Monday, 9 July 2012

Perry Anderson on Gandhi

Perry Anderson has written an essay on Gandhi in the London Review of Books  in which he has recycled the usual myths about the Mahatma. But, before listing them, let me first highlight his notion that India was invented by the British-
'For the nationalist movement against the rule of the British, it was an article of faith that, in Gandhi’s words, ‘India was one undivided land … made by nature’, in which ‘we were one nation before they came to India’ – ancestrally, indeed, ‘fired … with an idea of nationality in a manner unknown in other parts of the world. We Indians are one as no two Englishmen are.’ Nehru’s claim of an ‘impress of oneness’, going back six thousand years, persisted from the prewar writings collected in The Unity of India to his final dispute with China, in which the Mahabharata could be invoked as proof that the North-East Frontier Agency had been part of Mother India from time immemorial, rather as if the Nibelungenlied were to clinch German diplomatic claims to Morocco. This is a bad analogy. No Morrocan considers the Nibelungenlied part of his culture. No German, would be prepared to sacrifice blood and treasure to defend Morocco. On the other hand, Buddhists, Hindus and Jains do consider the Mahabharata- which includes the Ramayana- as part of their culture and 'sacred geography.' Some Buddhists live in N.E.F.A. No Chinese did. The Chinese claim to N.E.F.A arose because Tibet had some sort of relationship with the Mongols and the Manchus, both of whom had conquered China at some point in time.   What is unreasonable about what Nehru said? If Kennedy says 'ich bin ein Berliner'- is that ridiculous? As a matter of fact N.E.F.A remains part of India. Had it become subjected to China, its people would have been massacred during the Cultural Revolution. Incidentally, this worthless pile of shite, Prof Anderson, teaches History in America.
Such notions have not gone away. The facts gainsay them. What facts are these, Prof. Anderson? Your ridiculous comparison between the Morrocans, who are Muslims and the Germans who are not? How fucking stupid are you actually? The subcontinent as we know it today never formed a single political or cultural unit in premodern times. So what? Neither did the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Austria etc. For much the longest stretches of its history, its lands were divided between a varying assortment of middle-sized kingdoms of different stripes. So what? Germany was divided into lots of small states. So was Italy. Of the three larger empires it witnessed, none covered the territory of Nehru’s Discovery of India. Maurya and Mughal control extended to contemporary Afghanistan, ceased much below the Deccan, and never came near Manipur. The area of Gupta control was considerably less. Separated by intervals of five hundred and a thousand years, there was no remembered political or ideological connection between these realms, or even common religious affiliation: at its height the first of them Buddhist, the second Hindu, the third Muslim. Beneath a changing mosaic of mostly regional rulers, there was more continuity of cultural and social patterns, caste – the best claimant to a cultural demarcation – being attested very early, but no uniformity.  So what is your fucking point, Prof. Anderson? There is no uniformity in any extant country. A Liverpool Council Estate has different mores from a Berkshire village. The ‘idea of India’ was a European not a local invention, as the name itself makes clear. It does no such thing.No such term, or equivalent, as ‘India’ existed in any indigenous language. False. Plenty do. Take India's other official name- Bharat. It exists in every indigenous language. The Malay term for the West is 'bharat' because that was the direction for mariners going to India. A Greek coinage, taken from the Indus river,and also the pre-existing name for those coming from the West into the country it was so foreign to the subcontinent that as late as the 16th century, Europeans could define Indians simply as ‘the natives of all unknown countries’ and use it to describe the inhabitants of the Americas.' So, you're saying Europeans were stupid and didn't know from Geography. What has their ignorance to do with the people of India who referred to their own country as Hindustan or Bharat or Aryavrata (when U.P tried to take that last name the other provinces objected since they had an equal title to it- they felt the term named the whole country.)+

The problem with Prof. Anderson's analysis is that it fails to take into account that the authors he mentions- Gandhi, Nehru and more recently Sen and Guha and so on- were born into castes or sects which made a clear distinction between places where it was allowable to settle and those where settlement or sojourn involved loss of caste. In Islam, too, a similar distinction was made such that a Muslim of foreign extraction, the famous Reza Khan of the time of Warren Hastings- had a scruple against accepting land rather than money on the grounds that the Bengal of his time was imperfectly Islamicized and thus 'dar-ul-harb'. Indian Muslims- no matter how purely 'Ashraf' their pedigree held no such scruples. Talk about the size of Empires is not germane. The Mauryas were merely one among many dynasties. So too were the Tirmurids. 
At one time there was a scruple amongst Brahmins against settling in Magadha but that scruple had fallen into abeyance by the time of the Buddha. 
In other words, Indian writers who say things like 'India is one and indivisble' aren't merely making stuff up. What they say is true about their families. If some great-great Uncle went and settled in Madras or Calcutta, his descendants would still belong to the same endogamous caste. However, a journey 'across the Black Water' was a different matter. One of the causes of the Mutiny was the unwillingness of the Sepoys to lose Caste by travelling outside India. 
Prof. Anderson tells us that Indians didn't have a concept or name for the country that now exists. What, then, is meant by the term 'jambudvipa'? If there is no 'jambudvipa', how can there be a concept of 'kala pani'- the black water, crossing which Caste is lost?
Did the Greeks really invent the word 'India'? Did the Persians and the Arabs learn this word from the distant Greeks or is it not rather the case that the Greeks learnt the word from the Persians? In any case, what was the view of people like Warren Hastings and Colebrooke and H.H. Wilson and so on? Did they find that there was really nothing uniting the people of India together? If so, how are we to explain the manner in which they developed and administered Hindu and Muslim law? We find that the British made no difficulty in treating Ceylon as a separate entity. Nor did they cavil at Burma being separated from India. Why did they not treat the different Presidencies as separate entities? Or is it really the case that there was some magic in the English language such that at a certain point in time, little Indian boys, at their school books all across the country, suddenly all put up their hands and said 'Teacher, teacher- I get it now! I'm Indian! Hooray! Previously, I thought I was an elephant.'
Prof. Anderson writes- 'When the British arrived, it was the sprawling heterogeneity of the area that allowed them, after a slow start, to gain such relatively swift and easy control of it, using one local power or population against the next, in a series of alliances and annexations that ended, more than a century after the Battle of Plassey, with the construction of an empire extending further east and south, if not north-west, than any predecessor. '
This isn't true. India had been outsourcing military and administrative functions for a long time in the same way that other feudal Civilizations did. The British were just better at the game- for one thing, they had superior esprit d' corps- than anyone else. It was the essential homogeneity of India- at least, large interconnected tracts of it- which facilitated a sort of 'canopy' government- something overarching but mobile and with no deep roots. It is the sort of government India still has.
What was new about the Raj was things like Railways and telegraphs and an explosion in the vernacular press.  The story about Macaulay's 'Brown Britishers' is nonsense. Such a class never existed- except as an object of satire.  
When Indian authors speak of India's unity as being miraculous, what they mean is that Railways and Telegraphs and Vernacular literature should have set the people of different Provinces against each other.  When the Tamil Brahmin discovers that the Bengali Brahmin pronounces Sanskrit differently, we would expect him to denounce the Bengalis- more especially as they were doing better Educationally and spreading around India taking jobs from locals. Instead, the reverse happened. The fact that Bengalis or Kashmiris or Sindhis do things differently became an argument for Liberalism, for Catholicity, in thought and deed. If fueled Patriotism because Patriotism was no longer squalidly parochial. 
Prof. Anderson misses these points about India- but he can scarcely be blamed. The Indian authors he cites- Sen, Guha and other idiots of that stripe- are all quite worthless.
Moving on to Anderson's comments on Gandhi- these are the things he gets wrong.
1) That Gandhi had no experience of Indian political life but was respected for his work in South Africa-
'This was the stage onto which Gandhi stepped on his arrival in Bombay in 1915, after 21 years in South Africa. Though preceded by his reputation as a fearless spokesman for the Indian community there, he had no experience of political life in the subcontinent, and initially confined himself to study tours and setting up an ashram in Ahmedabad. But by the end of the war, his active support of local struggles by indigo labourers in Bihar, farmers and textile workers in Gujarat, bringing tactics he had developed in South Africa to each, had given him a countrywide reputation. Within another two years, he had transformed Indian politics, leading the first mass movement to rock British power since the Mutiny, and remaking Congress as a popular political force. After the upheaval of 1919-21, he twice again launched campaigns, in 1930-31 and 1942-43, in size each bigger than the last, challenging the authority of the Raj in successive landmarks of a struggle for national liberation.'
This is a tad misleading The Indians, like the rest of the world during the Boer War, had developed an obsession with South Africa. Gandhi's unwise remarks on a trip back to India encouraged a crackdown on the Indians there. He received a lot of money from Tata but pursued a crazy policy with respect to the Pass Law- the idiot decided that to carry a Pass is a good thing and Indians should do it voluntarily. Some Muslim South Africans, suspecting Gandhi was trying to destroy them to advance his own community, contacted Jinnah pleading with him to come and resolve the issue. Gokhale and Bhowagree pulled his chestnuts out of the fire because he'd come out against the Revolutionists- Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Rao and so on- but it was the strike by the indentured workers which forced Smuts to hand Gandhi some sort of face saving device to quit the country.  Gandhi, thus, was already part of Indian politics, not as a principal but as a useful tool. What he had going for him was his exemplary track-record of service to the British in three wars and Smuts own endorsement that he'd made things a lot easier for him. In other words, here was a supposed 'Moderate' who quite genuinely was the sort of Moderate the British wanted.   He could checkmate Annie Beasant- still remembered in England as the firebrand leader of the Byrant & May match-girls' strike. Unlike Beasant- a one time atheist, like her friend Charles Bradlaugh- Gandhi was pals with Baptist preachers and Anglican clergymen. Moreover, he had broken with the Pacifists/Vegetarians nutjobs back in Blighty over his support for the War. 

The key to Anderson's stupidity is that he doesn't understand that decentralized Political movements are about preference falsification, availability cascades and a sort of senile Credentialism aimed at turning rents into pensions. Instead-
2) Anderson believes Gandhi orchestrated things like the Khilafat campaign rather than being caught up in them.
The British had every reason to trust, not just Gandhi, but anyone who collaborated with him. This was important. They'd stamped out the Revolutionists with a boot of iron. They were channeling Muslim discontent into the laughable Khilafat Campaign, and that was the springboard which enabled Gandhi to rise to National Status. Khilafat paid his bills when he did Congress work. Neither Champaran nor Kheda were National movements. They literally went nowhere. Gandhi only became Gandhi through Khilafat. He did not 'choose to broaden his appeal by including Muslims'. He was recruited by Muslims, paid by Muslims and never lost his profound respect for the principal, theological, advocate of Khilafat- the worthless shithead Maulana Azad. He made his wife cook lamb chops for Azad- Nehru got none.
Gandhi's endorsement of Khilafat- a product of his stupidity, ignorance and unrelenting opportunism- gave him a sort of token leadership of the Non Co-operation Movement which, I suppose, had it been well managed or at least not set up to fail, might have got the Indians what Allenby offered the Egyptians- in other words a corrupt sort of deal, or more comprehensive Modi-Lee pact. Gandhi's genius was to frustrate this, thus putting off a generational conflict for a couple of decades.
3) Anderson believes Gandhi had great political skills.
 'In orchestrating these great movements, Gandhi displayed a rare constellation of abilities in a political leader. Nonsense. Gandhi was invited not just by people in Champaran or Kheda or in the Khilafat movement but hosts of others whom he fucked up to the best of his ability with his worthless advise. Back then, every prominent barrister got telegrams from every such cause. Gandhi did not orchestrate anything. If the music was playing, sure he'd occasionally jump up and do a bit of bhangra claiming to be the Lord of the Dance or Jeanie with the light brown hair or whatever. But then he'd go back to his Ashram or Jail cell and give people enemas and spin cotton and eat plenty of nuts.

No doubt capable people on the ground did get some local grievances redressed from time to time, but everybody simply chased Gandhi away if he came back to them with some stupid idea- e.g. his bid to recruit soldiers for the War in his native Gujerat. Charismatic mobilisation of popular feeling was certainly foremost among these. There was no such charismatic mobilization. If people believed Gandhi was advancing their interests, they smiled sweetly. If not, they chased him away. In the countryside, adoring crowds treated him as semi-divine. They'll treat anybody who claims to be a religious nutjob as semi-divine. That wont stop them beating and chasing away that same religious nutjob if they think such a move better serves their interests. But, however distinctive and spectacular in his case, this is largely a given in any nationalist movement. What set Gandhi apart was its combination with three other skills. He was a first-class organiser and fundraiser – diligent, efficient, meticulous – who rebuilt Congress from top to bottom, endowing it with a permanent executive at national level, vernacular units at provincial level, local bases at district level, and delegates proportionate to population, not to speak of an ample treasury.  Khilafat was richer and better organized than the I.N.C. Gandhi didn't organize or raise funds for Khilafat. It follows that India contained people who were good at organizing and fund-raising. Yes, Gandhi was an interfering old busybody, but it simply isn't true that he was a sort of superior Accountant or filing clerk. That stuff was delegated. He never recruited anybody, in the manner of a head-hunter, but did attract one or two not totally shite people. But, the majority of his Ashramites were loony toons whom, the Chartered Accountant, Kumarappa for one, refused to pay because they were quite useless for any productive work.
Gandhi did not make the Congress richer or more cohesive or capable of thought. By insisting people pay their membership dues in hand-spun yarn, he turned it into a corrupt, caste ridden, Tammany Hall type of machine. Compare the I.N.C with the Servants of India which functioned like a think-tank. The I.N.C produced no original research or policy documents worth the name. It was a sort of mela for windbags. 
4) Anderson believes Gandhi was an excellent mediator and communicator.
 At the same time, though temperamentally in many ways an autocrat, politically he did not care about power in itself, and was an excellent mediator between different figures and groups both within Congress and among its variegated social supports. Surely, Prof. Anderson must be completely mad to write this. If Gandhi was an excellent mediator why did Partition take place?  Gandhi's genius was for finding 'wedge issues' . He didn't mediate anything but stalemated progress in a manner which suited the British rulers. It also suited old men who did not want to be displaced by better educated, smarter, younger people. Since, ultimately, it was the British who would decide whom they'd share power with or transfer power to- it was Gandhi's ability to prevent opposition to the British from becoming effective which made him an 'obligatory passage point'.
Oh, one other thing- like every other charlatan godman, he'd got a couple of millionaires to pay his bills.
Finally, though no great orator, he was an exceptionally quick and fluent communicator, as the hundred volumes of his articles, books, letters, cables (far exceeding the output of Marx or Lenin, let alone Mao) testify. Yes, but they are all poisonous crap. Have you read 'Hind Swaraj' where he says Women shouldn't go out to work- because that is a sort of prostitution- much less vote, because Parliament is nothing but a brothel or a prostitute because, every few years, it gives itself to a new Master? To these political gifts were added personal qualities of a ready warmth, impish wit and iron will. It is no surprise that so magnetic a force would attract such passionate admiration, at the time and since. Godmen like the Maharishi (World peace through levitation) or Rajneesh (Sex, drugs and Rolls Royces) attract passionate admiration. That's why they become very rich. There is a sort of Darwinian competition amongst Godmen and those lucky enough to stumble upon a formula which works to 'attract passionate admiration' and get their crackpot schemes paid for by their disciples. In some cases, rich people who donate money are getting a good return on their money in the shape of Social Prestige- things like getting to hobnob with celebrities. Gandhi was only one of a number of fuckwit failed politicians setting up as a Mahatma. They didn't divide the market equally between them but had market share determined by a Power Law. Gandhi just happened to come out on top, that's all.
5) Anderson believes Gandhi served some cause
But Gandhi’s achievements also came at a huge cost to the cause which he served.  What cause was that? At one point he said 'I'll get you 'Swaraj' in a year' but then he changed his mind. He abandoned that cause and that's why the Brits didn't deport him but just kept him in prison for a bit to give him face.
There was no cause he was not prepared to abandon- even hand-spun cloth. 'If the weavers won't wear their own cloth- I'll just wash my hands off them and go fuck up subsistence agriculture for a change.' 
As for Non-violence- he was never for it in the first place.
Anderson goes on to discuss the sources of Gandhi's stupid religious ideas. But, his comments miss the mark because Gandhi did not actually believe anything at all. What interested him was fads and shortcuts. How can I save money on medicine? I know! I'll just rub some mud on myself! How can I save on school fees? I know, I'll just keep my sons at home and they can learn from me! How can I get that boring old Annie Beasant, or that sharp dressing Jinnah, or that crooked Jew, Lord Reading, to just shut up and go away? I know, I'll talk some shit about how only I understand India and Muslims and true Democracy and proper Economics and like who needs Armies and guns? A real Man doesn't need a gun. All you people are terrible cowards. You should become truly Manly like me.'
Anderson quotes Kathryn Tidrick’s Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life approvingly - 'the composition of Gandhi’s faith, Tidrick has shown, was born of a cross between a Jain-inflected Hindu orthodoxy- no it wasn't, the guy was totally ignorant-  and late Victorian psychomancy, the world of Madame Blavatsky, theosophy, the planchette and the Esoteric Christian Union- not so, he didn't believe that he was part of a Spiritual Brotherhood or an 'initiate'. The two were not unconnected, as garbled ideas from the former – karma, reincarnation, ascetic self-perfection, fusion of the soul with the divine – found occult form in the latter. Little acquainted with the Hindu canon itself in his early years, Gandhi reshaped it through the medium of Western spiritualisms of the period. Not true. There were a lot of other, smarter, better educated, people in India playing that game and Gandhi would have looked a complete idiot if he'd tried to compete with them. His one aim in life, he decided, was to attain moksha: that state of perfection- moksha means 'liberation' not perfection or 'kevalya'-  in which the cycle of rebirth comes to an end and the soul accedes to ultimate union with God. ‘I am striving for the Kingdom of Heaven, which is moksha,’ he wrote, ‘in this very existence.’ The path towards it was ‘crucifixion of the flesh’, without which it was impossible to ‘see God face to face’ and become one with him. But if such perfection could be attained, the divine would walk on earth, for ‘there is no point in trying to know the difference between a perfect man and God.’ Then there would be no limit to his command of his countrymen: ‘When I am a perfect being, I have simply to say the word and the nation will listen.’
This is mere gibberish. It may be attractive to a Western professor to think of Gandhi as a sort of auto-didact piecing together a Credo out in the boondocks but the facts are against Anderson. Gandhi could read Gujerati. Hindu and Jain works covering topics like Epistemology and Ontology were available to him. Krishna Rao Verma had shown up the fraudulence of the Theosophical Society when Gandhi was a young student. Gandhi was just a bog standard shithead talking senile nonsense like everybody else. 
'Crucifixion of the flesh, in this conception, meant far more than the vegetarian prohibitions prescribed by his caste background. Not in food, but sex lay the overriding danger to liberation of the soul. The violence of Gandhi’s revulsion against carnal intercourse of any kind mingled Christian fears of sin with Hindu phobias of pollution. Celibacy was not just a duty for the dedicated few. It was enjoined on all who would truly serve their country. ‘A man who is unchaste loses stamina, becomes emasculated and cowardly. He whose mind is given over to animal passions is not capable of any great effort.’ If a married couple gratified these, it was still ‘an animal indulgence’ that, ‘except for perpetuating the race, is strictly prohibited’. 
Anderson doesn't seem to be aware that the notion of celibacy for National Service had been espoused by the Revolutionists- like Aurobindo- before Gandhi took it up.  Like all his other ideas, it was just another preference falsification based availability cascade, or Idée reçue, popular amongst eternally adolescent cranks and shitheads back then.
Indeed, every piece of nonsense he spouted had already been suggested by some other idiot. What appealed to him was idiocy- supposedly short cuts but short cuts to stalemates and backwardness and tears before bedtime requiring peremptory intervention by the British Nanny.
Anderson writes'..for Gandhi self-rule was far from simply political. It was mastery of the passions and of the senses in the ascent of the soul to its appointment with divinity. Swaraj was a religious imperative, its political form no more than a means to a higher end. It entailed not a struggle to evict the British from India, but a struggle of Indians with themselves that, if won, would bring the British to reason.'
This is nonsense. If Indians stop reproducing they will disappear. The British will have to bring in people from other parts of the world to populate the country.
 The method of that struggle was passive resistance – non-violence. No. Non-violence was a method of struggling against those who wanted change without suffering ostracism in the process. This was a big boon for men of Gandhi's generation and social position. They had an excuse to continue to tyrannize over their sons and daughters-in-law and grand children without being accused of being running dogs of the British. More to the point, you also saved money by not having to send the little shits to School and College and Hospital and so on.
 Gandhi had come upon this conception in Tolstoy, where it was already suffused with religious yearning. But his own version, satyagraha (a neologism he liked to translate as ‘truth-force’), was an original development of it. Tolstoy, unconventionally vegetarian and pacifist though he became in advanced old age, remained a Christian. Gandhi, in drawing on his ideas, gave them a distinctively Hindu cast, fusing them with millennial traditions of a more radical asceticism and extra-terrestrialism. What is this shit? Coz the guy wears a dhoti, that's a distinctively Hindu cast? The Hindu Revolutionists had been put down with violence. They'd had enough and cried 'uncle'. No doubt, during Khilafat, there was some reason to say 'well, Gandhi is a Hindu- he represents the majority community'. But Khilafat was silly. It was so silly, it fell apart by itself despite British support. Later on Gandhi tried to say 'well, I'm a high caste Hindu and see, just look, I'm being nice to the Untouchables.' But it was too little too late. The Chitpavan Brahmins had gone a step further. Gandhi himself thought Ambedkar was a Brahmin and lectured him on how only he himself was a true 'Bhangi' and thus able to understand their plight. Foreigners may believe Gandhi was a Hindu Tolstoy on the basis of an impartial ignorance of both Tolstoy and Hinduism. But this belief has no instrumental value. It's like me calling David Cameron a French Cambodian rent-boy as opposed to the obligatory taunt of his being an Old Etonian. It does not add anything to our knowledge or open up any very interesting avenue of speculation.
 ‘Passive resistance’ he felt too weak a term for the movement he set out to inspire: truth was not passive, it was a force.  Nonsense. Gandhi knew satyagraha would fail but that so long as he got arrested from time to time this would not hurt him particularly or impede the grand career of his self regard. He had shown how effective it could be in South Africa- no, he failed in South Africa-, where Indians were a small immigrant minority. What could it not achieve on native soil, where they were the totality of the population? Ramarajya, he told the crowds at his meetings, was within reach if they followed his teachings – the Golden Age of the god-hero Rama, born in Ayodhya, victor over the demon Ravana, for two thousand years the stuff of Hindu legend.
Once again, Anderson- as a foreigner- is getting things wrong. The Ram of Gandhi's day wasn't a 'god-hero' who killed a demon, but the Deity of Tulsi and Kabir. Muslim monarchs, including the Nizam, were worshiped as avatars of Ram by, for example, the Deendars.  The nature of Ramrajya wasn't a sort of super-rich Camelot- that was actually Ravana's Lanka- but a bucolic place where everybody lives together happily.
The original politics of the Congress elite had been studiously secular. Nonsense. Tilak's Ganapati Puja or the various Godmen of the Revolutionists weren't secular in the least. Gandhi’s takeover of the party not only gave it a popular basis it had never possessed before but injected a massive dose of religion – mythology, symbology, theology – into the national movement.  This puts the cart before the horse. The driver was unrest amongst the young, the returning ex-servicemen, Muslims, Akalis and so on. The Indian Industrialists and Financiers had serious grievances re. Fiscal and Monetary policy.  Neither Gandhi nor the old idiots in the INC orchestrated anything. Khilafat wasn't their baby. Most of them opposed it. But it cleared the path to Non Co-operation and it was useful to have Gandhi take the blame for calling that off. But, what was the alternative? The Brits could cut the INC out by transferring power to the feudal nobility. 
Anderson acquitting Gandhi on the charge of hypocrisy (perhaps as a White man he is afraid to suggest the logical alternative of sheer stupidity) does in the end give the lie to all the arguments he has assembled by stressing Gandhi's determination to prevent Independence.
 ‘My ambition is much higher than independence.’ To head off pressure for it from a younger generation in Congress, he invoked a loftier national eminence to come: a ‘world commonwealth’, in which India would no longer be an equal but ‘the predominant partner, by reason of her numbers, geographical position and culture inherited for ages’.
'Gandhi’s resistance to calls for independence stemmed from the same fear that governed the abrupt quietus he delivered to Non-Cooperation. He did not want to evict the British in India if to do so was to risk a social upheaval. Revolution was a greater danger than the Raj.'
This makes sense. But Anderson won't stop there. He thinks a guy with a proven track record of service to the British, a guy who had managed to keep himself abysmally ignorant of Hinduism, a guy with no fixed principles or beliefs, nevertheless was a guy who only wanted the British to stay because he was a Hindus and like Hindus probably have  some god with lots of hands and one of those hands slaps you if you throw out the Brits or Turks or whatever and anyway I read it in a book or maybe it was a movie like the Temple of Doom or something.
Thus Anderson writes-
 'Behind his refusal of any prospect of it lay both religious belief and social calculation. On the one hand, Hinduism bound all who adhered to it into a single interwoven community, in which each was allotted their appointed station. To break its unity by setting one part against another was contrary to divine order. But he did that. Non Cooperation was about some Hindus giving up their jobs- because they worked for the Govt.- while others kept theirs. On the other, the movement he called into being in 1919 was extensive, but not comprehensive. The Congress he commanded was a coalition with determinate frontiers. It comprised industrialists, traders, professionals and better-off peasants; it did not include urban workers or the rural poor who formed the vast majority of the population. To pit these against their employers or landlords was to divide what God had joined; to mobilise them against their rulers, to risk setting fire to the country. Class conflict was out. ‘We must gain control over all the unruly and disturbing elements,’ he explained as labour unrest boiled up during Non-Cooperation. ‘In India we want no political strikes.’ In the countryside, as a newspaper account of one of his speeches put it, he ‘deprecated all attempts to create discord between landlords and tenants and advised the tenants to suffer rather than fight’, in the cause of preserving national unity. Property was a trust that had to be respected and – should that be necessary – protected. Under the Raj, such protection was afforded by the law and its guardians, the police. In Chauri Chaura, a mob propelled by economic grievances had respected neither, in an awful warning of what popular passions might unleash in India. At all costs, their momentum had to be stopped. What fucking momentum? A bunch of guys protesting high meat prices roast some policemen to death- but fail to eat them. Those idiots had been stupid enough to pay a small fee and put their names down on the Congress Register. The Brits, in their own good time, would turn up and hang a lot of people and confiscate their property. The constables and petty officials were already licking their lips calculating how much money they'd be able to extract in bribes from families caught up in this idiocy.
Bardoli, where Gandhi had planned to lead a refusal of the land revenue, was an area within his native Gujarat where Congress was well implanted and which he knew at first hand. It was also, however, within the zone of ryotwari cultivation, where peasants paid taxes directly to the state, rather than in the huge zamindari sector where taxes were collected in the form of rent by landlords, passing on a due proportion to the state, and refusal of the revenue would mean a social revolt against them. But even in its most cautious form, a tax strike threatened the existence of the Raj- no, Land Revenue was too small a part of British finance. So long as the controlled the ports, their rule was safe- , by pulling its economic infrastructure out from under it, and therewith its ability to enforce its will coercively. If it were observed countrywide, imperial law and order would face not a nebulous swaraj within a year but a complete breakdown. This was the spectre – as he saw it, Chauri Chaura writ large – at which Gandhi drew back. The Raj must get its revenue if it was, as he wished, to remain on Indian soil.
Anderson's mistake here- a mistake of logic- is to ignore the very large number of genuine Hindus (guys who knew Sanskrit and stuff) who didn't just want the Brits out but also the landlords out, the usurers out and so forth. Thus Gandhi wasn't being 'Hindu' in wanting the Brits to stay or the Rajas to stay or the landlords to stay- he was just acting out of self interest- he liked being an 'obligatory passage point' and did whatever it took to keep himself a center of attention. Talking pseudo-religious shite was just something he liked doing. What was he supposed to talk about? The Law? Fuck he knew about the Law?
'While this drama was unfolding in India, a battle in parallel was being fought in Ireland. By the summer of 1920 Non-Cooperation and the War of Independence were in progress together. Gandhi called off the first in February 1922, as British forces were sent packing by the second: the treaty conceding the Irish a Free State had been signed just two months before, and by August the 26 counties were shot of them. Since the mid-19th century, Britain had always stationed a much higher number of troops relative to population in Ireland than in India, with a lower proportion of local recruits: typically, a military establishment of about 25,000, and a constabulary of 10,000, for an island of 4.5 million inhabitants, less than a hundred miles from England – a ratio of 1:130. In India, 4000 miles away, where the machinery of repression mustered some 400,000 for a population of 300 million, the ratio was 1:750. Yet within less than three years, an Irish guerrilla of not more than 3000 combatants at any one time had destroyed the colonial police and effectively driven the colonial army – upped to 40,000 for counter-insurgency – from the field in the larger part of the country. Had there been any synchronised campaign in India, with its hugely more favourable balance of potential forces, not to speak of logistics, the issue could hardly have been in doubt.'
The Indians knew about Ireland- and what the Black & Tans were up to. O'Dwyer and Dyer had shown a willingness to be beforehand with Black & Tan methods. The Brits, at an extremity, could raise up warlike tribes- like the Meos- and hand over rebellious Cities for plunder. Instead, there was the fiasco of Bardoli, and the postponement of independence for a quarter of a century. The postponement has to do with Gandhi's odd attitude to Reading- he refused to deal because he said there was a threat of violence behind what was offered- this itself only explainable as the determination of the old men not to be seen to doing a deal with the Brits so as to escape the ire of the younger men. That was the real lesson of Ireland. The price of national liberation was not small in Ireland: division of the country and civil war. But it was tiny compared with the bill that would eventually be paid in India.
From here on wards, Anderson begins talking sense. Being a White man, he didn't dare say Gandhi was a stupid self-promoting windbag but what he does say- that Gandhi was in some sense a Hindu, rather than a shithead quite common on the streets of West Kensington down to our own day- is, in my view, much worse.
Incidentally, Jinnah had gone to London on a stupid Khilafat mission. Gandhi stayed loyal to Maulana Azad- an egotist & fantasist of Gandhian proportions who, quite madly, thought he was about to become the Imam-al Hind, the Chief Imam of India, presiding over a vast network of Sharia courts, that too at the tender age of 30-  and it is Azad who should get the blame for much subsequent Congress stupidity, in particular that of Nehru who was his cell-mate during the war.
Anderson quotes Ambedkar - ‘No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity’ – words few Indian intellectuals would dare utter today. 
This is mad. I'm Hindu- maybe not an intellectual- but these are words I would be amply rewarded for saying by the Governments of several states in India. What penalty exactly would I have faced in Mayawati's U.P or Communist West Bengal or, indeed, in my native Tamil Nadu? 
Anderson shows the futility and stupidity of Gandhi's politics but draws the wrong lesson from it.
Satyagraha had not been a success: each time Gandhi had tried it, the British had seen it off.
Gandhi would have abandoned satyagraha if it had succeeded just as he decided to abandon 'khaddar' (hand-spun) when it seemed to becoming commercially viable.
 His great achievement lay elsewhere, in the creation of a nationalist party, whose road to power forked away in another direction. 
The INC existed before Gandhi came on the scene. Genuine Revolutionists would sometimes come under its umbrella but soon quit in disgust. Yet, as Anderson explains, it rallied and put down deep roots when it got a taste for the fruits of office. It acted like a Tammany Hall and survived on that basis, but it was not a Political Party in the real sense of the word. Gandhi had seen to that by making it subservient to him- making its members pay their membership dues in handspun cotton yarn. Obviously, people who wanted control of their local branch flooded the membership with their own creatures. 
Gandhi was an idiot and his politics a swindle. Had Anderson introduced his 11, ooo word essay with this pithy statement, everything that followed would have made perfect sense.
Instead,for some unknown reason, he has chosen to pretend that
1) Gandhi was like deeply Hindu rather than a run of the mill West Ken shithead. 
2) Gandhi had great political skills.
Occam's razor, Prof. Anderson.  Try it sometime.

No comments: