April 26th, 2011
An assemblage of images often builds up in
the mind directing action or advocating that one desists
from action. We are often inundated by opinion or beliefs,
which push for expression in a book, in an essay or an
Ideas could be idealistic or realistic. Seekers after
enlightenment frequently deal with the power of ideas, the
power of love, the power of hatred and the power of shame.
The crowning glory of ideas is when a school of thought
crystallizes as a result of the accumulation of the welter
of thoughts that have clustered in the mind of the thinker.
Political thought, philosophical ideas, logical thinking
have shaped statecraft, organized societies, institutions
and universally acceptable behaviour. These thought forms
have also led to hegemony, war-mongering, state arrogance,
punitive actions, imperial attitudes and oppressive
For example, a” a programme of nationalist socialism
determined the main lines of political theory by which such
a programme must be supported, which meant complete control
of the national economy by the government in the national
interest. Marxism regarded politics as determined by the
This was why Hitler put fascist political
philosophy as an exalted form of his political idealism. He
set the rigid standards of expected duties to the
fatherland, devotion and discipline.
Positive ideas lead to peaceful co-existence among states.
Negative ideas, breed evil thoughts that lead to
international conflicts, civil wars and destruction of
cities in pursuit of ideological beliefs. Germany and other
hegemonic states have shown these traits.
Adam Smith, Ricardo, Owen and other free enterprise thinkers
have affected the way some Western societies have been run
in the last two hundred years.
The ideas of Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels, V.I. Lenin, and Mao
Tse Dong have created the philosophical underpinnings of
The Abrahamic religious beliefs and later Christian Biblical
commandments and precepts as well as Islamic teachings and
way of life have influenced man’s thinking and behaviour.
Also, Taoism, Zoroastrianism Rosicrucian practices, Eck,
Voodooist occultism and other forms of religious movements
((some not quite divine) have adherents.
Politically, we have seen the dastardly influence of Nazi
and fascist ideology, which set Europe on fire from 1939-
1945, which wrecked havoc on European states and changed the
course of human progress.
The hegemonic ideology manifests when racism is fuelled by
irredentism, false superior consciousness, self-centeredness
and state arrogance.
History has recorded the fact that those states that have
faithfully adopted war as an instrument of national policy,
have failed to accomplish initially set goals at civilizing
other people or successfully exporting their way of life to
Policy-makers in such states are gripped by the sinister
idea that they know what is good for other people and so
their own will must be imposed on other nations. This idea
is unnatural and always leads to ignominious defeat, loss of
lives, destruction of cities and wastefulness.
Those who extolled these unwholesome ideas later gallivant
the globe glibly defending their ergregarious blunders.
The most heinous of idea is the idea of war. Those who have
ever initiated,supported or caused wars to be fought have
been documented in human history as war-mongers. Historians,
who are acquainted with the history of human misery often,
recount what happened in wars with distaste and regrets.
Where is man’s civilization in the face of repeated carnage,
which is documented in history books down the ages?
There are many ideas that have ruled the Universe. The most
important is the idea of the love of God the idea of
salvation, the idea of dying, the idea of universal
brotherhood of man and the idea of oppression of fellow
human beings through slavery, colonialism, imperial
pretensions of royalty that demands loyalty from the
dispossessed and the idea of birthright.
There has always been the idea of resistance against evil,
which often leads to revolutions, civil wars and strives.
Political and economic ideas, which are aimed at governing a
people, must be workable and widely acceptable to the
people, otherwise, there will be tumult within the various
Social systems like feudalism, capitalism, socialism are
regulatory ideas that seek to run societies according to the
ideology, which they propagate. There have been debates
about the suitability or the lack of it, as to which system
is more suitable in governing social humans.
I have lived and studied under the three systems. I have had
the opportunity to evaluate the inherent advantages and
disadvantages of these political ideologies.
The ideologies are instruments in the hands of the
politically well organized group using the military, the
police and the courts. The invention of political philosophy
led to the identification of social classes, the
establishment of political institutions, and the evolution
of political ideals.
Ideas forge knowledge, which according to Plotinus “has
three degrees, opinion. science, illumination. The
instrument of the first is sense, of the second dialectics,
of the third intuition”
Opinion may be incompetent, if the logic of the matter is
flawed. Science subjects ideas to rigorous scrutiny.
Intuitive knowledge may be divinely induced or satanically
whispered by demons. When a person thinks deeply about a
subject, he or she is bound to come up with profound ideas.
Human intelligence was at its peak when William F. Church
published his “Study in the Evolution of Ideas” (Cambridge
Mass, 1941) He reviewed Constitutional thought in 17th
W.H Greenleaf examined “Two traditions of English Political
Thought (1500- 1700) in his Order, Empiricism and Politics
(New York, 1964).
The Social and Political Ideas of Some Great Thinkers of the
Sixteen and Seventeenth Century, were drawn in verse in a
1926 London publication edited by F.J Hearnshaw. C. H.
Mcllwain published a treatise on “The Growth of Political
Thought in the West, from the Greeks to the End of the
Middle Ages” (New York, 1932).
Nigerian politicians and our leaders would have benefitted
from these advanced political ideas, as veritable
instruments for political governance, instead of relying
heavily on rigging elections and stepping into office either
by hook or crook.
The danger of getting to office and not being able to govern
is that time is wasted on gaieties and social festivities,
reading speeches written by others and the obvious inability
to articulate policies and rigourously implement them.
The failure of the Nigerian academic community can be
gleaned from their inability to generate socio-economic
ideas that have social relevance to our development. One
reads papers suffused with outlandish ideas. Some academics,
for whatever reasons, abstain from national debates. Their
promotion-target papers serve that purpose, after which
serious attrition of dormant brain cells begin to gain
acceleration towards the obvious end.
Reports are conflicting as to the credibility of the 2011
elections in Nigeria. It looks as if the more you look, the
less you see. I personally believe that the elections were
well-conducted, but belief can be disproved by hard
evidence, which must replace speculations.
The authority to govern is weakened inexorably by the
nagging thought of a stolen mandate. There will be “no lack
of critics, who will view a stolen mandate with contempt as
having no reality outside of an empty name” Prolegomena,
section 3 (Kelsey’s translation)
Like a Loofah, news of real events as they happened during
the Nigerian elections is climbing out into the public
domain. Some snooker players are alleged to have not played
by the rules.
There are those, who have been ordained by the Oracles, in
the height of night and are waiting to take their seats in
the highest Councils of the land.
This is not surprising going by our chequered history of
chance happenings, of leaders popping up and of rigged
elections brazenly authenticated by learned judges! What is
painful are the assurances, which permitted hopes that we
have learnt our lessons and that all will be well.
The idea of rigged elections does not lift up the authority
of government but diminishes it, in every material
particular. Well-rhymed poems will soon by written by poets,
essayists, activists, political mal-contents, with venom and
utmost hatred, contradicting the election results, but to no
Obviously, the power of ideas is enormous but the power of
prophecy is awesome. Those, who have rigged elections or
caused elections to be rigged on their behalf, the guilt
shall come upon you in their fullness. Because of the
multitude of your sorceries, for the great abundance of your
enchantments…your wisdom and your knowledge have warped
you……( Isaiah Ch 17 : 9- 15).
I am undertaking a sociological study of a people, who have,
in the last fifty years, learnt nothing and forgotten
Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai, a Writer and
Academic, is the President of Proposed Afemai University,
Fugar, Edo State, Nigeria.