Essentially, Anderson thinks the fact that the Indian State operated like a State is a very bad thing. Why? Perhaps, he believes India should have embraced Communism. But which brand and under whom? Every single Indian politician or ideologue would have been prepared to describe himself as Communist if that helped his career. Indeed most Indian Communism is simply careerism of this sort.
The problem with the Communists was that the 3 planks of their program were catastrophes waiting to happen.
1) Collectivization of land would have resulted in a massive famine, a million Mutinies, and the complete collapse of the State. The brief career of the Khalq faction in Afghanistan proves this. A corrupt sort of Land reform was the only viable option.
2) Nationalize everything. We all know how that turned out.
3) Self determination for Minorities- i.e. Bantustans as Gulags
Anderson writes ' The role of caste in the political system would change, from the years after independence to the present. What would not change was its structural significance as the ultimate secret of Indian democracy. Gandhi declared that caste alone had preserved Hinduism from disintegration. His judgment can be given a more contemporary application. Caste is what preserved Hindu democracy from disintegration. Fixing in hierarchical position and dividing from one another every disadvantaged group, legitimating every misery in this life as a penalty for moral transgression in a previous incarnation, as it became the habitual framework of the nation it struck away any possibility of broad collective action to redress earthly injustice that might otherwise have threatened the stability of the parliamentary order over which Congress serenely presided for two decades after independence. '
Is there any possible Universe in which Anderson's claim is not either vacuous or obviously false? Let us suppose a bunch of people from different parts of India come to a certain place. They belong to different castes. This strikes away any possibility of broad collective action, on their part, to redress earthly injustice. I bet there are Indian students at the University where Perry Anderson teaches. I bet those Indian students belong to different castes. Do those students join together to form an India Soc? If the University decides to impose higher fees on Indians or if Indian students are being racially abused, will that India Soc. sit idly by? Will the Indians say to each other- alas! we belong to different castes. Prof. Anderson has said that we can't come together to take collective action. Instead, we must weep over our bad karma and resign ourselves to injustice.'
Indian Students were already showing their ability to rise above caste to come together when Aurobindo was at University. The Indian National Congress itself was composed of men of different castes. Before Democracy, people of different castes had shown themselves capable of working together. Why else did India become a Democracy? It wasn't something imposed from outside. Yet, Prof. Anderson says, that after Indians of different castes, by means of a broad collective action, decided to give themselves a Democratic form of Government, they- at that very moment- became incapable of broad collective action by reason of belonging to different castes. Further- this was and is 'the ultimate secret of Indian Democracy.'
Reading this got me real mad at Indian Democracy. I immediately phoned her and said 'You damn slut! Your ultimate secret has been revealed to all and sundry by Perry Anderson in the London Review of Books! Why you are going and making us Indians incapable of broad collective action to redress earthly injustice? Have you no manners? Don't you know this is completely unacceptable behavior? Kindly stop it. I don't want to have to tell you this again.'
I urge all my readers to do the same- unless you are of different caste to me, in which case don't bother.