Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Is Homi Bhaba genuinely stupid?

Homi Bhaba was born in an independent country. Granted, it was a country that told itself stupid lies about how it had become independent but that was only because the truth was too obvious and shaming.
 Bhaba's mother tongue was Gujerati. One particularly stupid lie, still repeated, about how India became independent goes like this. Once upon a time, there was this Gujerati dude- called, not Holy Baba, but Mahatma Gandhi- who sat down and started spinning yarn and this produced Swaraj which means self-rule. He also got a bunch of guys to go down to the beach to make salt. They were beaten by policemen but didn't fight back. Clearly, being beaten while trying to make salt produces something called saytagraha- Truthful Struggle. 
So there you have it- India became independent because Gandhi taught it to produce Swaraj- the inner precondition for self-rule-  by spinning cotton and then to produce Satyagraha- that type of outward struggle in which the inner Truth of Swaraj would neccessarily triumph over what went before.
Everybody said it. Nobody believed it.

If spinning cotton and getting beaten on the head while trying to make salt produced Indian  independence, then the British must have done something to produce its enslavement. 

What precisely?

Bhaba says- 'The exercise of colonialist authority... requires the production of differentiations, individuations, identity effects through which discriminatory practices can map out subject populations that are tarred with the visible and transparent mark of power. Such a mode of subjection is distinct from what Foucault describes as 'power through transparency': the reign of opinion, after the late eighteenth century, which could not tolerate areas of darkness and sought to exercise power through the mere fact of things being known and people seen in an immediate, collective gaze. What radically differentiates the exercise of colonial power is the unsuitability of the enlightenment assumption of collectivity and the eye that beholds it. For Jeremy Bentham (as Michel Perrot points out), the small group is representative of the whole society - the part is already the whole." Colonial authority requires modes of discrimination (cultural, racial, administrative ... ) that disallow a stable unitary assumption of collectivity. The 'part' (which must be the colonialist foreign body) must be representative of the 'whole' (conquered country), but the right of representation is based on its radical difference. Such doublethink is made viable only through the strategy of disavowal just described, which requires a theory of the 'hybridization' of discourse and power that is ignored by theorists who engage in the battle for 'power' but do so only as the purists of difference.
'The discriminatory effects of the discourse of cultural colonialism, for instance, do not simply or singly refer to a 'person', or a dialectical power struggle between self and other, or to a discrimination between mother culture and alien cultures. Produced through the strategy of disavowal, the reference of discrimination is always to a process of splitting as the condition of subjection: a discrimination between the mother culture and its bastards, the self and its doubles, where the trace of what is disavowed is not repressed but repeated as something different - a mutation, a hybrid. It is such a partial and double force that is more than the mimetic but less than the symbolic, that disturbs the visibility of the colonial presence and makes the recognition of its authority problematic. To be authoritative, its rules of recognition must reflect consensual knowledge or opinion; to be powerful, these rules of recognition must be reached in order to represent the exorbitant objects of discrimination that he beyond its purview. Consequently, if the unitary (and essentialist) reference to race, nation or cultural tradition is essential to preserve the presence of authority as an immediate mimetic effect, such essentialism must be exceeded in the articulation of 'differentiatory', discriminatory identities.'

The standard Econ theory of price and wage discrimination applies also to tax and service provision discrimination- i.e. the economic foundations of the State, which are, at the margin, under scarcity and regime contestation, also its only relevant foundations. 

Just as a monopolist can increase his profits by charging different prices, and a monopsonist (single buyer) can do the same by offering different wages to different types of workers, so too can the provider of a service (like Justice, or Defense) maximize his own gains by giving more to some and less to others. To do so, the only power that is required is that which makes one a monopolist or monopsonist in the first place provided the market is segmented along lines that it is cheap to identify but expensive to evade.

Now, it may be thought, if one had infinite Power relative to any other player, then one could be a perfect price/wage/service provision discriminator. However, this is only true if it is not costly to acquire information about agents and if it is not costly to enforce barriers preventing re-sale between agents.
Economists long ago came to the conclusion that, in the real world, it is just too expensive and dynamically inefficient (i.e. you lose out more and more over time) to commit to any type of discrimination which doesn't reflect some current informational asymmetry in the market. Since such asymmetries are transitory, there are sound dynamic reasons not to go in for discrimination in the first place.
Thus, though black people are cheap to differentiate from white people, as are women from men, and it is expensive to change one's color or gender, still Wage/Price/Service Provision discrimination along color or gender lines can't be cost effectively enforced absent the subsistence of hysteresis free informational asymmetry. 
Why? 
Well, either it is competed away, or imposes a 'signal extraction' deadweight loss, or, in the case of a certain sort of 'natural' monopoly, where competition is unviable and regulation unenforceable, the problem of the 'efficiency wage' arises. Those discriminated against receive less economic rent and have correspondingly less incentive to perform for fear of the sack (unless there is information asymmetry such that they don't know the Marginal Cost schedule facing the employer). This militates for falling productivity.
What about consumers? Well, since the discriminated against receive less consumer surplus, they have an incentive to switch providers even for small volatility in price or service provision. Moreover, the less people have, the more mobility they can display in terms of geographic location, occupation, and life style. For this reason, countries with a lot of poor people can experience a very rapid change in cultural regime. What we have here is not 'hybridization' but a discontinuous saltation caused by the release of evolutionary capacitance. The maths of this is complex, but it involves no Derridaesque aporias, just Mathematics's Open Problems which save Philosophy from futility by- and this is the apurvata in Collingwood- providing a temporary topos for its 'distinctions without a difference'.
The same is true for genuinely creative artists but, precisely for that reason, such saltations create a problem for the credentialized artist because a lot of his Bourdieusian capital, sometimes even his language, suddenly ceases to have salience. Since crap artists like whining about being neglected, there is a hysteresis effect such that a formalized art-form may appear to never more bravely bloom than when it knows it is doomed, and though the bird is dead, its plumage yet desiccates to a richer hue. Since ideologues are a type of talentless artist, it follows that the demise of a regime may render exponents of its legitimating ideology all the more rabid though they now bite at air. 
If, for purposes of Ackerloff signalling, students are forced to study such shit- though, clearly, their meretricious availability for any corporate purpose of sycophancy or chicanery is successfully advertised- still, in dolefulness, their thoughts will turn upon a Dies Irae requiring a collective act of apocatastasis. 

Muddle headed people may be taken in by the worthless verbiage of Pundits. But those pundits only believe themselves to be wise because they programmatically confuse something cosmetic or conventional with what is mission-critical to an enterprise. 
There is a story of a Soviet delegation visiting an English Mill town. As soon as the factory Siren sounds, workers start hurrying towards their workplace and flooding through its gates. The Communists are impressed. They ask to buy the Siren, thinking that it has some magic power such that workers who hear it immediately become mindful of their duties. What they don't understand is that the workers only show up for work because they are being paid. 

Take another example. On boarding a train, we find the rich travel first class while the rest travel second class. 
Does the ticket inspector create this division in Society?
No. 
But he wears a uniform and the Gestapo wore uniforms, and is carrying out a type of 'surveillance', so surely we are living in a Fascist country run for the benefit of the rich?
Rubbish.
If the cost of segmenting the market can't be justified by extracting sufficient consumer surplus, this form of price/service provision discrimination will end.

There is one proviso I must make. I'm assuming information asymmetry isn't pathological. Suppose an identifiable  section of the population are highly suggestible and ready to believe stupid lies. Then, sure, Power can say to people- be thus and thus they will be.
But there is a good reason I make my assumption. In the history of the world, no counter example has ever been found able to withstand scrutiny.

Bhaba, of course, isn't an economist. Apparently, he's into litterchur.
My thesis is, he isn't utterly stupid, he's just pretending. So are his acolytes.
Take the first sentence from the extract quoted above.
'The exercise of colonialist authority... requires the production of differentiations, individuations, identity effects through which discriminatory practices can map out subject populations that are tarred with the visible and transparent mark of power.'
Suppose this to be true. In that case, 'the production of differentiation, individuations, identity effects' occurs at the same time and at the same pace as effective conquest. Moreover, it doesn't matter who is doing the conquering or what is being conquered, this type of production always magically manages to operate in a hysteresis free manner.
Suppose this 'production' Bhaba speaks of, uses up scarce resources (if it doesn't it can't exist in our Universe). Then it will feature in an audit of any particular conquest. Military accountants would be able to confirm that the same proportion of expenditure on any conquest was indeed used up for this type of 'production'. However, looking at any campaign resulting in the gain of colonial territory at any time in history, we find that administrative costs of establishing control aren't a fixed fraction at all. Yet within those costs must lurk a dummy variable for this supposed production Bhaba babbles about.
Clearly, no such variable exists and this is what Economic Theory would have us expect. Segmenting the market, save along lines of existing informational asymmetry, is unpredictably costly, hysteresis ridden, and ultimately dynamically inefficient. That's why Colonialism fails and everyone born after 1945 knows it. Literature, if it pretends otherwise, is the Philosophy of the fool, the Science of the stupid, the Art of the inane.
Are Post Colonial Literary Theorists really fucked in the head?
No.
They're just pretending.
Why?
Money. 
My guess is they are rent seekers pure and simple.
Still, one puzzle remains. We can guess why they tell stupid lies. But why do they do so in such baroque fashion as to exhaust the possibilities of satire?
Bhaba doesn't just say the exercise of colonial (as opposed to Nation State) power requires something very costly- viz. the 'production', not identification, of individuations- he tells us that this production process manages to mark each and every subject with a tar that is both visible and transparent! Thus, when Indonesia went to colonise Irian Jaya, it had to wrap all the autocthones in a different sorts of cling film. 
Why is Bhaba making such a ludicrous claim? The answer is he's been reading a fuckwit called Foucault. 'Such a mode of subjection is distinct from what Foucault describes as 'power through transparency': the reign of opinion, after the late eighteenth century, which could not tolerate areas of darkness and sought to exercise power through the mere fact of things being known and people seen in an immediate, collective gaze.' Did Foucault really say that, after the late eighteenth century, no distinction of class, gender, creed, colour, occupation or education remained as opaque striations in a pure social transparency immediately available to a collective gaze? If so, he was fucked in the head. Nothing of the sort happened in France nor has it happened anywhere else.
In any case, even suppose Foucault said such a thing and Bhaba, poor booby, believed him, still nothing would warrant Bhaba's distinction between the exercise of Colonial power and that of the Nation State except the premise that things like Marxism, Feminism, Queer Theory etc. are not merely utter rubbish but also that the working class has no legitimate collective interest, nor do women have any grievance, nor have homosexuals faced any injustice in the history of any modern State.
If Colonial Power can, by some special dispensation known to Bhaba alone, discriminate between people in a way that the Power of the modern Nation State is ab ovo unable, then Post Colonial theory is not just empty, even the demand for something like it is mischievous.
How does Bhaba justify his stupidity? Well, it all comes down to a bit of word play, a bait and switch that wouldn't take in a baby- he uses the word 'represent' in 2 wholly unconnected ways. In Econ we speak of 'representative agent theory'- i.e. first you let a sample stand for the whole population. Then you divide the sample into different types and try to get information out of that which you can feed into your models. This is all just heuristics without foundational significance. No great methodenstreit is involved. This is one meaning of the word 'represent' and Bhaba admits that Colonial Power- like all Power based on tax / service-provision discrimination- does use representative agent theory.
A completely different meaning of 'represent' is that which relates to someone you elect or otherwise engage to act as your agent. Bhaba, in a childish manner, plays on this difference in meaning. He says Colonial Power constructs 'representations' of its subjects (i.e. has a representative agent heuristic) but, when it comes to 'representing' those subjects in the Political sense, doesn't do so by transparently democratic means.
However, because of information asymmetry, agent-principal hazard and rent seeking behavior, even elected representatives to the National Assembly may fuck over their fellow citizens. 
If you think I'm lying, look again at what Bhaba wrote- 'What radically differentiates the exercise of colonial power is the unsuitability of the enlightenment assumption of collectivity and the eye that beholds it. For Jeremy Bentham (as Michel Perrot points out), the small group is representative of the whole society - the part is already the whole." Colonial authority requires modes of discrimination (cultural, racial, administrative ... ) that disallow a stable unitary assumption of collectivity. The 'part' (which must be the colonialist foreign body) must be representative of the 'whole' (conquered country), but the right of representation is based on its radical difference.'
Why is this fucked? Well, when it comes to representation, the reason I use a lawyer is because he is radically differentiated from me by reason of being a fucking lawyer and thus able to take on the equally loathsome hell-hound the ex-wife sicced on me. Similarly, I vote for a fucking politician so he can take on the other fucking politicians in that snake-pit they call Parliament and get me mebbe a little value for my tax dollars.
If a population is homogenous in endowments and no information asymmetry obtains fuck would we need representation?
Bhaba has a theory
'Such doublethink is made viable only through the strategy of disavowal just described, which requires a theory of the 'hybridization' of discourse and power that is ignored by theorists who engage in the battle for 'power' but do so only as the purists of difference.'
Bhaba has coined a theory called 'hybridization'. It is shite. He says 'hang on a fookin fart, dude. You do too need my theory coz u know how there's this like doublethink going on about representation yeah? Well, it's only made viable through a particular strategy, called 'disavowal' which can only be combated by my theory of hybridization.'
We answer, 'Fuck off. There is no 'double-think' going on when we represent you to ourselves a guy who is just crying out for a beating and then act as your representative to give you the hiding you were begging for. Kindly now pay this invoice for $5,000 in consideration of the beating we have so kindly given you. No, we won't take it out of your ass in trade.'
Bhaba may say, 'But guys, don't you see, it's like this beating I just received was negotiated. What's happened is something of me has grafted on to you and something of yours has grafted onto me- we're like hybridized donchasee. So let me lecture you about my theory coz you are too suffering from double-think because you genuinely believe I relish being beaten by you.'
At this point, we kick his head in and steal his Rolex.
If we get away with the crime and go on to become 'Stationary Bandits' levying a protection tax on everybody, then we have achieved power of a Political, rather than purely Criminal, sort. If we need to rely on goons from our own natal 'hood to get us out of a jam, what we have established is analogous to a colony. If on the other hand, we are home-boys expanding our turf, we are building an Empire.

  What Foucault said, or Derrida wrote or Bhaba mumbled into his beard are irrelevant.
Still, this is a car-crash we can't look away from-
''The discriminatory effects of the discourse of cultural colonialism, for instance, do not simply or singly refer to a 'person', or a dialectical power struggle between self and other, or to a discrimination between mother culture and alien cultures.' Cultural Colonialism means guys from a particular culture reproduce it elsewhere such that the people of that place are either coerced or enticed to become increasingly indistinguishable from the 'mother country'. Does such colonialism need to have a separate 'discourse' to succeed? Nope. Cultural Colonialism has deep history. Discourse doesn't.
But, surely, under modern conditions, Discourse is needed to back up Cultural Colonialism, or at least make it more effective?
Rubbish. The reverse is the case. Such discourse is a waste of resources- like Napoleon taking savants with him to an Egypt he fails to conquer- and only shit-heads like Bhaba can be found in its pig-sty.
'Produced through the strategy of disavowal, the reference of discrimination is always to a process of splitting as the condition of subjection: a discrimination between the mother culture and its bastards, the self and its doubles, where the trace of what is disavowed is not repressed but repeated as something different - a mutation, a hybrid.'
Fathers may have bastards under Patriarchy. Mothers don't- unless they were raped, in which case the country, far from seeding colonies, has itself been colonised. Canada is called the eldest daughter of the Commonwealth, not its eldest bastard. What fucking strategy of disavowal is Bhaba blathering about? Why disavow a colony unless it isn't paying for itself, or- like Rhodesia- is behaving badly? But that's not a question of strategy, but deontology or, in plain words, good fucking house-keeping & Old Fashioned Morality. The only tactical reason to disavow a colony is if you are trying to fool a militarily superior hegemon.
Bhaba could have given himself a get-out clause but, instead, carried away by his own eagerness to display an undigested erudition, he forecloses that option by saying no Hegelian struggle for Recognition can arise in what he describes. I suppose, a tough love, 'strategy of disavowal' might have salience in Milner's Imperial kindergarten- but that project failed ab ovo. Why? Well, the Chinese in South Africa had been foolish enough to join hands with Mahatma Gandhi and so Smuts raised the Yellow Peril bogey to such good effect that Liberals got in at Westminster by claiming that coolies would soon take jobs from Welsh miners. It may be argued that Gandhi and Leung Quinn and Smuts and Botha were actually 'bastards' of the British 'mother culture', though, obviously, they knew this was not the case though, no doubt, they pretended otherwise when it suited them. Thus the mother country really did disavow its bastards by not granting them whatever they wanted. However, since my argument- which is that the previous argument is utter shite- is actually not just the previous argument's one and only baby- stolen away by fairies- but also its true Mummy and Daddy as well as their only child. Thus, my argument prevails coz otherwise the previous argument is guilty of disavowal though univocal with my argument that it is shite. Thus it is shite as is the notion of disavowal.

What about Bhaba's notion of hybridity? Well, we know that Mutations only arise if there is a change in the genotype and Hybrids only if there is an exchange of genetic information. What occult process of the phenomenological equivalent of sex is getting Bhaba to beat his meat so pathetically?
 'It is such a partial and double force that is more than the mimetic but less than the symbolic, that disturbs the visibility of the colonial presence and makes the recognition of its authority problematic. 
Problematic to whom? Some guy in a colonised country who wants to improve his position? Fuck we care about such a guy? Colonialism ends when it ceases to be financially and or militarily viable. That happened once and for all a while back. Everyone saw that this was a Pareto improvement. No one wants to go back to the bad old days. 
'To be authoritative, its rules of recognition must reflect consensual knowledge or opinion; yes, baba, but that consensus was reached before I was born to be powerful, these rules of recognition must be reached in order to represent the exorbitant objects of discrimination that lie beyond its purview. Nonsense. Even if I come up with rules of recognition, for colonizing Sloane Square, that represent the exorbitant objects of discrimination (Sloane Ranger MILFs who drive fucking SUVs down Fulham's narrow streets whom I'd like to discriminate against with my dick) those rules of representation wouldn't have any power. Money or helicopter gunships might help. Rules of Representation can kiss my black assConsequently, if the unitary (and essentialist) reference to race, nation or cultural tradition is essential to preserve the presence of authority as an immediate mimetic effect, such essentialism must be exceeded in the articulation of 'differentiatory', discriminatory identities.' No unitary or essentialist reference to race, nation or cultural tradition is essential for anything at all. People who have authority don't know what is meant by unitary or essentialist references to x or y nor, in most situations, can any such reference be discovered by even the most diligent of researchers. Mimetic effects exist because we have mirror neurons. Authority can be the solution to a co-ordination problem or concurrency deadlock. The articulation of 'differentiatory' discriminatory identities may occur but isn't a necessary or sufficient condition for anything at all.
Bhaba, mate, you aint stupid.
You've done well for yourself.
But you sure do talk bollocks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bhaba taught at Sussex- a hotbed of the stupidest sort of Marxist mental masturbation. Believe me, he is a fountain of lucidity and common sense compared to his former colleagues.