When crooks shake hands: The macabre Dialectics that delight the crooks
We have seen at work dialectics illustrated in the struggle that goes on between the forces of Good and Evil about which we have read a lot in our classics (also see Chapter 24) . Understanding them in right perspective would equip us to come out with greater vigour and healthier vision for public weal. When we critically examine the state of affairs ( their dynamics and vectors), we notice how two groups of criminals, even if at logger heads, turn friends and happy collaborators when they find themselves driven to protect themselves from some common enemy. Through their amity and collaboration, they present a common front to fight against the forces which impede, expose, or prohibit their corrupt ways, or even do anything that counters their ways to enjoy their unjust enrichment. But the friends in crimes can comfortably turn adversaries again when their common threat goes. They know how to bury the hatchet, and yet again to be on the greed-driven game.
How the dyslectics amongst the criminals and fraudsters operates can be best known on reading what G.K. Chesterton had written in his essay on Voltaire. Practical prudence counsels me not to interpret Chesterton’s ideas of the collaborative craft, and not to put focus on the fraternity of the crooks, criminals, fraudsters, money-launderers, and tax-evaders who are becoming the most inglorious dramatis personae of the morbid melodrama that is seen being enacted in the present-day political and economic realms of our country. But I am sure my intelligent readers would surely catch what I leave unsaid. I would quote a few lines from G.K. Chesterton leaving to your moral imagination to draw their meaning and ascertain their referents: to quote—
“All Christian history began with that great social occasion when Pilate and Herod shook hands. Hitherto, as everybody knew in Society circles, they had hardly been on speaking terms. Something led them to seek each others support, a vague sense of social crisis, though very little was happening except the execution of an ordinary batch of criminals. The two rulers were reconciled on the very day when one of these convicts was crucified. That is what many people mean by Peace, and the substitution of a reign of Love for one of Hatred. Whether or not there is honour among thieves, there is always a certain social interdependence and solidarity among murderers; and those sixteenth-century ruffians who conspired to assassinate Riccio or Darnley were always very careful to put their names, and especially each other’s names, to what they called a ‘band’, so that at the worst they might all hang together.”
“It sometimes seems to me that history is dominated and determined by these evil friendships. As all Christian history begins with the happy reconciliation of Herod and Pilate, so all modern history, in the recent revolutionary sense, begins with that strange friendship which ended in a quarrel, as the first quarrel had ended in a friendship”
To help you understand what Chesterton has written, I must tell you something about the allusions. The Supreme Jewish Tribunal was against Jesus as he had worked with a messianic zeal to change the corrupt political and economic system of his day. Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea who had ordered the crucifixion Jesus. He had sinned in many ways, and was disliked in Judea. His sin visited him when he killed himself on orders from Emperor Calgula in 39 AD. Pilate obtained the consent of the ruler Herod Antipas. Pilate and Herod were not good friends. In the eyes common people both were derelicts. Herod had divorced his wife, and married Herodius, his brother’s wife. This act annoyed his Jewish subjects. These two bands of criminals, earlier not on very good terms, became friends as their crimes imparted them lessons in practical prudence: when it is good even for crooks to come together. The allusions to Riccio or Darnley are richly revealing. It is good to know what these two allusions mean. I think it enough to quote a few lines as we get them in the footnote of the Chesterton’s Chapter on Voltaire:
“Lord Darnley, orig. Henry Stewart (1545-1567). English nobleman, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and father of James I. A pretender to the Scottish throne, Henry wed his cousin Mary in 1565 despite the opposition of Elizabeth I. He played a sinister role in the murder of Mary’s secretary, David Riccio, but was himself murdered at the instigation of Earl of Bothwell James Hepburn. The Earl thereafter soon married Mary”
It seems to me that our greed-driven neoliberal world is fast illustrating the establishment of a cordial bond between the present-day Pilates and the present-day Herods.