Question: Can a man who abhors violence take part in the government of a country?
Krishnamurti: Now, what is government? After all, it is, it represents, what we are. In so-called democracy, whatever that may mean, we elect, to represent us, those who are like ourselves, those whom we like, who have got the loudest voice, the cleverest mind, or whatever it is. So, obviously, government is what we are, isn't it? And what are we? We are, arn't we?, a mass of conditioned responses - violence, greed, acquisitiveness, envy, desire for power, and so on. So, naturally, the government is what we are, which is violence in different forms; and how can a man who really has no violence in his being belong, either in name or in fact, to a structure which is violent? Can reality co-exist with violence, which is what we call government? Can a man who is seeking or experiencing reality have anything to do with sovereign governments, with nationalism, with an ideology, with party politics, with a system of power? The peaceful person thinks that by joining the government he will be able to do some good. But what happens when he enters government? The structure is so powerful that he is absorbed by it, and he can do very little. Sir, this is a fact, it is actually happening in the world. When you join a party, or stand for election to parliament, or whatever it is, you have to accept the party line. Therefore, you cease to think. And how can a man who has given himself over to another - whether it is to a party, to a government, or to a guru - , how can he find reality? And how can he who is seeking truth have any relation to power politics?
You see, we ask these questions because we like to rely on outside authority, on environment, for the transformation of ourselves. We hope leaders, governments, parties, systems, patterns of action, will somehow transform us, bring about order and peace in our lives. Surely, that is the basis of all these questions, is it not? Can another, be it a government or a guru or a devil, give you peace and order? Can another bring you happiness and love? Surely not. Peace can come into being only when the confusion which we have created is completely understood, not on the verbal level, but inwardly; when the causes of confusion, of strife, are removed, obviously there is peace and freedom. But without removing the causes, we look to some outward authority to bring us peace; and the outward is always submerged by the inner. As long as the psychological conflict exists, the search for power, for position, and so on, whatever the outward structure, however well built, however good and orderly it may be, the inward confusion always overcomes it. Surely, therefore, we must lay emphasis on the inner, and not merely look to the outer.
Public Talk, March 7th, 1948