Sunday, 18 October 2020

Mithi Mukherjee bizarre view of the Law

One great advantage of having a wierd Turd World name, for an American academic, is that you can pretend that your own people have only now discovered that they had been fucked over by Whitey. So you get to write books and journal articles dripping with righteous indignation at the fact that Racists were highly racist in their behavior to your own bunch of particularly dim darkies. What's more, you can display stupidity and ignorance of a high order because, clearly, your people were always too stupid and ignorant to work out that they had been fucked over by Whitey even though Whitey spent centuries boasting about having done so. These farcical perorations have to be accepted as genuinely academic work because it would be racist to point out that nobody- not even Bengalis- could have been that stupid and unobservant.

By itself, the phenomenon is quite harmless and a good way to revenge yourself on bien pensant Whites. If patronizing assholes treat you like an imbecile, be the bigger imbecile. It is the Gandhian way. Bal, Pal and Lal, however, were pre-Gandhian. They weren't imbeciles at all. 

Yet, in an article on Tilak's sedition trial, Mithi Mukherjee writes- 

The discourse of political freedom that Tilak articulated so forcefully in this trial would be reiterated in 1922 in another famous sedition trial, this time by none other than Mahatma Gandhi.

Is this true? No. Tilak said he was innocent. Gandhi said he was guilty. Tilak denied there was a connection between his actions and the violence of the Revolutionaries. Gandhi affirmed his responsibility for all violent acts including those of the Moplahs or the mob at Chauri Chaura.

Gandhi said ' I wish to endorse all the blame that the learned Advocate-General has thrown on my shoulders in connection with the Bombay occurrences, Madras occurrences and the Chauri Chuara occurrences. Thinking over these things deeply and sleeping over them night after night, it is impossible for me to dissociate myself from the diabolical crimes of Chauri Chaura or the mad outrages of Bombay. He is quite right when he says, that as a man of responsibility, a man having received a fair share of education, having had a fair share of experience of this world, I should have known the consequences of every one of my acts. I know them. I knew that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk and if I was set free I would still do the same.

Gandhi's admission explains why he called off the Non-Cooperation Movement. He had thought India was ready for Independence. Then he discovered his error. His zeal for Independence remained. But he knew the thing would be a disaster. Thus the Government must lock him up otherwise more senseless violence would occur. 

This testimony of Gandhi's was very useful to the 'die-hard' Tory faction. They had alway said India could not become independent for many many years. Gandhi agreed. That is why, when Labour was elected, Olivier, not Wedgwood, was made Secretary of State for India. Egypt and Afghanistan and Ireland got independence but India, where Britain was even weaker, had unconditionally surrendered. 

Gandhi's legal analysis reveals that the British Government had a moral responsibility to jail Indian independence activists. Why? They could not stop themselves from sowing sedition even if, like Gandhi, they realized this would lead to great violence and anarchy. They may be medically sane, but, politically, they were insane and had to be incarcerated for the common good.  


Section 124 A, under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite to violence.

Indeed, one is at liberty to blackguard others if one is impotent to harm their interests in any way. The thing may be reprehensible, but it isn't justiciable. 

But the section under which mere promotion of disaffection is a crime. I have studied some of the cases tried under it; I know that some of the most loved of India’s patriots have been convicted under it. I consider it a privilege, therefore, to be charged under that section. I have endeavored to give in their briefest outline the reasons for my disaffection. I have no personal ill-will against any single administrator, much less can I have any disaffection towards the King’s person. But I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected towards a Government which in its totality has done more harm to India than any previous system.

But only because those previous systems had been so crap that a small far-away country was able to conquer India and extend its territorial domains and ability to project force in an unprecedented manner. Gandhi & Co may dream of something better for India but they could not say how that dream might turn into reality save by some magical force such that everybody became non-violent and altruistic.  

India is less manly under the British rule than she ever was before.

But that manliness was so derisory that Britain had easily established paramountcy over the entire region- save for the Gurkhas of Nepal with whom the Brits made friends and whom they continue to recruit for their armies.

Holding such a belief, I consider it to be a sin to have affection for the system.

But the guy also thought it was a sin to have sex with his own wife. 

And it has been a precious privilege for me to be able to write what I have in the various articles tendered in evidence against me. In fact, I believe that I have rendered a service to India and England by showing in non-co-operation the way out of the unnatural state in which both are living.

Why then did Gandhi unilaterally call off Non-Cooperation? The answer was clear. He had miscalculated. The Brits must lock him up for his own good.  

In my opinion, non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as is co-operation with good.

But, his opinion, was that Indians must stop Non-Cooperation.  

But in the past, non-co-operation has been deliberately expressed in violence to the evil-doer.

This is silly. We don't call a guy who is beating up a bad guy a 'non-cooperator'. We call him a vigilante.  

I am endeavoring to show to my countrymen that violent non-co-operation only multiples evil,

but Gandhi admits that his nonviolent non-cooperation had the same effect. That is why he is pleading guilty and begging to be sent off to a nice jail cell.  

and that as evil can only be sustained by violence, withdrawal of support of evil requires complete abstention from violence. Non-violence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil.

There is no such penalty. Gandhi may have wanted to pretend that he was being jailed for 'non-cooperation with evil'. But that was not the charge he pleaded guilty to. He was a seditionist. He was also a liar because just a couple of years previously he had said he wasn't any such thing. Now he was saying he had been a seditionist long ago. 

Of course, there is nothing unusual about a politician telling lies. But successful politicians can point to some great benefit that resulted thereby. Gandhi set back the cause of Indian independence. His contribution was to say 'India is not ready' at just the time when the British Parliament was having to accept that Egyptian and Irish Independence. Indeed, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, at the end of 1921, had titled his farewell speech to the War College- 'The End of Empire'. Britain lacked the military capacity to keep the show on the road. Then Gandhi gave them a reprieve and 100,000 soldiers to garrison the MENA region.

I am here, therefore, to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.

Because, though mentally sane, he was politically insane. 

The only course open to you, the Judge and the assessors, is either to resign your posts and thus dissociate yourselves from evil, if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is an evil, and that in reality I am innocent, or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country, and that my activity is, therefore, injurious to the common weal.

Since Gandhi had taken responsibility for much violence, the fact that he did not intend it was merely a mitigating circumstance. He was lawfully sent to jail, though- no doubt- the Government could exercise clemency at some future date. 

Gandhi and Tilak believed British Rule was bad for India. Tilak thought India could do better without the Brits. Gandhi wasn't sure. He panicked and surrendered unilaterally. Morally, he had a duty to oppose the Brits because he was a moral imbecile. But, equally, he had a duty to go to jail because his actions had led to violence. India's lack of manliness was to blame. Probably, Indians had become eunuchs because they kept having sex with their wives. True men don't have sex even with their wives. If they did, they would become eunuchs.

In Tilak, the Brits had a dangerous enemy who might be ground down by harsh penal incarceration. With Gandhi, they had a nutcase who might need to be confined in a padded cell from time to time. 

Mithi takes a different view-

In this trial Gandhi as defendant would once again repudiate in no uncertain terms the claim of “impartial” justice, which had been the ideological ground of British colonial rule, and with it the “neutrality” of its judicial institutions and processes.

This is not the case. Gandhi says violence is evil. He does not say what sort of Government could do without it. Whatever it might be, India was incapable of providing such administration for itself. Please lock me up till I ask to be let out.  

 Declaring the British Indian Empire to be an “evil” that had done more harm to India than any previous government in its history,

Though those previous governments were so utterly crap they quickly succumbed to the valor of a few British soldiers 

Gandhi would openly advocate the boycott of British law courts

which failed completely 

and the deliberate breaking of British law through mass resistance movements,

which failed completely thanks to his disastrous leadership and which he called off before he was put in jail

thus heralding the dawn of India’s freedom from British rule

which came at the same time as Burma's and Indonesia's and so forth and thus wasn't really heralded by anything Gandhi did.

These are the plain facts of the matter. No doubt, politicians may have an interest in distorting those facts. Why would a Historian in American want to do so?

Perhaps, if Mithi chooses to be ignorant of Colonial history, the reason may be because she has a bizarre view of the Law.

She writes- 

In British jurisprudence, the subject’s obedience to the law was fundamentally predicated on a normative identification of the law with his liberty.

This is nonsense. A resident alien, incarcerated for any reason, is required to obey British law though that same law may deport him after he is released from jail or an internment camp. There is no link whatsoever between obedience and liberty.  

The law was ontologically grounded in and represented the liberty and consent of the governed.

No. The law was positive- i.e. pure 'command'. Consent was irrelevant. 

Its legitimacy was predicated either on its having come about through a rational legislative process

No. 'Due process' may not be 'rational' and need not be based on legislation. Law is 'artificial reason' and may be grounded, by a pure 'legal fiction', in supposedly immemorial custom or the deliberations of Greek speaking druids or Latin speaking leprechauns or whatever. 

in which the representatives of the people made the laws, or because it could be justified on the basis of universal principles and conventions acceptable to all (in the English case as embodied in the common law).

This is sheer fantasy. England is not a 'civil law' jurisdiction. Judges make the law though elected parliaments may also legislate or codify laws. No 'universal principles' or 'conventions acceptable to all' arise in the determination of whether an action is lawful or unlawful. It is true that there is a Utilitarian school of jurisprudence, but Judges are free to accept or reject its strictures. Regina v Shivpuri is an example of a Utilitarian doctrine being used to justify the incarceration of an Indian man who hadn't smuggled drugs on the grounds that he probably wanted to smuggle drugs and so prison was the best place for him. 

Insofar as elected representation in legislative councils in colonial India had been consistently denied to Indians, the colonial strategy for the last century had been to encourage the colonized to approach the question of law judicially while creating institutional barriers for them to do so legislatively.

The British Courts offered a Service- for a price. The thing was a profit center. But then, the Law has always been a profit center for the 'stationary bandit'. But Empires don't depend on Courts. The rely on Armies and Navies and a Revenue extraction machinery.  

The colonized subject’s relationship to the law was mediated by the law courts, which they approached for adjudication of disputes, and for articulating their grievances in the language of jurisprudence.

Nonsense! People's relationship to the law is mediated by policemen and jailors and bailiffs empowered to take away your property. 'Articulating grievances' won't help you any unless you have deep pockets and your lawyer can identify a justiciable tort or crime you have suffered.  

In England, the establishment of utilitarianism as the dominant political philosophy by the early twentieth century

This is sheer nonsense! Bentham and Austin had a pure 'command' theory of Law. Utilitarianism, a Classical theory, was dying off in the Eighteen Sixties because of the marginal revolution. On the other hand, Socialist ideas were on the rise. Alfred Marshall was a keen student of Marx, Lasalle etc. John Stuart Mill's psychologism was killed off by Frege, Russell etc. The maths had moved on.  

had meant a conceptual linking of lawmaking with ideas such as the “greatest good of the greatest number” and the people’s will expressed by elected representatives, and the institutional subordination of the judiciary to the legislature.

The English judiciary has always been subordinate to the Crown in Parliament.  The Star Chamber was done away with in the mid Seventeenth Century. Judge Jeffreys cheated the hangman by dying in the Tower. 

 In contrast in colonial India,

the local Utilitarians- Raja Ram Mohan & Co- clamoured for British settlers to come and rob the natives, thus providing the cowardly Hindu with a bulwark against the Muslim bully. 

England was a rich, powerful, country ruled by its own sons. It is foolish to pretend its institutional arrangements and political life had anything in common with a poor, weak, landmass much of which was ruled by hereditary potentates who claimed divine rights.  Gandhi would later tell the Hindus of East Bengal that the Princes his father and grandfather had served were serial rapists. If their henchmen heard you had some gold or a pretty daughter or wife, they would break down your door and abduct the girl and help themselves to the gold. Gandhi's message was clear. Why suffer the trouble and expense of relocation to India to be raped when you can stay at home and be raped? 

the denial of legislative representation meant

nothing. A survey conducted before the Great War by a newly minted M.A from Aberdeen showed that the great mass of Indian people had no idea that the country was ruled by foreigners. They had grievances in plenty. Not having M.Ps wasn't one of them because they didn't know what an M.P was or how such a creature should be cooked and eaten.  

that the idea of consent was limited to customary law and the colonizer’s law as determined in non-representative councils and practiced in the law courts.

There was no notion of 'consent'. There was a duty of loyalty and a condign punishment for sedition.  

Turning a blind eye to the non-representative status of colonial legislation, the judiciary itself functioned on the premise of the implicit consent of the governed,

This is nonsense! British judges were aware that the 'governed' hadn't 'consented' to anything. One may as well say 'turning a blind eye to the anally intrusive nature of colonial legislation, the judiciary itself functioned on the premise of the implicit begging for buggery of the governed'.  

and aimed at projecting the law as certain and universal, and as proceeding, not from the will of the King, Judge or colonial administrators, but from the “nature of things.”

 It being in the 'nature of things' that brown people should be ruled by white people. 

Judicial procedure in the British law courts embodied the abstract normativity of the law,

Law as command has no 'abstract normativity'. The fact is, by the 1850s, it was obvious that English law was wholly dysfunctional. The Courts were handing down plenty of death sentences for poaching and buggery and so forth but nobody was hanged. The plain fact was that the Law could not be enforced in a manner the people objected to. If it were, Juries would refuse to convict. Thus there was a pragmatic accommodation. Sentence was passed but not implemented. Command is circumscribed by what orders are actually obeyed.  

particularly through doctrines such as “stare decisis,” by which every new judgment was related to precedents of past judgments that were contained in the law reports, so that the law appeared not as an arbitrary decision deriving from the will of the King or Judge, but as a natural and just order of things handed down through the ages as common law.

This may have been argued by one or two people who didn't mind being ridiculed for telling such stupid lies. 'Stare decisis' is useful because one Judgment clarifies a host of other similar dilemmas. But, 'harmonious construction' of a radical type is always possible for a 'Judge Hercules'.  

 According to the discourse of jurisprudence, it was not persons, authorities and administrators that ruled, but the law itself.

But such discourse was ignored by everybody. Plenty of Members of Parliament were lawyers. They'd have looked a fool saying anything so silly. The fact is, the English were aware that their Legal system was shite. They reformed it and have continued to do so during my own life-time. That's why British law is an 'invisible' export on the Balance of Payments. The thing pays for itself. Why? The essence of the law is defeasibility of an economic type. Commands which are not obeyed are laws which have fallen into desuetude. The Judges back away from such areas. Clearly some 'political question' is involved. That is the business of the Crown in Parliament.  

Governors ruled only in so far as they followed the norm.

Quite false. Governors ruled till removed from office. Mill tried to prosecute Governor Eyre. Eyre prevailed and the Government covered his expenses and gave him a fat pension. The Jamaicans lost their Parliament and became a Crown Colony with a nominated legislative council. But then worse things had happened in Ireland. Which of its Governors was sacked for not following norms?

In so far as the system was logically coherent, any interference by external forces for reasons of political existence was seen as invalid.

Because England was powerful. It wasn't ruled by foreigners. 

By unmasking the non-representative status of law,

in other words, by pointing out that the Viceroy was White and wore a Top Hat not a Turban 

Tilak’s strategy was to expose the hollowness of the colonial law’s claims to normative validity.

Very true! Previously, perfidious Albion had befooled uneducated desis by pretending to be Indian. Lord Ripon was always chewing paan. Curzon was always dancing bharatnatyam. Tilak unmasked all those rascals! 

His insistence, that a man’s intentions could not be deductively derived from legal fictions and analyzed in isolation from the concrete political context in which they were embedded, but ought to be seen in conjunction with his motives, was a move to breach the closed self-referential discursive system of British law.

Sadly, Tilak probably thought he was being smart. But, the fact is the Jury had to make a determination of fact- was Tilak's conduct, as considered by a reasonable man, seditious? The answer, for a European majority jury, was, d'uh, obviously Tilak was a seditionist. 

The purpose of the Law was to give the Europeans a sense of security. Revolutionaries had killed one or two White people. The Jury ensured that Tilak paid a price. The result was that the European population felt safer and continued to go about its business. The Raj needed those Europeans to stay. They would use both extra-judicial as well as judicial methods to smash the Revolutionaries. No doubt, they might release one or two 'big fish' so as to spy on them and thus roll up their networks. But that was a job for Strickland and Tegart not 'discursive' bullshit. 

 The prosecutor, in seeking to preempt the jury from focusing on the larger political context in which the articles were written, had asserted that “the Indian Penal Code does not say anything about motive, it does not enter into it. You may enter into a crime with a very high motive but you will be punished all the same.”

The test is that of the 'reasonable man'. What motive would you, as a reasonable man, ascribe to the actions of the defendant? In other words, if you had done as he has done, what would your motive have been? For the European member of the Jury, Tilak's motive was to get rid of Whitey. The Jury didn't want their own throat slit or their property looted and so they found Tilak guilty. 

 Tilak challenged this claim contending that the court could not arrive at a valid judgment without considering not just the intention but also the motive behind an act.

Since these can never be known, Courts should cease to exist.  

For only if intention was inferred not from a legal fiction – “man intends the natural consequences of his acts” – but from actual social and political circumstances of which motive was a part,could a verdict be just.

Whether the verdict was just or unjust was irrelevant. It was lawful. The fact is Tilak, in his defence, pointed to inflammatory articles in the Anglo-Indian Press and justified himself as merely responding in kind. But, the Anglo-Indians were necessary for British Rule. Tilak was not. He and his ilk could be hanged, shot or transported without any deleterious effect on British rule. Gandhi confirmed this view. In the end, Independent India did a deal with Britain such that it kept its investments and was enabled to rise up once again as a 'hard currency' nation. Britons and Indians parted on the best of terms. By contrast, millions of brown people died or were displaced during partition.  

It is quite true that if there had been a spontaneous uprising where lots of White people had their throats slit then the Raj would have collapsed. But, in that case, Congress could not have claimed power as the legal successor to the Raj. Power would have gone back to hereditary potentates and some daring 'social bandits' with a few, ex-Army, warlords thrown into the mix. The Brits wanted to avoid this outcome so, once America pulled the plug on the Empire racket, they played ball with whoever was in good enough shape to accept a transfer of power on terms advantageous to the British exchequer. In Burma, this strategy failed because Aung San was killed. In most other places, the Brits got a nice golden handshake and the pretence of Commonwealth solidarity. Whites didn't get their throats slit. They got paid their pensions and sold up on a rising market.

Mithi refuses to accept the obvious. The Revolutionaries were killing White people in the hope of scaring them out of the country. Sadly, the Police proved more adept at penetrating their networks than the Revolutionaries were in securing foreign assistance. Thus the Brits were able to crush, first the Revolutionaries, then, after Gandhi's unilateral surrender, the Congress/Khilafat combine, and then, adding insult to injury, lift the Rowlatt Act. This was despite the Empire's military weakness at that time. Later, after the Financial Crash, India had one more chance to dictate the terms on which it would govern itself. Once again, Gandhi made a hash of things. So the Brits stayed on their own terms and borrowed so much money from India for the War effort that India was obliged to give its former masters a golden handshake by way of leave-taking. 

Mithi ignores the elephant in the room- viz. the dependence of the Raj on White people being willing to live in India- in order to write portentous nonsense-
It was not a coincidence that Tilak’s trial centrally engaged the crucial issue that lay at the foundation of British rule in India –

viz the desire of natives to kill and loot Whitey and the Raj's ability to kill or incarcerate them if they tried 

the relation between law and violence.

Wherever the law exists, it punishes such violence as it deems unlawful. Otherwise, it doesn't exist at all- or can't get paid, which is just as bad. 

In trying to identify the “cause” of the bomb, Tilak had contended in his editorial articles that “the bomb party had come into existence in consequence of the oppression practiced by the official class, the harassment inflicted by them and their obstinacy in treating public opinion with recklessness.”

So, Tilak is saying 'Whitey is getting killed' coz the Administration is shitty. Thus, killing Whitey is a good and salutary thing because it will cause the Administration to reform itself.' The prosecution contended that beating, killing or just jailing people like Tilak would cause Whitey not to be killed. The Jury, which was majority European, agreed heartily. The thing was bleeding obvious. If the Govt. kills terrorists, we can all sleep peacefully in our beds.  

He had argued that the constitutional modes of protest (swadeshi and boycott) that the Bengali youth had resorted to in their struggle against the Partition of Bengal in 1905 had been met with violence and acts of terror by the British authorities. It was in response to these acts, that these youth had adopted a similar path of violence. “As you sow, so you reap” Tilak had asserted in one article, arguing that “calm and thoughtful philosophers will weigh both these acts of violence (those inflicted by the British authorities and the bombs exploded by the young men) in the same scale and put the same value on both.”

The problem was that the British prevailed. They killed the Revolutionaries and thus Whitey stopped getting blown up. We put a very different value on violence which succeeds in its aim as opposed to violence which fucks up only its own side.  

By equating the two kinds of violence – that perpetrated by the state for the preservation of order, and that inflicted by the revolutionaries for transformation in the system of rule – Tilak fundamentally challenged the normative claim of the colonial state to a monopoly of sanctioned violence.

I may fundamentally challenge Mike Tyson to a boxing match but if I get my head knocked off then the only normative claim that I have put in question is the notion that I don't got shit for brains.  

The theory of positive law is grounded on the notion that

law is command. If that command fails, the law does not exist.  

only the legal violence that the state perpetrates to preserve order is sanctioned

Nonsense! Any violence is sanctioned which does not attract prosecution, or where such prosecution fails, for one reason or another.  

since it is a means to the ends of state,

Legal violence may not be a means 'to the ends of the state'. Even ultra vires actions may be covered by retrospective Acts of indemnity.  

which are legal in that they aim at the promotion of the interest of mankind in the person of every individual.

This is nonsense. Aiming to promote the interest of mankind does not make an action legal. It may however be a mitigating factor affecting the quantum of punishment.

All acts of violence outside this domain of sanctioned violence in this theory are criminal acts.

No such theory obtains. Some acts of violence are justiciable. A subset of such actions may be 'sanctioned'. But that is decidable only by a buck-stopped, protocol bound, juristic process which is the reverse of 'discursive'.  

But the legitimacy of this legal claim of the state to a monopoly of sanctioned violence

There is no such claim. You can kill another in self-defence.  

is crucially dependent on a series of identifications between the rulers and the ruled, the governed and the governing and the subject and object of state authority.

This is not true. International treaties have the force of law. They are not dependent on any such 'series of identifications'. No doubt, some polities may speak in such terms. But that is mere 'bullshit'. It is meaningless.  

In generating public discourse on the question of violence in his newspaper Kesari, Tilak’s discursive strategy had been to

say Whitey be fucking us over. Get rid of Whitey! 

fundamentally question the monopoly of legitimate violence that was at the foundation of the colonial legal order,

How stupid is Mithi Mukherjee? Does she not get that Britain's 'monopoly of legitimate violence' arose from the ability of the British Indian Army to defeat any challenger? Who, among those Tilak wrote for, wasn't aware that the Brits had defeated the Marathas? Since then, technology had improved. The Brits could machine-gun and howitzer any combination of gallant Maratha cavaliers waving talwars.  

by arguing that such a series of identifications did not, in fact, exist between the colonial state and the colonized people of India.

Because few Indians knew that Curzon was not really a Madrasi lady dancing bharatnatyam all the time. Kitchener was not a supari vendor from Meerut. Rumor had it that even the Duke of Connaught was not cooking dhokla though, no doubt, happily married to a Gujarati bania. 

A conflict has arisen between the national character of India and the institutions of Government and the time is approaching for action being taken to bring about a harmony – an act of revolution. The means of recognizing this are … acts of violence … like the bomb outrages.This time of revolution has not yet begun in India but it is to begin hereafter.
Tilak asserted in his article “The Country’s Misfortune” published on 12 May, 1908 in the Kesari that the bomb throwers of Calcutta were in the same league as the nihilists of Russia and the revolutionaries in Europe.

This was a reasonable view at the time. The Revolutionaries had attracted some very daring and capable people. The Kaiser was keen to help. However, the Imperial Police quickly developed a Counter Intelligence capacity of great sophistication. Czech patriots in Hapsburg employ helped the Brits defuse the 'Indo-German' conspiracy. Tegart's success opened the door to Gandhian politics. But Gandhi surrendered too quickly in 1922 when the Empire was at its weakest militarily. 

It is known that the mutinies and revolts of Nihilists that frequently occur even in Russia take place for this reason … the same state of things which has been brought about in Russia by the oppression practiced by the … officers of that country, has now been inaugurated in India is consequence of the oppressive practices by alien officers.

The Bolshevik Revolution was a game changer. The Indian propertied classes realized that their fate might be the same as that of the White Russians if the Brits ran away. The safer course was to claim a seat at the table, for when the Brits were ready to leave, by lining up to go to jail periodically.  

Thus, the violence that was intrinsic to revolutionary movements and aimed at a transformation of the existing order based on tyranny was justified for it aimed at legitimate ends, even though it opposed existing positive law.

The positive law was that Whites were superior to Indians. The Indians didn't like this but they had to bide their time because they also didn't like each other very much.  

“The bomb affair of Calcutta is a disquieting but acute symptom showing how intolerable the defects in the existing political system … have become to the people.”

 To well educated young people of mettle- yes. What of the Muslims of Bengal? How about the Dalits? 

 Such acts of violence were not mere criminal acts to be judged in terms of the existing laws of the state but performative acts of violence that aimed at founding a new political order.

But they failed and thus weren't 'performative' at all.  

In so far as its purpose was not to infringe law but to establish new law, this violence had a lawmaking character

The same could be said of Hitler's invasion of Poland or the terrorist outrages of Al Qaeda and ISIS. 

Tilak was by no means a fool. He was using his trial to address a wider audience. Mithi does not seem to understand this. She appears unaware that Judges decide what Law applies and direct the Jury accordingly. Juries make determinations of fact on the basis of a 'reasonable man' test. 


Mithi quotes Tilak's defence speech-
Judges are bound down by precedent. The judge ignores the importance of the matter and follows the precedent in order to keep up the current of the decisions of predecessors; and they maintain these decisions because they say uniformity of practice must be maintained. They say it is the law of the land; we cannot change it.

Tilak had a law degree. He knew the rule in Bushel's case. A Jury, making a determination of fact at great variance with what the law requires, is nevertheless indemnified against contempt charges. 

There was a long history of Juries making nonsensical determinations of fact such that obnoxious laws were unenforceable. But that was in England. Would a Bombay Jury, with an European majority, show patriotism towards India or would it act in its own racial self-interest? 

As a matter of fact, the Anglo-Indians- unlike many Anglo-Irish- refused to show any loyalty to the land where they resided. This meant keeping them happy was the true foundation of British Rule. But this also meant that Native opinion- at least in Bombay and, more so, Calcutta would constantly be outraged by the racism of the Anglo-Indian press and thus remain bastions of Nationalist zeal.


In this colonial context, Tilak argued, it was not the judge, but the jury, embodying the will of the people of India in the law court,

because the majority of Indians were actually White! 

who alone had the right to decide on the appropriateness of his acts as a representative of the people. Insofar as the people of India were not mere recipients of justice, but had the right to challenge the law if it did not represent their well-being, their will, present in the courtroom as the will of the jury, was to be the law. “Don’t think that you have not the power,” Tilak told the jury.

There were 'up-country' Indians who had never experienced British racism. Tilak is drawing their attention to the fact that the majority of Anglo-Indians- who lived in the big cities- were thoroughly racist and considered India a shithole were they were obliged to reside simply so as to save enough money to return home and live happily. 

We often speak of a Judge-made law but there is also the Jury-made law, though that distinction is not yet to be found in law books … Juries have frequently to refuse to take a particular view of the case in spite of the Judge’s charge to the contrary. Juries have an independent position,and they have certain prescribed rights, and they must exercise them. They will fail in their duty if they do not do so and deprive the subjects of the protection against the arbitrary use of power. Juries are the bulwark of our liberty.

In other words, Tilak is giving a veiled warning to the Anglo-Indian community. That was the smart thing to do precisely because they would get enraged and start using highly abusive language in their 'free press'. This would bolster the Nationalist cause in the boondocks.  


While Tilak was fully aware that the jury was in fact constituted by a majority of Europeans, he used his speech to conceptually create a discursive position for the people of India within the courtroom as sovereign legislators of the nation.

Tilak was certainly addressing a wider Indian audience. But, he was also focusing attention on what Otto Trevelyan had described as the 'Anglo-Saxon' or 'settler' party- i.e. those with commercial, not official, positions in India. Gandhi, focusing on the European indigo planters, did something similar. Both were advertising to the Indians in the boondocks- whose own experience of the Brits may have been benign- that the Raj was a commercial enterprise from which a small class of White people unjustly enriched themselves. Despite protestations of goodwill by Viceroys, the fact remained that the Raj had to keep Whitey happy and if the Natives didn't like it- hard cheese to them.  

There is nothing 'exceptional' about Tilak's 'discursive' position. This was Naoroji's drain theory given a human face- that of the European juror eager to punish one of India's greatest sons.

What is exceptional about Tilak’s speech to the jury is that, along with the constitution of the enunciative position of the legislator in the law court,

There was no 'constitution of enunciative' bullshit. Tilak was saying 'Guys, you know you'd rather have me than Gokhale representing you. I'm the 'legislator' the Viceroy should be talking to.'  

it also sought to radically reconstitute the enunciative position of the people of India in the space of the law court.

Nonsense! Indians of Tilak's stripe wanted Whitey gone bag, baggage, Law Courts and all. One step towards that might be Parliamentary representation. But just bombing the fuckers to death would be quicker and cleaner. 

In the imperial discourse of justice the people had

not 

been constituted

by anything. This is because Justice isn't Foucauldian shite. It is a service industry. You pay your money and get a hearing. But you may not like what you hear. 

not as lawmakers but as “supplicants for justice,”

The administration had non judicial avenues of redress. The District Collector received plenty of 'supplicants for justice' which he could settle without the courts getting involved. But then most commercial enterprises have a Complaints Dept. It is in their own mercenary interest to establish a good reputation for setting right any wrongs their employees may have done. 

whose unity was predicated on the possibility of their judicial representation in the law court by the persona of the lawyer.

This is sheer nonsense. No 'unity' was predicated. Some British subjects, by reason of Royal or semi-royal status, were immune from judicial proceedings. On the other hand, some Hindu deities had judicial personality and could be represented in Court.  

In contrast, in Tilak’s speeches, the people emerged for the first time as the subjects of history.

This is meaningless. People are the subject of History. On the other hand, what Mithi does is not Historiography. It is bullshit.  

Mithi concludes thus-

Tilak’s trial marked a culmination of the growing estrangement that large segments of the Indian population had begun to feel with the imperial discourse of justice.

No. The Indians had previously come to feel loathing and contempt for British law courts which served only to enrich crooked barristers. But then the Brits themselves had long ago admitted that Indian law courts were based on bare faced perjury by all concerned parties. To this day, Indians don't trust the Courts. A senior advocate who tweets that the Bench is corrupt and out to throttle freedom is fined just one Rupee because, to be frank, it is impossible to calumny a notorious prostitute. 

Mithi, for some Foucauldian reason, has to pretend that the simple and naive Native believed Viceroys were actually representative of themselves and that the British Courts were presided over by Raja Harischandra.  

As the London Times remarked on July 23, 1908, the “conviction of Mr. Bal Gangadhar Tilak,in the Bombay High Court yesterday, marks the close of the most important trial for sedition held in India for some years.”

More importantly, it marked the gearing up of Counter Intelligence in India and increased surveillance of Indians abroad. A clandestine war had begun and, despite the valor and brilliance of many of the Revolutionaries, it was a war which the Brits decisively won.  


His conviction by the court provoked the largest workers’ strikes and public demonstrations that India had seen in her history, symbolizing the final emergence of Indian anticolonial politics from the domain of the law court on to the streets.

There had been no 'anti-colonial' politics in the law courts. What there had been was preachers and publications pushing forward the demand for a popular uprising against the foreign master.

The streets had already seen plenty of violent agitation. Swadesi boycotts had bite. Lord Hardinge reversed the partition of Bengal in 1911.  

Strikingly, around the same time as Tilak’s sedition trial, another anticolonial activist across the sea in South Africa had begun to attract global attention for advocating open popular resistance against the British Empire.

Nonsense! He was resisting the Boer claim to supreme authority there. Gandhi was as loyal as bow-and-agree Bhownagree. 

Within a decade Gandhi would take the reins of political leadership in India and radically accelerate this discourse of struggle,conflict, and freedom in his nonviolent mass movement against British rule. Significantly,Gandhi began the Non-Violent Non-Cooperation movement in India in 1920 with a call to all lawyers and Indians to boycott the institution of the British law court that, he argued, had been primarily responsible for the preservation of empire in India.

But unlike Sinn Fein, the Indians didn't manage to create a parallel legal system. In 1922, just when Ireland and Egypt and Afghanistan gained independence, Gandhi unilaterally surrendered. He explained, while pleading guilty, that India could neither feed nor defend itself. Yet, as an Indian, he could not help but bite the hand that fed and protected India. Please send me to jail till I get over this madness.

The Brits happily obliged and then, to add insult to injury, repealed the Rowlatt Act as no longer needful. 

The rejection of the British law court and its discourse of justice by Gandhi could not but have brought back vivid memories of Tilak’s sedition trial of 1908 and the political eruption in its wake.

Jail had tamed Tilak as it would tame Gandhi & Co. What the failure to set up a parallel legal system showed was that India needed the Brits. True, they would become rabid from time to time and try to bite the Viceregal hand, but a spell of porridge would make everything better. Two Viceroys found it worthwhile to talk to Gandhi. But he made such a mess of things in 1922 and then again in 1932 that future Viceroys would simply jail the silly fellow and get on with turning a profit on India for the Crown in Parliament. 

The plain fact is that 'Justice' is merely a service industry. It has no 'legitimating' function. Either the thing works well and pays for itself- or, as in India, it is a pile of shite and gets disintermediated or just kept around for nuisance value. 

Mithi's Foucauldian bullshit may take in very stupid American undergrads but no Indian can be fooled. Still, to earn a living in some moribund branch of Academia they may write similar shite.  

Freedom from British rule and self-determination were now only a matter of time for the people of India.

This was also true for all the other vast territories ruled by Europe. Why? The thing consumed too much blood and treasure. If you stayed in the Empire game you would become as poor as Portugal. Anyway, the terms of trade were moving against primary producers. Intra-industry trade was the key to becoming an affluent society. As for wogs of various types, if too stupid to do STEM subjects, they might as well teach History or Literary Theory of a farcical sort to credential seeking cretins doomed to minimum wage employment while crushed under student debt. 

Freedom from this Academic Ponzi scheme will come sooner or later because once genetically engineered parrots take over the running of such Departments they will fly around the lecture hall pooping on the heads of students in so sexist, or racist, a manner that the entire availability cascade can be suppressed under Title IX. 


Thursday, 15 October 2020

Mithi Mukherjee's world of illusion

 Nobody who lived through the two world wars believed there was anything that could be termed 'International Law'. But many had illusions about how the world was regulated. Racists believed that White people would rule over darker skinned people. Communists believed that Nations which embraced Socialism would show an affinity with each other such that there relationships would always be sweet and nice. Gandhians thought spinning cotton was a magical remedy for War, Poverty, Naughtiness, etc, etc.

Windbags like Nehru believed some retarded shite about 'Panchsheel' which meant 'Hindi Chini bhai bhai'- i.e. cuddly Maoist Chinese brother would always be giving hugs and kisses to cutesy Gandhian Indian brother.  It was to this puerile Panchsheel shite that Nehru was referring when he said in October 1962 that- 'We were living in a world of illusion ... we were getting out of touch with reality in the modern world and we were living in an artificial world of our own creation. We have been shocked out of it.’

In future, India would beef up its Army and give the Chinks or Pakis a good bashing if they played up. Gandhian shite would no longer be tolerated. Reds would be purged from the National Security Establishment. That's it. That's the whole story. 

Mithi Mukherjee takes a different view. Ignoring the fact that India annexed Goa in 1961 without bothering with International Law, she writes 'The central question that this article addresses is: what was this ‘world of illusion’, this ‘artificial world’ that Nehru was referring to? It contends that Nehru’s‘illusory’ world was one grounded in the category of justice in opposition to the ‘real’world of power politics.

The Indian National Congress did not believe in Justice or Law Courts of various types. It did believe that all non-European peoples had a natural affinity for each other. True the Indian Muslim had not wanted to cuddle and kiss the Indian Hindu- but this was blamed on some sly naughtiness of the Brits. China was supposed to cuddle and kiss India because...urm... Buddha? Tagore? Anyway, Nehru had gone out of his way to be very patronizing to Chou En Lai- which naturally infuriated the latter. 

 India’s foreign policy under Nehru, who was Foreign Minister as well as Prime Minister, was based on a juridical discursive framework that assumed that any dispute between two nations would be resolved by a neutral and impartial third party, the United Nations’ Security Council, thus conceptually excluding the possibility of war. 

The UN had already failed in Kashmir and Palestine. It would fail in Korea. The Nizam of Hyderabad had approached the UN but Patel's 'police action' meant he had to withdraw the complaint. India did take part in both the UN interventions in Korea and post-Suez but it was obvious that the UN had no teeth. In the former case, military might decided the issue. In the latter, the Israelis refused to play ball so the UN was merely a guest of the Egyptians. The Soviets never again made the mistake of absenting themselves from the Security Council so Great Power vetos prevented the UN doing anything save by invitation of a member. The Indian annexation of Goa came under the umbrella of the Soviet veto. What excluded 'the conceptual possibility of war' was being stronger than the other party and telling the UN to go fuck itself if tried to stick its oar in. 

This approach to foreign relations, shattered in the wake of the war with the PRC, was not grounded in the principle of Gandhian non-violence. It was a legacy of empire.'

This is sheer nonsense. Nehru had almost immediately regretted referring the Kashmir issue to the UN. He had a particular hatred for, the Quaker, Phillip Noel-Baker- who got a Nobel Prize for being an utter tosser. He had seen what happened to Mossadegh- a lawyer whose farcical hunger strikes led to his putting on weight. He wasn't stupid enough to think that the Rule of Law obtained in International Relations in the Fifties. On the contrary, he had counselled caution to Nasser during the Suez crisis. That was a war. It was an illegal war. But that is not why it failed. Eisenhower pulled the plug. 

Mukherjee says that referring disputes to the U.N was a 'legacy of Empire'. This is utterly mad. Britain was still a big Imperial power during Suez. It didn't refer the matter to the UN. Indeed, historically speaking, the British Empire had only sought arbitration when facing off against the US. Then the US grew much much stronger and dictated terms to Europe. 

Apart from Panchsheel, Nehru was associated with Non Alignment which was about not becoming a Super Power puppet while getting Foreign Aid from both Camps. This was a perfectly sensible strategy and India kept with it, only aligning with the Soviets once it was clear that the West would always pressurize it to give up Kashmir and, moreover, that Nixon was a nutter who might suddenly threaten to nuke Calcutta. It should be borne in mind that the Indians were quietly keeping their own nuclear program running. 

Mukherjee thinks Non Alignment was about the Rule of Law- something which people like Tito and Nasser were greatly enamoured with- not!

This article proposes that India’s participation in the non-aligned movement emerged from a discursive structure, constructed in the colonial period, grounded in imperial justice as equity and personified in the British monarch, and emperor of India, as imperial judge.

This is an incredibly stupid proposal. Why did Egypt and Yugoslavia participate in NAM? It was for the same reason as India did. These countries wanted to pursue their own Leftist path without falling under Soviet control. At the same time, they wanted to hold the West at arm's length. 

It is ludicrous to think that Nehru regarded the British monarch as personifying 'Imperial Justice as Equity'.  The 'Colonial period' was characterized by expediency not equity. Judges had no role. If they couldn't convict quickly enough- as happened with Bhagat Singh- a Tribunal was imposed. But just shooting people- as happened in Jalianwalla Bagh- was perfectly fine. True, Martial Law should first have been declared to make the thing completely kosher. But Dyer wasn't interested in keeping kosher. His success in the Afghan War had inflated his ego and this is why his testimony to the Hunter Commission was so truculent. Financially, he did well out of it. 

The discourse not only provided an ideological framework for British rule in India but also for the challenge to it by the Indian National Congress.

Ideological frameworks don't matter even a tiny bit. British rule in India had to make a profit. Challenges to it needed money. The INC got money from people who benefitted or hoped to benefit from boycotts of foreign cloth and the transfer of authority from White officials to Brown politicians.  

The centrality of juridical concepts of neutrality and impartiality

were immediately discarded by the First Amendment to the Indian Constitution which 'set the precedent of amending the Constitution to overcome judicial judgements impeding fulfilment of the government's perceived responsibilities to particular policies and programmes.'

and the absence of a discourse of national power in India under Nehru

Fuck off! It was in the Fifties that the National Cadet Corps was seen as being transformable into a universal system of National Service for all University students. Then people realized that the vast majority of Indian students are unemployable scum. The sturdy sons of peasants were a better bet. However, there was also a great expansion of paramilitary forces in the States. To some extent, there was a suspicion of the 'reactionary' proclivities of the General Staff but there was no repugnance associated with national power. On the contrary, from 1951 onward, the Republic Day parade was a militaristic display. Projecting 'National Power' had a political side. The Army showed great enthusiasm for rounding up and killing Reds if they wagged their tail. The 'anti-national' tag was once Congress's to dispense as it pleased and it showed little scruple in doing so.

explain the discursive position India sought to occupy in the international arena: claimant for justice in a juridical structure in which the UN Security Council played the role of impartial judge.

But India swiftly became disenchanted with the UN. Referring the Kashmir to the Security Council was a stupid mistake which Nehru repented.  

The discourse was both incompatible with a discourse of national power and excluded resort to war as a solution to disputes.

Yet India invaded Goa after J.P Narayan stuck his oar in. 

The Chinese invasion of 1962, which marked a rupture in the discursive structure that underpinned India’s non-alignment, led over time to a foreign policy that emphasized national interests and power in place of justice.

This is foolish. India had already initiated a forward policy. It did not sleep on its rights. Since China wasn't a member of the UN, there was no question of that organization resolving matters.

Mukherjee believes that Nehru & Co were shaped by the Empire. Everything they did must be the legacy of it. Yet there were other countries in the region which had equally been part of the British Empire. Yet, their trajectories were very different. Pakistan joined the Baghdad pact. Ceylon kept Dominion status for decades. Burma zigzagged between different types of crazy. It refused to join the Commonwealth. 

Mukherjee writes-  
 Non-alignment was not the creation of Nehru and his advisors, insofar as they themselves were shaped by larger historical and discursive forces.

This is nonsense. The Pakistani leadership was shaped by exactly the same forces as those Nehru & Co were subject to. They, more logically, chose the West and joined the Baghdad Pact. Nehru's India did not because it was similar to Tito's Yugoslavia and Nasser's Egypt. There was a Nationalist alternative on the Left which would not truckle to the Kremlin.  

The genealogy of the juridical discourse that framed India’s foreign policy of non-alignment in the post-colonial period can be traced back to the complex nature of empire in India in the late eighteenth century and thence through the anti-colonial movement led by the Indian National Congress.

This is sheer nonsense. There was no Communist threat back then. Moreover, there was never any fucking 'juridical discourse' in the creation or dismantling of Empire. There were Legislative and Executive acts. But those acts did not arise out of the discourse of jurists or ideologues. Fiscal and geopolitical considerations had salience. But what decided the issue was the balance of military power.  

The British engagement with India was not a homogenous phenomenon

Yes it was. British people were involved. Otherwise there was no British involvement.  

but rather characterized by two competing but also collaborating political discourses: the ‘colonial’ (the major) and the ‘imperial’ (the minor).

No. There was only one 'political discourse'- viz. whether the guys doing the engaging were British and whether what they were doing was on the orders, or with the complaisance, of the British Crown in Parliament.

Since the monarch assumed an Imperial title only in 1877, discourse was always of 'Colonies' though India came to be designated an Empire. But there would always be a difference between 'Colonies' which ultimately depended on the force projection of the Royal Navy and India which required a separate military establishment and an administration of some complexity to finance the standing army.

Whereas the ‘colonial’ stressed territorial conquest, power, violence, domination, and subjugation, the ‘imperial’ stressed justice as equity for the colonized, represented by the figure of the imperial monarch as arbiter of conflicts between the British administration and the Indian people, and between different groups of Indians.

This is utterly false.  The Viceroy and the Secretary of State for India, between them, monopolized the legal authority given them by the Crown in Parliament. But that legal authority arose only out of 'territorial conquest, violence, domination' etc. It is not the case that Indians could appeal to the Privy Council to set aside determinations made by the administration. 

This discourse of the imperial, with its two constitutive aspects of the discourse of justice as equity and the figure of the imperial monarch as judge had implications not only for the anti-colonial movement but also for the post-colonial state

The British monarch has never been a judge. The gates of King's Equity shut in the early Seventeenth Century. Justice in India was stare decisis or based on Legislative Codes. It was not equitable- though no doubt some districts had a tradition of 'justice on horseback'.  

The fact is all countries which were once ruled by the Brits have elements of the British legal system. But Cyprus is different from Israel and Pakistan is different from India or Burma. Post-colonial states in the same region have taken very different trajectories even if they had the same Imperial hegemon. Mithi has a bizarre view of both history and the law. What evidence does she rely on?

In the absence of a legislature, the Supreme Court was the predominant law-making body.

This is utterly false. There was no Indian Supreme Court till 1950. Mukherjee is speaking of the 'Supreme Courts' of the Presidencies which were replaced by High Courts in 1862. 

The chief law making body was Westminster which delegated authority to the Governor-Generals and their Councils. The Courts might refuse to register a regulation but the thing could always be pushed through. 

In any case, periodic Codification is a pragmatic necessity to limit jurisdiction shopping and enable harmonious construction. Iran under the Ayatollahs has embraced such Codification. It is not the case that Justice can be devoted wholly to Equity. It must be largely rule bound and predictable. A small range of equitable remedies may be available but they do not guarantee that the outcome will be equitable. 

Decisions by the court played a central role in bringing about social change in India in the early nineteenth century.

No. Social change brought about some judicial decisions.  The Law is a service industry. By contrast, changes in the property regime were by Executive fiat.

As Henry Maine commented in 1876, ‘in the absence of formal legislation ... the true revolutionary agent in India has been neither the executive government nor the legislature but the court of justice,without which the existence of British rule could hardly be conceived.’

Maine had spent a few years in India and was trying to fit Indian jurisprudence into a Whig ideological framework. As a matter of fact, about a dozen Indians who had been nominated to Legislative Councils later became High Court Judges. In other words, the executive chose the legislature which in turn was a stepping stone to the Bench- but only because candidates had shown themselves to be loyal and reliable. Thus the Judiciary was very much at the bottom of the pecking order. It was a grievance of the Indians that those few of their number who cracked the ICS got shunted off to the judicial side. 

 The fact is, in English speaking jurisdictions, Judges could achieve little (till the rise of PIL based activism in the Eighties in India). That is why Indian lawyers preferred to turn politician rather than plume themselves on elevation to the Bench. Interestingly, Viceroy Landsdowne credited the Cow Protection movement with turning the Indian National Congress into a mass organization. The future lay with Religious and Economic demands not 'discourse' on 'Justice as Equity'. 

Mithi writes

The need to reconcile differences between the Supreme Court and the Governor General in Council led, in 1853, to the creation of a Legislative Council in the image of a British law court: it applied judicial categories, followed judicial procedure, and included among its members the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, another judge,and a barrister.

A Legislative Council is not a Court. Parliaments follow parliamentary procedures. But they are not Courts.

Between 1853 and 1857, the judges asserted the autonomy of the Legislative Council, which, in their view, was charged with ensuring that the executive acted within the law by redressing the grievances of the people.

This is sheer nonsense! 'Judges' were not asserting 'autonomy'. None were members of the Legislative Council- which was seen as a dumping ground for incompetent officials. 

The plain fact of the matter is that Judges didn't give a tinker's fart for the 'grievances of the people'. They had no remit to inquire into them. Mithi is attributing ideas which only became current in the 1950's to the 1850's. But the Indian Bench continued to be viewed as reactionary till the Eighties. 

The 1853 Charter Act  was a stopgap measure, supposedly to weaken the power of the Council of Directors of the East India Company who nominated the membership  of the Governor-General's Council which, since 1833, had differentiated executive from legislative functions. Still, the fact remained, John Company had to be given an  extension till Westminster had leisure to think about how India should be governed. The separation of legislative and executive powers, which already existed, was merely cosmetic. In theory, the measure increased the 'voice' of the other Presidencies which, since 1833, had fallen under the authority of Calcutta. But this entirely European Council was too small to 'represent' much. The suspicion was that the various Governors sent the most useless fellow on their staff to Calcutta.  

Thus the Legislative Council was reconstituted discursively,

'Discursively' means in a 'rambling' manner. The Brits weren't such fools as to set up a talking shop where orators might ramble or rabbit on and on. Nor did Westminster believe that some process of ratiocination could substitute for the intuition of those with command on the ground.  

with the executive and the people acting as defendant and plaintiff, and the legislators as judge.

Utterly false. In England, the Legislature can unseat the Executive (i.e. the Cabinet) if it feels it has failed the people. but this was not the case in India. The Governors were appointed by Westminster. Council members were their own nominees. 

Although the Legislative Council was remodelled in 1861 and dominated thereafter by the colonial executive, the notion of justice helped to define the nature of representational politics espoused, after 1885, by the Indian National Congress.

This is an absurd invention on Mithi's part. The Council was a mere rubber-stamp. Consider the following typical enactment from February 1855- 'During the absence of the Governor-General from the Council of India, it shall be lawful for the Governor-General alone to exercise all the powers which might be exercised by the Council of India'. In other words, Boss-man can do what he likes while off on a nice holiday in Ooty. 

Indians despised the Council and petitioned Westminster directly with their ever mounting grievances- in particular after an Income Tax was instituted to pay for military operations during the Mutiny. 

At a later point, the INC was mooted by ICS men on the administrative, not judicial, side. But it developed along Irish, not Whiggish, lines. 'Cow-protection' was its first success in achieving 'mass contact'.

On the other hand, it is true that some Indian Judges- like Ranade- were active in both Social Reform as well as Nationalist Politics. But they emphasized the study of Economics, not Law. Why? India's problems were economic. It was not the case that a benevolent Judge could restore prosperity. There had to be root and branch economic reform.

It was never the case that Indian 'Judges' wanted 'autonomy' or that they thought they could adjudicate between the Executive and the People. They simply lacked the relevant Economic and Statistical knowledge. It is only quite recently that the Bench has been viewed in India as responding to PILs and 'redressing the grievances of the people'. But, it seems that fad is over. Mukherjee & her ilk have now gone back to the traditional view of the Judiciary as essentially reactionary and in bed with the Government. Still, at the time when Mithi was writing this, belief in the magical power of Public Interest Litigation and a 'Rights based approach to Development' had academic, wholly imbecilic, advocates.

The British in India had few illusions as to the foundation of their authority. The fact is, the White Man would have his throat slit- Judge or not- if the People had their way. In 1901, at the age of 70, Meredith Townsend published 'Asia and Europe'. As an old India hand, he affirmed what everybody had always known. Indians had no loyalty at all to the British. But they would do what they were paid to do provided no better arrangement appeared feasible. But then, the Mughals could have told the same story. 

It is true that some lawyers paid lip service to the supposed sovereignty of the King Emperor. But India was ruled by the Crown in Parliament. Mithi says that Indians were utter fools. They thought Kingji is a wise judge. If only he hears of our sufferings, he will take action. But such was not the case. It is true that the one King Emperor who attended the Durbar was approached, when Tiger shooting in the Terai, by a great mass of peasants from Champaran. But he refused to look at their petition. It had to go through the proper channels. Mithi thinks Indian lawyers were as ignorant as these peasants. The freedom struggle was led by people who didn't want to be free. They wanted Kingji to come and look after them. After the Brits left, Nehru turned to the UN as India's new 'maa baap'. Then those nasty Chinks invaded and India suddenly had to grow up. 

I'm not kidding. This is what this Professor of History actually believes.

That the Indian National Congress’s opposition to colonialism was grounded in its faith in the inherent justice of the empire explains why it was constrained to identify with the empire even as it criticized the policies of the colonial administration.

Perhaps Mithi is saying- 'India didn't want to be a Colony. But it wanted to be part of the Empire'. This means- 'India wanted Dominion Status- like Canada'. But this meant that India would be subject in all matters to its own Legislature, not Westminster. Britain would not concede this till after the Second World War.  

The problem with this view is that Indians could see that Westminster was running India badly and doing so to feather its own nest. One petition, from the taxpayers of Calcutta, examined in Westminster in 1861, makes it clear that no Indian believed in 'the inherent justice of the Empire.'   Indians wanted India to be run in the interests of Indians, preferably by Indians. Why? That way they'd be better off.

Mithi thinks Indians were stupid. They thought 'Imperial Justice' had some magical property. 

This explains why the discourse of justice as equity that had helped to launch Congress’s politics of anti-colonialism also constrained them.

What the fuck does 'justice as equity' mean? Courts of Chancery were Courts of Equity. They ceased to exist in 1875.

Some Congress leaders- notably the 'garam dal', e.g. Bal, Pal & Lal, wanted complete independence. Others may have been more cautious. But it was clear that 'Home Rule' or 'Swaraj' was the aim. Nobody was saying Kingji must come and set up a Court of Equity for us Indians. 

Unable to envision national independence outside the empire,

in the manner of the Revolutionaries as well as the traditional, Religion based, haters of the British 

Congress failed to articulate a discourse of freedom.

Very true! Bal Gangadhar Tilak said 'Swaraj is not my birthright. I don't want it. Please don't give it to me. Could Kingji kindly come and give me patting on head and some sweet sweet Justice as Equity? I would be frightfully obliged, haanh ji haanh, chashme buddoor.'  

The goal of home rule that Congress articulated in its most radical phase before Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi assumed the political leadership was not the same as the demand for national freedom, because home rule, insofar as it sought legislative powers within the empire, assumed the ultimate sovereignty of the emperor.

But that 'ultimate sovereignty' would be as meaningless as that of the British monarch who 'reigns but does not rule'. The truth is India was following in the footsteps of the Irish. Indians often refer to Annie Beasant as Irish.  

Indeed, within this framework, freedom itself was perceived to be a gift of imperial justice:

Nonsense! Indians knew very well that the Emperor had no power. Moreover, they were busy reading about Mazzini and Garibaldi and the Irish Fenians and so forth. The more energetic were killing British officials and raiding banks- like Bagha Jatin. During the First War the Revolutionaries sought to get German arms to launch an insurrection. 

its source lay not in the strength of the people, but in the benevolence of the emperor as impartial judge.

Was George V an 'impartial judge' between Dublin and Westminster? What about Edward V? Had he impartially judged the Boer cause? Why on earth would Indians- unless they were childish and stupid- look to the 'benevolence' of a crowned nincompoop?  

So far as Congress was concerned, it was not as the citizens of India that Indians were going to be free, but as the subjects of the emperor.

Indians were already subjects of the emperor. What they wanted was to be liberated from the Crown in Parliament. This meant 'Swaraj' or 'Home Rule' as the first step to complete independence.  

That the discourse of the Indian National Congress was firmly lodged within that particular epistemologico-juridical paradigm

is false. The 'epistemologico-juridical' paradigm Mithi is speaking of is pure feudalism. Indians could have said 'Kingji, kindly appoint your sons or nephews or cousins or other relatives to be Nawabs and Rajahs over us. We don't want Law Courts and Bureaucracies. We want direct, paternal, rule by those of your blood.' Did Indians say any such thing? No. Mithi is talking nonsense. 

explains why its mode of politics took the form of pleading and petitioning by a small group from the educated elite led by the lawyer, the quintessential political representative at the time.

Dadhabhai Naorojee got elected to the British parliament. So did Bhownagree. They didn't 'plead' and 'petition' simply. Soon they were joined in London by radicals like Shyamji Krishna Varma and Veer Savarkar.  

Almost all of the  most eminent leaders of Congress were lawyers, including Mahadev Govind Ranade,

he was a judge. He did not practice law.  

Bal Gangadhar Tilak,

who was a Maths Professor before becoming a journalist. He did not practice law 

Chitta Ranjan Das, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, as well as J. Nehru.

But the 'Grand Old Man' of Congress, Naoroji, wasn't a lawyer. Neither were Aurobindo or Azad or Vivekananda or Amba Prasad Sufi or Annie Beasant.

Jawaharlal Nehru did practice law for a year or two, but gave up so as to devote himself entirely to politics.  

With the rise to prominence of Gandhi, a political breakthrough occurred in the form of a demand for national independence rather than imperial justice,

The Home Rule League had already made that demand. But the Revolutionaries were more than a step ahead. 

and in the launching of a mass movement to rival the politics of pleading and petitioning.

pleading and petitioning had ended much before. Curzon's partition of Bengal had been reversed by a mass agitation. 

Gandhi’s disdain for law courts and the discourse of justice is illustrated by his decision in 1920 to launch the non-violent non-cooperation movement with a call for the boycott of every British law court and with a ban on practising lawyers from leading the struggle for national independence.

This was in imitation of Sinn Fein. But Gandhi failed to set up a parallel judicial system. In 1922, just when Ireland and Egypt and Afghanistan had got independence, Gandhi unilaterally surrendered and went off to jail like a good 'pleader' and 'petitioner'.  

Gandhi, who asserted that the British colonial state had relied on the law courts to perpetuate its rule in India, predicted that allowing the lawyers who dominated Congress to continue to lead the movement for independence would be nothing short of committing ‘national suicide.’

But he let Motilal Nehru and C.R Das, senior lawyers both, take the Swaraj Party into the legislature where they failed miserably. Gandhi had already slit the throat of the Congress/Khilafat combine thus postponing full Independence indefinitely.


The Gandhian discourse of freedom was distinguishable from Congress’s in that it

failed completely in 1922.  

was grounded in the Indian discourses of spiritual or renunciative freedom known as moksha and nirvana,

Mithi is of Hindu origin. She thinks Muslims did not exist on the sub-continent. Yet, they were the majority in sizable portions of the East and the West of the country. It is ludicrous to think that Azad or the Ali brothers were interested in moksha or nirvana 

which bore little relations to Western discourses of political legislative freedom grounded in the idea of a state on the one hand, and ideas of property and individual rights on the other.

As a matter of fact, Hindus whose Daddies or Uncles had been Dewans conceived of 'political legislative freedom' as grounded in the sort of territorial states in which they grew up. However, they expected these States to link up- as was indeed happening in Gandhi's Kathiawar and elsewhere. The descendants of Dewans- indeed, some ex-Dewans of smaller states- became lawyers. What they did for their bread and butter was argue about 'ideas of property' and 'individual rights'. 

However, what the masses wanted was Economic reform and the reestablishment of Religious hegemony of a vernacular type. That is what they got out of the Freedom Struggle. The 'Liberals' could not avert this outcome.  

Thus, even as the Gandhian movement sought to free India from British colonial rule, it did not envision taking responsibility for running the government of post-colonial India.

That may be true of toothless nutters like Gandhi. But Motilal and C.R Das and so forth wanted to run things.  

In short, being grounded in the ultimate telos of spiritual freedom, the Gandhian movement did not develop a discourse of governance as legislative freedom.

Gandhi may have had shit for brains. But Patel was a man of a very different stripe. Some Congress-wallahs were, it is true, quite useless. But many weren't. 

The fact can't be gainsaid that Congress formed Ministries- generally of superior cohesiveness and efficiency- just like the other parties. Gandhi was increasingly ignored except when it was convenient for everybody to go to jail rather than appear to have sold out. 

Owing to the Gandhian movement’s unwillingness to construct a legislative discourse of governance coupled with freedom, Congress, on taking office after independence in August 1947, immediately

ignored Gandhi completely till he started to make a nuisance of himself and then, surprise! surprise! suddenly and very conveniently got shot 

restored its original discourse of imperial justice.

How so? 

India’s approach to international relations in the post-colonial period was historically conditioned by this juridical discursive framework, but with the difference that the role of the emperor as imperial judge was now given to the Security Council of the United Nations.

By the end of 1949, the UN had given up its attempt to mediate in Kashmir. What India wanted was not 'an imperial judge' but a Sugar Daddy to whom, however, India would refuse to put out. Actually, it was Pakistan which first showed India how to play off Uncle Sam against Uncle Joe Stalin. 

India did have an interest in de-colonization and saw the UN as potentially playing a useful role- provided the principle of Non Alignment was accepted because this would reduce Great Power conflict over the liberation of strategically located territories. But India's own concern was to remain very poor and weak because mendicants are supposed to look like shit. 

Why were both Gandhi and Nehru so utterly shite? The answer is that they didn't get that India is a Hindu country. If Hindus get rich and strong, India will be rich and strong. By 1932, all the minorities had told Gandhi to fuck off. It was obvious that either there would be a Hindu India or a collection of linguistic States which however might be perpetually at war. 

The big question was- would Hindus in different parts of India back a war against non-Hindus? Indian History said no. Hindus are disunited. But Democracy changed that. Suddenly Hindus were united. The Chinese incursion showed that the Tamil and the Punjabi- even some Bengalis- wanted to biff them Chinks. That was a game changer. Moreover, it turned out Hinduism is different from Islam or Christianity. It can keep a multi-lingual nation together. 

By contrast Gandhism and Nehruism were, as Mithi suggests, essentially puerile. They represented a 'world of illusion'. The Bania and the Kaula and the Buddhijivi and the Tambram didn't know that Hindus liked fighting and getting rich. They thought the main teaching of the Hindu religion was 'starve to death. If a foreigner starts beating you, lick his arse.' There is a good reason why Hindus hate the Caste System and Holier-than-Thou cunts with Brahminical surnames. 

The popular response to the Chinese invasion showed India was united and that the Commies could always be slaughtered if they turned 'anti-national'. In other words, India could be a country like any other. Talking holier than thou bollocks while passing around the begging bowl was simply stupid. 

Once Shastri came to power, India could start growing food to feed itself and biffing the Chinks in Nathu La. Indira continued that trend. Now the dynasty is dying nasty. Power has returned to the Hindu Nationalists who started it all. 

Sadly Mithi can't admit the obvious. She has to talk bollocks. Why? She is a Professor in Amrika. Intellectual affirmative action- i.e. pretending your brand of beggarly brown people are utter cretins, at least when compared to you, is the key to career advancement. It's a shitty job- but someone has to do it. 

 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Waugh, Greene & the heart of their matter

Graham Greene, like James Hilton, wrote 'talkies' before any such thing existed. His books translate directly onto the screen ; they require no prior cultural knowledge, and yet allow a complex immersion in lives very different from our own, in faroff countries where we nonetheless feel at home. But only for 90 minutes.

Evelyn Waugh's books were avant la lettre Netflix series- i.e creations so fractally cinematic as to be, save by their silliness, intrinsically interminable. A film could be made of Brideshead- indeed a film was made a dozen years ago- but such a film would be bound to disappoint. On the other hand, over the span of a dozen golden hours, Gielgud and Olivier and the young Jeremy Irons could do justice- that being the name snobs give to God's Mercy- to Waugh's best novel in perhaps the most sumptuous, the most consummate, mercifully messageless, TV series the Beeb ever produced. 

What made Waugh different from Greene and Hilton is that he had, from the first, seen Cinema as not synoptic but prismatically Social. The audience matters more than what happens on the screen. The young Cambridge man may say 'Expressionismus' from the expensive seats but Ada and Gladys, housemaids both, say 'foreigner' and nudge each other. Indeed, Waugh worked hard to make himself a foreigner to his fellow Cockneys. Sadly, 'Expressionismus' is a costermonger trait. 

 The young Waugh was suicidal- he had swum out to drown believing, an Iphigenia among Taurians, the sea washes away man's evil. Yet, writing of his own intricately arriviste Pont street predicament- Love not star crossed but blighted by caste and coin and the fact that Pont street love isn't love at all- he understands that, for Ada and Gladys, there is a different type of cinematic suspense. What genre are they watching?

After several shiftings of perspective, the focus becomes suddenly and stereoscopically clear. The girl is seated at a table leaning towards a young man who is lighting her cigarette for her. Three or four others join them at the table and sit down. They are all in evening dress.

“No, it isn’t comic, Ada—it’s Society.”

“Society’s sometimes comic. You see.”

Waugh can now be wholly a satirist- Society must be comic because Ada and Gladys 'make it go' - but Euripedean Romance is conserved. Why? There was a substitution. An innocent deer took the place of Iphigenia. But this meant she would have to slaughter Hellenes- even her own brother, Orestes. Christ is a better pharmakos. Waugh enters the Church and Stella Maris lustrates Artemis' sea. But, Waugh remains puerile. The Church can't enter him save in the manner of Captain Grimes entering Knox Minor. Waugh dies on the toilet. Yet there is a turd on the carpet the family ignore. Bereavement, even when the subject of a Synoptic diakonia, or such Social tact as is properly respectful of Death's pomp and circumstance, is always a funny business. The fact that 'Society's sometimes comic', means, save when de rigueur, as at the wake, it always is.

Waugh, some 70 years ago, writing for Commonweal- an American Liberal Catholic magazine- explained the difference between his cinematic style and that of his fellow convert,- (Graham Greene's) style of writing is grim. It is not a specifically literary style at all. The words are functional, devoid of sensuous attraction, of ancestry and of independent life. Literary stylists regard language as intrinsically precious and its proper use as a worthy and pleasant task. A polyglot could read Mr. Greene, lay him aside, retain a sharp memory of all he said and yet, I think, entirely forget what tongue he was using. The words are simply mathematical signs for his thought. Moreover, no relation is established between writer and reader. The reader has not had a conversation with a third party such as he enjoys with Sterne or Thackeray. Nor is there within the structure of the story an observer through whom the events are recorded and the emotions transmitted. It is as though, out of an infinite length of film, sequences had been cut which, assembled, comprise an experience which is the reader 's alone, with­out any correspondence to the experience of the protagonists. The writer has become director and producer. Indeed, the affinity to the film is everywhere apparent. It is the camera's eye which moves from the hotel balcony to the street below, picks out the policeman, follows him to his office, moves about the room from the hand­cuffs on the wall to the broken rosary in the drawer, recording significant detail. It is the modern way of telling a story. In Elizabethan drama one can usually discern an artistic sense formed on the dumb-show and the masque. In Henry James’s novels scene after scene evolves as though on the stage of a drawing-room comedy. Now it is the cinema which has taught a new habit of narrative. Perhaps it is the only contribution the cinema is destined to make to the arts.

Waugh's own novels are marvelously 'story-boarded'. But each episode is so richly constructed, each character imbued with such charm or irritating, yet addictive, eccentricity, that we wish to live over a period of weeks with an operatic serialization of a novel one might previously have read in an hour on a commuter train. I understand, some critics thought parts of Brideshead were overwritten- but, with Lawrence Olivier's to give tongue to the dying Lord Marchmain's soliloquy, who would cry sufflaminandus erat? Here is the Church's version of the Law against Mortmain. What follows is reverse Theodicy. Man mustn't be modern, so  Christ's bride remain ever a coltish maiden.

Waugh & Greene read History at Oxford. Both turned to Catholicism. This seemed retrograde. Neither had much to say about the British Empire, which had grown bigger but weaker, or about International Finance, which was obviously headed for a bust, or the problems of England's own poor- topics on which the older generation of Anglo-Catholic men of letters continued to be very voluble. Yet they felt themselves to be avant garde. Why? 

Waugh explains-
The artist, however aloof he holds himself, is always and specially the creature of the zeitgeist; however formally antique his tastes, he is in spite of himself in the advance guard. Men of affairs stumble far behind.

In the last twenty-five years the artist's interest has moved from sociology to eschatology. Out of hearing, out of sight, politicians and journalists and popular preachers exhort him to sing the splendours of high wages and sanitation. His eyes are on the Four Last Things, and so mountainous are the disappointments of recent history that there are already signs of a popular break­away to join him, of a stampede to the heights. 

Perhaps Waugh and Greene knew that they too- like the governing classes of the great Empires which had died during the Great War- would be foolish to worry about Sanitation or Sociology or Social Credit or panaceas more poisonous yet. There was a cancer eating at their Katechon. The only question left was in what spirit would they approach the Eschaton? 

For Greene, it was Pity. '"If one knew, he wondered, the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? If one reached what they called the heart of the matter?

There is a story, probably apocryphalthat Waugh said to Greene 'you have made more money out to the Devil than I have out of God'. The Devil, of course, is a liar. Pity is one of those lies. But so is Damnation. Every wop, kike, wog or nignog, whose English is a little too perfect, claims, when found out, to be a Prince among his own people. Satan has a Kingdom, where if lies are what you like, you too can belong. 

Greene's genius was to imbue lives of quintessential triviality with the possibility of a terror sufficient to hold boredom at bay. Transgressions of a squalid type, Treasons unworthy of the attention of the Secret Police, yet can make life cinematic and imbue the too slowly crawling seconds with suspense.

Scobie is a second rate Colonial spy. Pinkie is a wannabe spiv. The petty rackets in which they are engaged involve a type of Freedom which lacks the honesty of the naked Slavery it replaced.  Both manage to bring some drama into, if not their lives, then their deaths, thanks to a little exposure to Catholic endoxa. 

Waugh, perhaps believing Greene to be the mouthpiece of the 'New Theology' of Hans Urs von Balthasar, for whom Hell might be empty, sternly upholds the orthodox doctrine, as expounded by Garrigou-Lagrange. His article isn't really about Greene's novel. It is an attacks on heretical 'modernism'.

As I have suggested above, Scobie is the complement of Pinkie. Both believe in damnation and believe themselves damned. Both die in mortal sin as defined by moral theologians. The conclusion of the hook is the reflection that no one knows the secrets of the human heart or the nature of God's mercy. It is improper to speculate on another's damnation.

This is why Greene's novel is great literature- or has such greatness as is achievable in the type of literature ordinary people can find absorbing on their daily commute. A veil is drawn over the eschaton. Something of the Katechon is illumined. That is all one can ask for from a paperback.  After all, Greene wasn't a priest. He wasn't a Professor of Theology. The Encyclical Humani generis, which came out at about this time, clarifies that converts like Greene and Waugh need lose no sleep over why and where their frail human-too-human understandings might fail them. The Magisterium has the answers. What they are, it may be mischievous to inquire. 

Nevertheless the reader is haunted by the question: Is Scobie damned?

Were American Catholics, readers of the Commonweal magazine, indeed haunted by any such question?  Of course not. But, from Waugh's point of view, they may have been infected by modernism. A touch of fire and brimstone might be salutary. 

One does not really worry very much about whether Becky Sharp or Fagin is damned. It is the central question of "The Heart of the Matter.” I believe that Mr. Greene thinks him a saint.

Scobie is sympathetic. One might imagine him doing something truly Saintly but then one might oneself do such a thing knowing full well that Saintliness was far from us.  

Perhaps I am wrong in this, but in any case Mr. Greene's opinion on that matter is of no more value than the reader's.

Why? Because we also see ourselves in his other characters. They live on as we live on. Something has been subtracted from their lives as something is always being subtracted from ours. In memory, that thread which was plucked may be redolent of Grace. But then other memories supervene or the reverie is disrupted.  

Scobie is not Mr. Greene's creature, devised to illustrate a thesis. He is a man of independent soul. Can one separate his moral from his spiritual state? Both are complex and ambiguous.

Why? It is because Waugh & Greene's Katechon- that which staves off the Apocalypse- is riddled with cancer. Waugh and Greene came of age in a Zombie Empire. 

Waugh, in his early twenties, 'storyboards' his own suicide, by poison, with this evocation of the darkies that are the human backdrop of his peregrinations in Guyana or Greene's mapless journeys in West Africa- 

At the foot of a low banyan tree the savage lies very still. A large fly settles on his shoulder; two birds of prey perch on the branch above him, waiting. The tropical sun begins to set, and in the brief twilight animals begin to prowl upon their obscene questings. Soon it is quite dark.
A photograph of H.M. the King in naval uniform flashes out into the night.

For Waugh & Greene, that 'savage' was saved. He had not committed suicide. Nor had he obdurately persisted in a way of life made supportable only by the accident of it having avoided, or outlived, its own, not parousial auto da fe, but parrhesia's felo de se.  For the 'savage', the King Emperor is not an implacable alterity. The Royal Navy had in fact suppressed the slave trade. But, for Greene & Waugh- English-too-English converts to, but the ideological equivalent of Bishop Samedi's revolt against a Baron of the same name- serving H.M the King was a but personal and aleatory Katechon.

For the English convert to Catholicism- by a, not Duns Scotus, scholastic, but De Maistrean stochastic, type mystery- a bankrupt habitus could, providentially, be conserved as the illusion of conatus or the spark of synderesis. In other words, fiction could be literary, not factious or farcical simply.

 Catholic philosophy, which burgeoned in bulk between the two Vatican Councils without any broader benefit whatsoever, nevertheless- precisely because it was systematic- shielded Catholic intellectuals from the grosser, or more reductionist, dogmas of the age. Thus, its practitioners of parrhesia displayed an enviably elastic paranoia- an urbane adaptability to any ad captum vulgi axiom whatsoever- which meant that Greene and Waugh could be received as something more than merely bilious converts from a famously melancholic isle whose storm-tossed Empire was headed for an Iceberg engendered by its own frigid Titanicism.

When not engaged in fiction- where, Oxonian twins, piling Ossa on Pelion, they sought to extinguish Pater, Wilde & Beerbohm's aesthetic Olympianism- these but journalistic neurotics, unconsciously yearning for the jazz of the nigger or pizzaz of the Hollywood kike- lied unceasingly, that too in a priggish, adolescent, manner as if truly forgetful of the true import of their Ozymandias fetish. 

Centuries ago, in his dateless childhood, Ozymandias had sprung to the top of the toy cupboard tired of Adam’s game. It was a game peculiar to himself and Ozymandias which Adam had evolved, and which was only played on the rare occasions of his being left alone. First, Ozymandias had to be sought from room to room, and when at last he was found, borne up to the nursery and shut in. He would watch him for some minutes as he paced the floor and surveyed the room with just the extreme tip of his tail expressing his unfathomable contempt for European civilization. Then armed with a sword, gun, battledore, or an armful of bricks to throw, and uttering sadistic cries, Adam would pursue him round and round the room, driving him from refuge to refuge, until almost beside himself with rage and terror, he crouched junglelike with ears flattened back and porpentine hair. Here Adam would rest, and after some slight pause the real business of the game began. Ozymandias had to be won back to complacency and affection. Adam would sit down on the floor some little way from him and begin calling to him softly and endearingly. He would lie on his stomach with his face as near Ozymandias as he would allow and whisper extravagant eulogies of his beauty and grace; mother-like he would comfort him, evoking some fictitious tormentor to be reproached, assuring him that he was powerless to hurt him any more; Adam would protect him; Adam would see that the horrible little boy did not come near him again. Slowly Ozymandias’ ears would begin to come forward and his eyes begin to close, and the delectable exercise invariably ended with caresses of passionate reconciliation.

Girls, everywhere, did this too. But, Waugh and Greene had been bred to a 'mai-baap' relationship with dusky Ozymandiases- should no more rewarding career prospect be forthcoming. 

Then they entered the Church- which, after all, originates east of Ozymandias's memorial and is itself a Mother which employs men who are called Fathers to deal with horrible little boys. 

Look at the unblushing way Waugh, analysing Scobie, strikes a note so stupidly, self-servingly, false his American audience is obliged to pass the matter over in well bred silence. 

First, there is his professional delinquency. In the first pages he appears as an Aristides, disliked for his rectitude; by the end of the book he has become a criminal.

Waugh, and his Liberal Catholic, American readers, knew this was nonsense. Men of Scobie's rank in some shithole West African port could make money and serve their Intelligence function by running their own black-market operation. If wifey wants to go to South Africa, you wangle her a cushy job with high travel priority. Sierra Leone had diamonds. An Aristides would be decidedly de trop

Even in peacetime, a Scobie who had succumbed to drink and loose women would not have been considered, or treated, as a criminal. He'd have been sent to East Africa to oversee pyrethrum production or something of that sort. There wasn't much a White Man could do in the Dark Continent which would land him in jail.

There is nothing inevitable in his decline.

There was no 'decline'. Scobie may have started of as an atypical officer. He became a typical officer because that is how bureaucracies work.  Then he killed himself. Lots of officers did. But it wasn't because of the machinations of some greasy Levantine. No doubt, a  superior would have made a note on the man's file to the effect that he had been due a long leave which had to be cancelled because of the war. Scobie was a good enough soldier. Then he broke. The fact is, if his work had truly been 'mission critical' he might have hung on by his fingernails for the duration of the conflict. But his work wasn't important at all. He could be easily replaced- perhaps by an officer eager to get as far as possible from danger. 

Waugh's exercise in casuistry fails because Scobie has sufficient seniority to decide what was or wasn't theft. A discretionary, administrative, Economia, not legalistic Akribeia, had been entrusted to him. His personal probity was of no consequence. The Empire was at War. If he could find a British or French priest to confess to- fine. An Italian or German priest, for obvious reasons, wouldn't do. But the determination of whether or not a sin has occurred- like the determination of what is or isn't a justiciable crime- is a matter entirely in the hands of those licensed by Church or State. Both would be inclined to draw a veil over anything untoward, not out of pity- Scobie's vice- but as a matter of pragmatic Economia. Middle Management must be content with a modest spiritual life. Only if it literally has a dozen severed heads in the freezers should it get to vapor on about Hellfire and Penitence. 

Waugh, it may be, wishes his American readers to understand that the Brits were terribly prim and proper and ran their Empire in the spirit of pettifogging audit clerks. 

He compromises himself first in order to get his wife's passage money. She is in a deplorable nervous condition; perhaps, even, her reason is in danger.

Suppose that were true. He is senior enough to make provision for her- after all, his own morale matters. If she needs to be sent away, there is always some bureaucratic way to do it. The British Empire was founded upon an 'Economia' in which 'compassionate' considerations had due weight in deciding such matters. The Red Cross in Cape Town would have been persuaded it had a crying need for her services. A travel warrant would have been issued. The thing was purely routine. Scobie would have been regarded as a smart man who knew how to run things.  

He is full of compassion.

No. Compassion was Bureaucratic. It had to do with morale and esprit de corps and maintaining the prestige of the Administration. Scobie's vice was pity- better he had been a peeping Tom or the sort of chap who can't contain himself and gets roughed up in the Gents toilet.  

But she is making his own life intolerable; he wants her out of the way for his own peace.

Just saying so to your superior would be enough to get the wheels turning. Both Waugh and Greene knew how the Empire worked. The Americans may not have done.  

As things turn out the trip to South Africa was quite unnecessary. Providence had its own cure ready if he had only waited. He gets the commissionership in the end, which was ostensibly all that Louise wanted. But behind that again lies the deeper cause of her melancholy, that Scobie no longer loves her in the way that would gratify her vanity. And behind the betrayal of his official trust lies the futility of his official position.

Behind which lies the futility of a Zombie Empire. 

The law he administers has little connection with morals or justice.

Britain was at war. The law Scobie administers is a tool to suborn support or put the fear of God into the indifferent. 

It is all a matter of regulations—a Portuguese sea-captain's right to correspond with his daughter in Germany,

which should have been used to 'turn' the man or his daughter- or at least pretend to do so for Head Office.  

the right of a tenant to divide and sublet her hut,

a matter of the highest political importance! What if she is Mende and the sub-tenant is Temne? Divide et impera

the right of a merchant to provide out of his own property for the security of his family.

Does that Fifth Columnist not know there is a War on? Provide for his family indeed! 

He knows that his sub­ordinates are corrupt and can do nothing about it. Whom or what has he in fact betrayed, except his own pride?

But pride is enough. Nothing more is needed. In British English there is a word- 'doolally'- which refers to a type of psychosis, occasionally suicidal, suffered by troops sent to the Indian hill station of Deolali awaiting sea-passage home. The futility of existence in that limbo drove soldiers to shoot themselves or otherwise stain their service record. Scobie went doolally. There may have been some greasy Levantine at the bottom of it. But Levantines soon get their comeuppance- one way or another.  As for the Major, let us say cherchez la femme and leave it at that. 

Secondly, there is his adultery. His affection for the waif cast up on the beach is at first compassionate and protective; it becomes carnal. Why?

He had a daughter her age who died back in Blighty. 

He is an elderly man long schooled in chastity. There is another suitor of Helen Rolt, Bagster the Air Force philanderer. It is Bagster's prowling round the bungalow which precipitates the change of relationship.

A Girardian would speak of mimetic desire and the pharmakos, the scapegoat, this requires.  

It is Bagster in the background who makes him persevere in adultery when his wife's return affords a convenient occasion for parting. Bagster is a promiscuous cad. Helen must be saved from Bagster. Why? Scobie arrogates to himself the prerogations of providence.

Prerogations of providence? Waugh seems to believe that God's care of the world is a mechanical thing. It is Positive Law- Akriebia, not Economia. This is not orthodoxy. Scobie may be said to have had an unmet need for confidence in God. For want of a good shepherd, a sheep went astray. We can't blame the Diocese too much. War-time exigencies, donchaknow. 

He presumes that an illicit relation with himself is better than an illicit relation with Bagster.

And so it may have been. So it was. Bagsters little trouble the heart.  But they may give you syphilis. 

But why, in fact, need it have been illicit? She might marry Bagster.

Who might turn out to be a Methodist! Better a Catholic's kept woman than the helpmeet of a ranter! 

Thirdly there is the murder of Ali. We do not know whether Ali was betraying him. If he had not been a smuggler and an adulterer there would have been nothing to betray. Ali dies to emphasize the culpability of these sins.

The guy was doing Intelligence work. Bumping off servants who spy on you sends the right signal.  War time conditions, donchaknow. 

Fourthly there are the sacrilegious communions which Louise forces upon him;

The difficulty here is that Scobie killed himself for no good reason. He may have been of unsound mind. He couldn't be sure his communion was sacrilegious. Once again, the orthodox approach was to leave judgment in this matter to the shepherd, not the sheep. Waugh and Greene must have been aware that this was the great attraction of the Catholic Church. The Puritanical Consciousness- the 'man inside me who is angry with me'- gives up that which is most crushing in its burden to saner, safer, merely bureaucratically fallible, hands. 

and fifthly, his suicide, a re-statement of that blasphemy in other terms.

Such judgments are not required of the layman. From the shepherd's point of view a sheep was lost because its needs were not met. That is the sort of problem which a professional organization run on up to date principles can fix- at least in the Statistical or De Maistrean sense. Doctors of Souls are like Doctors of Bodies. They change their arrangements so as to offer a better service though, no doubt, from time to time, the wrong limb is amputated.

He dies believing himself damned but also in an obscure way—at least in a way that is obscure to me—believing that he is offering his damnation as a loving sacrifice for others.

It was not obscure to the French. They understood altruistic suicide and later on developed a theory of mimetic desire such that Scobie is intelligible as a pharmakos. Indeed, from the Imperial point of view, Scobie injects a little heart into a Zombie enterprise. In the constructivist mathematics of, not soteriology, but keeping up appearances, conserving the Katechon, Scobie is a 'witness'. So are we, in so far as we suspend belief reading this tosh. 

We are told that he is actuated throughout by the love of God.

Which he takes to be pity. But we don't believe in this type of pity any more than we think God likes watching us poop. So we aren't really told Scobie is actuated by anything other than his own dim haecceity.  

A love, it is true that falls short of trust, but a love, we must suppose, which sanctifies his sins.

Why must we do so? Could we not become Christians instead?  

That is the heart of the matter.

No. We come to the heart on the next page. Scobie had thanked God he hadn't been in England to see his child die. Then a ship is sunk by a submarine and the survivors are brought in after 40 days on an open boat. A little girl whose parents had already died is one of them. Scobie is left for a few moments alone with her. He prays God grant her peace even if that mean, for himself, damnation.

Why? There is no great mystery of theodicy here. The people on the boat needed to keep the kid alive to survive psychologically. She served her purpose. Scobie serves his too.  His adulterous affair is with another survivor- a 19 year old widow. I suppose she would have been about the same age as Scobie's daughter- had she lived. Scobie keeps her alive giving her whatever of himself he can for the same reason that the little child was kept alive on the boat. But the young widow recovers. Scobie kills himself so the books balance. Simone Weil, wishing to eat no more than she believed she would have eaten in occupied France, died at about the same time. The coroner said- 'the deceased did kill and slay herself by refusing to eat whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed'. The Eucharist is a sure provision against Weil's kenotic inedia or Scobie's patripassian poison. Evil is not the form God's Mercy takes in this world because Mercy is not Pity. It won't fuck you even though you tried to punch the boss at the Christmas party but the cunt knew krav maga and now you've got a broken nose and it's fucking Christmas for fuck's sake and who deserves a leg over more- you or her new boyfriend who is a Merchant Banker?

As Greene says-  Love is not safe when Pity is prowling around. On the other hand, the Church can improve its arrangements just as the Admiralty can improve its system of convoys. Fewer 'lame ducks' need be 'sniped'. Mercy is operationalizable and improvable by the proper application of Management Information Systems and the techniques of Operations Research. Of such, indeed, is the Katechon and the oikonomos mysterion of Providence's invisible hand. 

Within this economy, it is perfectly feasible to condemn oneself to save another. The thing happens all the time. But, if the thing is properly coordinated, none need feel they were irrevocably damned. 

Waugh, with unconscious wit, asks his much more technocratic audience-

Is such a sacrifice feasible? To me the idea is totally unintelligible, but it is not unfamiliar. Did the Quietists not speak in something like these terms?

No. They spoke in terms the Church considered intelligible enough to distinguish and condemn. Quietism may verge into some heretical type of 'theosis'. But, becoming God, the illusion of multiplicity is overcome. Sacrifice is otiose for alterity is an illusion.

The notion, however, of offering oneself as a sacrifice so another may be spared has nothing to do with mysticism. The thing is purely transactional.  

I ask in all humility whether nowadays logical rule-of-thumb Catholics are not a little too humble towards the mystics. We are inclined to say: "Ah that is mysticism. I'm quite out of my depth there," as though the subject were higher mathematics, while in fact our whole Faith is essentially mystical.

The mysterion (sacrament) arises within an oikonomia- an economic ordering. That which coordinates the Katechon is difficult to pull apart and specify. Father Garrigou Lagrange well knew, from Pierre Duhem, that 'higher mathematics' has no esoteric axioms. Rather it is simpler than those used in the physics of a period. I suppose, this is Waugh's point. But everyone is out of their depth with those who drown in their own verbal diarrhea. 

We may well fight shy of discussing ecstatic states of prayer with which we have no acquaintance, but sacrilege and suicide are acts of which we are perfectly capable.

The reverse is the case. At least as children- or when of strong drink taken- ecstatic prayer is what comes easiest to us when suitably prompted. Hesychasm is similar to a pain-management or self-soothing technique all kids teach themselves. Later, we can always buy a bottle or find some other way to get high. But, even in sober middle age, the contagion of a crowd may have us speaking in tongues and seeing beatific visions. Sacrilege is difficult. As a child I would not step on the cracks in the pavement. I still will not willingly pass under a ladder. As for attempting suicide- I am incapable of it- unless eating a dozen chocolate eclairs qualifies. The sad truth is it takes a certain quantum of courage to do even very bad things. 

To me the idea of willing my own damnation for the love of God is either a very loose poetical expression or a mad blasphemy, for the God who accepted that sacrifice could be neither just nor lovable.

Yet, the Katechon requires nothing less. We all must go about our daily business, harrowing the hell of separation, no matter whom it is we love and kill with sword or kiss.  

Mr. Greene has put a quotation from Peguy at the beginning of the book "Le pecheur est au coeur meme de chretiente . . . Nul n'est aussi competent que le pecheur en matiere de chretiente. Nul, si ce n'est le saint," and it seems to me probable that it was in his mind to illustrate the "Nouveau Theologien" from which it is taken, just as in "Brighton Rock" he illustrates the Penny Catechism. The theme of that remarkable essay is that Christianity is a city to which a bad citizen belongs and the good stranger does not.

This is true of any city. I'm a bad Londoner. Mother Theresa isn't a Londoner at all.  

Peguy describes the Church, very beautifully, as a chain of saints and sinners with clasped fingers, pulling one another up to Jesus. But there are also pas­sages which, if read literally, are grossly exorbitant.

Coz the guy was French! You know what dem furriners be like.  

Peguy was not three years a convert when he wrote it, and he was not in communion with the Church. He daily saw men and women, who seemed to him lacking his own intense spirituality, trooping up to the altar rails while he was obliged to stay in his place excommunicate. The "Nouveau Theologien" is his meditation on his predicament. He feels there is a city of which he is a true citizen, but it is not the community of conventional practicing Catholics, who are not, in his odd, often repeated phrase, "competent en matiere de chretiente." He feels a kinship with the saints that these conventional church-goers do not know and in his strange, narrow, brooding mind he makes the preposterous deduction that this very true and strong bond is made, not by his faith and love, but by his sins. "Litteralement," he writes, "celui qui est pecheur, celui qui commet un peche est deja chretien, est en cela meme chretien. On pourrait presque dire est un bon chretien." "Litteralement"? : what is the precise force of that passage? Much depends on it. Does "literally" mean that any and every sinner is by virtue of his sin a Christian? Was Yusef a sinner and therefore Christian? No, because Peguy has already stated that strangers outside the chain of clasped hands cannot commit sin at all. Is Yusef damned? Can a sinner by this definition never be damned? The argument works in a circle of undefined terms. And what of the "presque" ? How does one "almost" say something ? Is one prevented by the fear of shocking others or the realization at the last moment that what one was going to say does not in fact make sense ? In that case why record it ? Why "almost" say it ? This is not a matter of quibbling. If Peguy is saying anything at all, he is saying something very startling and something which people seem to find increasingly important. Mr. Greene has removed the argument from Peguy's mumbled version and re-stated it in brilliantly plain human terms; and it is there, at the heart of the matter, that the literary critic must resign his judgment to the theologian.

Waugh is being silly. There is no 'circle of undefined terms'. There is only the circle of 'oikeiosis'- belonging, appropriating, claiming ownership or membership and thus becoming subject to a specific jurisdiction. Peguy's Nationalism and his Socialism and his Catholicism are highly individual but, in each case, not actively subversive of endoxa. He may have been an awkward sod. But he was no shirker. We think well of him. He died in the War. 

Scobie too is circumscribed by circles of oikeiosis. D'you remember the riots at Pujehun? His home leave was cancelled and so his child died far away from him in England. Then there was that bad business with the survivors of the U-boat attack. I heard another child- his daughter's age when she died- died right in front of him and he prayed from his heart and...well, you know the gossip. Cherchez la femme- a young widow the same age his daughter would have been. 

Greene presents Scobie as a fellow passenger on a familiar but clapped out  Catholic vessel. The ship falls out of convoy because of engine trouble. A U-boat 'snipes' the 'lame duck'. Scobie offers a girl a place on his life-boat. But then there is no place there for himself. Perhaps if Father Brule had not died of blackwater fever or if a replacement for him had been sent expeditiously... but these are matters for the Archdiocese. I understand Cardinal Spellman has this marvelous system set up by I.B.M which promises to increase efficiency by 11 per cent! 

Waugh may have believed that American Catholics were racists. They would not be able to comprehend why Scobie loved a black man he didn't trust. We can scarcely do it now- we know too much about Imperialism. Yet, it allowed its cogs some illusions. Then, for Scobie, those too were stripped away. His unwinding is rapid. His oikieosis un-spirals. The clockwork toy throws away the children. 

The mark of Cain is upon him and his lover knows it.

She said, "I heard this morning about Ali. Did you do it?"

"I didn't cut his throat myself," he said. "But he died because I existed."
...
"You know," she said, "this is the end for us. I can't  go on ruining you any more.
...
 "My dear," she said, "don't think it's easy. I've never done anything so hard. It would be so much easier to die. You come into everything. I can never again see a Nissen hut or a Ford car. Or taste pink gin. See a black face. Even a  bed . . . one has to sleep in a bed. I don't know where I'll get away from you. It's no use saying in a year it will be all right. It's a year I've got to get through. All the time knowing you are somewhere. I could send a telegram or a letter and you'd have to read it, even if you didn't reply." 

He thought: How much easier it would be for her if I were  dead. "But I mustn't write," she said.

Scobie could have driven away. He could have been strong. But the habit of unhappiness requires a codependent. 

"But, dear, what do we do?" She surrendered completely. "I don't mind going on as we are. I don't mind the lies. Anything." 

"Just leave it to me. I've got to think." He leant over her and closed the door of the car. Before the lock had clicked he had made his decision.

There was no one left for him to hurt and so the Priest, Father Rank, says Scobie had truly loved God. I suppose pity might be love if expressed to the infinite. At any rate, the novel ends with an Advaitic punchline of a Music Hall type, the widow having revealed her husband loved only himself-

 "And you may be in the right of it there, too," 

What Pity was to Greene, Charm was to Waugh. The one did not pity the Church, the other wrote of it in an entirely charmless manner. I think it is safe to say they truly loved the old dear. Commonweal's contributors might try it sometime. Bromides benefit from being less woke.