Sunday, 31 October 2021

Bertrand Russell's stupid Pacifism

Bertrand Russell understood that a Type theory was needful to prevent impredicativity based paradoxes but this also led him to hold an absurd view- viz that colonial wars were justified because the colonizer belonged to a higher type-
“in order that such wars may be justified, it is necessary that there should be a very great and undeniable difference between the civilization of the colonizers and that of the dispossessed natives”
The problem here is that whichever civilization colonizes the other is bound to become superior. Furthermore, a civilization which can't defend itself against attack is less fit, and thus inferior, to its conqueror. Thus, consequentialism of Russell's type must endorse any and every war of conquest which appreciably diminishes the living standards of the conquered and thus results in a civilizational gap.

The 'workaround' is graph-theoretic or categorical. Essentially, one could compare the civilizational level attainable by conquest to that which would obtain, as its adjoint, by some other less coercive type of interaction. Here a 'universal' is linked to an optimization problem. Only after both adjoint functors are calculated can the thing be given a game-theoretical representation as an Expected utility pay-off matrix. The owl of Minerva flies by night with a vengeance. 

Is deontology a better approach? No. The fault of akribeia arises and so either 'equitable' exceptions are ubiquitous or the thing can be gamed and is dangerous to the party relying on it.  

Russell genuflected to deontology by endorsing 'wars of principle'. The problem here is that since, in his view, a type of conquest which diminishes the civilizational rank of the 'dispossessed natives' is justified, it follows that 'fuck over them bastids and make them lick our boots' is a principle which justifies any war provided it is rapacious. 

A consequentialist ethics can only take cognizance of outcomes not the principles which bring them about. Russell may himself have been '“honestly convinced that the progress of mankind depends upon the adoption of certain beliefs or institutions” but, speaking honestly, he had shit for brains. That's the problem with principles. Shitty people may have them. Sensible people might prefer to approach things with an open mind and act not on the basis of pre-formed notions but what they can see is most efficacious and conducive to the commonweal. 

Russell was skeptical of 'wars of self defense'- e.g. Britain going to war over the violation of Belgian neutrality on the grounds that a hostile power could cross the Channel and thus it was better to fight on European soil rather than on the beaches and landing grounds of the home island. Russell says “the justification of wars of self-defence is very convenient, since so far as I know there has never yet been a war which was not one of self-defence”. Russell was wrong. The Crimean War did not involve any threat to the UK. Both the First and Second World War did. This may not have been obvious to that cretin in 1915 but it was obvious to everybody after Dunkirk. Even Russell supported the Second War though Britain entered it for the same reason- viz. that German domination of Europe would mean the threat of exactly the sort of invasion that Napoleon, or centuries previously, the Spanish Armada contemplated. 

Lastly we come to 'wars of prestige'. The French scholar Olivier Esteves writes- Lastly, “wars of prestige” are dismissed as unjustifiable : the ongoing war, which was primarily about the “hegemony of the Balkans […] is entirely a question of prestige”

This is nonsense. The war, for the UK, was primarily about honoring treaty commitments. Failure to do so would mean that Britain might have to fight alone against a Europe united under a foreign despot. Prestige does matter when it comes to treaties designed to preserve peace by maintaining the credibility of a coalition in balance of power calculations. In other words, prestige is game theoretic and its maintenance is a cheap way to prevent large scale conflict of an uncontrolled type.

Russell associates such conflicts with the nations’ desire for triumph, 

as opposed to what? Its desire for enslavement?

and the fear of humiliation

which might as easily happen if the King Emperor shat himself while asking the Kaiser to pull his finger

 at the hands of our enemies.

Whereas we'd have no objection to our friends beating and sodomizing us- right?

 He then expresses the hope that, much like individuals in Anglo-Saxon countries have abandoned the practise of duelling and dismissed it as a “folly and delusion”, 

because the alternative was having to employ bravos to beat and kill impudent knaves who might challenge one to a duel at the gaming table. The Anglo Saxons preferred to sue each other in the courts and thus triumph over their slanderers by sending them to the poor house.

the honour of nations will not “be measured by their willingness to inflict slaughter”.

But no nation was honoured at that time simply because its inhabitants wanted to kill and eat everybody else.

In more metaphorical terms, he declares, in “War and Non-Resistance” (August 1915, The Atlantic Monthly), that “we should have put Shakespeare on the Nelson Monument, 

but Nelson himself might have wanted some stirring line of Shakespeare's on that monument. He was one of a happy few, a band of brothers, who shed their blood far from home so naught but the dew drop atremble upon the red garden rose remind a mother or a sweetheart of what had been spilled from hearts of oak.

By contrast, Shakespeare would have recoiled from the notion that a mere scribbler be raised above that most gallant of sailors who had staved off the Tempest from his natal shore. 

and given Apsley House to Darwin. 

Why? Wellington paid for it himself. Perhaps the cretin was thinking of Blenheim.

But the citizens that every nation honours most are those who have killed the greatest number of foreigners”.

Very true. Victoria became Queen because of her insatiable appetite for the scalps of foreigners. Cardinal Newman too was notorious for skulking around the docks seeking for non-native sailors whom he swiftly strangled with his rosary. 

 National honour is not negative per se: it is to be sought for in artistic or scientific terms (corresponding to what he calls “creative impulses” in Principles of Social Reconstruction) whereas it is to be dismissed as destructive in military or imperialistic fields (corresponding to what he calls “possessive impulses”).

But creative impulses create the sorts of things people want to possess. Without creativity everybody would have only the same sort of crude and ugly tools and garments.

Consider the following- 
This war is not being fought for any rational end: 

It was fought because Germany violated Belgian neutrality. It is rational to honor treaty commitments. By contrast, Russell's opposition to the war was irrational. It was based on some inchoate fear of 'barbarism' based, ultimately, on the notion that working people may suddenly go mad and start stabbing all and sundry. Russell could not understand that it was rational for the Brits to show enthusiasm for the war because this raised morale and increased the ability of the Government to mobilize resources for the war effort. 

it is being fought because, at first, the nations wished to fight,

Germany wished to fight because it thought it could win. Moreover it believed that if it delayed, its enemies would get stronger and thus it would its chance. France did not have an offensive doctrine which would have required fundamental changes with a political dimension. Instead it had a stupid 'attaque a outrance'  doctrine which meant simply to hurl oneself at the enemy screaming wildly. The result was that the cream of the French army was mowed down by second rate German divisions whose artillery had a longer range.

 and now they are angry and determined to win victory. 

as opposed to being bored and whimsically inclined to defeat

Everything else is idle talk, 

like Russell's

artificial rationalizing of instinctive actions and passions.

But instinctive actions and passions represent 'Darwinian algorithms of the mind'. They are game theoretic whereas Russell's perorations were simply stupid and ignorant.

 When two dogs fight in the street, no one supposes that anything but instinct prompts them, or that they are inspired by high and noble ends. 

Nonsense! A dog may be defending its mistress when it fights a bigger dog which wants to take a bite out of her leg. We consider a dog of this sort to be noble. The fact is, the dog is man's best friend precisely because of complementary instincts related to pack behavior and territoriality which are perfectly rational albeit explainable to a Mathematician only in game theoretic terms. Sadly, by the time Von Neumann formulated this type of theory, Russell was too old to see the light. Hence his ignorant adhesion to CND. 

But if they were capable of what is called thought, if they had been taught that Dog is a rational animal, we may be sure that a superstructure of belief would grow up in them during the combat. They fight really because something angers them in each other’s smell. 

Russell was simply wrong. Pheromones have nothing to do with hostility between dogs or, indeed, humans. If hierarchal positions reflect 'Shapley values' of some kind, there is no fighting. The thing is a discovery process. 

But if their fighting were accompanied by intellectual activity, the one would say he was fighting to promote the right kind of smell (Kultur), and the other to uphold the inherent canine right of running on the pavement (democracy). 

Nonsense! This dog would say 'that dog is a threat to my master or else is looking covetously upon my squeaky toy', while the other would explain that the pugnacious young pup had been impudent and violated recognized principles of canine hierarchy.

But territoriality is something understood by all animals which require to preserve a patch of land for their own use so as to survive. This is the 'bourgeois strategy' in hawk-dove.

Yet this would not prevent the bystanders from seeing that their action was foolish, and that they ought to be parted as soon as possible.

Which is one reason why it is safe for smaller dogs to get into such fights. They can demonstrate their loyalty and pugnaciousness without dying for it. 

 And what is true of dogs in the street is equally true of nations in the present war.

Coz Russell was actually Superman and could pick up the Kaiser with one hand while shaking some sense into the King Emperor with the other. 

Mahatma Gandhi acted as a recruiting sergeant during the First World War. Russell, however, was propounding the foolish doctrine Gandhi found it expedient to use during the Second.

Esteves writes-

In order to prove his point he devised an extraordinary scenario, which was all the more provocative as it was published at a time when hatred climaxed, in August 1915, a few months after the sinking of the Lusitania and the first use of mustard gas at Ypres. In “War and Non-Resistance” (The Atlantic Monthly, Aug. 1915), he imagines a situation in which British people, having been thoroughly educated in the principles of passive resistance, opposed their civil and moral strength against the brutal force of potential German occupiers. There would be a few killings and many injustices, but far fewer than in the present conflict, since “there would be no glory to be won, not even enough to earn one iron cross. The Germans could not congratulate themselves upon their military prowess, or imagine that they were displaying the stern self-abnegation believed to be shown by willingness to die in the fight”. After some time, having realized that they couldn’t govern without the consent of the indigenous population, the Germans would have to leave and go home.

No. There would have been many killings, many more rapes and lots of lots of transfer of movable and immovable property. German generals would have been the new Dukes and Earls and taken over all the castles and mansions. They may have brought in their own personal servants while the native population labored under the lash. 

Why was Russell writing this nonsense? Esteves explains that he was dependent on Quaker money to promote his cause (and his own name). But Russell was no friend of the Society of Friends. He thought they were about as usefully employed as if they had sent a delegation to Etna to ask it not to erupt. He didn't get that Quakers get a reputational benefit- useful to them in Trade- by sticking to the principles of their silly religion. Russell, by contrast, was merely demonstrating the uselessness of academic philosophy- even of a mathematical kind. Still, by jumping on the Bolshevik bandwagon, he could have salvaged his reputation- but only if the Bolsheviks hadn't turned out to be as evil as shit. Still, there was a brief moment when Russell could imagine himself the leader of a London Soviet!

After America joined the war, Russell wrote of how American garrisons might be used in Britain to break strikes and (though he did not say this) hold down British work-men while gigantic negroes with ginormous dongs sodomized them incessantly. The government then jailed Russell for publishing a 'statement likely to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with a foreign power' no doubt because Russell had neglected to mention ginormous black cocks which might have promoted, rather than prejudiced, the King Emperor's relations with numerous foreign powers. 

Suppose Russell had understood game theory, could he have been less foolish in his political views? No. He was merely selling what he was in a position to sell. That didn't involve being smart. It involved being silly. Consider his famous denunciation of nuclear brinksmanship-
Since the nuclear stalemate became apparent, the Governments of East and West have adopted the policy which Mr. Dulles calls ‘brinkmanship’. This is a policy adapted from a sport which, I am told, is practised by some youthful degenerates. This sport is called ‘Chicken!’. It is played by choosing a long straight road with a white line down the middle and starting two very fast cars towards each other from opposite ends. Each car is expected to keep the wheels of one side on the white line. As they approach each other, mutual destruction becomes more and more imminent. If one of them swerves from the white line before the other, the other, as he passes, shouts ‘Chicken!’, and the one who has swerved becomes an object of contempt. As played by irresponsible boys, this game is considered decadent and immoral, though only the lives of the players are risked. But when the game is played by eminent statesmen, who risk not only their own lives but those of many hundreds of millions of human beings, it is thought on both sides that the statesmen on one side are displaying a high degree of wisdom and courage, and only the statesmen on the other side are reprehensible.

Other things being equal, the winner of 'chicken' is the same as the winner of 'hawk dove'- i.e. the one with an uncorrelated asymmetry dictating a 'bourgeois strategy'. Thus the guy who is defending his own turf, or is genuinely in love with the girl, or the one who gains economically from his 'rep'- wins the game while the other says 'well, he was defending his own. I was just testing him to see if he was a stand up guy useful for me to associate with'. 

As a matter of fact, within a couple of years, the Cuba crisis showed that 'brinksmanship' worked. However, behind the scenes you had Wohlsetter and Kahn (Dr. Stragelove) etc. updating Eisenhowerian doctrine on a game theoretic basis such that second strike capability and Permissive Activation Linkage etc. became standard on both sides. This in turn took the thymotic aspect out of nuclear doctrine and permitted rapid progress under SALT. Eventually, the US paid the Russians to decommission a lot of their weapons and thus the whole thing ended peacefully. 

Russell's utilitarianism was foolish because it did not engage with Knightian uncertainty and strategic considerations related to uncorrelated asymmetries and public (Aumann type) signals. But such a utilitarianism would have to accept ontologicially dysphoric goods. It would cease to have an associated calculus or metric because the configuration space would not be connected. Still, for virtue signaling purposes, that stupid shite was good enough because virtue signaling is nothing but stupid shite. 

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Padraic Scanlan on anti-masturbation & Empire

Padraic Scanlan believes that 'the British Empire was first built on slavery and then on the moral and economic self-confidence of antislavery.'

This is foolish. The British Empire in India had nothing whatsoever to do with slavery. Nor did it gain any African possessions for the purpose of slave trading. The reverse was the case. Stamping out slavery was quoted as a reason for the acquisition of African colonies at a later point in time. By contrast, Portugal and Brazil were the biggest importers of slaves. During the eighteenth century, the British mercantile Marine was the second largest actor in the Transatlantic slave trade but the acquisition of the Assiento did not itself involve the acquisition of any particular territory. 

Padraic has an Irish sounding name. Ireland was part of the British Empire. But the Irish were not enslaved by the British. On the other hand, the residents of Baltimore- a small town in Ireland- were kidnapped by Barbary corsairs and sold in the slave markets of North Africa. But those corsairs did not create an Empire. They were themselves conquered by European powers. 

There were Empires in Africa which were based on the trade in gold and ivory and 'black gold'. One factor in their collapse may have been the ending of the Transatlantic slave trade. 

Padraic writes in Aeon-

Britain ended its slave trade in 1807, and abolished slavery in much of its colonial empire in 1834.

Why? Because Protestant Evangelicals and Quakers, etc, loathed that Satanic institution. However, they were equally ardent in their opposition to masturbation- at least they pretended to be. 
By contrast,  plenty of 'Liberals' had no problem with slavery- provided it was dusky folk, or those descended from them under the 'one drop rule' who were the slaves. After all, sex with slaves doesn't count as masturbation. 

 Four years later, Queen Victoria was crowned. For British liberals, the timing was auspicious, and the lessons were obvious. 

British Liberals were pleased by the 1832 Reform Bill. Slave owners had been very generously compensated. Indentured labor from India and elsewhere was replacing the emancipated slave. Nobody greatly cared about this issue any longer.

The 18th-century empire of enslaved labour, rebellious colonies and benighted protectionism had been purified by the ‘sacrifice’ of the profits of slavery to the principles of free trade, free labour and free markets.

Nonsense! The Corn Law was still in force as were various other Mercantilist measures. Free Trade did not triumph till Gladstone's first Chancellorship. 

 But the empire that slavery made endured.

Coz the US was still ruled by Queenji- right? Wrong. The jewel in the crown of the British Empire was India. But slavery had not made that Empire. It played no role whatsoever in it.

Although individual enslaved people were often brought to Britain by the people who claimed to own them,

This was only the case for domestic slaves whose position was similar to domestic servants. By contrast, Portugal imported a lot of slaves to work in agriculture. Between 1444, when Portugal brought the first sizeable shipment of African slaves to Europe, to 1761, when it abolished slavery in its European territory, the slave population of Portugal reached ten percent of the total. The Portuguese also enslaved and transported a lot of Asians which, however, the Japanese resented. By contrast, Britain merely participated in the Atlantic slave trade. It neither initiated it nor itself relied on slave labor. 

 for most Britons, mass enslavement was something that happened ‘over there’ – 

in Portugal, which was Catholic. In the opinion of the British power elite, Catholicism sucked ass big time. 

in the colonies, especially the sugar-producing islands of the Caribbean. 

There was slavery in the Caribbean because African potentates were busy enslaving and selling Africans to the highest bidder. Britain acquired its Caribbean colonies from other European powers.

This fact of geography shaped British antislavery. 

Only because British geography shaped Britain. 

The ‘mother country’ could also be the stern but benignant ‘father’, 

Coz Mummies can be Daddies just by growing a dick- right? 

correcting children in the ‘infant colonies’.

George Washington was a cuddly little baby who kicked George III's ass but good. 

 In the slave colonies, opposition to slavery could be a revolutionary threat to the social order. 

It's quite true that the rebellion in Haiti changed attitudes to Slavery. It became obvious that if 'Blacks' became the majority, then they would kill or chase away the Whites and take control. 

In Britain, antislavery affirmed Britain’s superior virtue in relationship to its empire.

No. British Naval Supremacy- not being a Quaker or a member of the Clapham Sect- affirmed Britain's superiority- was the foundation of the Empire. Superior martial qualities might enable the British Army to kick ass but then again if a territory could not pay for its occupation then it ceased to be part of the Empire. 

This contented patriotism

did not exist.

 was a feature of British antislavery, decades before the leaders of the movement succeeded in securing the abolition of the slave trade. In 1785, William Cowper

who had gone insane and thus become morbidly religious. It must be said that Evangelical Christianity seems to have ameliorated his condition. A humorous anecdote related to him by a lady of that creed led to him writing a comic ballad which, Chesterton thought, saved his sanity. 

Why is Padraic pretending that Cowper was 'contesting nationalism' or was some sort of 'public intellectual'? The fellow had gone mad. He was a charity case. Still, he wrote quite well and 'John Gilpin' was a success as Surtees' Jorrocks was a success. 

 published ‘The Task’, a long poem in blank verse. 

Cowper's 'divine chit-chat' did catch the Evangelical spirit of his day.

In Book II, Cowper celebrates Somerset v Stewart, the 1772 case that set a precedent for enslaved people from Britain’s colonies to sue for freedom in metropolitan courts. He wrote:
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free
They touch our country and their shackles fall.
That is noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire; that where Britain’s power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.

By contrast Bowper and Dowper wrote even longer poems urging the Brits to shove red hot pokers up the bums of any free man or woman detected in the realm.

William Wilberforce, the leader in Parliament of the campaign to abolish the British slave trade, admired Cowper’s eye for evidence of Providence. He was his favourite poet. For both men, antislavery confirmed Britain’s special place in human and divine affairs. 

Britain has a special place in human and divine affairs for those of us who live here. I myself have appealed to Queenji, Gor bless 'er, to take the lead in opposing evil Iyengars who are spreading rumors that Iyers put garlic in the sambar. 

To Wilberforce, slavery kept an enslaved person from choosing salvation.

No. Anybody at all can choose salvation. However, nothing of the sort is achieved save by God's gratuitous gift. Both Cowper and Wilberforce were influenced by Evangelicals repenting of their own connection with that loathsome trade. The latter, an independently wealthy member of Parliament, gained fame for his oratory in this cause but it was by far being his sole or even chief interest. The truth is, once Whites realized that Black slaves who turned into a majority would turn the tables on them with a vengeance, they saw the folly of being the instruments of their own destruction. Every Empire which began to import muscular slaves ended up being ruled by 'Slave' or 'barbarian' dynasties. 

 Consequently, to enslave was a terrible sin.

The Pope had granted the Portuguese permission to trade in African and Asiatic slaves provided slaves were converted to Christianity. The Evangelicals maintained the opposite position because they were anti-Catholic.  


Emancipation, however, did not imply independence.

Independence does not imply that every type of dependence ceases to exist. It just means you can choose whom to be dependent on for employment or various useful services.

 Social hierarchy was natural, and therefore desirable.

Farting is natural. It is a highly undesirable method of punctuating the perorations of  Parliamentary orators. 

 Virtue flowed downhill from the powerful to the weak, the rich to the poor, Britain to the colonies.

In the opinion of Padraic, not Wilberforce. The Clapham Sect saw that it was easier to appear to get rid of slavery far away rather than actually help kids being beaten and buggered and bought and sold within a hundred yards of Westminster. 

 Wilberforce assumed that Britain would hold the interests of freed people in trust during a long journey toward civilisation.
No. The guy was a Christian. Civilization was not the aim. Salvation was.
 What greater proof of advanced civilisation could a nation offer than opposition to slavery?
Christianity. Being saved. Fuck is wrong with Padraic? Has he never met a God botherer?

For Cowper and Wilberforce, Britain was exceptional

for the same reason that Mummy is exceptional- coz she iz our Mummy

 – and in historical memory, the antislavery movement is still offered as evidence of British exceptionalism.

Offered to whom? Perhaps Padraic, pacing the mean streets of the two Cambridges, is constantly being accosted by men in dirty raincoats who expose themselves as evidence of British exceptionalism. He naturally assumes this has something to do with the anti-slavery movement because this allows him to get off a snappy comeback to do with the Potato famine.

 For conservative Eurosceptics such as the Oxford theologian Nigel Biggar, antislavery is the antidote to criticism of empire. 

If so, the fellow is a fool. The correct antidote to criticism of empire is saying 'how come every ex-colony kept British Institutions unless it turned into a shithole like Myanmar'? 

‘Between the slave-trade and slavery of the 18th century and the present,’ Biggar writes in a widely circulated recent essay for the group Briefings for Britain, ‘lies 150 years of imperial penance …’ With his talk of penance and his totting-up of the ‘gifts’ given by empire – English, railroads, parliaments, property rights – Biggar performs a mawkish pageant of the pith helmet, the Bible and the flag. Antislavery, from this point of view, symbolises Britain’s moral awakening and special destiny, first and greatest among the European empires.

'First'? Nope. Portugal and Spain were first. Holland was initially more successful. France got off to a better start in India. But it was the Brits who prevailed and became the 'greatest'. 

In the United States, a similar caricature of British antislavery as especially precocious and virtuous has become a useful foil for reimagining American history, in The New York Times’s 1619 Project and elsewhere. If slavery is the American ‘original sin’, and the preservation of slavery was a cause of the American Revolution, British antislavery becomes an avenging force driven out of the new United States. And yet, when white Virginia colonists first purchased enslaved African workers to cultivate tobacco in 1619, the colonists thought of themselves as English. They looked south to Spain and Portugal’s colonies, where plantation slavery was well-established, and hoped to make a fortune. To the colonists, hierarchy was natural and defined by God. Coerced, enserfed or enslaved labour was unremarkable – and, from the colonists’ perspective, necessary – gentlemen, by definition, did not work in the fields. The sins weren’t original, and they weren’t ‘American’.

So the original sin was that of Portugal. The problem is, everybody likes the Portuguese. On the other hand, it must be said that British anti-slaver naval patrols hurt Portugal- England's oldest ally. 

The Caribbean, not the colonies that became the American South, was the focus of debate for supporters and opponents of slavery in the British Empire. During the nearly three centuries of the transatlantic slave trade, more than 2.3 million enslaved people disembarked in Britain’s Caribbean colonies, compared with roughly 390,000 in the Thirteen Colonies and the US. In 1783, Britain lost the Thirteen Colonies, but retained more than a dozen sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. After the disruption of the Revolutionary War, colonists in the Caribbean resumed importing nearly everything, from barrel staves to livestock, from the US and Britain. Sugar was so profitable that one British slaveholder claimed that an acre planted with sugarcane would yield enough sugar to buy and import five acres’ worth of grain.

Padraic is White. Is this why he doesn't mention the big game-changing event in the Caribbean- viz. the revolt in Haiti which began in 1791? Wilberforce told Parliament that even if slaves were a minority, they would make common cause with an invader- i.e. if France or some other nation at war with Britain managed to get a couple of ships to an island, then the slaves would ally with them and kill off the whites. Thus, not only would the European enemy have to be defeated at Sea, the whole island would have to be reconquered and re-populated. Far better to free the slaves and give them some small stake in the system. Wilberforce seems to have been unaware, till about 1804, that the West India Regiments were buying slaves for enlistment. These 'uncivilized negroes', freshly landed, were paid and treated the same as Whites but were they slaves- subject to colonial slave laws- or free men subject to the Mutiny Act? The mutiny of the 8th West India Regiment in 1802 concentrated minds on this issue. Clearly, blacks who had been trained to wield weapons felt they were not slaves and refused to do the work of slaves. Plantation owners did not want discharged soldiers of this description anywhere around their own slaves. Yet, it was obvious that Whites died like flies in the unhealthier portions of the islands. Black soldiers were necessary and perfectly disciplined if paid properly and treated fairly. However, if they feared that disbandment of the regiment would mean being sold as slaves then they would rebel. Thus, purely military considerations militated for emancipation. In 1805 the Government spent 280,000 pounds to buy 4000 slaves for the West India Regiments. These 'uncivilized negroes' may have been better fighters and more suited to the climate than Britishers but they were being paid the same. However this scarcely justified paying triple the price given to an English 'scrimp' (who lured men to enlist by devious or downright criminal means). By contrast, plenty of West Indian colored people would enlist for a lower wage than the White British and, what's more, prove better soldiers. However, for this to happen you had to get rid of the Slave Acts under which colored soldiers were mistreated by the Colonial Magistrates. But this required Emancipation. The bonus was that the British military could enlist all the slaves the Navy captured from enemy vessels. On the other hand, the 1807 declaration that all 'negro' soldiers were free meant that 10,000 men gained legal, if not very effectual, emancipation. The other big consequence was that the policy of non-interference in Colonial affairs (caused by the American Revolution) was breached. In theory, in not in practice, Westminster had declared its supremacy. 

Sadly, the enfranchised black soldier, more often than not, was sent off to Sierra Leone which Pitt supported seeing it as a means of getting poor Black people out of London.

Despite geographic affinities and deep commercial relationships with the North American colonies in rebellion, the Caribbean colonies remained a part of the British Empire. The white planters who dominated the British Caribbean had strong incentives for loyalty. 

They had no incentive for disloyalty.

The Navigation Acts, which governed imperial trade, guaranteed them a protected market for their sugar in Britain. The Acts also barred the often cheaper and higher-quality sugar produced in other European plantation colonies, especially the French colony of Saint-Domingue, overthrown by the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). Moreover, unlike most American colonists, Caribbean planters generally thought of Britain as home. Wealthy colonists bought property in Britain, invested in British firms, and sent their children away to British boarding schools. The West Indian ‘interest’ in British politics, while far from unified, resisted attempts in Parliament even to regulate either the slave trade or enslaved labour.

To be fair, this was not a burning issue for most British people because...urm... they weren't Black. Similarly, few Brits cared about the Indian independence struggle.

 The British slave trade survived for nearly a quarter-century after American independence,

but America continued to deal in slaves.

 British colonial slavery as long again, ending half a century after US independence.

but thirty years before America embraced Emancipation.

The antislavery movement, like the West India interest, was not unified.
It was unified but not homogeneous. 

 It grew from many roots during the 18th century. Among economic theorists, the idea that enslaved labour was more expensive than wage labour became an axiom of imperial political economy. 

Imperial political economy did not exist. If Slavery was uneconomic, it would disappear by itself. 

Among British Quakers and among the growing community of Evangelical Protestants, inside and outside the Church of England, slavery – long tolerated in Christian theology – became an obstacle to orderly religious communion and to evangelism.

How so? Did Quakers find that their meeting houses had been turned into barracoons? Was Uncle Tom constantly emerging from his cabin to disrupt communion services?
The fact is the anti-slavery movement was part of a wider repugnance against cruel and barbaric customs and beliefs.

 For Enlightened intellectuals interested in comparing Britain to Rome, slavery was culturally backward – an obstacle to imperial consolidation and a symbol of barbarism. 

Many Enlightened intellectuals believed in the natural inferiority of Women, Blacks, Asiatics etc. Furthermore, nobody could argue that slavery was an 'obstacle to imperial consolidation' because there had been a huge increase in the thing over the previous century. Banning slavery might lead to some colonies wanting to break away. That was one reason for the American Civil war.

For Britons increasingly sensitive to torture and corporal punishment – common in public spaces in Britain for much of the 18th century – the disgusting conditions and violence endured by the enslaved became shocking and intolerable to contemplate.
This was true for a few British people. Most didn't care. Out of sight was out of mind.

For a growing middle class, and especially for middle-class women, otherwise excluded from most of political life, antislavery was a means to influence policy. 

This may have been true for one or two Mrs. Jellybys. Most middle class women were preoccupied with the question of how to become upper class or, at least, remain middle class. 

After the American Revolution, a new generation of British politicians hoped to tighten and centralise control over Britain’s remaining colonies. 

No. Britain decided that colonies should be self-governing as far as possible. However, during the Napoleonic Wars, it became obvious that the West Indian colonies could not defend themselves. In particular, Blacks in the West India Regiments had to be defended against Colonial Courts.

Finally, after the Haitian Revolution, the threat of a successful rebellion overthrowing slavery made the prospect of a slow, managed transition to freedom appealing.

Not really. The Brits realized that freed slaves would resent their former oppression. Thus, many freed soldiers etc. were shipped off to Sierra Leone. Previously, Blacks who had fought on the British side against the American rebels were resettled in other colonies- including Newfoundland. 

There is a common thread connecting these disparate political, cultural and intellectual movements that coalesced into popular antislavery in Britain: all flowed from the growth of the 18th-century empire. 
Not really. The slave trade was as repugnant when Brazil was the port of landing as when it was Jamaica. The rise of literacy and a genre of Christian as well as Radical pamphleteering did play a role.
The prosperity and expansion that slavery made possible in the British Empire
where? Only in the West Indies which were declining in significance. Canada had pretty much good rid of slavery by the end of the eighteenth century. India became the jewel in the crown. Slavery was irrelevant in that vast territory. Anti-slavery did play a part in the expansion of the Empire into sub-Saharan Africa but that was towards the end of the nineteenth century. 

We may say that slave trading played a role in the rise of British Mercantile Marine, which in turn boosted the fighting power of the Royal Navy. But Britain soon found more profitable items to ship. Sadly, this included opium.

 also helped to make antislavery a powerful, if inchoate, part of British culture. 

Did it though? If so, how come Gladstone didn't side with the North in the Civil War? Henry Adams felt that saintly hypocrite was saying one thing but secretly helping the bad guys.

Empire raised British consciousness against slavery. At the same time, antislavery presumed British power and superiority – abolishing slavery would prove that Britain was modern, enlightened and fit to govern its empire.

This is nonsense. There already was an Empire which was being profitably governed. There was no need to prove anything in that respect. Why not say, antislavery presumed British decency? Abolishing slavery would prove that Brits were modern enough and enlightened enough to wipe their own bums rather than prance around the place with a turd protruding from their arsehole.


When the 1807 Slave Trade Act passed, Britain was at war with Napoleonic France. 
Which had reinstituted slavery.

Ending the slave trade was a way gradually to reform the Caribbean colonies, and to prevent a revolution like Haiti’s, as well as a reason to attack and search neutral shipping to look for enslaved people aboard.

Male slaves were impressed into the Army or Navy.

 The Act was a triumph for the antislavery cause, but it was also part of the war effort. Henry Thornton, a Member of Parliament (MP) and a close ally of Wilberforce, saw the Act as proof that Britain was a new Rome.

Romans owned plenty of slaves.

 ‘Civilisation,’ Thornton said in the House of Commons, ‘has always been promoted in the world chiefly by the communication of light from a civilised to a barbarous people.’ Imperial power carried new responsibilities. ‘Ought we not generally to prevent man from preying upon man?’ Thornton asked. ‘[W]e profess to act on higher principles than other countries.’
Thornton was a Merchant Banker. Having high principles has a reputational benefit in that line of work. He was a member of the Clapham Sect and responsible for the dissemination of their Tracts. He was also instrumental in founding and maintaining Sierra Leone as a refuge- or dumping ground- for freed slaves or Black people in London and other British cities. Emancipation with compensation was helpful to bankers because it increased money circulation. Wealth was no longer tied up in human bodies. 

After 1807, antislavery leaders assumed that ‘natural’ economic laws would erode Caribbean slavery. Without a supply of enslaved labour, slaveholders would need gradually to improve living and working conditions on plantations until slavery gradually disappeared. ‘I am not afraid,’ Wilberforce had told the House of Commons in 1792, ‘of being told I design to emancipate the slaves.’ However, he continued, ‘True Liberty is the child of Reason and of Order; it is indeed a plant of celestial growth, but the soil must be prepared for its reception.’ After the end of the slave trade, enslaved people would learn to be wage workers; slaveholders would learn to be employers. In antislavery rhetoric, absentee slaveholders, because they lived in genteel houses in Britain and patronised the same charities and institutions as leading abolitionists, could be partners in this project of ‘ameliorating’ the conditions of enslaved labour. If absentees returned to the Caribbean as patrician landlords, they would be unable to resist the decline of slavery, and might also help to rehabilitate a British agricultural aristocracy that seemed in decline. ‘Now the legitimate and rightful lord,’ Cowper had mourned, in a passage about the sale of old aristocratic acres in Britain, ‘is but a transient guest, newly arrived.’

There are two different points to note in this connection. Some West Indian landlords- like alderman Beckford (father of the author of Vathek)- were considered radicals (as were some 'Nabobs' from India. Their ability to purchase pocket boroughs was considered a threat to the established order by people like Burke. Ending slavery would cut them down to size. What would be even better is if they fucked off back to where they came from. 

The other point is that the Clapham sect had a theory that if slaves were forced to endure their system of education then they would understand that God wanted them to serve Whitey more obediently and productively. The same would happen in England. The working poor would understand that God would fuck them up if they weren't good and obedient servants to their betters. 

Some wealthy slaveholders shared this vision of themselves as patricians. Bryan Edwards, slaveholder, MP and historian of the Caribbean, believed that slavery was necessary to empire, but that it should be reformed. He thought of himself as a father to the people he claimed to own and, as an MP, led a movement to repeal colonial laws that allowed enslaved people to be sold to pay off debts, a common reason for family separations.

I didn't know that. I suppose he was reacting to pressure from the antislavery movement who highlighted the atrocious manner in which families were broken up.

 He restricted the use of corporal punishment on his plantations. There was little daylight between Edwards and Joshua Steele, an obscure Barbados planter who experimented on his plantation with a scheme to convert enslaved labourers into semi-indentured tenants. Thomas Clarkson, a prominent antislavery campaigner, compared Steele to Toussaint Louverture, the Haitian revolutionary hero. They were, he wrote, ‘two great men, quite unknown to each other; one of whom (Mr Steele) was concerned in preparing Negro-slaves for freedom, and the other (Toussaint) in devising the best mode of managing them after they had been suddenly made free.’ To 19th-century eyes, the distinctions among ‘progressive’ planters, antislavery activists and even revolutionary leaders could easily blur.

I think the 'elephant in the room' is race. Anti-slavery sentiments could be Christian or humanitarian but it could also be about sending black people back to Africa where some yet more cruel manner of exploiting them might be found- as indeed happened in King Leopold's 'Free State of Congo'. 
I am reminded of a lady who asked a greengrocer whether the oranges he was selling came from South Africa- which she was boycotting because of apartheid. It turned out that they were indeed South African and so as she moved away the greengrocer expressed his sympathy. His wife too had qualms about eating fruit which had been plucked by black hands.  

But ‘amelioration’ did not end slavery. Colonial legislatures resisted amelioration. Enslaved people – like the rebels who fought against colonial militias and British troops in Barbados in 1816, in Demerara (later part of British Guiana) in 1823 and in Jamaica in 1831 and 1832 – forced emancipation on to the Parliamentary agenda, but the emancipation that Parliament granted in 1833 was not what enslaved rebels fought for. Unlike emancipation in Haiti or the US, won through armed struggle and secured with radical constitutional settlements, the end of slavery in the British Empire happened by Act of Parliament, to public acclaim. On 1 August 1834, the hundreds of thousands of enslaved people in the British colonial empire were free, but most passed from slavery into ‘apprenticeship’ for four more years of forced labour.

Arguably, the slave-owner gained 'financial capital' without losing very much because cheap 'indentured labor' from India and elsewhere supplied them a ready source of sweated labour. 

Scanlan rightly observes- 
Compensation freed up capital that had been sunk into a plantation economy in decline by the 1830s, and anchored by imperial protection of colonial sugar, wavering under threat from supporters of free trade.

Moreover, the wealthy retained political and judicial power. In the mid 1860's Governor Eyre rolled back forcibly any sliver of political power acquired by urban and other more prosperous 'colored' people.

Scanlan sees the anti-slavery movement as part of Capitalism's legitimating ideology. He won't admit that the real issue was Racism- Blacks could only be tolerated as an oppressed minority regardless of economic logic. 

Antislavery aligned capitalism with morality. 

No. Christianity could align capitalism with morality but Racism was not interested in either Christianity or morality. 

The freedom to sell one’s labour did not require violent coercion
yet 'violent coercion' was used against Trade Unionists and those 'transported' for various supposed crimes. Indentured laborers were often treated worse than slaves. In Australia, there was also the practice of 'blackbirding'- i.e. kidnapping Pacific islanders and using them as slaves. 

 or treat human beings as chattel. But wage labour would do more, activists argued.

This was in connection with the demand by various Christian denominations to receive Government money in return for educating children in the doctrines of their own sects. This was a hot potato because the Dissenters and Catholics considered this a plot to strengthen the Anglican Church. Even at the beginning of the Twentieth Century there was a Civil Disobedience Movement whereby people who refused to pay their rates- so as not to finance the Church run schools- risked being sold up or being sent to jail. 

Gladstone had proposed that freed slaves receive Anglican education because of some supposed connection between Anglican orthodoxy and an obedient working class which would show deference to their social superiors. 

It would transform wage labourers into more prudent, pious and civilised subjects. The British government presented emancipation to Parliament and the public as a test of the obedience and work ethic of freedpeople. In 1833, Edward Stanley, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, told the House of Commons that freedom was an experiment ‘more mighty … than any experiment ever attempted to be carried into effect by any nation in any period of the history of the world.’ Slavery, he argued, had knocked enslaved workers far down the ladder of civilisation, convincing them that ‘the greatest of human curses is labour, so the height of human bliss and enjoyment is the relaxation from labour.’ Apprenticeship was designed to correct this misconception.

After the Great Reform Bill of 1832, the big question facing the ruling class was how to prevent the extension of the franchise to the working class- a key demand of the 'Chartists'. During this period, the claim was made that the Anglican Religion had some magical power to turn even people of African origin into deferential and obedient workers content to eat gruel while their masters gadded about in silk top hats. 

Nobody really believed this nonsense but politicians had to pay lip service to it. The other big problem had to do with the resentment of the urban middle and working classes at the high price of bread- due to the Corn Laws (which benefited aristocratic land-lords)- and the high price of sugar and other such commodities. As the cause of 'Free Trade' triumphed, the terms of trade shifted away from primary products towards manufacturing. This in turn meant that further expansion of the franchise was inevitable. 

As sugar plantations declined in the Caribbean colonies after emancipation, freedpeople were blamed for failing the ‘mighty experiment’. For a decade after 1834, reams of data were published in Britain, comparing the quantity of sugar produced by apprentices (after 1838, fully free workers) to yields from the era of slavery, and from other European colonies that still used enslaved labour. In 1846, the Sugar Duties Act introduced a schedule for the end of imperial protection for sugar.

There was a duty on slave-grown sugar. Abolishing it lowered prices for the consumer.

 Cheaper imported sugar from outside the empire flooded British markets. In 1847, at least 48 merchant banks specialising in Caribbean trade went bankrupt. Jamaican estates that had been worth £80,000 under slavery could now be had for as little as £500. Slavery remained profitable. Between 1827 and 1840, Cuba had doubled its sugar production using enslaved labour, and now claimed 20 per cent of the entire global market.

Cuba had adopted sensible economic policies. By 1818, it had Free Trade. Slavery was one factor but from 1840 onward Cuba also introduced new technology and thus raised productivity. A fall in coffee prices meant that Cuba concentrated on sugar, thus gaining economies of scope and scale. Its sugar production grew rapidly till American protectionism during the Great Depression put a ceiling on further growth. This also sparked a Revolution in 1933. 

As the British sugar industry collapsed, many antislavery activists turned to West Africa.

By then, it was known that Sierra Leone & Liberia weren't successful experiments. Nobody at the time believed West Africa could become a big exporter of food or cotton. However, a measure of 'indirect rule' was affordable on the basis of profits from gold and other luxury items. 

 Once again, free-market capitalism and free labour were touted as cure-alls. 

No. It was accepted that rule could only be indirect and pro forma in poorer regions in the interior whose administration would have to be paid for by the richer areas on the coast.

To build civilisation, by these standards, was to create conditions that would impel people to follow the ‘natural’ laws of political economy.

The French may have paid lip service to centralized rule characterized by 'homonoia' but the Brits understood that absent navigable rivers and other topographic advantages, the best that could be achieved on a tight budget was paramountcy with much of the administration being left to local potentates. 

 The argument that ‘Africa’ was undifferentiated, culturally empty and economically backward had been a commonplace for slave-traders.

The only arguments traders are interested in involve where they can buy most cheaply and where they can sell at the highest price. Drug-dealers and pimps have the same mentality. Who on earth would listen to their 'arguments'? 

 After the end of British colonial slavery, ‘darkest Africa’ was useful for antislavery imperialism.

No it wasn't. It was obvious that freed slaves would not be turned by magic into obedient servants of her Brittanic majesty, happy to toil away so that the Queen could build herself some more palaces. 

 In West Africa, Britain had two overlapping objectives, wrote the Quaker industrialist and antislavery leader John Joseph Gurney, ‘of developing the resources of the soil of Africa, and of raising the native mind.’

He was more famous as a Quaker who objected to alcohol, capital punishment and fishing. But he had nothing to do with West Africa. 

Fowell Buxton 

was a part of the Niger expedition of 1841. But quarter of the members died of various Tropical illnesses. Africa was kept safe by its mosquitoes and other disease vectors.

advocated for a larger fleet to interdict slave ships in West African waters. Gunships would not only stop slave ships; they would convince African leaders to sign treaties giving up the slave trade in exchange for commercial preferment. Europe would import finished goods; Africa would grow crops and extract minerals. Africans who might have been sold into slavery would find secure employment and civilisation as wage workers in industries useful to British importers and merchants. ‘The principles, then … are these,’ Buxton wrote: ‘Free Trade. Free Labour.’ In West Africa, forcing open labour and commodity markets in the name of antislavery cut a path for conquest.

But conquest had to be delayed till Medicine had improved and White people had a better chance of surviving in Africa.

In 1851, to secure an antislavery treaty, British warships shelled Lagos, forcing the abdication of the Oba (or ruler), Kosoko.

The Brits were were restoring the old Oba.

 A new Oba, Akitoye,
who was actually the old Oba who had been deposed

 installed by the British, 
who had been persuaded to do so by the first African to become an Anglican Bishop. An African sailor who participated in the expedition became a wealthy businessman and merchant mariner. He married a god-daughter of Queen Victoria. The fact is Nigerians played a part in the creation of modern Nigeria. 

abjured the slave trade and opened the port to British ships – free trade. Meanwhile, at Abeokuta, a town near Lagos, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) established an Industrial Institution to teach cotton cultivation to locals. In partnership with Thomas Clegg, a Manchester cotton merchant, the CMS sent missionaries, of both European and African origin, far and wide with cotton seed, gins, screw presses and other gear. Cotton exports from Lagos rose from 11,492 lbs in 1856 to 220,099 lbs in 1858 – free labour.  

While the slaves of the American South produced 2 billion bales. During the Civil war production shifted to Egypt, India, Central Asia and even Argentina. Africa's people were industrious but transport infrastructure was a bigger problem. Also, it may be that real wages were higher. 


In 1861, Britain annexed Lagos as a Crown Colony. In 1885, at the Berlin Conference, Britain leveraged its claim on Lagos into possession of the territories that were unified in 1914 as the Protectorate of Nigeria. 

This is nonsense. You can't leverage claims. Either you control territory or you don't. Portugal claimed vast territories in Africa. Everybody laughed at them when they tried to 'leverage' these claims. This was one reason why the monarchy fell. 


Antislavery was a natural partner

but to a smaller extent than anti-masturbation and anti-farting-in-people's-faces 

for a global order centred on free-trading, industrial-capitalist Britain. 

Nope. The Royal Navy was the natural partner. You can't have free trade if pirates grab your ships or enemies sink them.

It promised low-cost and highly productive labour from colonial subjects.

But anti-masturbation promises you not just that your workers will be more productive because they are no longer fiddling with themselves and jizzing, but that you yourself will no longer need to wear glasses or have hair growing on the palms of your hands. 

 Since working for wages was inherently civilising,

but only if you didn't play with yourself and keep jizzing over your work bench.

 and since low wages encouraged prudence and sobriety, to be exploited was to be educated.

unless you kept playing with yourself and jizzing.

 The campaigns against the slave trade and slavery aligned well with the interests of an industrial and capitalist British Empire.

There is no evidence that this was the case. A few Quakers and Clapham Sect type propagandists might have had some influence at a particular time but there were military and political considerations of greater salience. Essentially, the power of the West Indian planters had to be curtailed. 1832 reduced their political power. But it increased the importance of manufacturing districts which wanted cheap bread, cheap sugar and cheap cotton. The working class got sick and tired of the Bible bashers who kept telling them that the true message of the Gospel was to work extra hard for less money so that the rich could live large the way God intended. 

 The end of slavery and the beginning of free labour, the leaders of the antislavery movement promised, would secure rebellious Caribbean subjects to British rule.

Subjects weren't rebellious. Slaves were. 

 The discipline of wage labour would be a civilising force,

provided workers didn't play with themselves and jizz all over the place 


teaching thrift and forbearance to people who were believed to be mired in moral and economic depravity.

So anti-masturbation, not anti-slavery, was what was truly important. The trouble is nobody wants to read about great anti-masturbationists like myself who have urged G20 leaders to form a Bananarama tribute band rather than just play with themselves incessantly. On the other hand, BoJo should definitely jizz all over Macron till he stops trying to steal our fish. 

 As the Trinidadian historian, later first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Williams argued in Capitalism and Slavery (1944), in the era of abolition, economic conditions favoured cheap, easily exploited wage labour over enslaved labour. 
He was wrong. That's why slave sugar from Cuba took market-share from Trinidad. Anyway, Indian indentured laborers weren't exactly free. 

Antislavery Britons believed in justice and freedom, and enjoyed how their beliefs made them feel.

But antislavery Britons were also anti-masturbationists though no doubt they'd crack one off now and again to feel better about themselves. 

 But what justice and freedom meant, and Britain’s responsibility to carry them around the world by force, if necessary, were shaped by imperial power. 

Which depended on whether the use of military force could earn an economic return. 

The public celebrated. Parliament made the laws, and capital called the tune.

No. The Royal Navy called the tune. Without it, Napoleon or Hitler or some other such nutter would have colonized us. Like the Indians, we would have been subjected to fellatio and cunnilingus and thus we would have been drained off our precious bodily fluids by evil foreigners. Anti-masturbation is about Sperm Conservation. The entire planet would be knee deep in jizz but for my own global anti-jerking off jihad. Mind it kindly. Aiyayo. 

Friday, 29 October 2021

Saumitra Jha on tolerance

“They have torn down the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. We must leave tonight.”
Hindus tore down a structure which had been a mosque, but which, according to Islamic law, ceased to be so some 40 years previously. Though Bombay is hundreds of miles away from Ayodhya, Muslims there ran amok. Since they were a minority, they got stomped the very next day. It is a familiar pattern. Muslims start the riots and, if they are the minority, they take disproportionate losses within 24 hours. 

On December 6, 1992, many towns across India erupted into flames as activists destroyed a 16th-century mosque. 
Because Muslims ran amok though they were bound to get stomped. 

The Babri Masjid was commissioned by a Muslim ruler (the first Mughal emperor Babur) but had been built on a site many believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity, Rama.

That was the finding of the Court. What was more important was that there had been continuous worship of a specific deity with legal personality at that spot for hundreds of year.

Riots sparked among Hindu and Muslim communities that had lived side by side for centuries.

save when Muslims ran riot and, if in a minority, got stomped.

 Even the religiously integrated crime families of Bombay, many of their fortunes seeded with smuggling from the Middle East, saw brother turn against brother in the name of religion.

Don't forget cash from the Pakistani ISI.  

Indian politics and its occasional cousin, Indian organized crime, would not be the same. 

Yes it would. Exactly the same parties and personalities ruled before and after the riots. 

The ethnic bloodlettings of India’s past were not the ancient history that I had thought.

What is this cretin talking about? The biggest killing of Muslims occurred during Partition. The next biggest was the Nellie massacre in the early Eighties which, it must be admitted, was wholly unprovoked. 

At that time, I was in high school in the Himalayas. The morning after the mosque was destroyed, we were scheduled to take an eight-hour bus ride south to Delhi. The old heartland of the Mughal empire, the region we were to travel through had some of the most religiously mixed cities in the country.

All with Hindu majorities- so Saumitra was safe enough.

 Stories spread that, that night, groups searching for members of the ‘other side’ were pulling people off buses.

But the police and paramilitary outfits were overwhelmingly Hindu and had a taste for killing Muslims.

 We left in darkness, our bus winding through rural backroads to avoid the main highways. Though we ultimately arrived safely, I remained deeply troubled.

Quite sensibly, the lad resolved to study hard and get the fuck out of a shithole country where Muslims might suddenly run amok. 

Religious hatred and violence seemed so medieval. 

Because Mohammad Ali Jinnah lived in the 12th Century- right?

Yet, it had revealed itself even in some of the richest, most modern parts of the country. 

Which were still pretty shitty compared to anywhere in Amrika.

Why—I wondered—wasn’t India’s economic growth and development solving these problems?

Coz Muslims be kray kray. Another pair of Hindu American economists published a paper a few years claiming that when Muslims get a bit richer the first thing the do is run amok. Oddly, this was meant to be an anti-BJP paper. 

I found a path to begin understanding why, during my junior year of college, when I first encountered the work of economist Douglass North. 
This silly boy didn't realize that riots only happen if the police don't immediately kill the first bunch of nutters they run across. Why was there no rioting in Delhi- which the lad reached on his School excursion- the next day? The answer is that an IPS officer on the spot gave shoot to kill orders after a police constable was knifed. That's it. That's the whole story.

The British had created an Institution which dealt firmly with Muslims running amok. Shoot and keep shooting till everybody becomes nice and peaceful. An even cheaper way to do it is to round up troublemakers before they can get up to mischief.

On the other hand, riots make money for some connected people and police SHOs. Fixing that problem is political. It has nothing to do with institutions. 

North once worked in the study where I do now, in a COVID-friendly corner of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) that overlooks the Stanford campus.

But North wasn't so stupid as to think he'd need to go and study in India or Nigeria to understand why riots broke out in America when he was young. 

Prior to North—and the “New Institutional Economics” that he helped establish—many benchmark economic models simplified the world by assuming that individuals were perfectly rational: capable of flawlessly solving even the most complex of math problems.

But both prior and post North, economic models were and are shit. 

 Further, these rational actors often enjoyed similar information and well-defined property rights.

And thus could only exist in an Occassionalist Universe were God was the sole efficient cause. 

In this highly abstract world, the invisible hand of the market could lead to efficient (though, even then, far from equitable) outcomes.

But, in that world, there would be need for language or consciousness. 

New Institutional Economics (NIE) adopted a more rounded, if disturbing view. People are only rational at times, argued the NIE: they use rules of thumb, often conceal information, cheat, and even employ violence. Societies develop institutions—informal and formal rules—that shape how individuals navigate the complexity of the world. However, looking at history, North noted that if such institutions are ever optimal, it is “usually by accident.”

If North had looked at India he'd have seen that the relevant Institution- viz. the Indian Police Service- was optimal by design but ceased to be so whenever it was politically convenient for it to be utterly shit

This view gave me a lens to understand the puzzle that troubled me since I was as a boy. 

It didn't trouble me coz I just asked my Uncle who was a cop and he laid out the whole thing.

As societies got wealthier, one might hope that people would have better opportunities, which would make violence and hatred simply not worth it.

Why? Wealth is defined as the set of assets required to generate a given level of utility. If Society does not use violence against, and express hatred to, those who might diminish that asset sets then Society doesn't really get wealthier. 

Violence is a learned skill. Technology has made some instruments of violence highly productive and low cost per kill. That's what makes violence not worth it. This also tends to diminish the utility of hate. You may as well tolerate what you can't safely throttle. 


 But the NIE suggested that even with prosperity, sometimes even terrible social norms and formal rules could often persist and shape our thinking and behaviors.

OMG! Is this cretin gonna say Islam has some terrible social norms and formal rules? That could get him fatwa'd. 

 And, too often, trade and globalization even reinforce the incentives for coercion and violence instead.

Very true. If the Saudi Crown Prince wasn't so rich- thanks to trade and globalization- he couldn't have had Kashoggi killed in Turkey. On the other hand, America spending a trillion dollars to kill Afghans doesn't seem to have done it any good. 

To be honest, I found this view both accurate and pretty depressing. As a PhD student, I set out to try to understand what, if anything, we could do about it. Again, I was inspired by India’s example.

But everybody in India knows that if the police extern the hotheads and shoot to kill from the get go, then there won't be no fucking riots. 

India does have a history of tragic waves of religious violence. 

Which parts? Only those where Islam or Sikhism or tribal converts to Christianity can be found. Even elsewhere, proactive killing prevents the thing from occurring. How come there were no riots when the new Ram Temple was consecrated? The answer is that people were afraid of being shot. True, there were riots during Trump's visit. But a pusillanimous police commissioner was to blame for that mess. 

But it also possesses centuries-old traditions of tolerance as well;

which is why it kept getting conquered.

 its communities provide a haven for many groups fleeing religious persecution elsewhere, including Jewish, Parsi, and Muslim communities. Even within a single state, like the rich coastal state of Gujarat,

Gujarat has a percapita income of under 3000 dollars. Americans are 20 times better off.

 this contradiction was apparent. Despite witnessing appalling religious violence in 2002, Gujarat was also the homeland of Gandhi

just as Palestine was the homeland of Jesus Christ who said 'resist not evil' and 'turn the other cheek'. Yet there has been plenty of religious violence there.

and was a region with storied traditions of “ahimsa,” or nonviolence.

Unlike Christianity which tells you to go around stabbing random people. 

I wanted to understand when and why some Indian communities developed “good” rules—institutions that support long histories of tolerance—and why others remained powder kegs for violence.

This is stupid shit. Tolerance does not matter. Punishment does. We may all tolerate the fuck out of each other but still try to kill guys we are told on good authority are planning to kill us and rape our wives. 

 My PhD co-advisor, Avner Greif, had emphasized that to understand such institutions, however, you need to understand not just the rules that people adopt but the nature of the beliefs and organizations that sustain these rules. 

The man is a cretin. The rules people adopt don't matter. Is there a high likelihood that they will be immediately killed or very quickly incarcerated if they run amok? If yes, then you have peace and tranquility. It doesn't matter if, behind closed doors, everybody vents their bigoted spleen against everybody else. 

And that required diving deep into the historical and social context.

Nonsense! After the post-Godhra riots were determined, by the Indian Home Ministry, to be a Pakistani ploy to hinder troop movements to the Rann of Kutch, the Defense Minister, George Fernandes, turned up with the Army. He knew they would obey shoot to kill orders because of the imminent Pakistani threat. Also a top Cop was sent in to clear out the corrupt SHOs who were hand in glove with the 'land-sharks' and boot-leggers behind the riots. Shooting rioters and transferring corrupt cops does not require any deep diving into 'historical' and social contexts. 

To do this, I began by looking into the very first encounters of Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat and the rest of India, going back to the seventh century, studying contemporary travelers’ narratives and accounts. I traveled to Gujarat in 2006, visiting and talking to members of communities around the state that had been affected by the riots and those that had remained peaceful. And I gathered a lot of data.

It was useless. Businessmen needed to know immediately which areas would be peaceful and which would remain under lock-down. They could get this information sitting in London making a few phone calls. It was enough to speak a little Hindi- most Gujjus are fluent in it- to achieve this. By contrast, eye-witness accounts add noise to signal. 


So, where do institutions of tolerance emerge? 

There are no 'institutions of tolerance'. The Police are pretty fucking intolerant of crime- unless it pays them not to be. 

Combining the historical accounts, the fieldwork, and the data, it became clear that such institutions develop in very specific places, where two conditions were satisfied. First, Hindus and Muslims needed to have incentives to work together: for example, engaging in business relationships that complemented each other, rather than competed against one another. 

But a community which is targeted during riots loses capital and thus has a worse bargaining position. Thus, the complement becomes cheaper. Wholesale ethnic cleansing is another story. But that's about one group of displaced people having to displace others of the enemy faith. So that is about territory. Business relationships are irrelevant. 

Second, this complementarity had to be robust: it had to be difficult for one group to replicate or simply steal the source of the others’ complementarity.

Necessity is the mother of invention. After the ethnic cleansing of Partition, new 'complements' or substitutes were quickly found. Thus 'robustness' is a figment of the author's imagination. 

One important set of examples of these were ports—like Mahatma Gandhi’s own hometown, Porbandar—that had traded to the distant Middle East during the medieval period.

As had Junagadh and even Karachi. Yet Junagadh's Muslim ruler was chased away and Karachi's Hindus had to flee. Lots of Gujarati Muslims did leave for Pakistan which is why Godhra had a close link to gangsters in Karachi. 

 For one month a year, for close to a thousand years, Mecca had been one of the largest markets in the world during the Hajj—and one had to be Muslim to go to Mecca. This gave Muslims in ports—in India, but also on the African coasts, the Malay peninsula, and beyond—a strong advantage in overseas trade and shipping. And, yet, this advantage nonetheless benefited the communities they connected by sail.

Then the Portuguese and Dutch and Brits etc. showed that the Arab dhow wasn't so very wonderful after all. It is noticeable that Hindus rose quickly after the Muslims lost their maritime hegemony.

Further this complementarity in overseas trade came from a trading network that was intangible, and so impossible to seize, 

yet it was seized by Western European nations who went on to greatly surpass anything that had previously existed. Around this time Muslim power went into terminal decline in non-Muslim majority areas of the sub-continent.

and the scale of the Hajj was so large it was impossible for a Hindu to replicate.

Piracy rendered the sea-route more and more perilous. It revived once the Royal Navy established hegemony. Sadly, they discouraged the slave trade- another factor in Islam's relative decline.

 Not surprisingly, then—before being disrupted by European colonial interventions beginning in the 16th century—Muslims had dominated overseas trade across the Indian Ocean, from the coasts of Zanzibar to India, Malaysia and beyond, as far as China.

Then tiny little Portugal ended their hegemony.

Ports emerged at natural harbors along India’s medieval coasts to accommodate these trading relationships.

There is evidence they existed a thousand years before Islam came into existence.

 These ports also witnessed not just the emergence of rules but also beliefs and organizations that supported trade, inter-group trust, and religious tolerance. 

No. There was not one single Guild or Shreni with any such characteristic. Either a particular Governor or princeling supported trade or it moved down the coast. There was no continuity. Some blame Islamic inheritance law for this. This meant, on the death of a merchant, all his assets had to be liquidated for disbursal to the heirs. This meant that Joint Stock Enterprises or limited partnerships or local variations of such things could not gain purchase. It has been suggested that hereditary 'Pirs' (preceptors) played such a role. But the same problem arose as with Princes or Governors. Today you might have a sensible guy. Tomorrow you may be dealing with a nutter. 

So much so, that even three centuries later—after Muslim trade advantages had ended due to European colonial interventions, and many of the ports themselves had silted up and become inaccessible to trade—this legacy of beliefs, norms, and organizations continued to shape the way people interacted with one another. 

No. There was no such legacy- just bitter memories of Islamic oppression. Smart Gujarati Muslims- like Jinnah's dad- wanted their sons to learn English and to do business with Englishmen in the English way. Jinnah was sent to England for this purpose. He chose to become a barrister instead. 

The institutions of peace and tolerance outlived the economic incentives that had once sustained them.

There were no such institutions. Gandhi spoke sooth when he told the Bengalis that the Kathiawad where he was born was a horrible place. The Prince might send his goons to batter down your door so as to rob you and abduct your daughter for his harem. 

An example of these tolerant, local, institutional beliefs can be found in Gandhi’s own life. Growing up in the erstwhile medieval port of Porbandar in the late 19th century, he would later reminisce about the syncretic nature of his mother’s temple, with a Koran kept inside the temple itself, and the active discussions that took place emphasizing the commonalities of both religions. This he credited as an important influence on his own beliefs and approach to nonviolence.

His mummy told him that if an untouchable touched him, he should go touch a Muslim so that the curse was passed on to the Mleccha. Gandhi himself was not a Pranami like his mother. His dad was Pushtimarga but after the Maharaj Libel Case- when the head of the order was discovered to have syphilis which he was spreading to the wives of his disciples- the Arya Samaj appeared safer. Gandhi himself became a celibate after meeting, the Arya Samaji, Bhai Parmanand. 

Norms also emerged that reinforced inter-religious trade. 
Like the norm of not stabbing the other guy before conducting business. 
As Europeans increasingly threatened Muslim advantages in overseas trade, Hindus in medieval ports began to adopt a custom called “Kaala-pani” (black water)—that any Hindu who ventured overseas (i.e., in competition with Muslims) would lose their caste, and be subject to ostracism by other Hindus.

Jhas are Maithili Brahmins and were considered erudite. They knew that Samudrolanghana- crossing the ocean- was listed as a sin in the Baudhayana Sutra which might date to the 6th Century BC. Why is this Jha telling such a stupid lie? Why not say 'any Hindu who did not suck off every passing Muslim was beaten and spat at by fellow Hindus?' 

 Even in 1891, Gandhi would have to engage in a purification ritual after returning from law school in London in order to be readmitted to his community.

Very true. The poor fellow was obliged to take a bath and say some prayers. What a terrible ordeal!

Organizations also emerged to support tolerance.

No they didn't. 

Members of Muslim trading communities engaged in local philanthropic endeavors,

which supported not tolerance but philanthropy. Spain at the time of the Inquisition was not tolerant but there was plenty of 'philanthropic endeavor.

 including dispensaries and providing relief in response to cyclones.

also some people built toilets. Toilets are actually organizations which support tolerance. 

 In some places, they even endowed Hindu temples.

Some also had Hindu names.

Yet, while Porbandar had a strong tradition of religious tolerance between Hindus and Muslims,

because it is 90 % Hindu.

 it was not naturally a peaceful place in general. The strength of organized crime was such that a 1999 Bollywood movie, Godmother, had been inspired by Santokben Jadeja, a mafia don turned politician.

She was from Kutiyana, a coastal village involved in gun smuggling etc. That's why gangs from there were feared. 

 But, unlike in the modern city of Bombay, the Porbandaris did not turn on one another. Instead, later, when asked why Porbandar remained peaceful during the pogroms of 2002, a Hindu respondent mentioned that there had, indeed, been attempts to incite violence. Community members were sent bangles to signify their lack of virility in not attacking their Muslim neighbors. However, no one in the community, including the local politicians, wanted violence. And, so, it did not happen.

There don't seem to have been any Muslim gangs in the District. There was no point attacking people who were posing no threat. Alternatively, it may be that the Machiyar community has a reputation for fighting back. Why go stab some guy who just might get his blade in first?   

These patterns were reflected in the data. Despite being, on average, somewhat poorer and more religiously mixed, I found that erstwhile medieval ports had five times fewer religious riots than otherwise similar towns through the colonial era, and were “oases of peace,” even during the widespread rioting in Gujarat in 2002.

Since this guy likes movies so much, why does not mention Shah Rukh Khan's 'Raees'? A Congress Minister had arranged a terrorist explosion in Surat- which is a port. 'Raees' was the bootlegger involved. He fled to Pakistan but came back after falling out with Dawood. The police 'fake encountered' him because they had been on his payroll. 

Further, even into the 21st century, the Hindu-Muslim wealth gap was smaller in these port towns than elsewhere. 

Such gaps are irrelevant. Clearly the Muslims did not run amok and thus were left alone. 

And, even though they were more religiously engaged, Muslims in these towns were also more likely to vaccinate their sons against polio. This was an important measure of societal trust,

No. It is a measure of faith in Scientific Medicine.


 since then, like now, vaccination was viewed with fear by many.

In contrast, in other medieval towns, like Ahmadabad, where Hindus and Muslims competed, or on inland trade routes where it was easy to replicate the other’s trade network, there were much weaker incentives to build institutions to support peace.

In Ahmadabad, there was a strong incentive for land-sharks to use riots to gain control of 'chawls' and replace existing 'hafta' extortion networks. 

The historic lack of mutual trust that resulted can still be seen in the shape of the cities themselves. In old Ahmadabad, each ethnic neighborhood had gates (“pol”) that were closed at night, and sentries posted above the walls to ward off potential attacks (Figure 2).

So, Muslim rule wasn't a bed of roses. People felt unsafe. By contrast, Raj Era 'Civil Lines' neighborhoods are spacious and open. 

Surat is a port city. According to Jha's theory, it should have no 'pols'. But it does have pols and khadkis. As for smaller ports, it is evident that some houses were strongly built to resist attack. During troubled times the lesser folk would shelter under the big man's roof-tree.


Working to understand institutional change in the spirit of North and Greif, I began to realize that a lot of the problems we face today of hatred, polarization, and conflict are also very old problems.

Easily dealt with by the methods which have always worked- viz. kill or incarcerate nutters who run amok- rather than methods which have never worked- e.g. telling everybody to be tolerant.

Despite the grave challenges we face in changing such deeply embedded processes, some societies have nonetheless addressed these issues, with some success, time and again, throughout history. 

By killing or locking up nutters not endless sermonizing about tolerance.

I discovered examples where technocratic political problem-solvers had created inter-group complementarities and used new organizational, economic, and financial ideas to bring people together and to expose them to the benefits of the common good.

Market makers do that in any case. 

I now convene the Stanford Conflict and Polarization Lab, where we are conducting modern randomized control trials, inspired by some of these successful historical natural experiments. We are finding that, in contemporary field experiments, too, these ideas can build support for peace.

Till quite suddenly they don't at all because somebody forgot you need to kill or lock up nutters who run amok.

This research has also left me with some hope that we are not condemned to repeat the past, or be stuck in a morass of poor rules. Instead, such historical institutions can provide valuable clues for informing contemporary policies. Poor rules can be—and, perhaps, are made to be—broken

Very good rules will also be broken. Only enforcement matters. The Stanford Conflict and Polarization lab is a waste of space. I found this ignorant article on their website
Gandhi’s Gift: Lessons for Peaceful Reform from India’s Struggle for Democracy Rikhil R. Bhavnani & Saumitra Jha

 We present a theoretical framework that highlights two key twin challenges faced by non-violent movements in ethnically diverse countries.

Sri Lanka is ethnically diverse. Yet it got universal suffrage in 1931. India had to wait till Independence to get rid of the restricted franchise.

The first is the challenge of mass mobilization across ethnic lines.

Which Sri Lanka found unnecessary. 

 The second challenge lies in overcoming the enhanced temptations faced by members of large mobilized groups to turn violent, whether to secure short-term gains from mob action or in response to manipulation by agents who stand to gain from political violence. We show how these challenges appear to match general patterns from cross-campaign data.

Brigadier Dyer and Police Commissioner Tegart, between them, showed that there is no enhanced temptation for turning violent if you know you will be killed or sent of to rot in the Andamans. 

Motivated by these patterns, we discuss how these challenges were overcome during the Indian Independence Struggle. We argue that the first challenge that of forging a mass movement was accomplished through the brokering of a deal that took advantage of external shocks - in this case, the Great Depression - to align the incentives of disparate ethnic and social groups towards mass mobilization in favor of democracy and land reform.

But there had been mass mobilization during the Congress-Khilafat campaign. The Hindus wanted independence and 'swadesi' (i.e. Indian textiles to replace British textiles) while the Muslims were worried about the Ottoman Caliphate. Then Gandhi called off the movement and everybody realized that the departure of the British Umpire would inevitably involve a show down between the Hindus and Muslims. Anyway, British rule was better than Indian rule because, most Indians believed, Indians were shit at running things. 


 The second key challenge - that of keeping the mass movement peaceful was accomplished

by the British Imperial police who had informers and agent provocateurs all over the place. Also they found that a bit of mayhem caused the Indians to come whimpering to them for 'the smack of firm governance'. In other words, riots were good for the Brits because it reminded people of how bad things were before they came.

 through organizational innovations introduced by Mohandas Gandhi in his reforms of the constitution of the Congress movement in 1919-20.

He got people to spin cotton and pay their membership fees with yarn. That was quickly abandoned because the organization needed cash not unusable yarn. 

 These organizational innovations took the Congress movement from one dominated by a rich elite to one organized on the principle of 

getting wealthy Hindu businessmen to pay for crack-pot schemes not

self-sacrifice, selecting future leaders who could then be trusted to maintain non-violent discipline in pursuit of the extension of broad rights and public policy objectives. 

Which did not materialize. 

We conclude by arguing that a key, but hitherto mostly neglected, aspect of 'Gandhi's Gift' - the example of non-violence applied to India's independence struggle - lies in understanding these organizational innovations.

But they failed. The Brits only left because the Americans wouldn't lend them money unless they threw in the towel. Thus, Indian independence was the gift of Hitler and Tojo. 

In the body of their paper, these two cretins say

Yet, modern techniques of civil disobedience incorporated new organizational ideas that have been credited with a number of remarkable successes. These include the ceding of democratic rights to 30 million South Asians by the British Empire in the 1930s and the Civil Rights movement in the United States in the late 1950s and the 1960s

Ceylon got universal suffrage in 1931 because the elite was sensible and Anglophile and there was strong minority protection built into the Constitution. India got little because the minorities united against Gandhi at the Second Round Table Conference. 

Civil Rights succeeded in America because the State Dept. and the Army wanted it. American power would be enhanced by it. Presidents were prepared to send Federal States to recalcitrant States. 

If these two cretins are ignorant of history what of the times they themselves live in? Consider the following-

However, non-violent civil resistance has also often failed. Modern scholars of civil resistance point to the issue of maintaining ‘nonviolent discipline’ in the face of provocation as an important missing piece in our understanding of how to make civil resistance work. And on the ground, as historic episodes such as the violence of the 1942 ‘Quit India’ movement, the race riots that followed in the wake of the US Civil Rights movement, as well as the Arab Spring and the battles in Tahrir Square demonstrate, movements that begin peacefully are often prone to rapid breakdowns into violence that further facilitates repression. 

Spontaneous demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt did lead to regime change. Gaddafi put up military resistance as did Assad. The former is dead, the latter seems to have prevailed. But no organized non-violent movement was involved. Spontaneity can prevail e.g against Ceaucescu precisely because the Intelligence service is caught off guard. But organized, disciplined, non-violence fails miserably because it can be gamed by the other side. 

 The first is the challenge of mass mobilization: non-violent movements, more so than violent movements, are only effective when they are large in scale

No. A hunger strike by a venerated figure can be more effective than millions marching through the streets. There were mass mobilizations against nuclear weapons and various wars and the fact that Trump had a penis and the fact that Trump did not win the elections and so on and so forth. Stupid mobilizations fail unless stupid leaders decide to do stupid shit. That's what matters. Is the guy in charge a fool? De Gaulle ran away from the Paris students in 1968. That was cool, coz he was a French soldier and thus prone to running away. This alarmed the French because they preferred their own cowardly generals to crazy students. Anyway, the students' leaders were stupid and so De Gaulle came back.

In India, a little later, there was a mass mobilization against Indira Gandhi. She crushed it with insulting ease. Edward Heath, who had earlier declared a State of Emergency in the UK, failed miserably in his confrontation with the Unions. On the other hand a mass mobilization against Thatcher's poll tax did succeed- probably because it spontaneously turned violent. Something similar may be said about the Yellow Vests in France. 

What do our authors mean by 'non-violent mobilization? 

Let us define a ‘non-violent’ movement, in contrast, as only different from other movements in that the strategy either requires the leader to expel members who engage in looting or violence or imposes sufficient penalties on members that violence is not a preferred choice.

The Indian National Congress never had either of these two qualities. Gandhi didn't expel those who engaged in violence of any sort. Ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bihar was done by Congress-wallahs as he said at the time. 

Violence against the British or those who worked with the British was ruthlessly punished. However, the reason the British ruled India was that they were non-violent. The District Commissioner did not engage in looting or violence against the Chief Medical Officer. Indeed, British politics- unlike Indian politics- was wholly non-violent. Gandhi was pretending that Congress would be as non-violent as the Tory Party or the Liberal Party or the Labor Party. But he knew this was just pretense- a necessary one so that Indians could themselves become peaceful- not rely solely on Pax Britannica. . Sadly, the Brits were on their way out because non-violent politics is money politics and America pulled the financial plug on the Raj. Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and so forth then had to preside over a vast blood letting. Thankfully, the 'steel frame' created by the British proved its worth. Institutions like the Police and the Army could do their job provided politicians weren't as stupid as Saumitra Jha.