Sunday, 12 July 2020

Barkha Dutt barking up the wrong tree

Barkha Dutt writes in the Hindustan times
It reflects the cynicism of the times that we live in that the “encounter” that killed Uttar Pradesh (UP) gangster Vikas Dubey has not come as the slightest shock to anyone.
Which times? We have cheered this sort of thing for 30 years. Back in the Sixties, when Naxals killed Judges, Courts themselves decided that the country could only survive through extrajudicial killing though, no doubt, politicians might find it convenient to appoint a Commission of Inquiry if the bad guys were all of one particular caste or religion.  Thus, the Indian judicial system became a joke. Cases drag on from decade to decade till the defendants die and witnesses turn hostile. The fact that Justice can be quite swift in horrific cases where the culprits are poor and lack political connections reinforces, it does not reduce, our disgust with and distrust of the Courts.
It is almost like a death foretold. The criticism — as happened with the Hyderabad police’s elimination of four rape accused last year — is likely to be dismissed as the fuzzy, needless hand-wringing of liberals.
What criticism? There has been none. We expect a couple of over the hill  presstitutes to virtue signal so as to raise our blood pressure and help us recall why we voted for Modi.
After all, Dubey, it will be argued, was the man responsible for the murderous assault on eight policemen. Why should anyone waste any angst on a man like him?
The answer is he was a Brahmin and so the local Brahmins are upset. But Yogi Adityanath doesn't seem to care. That's a good thing.
That is missing the point. The same lawlessness and absence of due process that makes it possible for the police to avenge the killings of their own men, permits the men in khaki in Tamil Nadu to push rods and sticks up the private parts of a father and son, Jayaraj and Bennicks.
Quite false. 'Encounter killings' have to be cleared higher up the Police chain of command or else have to be inconsequential. The T.N case is about Magistrates not doing their job. They are supposed to ensure that people in custody haven't had rods shoved up their bums.
You can’t outrage over one and see the other as morally permissible.
Nonsense! Two innocent people were killed by mad dogs in police uniform. Those rabid cops should be hanged. By contrast, a killer was killed before he could start manipulating the Criminal Justice system. He was denied the opportunity to run his Crime Empire from the security of a prison cell where, you can be sure, he'd have had access to plenty of luxuries.

We can and should be outraged by the T.N case while expressing delight at the U.P outcome.
Yes, in one case the victims were hapless citizens who did nothing but supposedly keep their shop open for a few minutes beyond the lockdown-stipulated curfew. And another case, the self-declared don of Kanpur, was a brutal, violent thug. But the principle that makes one extrajudicial killing possible cannot but spill over into the responses of the police force across the board.
The moral principle involved is concerned with the punishment of evil-doers and the protection of the innocent. The legal principle may be quite different. But we are not lawyers. But, as far as the law is concerned, you are innocent till proven guilty. Not everybody is prosecuted if suspected of a crime. If it is not in the public interest, or there is little chance of conviction, a prosecution may be dropped. It is not the case that the law is dedicated to punishing all crime. It is dedicated to protecting the innocent and serving the public interest.

Thus we see, both from the moral and legal point of view, the two cases are completely different. We are right to approve of the killing of the killer while demanding justice for the torture and murder of two innocent people. Barkha is barking mad.
Simply put, you cannot morally calibrate fake encounters.
Yes you can. What Barkha can't do is make a coherent argument of any sort. She has shit for brains. Look at what she says next-
There’s also the sheer tackiness of the script. Even as stories go, this one has a weak plot and poorer direction.
This cretin has been lying her ass off all her professional life. Her scripts were tacky, no question. We didn't care so long as there was some rhyme or reason to her lies. Then she lost the plot completely and her stock plummeted.

Consider the tackiness of her present argument. What does it consist of? She simply states false propositions- e.g. you can't say this fake was good while that fake was bad even though we do this all the time. This fake Rolex, I bought for 20 dollars is good. I get complimented on it and it keeps better time than my Omega watch which cost me 2500 quid. That fake Rolex is bad. It fell apart after one day. People in the street pointed at it and laughed saying 'what an obviously fake Rolex! The guy wearing it must be an utter cretin!'.

We 'morally calibrate' fakes and fictions and cases of inauthenticity all the time. Every type of Ethical theory- Deontology, Consequentialism, Intuitionist Virtue Ethics or Soteriological Ethics- has a more or less 'buck stopped' manner of doing so. Multi-dimensional decision spaces can always be rendered uni-dimensional in a univocal manner.
We are actually being asked to believe that a man who dramatically surrendered after a five-day chase from Uttar Pradesh, through Haryana and Rajasthan before ending up in a temple in Ujjain suddenly turned on the police and attempted an escape after the car ferrying him overturned.
No. We are not being asked to believe any such thing. All that has been done is that a proforma reason has been supplied for why no further legal action need be taken- though no doubt an inquiry will be held to appease local Brahmins. No one in their right mind thinks the public interest would be served by looking into this. Suppose a politician, wishing to curry favor with UP Brahmins demands an inquiry or uses this as a stick to beat the Yogi with. What will happen? It will be like the fuss over the Shahabuddin killing which helped, not hurt, Amit Shah. True, some Assembly seats may be lost to Congress- as the Brahmin party. But, over all, U.P will solidify behind Yogi. He is the next Modi.
This is the same man whom we have all seen on video, being slammed against a police car and whacked on the back of his head by an unarmed officer, as he shouts, “Main Vikas Dubey hoon, Kanpurwala”
In other words, we know why he had to be shot like a mad dog. This guy believed he could pull off the same trick he had in 2000 when he shot a legislator in a police station and, at his trial, the cops who were present as witnesses turned hostile.
Curiously, of course, the media, that was tailing the convoy taking Dubey back from Madhya Pradesh to UP, was stopped two kilometres ahead of the site where the alleged accident and subsequent encounter takes place.
So, at least the cops did the deed out of sight of camera phones. Perhaps they first had a little fun. Good for them. Their's is a dreary profession. It is not often that they get to mete out justice.
The police will also have to explain why Dubey’s car is switched at the last moment. Video footage shows Dubey in two different cars at different points in the journey. And, of course, the most basic question of all: How was a dreaded gangster not cuffed?
These questions answer themselves. Dubey could easily intimidate or offer to bribe some but not all cops involved. Switching cars is a good idea if there is a chance of an ambush- which there clearly was- or if the loyalty of some members of the group becomes questionable. However, there is no great need to create a plausible scenario- save to appease local Brahmins. For the State as a whole, it is better if it is believed that the C.M himself gave the nod to the gunning down of this rabid dog. Local Brahmins however will be appeased by depicting the guy as a 'Dabangg' chancer. Who will play Dubey in the Raees like movie Bollywood is sure to make? I suggest it should be Barkha Dutt. She may talk bollocks but has big brassy balls.
Even if his car did overturn-- and who is buying that — how was he able to make a run for it that he needed to be shot? And if he was shot, why was he not shot in the leg, so that he could be recaptured alive and be interrogated?
Why do presstitutes go on repeating stupid lies? Don't they understand that they won't be believed- or we have an excuse not to believe them- if, for a change, they tell the truth or raise sensible questions? For this reason the police don't have to explain anything. Twitterati can supply plenty of answers to questions raised by presstitutes.

Or is that the exact point. Dubey who was implicated in 62 criminal cases, including five cases of murder and eight cases of attempted murder, could not have thrived for 30 years, without the patronage of the rich and powerful.
In other words, he'd have run his Criminal Empire from jail.
A disturbing letter has done the rounds on social media, purportedly written by one of the eight policemen murdered by Dubey. It alleges that station officer Vinay Tiwari was in cahoots with Dubey. The letter, which was unmarked, was officially denied. But, since then Tiwari and another of his colleagues have been suspended on charges of tipping Dubey off about the police raid that was meant to arrest him.
Obviously, the guy had some policemen on his payroll. Why not some judges as well? Does barking mad Barkha not understand that she has just destroyed her own case?
Eerily, a public interest petition in the Supreme Court just a few days ago demanded the judiciary’s intervention, predicting this is how Dubey would die. Instead of delivering justice for the eight policemen murdered by Dubey, the actions of the Uttar Pradesh police force have further sullied the reputation of the uniform. Not too many people will believe that the police encounter was motivated by collective rage at what the gangster had done to their own comrades.
 Yes they will. Some cops may be on the take from a particular gangster. But not all are from the same gangster. It is in the class interest of the police to kill cop-killers.
The suspicion that Dubey had far too many secrets to out and that it was best to pack them off with him to his grave, will now never be shaken off.
It is not a suspicion. It is a fact.
Even before his death, a widely-shared video allegedly showed Dubey claiming the backing of two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators (though in 2001 he was accused of chasing another BJP leader into a police station and shooting him in broad daylight).
Does Barkha think mentioning the name of a political party in this connection means anything? Everybody knows we are speaking of crooks who move from one party to another.
His mother separately claimed that her son is now linked to the Samajwadi Party, which the party denied.
No doubt, she or some other member of the family will get a ticket from one of the parties to fight the next Assembly elections.
The demand for his call records to be placed in the public domain is legitimate.
So is the demand that Barkha get a brain transplant.
The country has a right to know which people of influence — whether in the police, government or Opposition — Dubey was in touch with.
The country also has a right to know which Companies and Political Parties and foreign entities have paid off Barkha and her ilk and what they got in return.
The families of the eight policemen who lost their lives in the line of duty may mistakenly believe that justice has been served.
The very opposite has happened.
No. The guy was shot. He isn't out on bail or running his Criminal Empire from Jail. 

Yet, again, in a country that proudly gave even the terrorist involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack, Ajmal Kasab, due process, we have faltered on the fundamentals of law.
Kasab's trial was a propaganda victory for India. However, the proper response would have been to hit the terrorist training camps across the border. This stupid woman is pretending that observing 'due process' matters. It doesn't. Only the public interest matters provided there is some proforma fig-leaf to protect shitheads from the nakedness of the truth.

Journalism, like the Law, attracts vain, meretricious, fundamentally deluded, cunts. This is not to say that both professions are useless. But they have no fundamental value. What matters is that Society protects itself and pursues the public interest. That means telling journalists and lawyers to go fuck themselves if they start babbling nonsense.

Sharjeel Imam's major malfunction

What does Sharjeel Imam want? Why is he angry? Why did he call for Muslims to block the Siliguri pass- thus cutting off the North East? Was he a paid agent of the BJP whose job it was to show that the anti-CAA agitation was cooked up by anti-nationals? Or is there something deeply wrong with his brain? 

On June 1, Karvaan India published an article by him and Aasif Mujataba
There has been a debate developing around this idea that the Muslims are out on the roads to save the Constitution. The vocal representatives of civil society, as well as some well-meaning Muslims, also adhere to this line of thinking. However, if you talk to the Muslim masses, it becomes clear that not many of them understand what the Constitution is, or what it means for them. That in itself makes a case for the consideration that Muslims are not out on roads to save the Constitution. It is a section of vocal representatives who are insisting on the fact that Muslims want to save the Constitution. However, there exists a healthy body of literature and opinions which makes it clear that the Constitution, how so much progressive it might sound, is not essential as inclusive and radical as we have been made to believe. And it is also well-argued that parts of this document have been instrumental in denying Muslims their share in power over the last 70 years. The significant issues are centre-state relations, the definition of Hindu (Dalit Muslims), Cow protection and First past the post-election system.
It follows that to make Imam happy
1) Arzal or Dalit Muslims be granted the same benefits as non Muslim dalits. This is a reasonable demand. However, it would dilute the existing entitlements of non Muslim dalits. Secondly, it would reduce the power of Ashraf Muslims and threaten their claim to speak for the Community. In the same way that Dalit Christians (who are the majority) are a thorn in the side of the Church Establishment, so too would existing Islamic bodies rue this outcome. Moreover, this would spell the end of 'Forward Caste' or 'clerisy' control of both Left and 'Secular' Parties quite simply because Dalit politicians would gain the vanguard role. In other words, to make Imam happy you have to permit that action which would lead to his class's utter eclipse. Worse still, the Dalit Muslim may not care greatly for Islamic fundamentalism. They may see their religion merely as a charter for moral, spiritual and economic and educational progress. Since they had never gained power through jihad, they never had any reason to think it a good thing.

Imam himself believes, or pretends to believe, that Hindu Dalits would convert to Islam if they did not fear losing Reservations. Why? Because Islam is so nice it has no Arzal caste. But, in that case, there would be no Dalit Muslims. Indeed, this is why Dalits gain no Reservations in Muslim countries.

I personally think Arzal Muslims should receive help. They are smart. They work hard. They will be happy to see their daughters working in big factory dormitories with good facilities. Yes the girls will marry in their twenties. But they will have only one or two kids and those kids will be well educated. No doubt, those kids will do better in life than Iyers. But that's a good thing. Iyers are supposed to be Brahmans begging their bread and performing simple rituals of a spiritual type for a low fee. The true 'Pirzada' too would prefer to be poorer, not richer, than the people it is his hereditary vocation to serve in a moral and spiritual manner.

2) Cow protection is wholly a matter for the States. It is not on the concurrent list. U.P and Bihar will always have it unless the Hindu majority changes its mind. The only way to get rid of it is by taking power away from the States and giving it to the Center. This conflicts directly with

3) shifting the balance of power from the Center to States, in which case the North East can do what Myanmar does to Muslims

4) Proportional Representation would mean
a) no reserved seats
b) the 80 percent Hindu majority would always have a Hindu representative. The 14 per cent Muslims would have Muslim representatives. But they would have no power whatsoever.
c) it would be easy to change the Constitution. That's not a good thing if you belong to a minority.

5) Imam also expresses hatred of the Supreme Court because of the Ayodhya verdict. He understands Muslims can't twist its arm so he sees its power to interpret the Constitution as a barrier to Muslim aspirations. However, the fact is the Supreme Court is often ignored. For example, in Southern States, Muslims do get affirmative action in a manner which violates the Supreme Court's injunction.

Just as Imam's call for the Muslims to 'cut off' the North East would have meant that the Center would have had an excuse for the non Muslim majority of that area- some of whom are descended from warlike tribes- to slaughter every last Muslim with the eager assistance of Bengali Hindus who can easily switch to speaking Assamese and worshipping local Deities- so too are the things he considers discriminatory, actually salutary in the opinion of his own class.

Imam, whose Dad was part of Nitish Kumar's new broom in Bihar, lives in a fantasy world. The type of 'literalism' useful in I.T where codes actually bottom out as 'machine language', is totally misplaced when applied to Indian politics and Constitutional History. Why? Codes are unrelated to 'machine language'. They may appear juristic and protocol bound, but may also be wholly strategic and unconnected with reality.

Imam has hurt everybody he has been associated with- family, University, political party,  Shaheen Bagh, but, most importantly, his type of Indian Muslims whom he has saddled with an 'anti national' tag.

Is JNU's absurd brand of Historiography to blame? Or is there something more fundamental wrong with him?

He and Mujataba write-
Our fight against the state-sponsored hate and violence is not merely based on the Constitution but entirely on its soul.
The problem here is that the soul is the opposite of the body. One is mortal, the other is immortal. Religion may speak of sacrificing the body for the sake of the soul. Islam has one peculiarity. It believes in bodily resurrection. The Jihadi martyr may blow himself up, but his body is reconstituted and gets plenty of virgins in paradise. Perhaps, to Imam, the Indian Constitution suffers from the defect that it does not support Islamic supremacy. No matter. Its soul supports it. Of course, Islam does not attribute a soul to anything save what Allah has created. So this is just a metaphor. But what a strange one it is!
This might appear a little confusing. How can the Constitution differ from the Constitutional spirit. Well, look at the human body, as organic as the Constitution, someone might be differently-abled. Physically one might not be able to walk, but the soul can travel, a soul exists irrespective of the form of the body.
This is bizarre. The Constitution is not 'organic'. It is something man-made. A Constitution which is crippled is one which exists in name alone. A paralytic may have a soul which can travel. But a paralysed polity can't travel anywhere. It is doomed to extinction. 
The soul of the Constitution as enshrined in the Preamble is the guiding light.
But the Preamble emphasises the will of the People- only 14 per cent of whom are Muslim. Thanks in part to the antics of Imam & Co, the other 86 % are fraternally resolved not to tolerate Islamic chauvinism. They may be dealt with in accordance with the law. But, that failing, they may simply be killed out of hand. The post-Independence history of South Asia shows that even very tame minorities get short shrift.
The body is mortal and perishable but the soul is time immemorial, same is with the Constitution, the texts might change ( through amendments) but the soul remains the same.
There is a doctrine of 'Basic Structure'. But that is a matter for the Bench alone. 
We base our arguments on the spirit of the Constitution and not entirely on the texts. For the same reason, we don’t find articles like 44, 48, 19(2), First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system, putting delimitation outside the purview of judicial review etc coherent with the soul. There is a need for a healthy debate and a paradigm shift in such state policies.
This is illiterate and represents the view of stupid people belonging to a very backward minority. There may well be a 'paradigm shift' in state policy, but it won't be in their favor. Imam wrote the following when he still believed that the Law would treat him as a bona fide politician rather than a dangerous nuisance.

The way forward
In the prevailing times when majoritarianism is trying to overshadow the constitutional spirit, It has become imperative to instil and reinforce the faith of the people on organs of the state. Be it Legislature, Executive or Judiciary, they need to act bonafide. They should try to win the heart of the minority. It’s also a high time for the obdurate Executive to take restorative measures. If they ignore the warning signs, it will be, quote an American slave song- no more water but the fire next time.
Imam said 500,000 Muslims blocking roads could cut off the North East. This wasn't true. The non-Muslim majority will slaughter more Muslims than were killed at Partition in order to preserve the country for themselves. Imam ignored the warning signs. He is now in hot water. But his family and his community face the fire if they let nutters like Imam run amok. Non Muslim institutions educated and nurtured Imam. It may be that JNU thought they were helping Muslims by making a place for this illiterate lunatic. But, the reverse was the case. 
The court has given a four week to the government to provide its response. Well, be it four weeks or four months, our fight for the spirit of Constitution will go on.
No it won't. You will be crushed by it. 
There would be innumerable Shaheen Baghs.
No. There will be a slaughter of the obdurate minority by a majority which has lost all patience with it. 
Each of us would come on the streets with peaceful protests.
But the protests won't stay peaceful because nutters like Imam will start saying 500,000 Muslims can overthrow the tyranny of over a billion non-Muslims who have every reason to loathe Islamist politics. 
We will follow all the non-violent ways to make this obdurate government listen to our legitimate concerns.
No you won't. You are too stupid. Seeing a crowd, you will go crazy and start gibbering about Jihad. Then the police will come for you and the Court will sentence you and you will make the discovery that you can indeed be a great political thinker but only in comparison with the rapists and homicidal maniacs with whom you share a jail cell. 

Saturday, 11 July 2020


For Sorrow is the incessant lusting for what our bodies, inevitably rusting, can't possibly give
Do thou borrow yet more Love from whose neighbor maketh all Live 
Till, to Defraud God, so pawn my soul
Only the Heaven of thy labour can make Him whole. 

Sharjeel Imam's fractal Islamophobia

Sharjeel Imam, a bright guy whose brains were destroyed by the pursuit of a History PhD, seemed on a leftward trajectory. He'd given up a lucrative career in I.T, because of the pervasive culture of Islamophobia he found there, to join the far left Marxist Leninist Communist Party and stand for elections at JNU- which is the only place those nutters can get elected. Then, dramatically, he broke with the Party because of its Islamophobia. He helped launch Shaheen Bagh but broke with the Liberals over their Islamophobia and called off the protest though nobody listened. He then made some reckless remarks about how the Assamese should be cut off from India- presumably so they can kill off Muslims in peace and quiet- before being thrown in jail. I think he will soon break with his comrades in jail because of their Islamophobia. He may then ask to do a deal with the Government perhaps to go to Saudi Arabia where he can break with the regime over its Islamophobia. He will go to Pakistan and find only Islamophobia. Finally, if God is good to him, he will do what Nature intended and battle Islamophobia as a tenured Professor at Columbia in Jew York.

His younger brother, a journalist writes of him,

Ali Sardar Jafri, the prominent progressive Urdu poet from India,
Jafri was a Communist. But he didn't roam around seeing Islamophobia all over the place. Atal Bihari Vajpayee made much of him and he died honoured by the BJP administration.
wrote a poem addressing another progressive poet and a leader of the communist movement, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, when the latter was imprisoned in Pakistan.

In the poem Jafari asks Faiz:

Aaj magar tu qaid hai sathi
Kaisi hai ye qaid ki duniya?

(‘But, comrade you are imprisoned today
How is this world of prisons?’)
The Communists had supported the creation of Pakistan which, however, decided to jail them. India, too, initially jailed Commies but only if they wagged their tail. Thus Jafri wasn't really taunting Faiz. He was just expressing a fraternal imbecility. Of course, it should be pointed out, both were as Islamophobic as fuck. Sooner or later, Sharjeel is going to break with this Islamophobic brother of his who insensitively quotes Commie poets even though they are just as Islamophobic as the Liberals and the Saudis and everybody else.
Whenever I read this poem, I try to feel the helplessness Jafari
who was not in jail and therefore who wasn't helpless at all
would have felt as a friend and comrade, for not being able to talk to Faiz.
Which he couldn't do anyway coz Faiz was in a different country. Of course, he could have written him a letter. Maybe he was too stupid to do so and felt helpless. Or maybe the idiot brother of the cretin Sharjeel is too helpless to understand that there is no point of commonality between the cretin Faiz, who had been stupid enough to get involved in a coup attempt by a General who thought Pakistan hadn't done enough to conquer Kashmir, and Jafri, whose Commie buddies had stopped wagging their tail, and who would soon be collaborating with the Liberals to fuck up India economically.
Now, I can feel that pain and helplessness myself as my own brother, Sharjeel Imam, languishes behind bars,
you say Jafri felt helpless because he couldn't talk to Faiz. Yet you can and have talked to your brother. Why do you feel an equal helplessness? Is it coz u r as stupid as shit?
and when I met him recently at Guwahati Jail, my question to him was pretty much similar.
Yo, bro, what's jail like? A natural enough question. But why drag Jafri and Faiz into it? Is it because you are a Communist and believe there must be more partitions of India? Your brother was saying Assam should cut itself off- in which case there will be a hundred Nellie massacres. Muslims will be ethnically cleansed. This prospect delights Sharjeel because he thinks Bengali Hindus too will suffer. But, they won't. They will join in the killing of Muslims and quietly switch to talking in Assamese. Arnab Goswami has shown them the way forward. Thus Sharjeel will at last have some substantial evidence of Islamophobia to gloat over. Then he can complete his hegira to Columbia or wherever else Islamophobia is best denounced.
Interestingly, Sharjeel faces the same charges of sedition and waging war against the state which Faiz was facing when that poem was written.
Indeed. The difference is only Commies, not Muslims, faced the chop if Pakistan was created whereas only Muslims face the chop if Assam cuts itself off.
Here, my motive for writing is similar to that of Ali Sardar Jafari.
Jafari was saying that Communism is Internationalist. Come the Revolution, borders would cease to matter. It wasn't the case that the Commies had fucked over the Muslims of the sub-continent but good. Perhaps, at that time, this seemed reasonable.

Why does Sharjeel compare himself to Jafri? Is he saying 'my brother will come back to Communism?' Or is he saying 'I too denounce the Islamophobia or the Communists and Liberals and Nationalists and everybody else who has not dedicated her life to denouncing the Islamophobia of the Universe. I stand in solidarity with you, brother. Let us make the hegira to Jew York together to spend the rest of our days denouncing Islamophobia on someone else's dime.' 
As he further says in the same poem:

Ye meri awaz hai lekin
Sirf meri awaz nahi hai

(‘Though it is my voice
The voice doesn’t belong exclusively to me’)
This was true enough back then. This voice of stupidity could be heard around the globe. There were plenty of Lenin prizes to go around for Commie poets.  Those were halcyon days.
My brother, Sharjeel Imam, had been instrumental in starting the now famous Shaheen Bagh protest and was later falsely branded as ‘anti-national’ by the police.
Because he isn't just against the Indian nation. He objects to the Islamophobic nature of the Universe.
In the past few weeks, there have been TV debates, articles and statements from politicians where he was portrayed as Islamist, anti-secular and anti-national.
But also as a nutjob, which was more essentially true.
There are people who have accused him of being an agent of the ruling dispensation
Because the BJP has to pay for Islamic nutters. Everyone else is provided with a superabundance of them for free.
while those people affiliated with the ruling party have called him an Islamic fanatic who wants to turn India into some kind of Islamic state. Whenever I heard either narrative I could not help laughing.
 You also could not help coming up with a more ridiculous narrative.
Though I wanted to reply on behalf of my elder brother a long while back, I wanted to meet him first and discuss again his ideas about the National Register of Citizens, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Population Register. On March 9, I met Sharjeel at Guwahati Jail and asked him to elaborate on his now controversial ideas. Whatever time he had he used to explain his understanding of the problem in the NRC and CAA.
Though this was unnecessary. What he needed to explain is why he was crazy enough to call on Assam to 'cut itself off' even though this would mean the immediate slaughter and ethnic cleansing of Muslims. Actually, he has given a simple explanation. He was talking stupid, hot-headed, shit because he is a stupid, hot-headed, shithead. What do expect from a guy who gave up an IT job to become a JNU jhollawallah?
Sharjeel told me that he believed India is secular and that its secularism should not be tampered with.
But its territorial integrity should be tampered with. Assam should 'cut itself off' though this will mean ethnic cleansing of Muslims.
People living in this region of the world had always respected the religious beliefs and cultures of each other.
Pakistan and Bangladesh are shining examples of this.
What the CAA intends to do, in his understanding, is to tamper with this very feature of Indian society.
His understanding is shit. CAA expedites citizenship for the sort of refugees for whom this facility existed since Partition. Muslims were excluded. Those who had fled were not allowed to return.

In practical terms, CAA permitted the consolidation of the Hindu vote- which is increasingly an anti-Muslim vote thanks to the antics of the likes of Sharjeel. No wonder some accuse the cretin of being an agent of the BJP!
The Act presumes India is a natural home to all religious groups but Muslims, and interestingly atheists too.
No. It confirms that Partition was carried out by Muslims who ethnically cleansed non-Muslims. India rid itself of some Muslims and could do so of more thus making room for non-Muslim refugees. The Custodian of Enemy Property would harass Muslims and get them to surrender property to non-Muslim refugees. Many Muslims, thus harassed, cut their losses and went to Pakistan. It is true that some Commies, i.e. Atheist, too got settlement rights. But India is not in that game anymore. Why? Indian Muslims put a bounty on the head of Dr. Taslima Nasrin. So she had to run away. By contrast, even if Muslims object strenuously to non-Muslims escaping Islamic persecution, they will be beaten and killed if they try to beat and kill policemen and non-Muslims in furtherance of their demands.
The CAA welcomes persecuted religious minorities only from Muslim majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan while leaving out the countries where Muslims live in a minority like Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
India had separate agreements with Sri Lanka and Myanmar to take back Indian origin populations. It may be mentioned that India also provided refuge for Tibetan Buddhists. Muslims who fled the country were not taken back. Their citizenship had been lost. Why? To make room for non-Muslim refugees flooding over the borders.
For a secular country like India, the very belief that Muslims are oppressors in all the Muslim majority countries and thus cannot themselves be oppressed is dangerously problematic.
No it isn't. India is very poor. It is preoccupied by its own problems. True, some Afghan Muslim refugees get citizenship but only because they have set up thriving businesses. They, in turn, only accepted Indian citizenship because it makes overseas travel easier. Otherwise refugees are better off on the asylum queue to somewhere nice like Canada.
It rests on historical as well as sociological fallacies. India officially took a stand in support of Bengali Muslims when they were being oppressed by the Pakistan Army.
But Bengali Hindus were being slaughtered by Bengali Muslim fanatics as well as the Pakistani Army. Indira, it is true, gave the vote to Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam but that sparked the Nellie massacre. The Central Govt. then agreed to compile a Nationality Register and to send back illegal migrants. But successive Governments dragged their feet till the Courts took suo moto action. It was the Supreme Court which completed the Nationality exercise and thus dropped a bomb in Amit Shah's lap. So far, he has been clever in his handling of the problem. The CAA reassured non-Muslims while stupid people like Sharjeel ensured that Muslims would be blamed for everything. It remains to be seen whether this impacts the Bengal Assembly elections. If the BJP can't project a good C.M candidate, Mamta will win. But Mamta is unpredictable. She may crack down on the Muslims harder than the BJP if she thinks they are drifting off towards Owaisi or they are creating a party of their own.
At that time, the oppressor as well as the oppressed both belonged to the Muslim community in a Muslim majority country.
These guys don't know about the massacres of Hindus which obliged Indira, Goddess Durga as Atal called her, to act.
In present times, the ‘slow genocide’ of Shias in Pakistan is no secret.
In which case, Shia Iran is the country of choice for refugees.
The persecution of the Hazara community in Afghanistan is before us.
In which case Uzebekistan is the place of refuge, though Shia Iran would be even better.
So, the very idea that in these countries only non-Muslims can be persecuted is a false one and reeks of a political agenda – to damage the secular fabric of this country.
Indian Muslims opposing citizenships for non-Muslim victims of Muslim persecution damage the standing of Indian Muslims. The non-Muslims see them as evil fanatics who delight in the suffering of non-Muslims.
Sharjeel further pointed out that while talking about the persecution of minorities, India, as a responsible country should be talking about minorities other than religious.
India as an overpopulated and very poor country should be talking about only one thing- poverty. It must also protect non-Muslims from Muslims otherwise non-Muslims will take the law into their own hands and retaliate against violence by thoroughgoing ethnic cleansing.
As we all know, the creation of Bangladesh was a fallout of a linguistic, not a religious, movement.
No. It was the result of democratic elections. Sheikh Mujib won because Bengalis were the majority. Bhutto wouldn't let him be Prime Minister so there was a genocide and then a war and then the two wings parted ways so Bhutto could become Prime Minister of the West wing. Faiz, of course, was Bhutto's chamcha. His response to the Bangladesh war was shameful.
He said he had pointed out in his own research how Muslims from Bihar, who migrated to East Bengal during the 1946 riots, had to bear the burnt again in 1947,
East Bengal expelled Hindus, not Muslims. What this cretin means is that during the '71 War, Biharis backed the Pak Army and killed Hindus, as they have always done, but also Bengali Muslims. They paid a high price for this. Pakistan refused to take them and the Bengali Muslims regarded them with hatred.
as they were Urdu speaking Muslims. This idea can be furthered to ethnic and gender minorities as well. As a responsible country India should do justice to all those facing persecution in its neighbourhood.
No it shouldn't. It must concentrate on doing stuff its voters actually want.
Imam further added that by specifically identifying the religious identities as either oppressed or oppressor, we are giving in to the narratives which divided our society along the religious lines.
These guys live in a fantasy world where 'narratives' are all that matters. But how many millions of Muslims can make a living writing illiterate articles for the Wire magazine? Furthermore, unless they back the Commies and the Liberals and, as Sharjeel complained, shave their beards and get rid of their burqas and use less Muslim sounding names, even the Commies and the Liberals won't give them a little money to complain about Islamophobic narratives. Columbia might. Jew York might. Let that be the goal of your hegira.
What we need is to secularise the writing of history rather than reinforcing religious communalism in our understanding of history.
Out of a population of over 1.3 billion, only 15 million pay Income tax. Out of that 15 million only a few thousand give a toss about how history is written. But even they don't want their taxes to go to JNU and Jamia and other such jhollawallah shitholes. Why? Because the students who come out of there help the BJP. They harm the Liberals and the Left. At a time when Amartya Sen and his ilk was fussing over Kanhaiya Kumar, Sharjeel was saying 'don't vote for him. Vote for the Muslim'.
It is our duty that we stop looking at nations and societies through the prism of religion only.
The correct prism is Islamophobia. And the right place to peer at the world through that prism is the Columbia campus in Jew York.

About the idea of ‘cut off’, Imam specifically said that what he meant was to use, through peaceful means, the economic importance of Assam as a lever to get the government to roll back the all-India NRC exercise and scrap the CAA – which is also a demand of the Assamese people and society, who feel, quite rightly, that they should not be held accountable for the refugee problem which arose in 1971.
But Hindu Bengalis settled there can just change their language a little. The Muslims have to go or at least accept gerrymandered constituency boundaries in a manner which denies them political and administrative power.
It is a political and administrative problem which should be solved by India and Bangladesh in such a way that no section of the people in Assam or elsewhere in India should be burdened or targeted.
This is what will happen. Bangladesh may continue to prosper by getting girls out of villages into factory dormitories. Large parts of India may refuse to do anything similar and remain trapped in Malthusian involution supplemented by remittances and transfers.
In a civilised world there should be no place for detention centres.
In India, these were created at the direction of the Guwahati High Court. Sharjeel may also feel there should be no Courts and Prisons in a civilized- i.e. genuinely un-Islamophobic- world.
The plan to hold the NRC exercise elsewhere in India is aimed at causing anxieties as there is no refugee or. migrant crisis in other parts of the country.
West Bengal does not have illegal migrants? Really?
As an Indian we should resist any official exercise which may fan communal passions in the country and damage the secular fabric of our society.
The vast majority of Indians feel India should resist Muslim fanaticism and violence. The 'secular fabric' requires seditionists and terrorists to be locked up.

As his younger brother, I wanted to bring to a wider audience the ideas of Sharjeel Imam, which have been misinterpreted by different people as they wished. What I know about him is that he is a serious scholar who wants this world to be a better place. As Ali Sardar Jafari writes:

Teri bulandi-e-fikr-o-nazar ka kya kehna
Wo dekh past hui jaa rahi hain diwaare.n

(Praise be upon your ideas and perspective
Look these walls are crumbling down)
Twenty two years ago- when Atal thought he could do a deal with Nawaz Sharif- Jafari had salience. But history went in a different direction. A Wall did fall- it was the Berlin Wall. Meanwhile, Wall Street has just finished celebrating the longest bull run in history.

Sharjeel has no 'fikr-o-nazar'. Jafari did. True Jafari was wrong but so were many others at that time. The fact is taking land away from landlords and giving it to peasants was something peasants actually wanted. Talk about 'narratives' and 'secular fabric' has no similar appeal. There can only be 'Islam is in danger' or 'Improve Governance.' We know which these two cretins will choose. But they will find it unsafe to do so even in Saudi Arabia. Thus they should set their sights on Columbia or some similar place in, if not Jew York, then wherever Liberal Jews are plentiful enough to patronize and provide for these earnest warriors against Islamophobia who Indian Muslims will increasingly regard with fear and loathing.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Amit Chaudhri's addled account of Arnold & the Gita

Prof. Amit Chaudhri writes in the TLS
To include the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita in a series called “Footnotes to Plato” may seem odd for many reasons – some obvious, some less so.
Why is it 'odd'? Indian thought was known to the Greeks. Pyrrho went to the Punjab. Socrates is supposed to have met a 'gymnosophist'. It makes sense to include Indian thought in a book series about Philosophy- which Whitehead described as 'footnotes to Plato'. Some suggest Whitehead influenced Radhakrishnan. But Whitehead is unreadable.
But to address the oddity is invigorating, and offers a way of considering the necessity of placing these works in the wider discussion, as well as the historical and conceptual impediments to doing so.
There is no oddity. Moreover, 'wider discussion' tends to be utterly cretinous.
Among the impediments is a logistical one which reveals how, in the West, value and significance are attributed according to certain classificatory norms and not others. I don’t mean the “canon”; I’m referring to a more basic category: authorship.
Indians think the Gita and Upanishads have authors. Their names are mentioned in the texts. Many Indian claim descent from one or other of such authors. The reason both 'authors' and 'texts' are so important to Brahminical Hinduism is because this has a direct bearing on deciding law-suits re. inheritance and property conveyancing etc. This is why the Brits invested so much time and money on studying Dharmasutras. There were British barristers who did an M.A in Sanskrit so as to ply this lucrative trade. Aurobindo and Chesterton's headmaster at St.Paul, apart from being a fine Classicist, had Masters degrees in both Sanskrit and Law. Thus, because he had high 'transfer earnings' he was well paid and allowed to run things as he thought best.
“Footnotes to Plato” (like Western philosophy), is, generally, as much about the philosophers as it is about the philosophy. In fact, the field of knowledge called “the history of Western philosophy” could just as easily be called “the history of Western philosophers”, inasmuch as Western philosophers are the sum total of their lives and works, and we often defer to both biography and thought when we interact with the philosophy.
This is also true of Indian philosophy. Sankara's philosophy is different from Ramanuja's philosophy. We are welcome to interpret this in the light of the different socio-economic histories of Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively.
Each body of work has a personality, but so does its author; in almost every case, we can, literally, put a “face” to the work, whether that’s a photograph of Bertrand Russell or a fourth-century BC bust of Plato.
We can put a face to Radhakrishnan or Matilal. The Greeks, it must be admitted, were superb sculptors. But we can't be sure traditional representations are accurate.
What do we do with a philosophy when there’s no philosopher in sight? The absence constitutes a problem in giving, and claiming, value.
But this difficulty does not arise in India. We know exactly who was the author of each school. They put their names into their texts.
Meaning and significance in Western culture are not just features of the work, but pertain to, and arise from, the owner of the work – the author is the work’s first owner; the author’s nation or culture (“Greece” or “Germany”, say; or “the West”) its overarching one. The Upanishads and the Gita, on the other hand, come to us as the New Critics said poems should: without the baggage of biography.
But this is not true of Indians who are familiar with their own heritage. They will tell you lots of anecdotes about the lives of the philosopher-Sages who founded our various sects.
To read them is to confront language, form and text alone, without the distraction or temptation of dwelling on the author’s milieu and life.
This may be true of non-Indians or deracinated Indians. But it does not apply to most people with names like Amit or Sumit. On the other hand, all Iyers are as stupid as shit- which is why we deserve Educationally Backward Caste Status.
One might recall that the New Critical turn against biography is related to a privileging, in the twentieth century, of the impersonality, rather than the emotional sincerity or conscious intention, of the creative act.
New Criticism was useful to pedagogy because 'close reading' could elicit information about a student's intelligence. Also, few people still learned poetry by heart. They would not instinctively know whether they were reading Dryden rather than Defoe.
This development is not unrelated, I think, to the impact that certain Indian texts had on modernity after they were translated into European languages and put into circulation from the late eighteenth century onwards.
In which case the thing should have appeared where circulation was greatest. How come the German Romantics intense engagement with Indian texts- Schlegel set up a Sanskrit printing press and became the first of a large number of Indological professors at German Universities- did not emphasize 'impersonality'. Lachmann went to get lengths to establish the historicity of the author of the Parsifal legend. The German cult of Shakespeare was intensely psychologistic. That's why Cantor or Carl Schmitt, when in the doghouse, would identify with the Bard Avon and write of him as either an impostor or a persecuted wretch.
(This is something I’ll return to later.) The Upanishads and the Gita claim to be neither the work of an author nor the word of God (as many religious texts do).
No. They claim to be a record by a named individual of what some Holy dude said to some other slightly less Holy dude or dudess.
They record a variety of thought-processes and arguments. They’re among the first poetic-critical works to make the biographical reading redundant.
Nonsense! There is great poignancy in knowing Vyasa, father of Shuka, progenitor of the Kauravas, is recording the Gita. The Upanishads are family texts for those descended from Vedic Rishis. We know the biographies of those concerned and this adds pathos to mathos.
They don’t contain “an author’s thought”: their subject is thought itself.
But no literary work, save one composed by chaos, does not contain the author's thoughts even if their subject is nought itself.
“Who impels us to utter these words? Who is the Spirit behind the eye and the ear?” are among the first lines of the Kena Upanishad.
True enough. But plenty of mimamsaka lineages descend from the author. It is a family text linked with the udgatrs. It relates directly to what my paternal ancestors did for a living.  The subject is not 'thought itself'. It is a particular kind of thought associated with proper performance of soteriological rituals. Suppose an udgatr came across a shopkeeper scratching his head to find a way to boost profits. Should he just price gouge? The udgatr, if he were a sensible man, might say 'you are thinking too small. You must expand to gain scale and scope economies. Otherwise, you will price yourself out of business.' Only in a soteriological context would the udgatr quote the Kena Upanishad so as to prevent a client from surrendering to gross superstition or magical thinking.

Of course, neither the Upanishads nor the Gita could be a footnote to Plato in a literal sense,
They could be contained within a footnote to Plato. Indeed, some savants thought Parmenides had been influenced by the Indians. Information of that sort could certainly find a way into a footnote. Moreover, since there is much doubt as to the dating of Indic texts- which are likely to have existed in an oral form long before they were first written down- causal arguments from a purported Indic ur-text might, and have indeed actually,  been made.
because the earliest of the first, composed around the sixth century BC, precede him by about two centuries; the second, from the second to the third century BC, is near-contemporaneous with the Greek.
So, the Upanishads could in Amit's literal sense have been a footnote to Plato.  As for the Gita, we know the Greeks associated Dionysius with India. It is certainly possible that the Orphic Mysteries drew upon Indic sources at one remove.
The Upanishads are part of the Vedas, an agglomeration of beliefs, rituals, practices and texts in which the origins of Hinduism are said to lie.
This is not true. The Vedas are considered Revealed 'Shruti'. The Brahmanas, Aranyaka/Upanishadas are its priest-craft's needful ancillary texts.
How homogeneous a belief-system the Vedas comprise is anyone’s guess, since some of the most powerful passages of the Upanishads are oppositional and argumentative, and have to do, implicitly or explicitly, with testing the parameters of intellectual convention.
This is not 'anyone's guess'. It is something Brahmans know about because they have been thinking about it for thousands of years. Amit- presumably a Kayastha by birth- is simply ignorant. What he will say next is anyone's guess. But, whatever it is, we know it will be stupid.
The Vedas may be a convenient umbrella term,
But aren't in fact any such thing for tens of millions of Brahmans and hundreds of millions of practicing Hindus.
but, if the Upanishads are an important part of the Vedic corpus, they’re certainly not a placid expression of an established Vedic world view.
They are a pure and beautiful expression of a sublime world-view which Hindus affirm was indeed that of the Vedic Seers.
They themselves, through the nuanced rethinking of both the assumptions of early Hinduism and of the habits of thought itself, are trying to establish something. Their language is critical rather than sacerdotal.
The Upanishads do criticise a materialistic interpretation of the Vedas. But their language is sacerdotal and soteriological. They establish Vedanta which is the mainstream orthodoxy for most Hindus. Moreover, from the earliest times, Hindu mimamsakas have distinguished vidhi (substantive injunction) from Arthavada (encomium and embellishment) in Scripture.

By contrast, the polemics of Shraman 'gymnosophists' was highly critical and 'interrogative'. It was these naked ascetics who influenced Pyrhho.
They’re more interested – and this is true of the Gita too – in interrogating consciousness rather than admonishing the non-believer.
They admonish materialistic interpretations. They don't 'interrogate consciousness' as the Yoga-Samkhya or Jaina or Buddhist philosophy does. Rather they establish Vedanta as the pure and original 'Mimamsa' or hermeneutic for Vedic Scripture. The Gita, reflects the acceptance of Yoga-Samkhya as an orthodox Hindu 'dashana'.
Among the subjects they call into dispute is the matter of how we think about the Creator, or whether it’s at all possible to “think” about Him or Her.
There is no dispute in Vedanta as to how Brahma should be thought of. Rather, a method of sublation is prescribed so as to go from a partial, materialistic, conception, to one that is pure, holistic, and entirety spiritual.
According to a dominant version of the Judeo-Christian model, so influential to how we conceive of authorship (given the “author’”is a creator), God makes the world, is fundamentally exterior to it, owns, oversees and governs it, and, when appropriate, comes to its aid.
Such a view is perfectly compatible with Hinduism. All that Vedanta claims is that this view can, or must, if the aim is release from re-birth, be sublated. At the very least, it should not give rise to sectarian strife of a bigoted kind- unless the thing is funny.
At the outset, the Kena Upanishad, which has to do with whys and wherefores, dismantles the causality of creator and creation, not through assertion, but a series of negations and inversions:
In that case Amir was lying when he said these texts 'interrogate consciousness'. Rather, they are declarative and imperative simply.
What cannot be thought with the mind, but that whereby the mind can think: know that alone to be Brahman; and not what people here adore.
So quit bargaining with God, or engaging in magical rituals to harm your enemies.
What cannot be seen with the eye, but that whereby the eye can see: know that alone to be Brahman; and not what people here adore.
So stop trying to catch the eye of the Lord by showy rituals. Don't 'adore' wealth and fame. It is not for bestowing such tinsel that the Lord is adored by the wise.
… I do not imagine “I know him well”, and yet I cannot say “I know him not”.
This is true of all one loves or finds surpassingly beautiful. I know my Mum very well. But each time I think of her I find something richer and stranger in her beauty that I wake anew to wonderment.
He comes to the thought of those who know him beyond thought, not to those who imagine he can be attained by thought. He is unknown to the learned and known to the simple.
Indeed. A learned man may be able to point out my Mum's various excellences better than I could dream of doing. But I knew her best when I was but a babe. The weight of years and such vanity as I mistook for wisdom have diminished my ability to reach towards her in thought. Yet, when as helpless as a babe and most desperately in need of her, she is simply there.

There are also the paradoxes in the Isa Upanishad to take into account, which overturn the idea of a creator looking upon their creation from above: “The Spirit, without moving, is swifter than the mind … He moves, and he moves not. He is far, and he is near. He is within all, and he is outside all”.
The work of the adhvaryu is different from that of the udgatr. They are concerned with different ineluctable modalities. Yet the genius of Vedanta is to present a synoptic view.
These are not assertions; they’re subversions.
Nonsense! They are hermeneutic assertions. Only if you believe that Holy Writ is a manual for conjuring up demons to kill your enemies would you deny these assertions.
Idols are not being ejected from a sacred space, as they were by Moses; structures of thought are being challenged.
Idols are irrelevant. We are speaking of a Soteriological tradition without idols though most Hindus see nothing wrong with 'murti puja'.
What’s being subverted is the way both a laity and a clerical establishment think: “not what people here adore” refers to the first, while the priestly hierarchy is dismissed in these phrases – “those who imagine he can be attained by thought … He is unknown to the learned and known to the simple”.
Amit is being silly. The Upanishads were the ancestral teachings of hereditary ritual specialists though no doubt their patrons were welcome to acquire, or even contribute, to this knowledge. Indeed, 'lay figures' might possess a superior 'madhu vidya' and impart it to hereditary priests as happens in the Chandogya.

The Upanishads, then, can hardly be called originary.
They describe themselves as reflecting on that portion of Scripture which it was the duty of a particular hereditary class to memorize and transmit.
They sound more like the latest in a series of disagreements; a great deal has preceded them, and reached a state of ossification before their arrival.
Not to Hindus. This may have been the view of German philologists who never set foot in India.
Among what they challenge is a particular sense of causality regarding the relationship between creation and creator, which seems to have been extant when they were composed.
Causality is not challenged. Chorismos- an ontological gap between Creator and Creation- is challenged. Obviously, a Being powerful enough to cause Existence to arise out of Nothingness is not like a carpenter or a mason who exists separately from the chair he made or the wall he built.
Many traditions believe in a first cause, after which the universe comes into existence and before which there was nothing.
This is equally true of Hindu traditions.
The Upanishad’s conception of consciousness – “He moves, and he moves not”; “He is far, and he is near” – complicates the point of origin.
Indic Religions affirm cycles of creation. But this scarcely matters to Soteriology.
Again, unlike Descartes’s belief that thought is both a product and a proof of existence, the Upanishad’s “What cannot be thought with the mind, but that whereby the mind can think” introduces an absence at the heart of thought.
No it doesn't. That which enables the mind to think is present, not absent, at the heart of thought. Buddhism has a different theory- kshanikavada or momentariness. There is only the bare and empty present illuminated by the lightning flash of 'cetana' intentionality.
If thought can’t conceive whatever it is that produces it, then thought can’t be wholly present –
Nonsense! I can't conceive my parents in the way they conceived me. This does not mean I don't fully exist or can't have kids of my own. But God isn't a father in the only way I can be a father because God is infinitely greater.
a formulation that’s antithetical to the Cartesian proclamation.
Rubbish! Occasionalism is one way to reconcile Descartes and Vedanta.
And since causality constantly reasserts itself as a default mode of thinking throughout history, the Upanishads remain, essentially, oppositional.
Not if we embrace Occasionalism as the Gita does. Even otherwise there are many workarounds. Like the Jains one could have a 'parinami dhravya' or dynamic notion of substance. Indeed, Umaswati, Nagarjuna & Sankara unite all three Indic religions on the basis of 'observational equivalence'.
Amit is ignorant of all this. He has read some Western books and because he is of Indian origin he thinks he can write any old shite and no one will call him on it coz Black Lives Matter innit?
They can’t occupy the space of established thought, being opposed to that space.
Yet that is precisely what happened.
Nor can one reduce either the Upanishads or the Gita in sociological terms to being “Brahminical”
because Brahminism was a service industry reflecting the views of those who 'paid the piper'. Thus Philosopher Kings play a big role in some Upanishads and, of course, in the Gita.
without losing sight of the fact that their language is critical-poetic –
No, their language is entirely soteriological. Manuals on Aesthetics are 'critical-poetic'.
that is, they raise a critique through paradox and metaphor
but if the purpose is soteriological then no 'critical-poetic' work is being done save by tendentious imputation
– rather than dogmatic or hieratic.
The truth is Brahmins conserved this heritage- which they were welcome to view as dogmatic and hieratic- and, till relatively recently, generally made their living by so doing.  Even if more remunerative employment was available they kept up this study for spiritual reasons or, perhaps, 'just in case' the worst should befall and they found themselves penniless refugees.
This extraordinary choice of expressive language constitutes a strategy.
No. A strategy may regulate choice of language. It is not constituted by it.
Poetry is the only tenable form of thought for these two texts,
Nonsense! The Upanishads contain prose passages. Both poetry and prose do the same thing. That is why we understand Amit's prose version of what Lord Krishna said-
for, as Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita, “Neither Vedas, nor sacrifices, nor studies, nor benefactions, nor rituals, nor fearful austerities can give the vision of my Form Supreme”.
Because, this can be gained only by either 'chakshuchi vidya'- which was gifted to Arjuna but which he didn't want to accept- or else by Lord Krishna's own gift of divine eyes, which Arjuna does accept but only for this specific purpose.
If the list I’ve quoted covers the recognized intellectual and practical activities of the Brahmin,
It doesn't. A Brahmin, like a person of any other profession or no profession at all, is welcome to humbly adore Yogishvara- the Lord of Yoga- Krishna himself. This 'bhakti marga' is why Brahmins are reconciled to their humble lot in life.
we might say that the Upanishads and Gita are alt-Brahminical: they were written by anomalous Brahmins.
This is not the view of the Brahmins themselves. No doubt, a Kayastha with a hereditary hatred of Brahmins may say 'so and so did good work. True, he belonged to that evil caste. But, he was an anomaly.'
The role these texts play (along with Buddhism) as the chief underground, often unacknowledged,
why 'unacknowledged'? It was prestigious to claim an acquaintance with Sanskrit works. Many who did so were bluffing- or, like Voltaire, had been taken in by a forgery.
resources of modernity and modernism begins with their advent onto the world stage through Latin, English and German translations.
Because Indians are incapable of modernity. It had to be imported from the West. Why stop there? Why not say 'Indians were hanging by their tails from trees eating bananas. Then Whitey came and showed them how to behave like human beings?'
Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron retranslated fifty-two Upanishads from Persian translations and commentaries into Latin in 1796, and published them in 1801–2.
But Voltaire had been fooled by the 'Ezourvedam' in 1760. Information about Buddhist and Hindu texts had begun to circulate in Europe by the first half of the Seventeenth Century.
These became key texts for Arthur Schopenhauer (“It has been the solace of my life, and will be the solace of my death”), among others, and later for T. S. Eliot.
Eliot learned Sanskrit at Harvard from Paul Elmer More.
Charles Wilkins (1749–1836), an Orientalist scholar and typographer, began to learn Sanskrit in Banaras in the 1780s from Kalinath, a Brahmin pandit, and to translate the epic, the Mahabharata, into English. The project remained unfinished but a chapter, the Bhagavad Gita, was published in London in 1785 as the Bhagvat-geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon. The Gita then appeared in French in 1787.
So what? There had already been a craze for China. India had been familiar for two hundred years. The first English author to live and write in India did so at the end of the Sixteenth Century. But Indian Religion did not look very much unlike European Religion. When the Portuguese first arrived in South India they worshipped in Hindu temples believing them to be Christian Churches. Unlike China, where you had a great Empire and a widespread Civic Religion based on filial piety, India held no great mysteries. However, as 'Deism' and well-bred disdain for the Church took hold, a fear of Revolutionary anarchy grew with it. This led to a reaction against the mid Eighteenth Century Philosophical preoccupation with 'Natural', rather than 'Revealed' Religion. In 1740, Hume wrote 'Even Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Natural Religion, are in some measure dependent on the science of Man; since they lie under the cognizance of men, and are judged of by their powers and faculties. ’Tis impossible to tell what changes and improvements we might make in these sciences were we thoroughly acquainted with the extent and force of human understanding, and cou’d explain the nature of the ideas we employ, and of the operations we perform in our reasonings. And these improvements are the more to be hoped for in natural religion, as it is not content with instructing us in the nature of superior powers, but carries its views farther, to their disposition towards us, and our duties towards them; and consequently we ourselves are not only the beings, that reason, but also one of the objects, concerning which we reason.'

In a sense, Hume was right. But it took two hundred years before people like Godel, Tarski & Von Neumann, Nash etc created the mathematical and logical tools necessary for the task. Since the Nalophkyanam along with the Vyadha Gita is dual to the Bhagvad Gita and since it says that the Just King must learn Statistical Game theory, it follows that there could be no 'Modern' reading of the Gita till quite recently. Thus the European reception of the Gita could only be Theistic, which was reasonable, Deontological, which was silly, or some stupid Racist shite which, alas, was inevitable.
The impact of the Upanishads and Gita proved particularly powerful in the domains of the aesthetic and the literary, and in the formation of a particular experience of secular modernity.
The Jesuit discovery of Chinese literature had more impact at an earlier date. The Chinese epitomized rationality and civic virtue. Yet they were not Christian. This fed the cult of 'Natural Religion' and Enlightened Deism. But, if the masses no longer feared Hell fire, what was to stop them cutting off the heads of the Aristos and grabbing their land? What of the new bildungsburgertum? Whither lay his duty? Must they be cogs in the machine of Absolutism or could they do something to change its nature? Europe had its own Pietist- Pietas is the Latin translation of Eusebia which is how the Greeks translated 'Dharma'- and Mystic traditions. The Upanishads were easily assimilated to this. The Gita however dramatized the dilemma of the bildungsburgertum caught between two worlds, as Arnold says, one dead and one powerless to be born.

This at any rate is the conventional, the sensible, view. Amit is not sensible. He writes-
To the literary imagination, it provided new ways of thinking about the author’s relationship to their work, giving the latter a mysterious independence that’s not reducible to authorial intention or biography.
But this was the pre-modern attitude to Literature. It was anonymous. Who was Qoheleth? Who cares? Consider the success achieved by Ossian. Indeed, had India not existed in a manner which outmatched the imagination of a Tom Moore or a Southey, it would simply have been invented. The literary imagination, it seems, is ahead of what it feeds on. The market is demand driven.
Engaged in a new project that would turn out to be Madame Bovary, Flaubert wrote to his friend and lover Louise Colet in 1852: “I don’t believe you have any idea what kind of book this one is … No lyricism, no reflections, the personality of the author absent”. He adds: “the author in his work must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere”.
Who wrote the Chanson Roland? Who greatly cared till the modern age? Flaubert, 'the ageing hysteric', felt he had to curb his lyricism so as to render versimilitude passional and engrossing.
Where does this model of the creator come from – one who’s not an overseer or governor, but both in the work and out of it?
We know because Flaubert told us.
Partly Flaubert owes the conceit to Baruch Spinoza, whom he adored. But he was also immersed in Buddhist texts, and it’s inconceivable he wouldn’t have known the Upanishads, where the conceit has its earliest and most succinct expression: “He is far, and he is near. He is within all, and he is outside all”.
But, Flaubert as a Frenchman would have already encountered in Pascal that intelligible and infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.
In Calcutta, the creation in the early nineteenth century by Hindus of a reformist-intellectual sect called the Brahmo Samaj also depended on the Upanishads as it distanced itself from traditional Hinduism, turning, instead, to a niraakar creator – a creator, that is, without form or outline (aakar), Flaubertian in character: present everywhere and visible nowhere.
The Brahmos were Unitarian and had adopted Islamic iconoclasm as did the Arya Samaj and numerous other sects. As compradors, they enriched themselves unconscionably, clamored for unrestricted British migration to India, and spat bile at their orthodox detractors.
The Brahmo Samaj is often seen to embody a move away from polytheistic Hinduism to the monotheistic world view contained in the Upanishads;
It was viewed by Evangelists as the first step to conversion.
Charles Wilkins, in his Preface to his translation, had made a similar observation about the Gita, in which he found an echo of Unitarianism. But this account of the turn is slightly facile, I think, and the comparison to monotheism doesn’t really hold. There’s no “god” in the Upanishads in any conventional sense.
Yes, there is- in the conventional Hindu sense. Isha means Lord. Ishvar, from the same root, is the God of the Brahmos and Arya Samajis and so forth. Yogishvara- the Lord of Yoga- is Lord Krishna and the Gita is a devotional text dedicated to him. Ishvar has long been accepted as the Hindu equivalent of 'Allah' as in 'Ishvar Allah tere naam'- which Gandhi's Ashramites added to Raghupait Raja.
There’s certainly no single controlling power in it commensurate with God in the Old and New Testaments, or with Allah in the Qur’an.
There certainly is. Brahma, Ishvar, Vishnu- all mean exactly the same thing as God.
It is, in fact, an interrogation of consciousness.
No. There is an assertion, itself based on the concerned Veda preserved by a hereditary sept of ritual specialists, which is considered by Vedanta to be the authoritative hermeneutic for it.
The turn to the Upanishadic comprises not a turn to the monotheistic but to the non-representational,
But this turn to 'the non-representational' is to be found in the Eleatics! Why go to the Ganges when the Greeks are close at hand?
and it’s the non-representational that had an immense impact on Schopenhauer and later Friedrich Nietzsche,
There is an iconoclastic element in Protestantism. Pietism of the Schliermacher type considers representations, e.g. that of the Holy Trinity, as having no real place in consciousness. The Romantic Sublime can be detached from uncomfortable journeys into the wastes and the wilds so as to be enjoyed, non-representationally, in postprandial armchair reveries.
though they, as well as G. W. F. Hegel, confused it with nihilism in a way that Flaubert obviously didn’t.
But Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and so forth didn't know Sanskrit. Karl Krause did. His theology is 'Reconciliationist'- i.e. man eventually merges with God.
The artistic response to the Upanishads is a deeper and truer one in the end than the response of the philosophers.
You can't respond to things you don't know. Flaubert did not know the Upanishads. T.S Eliot did. He had studied Sanskrit. Eliot was a Theist. His 'response' is deeper and truer than any shite Amit writes.
The non-representational, as a secular aesthetic category, became hugely significant to Rabindranath Tagore: as something that’s neither God nor deity, but is sacred.
God is deity and all that pertains to His Worship is sacred.
The sense of a sacredness that doesn’t have an obvious connection with a recognizable deity was a profound resource for the experience of secular modernity, both in India and outside it.
But, for Hindus, there is an obvious connection- because of Hindu scripture- between any sense of sacrality and God.
From the Gita comes the definition of a peculiar kind of action – at once invested, passionate and detached – that would contribute deeply, I think, to the critical-aesthetic notions of “disinterestedness” and “impersonality”.
Matthew Arnold was genuinely affected by the Gita. But what he took from it was the imperative to be true to one's own nature while acting in concord with other men in the pursuit of perfection. His work, as he conceived it, was never 'disinterested' as opposed to truth seeking. It was never 'impersonal' precisely because it was individual and independent. His critical-aesthetic notions were melioristic and rejected Macaulayan triumphalist historicism.
The Gita is an interruption in the narrative of the Mahabharata.
No. It is the dual of the Vyadha Gita. Both Gitas are intended to dispel 'vishaada'- akrasia or abulia.
The brothers Pandava, after returning from the thirteen-year exile into which they’d been sent duplicitously by their cousins, the Kauravas, find they won’t be allowed to reclaim their kingdom. The two clans go to war, but, on the eve of battle, Arjun studies the opposite camp in a state of despair, and asks his charioteer Krishna how he can possibly slay cousins and uncles he’s known since childhood.
The obvious answer would have been- he can't, since Drona and Bhishma have the boon of dying only at their own wish. Arjuna should worry about getting killed, not killing. But Arjuna has an 'asvamika', unvested, boon of clairvoyance. Krishna Devakiputra too gained a similar boon in the Changogya. Thus the Gita is a symmetric game of a particularly interesting kind.
Krishna says many things in this conversation, including odd, counter-intuitive pieces of advice: “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work.
This is not counter-intuitive. If you set your heart on the reward but despise the work, you won't do it but may try to steal or cheat your way to what you desire. Then you end up in jail feeling sorry for yourself.
'Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and, free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or in failure. Yoga is evenness of mind – a peace that is ever the same”.
If your mind is distracted by greed for reward or fear of punishment, you will scamp your work. Moreover you may experience abulia or akrasia. This is common sense. Mums and teachers have been saying stuff like this to kids from the beginning of time.
To what kind of work might success or failure be redundant?
Every kind of work must hold success or failure to be redundant for the duration of the work. You cook food so as to eat it. But eating it is a redundant activity while it is cooking. True, there are one or two ingredients you can pop into your mouth while raw. You may also sample the dish from time to time. But, generally speaking, this is unnecessary from the nutritional point of view. Your should wait till after the dish has been fully cooked. It is only then that your success or failure as a cook can be determined. If the food taste good and you don't keel over vomiting, you may say you have succeeded.
By the time the Gita’s Krishna was first heard in Europe, all judgements were deemed, by the Enlightenment, to be either subjective or objective.
That is still the case, though, of course, there is no objective criteria of demarcation between them. The Gita confirms this commonsense view.
What kind of judgement escapes this binary by being at once passionate and detached, made in earnest without mindfulness of outcome?
Subjective judgments which are 'passionate' but 'detached' include Deontic & Aesthetic judgments & judgments made behind what Rawls would call the veil of ignorance- i.e. which apply to you without your prior knowledge. A preference is not a judgment. An unconsidered grabbing of what you like may represent a lapse in judgment.
Immanuel Kant addresses this in a shift in his own thinking, in his writings on aesthetics in 1790: he characterizes “beauty” as being “purposeful without a purpose”.
Because the object is not subsumed under a concept. Rather there is a free play of the Imagination which is not purposeful like cognitive judgments.
Also, he classifies aesthetic judgement as being “disinterested”, or untouched by what we ordinarily understand as desire. In the binary imposed by the Enlightenment, “disinterested” will be seen to be the opposite of “interested”; that is, impartial as opposed to biased, or objective rather than subjective.
Kant was part of the Enlightenment. His transcendentalism was a means of escape from a common sense empiricism of a crude, materialistic, sort. At one time, beauty was thought to relate directly to utility because that which was pleasing to the senses tended to having a better life and more healthy progeny. Then people began to see that thin women and lofty mountains have a beauty of their own.
But “disinterestedness” is a breakdown in the binary; it indicates aesthetic experience’s ability to be simultaneously involved and disengaged – a contradiction that the Enlightenment is deeply reluctant to allow for.
The Enlightenment had no problem with the notion that we may judge our own actions to be wrong or that a particular course of action is right even if it harms us. Why have judges if our Society believes that everybody will always choose only what is best for themselves? Why go to Court if you know the judge will always give the verdict in favor of the guy who can pay the bigger bribe?

Five years separate the Gita’s appearance in English, and three years its translation into French, from Kant’s intervention in aesthetics. It’s unlikely he’d have been unaware of the work, or made his sui generis departure without it.
It is unlikelier that Kant would be foolish enough to believe that beauty pleases our senses for biological reasons. He was living at a time when it was fashionable to go into raptures about 'sublime' scenery- snowy mountains and unpeopled wildernesses- rather than stately parterres and well ordered plantations.
The second time such “disinterestedness” appears as a concept, when Matthew Arnold redefines what criticism is, the link to the Gita is clear, and doesn’t require speculation. Arnold had read Wilkins’s translation in 1845, and he returned to it constantly. In 1865, he wrote of criticism,
that it must try to uncover the truth. Thus he was of the school of Lachmann-“id quod recensere dicitur, sine interpretatione et possumus et debemus- before interpretation there must be 'recension'- i.e. the patient spade work to uncover the facts must first be completed before we can pronounce on the matter.
radically, not only as the expression of taste or opinion, but as a form of disengaged engagement without obvious consequence,
so, patient spade work rather than first planting the evidence and then digging it up and saying 'Aha!'.
making the connection to the Gita overt: “It will be said that it is a very subtle and indirect action which I am thus prescribing for criticism and that, by embracing in this manner the Indian virtue of detachment and abandoning the sphere of practical life, it condemns itself to a slow and obscure work. Slow and obscure it may be, but it is the only proper work of criticism”.
What is the context of this remark? A young girl had strangled her illegitimate child and had been arrested. Meanwhile pompous politicians talked of the unprecedented felicity of the Anglo-Saxon race. Arnold thinks this is because the Brits weren't as studious as the Germans. They weren't philosophical. Thus they talked cant.

 His essay upholds scientific philology and rational criticism based on uncovering the facts of the case. He was refuting the argument that criticism could be anything goes. You ought not to lie about what an author said. You shouldn't make stuff up. You should tax your brain rather than just jotting anything down. In other words, you must not be Amit Chaudhri writing shite about Hinduism and hoping to get away with it coz Whitey won't call him on it due to Black Lives Matter innit?

Sadly, Arnold was wrong. Germany was headed in the wrong direction. Byron knew more about one very interesting aspect of life than Goethe. The truth of the matter is that Goethe was a turgid bore who could write some lovely lyrics. Wordsworth could be a bore but was just as good. This is also true of Shelley and Byron. They knew somethings beyond Goethe's ken and were better off not knowing other things which Germans were obliged to cultivate by reason of their backwardness. Britain in the early nineteenth century was alive in a manner that Germany wasn't. That's why its Universities didn't matter much. Trade and Travel, Party politics at home and Imperial Administration abroad, were better teachers. Arnold couldn't see it because he belonged to a greyer generation. He blamed Regency poets who had breathed a freer air for his own suffocation under mid Victorian prudery and philistinism. Arnold was wrong to pin his faith on German paideia. He quotes Joubert 'Force till Right is ready'. But, Right was never ready in Germany. Force alone prevailed, to the delight of its pedagogues. till the country was divided and occupied. By contrast, in England, Right did prevail though the 'physical force' Chartists failed because, as General Napier told them, they didn't have artillery.

Arnold equates 'disinterestedness' with 'curiosity', which he believed had a negative connotation only in England. Amit thinks 'evenness of mind'- ataraxy- is 'curious'. Why? Because this cretin believes in some 'pervasive binary' of his own invention.
“Disinterestedness”, then, is, in Krishna’s words, a curious “evenness of mind” irrespective of “success and failure”: it’s the dismantling of a pervasive binary which customarily places the word in an Enlightenment tradition of rational objectivity, or even points to the contemporary misuse of the word to mean “uninterested”.
Arnold merely says that it is good to uncover the truth even if there is no certainty this will advance our interests. He quotes Burke to suggest that this type of effort will turn out to be providential.

 The Gita is, in fact very interesting, if read as the dual of the Vyadha Gita and thus in a game theoretic manner. Arjuna, it turns out, is genuinely curious about Yoga and, in a dramatic manner, places himself in a position to absorb its entire philosophy.

By contrast Amit has no curiosity about the Gita. He read some crap Eng Lit textbooks and formed his ideas accordingly. Yet Arnold in the continuation of the very passage Amit quotes warns against this type of laziness.
The Gita’s practice of “impersonality” points to T. S. Eliot’s attack, in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” in 1919, on the idea that poetry is an “expression of the personality” or of “emotion”.
Which was convenient if you happened to write like a homosexual in a country where this could get you a stiff stretch of porridge.
It’s no accident that the final line of The Waste Land is the Upanishadic refrain, “shantih shantih shantih”, the Sanskrit word for spiritual peace or even-mindedness (which, as it happens, was promoted to being the primary aesthetic rasa or experience in Sanskrit poetics by the eleventh-century philosopher Abhinavagupta).
Nor is it an accident that the poem came out after a terrible world war.  Why call Lord Abhinavagupta a philosopher? He is one of the greatest Saivite Sages revered particularly by Kashmiri Brahmans. His  Īśvarapratyabhijñā-vimarśini is considered a means to gain direct knowledge of God. This is the proof that Shanti is indeed a 'rasa'.
It’s uncertain in what way these conceptual departures would have existed in modernity if these texts hadn’t been put into circulation when they were.
There are no 'conceptual departures' here. Eliot was very much aware that anything he found in India could also be found in Europe. He was, and remained, a devout Christian- though, no doubt, he suffered much because of his first marriage.
Yet a great part of this history of ideas remains unwritten.   
A great part of the history of nonsense remains unwritten for the excellent reason that nonsense is a drug on the market. Amit's achievement here is that he has shown that you can take the Brahmin baiting, Hindu hating, Kayastha out of Kolkata, but you can't beat him to death coz Black Lives Matter innit?

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Englers' Waging Non-Violence' and the wages of stupidity

Mark and Paul Engler write in 'Waging Non-Violence'

Understanding the Salt March and its lessons for today requires stepping back to look at some of the fundamental questions of how social movements effect change. With proper context, one can say that Gandhi’s actions were brilliant examples of the use of symbolic demands and symbolic victory.
Surely the opposite is the case? The Salt tax still exists in India. The demand may have been symbolic, but the outcome was defeat.

Why did the Salt March take place? There are two reasons
1) The peasants of Bardoli had succeeded in getting their land tax cut under Gandhian leadership in 1928. This meant peasants all over India became enthused by the Independence movement.
2) In January 1930, the younger element in Congress prevailed. Complete Independence was the demand and withholding tax the means to achieve it.

The problem was that many Congressmen owned land. That land would be auctioned if they didn't pay the tax. Thus Gandhi chose the Salt Tax as his target. Nobody would lose their property and about 8 percent of Government Revenue would be affected.

The outcome was farcical. The tax remained. Once Labour was out of office, the Brits held a Round Table Conference which highlighted India's internal divisions. Thus they would dictate the pace and scope of reforms.  The Indian National Congress lost is position as Britain's primary interlocutor. It was seen as a Hindu party advancing the agenda of orthodox businessmen. Indeed, the Salt March had been financed by Dalmia- a controversial millionaire later jailed for fraud. Congress would get to dominate Hindu majority states but they would do a corrupt deal with the Brits- e.g. Modi-Lees agreement which ended the textile boycott which had hurt Lancashire- so the 'banias' made money at the expense of the peasants and workers.

Symbols do matter if they correspond to actual Power. The Crown is a symbol. But the Crown can lock up a criminal or bomb an enemy into submission. Victories may be Pyrrhic or even wholly bogus. But winning does matter.
But what is involved in these concepts?
Stupid lies are involved in these concepts.
All protest actions, campaigns and demands have both instrumental and symbolic dimensions.
But the Salt March had neither. It was a piece of theater designed to show something which was no secret- i.e. the INC was the tool of crooked banias like Dalmia.
The salt satyagraha — or campaign of nonviolent resistance that began with Gandhi’s march — is a defining example of using escalating, militant and unarmed confrontation to rally public support and effect change.
It is a defining example of failure. People participated in the Salt satyagraha because they thought it was the first step to the removal of land taxation. When they realized they had been cheated they moved away from Gandhi's Congress and sought to build up a Socialist movement.
It is also a case in which the use of symbolic demands, at least initially, provoked ridicule and consternation.
Indeed. But the thing could have snowballed which is why some British officials were sweating bullets. That it did not do so was put down to Viceroy Irwin's persuasive skills. Nevertheless, the fact is, Gandhi failed to capitalize on the second Labour Government's brief period in office.  Indeed, Leftist denunciation of Gandhian humbuggery caused MacDonald to grant the 'Communal Award'- i.e. put the Caste Hindus at loggerheads with the rest of the populace. Soon enough, Labour, unable to deal with the economic crisis, lost office. Thus the future would be determined by the die-hard Tories. The new Viceroy, Willingdon, simply jailed Gandhi and banned the INC.  Muslim politicians were the biggest gainers from Gandhi's failure. This meant that Congress leaders learned to speak with a double voice. On the one hand, they were obedient disciples of Ahimsa. On the other, they would organize anti-Muslim violence and blatantly discriminate against them in every field of public life.
It is also a case in which the use of symbolic demands, at least initially, provoked ridicule and consternation.
When charged with selecting a target for civil disobedience, Gandhi’s choice was preposterous. At least that was a common response to his fixation on the salt law as the key point upon which to base the Indian National Congress’ challenge to British rule. Mocking the emphasis on salt, The Statesman noted, “It is difficult not to laugh, and we imagine that will be the mood of most thinking Indians.”
This was precisely the problem. Had Gandhi fought and lost on an issue of genuine importance, he would have been respected. But because the fought and lost on a bogus issue, people thought he was a crank in the pay of Hindu vested interests. Congress was not a National party. It was not even a Hindu party. It was the party of wealthy banias with bizarre religious beliefs and deeply repugnant prejudices. Recall, Gandhi's only victory was over, the Dalit, Ambedkar who made it crystal clear that he had been bullied into submission. If Gandhi had fasted to death on the Dalit issue, Dalits would have been massacred in villages across the length and breadth of India. Unlike Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar remains a political icon in India.
In 1930, the instrumentally focused organizers within the Indian National Congress were focused on constitutional questions — whether India would gain greater autonomy by winning “dominion status” and what steps toward such an arrangement the British might concede.
The INC declared 'purna swaraj'- complete Independence- in January though, of course, no such thing obtained.
The salt laws were a minor concern at best, hardly high on their list of demands. Biographer Geoffrey Ashe argues that, in this context, Gandhi’s choice of salt as a basis for a campaign was “the weirdest and most brilliant political challenge of modern times.”
To be fair, the thing could have snowballed. But the administration was ready. It jailed 60,000 people. Still a substantial cost had been imposed on the Government. Gandhi should either have stayed in jail or refused to accept anything less than a complete revision of the land and other taxes on being released. In his defence, the kindest thing we can say was that nature had not endowed him with a talent for negotiation. He believed that giving the other side more than they demand was a good idea. This may be true in private life. It is not true in the Law or in Politics. You are supposed to get the best deal you can for your people, not make friends with your opponent by selling them out.
It was brilliant because defiance of the salt law was loaded with symbolic significance. “Next to air and water,” Gandhi argued, “salt is perhaps the greatest necessity of life.”
Sadly, money is the greatest necessity of life. The people wanted to pay less in land revenue. Indeed, most wanted to get rid of landlords and usurers. Salt was supposed to be the first brick in the wall. But it was left in place.
It was a simple commodity that everyone was compelled to buy, and which the government taxed. Since the time of the Mughal Empire, the state’s control over salt was a hated reality.
Yet, India still has a Salt Tax. The reality is it didn't matter very much.
The fact that Indians were not permitted to freely collect salt from natural deposits or to pan for salt from the sea was a clear illustration of how a foreign power was unjustly profiting from the subcontinent’s people and its resources.
Indeed. But the right time to campaign on the issue was in 1923 when it was doubled.
Since the tax affected everyone, the grievance was universally felt.
It was a regressive tax. That's why it was left in place by the barristocrats paid by the banias.
The fact that it most heavily burdened the poor added to its outrage. The price of salt charged by the government, Ashe writes, “had a built-in levy — not large, but enough to cost a laborer with a family up to two weeks wages a year.” It was a textbook moral injury. And people responded swiftly to Gandhi’s charge against it.
Yet the whole thing collapsed. Why? Because it was supposed to be the first brick in the wall. The land tax was worse. If you couldn't pay it your land was auctioned off.
Indeed, those who had ridiculed the campaign soon had reason to stop laughing. In each village through which the satyagrahis marched, they attracted massive crowds — with as many of 30,000 people gathering to see the pilgrims pray and to hear Gandhi speak of the need for self-rule. As historian Judith Brown writes, Gandhi “grasped intuitively that civil resistance was in many ways an exercise in political theater, where the audience was as important as the actors.” In the procession’s wake, hundreds of Indians who served in local administrative posts for the imperial government resigned their positions.
Why? They believed Congress was going to deliver Complete Independence as they had promised in January of 1930. The time was ripe. It was now or never. Sadly, thanks to Gandhi, it was never. Independence did come, but it was a gift from Hitler & Tojo.
After the march reached the sea and disobedience began, the campaign achieved an impressive scale. Throughout the country, huge numbers of dissidents began panning for salt and mining natural deposits. Buying illegal packets of the mineral, even if they were of poor quality, became a badge of honor for millions. The Indian National Congress set up its own salt depot, and groups of organized activists led nonviolent raids on the government salt works, blocking roads and entrances with their bodies in an attempt to shut down production. News reports of the beatings and hospitalizations that resulted were broadcast throughout the world.
Soon, the defiance expanded to incorporate local grievances and to take on additional acts of noncooperation. Millions joined the boycott of British cloth and liquor, a growing number of village officials resigned their posts, and, in some provinces, farmers refused to pay land taxes. In increasingly varied forms, mass non-compliance took hold throughout a vast territory. And, in spite of energetic attempts at repression by British authorities, it continued month after month.
Finding issues that could “attract wide support and maintain the cohesion of the movement,” Brown notes, was “no simple task in a country where there were such regional, religious and socio-economic differences.” And yet salt fit the bill precisely. Motilal Nehru, father of the future prime minister, remarked admiringly, “The only wonder is that no one else ever thought of it.”
So, there is a snowballing protests across the country. Britain itself was reeling from the effects of Great Depression. The wonder is how the thing collapsed so completely. But there is an easy answer to this question. The Muslims distrusted Gandhi because he had betrayed them on Khilafat. The Socialists and some younger Dalits were equally suspicious of the bania bankrolled INC. Yet, if Gandhi had stuck to his guns, these suspicions would have been dispelled. But, as in 1922, he folded on an unbeatable hand.

If the choice of salt as a demand had been controversial, the manner in which Gandhi concluded the campaign would be equally so. Judged by instrumental standards, the resolution to the salt satyagraha fell short. By early 1931, the campaign had reverberated throughout the country, yet it was also losing momentum. Repression had taken a toll, much of Congress’ leadership had been arrested, and tax resisters whose property had been seized by the government were facing significant financial hardship.
Suppose Gandhi's Ashrams and his various schemes had been self-supporting. Then he wouldn't have had to fold. He could have waited it out.
Moderate politicians and members of the business community who supported the Indian National Congress appealed to Gandhi for a resolution. Even many militants with the organization concurred that talks were appropriate.
This is true. But by not sticking to its guns, the INC showed itself to be a creature of straw. This meant that the next Viceroy would ban it and jail its members if it tried to wag its tail.
Accordingly, Gandhi entered into negotiations with Lord Irwin in February 1931, and on March 5 the two announced a pact.
It is no coincidence that the Kanpur communal riots broke out at the end of March. The first casualty of Gandhian betrayals was Hindu-Muslim relations.
On paper, many historians have argued, it was an anti-climax. The key terms of the agreement hardly seemed favorable to the Indian National Congress: In exchange for suspending civil disobedience, protesters being held in jail would be released, their cases would be dropped, and, with some exceptions, the government would lift the repressive security ordinances it had imposed during the satyagraha. Authorities would return fines collected by the government for tax resistance, as well as seized property that had not yet been sold to third parties. And activists would be permitted to continue a peaceful boycott of British cloth.
 What was the result of this climb-down? The next Viceroy felt he needn't bother with Gandhi or the INC. He could just ban the party and jail the whole bunch of them. There is no point doing 'Non Violent conflict' if the other side knows in advance that you will capitulate. Why bother with negotiation?
However, the pact deferred discussion of questions about independence to future talks, with the British making no commitments to loosen their grip on power. (Gandhi would attend a Roundtable conference in London later in 1931 to continue negotiations, but this meeting made little headway.) The government refused to conduct an inquiry into police action during the protest campaign, which had been a firm demand of Indian National Congress activists. Finally, and perhaps most shockingly, the Salt Act itself would remain law, with the concession that the poor in coastal areas would be allowed to produce salt in limited quantities for their own use.
Knowing all this, how can the authors think the Dandi Salt March was a success? No doubt stupid lies about it are told but stupid lies are told about all sorts of things.
Some of the politicians closest to Gandhi felt extremely dismayed by the terms of the agreement, and a variety of historians have joined in their assessment that the campaign failed to reach its goals. In retrospect, it is certainly legitimate to argue about whether Gandhi gave away too much in negotiations. At the same time, to judge the settlement merely in instrumental terms is to miss its wider impact.
What was the 'wider impact'? The INC lost its claim to be a truly National party. The myth that it might do something to help the poor was shattered. INC members stopped believing India could attain 'Purna Swaraj'. Nehru, speaking in the mid Forties- thought it might come in the 1970's. He did not expect to see it in his lifetime. One consequence of this loss of hope was that Congressmen looked to politics as a way to line their own pockets. Thus, when provincial autonomy came, corruption and communalism set in. True, this already existed in some Municipalities. But after 1937 it was the rule, not the exception.

If not by short-term, incremental gains, how does a campaign that employs symbolic demands or tactics measure its success?
By telling stupid lies.
For momentum-driven mass mobilizations, there are two essential metrics by which to judge progress. Since the long-term goal of the movement is to shift public opinion on an issue,
but 'public opinion' had already embraced 'Purna Swaraj'. What nobody expected was that Gandhi and the INC would turn out to be utterly useless.
the first measure is whether a given campaign has won more popular support for a movement’s cause.
This did not happen. There was less support for Nationalism. The Brits took advantage of this to deliver provincial autonomy with British officials having the deciding say because of horizontal and vertical divisions across the breadth of the country.
The second measure is whether a campaign builds the capacity of the movement to escalate further.
The INC's capacity declined. It only recovered its position in Hindu India when the Japs were at the gate. But it lost this again as the Japanese were pushed back. In the end, Nehru begged the Viceroy to stay on as Governor General. The Brits got out on advantageous terms. Innocent minorities in many parts of the country were either killed or rendered penniless refugees.
If a drive allows activists to fight another day from a position of greater strength — with more members, superior resources, enhanced legitimacy and an expanded tactical arsenal — organizers can make a convincing case that they have succeeded, regardless of whether the campaign has made significant progress in closed-door bargaining sessions.
The opposite happened. Viceroy Irwin had been forced to negotiate with Gandhi. His successor did not need to bother.
Throughout his career as a negotiator, Gandhi stressed the importance of being willing to compromise on non-essentials.
But he ended up compromising on essentials.
As Joan Bondurant observes in her perceptive study of the principles of satyagraha, one of his political tenets was the “reduction of demands to a minimum consistent with the truth.”
Thus he opposed the Pass Law in South Africa. Then he decided it was a very good thing to have a Pass and got out of jail to spread this new gospel. Naturally, some Indians beat the shit out of him.
The pact with Irwin, Gandhi believed, gave him such a minimum, allowing the movement to end the campaign in dignified fashion and to prepare for future struggle.
There was no future struggle. Why? Because Viceroys understood that the INC were men of straw. Even with the Japs at the gate, they didn't bother talking to Gandhi. He was simply a nuisance. He went of hunger strike and they said they'd be delighted if he died. So he started eating again. The thing was pathetic.
For Gandhi, the viceroy’s agreement to allow for exceptions to the salt law, even if they were limited, represented a critical triumph of principle.
This may well be true. He was a deeply silly man.
Moreover, he had forced the British to negotiate as equals — a vital precedent that would be extended into subsequent talks over independence.
This is the crux of the matter. In 1920, Britain was militarily overstretched. It had to concede to Irish and Egyptian demands for independence. India should have got something similar then. But Gandhi showed the white feather. Again, in 1930, Britain was vulnerable because of the Great Depression. Again Gandhi showed the white feather. After that nobody bothered to talk with him till Britain had been economically ruined by the War and America was calling the shots. But it was Jinnah who emerged as the decisive negotiator. Gandhi had become such a nuisance, his own people failed to protect him from assassination. It was an American who caught Nathuram Godse.
In their own fashion, many of Gandhi’s adversaries agreed on the significance of these concessions, seeing the pact as a misstep of lasting consequence for imperial powers. As Ashe writes, the British officialdom in Delhi “ever afterwards… groaned over Irwin’s move as the fatal blunder from which the Raj never recovered.”
This is foolish. Willingdon succeeded Irwin and took a tough line with the INC. The Raj got a second lease of life. People like Nehru no longer believed they would see Purna Swaraj in their life-time. In 1929, Irwin had spoken of Dominion status for India. This certainly upset the diehard Imperialists. But Irwin was right. India could not be held for much longer unless Gandhi was genuinely a cretin or genuinely wanted the British to stay. The charitable view is that he was genuinely stupid.
In a now-infamous speech, Winston Churchill, a leading defender of the British Empire, proclaimed that it was “alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi… striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace… to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.” The move, he claimed, had allowed Gandhi — a man he saw as a “fanatic” and a “fakir” — to step out of prison and “[emerge] on the scene a triumphant victor.”
Churchill, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, destroyed the British Empire by taking a shilling off Income Tax rather than spending that money on the Navy.
While insiders had conflicted views about the campaign’s outcome, the broad public was far less equivocal. Subhas Chandra Bose, one of the radicals in the Indian National Congress who was skeptical of Gandhi’s pact, had to revise his view when he saw the reaction in the countryside. As Ashe recounts, when Bose traveled with Gandhi from Bombay to Delhi, he “saw ovations such as he had never witnessed before.” Bose recognized the vindication. “The Mahatma had judged correctly,” Ashe continues. “By all the rules of politics he had been checked. But in the people’s eyes, the plain fact that the Englishman had been brought to negotiate instead of giving orders outweighed any number of details.”
Bose was young. He would soon come to see that Gandhi's money power- arising from the financial support of banias and Marwari traders- would keep him out of office. By contrast, Police Commissioner Tegart, who crushed the Jugantar revolutionaries and had a vendetta against the Bose brothers, got a Directorship with Birla's British holding company!
In his influential 1950 biography of Gandhi, still widely read today, Louis Fischer provides a most dramatic appraisal of the Salt March’s legacy: “India was now free,” he writes. “Technically, legally, nothing had changed. India was still a British colony.” And yet, after the salt satyagraha, “it was inevitable that Britain should some day refuse to rule India and that India should some day refuse to be ruled.”
But Warren Hastings, in 1818, said the day was not distant when Britain would give up the Empire it had unintentionally gained in India. Thanks to holier than thou cretins like Raja Ram Mohan Roy the British remained for another century. Gandhi may have extended their rule by twenty or twenty five years. He did nothing to end it.
Subsequent historians have sought to provide more nuanced accounts of Gandhi’s contribution to Indian independence, distancing themselves from a first generation of hagiographic biographies that uncritically held up Gandhi as the “father of a nation.” Writing in 2009, Judith Brown cites a variety of social and economic pressures that contributed to Britain’s departure from India, particularly the geopolitical shifts that accompanied the Second World War. Nevertheless, she acknowledges that drives such as the Salt March were critical, playing central roles in building the Indian National Congress’ organization and popular legitimacy. Although mass displays of protest alone did not expel the imperialists, they profoundly altered the political landscape. Civil resistance, Brown writes, “was a crucial part of the environment in which the British had to make decisions about when and how to leave India.”
Indeed. The trouble was 'Civil Resistance' showed Indians to be as stupid as shit. This caused a backlash in India such that the propertied were forced to support the Brits in the hope that less stupid shitheads might one day rise to the fore.
As Martin Luther King Jr. would in Birmingham some three decades later, Gandhi accepted a settlement that had limited instrumental value but that allowed the movement to claim a symbolic win and to emerge in a position of strength.
Dr. King represented a small minority. Gandhi represented the vast majority. It is foolish to compare them.
Gandhi’s victory in 1931 was not a final one,
There was no victory. Gandhi's failure meant that the British alone would decide India's future. The INC had failed to establish itself as a National Movement.
nor was King’s in 1963. Social movements today continue to fight struggles against racism, discrimination, economic exploitation and imperial aggression. But, if they choose, they can do so aided by the powerful example of forebears who converted moral victory into lasting change.
Gandhi's defeat was total. Let us look at his core program for India
1) An indigenous Justice system of the sort created by the Sinn Fein. This failed immediately
2) An indigenous Educational system. This was a farcical failure.
3) The replacement of the British Administrative and Military system by community based grass-roots decision making. Nobody even bothered to try the experiment.
4) A different economic system which did without Technological Industrialization. This was a source of rent extraction and explains why India fell so far behind other poor countries like South Korea.
5) Hindu-Muslim unity. Independence saw the biggest ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Indian history. Gandhi admitted that it was Congress workers who organized this in Bihar. But he didn't ask for their prosecution or, at least, their suspension from the Party.
6) Championing 'Hindustani' as the lingua franca. Again an abject failure. People born in the Nineteen Twenties or Thirties were obliged to be fluent in at least one Indian language. After Independence, for the first time in history, you had Indians who went to School and College in India and entered the Diplomatic Service who had no knowledge of any Indian language. It was only about 40 years ago that a qualifying exam in Hindi was introduced for the Civil Service exam. I know many people in their Sixties with Brahman or Kayastha names who can't read a single Indian language. They shout at their servants in 'pawnee lao' Laat Sahib fashion. Rajiv Gandhi, famously, could not read Devanagari or any other Indian script. Thankfully, his son and daughter- like his wife- can read Hindi. It is said that Sonia once corrected Sanjay's Hindi. This is believable. But it is shameful. Yet it was the Mahatma's legacy. If only he had done a degree in India before going to London, he would have had a grounding in at least one Classical language. Thus, he wouldn't have misunderstood Indian scripture. He would have been less crazy because he'd have appreciated that a lot of Indians were smarter than himself. That was the humility he lacked.

Is there any harm in Westerners thinking Gandhi achieved something through non-violence and 'symbolic' struggles? After all, they are concerned with weak minorities not a huge majority which could slaughter every White person in the country with their bare hands.

The answer is, yes, great harm is done by telling stupid lies. You encourage magical thinking. You raise up 'wedge issues' of a purely symbolic type. This means you get more and more 'circular firing squads'. To be considered 'woke' you have to spend every waking moment condemning all and sundry for some trifling lapse in political correctness. People come to loathe the sight of you. They think you are a bully and a cretin. They quietly vote for Trump because he will sneer at you in his tweets.

Obama could have indulged in Cornel West type demagoguery. Why didn't he? It is because he had won cases as a lawyer. He know that careful, alethic, 'pattern or practice' investigation was the way to go. Talking worthless nonsense helps nobody. You are not 'waging non-violence' but engaging in soul-crushing labor for the wages of stupidity.