Saturday, 31 October 2020

Fara Daboiwala on Slavery

Institutionalised racism- i.e. deliberate market distortions- led to fewer African-Americans than Whites owning property or their owning property which was less fungible or which could not appreciate in value by reason of adverse legislative and administrative action of a discriminatory sort.

In 1994, the Clinton Administration got the Mortgage Bankers Association to agree to increase lending to minorities and to rewrite lending standards. A dozen years later a lot of those participating- like the CEO of the notorious Countrywide Financial Corp- had made obscene sums of money as had certain politicians and officials involved. But, after the ensuing financial crash, minorities discovered they were worse off. Strangely, the election of an African American President did not reverse this outcome. On the contrary, the ultra rich got their bailout- people like Trump got a fat check from the IRS- while many of those who voted for Obama fell off the property ladder. This was the plot of the Will Smith film 'Pursuit of Happiness' but played out in reverse. 

Reparative Government actions generally have economic effects quite different from their intention because the mechanism by which the reparation is made is subject to agent principal hazard which is particularly acute where the 'agent' is an, entitled, self-appointed, virtue signaling, cunt whose righteous indignation on behalf of the poor sits easily with a belief that toilers in the vineyard of the grapes of wrath are entitled to oodles of sweet sweet 'sweat equity' paid out by the supposedly reparative Agency or Mechanism concerned.

In this context, descendants of slaves should be wary of proposals for 'reparations'.

Consider the following article by Fara Daboiwala, a History Professor, who writes in the Guardian-
Britain’s national myth about slavery goes something like this:

There is no myth. The truth is known to all. British people kept getting enslaved when Britain was weak and its Navy couldn't fuck up Vikings or Corsairs or Continental Armadas or what have you.

However, as its economy advanced, it got rid of slavery and serfdom and became a place where even foreign slaves who landed on these shores could gain enfranchisement by appealing to the Judicial system.

How did Britain get rid of slavery and serfdom and enable its people to enjoy greater and greater freedom? The answer is Britain raised productivity and engaged in international trade so as to pay for a Navy which eventually gained global supremacy and which put down piracy and the slave trade over a wide area. 

This is actual history. Fara is a historian. But he and his ilk have been dealing in absurd myths for decades. Thus he says- 

for most of history, slavery was a normal state of affairs;

No. It wasn't normal at all for most of British history. It may have been normal in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa or the Muslim world. But, even there, it has almost disappeared save in places like Mauretania, though ISIS did try to revive it recently. It was definitely not normative in Christian Europe though Barbary pirates did keep raiding European coasts and capturing European ships and so there were always some European Christians being sold in Islamic Slave Markets till the French colonized Algeria in 1830. 

but in the later 18th century, enlightened Britons such as William Wilberforce led the way in fighting against it. Britain ended the slave trade in 1807, before any other nation, and thereafter campaigned zealously to eradicate it everywhere else.

That is true enough- at least from the perspective of Black Britishers who, otherwise, would have to explain why the fuck they, or their parents or grandparents, wanted to emigrate to a historically Racist country. If it was simply to make money or get a free ride on the Social Capital the Brits had built up, then, from the moral point of view, they are no better or worse than those long dead White peeps they wax wroth about.

As Michael Taylor points out in his scintillating new book, this is a farrago of nonsense. Slavery was certainly an ancient practice, but for 200 years the British developed it on an unprecedented scale.

The Spanish and the Portuguese and then the Dutch and the French developed it. Britain joined in after the Dutch but did better than them and so emerged with the biggest Merchant Navy- which also meant it carried the most slaves. It is usual to speak learnedly of the Assiento at this point. 

Since Britain faced hostile invasion from both Spain and France (William of Orange was welcomed), it was obvious that fucking those guys over at Sea- which meant out-trading and out-privateering them- involved entering repugnancy markets, e.g. slavery, opium etc. 

Throughout the 18th century, they were the world’s foremost slavers,

the foremost slavers were African and Arab potentates. Britain, emerging as the foremost mercantile marine power was, naturally, foremost in the 'triangular trade' involving slaves, sugar and rum.  

Few Britishers led slave raids. 'Blackbirding' was an Ozzie affair. 

Fara is a Parsi. Some Parsis got rich on the opium trade with China. They neither grew the stuff nor hooked anyone onto it. They merely transported it. Similarly some Africans and Arabs got rich capturing and supplying 'black gold' to White people in the Americas or elsewhere. Those who shipped the slaves outward and who brought back sugar or other commodities on the return journey also played a part in the defense of Britain against foreign tyrants. 

West Indian plantations pre-existed British rule. Plantations in the 'Southern' Colonies fought a war to become independent and then another war to keep Slavery. 

What about the vast territories under British control? Did the Brits continue the Dutch practice of kidnapping and enslaving Tamils to work in Ceylon? No. Did they bring in 'Sidhis' to work in Fara's own ancestral 'Bombay Presidency'? No. They introduced a system of indentured labor for laborers recruited to work in overseas plantations- but no hereditary slavery. 

Fara knows all this. He is himself British by birth. Yet he pretends that British people led slaving raids- i.e. did the enslaving. Buying and selling and transporting is not the same as enslaving. The fact is, a big African grievance against the Brits was that they ended the Slave Trade. 

The BBC website has an article by a Nigerian journalist who says- '

My great-grandfather, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku, was what I prefer to call a businessman, from the Igbo ethnic group of south-eastern Nigeria. He dealt in a number of goods, including tobacco and palm produce. He also sold human beings.

"He had agents who captured slaves from different places and brought them to him," my father told me.

Nwaubani Ogogo's slaves were sold through the ports of Calabar and Bonny in the south of what is today known as Nigeria.

About 1.5 million Igbo slaves were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean between the 15th and 19th Centuries.

What would have happened to those slaves if they had not been shipped to America? The answer is that they would have been taken north and east. Fewer would have survived but those that did would have stood a much better chance of being gelded so as to serve as eunuchs.
and the plantation system they helped create devoured the lives of millions of African men, women and children.

The success of West African agriculture meant high quality population growth which in turn meant that 'state formation' could be financed by selling slaves. Those who survived the 'middle passage' had superior reproductive success. Their descendants are better off than those of the guys who enslaved and sold them. But this was also true of 'voluntary' indentured laborers who replaced the Slaves from the 1830s onward.  

In the name of profit and racial superiority, English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish enslavers inflicted

virtually nothing. By contrast, fine upstanding African merchants- not to mention the high officials of great Kingdoms like Dahomey (about which, the Leftist shithead, Polanyi waxed lyrical) or Zanzibar- showed industrial efficiency in this matter. Incidentally, many Parsis in Zanzibar- like Freddy Mercury- had to flee after the Blacks revolted.

a holocaust of suffering on their human chattels, practising rape, torture, mutilation, and manslaughter.

Then King Leopold got his mitts on the Congo and the bar was raised- till Stalin and Hitler and Mao and various fat Kims in North Korea raised it again. Bokassos and so forth weren't lacking in vim and vigor in this department but it was ISIS which made the thing a matter of religious duty. Incidentally, Fara's ancestors fled Iran to settle in India where, despite their talent and industry, they were quite poor till British Rule gave them an opportunity to rise up by their own effort and enterprise. The grandsons of village carpenters turned shipwrights became Baronets because of the extraordinary public spirit and munificence they showed. Dadhabhai Naoroji, Britain's first purely non-European M.P, though of the most exalted Priestly lineage, was born into poverty. His father had not scrupled to earn his bread through honest agricultural labor. The Parsis may now be an educated, aristocratic, elite, but they can claim pure working class origins. Their ancestors earned their bread by the sweat of their brow. This explains their egalitarian ethos and affinity for Britain. But, the vast majority of 'BAME' Britishers have similar antecedents- or wish they did for the sake of the children who might otherwise turn into entitled, Credentialized, 'woke', virtue signaling, parasites. 

The cessation of the transatlantic trade in 1807 didn’t end this.

True enough. In Nigeria it continued into the 1940s or 50's. Oman abolished slavery in 1970. The fact is, for a hundred years, British officials repressed its more visible expression but it went on nevertheless. Indeed, it still does. There are plenty of newspaper stories about child slaves escaping from the homes in Britain of wealthy and educated African couples. But then a Marxist nutter of Tamil extraction has been jailed for enslaving people in Tooting! 

It changed nothing for the 700,000 enslaved people already held captive in Britain’s West Indian colonies; soon afterwards, the British government acquired additional slave territories in South America.

But slavery was abolished there about 25 years later. 

 Slavery remained central to Britain’s economic and strategic interests,

No it didn't. Ending that repugnant trade strengthened Britain in every way. On the other hand it weakened the slave exporting Kingdoms in Africa which gradually became European Colonies- disastrously so in the case of Belgian Congo. 

and for more than a decade and a half after 1807 almost no one campaigned to end it.

Why? Haiti. That's why. Ending slavery was all very well but why should the freed slaves not slit the throats of their former masters? Indeed, why should they not rise up as independent nations turning the terms of trade in their own favor? 

This is the crux of the matter. Slavery does not matter. Independence does. Britishers press-ganged into the Navy were, in a sense, enslaved, but at least they knew that their sufferings were for the sake of the mother country. On the other hand, being press-ganged into a foreign navy was repugnant.  

The fact is, slave exporting countries had used the foreign exchange earned to buy advanced weapons. No slavery may mean Colonial subjugation. However, at ground level, that last has to be negotiated. Slavery in India was not ended when it was abolished elsewhere in the Empire. The question is, has 'bonded labor' really ended everywhere? Interestingly, the only Indian legislator of African, slave, descent, is a member of the R.S.S. Nationalism, it seems, is the antidote to slavery or its more euphemistic successors.

White people at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century had no illusions as to the inferiority of Africans. Some Professors- like Kant who well knew that there had been a successful African Philosophy Professor in Germany before he got to Collidge- pretended otherwise, but then, any type of pedagogy not directly involving wiping infant bums or keeping adolescents from incessantly masturbating, is a morally debilitating, if not despicable, trade. What was the consequence of Kant's racism? Nothing bad for Black peeps. Something very very fucking bad for German peeps in his home town which is now a Russian enclave. Why? How come? If Africans can be inferior to Whites then Slavs can be inferior to Teutons. But Slavs aren't inferior to Teutons. Hitler lost as the Kaiser lost. Germany had to give up territory and was occupied by its former enemies. This turned out to be a very good thing. 

Contra the German Institutional school, or Koselleth type 'Begriffsgeschichte', or Foucauldian shite, Laws and Legitimating Ideology don't matter. Who owns what doesn't matter. Mechanisms do matter. But Mechanisms aren't about 'residuary control rights'. They are about 'appropriable control rights'. Either there is a Coasian solution, or there is McKelvey Chaos because of some stupid interessement by paranoid cunts blind to the 'Revelation Principle'- i.e. the notion that human beings aren't blind to each other at all. They are 'hardwired' to 'get' each other. Defeasible, on the fly, Mechanism Design and Repair, is such Katechon as renders every Academic eschaton otiose. Life is funny enough as it is. Part of that Divine Comedy, for the British, is that immortal, or Amartya, senex iratus- the Anglican Bishop.

As an Anglican bishop explained the Bible’s teachings, there was all the difference in the world between the sinful trafficking of kidnapped Africans and the divinely sanctioned trade in existing slaves: “buying men is not the same as stealing them”. William Gladstone, in his maiden speech as an MP in 1832, put forward a similar argument.

No he didn't. Some other guy had bad mouthed his Daddy and so sonny boy justified Daddy's conduct with respect to some West Indian Estate owned by the family. Still, Gladstone was on the wrong side of this- no question.

Meanwhile, many other countries took the lead in abolishing the practice for good. By the 1820s, slavery had been banned in the free black republic of Haiti (since 1804),

France had abolished slavery in 1794 but Napoleon brought it back in 1802.  Essentially, countries passing through a radical phase would abolish slavery but then the thing would be brought back one way or the other if it paid for itself. It is utterly foolish to pretend that a bunch of talkative cunts in big Western Cities did anything for poor people in faraway places. 

in most of the northern states of the US, and throughout much of Latin America. Enslaved people across the Caribbean continued to protest against and resist their bondage. But in Britain, public opinion remained overwhelmingly comfortable with its continuance on a vast scale.

To be fair, many Brits seem to have thought that the Colonial Legislatures were similar to their own institutions- i.e. this was a question for them. In fact, these 'mock parliaments' were wholly dependent on Westminster. Governor Eyre destroyed any illusions in this regard- but by then the shoe was on the other foot. Kamala Harris's paternal family, which included both slave-owning freed people of colour, became radicalised at that time. But then, the post-Reconstruction South too soon slid back to its bad old ways. 

After all, the West Indies were the jewel in the British colonial system:

& those jewels had legislatures lest they too rebel like the American Colonies. 

the labour of their slaves produced immeasurable

immeasurable? Nonsense! The thing was frequently measured and generally overstated.  

private and public wealth for Britain’s government, cities, merchants and citizens. As the nation’s greatest hero, Lord Nelson was said to have expressed it, just a few months before his death at Trafalgar, he would always be “a firm friend” to slaveholders – for “I was bred in the good old school and taught to appreciate the value of our West India possessions; and neither in the field, nor in the senate, shall their just rights be infringed, whilst I have an arm to fight in their defence, or a tongue to launch my voice against the damnable and cursed doctrine of Wilberforce, and his hypocritical allies”.

At Trafalgar, half of the British fighting force had been impressed- that was a type of slavery. Yet it secured British liberties just as wealth extracted from the Indies served the same purpose.

There is a lesson here. Liberty is expensive to protect. If Technology does not improve, Slavery of one type or another has to be resorted to. But if Productivity goes up- including productivity in inflicting death- then Liberty can increase.

Telling stupid lies, however, helps nobody. 

The Interest is the story of how widespread and deeply rooted such attitudes were, how powerfully calls for abolition were resisted and why the British parliament nonetheless voted at last in 1833 to end slavery in its West Indian and African territories. In 20 brisk, gripping chapters, Taylor charts the course from the foundation of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1823 to the final passage of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

The thing was a side issue. What was important was the Reform Act and the Corn Laws and, of course, Ireland. The fact is, slavery under one name or another continued save where productivity went up making the thing economically unviable.

Labour is welcome to keep 'residuary control rights' over itself so long as it has no alternative to surrender them in the short to medium term. Even Marx was able to work this out for himself.  


Part of what makes this a compulsively readable book is his skill in cross-cutting between three groups of protagonists. On one track, we follow the abolitionist campaigners on their lengthy, uphill battle:

Uphill? The thing was a walk in the park! The Slave Owners got generous compensation. In any case, West Indian Estates had a nasty habit of going broke every so often. Indeed, as George Bernard Shaw well knew, Estate Managers tended to be rogues of the rankest description. By comparison, after the Eighteen Forties, Managing Agencies in India tended to be more reliable- but boring. . 

organising local committees, writing propaganda, lobbying unsympathetic members of Parliament.

What was the outcome? A mutually advantageous deal for the sort of people who had representation. Petitions and lobbying cost money. Success means perceived political power. This means there is an incentive to settle for merely gestural victories while keeping the 'losers' sweet so they don't give the game away. This Gandhian type of political theater may improve your next birth but, if you don't believe in reincarnation and don't think sending good vibes into the Universe helps anybody, the thing is useless or actively mischievous. 


This well-known story is reanimated by some brilliant pen-portraits. Alongside Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Zachary Macaulay, we meet such activists as the dashing abolitionist MP and barrister Stephen Lushington, fellow of All Souls and first-class cricketer, with his aquiline nose and mane of thick, black hair; and the energetic Quaker reformer Elizabeth Heyrick, who in 1824, “incandescently angry with the apparent timidity of the abolitionist leadership”, published her bestselling pamphlet Immediate, Not Gradual Emancipation, and launched an all-out “holy war” against slavery through a boycott of West Indian sugar.

Slavery was replaced by 'Apprenticeship' and 'Apprenticeship' was replaced by bringing in indentured laborers. But Technology stagnated and so this part of the world became less and less important. 


A second strand illuminates the fears and bigotries of white British West Indians. The slightest prospect of ameliorating the condition of black people inevitably roused them to violence and resentment. When the British government, trying to derail abolition, made some toothless recommendations for the improved treatment of slaves, the planters were furious. “WE CANNOT BE GOVERNED BY TYRANNY”, screamed the front page of the Barbadian newspaper; across the region there was intermittent talk of proclaiming independence from Britain, or even of joining the United States.

So the bad guys were paying for lobbyists too. They got a pay off. But, because Technology stagnated, they would cease to matter soon enough. 

The main focus of the book, however, is on the colonists’ powerful domestic allies, the so-called West India Interest – the countless merchants, civil servants, judges, writers, publicists, landowners, clergymen and politicians who believed that even the gradual abolition of slavery was extremist, treasonous folly, and fought tooth and nail to preserve it. Taylor paints a vivid picture of their outlook, organisation and superior political connections.

Developing and maintaining such political connections yields a payoff for the intermediary but, if Technology stagnates, they seek an interessement mechanism in greener pastures.  

In other words righteous indignation for this or that cause is a way to make a little money. Why display it if you aren't getting paid?

One of the book’s antiheroes is George Canning, the Tory foreign secretary and prime minister, whose commonplace racism and contempt for anti-slavery arguments were evident even when he tried to embody government evenhandedness. “I am sure you do not doubt my sincerity as to the good of the blacks,” he told Wilberforce, “but I confess I am not prepared to sacrifice all my white fellow countrymen to that object.” In another speech, he referred to Frankenstein’s monster (that “splendid fiction of a recent romance”) in warning of the dangers of emancipation: “In dealing with the negro, we must remember that we are dealing with a being possessing the form and strength of a man, but the intellect only of a child.”

and a massive dick which Capt. Richard Burton would spend a lot of time measuring. 

Despite increasing political and economic crises, the Interest held firm for almost a decade. Then, in the space of a few months, the fortunes of abolition were transformed by two completely different forces. The first was the heroic efforts of enslaved people themselves. White fears of their unceasing resistance had already helped bring about the Slave Trade Act of 1807. Now a new uprising in Jamaica in the winter of 1831-32 (motivated, ironically enough, by slaves’ belief that parliament had already legislated abolition) bolstered the view that, without a transition to free labour, the colonies might be lost altogether. At the same time, the political earthquake of the Great Reform Act in 1832 returned, for the first time, a parliament full of avowed abolitionists. Even then, the pro-slavery King William IV only signed the 1833 Abolition Bill into law because he was assured that, in practice, emancipation was bound to fail.

So, the cost of slavery went up just as the virtue signalling value of abolition increased. Since the Great Reform Act wasn't going to deliver much, it made sense to tack it on to other gestures which would deliver even less. 

If even Chartism could deliver nothing, how could lobbying by a few virtue signallers deliver something for people far away?  


The Interest never gave up. Under the terms of the act, West Indian slaves were not immediately freed, but forced to labour on for years as unpaid “apprentices”. Meanwhile, the British government compensated slaveholders generously for the loss of their human property. As a proportion of government spending, Taylor estimates they received the equivalent in today’s money of about £340bn – more than five times the combined GDPs of the modern nations of the Caribbean.

Which shows that Taylor was talking bollocks. Two billion would be closer to the mark. A nice enough chunk of change. 

He ends, appropriately, with a plea for reparatory justice and a proper reckoning by our national institutions with the enduring legacies of centuries of slavery. As this timely, sobering book reminds us, British abolition cannot be celebrated as an inevitable or precocious national triumph. It was not the end, but only the beginning.

It was neither. The thing was a sideshow. Britain had a great Navy which paid for itself at a time when Britain was a great trading and manufacturing nation, but imposing Westminster's values on any colony was simply not an economic proposition. 

Britain's economic role is much diminished. Far from being able to impose its values, it is a 'price taker' on global markets. 

What about 'reparation'? Suppose a Political Party declares it will compensate to the descendants of slaves. It will become unelectable. Corbyn vowed to increase teaching of black history in schools. Now, after the collapse of the Red Wall, he has been suspended from his own Party for Anti-Semitism. Cries of racism are a double edged sword. 

History books may be well written and can help us while away the weary hours. But only if they are shit. 

The one lesson History teaches us is that its teachers can't learn from it. If they did, they'd be Economists. 

Friday, 30 October 2020

Reading the Yu Fu



If, reading the Yu Fu, downy cheeks blush apples
Or, Sky catfished, Thy Me Too cloud dapples
Not Love fails save in such folk-song or story
As where Beauty prevails pro patria mori.

Envoi-
Prince! Wu Wei is but 36 scales of the dragon crowned
Whose boats must race to see Qu Yuan drowned.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Prof Brian Hatcher, Brahmoism, & Bullshit

Because of the collapse of the Left and the uselessness of Congress, the BJP has emerged as the main rival to Mamta in Bengal. Modi, quite naturally, made a speech praising Bengal without mentioning the bleeding obvious- Gujarat is doing much better because it was never partitioned, never run by stupid Communist, and has dealt severely with Muslim hooliganism. Many Bengalis may want the BJP to bring order and prosperity to their State. But for this to happen, the hypocritical bhadralok buddhijivi must be disintermediated. Can Modi find an OBC candidate for the Chief Ministership? That's the only way to win. But perhaps a Mamta in power is a less dangerous opponent than a Mamta out of power.

All this is obvious to the meanest intelligence. But not, it seems to a Professor at Tufts, Brian Hatcher who writes in the Scroll- 

we have the former chief minister of Gujarat praising the cultural accomplishments of a state that might be thought of as almost diametrically opposed to Gujarat – geographically and politically, to say the least.

Why? Because that former C.M is now the P.M. His party has become the biggest opposition party in the Bengal Assembly. He is saying nice things about Bengal because he hopes to gain yet more seats there.  

If Bengal stands for progress and reform,

It does not. It stands for relative economic, cultural and political decline. Gujarat is providing leadership for India. West Bengal has been overtaken by Bangladesh. 

Gujarat – not least during Modi’s time as chief minister – came to be associated most tragically with the forces of recidivism, chauvinism and inter-religious violence.

Only in the minds of a few stupid foreign academics. Modi put an end to the cycle of riots which started in 1969. Taking a tough line with bad elements has a salutary effect.  

To remember Godhra 2002 is to say enough.

No. It is to say too little. Pretending Modi was responsible for Godhra backfired. It is the reason he is now Prime Minister. 

And of course, the unfortunate pairing of Gujarat and Bengal along the axis of tolerance has found expression in works of scholarly and political commentary, perhaps most notably in Martha Nussbaum’s book, The Crisis Within.

But Nussbaum, Sen's former g.f, is a cretin. She was ga ga for Cosmopolitanism twenty years ago. Then she realised she was talking bollocks.  

For Nussbaum, looking at the rise of Hindutva in India

through Amartya Sen's eyes 

and pondering the prospect of religious fundamentalism in the US,

why not Concentration Camps? How about the prospect of Race War? The woman is a moron. 

the question was why was India trending in the direction of Gujarat and not returning to the noble example set by its Bengali pathfinders?

WTF? By 1970, the very word 'Calcutta' was a synonym for 'shithole'. Not only had Bengal had a Famine and a Partition, its Eastern half had another genocide and another Famine just because of a transition to Democracy! Meanwhile Niradh Chaudhri had been making good money telling the world that Bengalis are utterly shit. His first big book ended with a whimpering plea for Whitey- any sort of Whitey- to come back and rule over his beggarly people. He continued to write shit of this sort decade after decade. 

What 'noble example' had been set by 'Bengali pathfinders'? Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore petitioned the British parliament to lift all curbs on European settlement in India. They explicitly say that this will help protect the Hindu from the rapacious Muslim. The bhadralok Hindu Bengalis were content to be compradors for a hundred years before some patriots became Revolutionaries. But they achieved little. Bengal was partitioned and Hindus were ethnically cleansed from the East whereas Muslims were not from Hindu majority areas.

I suppose Modi meant, Bankim and Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and other such Hindu Nationalists. But they had been marginalized by the Communists. 

The spatial tropes fit so easily into the narratives of Indian modernity,

No. We think of East India as a shithole. The West and the South is, at least marginally, more 'modern'. This was by no means an inevitable outcome.  

and that is why Modi’s praise of Bengal for “always leading the way” is both mundane and a bit remarkable.

Modi highlighted Shyama Prasad Mukherjee as the founder of his party.  

I say this because, in my recent Hinduism Before Reform, I attempt to unsettle the chronotopes that shape our understanding of religious modernity in South Asia.

Professors have no understanding of anything under the Sun. Chronotopes indeed! 

Why is Bengal the epicentre?

The British considered the Bengalis to be cowardly, docile, but (at one time) skillful and productive. Calcutta, under the British, turned into a great trading and Imperial city. A comprador class received a share of that wealth. This meant there was some cosmetic 'modernity'. 

What does it mean to assert that progress began there and not somewhere else, least of all across the subcontinent in Gujarat?

Nothing. Politicians are supposed to tell pretty lies.  

What happens when this spatio-temporal idea of the gradual diffusion of progress, enlightenment and “jagaran” becomes normative for a nation’s understanding of its history?

Some shitty Professors shit all over it. 

What role have intellectuals and historians, not least Euro-American observers of South Asia, played

a negative, but inconsequential one 

in promoting, ratifying, and perpetuating a story of modern religion in which progressive religion comes from Bengal (think of the Brahmo Samaj) and retrograde religion lingers on the margins of modernity’s advance – “way off” in places like Gujarat?

According to the 2000 census less than 200 people described themselves as Brhamos. There may be 20,000 people who are associated with it. The thing is a fossil. The Arya Samaj, started by a Gujarati, has 8 million members.  

What if it turned out that the celebrated “father of modern India” – the Bengali polymath Rammohan Roy – was contemporaneous with another modern religious leader in Gujarat who took advantage of the same historical moment, and not entirely dissimilar conditions, to promote another new religious movement? That would be Sahajanand Swami, the founder of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, and for members of that order, god himself.

The Swaminarayan Sect is doing well. It has good temples and Hindus of other sects have begun going to them.  

The Mormon Church, founded at about the same time, is doing very well because its rank and file are quite visibly of good character and conduct. 

How might our understanding of religious modernity change once we realise that the father of modern India

who? The guy who begged Whitey come and grab indigo estates and so forth? 

and Lord Swaminarayan, were nearly exact contemporaries? More importantly, since both of these remarkable individuals created enduring and transformative religious movements – the Brahmo Samaj and the Swaminarayan Sampraday –

the former is a fossil. The second has the backing of the Patels- the most successful Indian social group around the world.  

do we have in the coincidence of the contemporaneity and influence an opportunity to explore new models for the emergence for what we think of as modern Hinduism?

No. The Brahmo Samaj was silly. It has all but disappeared. Swaminarayan Sampraday represents proper Hinduism- though no doubt, as with other sects,  there may have been some schisms and mud-slinging and so forth which are not of interest to ordinary worshipers.  


In my book Hinduism Before Reform, I argue that this is precisely what we have and I explore the possibilities for setting Rammohan Roy and Sahajanand side by side.

This is silly. Roy was a comprador. Sahajanand was a priest. The Ramakrishna mission is doing fine because Ramakrishna was a priest and Vivekananda was a monk. 'Maharishi' Tagore wasn't really a Rishi. The thing was similar to the Theosophical Society which too has all but disappeared. 

The goal here would not be to crown one a modern and judge the other medieval (which the standard chronotope of religious change cannot help doing) but to ask if there are any similarities in how and what the two men sought to accomplish.

There are no similarities. One guy was a priest. The other guy wasn't.  

Again, my argument is that there are fascinating similarities, not least in the way both of these men can be viewed as “religious lords” who create, expand, and promulgate new religious polities. One we call the Brahmo Samaj, the other we call the Swaminarayan Sampraday.

One was amateur theatrics, the other was professional. One might as well compare Thoreau and Cardinal Manning.

And my book simply asks, “before” we judge the one progressive and assume that correlates with the spatial expansion of progress from Kolkata,

The only way to see Roy is as a native who thought the extension of British Rule was a good thing- at least for Hindus of his class.  

what might we see if we looked at the work these two men accomplished as religious lords.

Roy was no such thing. I think one son of his became a judge. The family did not become hereditary Spiritual preceptors.  

The exercise seems especially relevant, not least in light of Modi’s recent remarks.

This guy is just talking up his silly book by dragging up some polite nonsense uttered by Modi  

As I have noted, his inaugural broadcast rehearses – and celebrates – the spatio-temporal narrative of India’s coming into being.

No! As Prof. Shanmugha Clitoris Dube has pointed out, Modi's broadcast 'performativity instantiates its own catachrestic deconstruction of some shite or the other'. Whitey should be ashamed of his beggarliness in bullshit.  

That calls out for recognition and critical scrutiny in itself. But there is more insofar as Modi leads the Bharatiya Janata Party and therefore represents the official promotion of a Hindu nationalist vision of India.

No. Modi is a member of the RSS whose chief would have that responsibility. Modi's job is to run the country as well as possible.  

Now, by most accounts, the work of Hindutva is regressive

No. Most accounts are by Hindus, not Professors. They majority of Hindus think Hindutva is progressive because it is against caste and sectarian divisions.  

if not retrograde. If that is true,

It is not. This would be like saying 'the Republican Party represents abolitionist fervor. If Trump is defeated, African Americans- despite the Black Lives Movement- are likely to be enslaved by, if not Biden, then Harris, who is descended from slave-owners in the West Indies.' 

then we might simply chalk up the celebration of Bengal’s progressive DNA as mere hypocrisy in the service of vote generation in a region not hitherto receptive to the BJP.

In other words, either you can bullshit endlessly or you can admit the bleeding obvious. 

We could leave it at that, but this would mean passing on the chance to ask: how did India get here and is there no other way out?

India got to Modi because of the corruption, incompetence and cowardice of the dynastic politicians and their feudal camp-followers. Since it is a Hindu majority country, its Nationalism has Hindu features- at least for Hindus. Like other countries, it is cracking down on Islamic terrorists and the places which harbor them. That's it. That's the whole story.  

To answer the former question is to engage in the work of history and a considerable amount of self-reflection around the way categories and tropes have operated over time within a variety of discourses around nation, religion and progress.

Or you could just masturbate. 

The latter question is the ongoing challenge of the moment: what is the proper place of religion in Indian public life? In the standard account, the “progressive” samaj of the Brahmos is the antithesis of the “medieval” sampraday of the “swaminarayanis”. And as a result, “sampradayikta” becomes a dirty word.

So Religion is either 'dirty' or extinct. 

But if the “samaj” and the “sampraday” are but two historically contingent formations, two modern religious polities, is there a prima facie reason to praise the one and suspect the other?

Yes. Religion is a service industry. A sect which thrives and enjoys a good reputation is better than one which has pretty much gone extinct  

Is this rather a legacy of colonial-era categories of religion, not least regarding the victory “spirit” over “law.” Or are they to be judged on how they both articulate and promote civic values and support the kinds of inclusion we look for in all areas, be it caste, gender or religious community?

No. Religions are to be judged by those who pay for them. Are they getting value for money? What 'externalities' are involved? This is what determines whether a sect thrives or goes extinct. 

At one time, some useless University Departments pretended they could help 'fight Fascism' and that writing this type of shite held evil Nazis at bay. But who will pay for instruction of this sort now?

In between, there is another task, which is to watch carefully how the proponents of a Hindu nation work to appropriate and perhaps vitiate the better elements of either religious modality.

No matter what or how carefully this cretin and other cretins like him watch anything they will understand nothing and achieve nothing. India is as much a Hindu nation as Hindus want it to be, just as Pakistan is as Muslim as its people want it to be. 

The Brahmo Samaj failed because it was boring and stupid. The Swaminarayan Sampraday succeeded by building excellent temples and schools and so forth. Highly respected communities, e.g. Patels, are devotees and this encourages other to join. 

Similarly, in politics, the Party which is better at 'last mile delivery' will get elected. Being sensible, they will praise, not insult, the dominant religion. They will ignore stupid Professors of shite subjects. Thus has it always been and thus will it be always- unless, that is Rahul Baba gets elected and gets to implement his puerile vichardhara.


Benjamin Zachariah inventing Hinduism for anti-national use

  Divya Dwivedi, ridiculed for claiming that 'Hinduism was invented in the Twentieth Century' named some White academics and two Hindu ladies to justify her assertion.

One academic she does not mention is Benjamin Zachariah, perhaps because he is brown and Christian. Obviously, such a person would have a vested interest in claiming that his pagan ancestors in India worshipped trees and rocks and snakes. They had no conception of religion in the Christian sense.

In Chapter 4 of his 'Playing the Nation Game' Ben writes- 

What work does the category ‘Hindu’ do for, or in, the ‘national’?

The same work as the category 'Muslim' or 'Christian' or 'Jewish'. Ben takes a different view.

The questions of when what we now know as ‘Hinduism’ came into being, or indeed whether it exists or existed at all, or perhaps whether we are forced to acknowledge its existence because those who believe it does exist are so vocal and aggressive about it, refuse to go unanswered. 

These questions raise further questions as to the good faith of those who pose them. Those further questions have now been resolved. Those who raised them were useless cretins who claimed to be fighting 'Fascism'. They failed. They represented a colossal waste of time and were wholly counter-productive politically speaking.

In South Africa, during Gandhi's sojourn there, the legal validity of non-Christian marriage was questioned. This provoked a popular backlash such that the question was quietly dropped. Similarly, the nutters who said 'Hinduism was invented by the Brits. There was no Ram Temple.' provoked a backlash. The BJP emerged as the Hindu party- at least at the National level. Since Hindus are about 80 percent of the population, this has helped that party enormously and given great lustre to the RSS.

This, on the one hand, is a very public debate. On the other hand, there is an increasingly loud academic debate on whether ‘Hinduism’ as we know it is a colonial artefact or invention or whether it has continuities with practices and doctrines in the precolonial past. 

The loudness of this debate has convinced educated Hindus that Academia is riddled with anti-national elements- 'urban naxals' and separatists etc. Furthermore, diaspora Hindu communities have turned into a vocal and lucrative support base for Modi. In America, this helped Trump who got to look like he was a Messiah for brown peeps. 

Ben himself would be perceived not as a Lefty, which is all he may be, but a typical Indian Christian engaged in defaming the Religion of his ancestors either to curry favor with the Church establishment or so as to reduce his own cognitive dissonance.

It seems we might be working at the very least with several Hinduisms, which is of course not unusual to anything that has remotely been close to claiming the category ‘religion’, or having such claims made on behalf of its imagined collective practitioners. The debate, then, may boil down to a matter of etic categorisation versus emic recognition, in which case it might indeed be relevant to find particular dates for the emergence of particular terms

We know that kings who had Brahminical coronation or other similar ceremonies were making a claim to a wider type of legitimacy of a 'National' type. The term 'Hindu' may have gained salience after Muslim conquerors became entrenched. But that was many centuries ago. Thus 'emic' recognition is essentially pre-historic while 'etic' recognition followed that 'emic' recognition as is shown by Christian missionaries from the Sixteenth Century onward using the same term for Hindus wherever they were found

There may be some point to quibbling as to what is meant by 'anti-national' or 'urban-naxal'. Such quibbling might be used as evidence in a Court of Law. But it is counter-productive to quibble about when Hinduism came into existence. 

Ben says in a footnote 'David Lorenzen rather impatiently writes that quibbling about terminology rather than the thing itself doesn’t get us very far

The truth is that such quibbling so greatly alienated upper-caste, English speaking, Hindus that they turned to the BJP- which previously they thought of as a bunch of provincial hayseeds. 

Contesting things is silly if you end up getting your head kicked in. Pick your fights.

Ben writes-

The trouble is, the terminology is itself contested on political grounds, which makes it important to separate terminological disputes from thing-in-itself disputes while acknowledging the political importance of both

Those who go in for 'political contestation' may, politically speaking, have their heads kicked in. This is what has happened to Ben & Co. They are brain damaged walking wounded. Having denied the bleeding obvious- i.e. the historicity of Hinduism- they are in no position to defend anyone from charges of being anti-national or of being urban naxals. 

Ben isn't as stupid as Divya Dwivedi. He is writing at a 'meta' level. He is asking, not when was Hinduism invented but when we might say its present form of political instrumentalization was initiated. He thinks the answer is the Poona Pact- i.e. Gandhi's deal with Ambedkar. This is silly. The Hindu Mahasabha- which played a role in the negotiations- had been formed 16 years earlier. But the Muslim League had been formed in 1906. It was obvious that, in view of Muslim demands, that there would be a Hindu consolidation. 

This chapter asks instead when the category ‘Hinduism’ was invested with the meanings it now has: religion, textual sources, finite doctrines, national identity.

Hinduism is not invested with any such meanings now.  Atheists born of Hindu parents in India are subject to Hindu inheritance and other law. Meanwhile there are plenty of converts to Hinduism in far away countries who have nothing to do with Indian national identity. Hindus like me accept that 'textual sources' are univocal no matter what ancient language they are written in. Doctrines in Hinduism are 'samskari', sublatable or defeasible in an infinite manner.  

Consider the copious Jain literature which we are blessed to have access to through the great Jain savants and Acharyas. We have no difficulty in accepting that Jainism is a completely separate and independent Religion without ceasing to feel, the more we learn about it or the more we associate with Jain people in worthwhile work, that this Religion is part of our common heritage. 

More specifically, it is an attempt to study the stages of preparation of the category for national use.

This requires a deep knowledge of vernacular Indian languages and literatures. Ben isn't equipped for any such thing.  

The narrative that I present here, run backwards and oversimplified to provide a teleology rather than a genealogy, is that ‘Hinduism’ was completed and properly available for modern political use after Gandhi’s fast and the Poona Pact in 1932.

This is silly. Ambedkar could only play the 'conversion' card because Hindu Dalits were seen by themselves and others as Hindus just as Christian 'untouchables' were seen as Christian and Muslim untouchables were seen as Mulslim. The question was whether Hindu Dalits they could get a bigger share of power by sticking with the INC. 

During the Second Round Table Conference, all 'minorities' including Dalits opposed Gandhi. Would the Hindu Dalits now do a deal of a both religious and political nature? 

Ben says- 'This is where the importance of the 1932 moment can be properly contextualised.The Poona Pact is the key moment that suddenly incorporates the ‘backward castes’

No. Only the 'outcastes' were discussed. 'Backward castes' can be dominant.

dalits, as Hindus, and really positions Muslims as not properly indigenous.

This is foolish. Nobody was saying any type of brown person wasn't indigenous. The Freedom Struggle was about getting Whitey to turn over the shiny levers of power. 

Ambedkar had, it is true, threatened to convert to Islam but the Muslim leaders had signalled that 'educated' Dalits would not have a leadership role. The leading Barelvi leader insisted that only Ashrafs could lead prayers, etc. In Bengal, the atmosphere was more progressive but Dalits who allied with the Muslim League lived to regret it- if they lived.

 This is contradictory as far as the importance of Gandhism to an eventual India is concerned: on the one hand, it is always alleged that Gandhi’s ideas do not properly make their way into the creation of an Indian state; on the other hand, his contribution to defining ‘Hindus' is enshrined in legislation,

on the basis of the Rajah-Moonjee pact. The older Dalit leadership had made a deal with the Hindu Mahasabha. We are thankful for it because Dalit M.Ps tend to be better than average- or less prone to slitting the throats of their Uncles or Cousins. The fact is Dalits have risen only on their own ability and virtue. They had no Sugar Daddy.

 even though it is initially British legislation, and it is what finally makes 'Hindus' politically and therefore practically a single entity. 

Ben is Christian. Thus he may be unaware that Hindus- like Christians or Sikhs or Muslim- aren't a single entity. 

Once this conflation is achieved, the sadhu  has without knowing it become one with the Indology professor at Oxford and future President of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. 

Plenty of Sadhus had degrees and could read Aurobindo and Vivekananda and so forth in English. Radhakrishnan was not a professor of Indology. He was a philosopher who taught Eastern Religion and Ethics. 

At this point, the categories Hindu and Muslim are counterposed to each other.

That had happened centuries ago.

The Poona Pact was necessary because Gandhi had managed to unite all the minorities- including the Sikhs- against the INC. By giving reserved seats to Dalits, Congress was also reducing factionalist and intrigue amongst the money-bags and feudal types. At least some legislators would be clean and honest.

Gandhi offered increased representation for Hindu Dalits in return for unified electorates confident that Congress Dalits would sweep the polls. Only in East Bengal, where J.N Mandal sided with the Muslim League, did this strategy backfire.  

This is when the boundaries of political Hinduism get fully drawn,

No. This is one of the occasions when those boundaries were reaffirmed. 

and backed up by legislative authority in the 1935 Government of India Act, colluding inadvertently (the oxymoron is deliberate) with census operations.

But there had been Censuses since the 1870's! In any case, Communal Riots had confirmed to anyone who might be in doubt, as to whether or not they were 'Hindu'. The side which did not want to slit your throat was the side you were on. Censuses don't matter. Getting killed does. 

 Thereafter, the ‘Who Is a Hindu?’question is

answered by looking at whom certain Muslims consider it lawful to kill during a riot. J.N Mandal thought it wouldn't be Namasudras. He was wrong. He quit his Cabinet post in Pakistan returned to India. Hundreds of thousands of Namasudras were driven off their land and ended up crossing the border as refugees. 'Tribals' too found that Hindus don't think it meritorious to kill them. 

Religious identity has an existential aspect if a particular Religion holds it lawful, under certain circumstances, to kill apostates and infidels and to take possession of their property. 

Ben, pretending that India- a very poor country where few have access to effective Judicial remedies- is actually a place where 'definitions' and 'legislative authority' matters. 

not one of arguing about definitions, but working with a reality backed by legislative authority; and without incorporating ‘untouchables’ or ‘Harijans’, along with ‘tribals’, the claim that ‘Hindus’ were or are a majority in India cannot be numerically pheld.

Yes it can. You have to subtract OBCs to show Hindus are a minority. But power has passed to OBCs like Modi. That is why he is so keen on getting the 2021 Census to produce reliable OBC figures by restricting 'self selection'  of caste to the officially recognized categories. Previously, people were putting down any name they liked for their sub-caste though many such names overlap or are disadvantageous with respect to the purpose of the exercise. 

Until then, ‘Hindu’ is a residual category

in the sense of the guys some Muslims consider it lawful to kill and whom, history shows, don't thrive under Muslim rule.

This is not to say that Hinduism is a 'residual category' for actual Hindus. Rather, it is a Tarskian primitive within a univocal soteriological discourse. We are constantly revising our  received 'Begriffsgeschichte' in this respect though ruefully recognizing that the exercise is pointless. Still, it is a samskar of a harmless type. Every crackpot is his own Koselleck. But, as far as Indian political life is concerned, the thing is useless. But then, Koselleck is useless when it comes to European politics as well.

that means either non-Muslims, or those without clearly defined faiths (unless they can claim caste status within the upper three varnas)

Varnas don't matter. Jatis do. I myself am engaged in a tireless crusade to get 'Extremely fucking Educationally Backward, not to say Mentally Retarded' status for my own jati. That is why I write like shit.  

 in which case the question of faith becomes irrelevant.

Faith, shradda, is a purely private matter for Hinduism. Christianity may have had its Inquisitions, Islam its Jihads, but Hinduism aint stuff the likes of Benjamin Zachariah can understand or recognize or instrumentalize for some fell purpose.  


Amartya Sen's bagal mein jootha

Amartya Sen writes in ''Identity and Violence'- 
Ibn Battuta...was particularly censorious of Abu Muhammad Yandakan al-Musufi, who was a good Muslim and had earlier on actually visited Morocco himself. When Ibn Battuta visited him at his house, he found a woman conversing with a man seated on a couch. Ibn Battuta reports:

I said to him: "Who is this woman?" He said: "She is my wife."
I said: "What connection has the man with her?" He replied:
"He is her friend." I said to him: "Do you acquiesce in this when you have lived in our country and become acquainted with the precepts of the Shariah?"
 He replied: "The association of women with men is agreeable to us and a part of good conduct, to which no suspicion attaches. They are not like the women of your country." I was astonished at his laxity. I left him and did not return thereafter. He invited me several times, but I did not accept.

Note that Abu Muhammad's difference from Ibn Battuta does not lie in religion- they were both Muslim- but in their decision about right lifestyles.

If Sen has read Ibn Battuta, then he must know that 

1) In a immediately preceding passage, the fellow had shown his hatred and disdain of Black people. He was astonished that Berber speaking Muslims considered it an honor to dine with Blacks and to eat their, perhaps simpler, food.

2) He says that the people of Mussaffa, though of Berber language, were not merely friendly to pure Black people but also 'matrilocal' and gave freedom to women in the same manner as the Indians of Malabar. 

Thus, Battuta had differences with all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. Religion, Colour of skin, Customs, type of food, disposition to give rich presents, etc, etc. His own identity is firmy linked to his own body and his own antecedents and ambitions. His differences with others arise out of the fact that they have different bodies and different traits and different thoughts about how life should be lived. 

Why- in seeking an example of 'Muslim identity'- has Sen quoted a racist whose people thought it a splendid thing to enslave and traffick black people? Incidentally, Mauretania still has a problem of descent based slavery featuring rape and forcible impregnation by the 'masters'.  

An article on the web reveals- 'The roots of Mauritania's caste system go back as early as the eighth century. During that time, Arab-Berber “Moors,” in what is now Mauritania, began to capture and enslave people belonging to neighboring black West African ethnic groups, namely the Wolof, Fula, Soninke, Serer, and Bambara peoples.' 

What point is Sen making? He says the difference between Battuta and the Mauretanian was not religious. Yet, that is exactly what it was. Battuta was saying 'this is un-Islamic behavior. You are a bad Muslim. If Hindus of Malabar do this, they are not disobeying their Religion, because they aren't Muslims. You are.' 

Over the next six centuries, which view prevailed? Battuta's, that women should be 'pardah nashin', or that they should gad about with male 'friends'? The answer is that, for Religious reasons, Battuta's view was held normative. There may have been exceptions for Tuaregs or Bedouins ranging the desert and so forth. But 'best practice' involved harems and purdah and burqas. 

Following Ackerlof & Kranton, we might suppose that two main types of  Muslim identities existed

1) Being observant and having a great camel and a wife who keeps out of sight

2) Being observant and having a crap camel and a wife who insists on entertaining male guests by fisting them while off her head on toilet wine.

A fellow Muslim might mark you down for having a crap camel and a drunken ho-bag of a wife. You may be fond of your crap camel and ho-bag wife. But, as a Muslim, having the former identity would yield more utility. 

In this sense, Muslims have a single identity. A guy should ensure his camels and wives are good, not utter sluts unfit for their proper purpose.

Having traits associated with a high status identity, though those traits don't themselves yield you utility- coz you happen to like ho-bags and lame camels- nevertheless do yield you higher utility unless you are misidentifying yourself. Suppose I had the traits associated with being a good Muslim of Ibn Battuta's time. I'd actually have high utility. I would take great pleasure in my religious observances and the speed of my camel and the chastity of my wife. Indeed, I'd be a much better man altogether. I can imagine myself showing courage in battle and the sort of quiet, but manly, virtues women like in a husband. In other words, if by some magic I suddenly had a Religious identity- whether as a pious Muslim merchant leading caravans across the Sahara, or as a Shinto Priest in Edo Japan, or a Jedi Knight in a Galaxy far far away- I'd get much higher utility than from being the slob that I am. 

It may be that Akerlof & Kranton's 'Economics of Identity' is the theory of consumption I ought to prefer. This raises the question, would there be additive utility from multiple identities? I think this is where the whole thing falls down. The moment choices have to be made as to which identity will prevail at the margin in time allocation, then we are back to square one. 'Identity-fusion' is off the menu. Your identity is defined merely by your body and what groups it can afford to belong to and what things it can afford to  retain as belongings. 

In other words, 'Identity' may be useful in Economic analysis, but Multiple Identities are useless. The same point can be made about preferences and 'meta-preferences'. Invoking the latter leads to an infinite regress. We are pointed to some higher type of Identity or Preference which subsumes all the others seamlessly. 

Still, essentially powerless or heteronomous people- obliged to 'believe in the kindness of strangers'- may want to believe in meta-preferences and multiple identities and the notion that the Tzar secretly sympathizes with the Jews and will, at the last moment, save the from the Cossacks. 

Similarly, they may wish to say- despite my being of the conquered people, I have this other identity as one of the master race! 

On the other hand, charlatans and fraudsters may make similar claims simply to enrich themselves. One way to spot what they are up to is to look at which personalities they single out as epitomizing a particular identity.

Is it possible that Sen- a Hindu whose people were ethnically cleansed from his ancestral East Bengal- has a particular conception of Muslim 'identity' against which, however,- he protests against in a manic way? 

Perhaps something similar is at work when Sen mentions Aurangzeb vs Dara Shikoh despite the fact that though not all Muslim Alim celebrate the former as 'Mard-e-Momin', none endorse the latter. 

Sen writes- 'Faced with such diversity among Muslims,

which, from the normative point of view, decreased as orthodoxy established itself as the mimetic target 

those who can see no distinction between being a Muslim and having an Islamic identity would be tempted to ask: "Which is the correct view according to Islam? Is Islam in favor of such tolerance, or is it not? Which is it really?"

This can be a life and death question. Is Rushdie or Taslima Nasrin an apostate? Is it licit to kill them? Courts in Islamic countries have to make these sorts of decisions. 

What about Ahmadiyas? Are they or aren't they Muslims? What about Alawis or other Shias? Hundreds of thousands of lives depend on the answer.  Sen's own view is that 'Islamic identity' is detachable from the legal question- is this person a Muslim or not? But that type of 'identity' won't save your life. Look at what happened to Rushdie. He affirmed his Islamic identity. But the fatwa remained in place. Now he is an open infidel and, being in the US, all the safer for it. Sen type 'identity' is just play-acting. 

The prior issue to be faced here is not what the right answer to this question is, but whether the question itself is the right one to ask.

Sen ignores the fact that the law- even in India- needs a definite answer to the question 'Is x a Muslim or not?'. This affects inheritance rights and the law relating to marriage and divorce. In Islamic countries, the answer is even more important. 

Being a Muslim is not an overarching identity that determines everything in which a person believes.

But a Muslim who does not believe such 'pillars of the Faith' as are required by an Islamic court may be judged an apostate. This could have very grave consequences. Sen is saying 'being a Muslim doesn't mean all beliefs are predetermined'. But no one has suggested otherwise. He is battling a particularly stupid strawman of his own invention.

For example, Emperor Akbar's tolerance and heterodoxy had supporters as well as detractors among the influential Muslim groups in Agra and Delhi in sixteenth-century India.

It had no supporters whatsoever among the Alim.  

Indeed, he faced considerable opposition from Muslim clerics. Yet when Akbar died in 1605, the Islamic theologian Abdul Haq, who was sharply critical of many of Akbar's tolerant beliefs, had to conclude that despite his "innovations," Akbar had remained a good Muslim. 

And thus had occupied the throne legitimately- which meant his son succeeded him legitimately. To have said otherwise would have been dangerous.  

The point to recognize is that in dealing with this discrepancy, it is not necessary to establish that either Akbar or Aurangzeb was not a proper Muslim.

Yet Abdul Haq Dehlvi found it necessary to do so. The opinion of an infidel, like Sen, is of no account. But, Islamic Divines did have to assert the right opinion or else they might find themselves missing a head.  

They could both have been fine Muslims without sharing the same political attitudes or social and cultural identities.

An identity is not a proclivity. I may have a proclivity for twerking like Beyonce. This does not mean I have a 'Beyonce identity'.  

It is possible for one Muslim to take an intolerant view and another to be very tolerant of heterodoxy without either of them ceasing to be a Muslim for that reason.

It is possible for both to be considered non-Muslim under Pakistani law. The fact is 'Muslim', like 'Hindu', or 'Parsi', is a term with legal force. I may say I am Parsi, but Indian law will not permit me to maintain this identity. I may say I am Muslim and thus entitled to set up an educational institution with 'minority' status. But the law will not permit the deception.

This is not only because the idea of ijtehad, or religious interpretation, allows considerable latitude within Islam itself,

Ijtehad is merely a type of equitable remedy. At one time, much was claimed for it. But that fad has passed. One could say that legislation and codification represents 'ijma' (consensus). But the direction of such legislation may be retrograde from Sen's point of view. 

but also because an individual Muslim has much freedom to determine what other values and priorities he or she would choose without compromising a basic Islamic faith.

But that faith would only be very basic. The 'cultural muslims' of the former Soviet Union are an example. But, as in the current Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, that affiliation may be all that is required. 

Where there is Violence between Groups, Identity has only one dimension- which group do you belong to? I recall being asked in an Irish pub in Kilburn whether I was a Catholic Hindu or a Protestant Hindu. 'Catholic!' I answered vehemently. It was the right answer. I was bought drinks instead of having my head kicked in. 

Sen knows very well that Hindus were ethnically cleansed both under 'liberal' Muslims- like Jinnah and Shurawardy- as well as under orthodox Muslims. As in Kipling's 'Under the City Wall', the moment blood starts to flow, 'liberalism' does not matter. Blood lust, it turns out, is merely a matter of blood- not ideology.

The philosophical aspect to Sen's book is explained in an interview he gave to Kenan Malik for Prospect Magazine from which I quote- 

At the heart of the book is an argument against what Sen calls the communitarian view of identity—the belief that identity is something to be “discovered” rather than chosen. 

One may choose to be a Lesbian Astrophysicist from Guatemala but discover that, sadly, one is no such thing. Similarly one may choose to be a Liberal and discover that one is a bigoted reactionary. 

“There is a certain way of being human that is my way,” the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor wrote in his much-discussed essay “The Politics of Recognition.” “I am called upon to live my life in this way.” But who does the calling?

Mummy and Daddy and Teachers and Neighbors and everybody and everything else which was in your 'social background' or context- in a word, it is the Community which calls the communitarian to live his life in a particular way. This is certainly a reasonable view which fits with our experience of certain, but not all, people. 

Sen refuses to see that a Communitarian philosopher will feel it is the Community which would do the calling.

 Seemingly the identity itself. For Taylor, as for many communitarians, identity appears to come first, with the human actor following in its shadow. Or, as the philosopher John Gray has put it, identities are “a matter of fate, not choice.”

So, for Sen, 'identity' means 'community'. But this is not the case. Identity means having all the same properties- including location in space and time. 

In practice, one may belong to a number of different communities. I am a Hindu, a Lesbian and a Jewish Rabbi. Well, I was till it was discovered that I was a Hindu male. This does not mean I am not a member of the Hindu, male Lesbian, Rabbi community. But it is a very small community- I devoutly hope. 

As for choice, that is a matter of fate, or else fate is a matter of choice or alternatively matter is the choice of fate or choice is the fate of matter or some other such shite. 

Sen will have none of it. “There are two issues here,” he says when I meet him at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was master until returning to Harvard two years ago. “First, the recognition that identities are robustly plural 
which is how come I can be hard at work in the office while simultaneously sleeping peacefully in bed
and the importance of one identity need not obliterate another. 
Sadly this is not the case. My boss tells me I have to choose between the identity of a guy with a job and the identity of a unemployed layabout sleeping the day away. 
And second, that a person has to make choices about what relative importance to attach, in a particular context, to their divergent loyalties and identities.
We may have to choose between loyalties. We can't choose between identities- except, maybe, fake ones offered by Witness Relocation. 
 The individual belongs to many different groups
in exactly the same way that the individual has different belongings. But to keep one belonging- e.g. a house that is expensive to heat- you may have to give up another belonging- e.g. a gas guzzler of a car- because fuel prices have gone through the roof. 

I recall the father of a friend who was revealed to be standing for Council Elections as a candidate for both the Labour and the Conservative Party. He was expelled from both Parties in disgrace. My friend- a staunch Leftist- confronted his Dad for his perfidy to the worker's cause. His Dad said 'My son, God asks of us only one thing. Humility. We should not get puffed up with pride just because we are Socialists. That is why I had the humility to accept the Tory nomination. It is also the reason that, though I have built up a million pound Property Empire, I still go to sign on for the dole every fortnight. Humility is the key to prosperity.' 

From the theological point of view, my friend's father was certainly correct. But, Angrez are not understanding humility. Sen Sahib should explain it to them.

 and it’s up to him or her to decide which of those groups he or she would like to give priority to.” We are multitudes and we can choose among our multitudes.

We are solitary inhabitants of a single body. We can chose, according to our means, what our belongings ought to be and which clubs or other sorts of groups we can afford to belong to.

We may wish to belong to a richer country or a more accomplished family. Some, by reason of their luck or talent, may end their days as citizens of the richest countries, married into exalted families. Others, with even greater potential, may end bludgeoned to death if the land to which they belong happens to have petrol underneath it. The stunningly beautiful Miss Universe Canada was born in South Sudan. It may be her parents had to flee their homeland because of 'a resource curse'. 

Sen is particularly critical of the ways in which communitarian notions of identity have found their way into social policy, especially through the ideas of multiculturalism, and in so doing have diminished the scope for individual freedom. 

Sen is mistaken. Multi-culti was a convenient fudge- a mixture of pork-barrel and vote-bank politics- not something driven by academicians.

Individual freedom was not relevant. It was a question of tax dollars and which clique got to spend it. 

“I am not opposed to multiculturalism,” he says. “But I am opposed to the way it has been interpreted. 

It is foolish to oppose interpretations of meaningless catch-phrases. Instead one should oppose corruption and bigotry and bad mechanism design.

There are two basically distinct approaches to multiculturalism. One concentrates on the promotion of diversity as a value in itself. 
Presumably, we are not speaking of diverse ways of killing and raping and robbing. I suppose Sen means having people of the same decent and productive type but with lots of different skin-tones and cuisines and so forth.
The other focuses on the freedom of reasoning and decision-making, and celebrates cultural diversity to the extent that it is freely chosen. 
The problem here is that one can't freely choose to belong to a different ethnicity. Rachel Dolezal and Sally Krug tried but it didn't really work out for them. 
The way that British authorities have interpreted multiculturalism has very much undermined individual freedom. 

How? 

A British Muslim is not asked to act within the civil society or the political arena but as a Muslim. His British identity has to be mediated by his community.”

Ten years after Sen said this, Sadiq Khan became Mayor of London. He isn't seen as a Muslim anymore than Sajid Javid, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, was seen as a Muslim. Who cares what religion Priti Patel or Rishi Sunak belong to? Sen belonged to an older generation who didn't understand that Britain had changed in its attitude to skin color. His own career, like that of many other Bengali immigrants, had helped bring about this change. 

It is interesting that this new generation of hyphenated Britishers- who aren't actually that hyphenated- demanded stern action by the police against any and every type of criminal activity by 'minorities'. They roundly condemned 'grooming gangs' as well as ISIS type nutters. 

Philosophers may have their uses. But there is no substitute for proper Policing.

What policymakers have created in Britain, Sen suggests, is not multiculturalism but “plural monoculturalism,” a system in which people are constantly herded into different identity pens. 

Thomas Schelling explained 'self-segregation' long ago. There was no 'herding'. In the Seventies, the Government tried to disperse Ugandan refugees. This failed which turned out to be a good thing. 

“Take the case of the Bangladeshis,” says Sen. “Bangladesh’s separation from Pakistan was not based on their religion but on their language, their literature and their secular politics. 
No. It was based on West Pakistani racism and the genocide carried out by the Army. 

At the time of independence Bangladeshis who came here had a very strong sense of Bengali identity. But all that disappeared, because the official government classification ignored language, culture and secular politics, and insisted on viewing all Bangladeshis as Muslims. Suddenly they had lost all identity other than being Islamic. And suddenly Bangladeshis stopped being Bangladeshis and were merged with all other Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia.”

This is nonsense. The fact of the matter is that the 'Faraizi' movement kept spreading because it was ready to challenge the (often Hindu) landlords. Ethnic cleansing of Hindus was profitable. So was separation from Pakistan. But 'secularism' just meant corruption and famine and the US not sending food aid because the Government had an obsession with selling jute to Cuba. During the Eighties, Muslims everywhere saw that Religion is about thrift, hard-work, family values and saying no to drugs and alcohol and mindless promiscuity. 

Sen, being a 'bhadralok' buddhijivi, may think the Muslim masses of East Bengal were stupid and ignorant. But, this simply isn't true. They are smart. They are hard working. Girls may choose to wear hijab and do a Doctorate in Molecular Biology. But they can still get married to handsome young men who have built up a business or who are earning well. What is wrong with that? How are these people harming anybody? Which 'freedom' of theirs is being denied- save in the pages of Monica Ali? I don't say every Bangladeshi origin person has it easy in this country. But their youngsters now are more likely to go to University than White people. 

It seems there was some prejudice within the Asian community against Bangladeshis- who mainly came later under the voucher scheme- but the hard work and good moral, family and religious values, of this community- or set of individuals, if you prefer- keeps pushing them up. Bangladesh overtook Pakistan in per capita Income terms. This year it may be ahead of India. This outcome is because of hard work, decency, enterprise and thrift. That's not going to change no matter how Governments label them.

“We have a system in which Muslim organisations are in charge of all Muslims, Hindu organisations in charge of all Hindus, Jewish organisations in charge of all Jews and so on.”
This was nonsense. Sen is pretending Britain had a 'Millat' system. The truth is the three main Parties had representatives of all these faiths. Sunni Islam, which has the backing of important allies of this country, was in a different position. London, after all, is a hub for Arab finance and culture.  

 This parcelling out of the nation can only weaken civil society. “In downplaying political and social identities, as opposed to religious identities, the government has weakened civil society precisely when there is a great need to strengthen it.”

With hindsight, Blair's big mistake was with respect to Iraq and WMD. True some money was wasted on useless 'deradicalization' programs. But the deficit in 'civil society' had to do with our willingness to back a war which we believed would turn a profit for us- the way the First Gulf War had. 

Multicultural policies, in other words, have allowed mainstream politicians to abandon their responsibilities for engaging directly with Muslim communities.
 
The thing was pork-barrel plus vote-bank politics. Most politics is. Sen's criticism can be made of any 'representative' as opposed to 'participatory' democracy.

Far from promoting a sense of integration, the policy has encouraged Muslims to see themselves as semi-detached.
Like the rest of us. The wheels had started turning towards Brexit. 

Kenan Malik writes-
There is much that I agree with in Sen’s broadside against identity politics and the consequences of multicultural policies. Indeed, I have argued on similar lines in various essays in Prospect. There is much to admire, too, in Sen’s stress on human choices and in his insistence on the importance of reasoned reflection. So why do I also find his argument unsatisfying?

Because it is silly. Sen confuses 'oikeiosis'- circles of belonging which are many- with identity, which is solitary. 

Sen takes for granted that we all possess multiple identities but never defines what he means by an identity. The result is that it seems to mean just about anything you want it to mean. The same person, Sen suggests, “can be without contradiction, an American citizen, of Caribbean origin, with African ancestry, a Christian, a liberal, a woman, a historian, a novelist, a feminist, a heterosexual, a believer in gay and lesbian rights, a theatre lover, an environmental activist, a tennis fan, a jazz musician, and someone who is deeply committed to the view that there are intelligent beings in outer space with whom it is extremely urgent to talk (preferably in English).”

Indeed she can. But what does that tell us about identity? After all, few people would deny that you could be a Christian and a tennis fan, or that someone with African ancestry could believe in English-speaking aliens. In conflating tastes, aptitudes, predilections, given biological traits, inherited cultural affiliations and acquired political beliefs into a single list, as if they all mattered equally in discussion of identity, is Sen not trivialising the concept of identity and making it more difficult to understand what it is about the contemporary world that makes identity politics both so significant and so problematic?

Identity politics is 'post modern' in that it rejects 'totalizing' narratives which sought to elide 'concurrency problems' by pointing to an 'end of history' where everybody would be happy everafter. This creates 'concurrency' problems- i.e. makes acute the question as to in what sequence needful reforms should be carried out. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that Identity politics made policy space multi-dimensional so Agenda Control or McKelvey chaos gained salience. The result was a huge waste of time with everybody getting angrier and angrier. Meanwhile, the Chinese continued to rise and rise.


“I’m not saying that being a football fan is of the same order as being a liberal or conservative,” he replies. “One could be immensely more important than the other, depending on the person. It is not just that our priorities may vary according to context, but we also have to determine what the nature of the particular context is. I might decide that it is frivolous to go to a football match when something important like voting is taking place. So my loyalty to a football club and my loyalty to a political ideal may clash. And I will then have to determine where will I go. We all face this kind of decision.”

This is an economic decision. Voting has an opportunity cost. It has nothing to do with Identity though it may affect one's psychology or self-image or something of that sort.  

But this seems a banal way of looking at the problem. After all, what has made the question of identity important is not that individuals do not know how to choose which hat to wear and when, but that collectively hat-wearing fashions have changed. Certain social affiliations have acquired new significance while others have faded away. In this post-ideological age, people are less likely than they were to define social solidarity in political terms—as collective action in pursuit of political ideals. The question people ask themselves is not so much “what kind of society do I want to live in?” as “who are we?” As political identities have weakened, so people have come to view themselves more in terms of their cultural, ethnic or religious affiliations. And they see those identities as given rather than chosen.

So this is a story about 'affiliations'- consumption externalities- not 'identity'. Still, a few people can make a little money bullshitting about 'who they really are' or explaining why the Government is a big meanie for not facilitating the rise of millions of ordinary people out of the terrible fate of being ordinary and having to live in the real world.


What is important, then, is not that people have forgotten that they possess multiple identities. It is rather that political identities have so little significance that people often look elsewhere for meaning—to faith, culture or ethnicity.

This has always been true. Only a small number of nutters get worked up about politics.

 For an author who places such great stress on the importance of context, Sen makes little attempt to place the debate about identity itself in a social or historical context.

Because he was always a prematurely senile cretin. Still, the main thing is he didn't descend into an Islamophobic nutter wailing about such of his kin as had their throats slit by East Bengali Muslims. On the other hand, reading between the lines, what else is Sen really doing? 

One consequence of this is a skewed notion of choice. Take, for instance, the argument that multicultural policies have imposed upon Bangladeshis the single identity of being Muslim.
Sen's Uncles had convinced themselves that Bengali Muslims were being misled by the British Government. If left alone, they would display dog-like devotion to bhadralok buddhijivis. Similarly, Sen says 'Blair is imposing Muslim identity on Bangladeshis. Left to themselves, they would worship me due to I have a Nobel Prize- that too in Econ, not a fucking Peace Prize like that cretin Muhammad Yunus.'
 Policies have certainly done this. At the same time, though, many have also chosen to view themselves primarily as Muslim. Why? 
Because Islam is a great religion. It has inexhaustible treasures- that's right I said treasures, not terrors- for people of every level of intellectual or aesthetic or moral attainment.
By contrast, Sen-tentious shite is shite pure and simple. 
Partly because as wider political attachments have eroded, so Islam for many has provided a sense of anchorage and meaning in their lives. 
What fucking 'wider political attachments'? Who the fuck would want to get attached to corrupt, incompetent, bullshiters? 
Is there any Christian or Hindu or Jew who thinks Holy Scripture is inferior, in any point of literary style, or intellectual profundity, to some wretched Party Manifesto?
Identity and Violence reads sometimes as if people should only have choice if they make the right choice. Does Sen really believe that?
“Quite often people are pressured into making choices which are not based on reflection,” he replies. 
Bangladeshi Muslims were pressured into getting rid of a parasitic Hindu landowning class. Left to themselves they would have worshipped those blatershites. 
Sen isn't being patronising at all. Whatever could have made you think that?
“It is patronising to think that a person is not capable of better reflection; that somehow some people are doomed to think in a peculiarly narrow and limited way. 
So it is patronising to think one's inferiors can't rise to a point where they wouldn't find you patronising at all. They would lick your boots with gratitude for such bullshit as you sling their way.
We are forced to think that by propaganda, by pressure and a sense of identity.
But for propaganda, us bhadralok buddhijivis would be able to declare ourselves greater than any God or Prophet without being afraid of ridicule.
 It relates to Karl Marx’s false consciousness. 
Which Marxists display when they refuse to say 'Amartya Sen is the greatest economist and sublimest philosopher ever.' 
You may have the sense that this is the objective thing to do. But in fact it is illusory. I do have prejudices but my prejudice is the belief that we human beings all have the capacity to think about moral and political issues and when we don’t do it, I tend to attribute it to pressure.”
Why not simply say 'karma'? If they are very very good then in some future birth they will realize Sen incarnates the grandiosity of the sublimity of, what Aurobindo called, the most grandiosely sublime. 

I share Sen’s prejudices. I share too his fears about identity politics and the consequences of cultural pluralism. But I also think that the debate about identity is more complex, and less black and white, than he appears to believe.

But complex debates tend to simplify themselves very rapidly if beaten black and blue. For this purpose you may kindly apply to Ibn Battuta for the loan of his 'bagal mein jootha'. Vigorous shoe beating can clear up all perplexities about Identity or Idenkitty or Identitty or what have you. 




Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Amartya Sen, Oikeiosis & Identity

Why do some British people want Faith based Schools? One answer is that they don't want their daughters to get pregnant at 12 or their sons to deal dope at 13. Fear of God and Hellfire, may postpone their children's delinquency. Anyway, if you can memorize Scripture so as to keep in the good books of crazy heavily armed nuns , you can also memorize whatever worthless shite is required to get into Uni and then get a white collar job. 

Another answer has to do with 'oikeiosis'- a sense of belonging or ownership which is the foundation of an idea of justice which is embodied and useful in that it reduces strife and uncertainty as opposed to being worthless bullshit. Oikeoisis creates uncorrelated asymmetries which tell agents which role they have in a game. Without this, no idea of Justice can be operationalizable. This is necessary for economic activity. Suppose I buy your car. You keep your car because you aren't necessarily the person who has to hand over a car. Nor am I the person who necessarily has to hand over cash. There is no transaction. 

To be useful, Identities need to be stable, solitary, and involve a normative link to action. Multiple identities are bullshit. One can agree to anything without having to keep to the agreement. After all, you might be the party owed reparation not the one who agreed to pay it.

Ceteris paribus, people want their kids to go the School which teaches their own Scripture so that their sense of oikeiosis might burgeon and thus their agency increases. 

Sen didn't understand this. He  said, 'The move towards faith-based schools in Britain reflects, in fact, a more general and deeply problematic vision of Britain as “a federation of communities,”

The United Kingdom is the union of different Kingdoms. Scotland has a different legal and educational system to the Kingdom of England and Wales. This is not a 'deeply problematic' vision of Britain. It is the historical and constitutional reality.

Government funded Faith based schools already existed in the UK. Gandhi adopted the 'passive resistance' put up by certain dissenters to paying local authority rates so as to fund Church of England Schools. These nutters went to jail rather than support the 'Whore of Babylon'. Gandhi used similar tactics to oppose the Salt tax- which still exists in India. He was a deeply silly man. 

Should immigrants have Faith based Schools? Yes, provided terrorists and pederasts are kept from recruiting there. But this is simply a matter of regulating supply. On the demand side, it is a fact that in certain sectors of the economy, there will be more 'in-group' transactions. This means a sense of Justice founded in an inherited oikeiosis, supported by Faith based education, will improve outcomes. 

In a democracy with subsidiarity, the move to faith based schools does not reflect some elitist 'vision' but is a response to changes in the determinants in the demand and supply of education.

 rather than a collectivity of human beings resident in Britain, with their diverse differences of which religious and community-based distinctions constitute only one part (along with differences in language, literature, politics, class, gender, location, and other characteristics). It is unfair to children who have not yet had much opportunity of reasoning and choice to be put into rigid boxes in terms of one specific criterion of categorization, viz, the religious divide.'

It isn't unfair at all because kids soon grow up enough to understand that the purpose of a Faith based education is to keep you from delinquency till you learn to master your hormonal urges. One may as well say it is unfair for baby to have this Mummy instead of that Mummy. This is an example of what game theorists call an uncorrelated asymmetry. Where such arise, Rawlsian or Sen-ile notions of fairness are foolish. Why? Knowing you are this Mummy's baby, or this Religion's devotee, creates an oikeiosis, or 'belonging', which can outweigh any other source of utility. 

Sen, it seems, thinks Gandhi was as foolish as himself. He said

Gandhiji was critical in particular of the official view that India was a collection of religious communities.

Sadly, Gandhi didn't understand that Religion was irrelevant to his own role which was purely political. India had certain economic interests. Britain had certain economic interests. His job was to convince people that everybody would be better off if Indians ran India in India's own economic interests. 

Instead, Gandhi thought there was some 'overlapping consensus' between Religions such that his own Satyagraha would be universally admitted to have the magic properties he claimed for it. In 1921, this may have been credible. In 1931 it was risible.  All the minorities- including Sikhs, Dalits, and the Justice Party- united against Gandhi. The INC was a high caste Hindu show which, however, plenty of high caste Hindus thought little off. The Indian Liberals, who were supposed to help Gandhi, did a separate deal with British commercial interests. Gandhi returned more naked than when he left. Viceroys stopped talking to him. They'd just roll up his network and put everybody in jail if Congress wagged its tail. Thus, the British dictated the pace and substance of the transfer of power and did it in a manner advantageous to themselves. Gandhi lost all down the line. 

When he came to London for the “Indian Round Table Conference” called by the British government in 1931, he found that he was assigned to a specific sectarian corner in the revealingly named “Federal Structure Committee.”

This was because India was a mix of directly administered and Princely States. The Conference would determine to what extent sovereignty would be pooled in a Federal Structure. Because the Indians could not agree, the Brits kept control of Defense and Foreign Affairs. This meant India financed the British War effort on tick. 

 Sen, cretin that he is, thinks the Brits, didn't understand that people could have multiple identities. A rich Hindu man could be a poor Muslim woman who could be a Holy Cow or a particular shade of the color purple. Instead of holding Round Table Conferences to decide the Constitutional future of India, the Brits ought to have just got everybody to gas on about their multiple identities and capabilities and ideas of Justice.

Gandhiji resented the fact that he was being depicted primarily as a spokesman of Hindus, in particular “caste Hindus,”

though that was precisely what he was. Anybody, from the King Emperor down to his footman's cat could claim to represent the entire multiverse. 

with the remaining 46 per cent of the population being represented by chosen delegates (chosen by the British Prime minister)

because the Indians could not agree 

of each of the other communities.

Gandhi suddenly demanded that Congress be given control of the Army. He was laughed at.  

Subsequently, his one achievement was to browbeat Ambedkar. But this meant giving the Scheduled Castes higher representation. This backfired because Ambedkar's pal, J.N Mandal swung Sylhet to Pakistan though he and many Namasudras had to flee Pakistan subsequently. 

Gandhiji insisted that while he himself was a Hindu, Congress and the political movement that he led were staunchly secular and were not community-based; they had supporters from all the different religious groups in India.

The more he said this, the more he was laughed at. Partition became inevitable though there was no Economic reason for it.  

While he saw that a distinction can be made on religious lines between one Indian and another, he pointed to the fact that other ways of dividing the population of India were no less relevant.

This is the sort of shite Sen specializes in. When only one thing is an uncorrelated asymmetry, there is no point harping on other things which are correlated asymmetries. It's like saying 'If you like Biden, vote for Trump because he is old and White and that's what you are into- right? Old White guys.

Had Gandhi simply been a Jinnah type lawyer, there might have been some point to this. But he was in fact a bigoted orthodox Hindu backed by caste fellows of a similar type. So long as he represented the INC (he was their sole representative) it was a high caste Hindu entity. No doubt, like the British, he could claim to represent everybody else, but anybody can make that type of claim.  

Gandhiji made a powerful plea for the British rulers to see the plurality of the diverse identities of Indians.

No he didn't. He asked them to see the INC, which he dominated, as the sole representative of all Indians regardless of their diverse identities. That's why he had turned up alone though everybody else had a delegation.  

In fact, he said he wanted to speak not for Hindus in particular, but for “the dumb, toiling, semi-starved millions” who constitute “over 85 per cent of the population of India.”

Nobody believed him. They knew he wasn't from a poor family. He was just playing dress up. 

Gender was another basis for an important distinction, which, Gandhiji pointed out, the British categories ignored, there by giving no special place to considering the problems of Indian women.

Or Indian babies. Or Indians who liked cats.  

He told the British Prime Minister. “You have had, on behalf of the women, a complete repudiation of special representation,”

But Cornelia Sorabji was running around giving lectures on the vileness of Gandhi.  

and pointed to the fact that “they happen to be one half of the population of India.”

Jinnah would have no difficulty getting educated Muslim women to rally round the League. 

Sarojini Naidu, who came with Gandhiji to the Round Table Conference, was the only woman delegate in the conference.
Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz, who was from the Muslim League Radhabai Subbarayan attended both the first and second conference, so there were three representatives of Women. 
Gandhiji pointed to the fact that she was elected as the President of the Congress Party (this was in 1925, which was, as it happens, fifty years before any woman was elected to preside over any major British political party, to wit, Margaret Thatcher in 1975).

So what? Annie Besant, who- like Nellie Sengupta- was a Brit, had been elected in 1917. Gandhi pushed her out.

Sarojini Naidu could, on the Raj's “representational” line of reasoning, speak for half the Indian people, namely Indian women;

No she couldn't. There was another woman there who was Muslim League. Incidentally, Radhabhai was refused an INC seat five years later. 

Abdul Qaiyum, another delegate, pointed also to the fact that Sarojini Naidu, whom he called “the Nightingale of India,” was also the one distinguished poet in the assembled gathering, a different kind of identity from being seen as a Hindu politician.

She was far less distinguished than Allama Iqbal. 

In a meeting arranged at the Royal Institute of International Affairs during that visit, Gandhiji also insisted that he was trying to resist what he called “the vivisection of a whole nation.”

We know how that turned out. Why did Gandhi fuck up so badly? The answer is that he had nothing to offer except his own nuttiness.  

Sen's nuttiness is revealed immediately

During the recent parliamentary debate on the judicial report on the killings of Sikhs that occurred immediately after Indira Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguard, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Indian parliament, “I have no hesitation in apologizing not only to the Sikh community but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood and what is enshrined in our Constitution.” As a Sikh himself, Manmohan Singh's multiple identities are very much in prominence here when he apologized, in his role as Prime Minister of India and that of a leader of the Congress Party (which was also in office in 1984), to the Sikh community, of which he is a member (with his omnipresent blue turban), and to the whole Indian nation (of which he is, of course, a citizen). All this might be very puzzling if people were to be seen in the “solitarist” perspective of only one identity each, but the multiplicity of identities and roles fits very well with the fundamental point Gandhiji was making at the London conference.

Any puppet of Soniaji, Sikh or not, would- as Prime Minister- have apologized to the Sikhs at that time. Why? Because Sonia didn't want any more members of her family killed. To his credit, Manmohan Singh, while holding public office, has always had a 'solitarist' identity- that of a guy determined to do the best thing for the country. That's why he stood up to the Left on the 123 deal. 

Gandhi too had a 'solitarist' identity. That's why he was the INC's sole  representative.  

Much has been written on the fact that India, with more Muslim people than almost every Muslim-majority country in the world (and with nearly as many Muslims, more than 145 million, as Pakistan), has produced extremely few home-grown terrorists acting in the name of Islam, and almost none linked with the Al Qaeda.

The reason for this is that the Indian police arrest whole families and can generally break the recruits from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  

There are many causal influences here.

No. There is only one causal influence- viz. the countervailing power of the Indian police and intelligence agencies. Killing terrorists or torturing their families till they turn themselves in is very effective.  

But some credit must also go to the nature of Indian democratic politics,

which relies on extra-judicial killing to put down any real threat- if it is worthwhile to do so.  

and to the wide acceptance in India of the idea,

that most people are cowards. Kill the killers and lock up the mischief makers. The Brits showed how the thing should be done. That's it. Just do it already. If some nutter starts talking bollocks, pray a Godse puts an end to the nuisance.  

championed by Mahatma Gandhi, that there are many identities other than religious ethnicity that are also relevant for a person's self-understanding and for the relations between citizens of diverse background within the country.

Identity does not matter. Belonging- oikeiosis- does. It is an uncorrelated asymmetry.  Sen might think that different Identities are associated with different 'circles of oikeiosis'. But this is not the case.  There is a single haecceity. One man can own many things or belong to many clubs. But he remains one man.

 If you find out that someone in your circle of belonging is also a member of another circle from which you are excluded then, clearly, that person is a potential arbitrageur. Equally, she may be a spy or become the subject of a repugnant type of cognitive dissonance. But it is not the case that the person has really split into lots of different identities. Economics is related to oikeosis. There may be a 'cooperative' game in which arbitrageurs are useful. There may be zero, or negative sum, games in which it is safer to expel them. 

The disastrous consequences of defining people by their religious ethnicity, and giving priority to the community-based perspective over all their identities, which Gandhiji thought was receiving support from India's British rulers, may well have come, alas, to haunt the country of the rulers themselves.

Not unless stupid cunts like Sen are listened to. Where you come from, or think you come from, doesn't matter. The question is are you going in my direction and can we help each other out along the way? Identity is singular and linked to this body we will only get rid off when we die. But 'belonging'- oikeiosis- changes and can involve multiple circles. 

In the Round-table conference in 1931, Gandhiji did not get his way, and even his dissenting opinions were only briefly recorded without mentioning where the dissent came from.

Sen immediately contradicts himself.

In a gentle complaint addressed to the British Prime Minister, Gandhiji said at the meeting, “in most of these reports you will find that there is a dissenting opinion, and in most of the cases that dissent unfortunately happens to belong to me.” Those statements certainly did belong only to him, but the wisdom behind Gandhiji's far-sighted refusal to see a nation as a federation of religious and communities belongs, I must assert, to the entire world.

The entire world knows that when you go to a Conference, you should try to come back with something advantageous to your people. This may involve making concessions. Sometimes, no deal can be made. But talking  bollocks is not wise.  True, the rules may be different for academic Conferences. But Gandhi wasn't an academic. 


Perhaps it is fitting that Gandhiji's dissenting views from the 1931 meetings are preserved in the records located exactly in London.

As opposed to where?  

I fear London has need for them now. One does not have to be an Indian chauvinist to make that claim. For Gandhiji and his ideas belonged to the world, not just to us in this country.

Fuck is this nutter getting at? Will Britain be partitioned? Will there be massive ethnic cleansing? No. The Brits are allergic to endless bullshit. They will make mutually advantageous deals. Why? Identity is singular and embodied. Oikieosis is on the basis of identity and is of an economic nature. It represents endowments and things bought or sold. This means that mutually advantageous deals can be made or else mutually assured destruction is on the table.

Sen has a paranoid theory that everybody is identity fluid but then some Evil force imposes identities so as to get people to kill each other. He says-

"People have been made to fight each other to serve the imagined demands of their allegedly single identity, effectively along the lines of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, expressing itself in ways like communal slaughter, political butchery and wars."

He thinks getting rid of 'imagined demands' regarding 'a single identity' would be a salutary thing. Many kids would agree. 'Yes Mummy I promise I will tidy up my room' they say, with the mental reservation that it will be their secret alter-ego Spidercatman who will do the actual tidying up. Mummy very unfairly punishes the kid because she imagines it has a single identity. The police behave in the same unfair way to one's innocent identity when in fact it was an alter-ego which robbed the bank. 

The only reason people can be made to do anything, or can be trusted to do anything, is because they have a single identity. If you know a person has multiple personality disorder, you should be wary of lending them money.  The borrowing personality will never have the money to pay you back, while the financially solvent personality will never acknowledge the debt. 

Race, Religion, Nationality etc are expressions of oikeiosis arising out of uncorrelated asymmetries which represent 'bourgeois strategies' in 'hawk dove' type games. They are eusocial signaling devices. It is a bad idea to pick a fight with a squaddie if you can see his fellow squaddies are thick on the ground in that particular pub. Slink off home while you have the chance. This reduces the burden on the Public Health system. 

Sen thinks that anybody can take any role in any game. Thus all we can have is endless Symposiums, not any useful Conferences.

This single identity is currently "increasingly taking the form of containing a hard and allegedly impenetrable division along the lines of religion or religion-based understanding of civilization," he explained.

This is an Islamophobic dog-whistle. Yet, the truth is, Islamic countries are themselves keen to crack down on the nutters. At one time, the West would offer refuge to those nutters. Now they have become more cautious. 

But, Sen noted, that has not always been the case. At the beginning of the 20th century, in World War I, the Germans, the British and the French were all Christians. Nationality, not religion, was the great divider at that time.

But this had been true in every previous Century. It is still true now.  There is no need to remember something which is wholly irrelevant.

Sen criticizes "the presumption that the people of the world can be uniquely categorized according to some singular and overarching system of partition."

Yet, it is a fact that people can be uniquely partitioned on the basis of the spatial location of their bodies. Without this presumption, there can be no law, no economics, no Government and no Universities. Harvard may be my neighbor's cat and Amartya Sen a flea on that cat.  

"The newly popular singular view of identity

as opposed to the old and unpopular view that Beyonce was also Boris Yeltsin 

is not only incendiary and dangerous. It is also astonishingly naïve," he said. "In our normal lives, we consider ourselves as members of a great many groups. We belong to all of them."

But have only one body. We also own a lot of shit. But we can sell or otherwise lose that shit. Our membership in various groups may lapse or be repudiated. But when we quit our bodies we die.  

Sen then cited a variety of ways one person can be identified: "The same person can be — without any contradiction — a U.S. citizen, of Asian background, of Indonesian ancestry, a liberal, a woman, a vegetarian, a historian, a schoolteacher, a novelist, a feminist, a heterosexual, a believer in gay and lesbian rights, a movie fan, an environmental activist, a tennis player, a sprinter, and someone who believes that extraterrestrial beings should be taught how to write graceful sonnets, preferably in good English," he said, drawing laughter with the last identity.

Many people, or none at all, may answer to that description- but that description is not an identity. Moreover, anybody at all may fit that description save for a 'buck stopped' juristic decision process. I am a U.S citizen in the sense that George III acted unconstitutionally in making peace with the Colonies. I am of Indonesian ancestry in the sense that my ancestors were subjects of a King whose most valuable possessions were in what is now Indonesia. I'm a woman in the sense that I have man-boobs and a tiny dick which could easily pass for a large clit. I'm a sprinter who can run 100 meters in 3 minutes. 

"Each of the collective identities to which this person belongs simultaneously without any contradiction gives her a particular identity,

No. She has an identity by reason of having a body. That body may 'belong' and have belongings in a manner which incurs opportunity cost. But this just means this person is an economic agent. It is not the case that multiple identities coincide in one locus. One might as well say, 'each person is God, the Devil, all other sentient beings, yea verily all things imaginable and unimaginable are contained in this cock I beseech thee to suck'  

which can be, depending on the context and circumstances, extremely important for her behavior and priority," he explained. "And these different identities can co-exist without any battle among them."

There is only one identity which may experience 'cognitive dissonance' by reason of wishing to belong to contradictory groups- e.g being both an economist and a philosopher. 

The singular partitioning of the world population according to some overarching criteria of identity makes the work of terrorists and other instigators of violence who exploit the use of singularity much easier for them, he said.

But killing terrorists and fucking up their financiers gets rid of the problem. When the terrorists came for the people in the Taj hotel, suddenly discovering a bullet proof identity didn't help them any.  

"The ultimate issue is not only of personal choice and how we should approach our life and how we may think of our identity, but also of how we may see others," Sen said.

So, the ultimate issue is a whole bunch of issues of the sort that would exhaust the patience of even the most Sen-ile Symposium.  

He illustrated his point with the example of "the demand for expelling all illegal immigrants from the USA."

Certain people are liable to deportation by due process of law. This is not an 'identity'. It is a contingent fact of a mutable type. Some of those people may be able to change it. Others may not bother with no ill effects. It depends. 

"Illegal immigrants of course do have the identity of being illegal,

no they don't. A Court must decide whether or not this is or is not a fact about them.  A contingent fact is not an identity. It may change how you think of oneself, but that's the sort of thing you can get therapy for. 

as well as illegal in status, and this is significant for public policy," he said. However, propaganda can

spread bad vibes or good vibes. But one can't neutralize propaganda by saying 'we are as much part of the impugned identity as we are of the approved one', because the retort is 'this propaganda is encouraging us to repress our bad side and express our good side'.  

make many already settled Americans, "particularly those nervous about their jobs," be persuaded "to see the identity of an illegal immigrant as being just that, as illegal, the total description.

One immediate effect is that people spend money to regularize their status and that of their kids. That's generally a good thing. Another effect is that Labour laws may be more stringently enforced save in repugnancy markets. 

Sen is a pedagogue. He may have to worry about the 'impressionable minds' of his stupid students or senile colleagues and thus 'mind his language' and speak in an obfuscating manner. But the rest of us must not do so. The thing is foolish. It is mischievous.          

The fact is 9/11 was avoidable. The FBI should have been profiling the shit out of Islamic nutters. Political Correctness fucked the world in the ass to the tune of trillions of dollars. Europe should have cracked down on Islamic militancy twenty five years ago. Macron is right. Erdogan may be doing the right thing for his people, but his people aren't our people.                                                                                                               

Inclusive vs. fragmentary views of world civilization

Sen described two ways of thinking about the pitfalls of civilization in the world. "One is to understand the story in an inclusive form and to encompass the manifestation of world civilization in different parts of the globe, taking on the divisions as well as the interdependences between human lives across the world," he said.

Or one could just take ecstasy and start hugging everybody. 

He contrasted the inclusive approach with the fragmentary approach, "which segregates the beliefs and practices of different regions into separated and self-contained boxes," he continued.

Which is what lawyers and diplomats and businessmen and sensible people do.  

"Recently, the fragmentary approach has come much into prominence, especially in the threatening form of the so-called clash of civilization," Sen said. "The entire subject has been elevated to the position of being of central concern in many Western countries today."

The fact is there was a small fragment of crazy nutters left over from the Afghan jihad running amok in Sudan and so forth. After the 1998 attacks, the FBI and CIA and European Intelligence Agencies should have ignored the Politically Correct Brigade and profiled the fuck out of such militants. They should have rolled up the 9/11 plotters, forced Pakistan to play ball and hired assassins to bump off Bin Laden and Zawahiri and so forth.  

He referred to the "dreadful events of 11 September 2001" having ushered in a period of awful conflicts and distrust in the world.

The thing was eminently preventable. Sudan offered to hand over Osama. That was a chance to build trust and do a deal which would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.  

"Indeed, many influential commentators have been tempted to see a firm linkage within the profusion of atrocities that you see around us today and the civilization of division primarily along religious lines," he said.

What he is getting at is the view that Muslims be kray kray. 

To categorize people according to an identity such as a member of the Western world, the Islamic world, the Hindu world, or the Buddhist world, is to reduce people to this one dimension, as Sen sees it, and to presume this must be the predominant influence in his or her mode of thinking — thereby ignoring all other identities related to economic, social, political, professional, cultural or occupational affiliation.

Sen is confusing 'trait' with 'identity'. Being a terrorist is a mutable trait which can quickly be expunged from a given population if it is linked to  a strong likelihood of getting killed or locked up.  

In his 2006 book, "Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny," Sen noted that he discussed the harm that is done by the implicit belief in a single identity

No harm is done by affirming that, absent multiple personality disorder, one body equates with one identity some of whose traits are mutable on the basis of effective incentives and penalties.  

and "how this intellectual confusion can be used to foment violence, as terrorists do to recruit people to fierce deeds against ‘those others,’ and how that intellectual disarray can make it very hard to resist violence or to win the so-called war on terror."

Sen can't release us from 'intellectual confusion' because, by his account, we have multiple identities some of which get confused by what others find clarifying.  

On the other hand finding ways to punish bad affiliations and reward good affiliations can improve things. 

Celebrating global interdependence

The West is suffering greatly right now

Nonsense! It would be nuking the fuck out of its adversaries if any great suffering had occurred. Even as things are, every Western death or economic loss has been avenged a hundred or thousand fold

from violence against it by those who want to exploit the divisions between civilizations and traditions, Sen said.


The anti-Western jihadists, including Islamic terrorists, like to promote the idea of a fundamental dichotomy between the West and the non-Western world, he said.

No. They aim to convert the West. 

They see themselves as rigidly-separated Muslims, concerned only with their divergence from the West, and not with pursuits they can share with others in the world, including mathematics, science, literature or music.

After conversion, they will be happy to share any goodies you may have. Sen should know. He comes from a part of the world where there has been plenty of conversion.  

Sen called it "altogether astonishing and truly tragic" that Western parochialists do not dispute the fragmentation of civilization and history.

Unlike Eastern shitheads who are astonishingly stupid and whose fucking up of their own Economies or Cultures is truly tragic.  Sen may not have noticed but Tagore's Shantiniketan is a shithole. 

"Rather than resisting the alienation that feeds the anti-Western violence, this adds further force to the terrorists’ segregated vision," he explained. "In this sense, Western parochialism and the belligerence it generates have been in an unstated and implicit alliance with Islamic terrorism."

While Sen's feebleness is what led that terrorism to think they could win in the first place.  

Sen concluded, "The need for recollecting and celebrating the richness of the vast interdependence within our global civilization has never been stronger.

And can be done by taking a tab of E.  

It’s a huge intellectual challenge that we face with increasing urgency, I believe."

This isn't an intellectual challenge. It is an invitation to a wank off.  Any senile fucker can do it. But a cute 8 year old could do it even better. There may be 'intellectual challenge' involving coordinating Global responses to viruses and things which act like viruses. But Sen can make no contribution to that discourse. Nor can Gandhi. David Icke, on the other hand, has emerged as the most prominent Public intellectual of the last two decades.