of law. With the arbiter himself grimly reposed in distant infallible dictations, his foot- soldiers seize the cue of a chest-beating righteousness and perfection of all they behold.
Now the praetorian guards of the new despotic dawn owe no apologies to anyone. They pretend no equitable leveling appreciation of the rudder of the state. They repose far above everyone else in some vain, privileged outpost where we the belittling mortals are frowned upon as ignorant and unknowing.
From that fount of omniscient guidance and certitudes, they flaunt and assert a mastery of all our ills, intimating a grasp of the redeeming path. Naturally, they are more patriotic than everybody else. They can perceive far beyond our piddling vision. They know all the corrective truths to the perceived wrongs. They possess the rectifying magic to set all the fault lines aright.
With this resolve, the arbiter and his troop descend upon the land with the conscious fury of eliminating all branded hurdles to their promised land. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is excluded in the sweeping consuming blight save the collaborators of the prevailing venom. Here none is treated with tempering engagement save the miserable survivalist circle and the abject time-servers who have chosen to straddle the base, inglorious fence of neutrality, hovering in the shadows without a voice, quaking in some solitary emptiness, shielded from the lash of a destructive power.
From the orphaned rank of the oppositional camp to the harassed and the wilted chambers of the legislative orbit, from the compromised and the hobbled largeness of the once vibrant stirrings of public activism to the vast expanses of the independent advocacy- there is a widening embattlement, the gradual erosion of independent will and purpose, the deliberate savaging of the presentation of alternative position, the overt hounding and blackmail of the very few valorous emblems who still remain at the barricades at great personal peril and sheer heroic defiance of the tyrannical bluster.
But with the legitimate barricades of lawful engagement continuously hindered and frustrated by the bruising intolerance of the apostles of despotic license, they are invariably provoking the tempests and the turmoil of the outcasts, the denied and the injured, the trampled vastness of the voiceless who are pushed to the end of their tethers and who must now either yield to a slow miserable servitude and extinction or must brave and dare the perfidious ogre that would destroy them all.
Well, the deprived are thus pushed to the rebellion tree. They have chosen either liberation or death. They have chosen to cast off the chains of oppressive doctrine and the brazen humiliation for the perils and the pains of forced insurgency. It is a recourse long etched in the annals of human struggle. It is an inescapable path as resonant as the rising sun and as predictable as the logical force of history wherever the flourish of truth is hindered, wherever the basic instinct of self-actualization is discouraged with the bayonet.
We are thus confronted with ubiquitous ruptures that defy all boundaries, that shatter all traditional assumptions, breaking out upon us all in many improbable places, redefining all the known configurations of our national grapple. And yet the arbiter mulishly reposes in the inflexible pathways, obdurate in will and purpose, latched to an immovable orbit that cannot progress beyond a crude nativistic banner. In the promptings of his recesses, in his basic instincts and gestural alert, there is only a fixed, unchangeable rally of ethnic ascendancy.
Beyond this primitive narrow withdrawal, nothing else will endure, everything else is treated with contempt and dismissive glare. There is no grand articulation of a unifying national vision here. There is no purposeful anchor of a scripted strategic journey in a visionary pursuit of a national salvage. Everything stops in the desert prism.
Here it is as if the steering of the state is about the incoherent private musings among the acolytes of the court whose summative bearing is an happy triumph in long held prejudices against all branded outsiders and the thoughtless insistence of mustering the state as if it were an extension of some ethnic latifundia. In the end, in digging deep in this general imbalance, the arbiter provokes his own encirclement by the growing league of the hungry, the angry and the disaffected whose bitterness has finally resolved itself in the violent pitting against an unresponsive power.
Surely, there is no imminent triumph in any divide of the festering fray. Ultimately everybody is imperiled. The state continues to sunder in furious paces. The arbiter wobbles in distant shadows, enveloped in the inverted arrogance of the untutored who misapplies darkness for the light, who distorts inveterate muddled largeness as enlightenment.