The Hindu editorial [May 17, 2013] invokes Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, ‘the banality of evil,’ in order to underscore the corruption that has infiltrated Indian cricket, particularly the IPL.
In simple words what Arendt meant by the phrase was that monstrous evils are not usually perpetrated by fanatics or psychopaths but by ordinary people who fail to think deeply or seriously enough.
Failure to think seriously enough is a very common trait of our contemporary civilisation. Ours is a civilisation which has nearly killed philosophy and serious literature. It is a civilisation built up on the single premise of materialism and propagated assiduously by the United States of America using institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. It is a civilisation which encourages consumerism and superficial pleasures of life. It is a civilisation whose singular password is commerce.
Trade greases the wheels of our civilisation. And everything is a commodity which can be bought or sold. Everything has a price. Sreesanth’s price was Rs 4 million this time. With that money Sreesanth was making himself more empowered in the world of purchases.
The more things you can buy and the more things you show off, the greater your worth in the society. If there is nothing more to be bought because you have more than what you need of everything, then you can think of changing the colours of your hair or laptop or your car every day. You can think of even changing your bed mate every day.
You are encouraged to be a butterfly going from flower to flower savouring different flavours of honey. Nothing matters other than the savours and their enjoyment.
Even people become mere objects of sensual enjoyment. Sensualism has become the new religion. Its heights and depths have no bounds. Even the father-daughter relationship is transubstantiated on the altar of the consumerist temple.
Sreesanth is one such butterfly savouring the honey in ways which were taboo in earlier civilisations, but not in the contemporary one. Wealth creation is a professed objective of the honey-sucking civilisation. The only objective, in fact. How you create it is not the question, but how much you create is the only thing that matters. And there are too many role model butterflies, the variegated sheen of whose wings is a mere veneer that conceals much filth.
That variegated sheen is the real banality of evil. It is that sheen which lured Sreesanth too. Of course, the cricketer’s evil remains unmitigated the social reality that engendered it notwithstanding.