Sunday, 3 July 2016

Ajay Skaria's Gandhi- apres moi le Deleuze

In 2014 Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. Now, a mere two years later, we are beginning to witness the terrible consequences for our proud tradition of Secular thought.

Ajay Skaria has published a book about Gandhi. 'Nothing unusual in that', you might say. 'He's a Professor in Upsala or Minnihaha or somewhere equally progressive and hygienic. What else are Professors at such places supposed to do? Raghavan Iyer started writing books about Gandhi once he became a Professor at the Uni of Barbaracartland. Fuck you're getting your knickers in a twist for? Get over it.'

My answer will shock you to your core. This Skaria dude, tho' a perfectly worthwhile Professor on an entirely virtuous campus, isn't just writing about Gandhi, he's fucking reading him in Gujerati! 
This is Hindutva gone mad!

What's next? When will this madness end? If Modi is re-elected, will Skaria go on to read stuff Gandhi had to mug up to get through his bar exams?
In that case, he'd end up cognizant of the actual genealogy of 'Liberalism'- thus disqualifying himself from whatever Po Co Catskill shtick he entertains the cows with at Minnesota.

Perhaps I'm overestimating him. A dude who actually reads stuff in Gujerati- and thus ought to be precluded from the Olympian heights of Raghavan Iyer style contentless catachresis- oughtn't to say shite like
'Gandhi is deeply disturbed by this ('modern civilisation's) liberal equality, describing it as an ‘equality of sword’
because he'd know Gandhi had never experienced liberal equality, no Gujerati had- Gujeratis were Colonial subjects of an Imperial autocracy not equal citizens in a liberal democracy.

Still, as a thought experiment, suppose
1) Gandhi was too stupid to notice he was black not white
2)  Skaria had read the lecture notes Gandhi crammed for his Bar exam
then it would also the case that 'equality of the sword' would have the dhvani echo, or equitable collocational context, of 'Vi et armis'- i.e. the legal fiction that action regarding a tort arose out of a violent trespass with 'bow and arrow'.

This raises the question, could Skaria then go on to say this?
'As that phrase ('equality of the sword') indicates, he senses that liberal equality is based on domination.'
No, because torts are blind to intention and consequential merely. Domination can't be relevant because it can be mindless whereas actions Vi et armis or for 'trespass on the case' point to a sort of Universal Mindfulness and Cognisance which is Natural simply and thus not yet subsumed by the 'artificial reason' of blindfold Law.
For Gandhi and his fellow pupils, all this was part of the chthonic Platonism, or Bacchanalian lore, of those notorious Inns where they ate their otherwise dull and dutiful dinners.

Skaria says- ' It became increasingly clear to me that Gandhi’s writing was doing something quite different from what he may have intended it to do.'
Yet, this and nothing else, was the point of those lectures which we know Gandhi actually audited coz he passed the fucking exam. Briefly, there had been an interregnum between regimes, such that intentionality and rules of construction lay on one side of an abyss on the other side of which was Cokean 'artificial reason' and the 'rule of law'.

Indian barristers were very much aware that they practiced in this interregnum. That was what was rubbed in their faces at Temple dinners.

Skaria however is more ignorant than God made him which is why he is a Professor. Thus Skaria can make great play with Deleuze & Guatarri's notion of major (or molar) and minor saying things like- 'His religion thus requires him to ask: how might a subaltern politics not only refuse subordination, but do so by relinquishing autonomy and even sovereignty –which is to say, by becoming minor?
'Such a religion must strive for an equality of and with the minor – an equality that does not make the minor into a major, that remains minor.'


Deleuze, it must be said, relished the sort of 'embedded', rather than critical, texts which preserve intellectual genealogy as opposed to invent it wholesale with a Cokean or coked up reckless disregard.

Thus, if his method to be correctly applied to Gandhi, Skaria would need to identify the underground rhizome French and English share and which finds expressions in things like what Gandhi would have known as the hilarious 'Rule in Shelley's Case' whereby the dialectic of Major and Minor- i.e. the business of tax avoidance- was ludicrously extended to include the Major's enfeoffment of kin contingent on his successive marriage to seven matrons of the parish whom he knew to be already wedded and thus incapable of siring the heirs to whom he had placed himself in a subaltern Minorship fraught with faux yet piteous protestations of Agamben type 'bare existence'.

As Deleuze & Guatarri said-

and thus, under feudalism, a landowner could only 'farm' his own land- i.e. manage it to best advantage- by ensuring that his untimely demise didn't burden it with feudal dues in a manner destructive of what was commercially required. Thus the enfeoffed nobleman became the trembling tenant 'farmer' of his own wee and incompossible heirs so as to emerge from the condition of a 'Nobody', an Odysseus who must protect himself, to that of a 'somebody' piteously seeking protection from mindless Vi et armis trespass, or, by an action in assumpsit, like a deflowered Galatea, seeking honourable amends from a faithless fountain of honour whose streams foresworn Falstaffian 'knights of the post' have already rendered arid.

Equity, after all, as Shiner says, from Aristotle onward is 'epanorthoma nomou, hei elleipei dia to katholou," a correction of law, where law falls short because of its universality."
Moreover, 'The Rhetoric describes the equitable as to para to gegrammenon nomon dikaion," that justice which lies beyond the written law."

In other words, it is a coddling of the Minor only if the Major has thus and very piteously disguised itself to escape that feudal tax by which a Species sustains itself- viz. a surplus of self-assertion arising out of a pooling equilibrium.
To be clear- the 'Majority' are guys who fuck you up if you fuck with them rather than go running to the Polis. This is because Policing is costly. Sure, if you are real wealthy you can devote some income to making out you are actually a neotenous minor or raped maiden or God struck moon-calf or whatever else best protects your assets from the depradations of the Stationary bandit to whom is ludicrously ascribed a universal, or written, law


There is another way, in this context, to read Deleuze- a Sufi, or woolly minded, way- the way delineated in Mehdi Bazargan's thermodynamic theory of Love.

What was it? Well, to put in Hindu terms, 'Anu' can mean atom. 'Anuvrata' can mean a small vow but also the sort of thing that might successfully oppose the Atom bomb.
The 'Anushasana parvana' of the Mahabharata is about the thermodynamics of the 'atomic' Major- not the Maxwell's Demon of Deleuze's Minor.

In the former we see no Laws are Universalizable save as a Red Queen dialogic- in other words, relational merely till baby supervenes.
In the latter, the pretense of Law as 'artificial reason' is kept up so as to excuse hefty Serjeants-at-Law or Knights-at-arms any fucking social duty or fiscal liability other than to pretend to be the wee and helpless bairns of their own wholly incompossible heirs by, not the ten wise virgins, but seven stout matrons of the parish already married to different men.

Fuck it. What am I trying to say?
D'uh! You iz doing a Deleuzian mimesis of a particular thousand plateau rhizome of schizophrenia.
Sure.
Captain Obvious.
But what was I trying to say?
Love is in the acts of Love, not in some imaginary ipseity seeking its incompossible Levinasian alterity for Netflix & Chill or shit & giggles.

I'm now going to quote Skaria with my comments in bold.


This is to mock my own eagerness to see something positive in a guy who can read Gujerati but, as will now become evident, says stupider things than the maddest Madrasi or most boring Bong.

IN Hind Swaraj, the Editor famously questions the Reader’s nationalist vision of swaraj, describing it as ‘English rule without the Englishman.’ 
This was because the British Raj forbade discrimination on the basis of color or creed.  Nationalists weren't miffed that they got beaten up by White people and thrown out of railway carriages for which they had paid the full price.  That sort of shit didn't go down at all.

The truth is, chauvinistic brown people wanted to get rid of these wonderful White people who turned India into a Kantian Utopia for no good reason. They just wanted Brown people to preside over the same truly Liberal and Egalitarian regime because they had some aesthetic objection to White skin. 

That remark is symptomatic of Gandhi’s questioning of liberal conceptions of freedom and equality. 
Which Brown and Black people enjoyed to the hilt in South Africa and Champaran and Fiji and every where else them nice Whiteys were in charge. Liberal traditions usually conceive freedom in terms of autonomy – as the everyday sovereignty that a rational being exercises by authoring universal law, or law that any rational being would and must freely submit to.Quite false. That's a post-War Kantian availability cascade. During Gandhi's life, Kantian political philosophy justified keeping subject, 'for their own good', large sections of the Human Race on the basis that they were genetically predisposed to heteronomy.  The Jews were 'heteronomous' - as was proved by their lack of true creativity in Music, Mathematics, Physics etc- which is why no great concentration of Jews in any locality was desirable. From time to time they needed to be exterminated or else they would end up poisoning the Public with essentially meretricious Music- like that of Mendelsohn or Mahler- and primitive Mathematical ideas like those of Cantor and Einstein.  As for the wogs, niggers, spics, chinkies and so on- the kindest thing was to engage them in unremitting and ill rewarded coolie work rather than seek to burden their tiny brains with education. Women, on the other hand, should be beaten tenderly and cherished with your dick. 
 Autonomous beings are also equal, and modern republican democracies enshrine this equality in the rights of citizens. Heteronomous citizens have the same rights as Autonomous ones.  There is no way to tell which are which. In any case, Gandhi didn't live in a modern republican democracy. He lived in a racist Empire where brown people were subjects not citizens.
Autonomy is accompanied moreover by a distinction between the public and the private, with the presence of religion in the public sphere being regarded as undesirable – as heteronomy and unfreedom. Really? Sez who? Some guy who started writing long after Gandhi died? Why bring this shite up in connection with the Mahatma? He was a subject of an Empire which had an Established Church. Even two decades down the line, Lord Sinha's son couldn't inherit his title because the House of Lords decided that Hindu marriages are concubinage merely. 
The Reader in Hind Swaraj could well be working within this problematic that affirms the rights of man and citizen. No he could not. Nobody in England did so at that time. Skaria is channeling an availability cascade which simply didn't exist for Morley or Minto or Mukherjee or Momin or any body else the 'Reader in Hind Swaraj' could know about. 
He wants an Indian parliament, and says: ‘What they have done in their own country has not been done in any other country. It is, therefore, proper for us to import their institutions.’
The Reader is saying- Britain is powerful, let us imitate their institutions so as to become powerful. As a matter of fact, some Indian 'Readers' in South Africa at the time had studied law in England. They were aware that the Japanese had mimicked the Europeans, even down to wearing frock coats and top hats in their Diet, and scored a triumph over Tzarist Russia which lacked a similar Parliament.
Gandhi by contrast is critical of both sovereignty and autonomy. No. Gandhi is a loyal to the Crown- though it grants him only subject-hood not citizenship. He ridicules the idea that Indians can become strong because they are demonstrably shit. Even if they aren't, they better pretend to be otherwise they might lose their property or get transported to the Andamans.
In his writing, sovereignty is not exemplified only in the state. Hind Swaraj says there can't be an Indian State because Indians are shite. Sovereignty for Indians can't mean what it does for Whitey coz Indians are shit colored.  Sure they can pretend to be Mahatmas or Parmathmas or Magical Mermaids or whatever. But that's not the only thing Whitey wants. Indians should fucking spin cotton and grow crops and give up on competing with Whitey in the learned professions. Village autarky and Village self-government is what Westminster wants Indians to affirm and pretend to achieve because then the Viceroy can never be guilty of causing or neglecting to ameliorate a famine.  The 'home charge' can keep growing though millions of Indians die of starvation. Rather, every self is deeply fissured, and sovereignty is ubiquitous, always to begin with exercised everyday by the self – for example, in the act of eating – in order to persist in its ipseity, to master the other and return to itself. There! Told you so! Viceroy Lytton was right! Millions of Indians hadn't starved to death because the Brits were bleeding the country dry. No. Their 'self' or 'jivatman' had gotten 'deeply fissured' because, in Ind's magically self-regulating villages, 'sovereignty is ubiquitous' and thus some Indians refrained from 'the act of eating', embracing inedia instead, in order to 'persist in...ipseity, to master the other other and return to itself'


Fuck off Skaria. This ipseity/alterity bullshit is a late Twentieth Century availability cascade. It is worthless. Levinas denied Palestinians getting bombed could be Israel's alterity. To carry on talking this shite shows you got are a provincial little turd of a pedagogue with no sense of reality.
For this everyday sovereignty, his writing has several names, including ‘force of arms’ and asakti (‘attachment’). Gandhi didn't have the concept you ascribe to him and so his writing can't reference it under any rubric whatsoever. In any case, it is a shite concept- not canonical at all- and only had a brief, late Twentieth Century, Rothbardian half-life.
Autonomy becomes here one kind of everyday sovereignty – that exercised over the self through measure and calculation. Gandhi didn't say that. You did. It's a foolish thing to say. Why not speak of the sovereignty exercised by the TV over the digital channel it is displaying? And when autonomy is institutionalized as a social order, as with parliamentary democracy, the violence of sovereignty is intensified in two ways. Gandhi condemned Parliamentary Democracy because he considered it a House of Prostitution. Every few years Parliament gives itself to a new Master- i.e P.M. This is the conduct of a whore. Gandhi thought the fact that hundreds of thousands of British women had got jobs meant they had all become street walking prostitutes. He condemned the Suffragettes for clamoring to participate in the Whoredom of Westminster.

This isn't violence- i.e rape- but bending over and spreading your legs for money- i.e. selling your anal cherry.
First, this order grants equality only to those beings presumed to possess the power to reason and measure, and in this way systematizes domination over all other beings (such as animals or the colonized). You are just making this up out of whole cloth. Unfortunately it is whole cloth on which you were wiping your bum when you got buggered. It doesn't cohere. It is full of holes. No logical argument arises. An order which grants equality to a set of agents who possess a particular property does not 'systematize domination' over another set of agents.
When I was 19, I joined a leading Accountancy firm. Me and my colleagues possessed the 'power to reason and measure'. However no fucking 'order' systematized our domination over heavily muscled football hooligans or Lions in the Zoo or the good folks who reside in the Falkland Islands. 
How fucking stupid are you Skaria?
Second, autonomous beings inflict a massive violence on themselves, for they lose the power to love,
which in Gandhi’s writings requires the surrender of autonomy and even sovereignty. Gandhi told his wife that she was inflicting a massive violence on Maulana Azad by not cooking mutton chops for him coz the Maulana really liked mutton chops and Gandhi wanted to get in good with this crazy wannabe 'Imam ul Hind'. However, because Kantian shite wasn't availability cascaded back then, he never spoke of 'autonomous subjects' or, indeed, the power to love as opposed to its reality- like the battered housewife finally accepting she really was asking for it and black eyes help her see this reality better.
(It is because of this loss that for the Editor the English deserve‘pity’.) Their women are prostitutes. Everybody is a prostitute. As Mohammad al Fayed said to Ali G- all dem posh Brits be bum boys. We gotta pity them coz they aint slaves and thus don't got no proper jobs. 
In both these ways, autonomy institutes a rule of the major. 
Nonsense. Autonomy means the right of exit. Why fucking stick around to be fucked over by the 'rule of the major', if you can arbitrage a better deal by faking being a minor? It's all there in Chudleigh's case and Shelley's rule and every subsequent tax avoidance scheme barristers grow fat on.
Here, freedom and equality is possible only through domination over the minor. Rubbish. Though by no means an impressive figure of manhood, I easily dominated both the itty baby and the little kitty. So what? When wifey came home, she beat seven bells out of me if either appears ill cared for. What fucking 'freedom and equality' are you blathering about? Hierarchies are where one is at home.
What is lost is the possibility of an exit from subalternity that does not participate in domination or majority. Why should this be lost? Instead of being a voiceless coolie, I could discover myself to be Arabella Vere de Vere, only daughter of Lord Greystokes, sired upon a particularly hairy orangutan. My exit from subalternity- i.e. writing shite about Gandhi- need not participate in domination or majority coz Tarzan went to Mars. That's where I'm headed. I suggest Skaria come with me. The fucker is 51. He lives in Minnesota. His book is fantasy. It has less nomological accessibility to Ind than the Lord of the Apes enjoying a spot of Dangal mein Mangal on the Red Planet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Skaria is not guilty of making the assertions about Gandhi that you impute to him. He merely pointed out that Gandhi could be interpreted in a particular way IF his opposition to Liberal Institutions- e.g. Parliament, Courts of Law etc- was 'incoherent', i.e. he was just indulging in fantasy when he spoke of each village governing itself and the Indian State, as well as large scale Commerce, Industry etc, all fading away.
Skaria says that if we believe that Gandhi was just indulging in whimsical fantasy- and this would be obvious to anyone who reads him in Gujerati- then we can read Gandhi in any way we want because his writing is meaningless.

Look at the article in the Wire from which you quote. What is the context of his remarks? He was asked a specific question'- 'You mention how Gandhi emphasised that the British themselves were trapped by modernity and that we must be free of both the British and Britishisms, such as parliament. How coherent was this thought? What alternative forms of governance did Gandhi realistically expect to work?'
That was the question he was asked. His reply is that Gandhi was just babbling meaningless nonsense which we can interpret in any way we like.
He says
'This is not a coherent thought (i.e. it is incoherent to criticize liberal institutitons because nothing else can exist for people who are coherent in their thinking- i.e. the rest of us) . When we are engaged in the task of interpretation, we are often trying to tease out a coherent argument from a text. But when as in this book we are attending to arguments that Gandhi may even explicitly oppose but that nevertheless emerge from his writing, this question of coherence is not as important. What we are attending to instead is the moment of danger when the coherence of the text may be undone. If we attend to Gandhi’s writing in this spirit, then we could say that one most unsettling (again, notice, not most evident) trope is the way it questions the equality of ‘modern civilisation’, of what we are today likely to identify as liberal equality'.

'Gandhi is deeply disturbed by this liberal equality, describing it as an ‘equality of sword’'

Put bluntly, Skaria is saying Gandhi was incoherent. His writing is the word-salad of the babbling schizophrenic. We can read some modish ontological anxiety into it because we are like the Psychiatrist writing a report on a drooling nutjob. We are raising up the dignity of the lunatic by pretending she is reacting at an emotional level to real problems facing us as intellectuals.
This is like Freud creating a theory of the origin of Christian doctrine out of the ravings of a Judge who thought God was trying to impregnate him with the Messiah. The Judge got better and resumed his duties but, since the memoirs of his mental illness included a lot of nonsensical meaning, Freud was welcome to make sense of it in any way that he liked. Had Freud decided some ruling of the Judge was impugned by reason of incoherence and thus chosen to defy that ruling, he would have been sent to jail. However, since writing nonsense about nonsense is not by itself actionable, he and we are welcome to do so. Ex falso quodlibet- from falsehood, and incoherent babbling is false, any falsehood proceeds.