Friday, 24 November 2017

Reading Dipesh Chakroborty's 'Provinciallising Europe'- part V

Dipshit says-
A SECULAR SUBJECT like history faces certain problems in handling practices in which gods, spirits, or the supernatural have agency in the world.
Nonsense. Gods, spirits and the supernatural don't exist. That's why they pose no problem.
My central examples concern the history of work in South Asia. Labor, the activity of producing, is seldom a completely secular activity in India; it often entails, through rituals big and small, the invocation of divine or superhuman presence.
Rubbish. Work may be preceded or followed by 'rituals big or small'. However Work does not entail such rituals.
Secular histories are usually produced by ignoring the signs of these presences. Such histories represent a meeting of two systems of thought, one in which the world is ultimately, that is, in the final analysis, disenchanted, and the other in which humans are not the only meaningful agents. For the purpose of writing history, the first system, the secular one, translates the second into itself.
No. It rejects it completely. A political history of contemporary America would not 'translate into itself' things like Alien Abductions and the war between the Vampire and the Werewolves. Perhaps, Dipesh is thinking of David Icke.
It is this translation—its methods and problems—that interests me here as part of a broader effort to situate the question of subaltern history within a postcolonial critique of modernity and of history itself

So Dipesh is interested in the supernatural only because he is trying to show that his own specialty 'Subaltern Studies' has a special place within Post Colonial theory. But, both are worthless.

Dipesh believes that Einstein's theory has caused a 'linguistic turn' in Time itself. This is nonsense. Human beings can't exist in a zone where gravitation bends Time appreciably. Social Science  is unaffected.
...the kind of correspondence that exists between our sensory worlds and the Newtonian imagination of the universe, between our experience of secular time and the time of physics, breaks down in many post-Einsteinian constructions.
This only matters to physicists and cosmologists who are looking at things on a very small or very big scale. It is wholly irrelevant to human history.`
In the Newtonian universe, as in historical imagination, events are more or less separable from their descriptions: what is factual is seen as translatable from mathematics into prose or between different languages.
Nonsense. Newtonian physics can be expressed in relational, not substantive, terms. There were philosophers, like Liebniz, Berkeley, Mach and so forth, whose work Einstein referenced.  There will always be a problem of disentangling facts from values or concepts- the famous quid juris/ quid facti distinction.
Thus an elementary book on Newtonian physics can be written completely in the Bengali alphabet and numerals, using a minimum of mathematical signs. But not so with post-Einsteinian physics: language strains wildly when trying to convey in prose the mathematical imagination contained in an expression like “curved space” (for, thinking commonsensically, in what would such a space exist if not in space itself?).
Sheer nonsense! Both Newtonian physics and Einsteinian physics contain paradoxes concerning 'action at a distance'.
In this second case, one might say that the assumption of translatability does not quite hold, that really the imagination of Einsteinian physics is best learned through the language of its mathematics—for we are speaking of a universe of events in which the events cannot be separated from their descriptions.
Newton and Kant and so forth thought that Time could be separated from Space. They were wrong. But this does not affect History or Economics at all. I suppose, Mach did impact on Marxian 'Social Science'. But one can have a coherent Machian Marxist Economics.
Modern physics, one might say, took the linguistic turn early in this century.
One might say that if one wanted to talk nonsense. Why not speak of 'Quantum Subaltern Studies' or 'Sociological Super-String Theory? '
Post-Einsteinian cosmology, as the physicist Paul Davis puts it, makes even mathematical sense only so long as we do not try to take “a God’s-eye-view” of the universe (that is, so long as one does not try to totalize or to view a “whole.”)
Paul Davies is a popular author. By quoting him as authoritative Dipesh shows that he himself does not believe his own thesis. One can read a book about post-Einsteinian Physics written in simple English or Tamil or Bengali.
“I have grown used to dealing with the weird and wonderful world of relativity,” writes Davis. “The ideas of space-warps, distortions in time and space and multiple universes have become everyday tools in the strange trade of the theoretical physics.... I believe that the reality exposed by modern physics is fundamentally alien to the human mind, and defies all power of direct visualization.” Historians writing after the so-called linguistic turn may not any longer think that events are completely accessible by language, but the more sober among them would strive to avoid lunacy by resorting to weaker versions of this position.
No Historian who thinks Einstein or Everett matters for writing History is not sober or sensible. Rather, he or she is subscribing to the Husserlian phenomenology described in Colin Wilson's 'the Space Vampires' whereby the world changes every time people come up with a better value of Pi.
As put in the recent book 'Telling the Truth about History', historians, writing in the aftermath of postmodernism, would work toward an ideal of “workable truths,” approximations of facts that can be agreed to by all even after it is granted that language and representations always form a (thin?) film between us and the world (in the same way as we can mostly ignore the insights of Einsteinian or quantum physics in negotiating our everyday movements in practical life). The higher ideal of translatability between different languages—thus Vietnamese history into Bengali—remains worth striving for even if language always foils the effort. This ideal—a modified Newtonianism—is, in their view, the historian’s protection against the sheer madness of postmodernist and cultural-relativist talk about “untranslatability,”“incommensurability,” and all that.
So American historians recognize that Po Mo shite is worthless. What conclusion does Dipesh derive from this fact?
Unlike the world of the physicist Paul Davis, then, in the discipline of history the imagination of reality is dependent on the capacities of “the human mind,” its powers of visualization.
WTF? Good Physicists need imagination, so do good Historians, so do good human beings doing good human things. Physics does not know if the Anthropic Principle represents a constraint on fundamental variables. History does not know if there are true non deterministic Cliodynamic formulae. The 'human mind' may or may not be a constraint on both subjects.
The use of the definite article— “the human mind”—is critical here, for this reality aspires to achieve a status of transparency with regard to particular human languages, an ideal of objectivity entertained by Newtonian science in which translation between different languages is mediated by the higher language of science itself.
Quite false. A Relationist or an Occassionalist might subscribe to the Principle of Compositionality while a Substantivist might not. Dipesh is babbling ultracrepidarian crap.
Thus pani in Hindi and “water” in English can both be mediated by H2O.
Only for a specific purpose- e.g. translating a Science text book.
Needless to say, it is only the higher language that is capable of appreciating, if not expressing, the capacities of “the human mind.”
It is an open question as to whether the Antropic Principle applies. Thus we don't know if Physics is supervenient on Bio-Chemistry. We don't know of any language 'higher' than natural language. We do  know no natural language is higher than another.
I would suggest that the idea of a godless, continuous, empty, and homogeneous time, which history shares with the other social sciences and modern political philosophy as a basic building block, belongs to this model of a higher, overarching language.
Why? Mathematics acknowledges non-deterministic 'oracles'.  It doesn't believe in a 'higher, overarching language'. On the contrary, it asserts the impossibility of a sufficiently rich language containing its meta-language.
It represents a structure of generality,  an aspiration toward the scientific, that is built into conversations that take the modern historical consciousness for granted. A proposition of radical untranslatability therefore comes as a problem to the universal categories that sustain the historian’s enterprise.
It is a nuisance, not a problem.
But it is also a false problem created by the very nature of the universal itself, which aims to function as a supervening general construction mediating between all the particulars on the ground. 
Nonsense. Supervenience does not mean mediation. A supervening theory may be more general and abstract but mediation is through whatever is cheapest. I hand over a coin and buy a bunch of bananas. The pound coin is a pretty insignificant part of the monetary base upon which Monetary theory is supervenient. But it suffices for the purpose of the transaction in question.

The secular code of historical and humanist time—that is, a time bereft gods and spirits—is one such universal. Claims about agency on behalf of the religious, the supernatural, the divine, and the ghostly have to be mediated in terms of this universal.
If I show that a particular 'supernatural' agency is a social mimetic of a non-deterministic 'Oracle' then I have proved the utility of a particular Belief system. Marxism's appeal  was in part based on being viewed as Oracular.
The social scientist-historian assumes that contexts explain particular gods: if we could all have the same context, then we would all have the same gods.
Rubbish! Welsh Presbyterianism is flourishing in Meghalaya. This does not mean the Welsh and the Khasis share a social context. It is true that 'social-scientist historian' is taken to mean 'idiot' by a lot of people. Still, it is difficult to believe, in this day and age, that anyone thinks that all Christians have the same social context or that a Tibetan Buddhist, like Steven Segal, shares much in common with a yak herder in Bhutan.
But there is a problem. Although the sameness of our sciences can be guaranteed all the world over, the sameness of our gods and spirits could not be proved in the same objective manner (notwithstanding the protestations of the well-meaning that all religions speak of the same God).
This isn't true. Objectively, I can judge a Ghanaian Vaishnav Acharya- like Swami Ghanananda- to be equal to one from my natal place. Why? His discourses are as erudite and filled with spiritual wisdom.
So it could be said that although the sciences signify some kind of sameness in our understanding of the world across cultures, the gods signify differences (bracketing for the moment the history of conversion, which I touch on very briefly in a later section).
This can't be said by a Hindu who meets an African or European or Japanese Swami. Nor can it be said for a Christian who recognizes that there could be a Black Pope or a Chinese Pope or an Indian Pope.
Writing about the presence of gods and spirits in the secular language of history or sociology would therefore be like translating into a universal language that which belongs to a field of differences.
 So would writing about the existence of the subaltern or the proletariat or the bourgeoisie or the power elite or the nomenklatura or the Elders of Zion or the Lizard People from Planet X.


Dipesh says he is going to talk about Indian labor in this chapter. Does he actually know anything about the subject?
 in a society such as the Indian, human activity (including what one would, sociologically speaking, regard as labor) is often associated with the presence and agency of gods or spirits in the very process of labor. Hathiyar puja or the “worship of tools,” for example, is a common and familiar festival in many north Indian factories.
WTF? Hathiyar means weapon, not tool. It is only performed by Rajputs. Visvakarma divas is what is celebrated in factories. It does not matter in the slightest- whatever Amaresh Mishra might think.

Why? Hinduism is the dominant religion in India. A Pundit can always find a way to comply with Religious/ Astrological regulations and scruples without disrupting the production process.

Kipling's story 'the Bridge Builders' does feature a hallucinatory episode where the Gods of India have to be placated before the Bridge can be built. However, there is no Hindu Pundit present. Peroo, the lascar, is from the Chittagong hills.
How do we—and I mean narrators of the pasts of the subaltern classes in India—handle this problem of the presence of the divine or the supernatural in the history of labor as we render this enchanted world into our disenchanted prose—a rendering required, let us say, in the interest of social justice?
For a Hindu, there is no great scandal in saying that a 'samskar' has no magical result, but, rather,  a purely moral and spiritual effect.
Hinduism, as interpreted by contemporary Gurus and Acharyas is concerned with Social Justice. Why? The Religion will atrophy and die without it.
And how do we, in doing this, retain the subaltern (in whose activity gods or spirits present themselves) as the subjects of their histories? I shall go over this question by examining the work of three Subaltern Studies historians who have produced fragments of histories of work in the context of “capitalist transition” in India: Gyan Prakash, Gyan Pandey, and myself. I hope that my discussion will have something to say about the historian’s enterprise in general.
 Unfortunately, none of these three knows anything about Indian Labor. They haven't actually done any genuine historical research. They just scribbled high falutin' nonsense.

Dipesh thinks Vishavakarma Divas became a public holiday because of 'it has obviously been subjected to a process of bargaining between employers, workers, and the state'. This is nonsense. It is a holiday only in Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab- where organized labor is weak- and only because of the votes commanded by the Visvakarma community. I think Karnataka may make the day a public holiday for the same reason.

Dipesh mentions Pandey's work on Julahas- but Julahas can speak for themselves and tell a different story. They are pure Muslims. They don't have any Quran except the Quran. Ignorant outsiders have written stupid lies about them.
Some weavers were Hindus, some were Sikhs and so on. This did not affect the quality of their weaving. Religious differences could express themselves within a locality as different positions in the value chain. But, again, that might not happen. Now, everybody wants the same thing- viz. a good education in a STEM subject for the brightest of their kids. The idiots are welcome to study History at JNU.


Why is Dipesh such a dipshit? It is because he learned from worthless shitheads-
.. I have learned from Vincente Raphael’s and Gayatri Spivak’s discussions of the politics of translation. We know that given the plurality of gods, the translation from godly time into the time of secular labor could proceed along a variety of paths.
Nonsense. Hinduism has lots of gods but muhuraths occur in chronological, not 'many fingered' time.
But whatever the nature of the path, this translation, to borrow from Spivak’s and Rafael’s handling of the question, must possess something of the “uncanny” about it.
Why? When translating 'Dracula' or H.P Lovecraft into Hindi or German, fidelity, not 'uncanniness' is required.
An ambiguity must mark the translation of the tool-worshiping jute worker’s labor into the universal category “labor”: it must be enough like the secular category “labor” to make sense, yet the presence and plurality of gods and spirits in it must also make it “enough unlike to shock.”
Rubbish! Everybody knows foreigners are weird. It's like how if you are a burger flipper in McDonald's Delhi, you have to keep a live cobra coiled tightly around your scalp to meet Health and Hygiene conditions.
There remains something of a “scandal”—of the shocking—in every translation, and it is only through a relationship of intimacy to both languages that we are aware of the degree of this scandal.
This is sheer idiocy. Simultaneous interpreters at the U.N are not in a constant state of shock. Rather, they are bored out of their skull.

Dipesh is trying to sex up his boring shite by pretending it features Gods and Vampires and Werewolves and so forth. Nice try, Dipesh, but no cigar.

Dipesh does ask a relevant question-
 Why did the Indian working class fail to sustain a long-term sense of class consciousness?
We know the answer. Organized labor secured a quasi-rent while new entrants were consigned to 'temporary' status.
Dipesh can't accept this answer. Instead he thinks that some Gods or Vampires or Werewolves caused the problem.
The real labor of my mill workers, then—let us say their relationship to their own labor on the day of Vishvakarma puja—is obviously a part of the world in which both they and the god Vishvakarma exist in some sense (it would be silly to reduce this coexistence to a question of conscious belief or of psychology). History cannot represent, except through a process of translation and consequent loss of status and signification for the translated, the heterotemporality of that world.
Hindu History can represent that which Dipesh thinks impossible. There is no heterotemporality here at all. Grace operates in linear time. Rituals are defasible because Grace has wriggle room- karma is like an arrow which has already been shot from the bow but which a superior arrow, flying faster, can divert from the target.
History as a code comes into play as this real labor is transformed into the homogeneous, disciplined world of abstract labor, of the generalized world of exchange in which every exchange will be mediated by the sign “commodity.”
History is not a code. It is a record. There is no world where 'every exchange will be mediated by the sign 'commodity' because of problems with transaction costs, information asymmetry, non-convexities, local monopoly, repugnancy, uncertainty and so forth.

Yet, as the story of the Vishvakarma puja in the Calcutta mills shows, “real” labor inheres in the commodity and its secularized biography; its presence, never direct, leaves its effect in the breach that the stories of godly or ghostly intervention make in history’s system of representation.
Many Calcutta mills were owned by Europeans which is why the State cracked down harder on Labor.  The reason mill supervisors allowed Hindu rituals was because recruitment of 'simple' workers from other regions was caste based and thus the ritual had an economic function.
As I have already said, the breach cannot be mended by anthropological cobbling, for that only shifts the methodological problems of secular narratives on to another, cognate territory. In developing Marxist histories after the demise of Communist party Marxisms, our task is to write and think in terms of this breach as we write history (for we cannot avoid writing history). If history is to become a site where pluralities will contend, we need to develop ethics and politics of writing that will show history, this gift of modernity to many peoples, to be constitutionally marked by this breach. Or, to put it differently, the practice of subaltern history would aim to take history, the code, to its limits in order to make its unworking visible.
History is already a site where 'pluralities contend'. But Dipesh isn't contending with the vast majority of historians who think 'Subaltern Studies' historiography is worthless shite. Instead he thinks 'the practice of subaltern history' can do something both impossible and undesirable- viz. make the unworking of something which does not exist visible.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Reading Dipesh Chakraborty's 'Provincializing Europe'- part IV

In discerning a causative factor in History, we automatically create two types of History. History 1 is the trajectory that would arise if only the causative factor we discern operates. History 2 is what actually happens- viz. that other causative factors reinforce or outweigh the causative factor we have picked.

Thus, if I believe that History is caused by Energy's ineluctable tendency to make cat like noises, then I posit a History 1, where technological progress, which changes the amount of Energy available to Society, only expresses itself in more people making cat like noises. The world I actually face represents a History 2, where though some people do make cat like noises and use modern technology to disseminate cat like noises- for e.g. through You Tube videos and smartphones- still all sorts of other causative factors operate and, what's more, do so in a manner which damps down the production of cat like noises. Consider the case of Trump. No question, he'd like to make cat like noises on a continual basis. However, the exigencies of plutocratic power politics and geopolitical considerations and so forth considerably damp down his proclivity in this respect.

Still, what can not be gainsaid is that the propensity to make cat like noises exists and though it finds Technology and Social Media already in existence, it does not do so as part of its own existence but rather as independent forms. The coercive power of the State is required to destroy the independent existence of Technology and the Social Media and subordinate them to the making of cat like noises.

Dipesh quotes Marx-
“[Capital] originally finds the commodity already in existence, but not as its own product, and likewise finds money circulation, but not as an element in its own reproduction. . . . But both of them must first be destroyed as independent forms and subordinated to industrial capital. Violence (the State) is used against interest-bearing capital by means of compulsory reduction of interest rates.”
Dipesh tells us a ' logical fable to do with the category “labor power.” Let us imagine the embodiment of labor power, the laborer, entering the factory gate every morning at 8 A.M. and leaving it in the evening at 5, having put in his/her usual eight-hour day in the service of the capitalist (allowing for an hour’s lunch break). The contract of law—the wage contract—guides and defines these hours. Now, following my explanation of Histories 1 and 2 above, one may say that this laborer carries with himself or herself, every morning, practices embodying these two kinds of pasts, History 1 and History 2. History 1 is the past that is internal to the structure of being of capital. The fact is, that worker at the factory represents a historical separation between his/ her capacity to labor and the necessary tools of production (which now belong to the capitalist) thereby showing that he or she embodies a history that has realized this logical precondition of capital. This worker does not therefore represent any denial of the universal history of capital. Everything I have said about “abstract labor” will apply to him or her.

So people carry within themselves practices embodying two different types of History- one which is determined by a single causal factor, whatever that might be, and one which in all genuine causative factors are expressed. In the case of my theory re. Energy's ineluctable teleology as making cat like noises, the thing is feasible. Factory workers know how to make cat like noises. They don't know how to use machinery in the best possible way. That is something they have to be taught or which they must learn by themselves otherwise they will be sacked.

Workers do represent a denial of the 'universal history of capitalism' which is why we don't see a Marxist History 1 in operation anywhere. Nor do we see my cat noise producing History 1. But, it is feasible that everybody might suddenly choose to make cat like noises. It is not feasible that they would turn into Liebnizian monads endowed with an incompossible knowledge of Marxian Capital's ideal trajectory.

While walking through the factory gate, however, my fictional person also embodies other kinds of pasts.
Nonsense. When walking through the factory gate, the worker embodies only one type of past- viz. that in which he was hired to work in the factory and was assigned a badge or key-card. If he does not embody such a past, his walking through those gates may be physically obstructed. 

These pasts, grouped together in my analysis as History 2, may be under the institutional domination of the logic of capital and exist in proximate relationship to it, but they also do not belong to the “life process” of capital.
This is true only in the sense that everybody's past may be 'under the institutional domination of the logic of Energy's ineluctable tendency to express itself as cat like noises'. 
 They enable the human bearer of labor power to enact other ways of being in the world—other than, that is, being the bearer of labor power. Which is why they may get sacked. We cannot ever hope to write a complete or full account of these pasts. Unless we were historians who believe they have found genuine causative principles.  They are partly embodied in the person’s bodily habits, in unselfconscious collective practices, in his or her reflexes about what it means to relate to objects in the world as a human being and together with other human beings in his given environment. It is these habits and practices and reflexes which are suppressed in Social interactions. If invited to a dinner party, I am obliged to suppress my bodily habit of micturating in the sink, and my unconscious social habit of punching people and my reflex of snatching food. I may fail to do any or all these things but the upshot would be exclusion from future dinner parties.


Nothing in it is automatically aligned with the logic of capital. True, because 'the logic of capital' has no habitus. Making cat like noises does.

The disciplinary process in the factory is in part meant to accomplish the subjugation/ destruction of History 2.
No. It is meant to get the workers to do the jobs they are paid to do. Consider the case of Hindu workers at a Japanese owned factory who wish to interrupt the work schedule in order to celebrate Visvakarma Divas by applying 'teeka' to their supervisors by smashing their heads in and setting fire to a Human Resources Manager. What does the management do? Does it destroy or subjugate the workers' 'Hindu history'? No. It runs away. The local people, who rent rooms to the workers beat the fuck out of them. The State police arrests and tortures a whole bunch of them. Why? Are the local people anti-Hindu? No. They are concerned that workers continue to earn money in the factory so they can pay their rent. The Police wants the factory to stay open so that it pays its taxes and cesses. 
Capital, Marx’s abstract category,  says to the laborer: “I want you to be reduced to sheer living labor—muscular energy plus consciousness—for the eight hours for which I have bought your capacity to labor. I want to effect a separation between your personality (that is, the personal and collective histories you embody) and your will (which is a characteristic of sheer consciousness). My machinery and the system of discipline are there to ensure that this happens. When you work with the machinery that represents objectified labor, I want you to be living labor, a bundle of muscles and nerves and consciousness, but devoid of any memory except the memory of the skills the work needs.”

Similarly baby says to Mummy 'I want you to be reduced to sheer maternal nurture. Gimme your booby. Change my nappy. My body and my wailing are here to ensure that you don't rush off to Safeway to do a nude interpretative dance critiquing Butler's flawed notion of performativity.

“Machinery requires,” as Horkheimer put it in his famous critique of instrumental reason, “the kind of mentality that concentrates on the present and can dispense with memory and straying imagination.”
This is nonsense. Every type of work requires some degree of concentration on the present. No type of work- certainly not factory work- dispenses with memory and imagination. Both are required to diagnose and fix problems, actual or potential. A straying imagination is a valuable work skill because it it previsions improvements or prophylactic measures.
 To the extent that both the distant and the immediate pasts of the worker—including the work of unionization and citizenship—prepare him to be the figure posited by capital as its own condition and contradiction, those pasts do indeed constitute History 1. 
If this were true, Capitalism's 'History 1' is simply all human history. But so is that of making cat like noises. What can be claimed for the one can be claimed for the other. Ergo, it is a pointless and stupid claim.
But the idea of History 2 suggests that even in the very abstract and abstracting space of the factory that capital creates, ways of being human will be acted out in manners that do not lend themselves to the reproduction of the logic of capital.
Factories lost salience long ago. Only a small proportion of the population works in factories. History 2 does not matter because we know that a factory in Bristol can relocate to rural Poland or coastal China or anywhere else with little friction. Indeed, by the Seventies, big manufacturers had developed a preference to relocating in agricultural areas precisely because the work force was more flexible.

It would be wrong to think of History 2 (or History 2s) as necessarily precapitalist or feudal, or even inherently incompatible with capital. If that were the case, there would be no way humans could be at home—dwell—in the rule of capital, no room for enjoyment, no play of desires,no seduction of the commodity.
Commodities pre-exist Capital. So- d'uh!
Capital, in that case, would truly be a case of unrelieved and absolute unfreedom. The idea of History 2 allows us to make room, in Marx’s own analytic of capital, for the politics of
human belonging and diversity. 
No. The politics of human belonging and diversity encompasses slavery and gangsterism and Voodoo and so forth. Marx has a critique of 'false consciousness' which is relevant in these contexts. Capital may come into existence through slavery or gangsterism or witch-doctors enriching themselves, but this does not affect its trajectory according to Marx.
It gives us a ground on which to situate our thoughts about multiple ways of being human and their relationship to the global logic of capital. But Marx does not himself think through this problem, although his method, if my argument is right, allows us to acknowledge it.  If your argument is right, Marx was an idiot. There is a blind spot, it seems to me, built into his method—this is the problem of the status of the category “use value” in Marx’s thoughts on value. Let me explain.

Consider, for instance, the passage in the Grundrisse where Marx discusses, albeit briefly, the difference between making a piano and playing it. Because of his commitment to the idea of “productive labor,” Marx finds it necessary to theorize the piano maker’s labor in terms of its contribution to the creation of value. But what about the labor of the piano player? For Marx, that will belong to the category of “unproductive labor” that he took over (and developed) from his predecessors in political economy. Let us read closely the relevant passage:

What is productive labour and what is not, a point very much disputed back and forth since Adam Smith made this distinction, has to emerge from the direction of the various aspects of capital itself. Productive labour is only that which produces capital. Is it not crazy, asks e.g. . . . Mr Senior, that the piano maker is a productive worker, but not the piano player, although obviously the piano would be absurd without the piano player? But this is exactly the case. The piano maker reproduces capital, the pianist only exchanges his labour for revenue. But doesn’t the pianist produce music and satisfy our musical ear, does he not even to a certain extent produce the latter? He does indeed: his labour produces something; but that does not make it productive labour in the economic sense; no more than the labour of the mad man who produces delusions is productive.

Marx is making a distinction between 'goods' (like pianos) and 'services' (like playing a piano for paying customers). He was wrong to make that distinction but he wasn't the only one to do so. It is unfair to fasten onto this failure on his part to anticipate how Economics would develop in order to show that his entire oeuvre is nonsense on a par with Heidegger's. 

This is the closest that Marx would ever come to showing a Heideggerian intuition about human beings and their relation to tools. He acknowledges that our musical ear is satisfied by the music that the pianist produces. He even goes a step further in saying that the pianist’s music actually—and “to a certain extent”—“produces” that ear as well. In other words, in the intimate and mutually productive relationship between one’s very particular musical ear and particular forms of music is captured the issue of historical difference, of the ways in which History 1 is always modified by History 2.We do not all have the same musical ear. This ear, in addition, often develops unbeknownst to ourselves. This historical but unintended relation between a music and the ear it has helped “produce”—I do not like the assumed priority of the music over the ear but let that be—is like the relationship between humans and tools that Heidegger calls “the ready to hand”: the everyday, preanalytical, unobjectifying relationships we have to tools, relationships critical to the process of making a world out of this earth. This relationship would belong to History 2.
Nonsense! An Englishman, an Eskimo and an Eritrean have different History 2s  but pick up and use a hammer in the same way.  I pick it up and use it in a different way- not because of my History 2- but because I know my g.f will snatch it from me and complete the task herself thus permitting me a little leisure to open a beer can or two. 
 Heidegger does not minimize the importance of objectifying relationships (History 1 would belong here)—in his translator’s prose, they are called “present-at-hand”—but in a properly Heideggerian framework of understanding, both the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand retain their importance; one does not gain epistemological primacy over the other. History 2 cannot sublate itself into History 1.
History 1 is based on a causal theory of (if other causes are suppressed or subjugated) everything. The present-at-hand, by contrast, arises in a field where no such theory of everything exists. For History I, everything is 'ready-to-hand' because it can be used immediately for an ineluctable purpose.

History 2 does not matter enough to require sublation. Suppression or subjugation are good enough. Dipesh confesses as much-
But see what happens in the passage quoted. Marx both acknowledgesand in the same breath casts aside as irrelevant the activity that producesmusic. For his purpose, it is “no more than the labour of the mad manwho produces delusions.” This equation, however, between music and amadman’s delusion is baleful. It is what hides from view what Marx himselfhas helped us see: histories that capital anywhere—even in theWest—encounters as its antecedents, which do not belong to its life process.Music could be a part of such histories in spite of its later commodificationbecause it is part of the means by which we make our “worlds” out ofthis earth. The “mad” man, one may say in contrast, is world-poor. Hepowerfully brings to view the problem of human belonging. Do not thesad figures of the often mentally ill, homeless people on the streets of thecities of America, unkempt and lonely people pushing to nowhere shoppingtrolleys filled with random assortments of broken, unusable objects—do not they and their supposed possessions dramatically portraythis crisis of ontic belonging to which the “mad” person of late capitalismis condemned?
No. These guys need medical attention and proper housing and so on. If they were deprived of medical care and housing and so forth by some malign action of the Market or the State or some Criminal Gang, then their plight calls forth some political action on our part. They themselves may take a vanguard role in such political action. There is no 'crisis of ontic belonging'. There is a crisis of mentally ill people being denied proper care.
Marx’s equation of the labor of the piano player with thatof the production of a madman’s delusions shows how the question ofHistory 2 comes as but a fleeting glimpse in his analysis of capital. Itwithdraws from his thoughts almost as soon as it has revealed itself.
History 2 does not matter if you believe in a History 1. It is a 'carmen solutum'. A madman's howls which he himself may hear as a Mozartian symphony but which should call forth a compassionate medical response not some worthless verbiage whose purpose is to equate the deeply silly writings of various Bengalis with some sterile marriage between two worthless adademic availability cascades- viz. that of Marx and Heidegger.
If my argument is right, then it is important to acknowledge in historicalexplanations a certain indeterminacy that we can now read back intoThompson’s statement at the beginning of this chapter: “Without time-disciplinewe could not have the insistent energies of the industrial man;and whether this discipline comes in the form of Methodism, or of Stalinism,or of nationalism, it will come to the developing world.”
Time discipline didn't matter provided there were no caste or gender based barriers to employment. The Japanese found that unmarried peasant girls came under 'time-discipline' almost frictionlessly. Indian industrialists could not hire unmarried peasant girls and so faced a different problem- except in Bengal where the State co-operated with the, generally White owned, Jute factories, etc.
If any empirical history of the capitalist mode of production is History 1 modified—in numerous and not necessarily documentable ways—by History2s, then a major question about capital will remain historically undecidable.
An ergodic system may grow to include elements which exhibit hysteresis but, provided, that hysteresis disappears within a few iterations, no 'undecidability' will feature. Otherwise, it is not a system. Similarly, any History I which is modified by History II is not a History I at all.
Even if Thompson’s prediction were to come true, and a place likeIndia suddenly and unexpectedly boasted human beings as averse to “laziness”as the bearers of the Protestant ethic are supposed to be, we wouldstill not be able to settle one question beyond all doubt. We would neverknow for sure whether this condition had come about because the timediscipline that Thompson documented was a genuinely universal, functionalcharacteristic of capital, or whether world capitalism representeda forced globalization of a particular fragment of European history inwhich the Protestant ethic became a value.
Rubbish! We know that the 'time discipline' of Chinese migrants from the countryside has nothing to do with 'a particular fragment of European history in which the Protestant ethic became a value'.
It has everything to do with the nature of the capital goods installed by their employers.
A victory for the Protestant ethic, however global, would surely not be victory for any universal.
Urm.. Yes it would. It would be a victory for the Universal Protestant Church.
The question of whether the seemingly general and functional requirements of capital represent specific compromises in Europe between History 1 and History 2s remains, beyond a point, an undecidable question. Thetopic of “efficiency” and “laziness” is a good case in point. We know, forinstance, that even after years of Stalinist, nationalist, and free-marketcoercion, we have not been able to rid the capitalist world of the everpresenttheme of “laziness.” It has remained a charge that has alwaysbeen leveled at some group or other, ever since the beginnings of the particularshape that capital took in Western Europe.
This is sheer stupidity. Dipesh thinks that if people are lazy then some grave scandal arises for the ethic of their Religion or the 'logic' of the specific type of Economy in which they find themselves. This is not the case. There would be no need for Organised Religion or Incentive Compatible Mechanism design if such were the case. People go to Church to be admonished against laziness. They accept rewards and punishments at work because they recognise that they might slack off otherwise. Indeed, people who want to lose weight or run a marathon, admonish themselves with 'mantras' and reward and punish themselves in order to stick with their diet or training schedule.
No historical form of capital, however global its reach, can ever be auniversal.
So what? A 'universal' which is a historical form is can become global. It might be encoded in a heuristic- e.g 'buy low, sell high'- and prevail everywhere. Everybody might accept it. It might reinscribe itself in every subsequent state in a manner we could call 'capital'. What is there to stop this happening?
No global (or even local, for that matter) capital can everrepresent the universal logic of capital, for any historically available formof capital is a provisional compromise made up of History 1 modified bysomebody’s History 2s.
Mathematics has a universal logic. Ramanujan's History 2 was different from Hardy's. So what? We can now see that History 2 makes no difference to History 1. It is, to employ Henry Ford's term, simply 'bunk'.
The universal, in that case, can only exist as aplace holder, its place always usurped by a historical particular seekingto present itself as the universal.
If I am queuing for theater tickets and am suddenly caught short I may pay a homeless guy to keep my place for me in the line.  If, because of his History 2, he decides to buy a ticket himself, he may usurp my position. But, in that case he won't be a place holder at all.

Can the 'universal' exist as a place-holder? Nope, unless it is homeless and someone will employ it to stand in a queue while they go to the toilet. Nobody would do that because the Universal being fictitious might well fictitiously buy a ticket for itself while giving you the cold shoulder.
This does not mean that one gives awaythe universals enshrined in post-Enlightenment rationalism or humanism.Marx’s immanent critique of capital was enabled precisely by the universalcharacteristics he read into the category “capital” itself. Withoutthat reading, there can only be particular critiques of capital. But a particularcritique cannot by definition be a critique of “capital,” for such acritique could not take “capital” as its object. Grasping the category“capital” entails grasping its universal constitution. My reading of Marxdoes not in any way obviate that need for engagement with the universal.What I have attempted to do is to produce a reading in which the verycategory “capital” becomes a site where both the universal history ofcapital and the politics of human belonging are allowed to interrupt eachother’s narrative.
But, Marxism says it has a narrative which explains everything and that other narratives are the ravings of lunatics. Why interrupt sense with nonsense? Would Dipesh like it if I interrupted his lectures with cat like noises?
Capital is a philosophical-historical category—that is, historical differenceis not external to it but is rather constitutive of it. Its histories areHistory 1 constitutively but unevenly modified by more and less powerfulHistory 2s. Histories of capital, in that sense, cannot escape the politicsof the diverse ways of being human.
Yes they can because those diverse ways don't affect how human beings use machines as workers. Either they do it the right way or they get fired.
Capital brings into every historysome of the universal themes of the European Enlightenment, but on inspectionthe universal turns out to be an empty place holder whose unstableoutlines become barely visible only when a proxy, a particular, usurpsits position in a gesture of pretension and domination.
In other words, when people talk about 'universal themes' or 'the European Enlightenment', they are indulging in pretentious one-upmanship of a wholly worthless sort.
And that, it seems to me, is the restless and inescapable politics of historical difference to which global capital consigns us.
Not us, it consigns you, Dipesh because you are part of a Globalised Credentialist Ponzi scheme based on whining about being Black or Female or Gay or whatever so as to get tenure and sell copies of your worthless books.

At the same time, the struggle to put in the ever-empty place of History 1 other histories with which we attempt to modify and domesticate that empty, universal history posited by the logic of capital in turn brings intimations of that universal history into our diverse life practices.
So Dipesh says that struggling against something that does not exist causes intimations of that non existent thing to somehow change our lives. This is not a sensible view. I may spend my time struggling against Lesbian Space Vampires. This may affect my day to day life. However, since Lesbian Space Vampires don't exist no 'intimations' emanate from them. The hallucinations I experience arise out of mental illness. Psychiatrists don't try to find the Lesbian Space Vampires and ask them to stop intimating things to me. Instead, they prescribe medication which will suppress my symptoms.
The resulting process is what historians usually describe as “transition to capitalism.” This transition is also a process of translation of diverse life-worlds and conceptual horizons about being human into the categories of Enlightenment thought that inhere in the logic of capital.
Some historians wrongly thought there was a cultural component to the 'transition to capitalism'. However, recent Chinese history shows that those historians were barking up the wrong tree.
To think of Indian history in terms of Marxian categories is to translate into such categories the existing archives of thought and practices about human relations in the subcontinent; but it is also to modify these thoughts and practices with the help of these categories.
At one time it was thought that issues of caste, region and gender would have salience with respect to the burgeoning of the industrial proletariat in India. That view is no longer tenable. All that matters is if employers can freely hire and fire workers and are free from a license/ permit/ regulation based Raj. If they can't, industrialisation stalls and the industrial proletariat gets split between 'permanent' and 'casuals' in a manner described by Andrew Sanchez.

The politics of translation involved in this process work in both ways. Translation makes possible the emergence of the universal language of the social sciences.
Nonsense! Translation makes it possible for two Social Science Professors who share an office to never communicate with each other but only do so like-minded Professors in other countries who use the same stupid jargon.
But it must also, by the same token, enable a project of approaching social-science categories from both sides of the process of translation, in order to make room for two kinds of histories.
Rubbish! Every History 1 says History 2 does not matter. There is no need to 'make room for it'. Once Energy has reached a level where everybody only makes cat like noises, there is no room for anything else.
One consists of analytical histories that, through the abstracting categories of capital, eventually tend to make all places exchangeable with one another. History 1 is just that, analytical history. But the idea of History 2 beckons us to more affective narratives of human belonging where life forms, although porous to one another,do not seem exchangeable through a third term of equivalence such as abstract labor.
Abstract labour just means the money economy. There is a non monetary economy. Money may play an indirect part in this economy but the protocols are different. Thus, if you have good cocaine your Social life broadens even if you bought the cocaine for that specific purpose. Still, there is a different sort of 'implicit contract'. It would not be acceptable to demand fellatio as an immediate return for providing a bump. But, with free entry and exit, the chances of sex do increase.
Translation/transition to capitalism in the mode of History 1 involves the play of three terms, the third term expressing the measure of equivalence that makes generalized exchange possible. But to explore such translation/transition on the register of History 2 is to think about translation as a transaction between two categories without any third category intervening.
Why? Many translations are not direct but involve a third language. So what?
Translation here is more like barter than a process of generalized exchange. We need to think in terms of both modes of translation simultaneously, for together they constitute the condition of possibility for the globalization of capital across diverse, porous, and conflicting histories of human belonging.
This is crazy. It doesn't matter if my dialect of Tamil was first translated into Hindi and then into English before being translated into German provided the translation is checked by a competent person at each step.
We know for a fact that Britain colonised countries with widely different types of currency- cowrie shells and so on. This did not matter in the slightest.
But globalization of capital is not the same as capital’s universalization.
Obviously, Yoga and Kung Fu and Hip Hop are all global phenomena. They aren't universal.
Globalization does not mean that History 1, the universal and necessary logic of capital so essential to Marx’s critique, has been realized.
No one is suggesting that Marx was a true prophet. On the contrary, Marxism is as dead as a dodo. Not even Xi will be able to revive that corpse. All he will do is tighten Party 'residuary control rights' over everything.
What interrupts and defers capital’s self-realization are the various History 2s that always modify History 1and thus act as our grounds for claiming historical difference.

Either History 2 has causative factors or it does not. If it doesn't, it can't cause any interruption. Every causative factor in 2 can give rise to a History 1. So, what is 'interrupting and deferring' Marx's History 1, based on the Labour theory of Value,  is the superior History 1 based on the Marginalist Revolution in Value theory which achieved apotheosis in, that great Soviet Economist, Slutsky fundamental equation.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Reading Dipesh Chakraborty's 'Provincializing Europe'- part III

IT HAS RECENTLY BEEN SAID in praise of the postcolonial project of Subaltern Studies that it demonstrates, “perhaps for the first time since colonisation,” that “Indians are showing sustained signs of reappropriating the capacity to represent themselves [within the discipline of history].”1 As a historian who is a member of the Subaltern Studies collective, I find the congratulation contained in this remark gratifying but premature. The purpose of this essay is to problematize the idea of “Indians” “representing themselves in history.”
Subaltern Studies is shite historiography. Still, if Indians are utterly shite, it might still be part of a duty of 'epistemic affirmative action' to say something nice about it. But who actually did so? Some bloke named Ronald Inden. He's not a historian. He specialises in Bengali. He is talking up a worthless Bengali product in return for not being exposed as an ignoramus regarding those worthless Bengalis' mother tongue. Why is Dipesh 'gratified' by the words of a specialist in Bengali whom he doesn't think actually knows anything special about Bengal? Is it because that specialist is White?

If Inden actually knew anything about Bengal he'd be aware that the earlier generation of Bengali historians and sociologists actually wrote a lot in Bengali and very successfully 'represented Bengalis to themselves' in a manner which actually made Bengalis more useful and inspiring to non Bengalis. By contrast, Subaltern Studies and Post Colonial theory have made a laughing stock of those University Departments which harbour them.

This is not to say that it is only the Bengalis who shit the bed in History Departments
There are at least two everyday symptoms of the subalternity of non-Western, third-world histories. Third-world historians feel a need to refer to works in European history; historians of Europe do not feel any need to reciprocate.
So what? Name droppers don't expect those whose acquaintance they claim to reciprocate.
Whether it is an Edward Thompson, a Le Roy Ladurie, a George Duby, a Carlo Ginzberg, a Lawrence Stone, a Robert Darnton, or a Natalie Davis—to take but a few names at random from our contemporary world—the “greats” and the models of the historian’s enterprise are always at least culturally “European.”
WTF? A historian of Europe has to be at least culturally European. Consider my account of the origin  of the Crusades which focuses exclusively upon the Pope's inability to correctly perform the Sandhyavandanam ritual. It is worthless for the same reason that Guha's work is worthless. It has no genuine interest in its subject. It's purpose is only to advertise the author's cultural credentials.
“They” produce their work in relative ignorance of non-Western histories, and this does not seem to affect the quality of their work. This is a gesture, however, that “we” cannot return. We cannot even afford an equality or symmetry of ignorance at this level without taking the risk of appearing “old-fashioned” or “outdated.”
Appearing outdated to whom? Roberto Callasso draws upon an outdated Indology, but, unlike Inden, a book of his is a bestseller in its Hindi translation.
Dipesh like Guha, Spivak.Bhabha etc writes for a gesture political reason which can have no broad currency because it is only academic politics we are speaking of.

Dipesh's Marx
Marx said in that very Hegelian first chapter of Capital, volume 1, that the secret of “capital,” the category, “cannot be deciphered until the notion of human equality has acquired the fixity of a popular prejudice.”
 If people aren't equal, the superior can command labour power from the inferior in an unmediated manner. Obviously, slave societies can be 'Capitalist' but, Marx thought, the Economists of that Capitalist Society would not make a categorical distinction between Capital and Labour. He was wrong. Economists could make that distinction by defining Capital as physical not financial. This means that Neo-Classical Economics has a problem with measuring Capital similar to the Marxist problem with measuring the abstract yardstick of the Labour theory of Value. But the problem is merely technical. It does not represent a scandal.
To continue with Marx’s words:
'even the most abstract categories, despite their validity—precisely because of their abstractness—for all epochs, are nevertheless, . . . themselves . . . a product of historical relations. Bourgeois society is the most developed and the most complex historic organisation of production. The categories which express its relations, the comprehension of its structure, thereby also allow insights into the structure and the relations of production of all the vanished social formations out of whose ruins and elements it built itself up, whose partly still unconquered remnants are carried along within it, whose mere nuances have developed explicit significance within it, etc. . . . The intimations of higher development among the subordinate animal species . . . can be understood only after the higher development is already known. The bourgeois economy thus supplies the key to the ancient....
For capital or bourgeois, I submit, read “Europe” or “European.”
Let us try Dipesh's experiment. The passage now reads
'even the most abstract categories, despite their validity—precisely because of their abstractness—for all epochs, are nevertheless, . . . themselves . . . a product of historical relations. European society is the most developed and the most complex historic organisation of production. The categories which express its relations, the comprehension of its structure, thereby also allow insights into the structure and the relations of production of all the vanished social formations out of whose ruins and elements it built itself up, whose partly still unconquered remnants are carried along within it, whose mere nuances have developed explicit significance within it, etc. . . . The intimations of higher development among the subordinate animal species . . . can be understood only after the higher development is already known. The European economy thus supplies the key to the ancient....
 What does it now signify? Just that we're more advanced now than we were and we can understand the past better for this reason. There aint no 'subaltern' or PoCo theme here. In any case, Marx said America was more developed than Europe thanks to slavery. He wrote- Without slavery, North America, the most progressive nation, would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Only wipe North America off the map and you will get anarchy, the complete decay of trade and modern civilisation. But to do away with slavery would be to wipe America off the map

The above passage of Dipesh's, did not feature the word Capital. But the sentence preceding it did. Let us substitute 'Europe' for 'Capital' as Dipesh requests and see what we get.
the secret of “Europe,” the category, “cannot be deciphered until the notion of human equality has acquired the fixity of a popular prejudice.”
Cool! It's the kind of thing Saint Merkel might say- 'Europe won't become itself- understand the secret of its own identity- till the notion of human equality has so thoroughly entrenched itself that we see no difference between a refugee in a Hijab and a fat bloke in lederhosen. Once again, there's no excuse for PoCo shite here.

Dipesh teaches at a University. Some University Departments are advancing. Others are stagnating. Is there any way to predict which will advance and which will stagnate? One possible criteria is whether that Department could have a 'Subaltern' or 'Po Co' theorist on staff. If it can, it will turn to shit.
I pursue Marx’s philosophical concept “capital” in order to examine closely two of his ideas that are inseparable from his critique of capital: that of “abstract labor” and the relation between capital and history.
What is Marx's 'philosophical concept' of Capital? We know his formula for it, but a formula is not a concept.
Marx’s philosophical category “capital” is global in its historical aspiration and universal in its constitution.
This is nonsense. Marx's formula does not fit the non monetary economy. Thus even if there were a coherent 'philosophical category' here it couldn't be 'universal in its constitution' (unless we live in an Arrow-Debreu universe with time travel).
ISIS is 'global in its historical aspirations'. As is the internet meme of 'planking'. So what?
Its categorial structure, at least in Marx’s own argumentation, is predicated on the Enlightenment ideas of juridical equality and the abstract political rights of citizenship.
The idea of 'juridicial equality' is linked to choice of arbitrator or judicial forum in non-coercive exchange. For incomplete contracts, it is important that both sides have a Muth Rational expectation of equitable treatment. The enforcement agency may be quite different, but the forum must be perceived as unbiased and protocol bound. Dipshit may think no such fora existed before the European enlightenment. Even Marx wasn't that stupid.
Labor that is juridically and politically free—and yet socially unfree—is a concept embedded in Marx’s category of “abstract labor.”
No. Marx's 'abstract labour' arises simply from the notion of an artificial 'socially necessary labour' yardstick, or 'numeraire' such as Economists are obliged to use. It could be linked (though it wasn't by Marx) to the sort of wage we think is necessary for a decent life. We could say 'socially necessary' should be determined by society itself and thus coincide with 'socially acceptable' or even 'socially optimal'.
The idea of “abstract labor” thus combines the Enlightenment themes of juridical freedom (rights, citizenship) and the concept of the universal and abstract human who bears this freedom.
Sheer nonsense! One might as well say that Slutsky's indifference curve combines Capitalist hedonism with Soviet curviness. I suppose one could construct a Slutskian Marxism but since the poor fellow kept his head down under Stalin, let's not. The odd thing he showed that Capitalism's crises are Stochastic not Social in origin while working under Kondratiev.
More importantly, it is also a concept central to Marx’s explanation of why capital, in fulfilling itself in history, necessarily creates the ground for its own dissolution.
This is not true. Having or not having a labour theory of value does not cause Capitalism to fall. It can only help us understand why it will have worsening crises and why that's actually a good thing because something better will emerge from its demise.
Examining the idea of “abstract labor” then enables us to see what is politically and intellectually at stake—both for Marx and for the students of his legacy—in the humanist heritage of the European Enlightenment.
Rubbish. A good statistician like Slutsky could usefully examine the idea of 'abstract labour'. He could show that people who want a better society now needn't be discouraged by the appearance of scarcity or some ineluctable miserabilist law. On the contrary, there is a Mechanism Design that can be done today which is both more just, more humane and also makes everything better for everybody in the long run. The Japanese 'peasant/Sage' Shontoku Ninomiya showed how this could be done in 'feudal' Japan.
The idea of “abstract labor” also leads us to the question of how the logic of capital relates to the issue of historical difference.
Historical difference is overcome by diffusion and extinction, The logic of Capital- buy low, sell high- is what the Marginal Revolution gave a mathematical expression on an analogy with Statistical Thermodynamics. Marx was a jurist and so he couldn't grasp these developments. There is no reason why Marxists should not compensate for his incapacity in this respect.
As is well known, the idea of “history” was central to Marx’s philosophical understanding of “capital.” “Abstract labor” gave Marx a way of explaining how the capitalist mode of production managed to extract from peoples and histories that were all different a homogenous and common unit for measuring human activity.
Abstract Labour is like 'putty' Capital and depends, for coherence, on an artificially constructed yardstick with a specific Econometric description. The French metre or the English yard were used in French and British Colonies to measure things. But the existence of the metre or the yard did not explain why, historically, some regions of the world are at a higher or lower altitude than others.
“Abstract labor” may thus be read as part of an account of how the logic of capital sublates into itself the differences of history.
Sublates? How can a yardstick, that too an abstract one, sublate anything? If Mommy uses a tape measure to find out how much baby has grown, does she keep the tape measure, because it has 'sublated baby into itself', while consigning the infant to the drawer for odds and ends?

Perhaps that what Dipshit's Mom actually did. It would explain so much.
In the second part of this chapter, however, I try to develop a distinction that Marx made between two kinds of histories: histories “posited by capital” and histories that do not belong to capital’s “life process.” I call them History 1 and History 2, and I explore the distinction between them to show how Marx’s thoughts may be made to resist the idea that the logic of capital sublates differences into itself. I conclude this chapter by trying to open Marxian categories up to some Heideggerian ruminations on the politics of human diversity
Clearly, Dipesh fails History I because he doesn't understand what a numeraire, in Economics, is.
What about History II? Let us see.

Reading Dipesh Chakraborty's 'Provincializing Europe'- part II

How does Dipesh 'provincialize Europe' ? The answer is he deploys an impartial ignorance of both Europe and India.

Consider the following-
A dramatic example of this nationalist rejection of historicist history is the Indian decision taken immediately after the attainment of independence to base Indian democracy on universal adult franchise. 
Ceylon got universal suffrage in 1931 because the Sinhalese upper class accepted Sidney Webb's system of safeguards for minorities. India could not because Caste Hindus represented a majority and no system of safeguards was acceptable to the minorities. Since the Congress was confident it could win majorities under universal franchise, there was never any doubt that independent India would chose that route. But then no country adopted anything else- if they had free elections at all.

Dipshit thinks otherwise-
This was directly in violation of Mill’s prescription. “Universal teaching,” Mill said in the essay “On Representative Government,” “must precede universal enfranchisement.”
This shows Mill didn't matter. The fact is the cry 'we must educate our masters' was raised after Disraeli's fait accompli of 1867.
Dipesh lives in a fantasy world where writers on the Curriculum issues prescriptions which Society faithfully followed because they were based on ineluctable Science.
Even the Indian Franchise Committee of 1931, which had several Indian members, stuck to a position that was a modified version of Mill’s argument.
Because none of its Indian members were from the Party which would have won on an universal franchise. The (Motilal) Nehru Report stipulated for universal adult suffrage in 1928. Gandhi lobbied for it at both Round Table Conferences. It was accepted as Congress policy by 1932. Its success in Ceylon rather reinforced this view.
The members of the committee agreed that although universal adult franchise would be the ideal goal for India, the general lack of literacy in the country posed a very large obstacle to its implementation.
They did so because Minorities were afraid that the Majority was also educationally more forward.
And yet in less than two decades, India opted for universal adult suffrage for a population that was still predominantly nonliterate.
No body opposed it- the only question was whether villages should vote en bloc or not but this proposition was not seriously entertained.
In defending the new constitution and the idea of “popular sovereignty” before the nation’s Constituent Assembly on the eve of formal independence, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, later to be the first vice president of India, argued against the idea that Indians as a people were not yet ready to rule themselves.
Nonsense! India was already ruling itself. No Indian was saying 'we can't rule ourselves, let's ask Whitey to come back.' Actually there was one  idiot who did write a book which ended by an appeal for the Coloniser to return. But he was Bengali. And a Historian. In other words, a dipshit like Dipesh.

As far as he (Radhakrishnan) was concerned, Indians, literate or illiterate, were always suited for self-rule. He said: “We cannot say that the republican tradition is foreign to the genius of this country. We have had it from the beginning of our history.” What else was this position if not a national gesture of abolishing the imaginary waiting room in which Indians had been placed by European historicist thought?
Radhakrishnan was an Oxford Professor who had achieved celebrity status in the Thirties as Robert Graves and Alan Hodges have recorded. He had no political or ideological importance. What he said was what Professors say about things nobody cares about. India was making a lot of nationalist gestures at that time. This was the least of them.
Needless to say, historicism remains alive and strong today in the all the developmentalist practices and imaginations of the Indian state.
Only because they are crap and have little practical effect.
Much of the institutional activity of governing in India is premised on a day-to-day practice of historicism; there is a strong sense in which the peasant is still being educated and developed into the citizen.
No such 'education' is occurring. The State can't get its teachers to stop playing truants and actually teach some kids. How the fuck is it going to 'educate' peasants?
But every time there is a populist/political mobilization of the people on the streets of the country and a version of “mass democracy” becomes visible in India, historicist time is put in temporary suspension.
A species of time which can be put on 'temporary' suspension isn't time. It is nonsense. Why speak of it?
And once every five years—or more frequently, as seems to be the case these days—the nation produces a political performance of electoral democracy that sets aside all assumptions of the historicist imagination of time.
Really? Is that what happened in 2014? Modi got in and the Dynasty was thrown out. Dipshit may think this was just a 'performance' or tamasha but Indians don't feel the same way. Previously, one bunch of goons was getting rich. Now a different set of goons is getting rich. This matters if you are a goon or related to a goon or depend on a goon financially- which, in a segmentary society, adds up to quite a lot of people.
On the day of the election, every Indian adult is treated practically and theoretically as someone already endowed with the skills of a making major citizenly choice, education or no education.
The same is true of the American voter who elected Trump, the Italian voter who elected Berlusconi and the British voter who precipitated Brexit.
Dipesh may be a fool but he gets a vote so as to cancel out the equal and opposite imbecility of some other Bengali Professor.

Subaltern  Studies

(The) problem of how to conceptualize the historical and the political in a context where the peasant was already part of the political was indeed one of the key questions that drove the historiographic project of Subaltern Studies. My extended interpretation of the word “peasant” follows from some of the founding statements Ranajit Guha made when he and his colleagues attempted to democratize the writing of Indian history by looking on subordinate social groups as the makers of their own destiny. I find it significant, for example, that Subaltern Studies should have begun its career by registering a deep sense of unease with the very idea of the “political” as it had been deployed in the received traditions of English language Marxist historiography. Nowhere is this more visible than in Ranajit Guha’s criticism of the British historian Eric Hobsbawm’s category “prepolitical” in his 1983 book Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India.
Marx lived in London. There was, till quite recently, a British Marxist tradition. Hobsbawm belonged to it. But the British working class outgrew Marxism. It was foolish and ignorant.

If Guha wanted to criticise Hobsbawm he would have needed to shown it was shite with respect to British history. If he had wanted to say anything about Indian history, he would have had to study primary Indian sources. But Guha was a worthless lump of shite. All he was capable of was pretending that  Hobsbawm was important and that attacking him using spurious Indian sources somehow redeemed Indian National honour and entitled him and his disciples to tenure in wholly worthless Departments of Western Universities.

Ranajit Guha emigrated to Britain and took British citizenship even before Niradh Chaudhri. He pretended to be interested in Indian tribals and peasants and so forth because he was a shite historian who needed to disguise himself as some sort of theoretician who might gain salience if some particular clique gained control of the CPM in Bengal.
In the old days, some naive American might believe Guha, if not Hobsbawm, knew something about the country he claimed to speak for. This is no longer the case. Dipshit jumped on the wrong bandwagon and so this book of his back peddles from his fellow historians like Hobsbawm and Guha in order to gain a spurious glamour by pretending to engage with, the Economist, Marx, and the Philosopher, Heidegger.

Can this Historian, who is shite at his own job, really understand Economics and Philosophy? Let us see.


Reading Dipesh Chakraborty's 'Provincializing Europe'- part I

Keynes once very sensibly observed that, Raj era, Indian Economics was shite because both the 'native' savant and the Mandarin 'Sahib' knew nothing of other comparable Economies and schools of Economic thought.

Dipesh Chakrabarty writing towards the end of the Century which provincialised Europe- indeed, which saw alien troops- including 'Negros' & 'Mongols'- garrison those parts of it which had little or no Colonial history- is striking evidence for a proposition wider than Keynes's- viz. that comprador class Historians or Social Scientists or Professors of Comp Lit whose epistemic orientation is towards Europe are utterly shite with respect to both Europe and their own benighted Babudom.

Why?
It's because they can't think as well as the most provincial 'chai-wallah' in their natal land.

Dipshit says-
The phenomenon of “political modernity”— namely, the rule by modern institutions of the state, bureaucracy, and capitalist enterprise—is impossible to think of anywhere in the world without invoking certain categories and concepts, the genealogies of which go deep into the intellectual and even theological traditions of Europe.
If this were true, how the fuck did Narendra Modi become Prime Minister of India? Perhaps, Dipesh is saying Modi's degrees aren't fake- he genuinely studied Poli Sci at Uni, albeit as an external candidate.
The problem with this view- other than that it legitimises and exalts Modi's techne- that Ghanchi's ability to extract the essence of the Western political episteme- above that of Brahmin prodigies like Dipesh himself- is that NaMo aint no Xi Jinping.  It is not his personality cult which has waxed as the collegial aspect of his Party has waned, but, rather, that the R.S.S has gained and its humble pracharak, or propagandist, Modi has faded into its shadow as did Ayaz in the shadow of Sultan Mahmud.

No doubt, Dipesh could counter that Savarkar or Moonje or Hedgewar and so on were actually profound 'Europeanists'. Perhaps they were. What is certain is they failed. What about Deen Dayal Upadhyaya? Well, he did get a couple of degrees before the British left so, ok- but he too failed. Who succeeded? We don't know. They don't have names in our Histories. Good folk, no doubt, gratefully remembered by their families and neighbours and colleagues and so on. But we aren't speaking of anyone who incarnated 'History on horseback'- just that little old Gujerati man who stopped his tonga for me to clamber onto because, from my complexion, he deduced me to be either Untouchable or 'Madrasi'.  Or so I thought. It turned out the fellow was a retired School Teacher with a son in You Ess. He picked me up because he thought I was a Muslim (I had a thick beard) and we were in a Bihari pilgrimage spot and there had been a 'communal riot' in a nearby town. He was astonished that I was staying in a Jain Ashram and I was astonished that this beautiful, Gandhian, widower was a 'hard core' RSS 'bakth'. This happened around the time Dipesh was correcting the proofs for this-
Concepts such as citizenship, the state, civil society, public sphere, human rights, equality before the law, the individual, distinctions between public and private, the idea of the subject, democracy, popular sovereignty, social justice, scientific rationality, and so on all bear the burden of European thought and history. One simply cannot think of political modernity without these and other related concepts that found a climactic form in the course of the European Enlightenment and the nineteenth century.
These concepts are essentially contested not regulative. Most Europeans lived their lives without troubling greatly over them, preferring to hold, with Alexander Pope-
For forms of Government let fools contest
Whatever is best administered is best.
There was once a small Indian Liberal party but, as Ambedkar pointed out, it surrendered to Gandhi's atavistic nativism. It turned out that it was impossible for the great mass of the Indian people to 'think of political modernity' in the terms Dipesh mentions. Why? Because the terms assume the existence of an infinite source of power which can establish them in their ideal form. In India, there are obvious limits to power. 
It may be that Dipesh can't think of political modernity in any other terms than those of his profession- but his profession is without influence, indeed is widely despised, in his natal country. What he can't think isn't evidence of anything save his stupidity and the worthless nature of his subject.
Dipesh admits as much almost immediately.

These concepts entail an unavoidable—and in a sense indispensable— universal and secular vision of the human. The European colonizer of the nineteenth century both preached this Enlightenment humanism at the colonized and at the same time denied it in practice. But the vision has been powerful in its effects. It has historically provided a strong foundation on which to erect—both in Europe and outside—critiques of socially unjust practices. Marxist and liberal thought are legatees of this intellectual heritage. This heritage is now global. The modern Bengali educated middle classes—to which I belong and fragments of whose history I recount later in the book—have been characterized by Tapan Raychaudhuri as the “the first Asian social group of any size whose mental world was transformed through its interactions with the West.”
West Bengal had a Marxist Government dominated by Chakrabarty's class when Dipesh wrote these words. That administration fell and its goons have switched sides. One might plausibly find a European intellectual genealogy for Jyoti Basu or Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, but what about Mamta Bannerjee and her Trinamool goons?

The truth is that Bengal has been in continuous decline for as long as Dipesh has been alive. His class has emigrated in order to cling on to gentility. But they have no political or social salience with respect to India.


Postcolonial scholarship is committed, almost by definition, to engaging the universals—such as the abstract figure of the human or that of Reason—that were forged in eighteenth-century Europe and that underlie the human sciences.
That's why Postcolonial theory is useless.
Universals don't exist. You can't get engaged to them or marry them or have babies with them.

It was not just the Europeans, everybody everywhere decided a very long time ago that Philosophy was worthless. People who talk about the 'abstract figure of the human or that of Reason' are gibbering pedagogues whose job is to stop their young charges from copulating in public.
This engagement marks, for instance, the writing of the Tunisian philosopher and historian Hichem Djait, who accuses imperialist Europe of “deny[ing] its own vision of man.” 
Europe may have retained enough power of force projection to grant or deny something to their near neighbours across the Meditteranean, but it has no power to do anything with respect to India. The penultimate Viceroy, the soldier Wavell, made it clear that Britain could not hold India. The best he could do was to evacuate the White population via the Muslim dominated regions. Dipesh knows this. Why is he sticking with a theory which consists of whining to Whitey to come back and fix things?

Fanon’s struggle to hold on to the Enlightenment idea of the human—even when he knew that European imperialism had reduced that idea to the figure of the settler-colonial white man—is now itself a part of the global heritage of all postcolonial thinkers.
Why? The French left Algeria within a few years of Fanon's arriving there. Okay there were White people in Rhodesia and Angola and South Africa. But no one needed to read Fanon in order to cut their throats, once it was safe to do so, so as to grab their property. It seems the global heritage of postcolonial theorists is useless. Why do they insist on handing it down?

 The struggle ensues because there is no easy way of dispensing with these universals in the condition of political modernity. Without them there would be no social science that addresses issues of modern social justice.
Economics is a Social Science. Incentive compatible Mechanism Design is needful for achieving Social Justice. This means having to learn Maths.  There are no 'Universals' anywhere. They don't exist. There is an easy way of dispensing with things which don't exist. Just stop talking about them. Simples.

But, says, Dipesh, these 'Universals' are taught in the Academy. Surely this means they are meaningful?
The answer is, no- University education is merely a screening or signalling device. The content of the course can be wholly worthless.

Faced with the task of analyzing developments or social practices in modern India, few if any Indian social scientists or social scientists of India would argue seriously with, say, the thirteenth-century logician Gangesa or with the grammarian and linguistic philosopher Bartrihari (fifth to sixth centuries), or with the tenth- or eleventh-century aesthetician Abhinavagupta.
Indian social scientists are shite. However, Hindus do use Niti Shastras when analysing social developments. This involves hermeneutic arguments in which Gangesa or Bratrihari might feature. To give an example, a person who opposes the 'beef ban' may quote Gangesa or Bhratrihari to show that there is no Scriptural warrant for it. However, the Beef Ban was explicitly introduced for 'Secular, Scientific' reasons and so this can't give rise to a legal argument.  I may mention, Abhinavagupta is particularly interesting. It is no accident that descendants of his School have played such a big part in modern India.
Sad though it is, one result of European colonial rule in South Asia is that the intellectual traditions once unbroken and alive in Sanskrit or Persian or Arabic are now only matters of historical research for most—perhaps all—modern social scientists in the region.They treat these traditions as truly dead, as history.
So what? These guys are brain dead and so everything is dead to them or dies the moment they get their grubby little hands upon it.
 Although categories that were once subject to detailed theoretical contemplation and inquiry now exist as practical concepts, bereft of any theoretical lineage, embedded in quotidian practices in South Asia, contemporary social scientists of South Asia seldom have the training that would enable them to make these concepts into resources for critical thought for the present.
But 'contemporary social scientist', in South Asia, means 'stupid jhollawallah talking bollocks while aiming for tenure at some cowbelt College'.
In America, the Hare Krishnas do spend a lot of time thinking about fundamental ideas in Vaishnavite philosophy. In India, every single sect possesses some thinkers of this sort. There are also some Indians who analyse Indian politics in terms of Niti Shastras. However, they are as shite as Dipesh's jhollawallahs because, as the Nalopakhayanam teaches, the Just King has got to learn Statistical Game theory to overcome his 'Vishada' or Hamlet like, Academic, indecision.
And yet past European thinkers and their categories are never quite dead for us in the same way.
Only if we're getting paid to pretend they are alive for the sake of a pay cheque.
South Asian(ist) social scientists would argue passionately with a Marx or a Weber without feeling any need to historicize them or to place them in their European intellectual contexts.
Nope, that's not what happened. At one time there were electable Marxist parties and so it was worthwhile to pretend to be engaging with Marx. Weber said some nasty things about us, so shitting on him is a reflex.
The fact that we don't bother to 'historicize' European figures shows they don't matter and are a fit subject only for magical thinking. I didn't 'historicize' Shao Lin Kung Fu when, as a kid, I pretended I knew the 'poison fist' technique and could kill my elder sister with a single blow.

By contrast, we are very careful to historicize businessmen whom we are seeking to emulate. We need to know not just how Steve Jobs gained his 'Reality distortion field' but under what circumstances it was successfully deployed.
Yet the very history of politicization of the population, or the coming of political modernity, in countries outside of the Western capitalist democracies of the world produces a deep irony in the history of the political.
What 'deep irony' can arise from mimetic diffusion? It is only that Time, which turns the father carrying his infant heir into a bag of bones being carried by his strapping son, causes a reversal of all roles. But History can't confine itself to Timeless Universals and so ought to stop gnawing the knuckles of amazement at 'deep irony'.
This history challenges us to rethink two conceptual gifts of nineteenth-century Europe, concepts integral to the idea of modernity. One is historicism—the idea that to understand anything it has to be seen both as a unity and in its historical development—and the other is the very idea of the political.
These are gifts? Fuck off! They are everywhere present. Sir William Jones referred to Nawadwipa as his third alma mater. Does Dipesh really believe that his own ancestors at that seat of learning did not know how property and customary rights had changed and were changing? Did they have no concept of the political? How is it that Indians could lobby Westminster in the Eighteenth Century using historical and political arguments if historicism and the 'idea of the political' were gifts of Nineteenth Century Europe?
What historically enables a project such as that of “provincializing Europe” is the experience of political modernity in a country like India.
Why? Suppose India had chosen not to subsidise degrees in worthless subjects, then Dipesh wouldn't be writing this. But, India only chose to subsidise degrees in worthless subjects so as to create a class of sycophants who, lacking any useful skills, would do what they were told while grinning obsequiously.

European thought has a contradictory relationship to such an instance of political modernity. It is both indispensable and inadequate in helping us to think through the various life practices that constitute the political and the historical in India.
Why is it indispensable? Dipesh and his ilk are immensely dispensable. They have hogged resources and set up their own little cliques but they have produced unreadable junk. India has pulled the plug on them. The peasant in the Punjab is clamouring for a seat in Medical College, or Engineering College for his son or daughter. He is prepared to sell land to pay the inflated fees. But Post Colonial Theory? Does anyone want their child to study that shite?
Exploring—on both theoretical and factual registers—this simultaneous indispensability and inadequacy of social science thought is the task this book has set itself.
Dipesh says 'social science thought' is inadequate by its very nature. We agree and have dispensed with it. It is true that Medical thought is inadequate but we haven't dispensed with it. Why? Because it is constantly improving. Social Science thought has not improved. It has degenerated into a schizophrenic word salad.

Is Dipesh saying that 'social science thought' can be rectified and put on an upward path? No. He makes no such claim. The task he sets himself is to explore a sterile moonscape of no use to God or man. Why? Well, twenty years ago, the Marxists were still well entrenched in Dipesh's Bengal which continued to decline as a result. But now the Bengalis have themselves rusticated those imbeciles so that a more naked type of hooliganism can prevail, Dipesh's project too should be rusticated. Drop Po-Co shite from the Curriculum already. Do it now. You know you want to