Sunday 30 April 2023

What Western Democracy can learn from Wakandan Monarchy

Useless University Departments were considered a good place to dump darkies so they could pursue 'Grievance Studies'. This was deeply racist. The fact is Western democracy can learn much from the ancient monarchy of Wakanda.

As a case in point, Priya Satia has an article in Foreign Policy Magazine titled  'Democracy Isn’t Just About Voting- Precolonial kingdoms challenge our beliefs about people power and monarchies.'

The fact is, dynastic Kings can enter the dimension of the ancestral sprits so as to commune with elemental forces and thus gain a type of democratic legitimacy, not to mention kick-ass super-powers denied to run of the mill Presidents of Republics- even if named Obama- who, sadly, don't have any such capabilities. Still, Biden could at least have gender reassignment surgery to show he is serious about holding the Patriarchy accountable to Queer theory's discursive practices.

For Americans who rebelled against Britain’s King George III in 1775, monarchy was another name for tyranny

No. Their rallying cry was 'no taxation without representation'. In other words, only their own Parliament could impose a tax on them. George III- who, having been born in England, had more influence than his Hanoverian predecessors- was blamed for this. 

—by definition, incompatible with democracy.

No.  A constitutional monarchy could be a democracy. The King might reign, not rule. 

This view of Britain softened over the next centuries, as many Americans drew inspiration from the British empire’s “civilizing mission” in regions suffering under “oriental” and other despotisms.

America preferred to wipe out indigenous people and transport them as slaves. Nobody gave a toss about 'civilizing missions'. Only money mattered. Some Americans did make fortunes in India- Elihu Yale and 'the King of the Hazaras' who later fought in the Civil War. Americans complained about the British Navigation Acts keeping them out of lucrative markets. These were economic grievances. It wasn't the case that all White peeps admired some small subset of White peeps who were civilizing, or failing to civilize, Priya's ancestors. 

During the Cold War especially, they saw Britain as a vital partner in a contest against Soviet tyranny,

but the Americans supported independence movements in British colonies. Eisenhower put the kybosh on Eden's Suez adventure. Nixon was greatly impressed with Tom Mboya. Britain needed the US much more than the other way around. De Gaulle, having got out of Algeria, stood up to the US. In particular, the French took exception to 'exorbitant privilege'. But that was an economic grievance. 

tolerating its monarchy as a quaint vestige in a country otherwise committed to liberal democracy.

This is stupid shit. The Americans encouraged Franco to restore the Spanish monarchy. It simply isn't true that the Americans had some great prejudice against Kings. They didn't like the Tzar, but that was a different matter.  

The bond sustained the U.S.-U.K. partnership in the subsequent war on terror, including the invasion of Iraq in the name of spreading democracy.

Blair was totes Dubya's bitch in that war because...urm...Iraq has lots of oil. Gulf War I had made a profit. The hope was that Gulf War II would be even more lucrative. But Gordon Brown cooled things with America. Instead, Sarkozy jumped in with both feet.  Incidentally, America's biggest ally in the Arab world was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Prior to 9/11, the most influential diplomat in Washington was Prince Bandar. 

But if Britain’s royals were perceived as benign ornaments, the death of Queen Elizabeth II last year launched a new global conversation about their role.

Nonsense! There was the Harry & Meghan fan club on the one hand and the Kate & William  roadshow on the other. Every one has their favorite Windsor just as they have their favorite Kardashian. 

In former colonies, such as Jamaica, where the British monarch remains the head of state, republican sentiment has gained strength.

But, nobody cares. The thing doesn't make any difference to anybody.  

Historians have highlighted the monarchy’s role in slavery and imperialism and the origins of its hereditary wealth and jewels.

Shitty, Grievance Studies, Historians may have done so. But BLM is as dead as the fucking dodo. You don't see Kamala Harris whining about being black. A more pure blooded Tambram, Vivek Ramaswamy, is making a bid for the Presidency on the basis of 'anti-woke' ideology. Don Lemon lost his job when he tried to play the Race card against Vivek. Since the latter was visibly darker, the thing failed.  

And revelations about the monarchy’s racist treatment of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have fortified the old equation of monarchy with despotism.

Thinks nobody at all. Prince Harry clearly has beef with big brother. But that beef is financial. We now understand that Prince Andrew- the King's younger brother- only gets about 250,000 quid a year. The Prince of Wales revenues are probably a hundred times that.  

In a New York Times column about a Netflix documentary on the Sussexes, American writer Roxane Gay affirmed: “Monarchies are almost never benevolent, even if they have no political power. They are often upheld with one form of violence or another.”

The opinion of an LGBTQ academic of Haitian heritage are scarcely mainstream. 

For Americans, monarchy is either ornamental or autocratic, never democratic.

Nothing wrong with seeing a constitutional monarch as ornamental.  

Yet Americans are also concerned about the reality of democracy in their own republic.

No. They are concerned about money. Priya is only writing this shite because that's how she earns money. 

They ask: Does the power to elect one’s rulers guarantee democracy?


And can democratic republics holding regular elections become deeply coercive even as they fly the flag of liberty?

Yes. Democracies can fly any fucking flag they like. Jacksonian democracy was cool with slavery and genocide of indigenous people.  

As it turns out, Americans’ narrow focus on voting has blinded them to other, more robust, forms of democratic expression practiced even in some monarchies in the past.

No such things existed. This silly lady is lying her head off.  

Behind myths about foreign despotisms are lost kingdoms


where monarchs were often actively accountable to the ruled.

Coz Atlanteans can talk to fish who, let me tell you, tend to be into accountability and actuarial science big time.  

Britons, like Americans, like to believe they invented and settled on ideal democratic practices centuries ago,

No. We only got universal adult suffrage a century ago. Indeed, Sri Lanka, in 1931, had a more egalitarian franchise than Britain. Still, we weren't as shitty as France which only gave women the vote after 1945.

merely expanding them to include groups such as women and nonwhite people who had originally been left out.

Britain never excluded 'non-white people'. Indeed, they were welcome to become Members of Parliament.  

Theirs was a monarchy that evolved to heed the will of the people. But in reality, the practices they settled on have routinely sidelined the people’s will.

A good thing. The people's will tends to be shitty.  

The Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 turned Britain into a constitutional monarchy in which supreme legislative power resided with Parliament.

No. William was a military leader. It wasn't till the Hanoverians came in that one can speak of the Crown in Parliament as being dominated by the latter. But 'Farmer George' was reasserting his authority till he went mad and started talking to trees. Even the Regent had his supporters but he fucked up so massively that the power of the Crown declined. Still, it wasn't till Victoria came to the throne that the monarch ceased to choose the Prime Minister. This was because Victoria didn't have a dick and, anyway, the Great Reform Bill had been passed.  

Parliament had curbed kingly authority, but not in the name of democracy:

this stupid woman doesn't get that democracy just meant the supremacy of the Commons. The ancient Greeks hadn't given votes to metics, slaves, etc.  

It also usurped the common rights of ordinary Britons, as the aristocrats who controlled Parliament used it to pass thousands of “enclosure acts” transforming common lands into their private property.

Which is why England didn't turn into a Malthusian shithole like Ireland. There is such a thing as a 'Tragedy of the Commons'.  

The right to vote for parliamentary representation was itself based on property ownership.

Not in some constituencies prior to 1832.  

Over the next century, popular movements emerged against this monopoly of state power—the oligarchic entanglement of the landed elite and imperial state that the radical reformer William Cobbett dubbed “the THING.”

Cobbett failed. The principle that parliamentary representation should align with economic power is what triumphed in 1832 in England and France. America, it is true, took a Jacksonian path- i.e. killed injuns and lynched niggers.  

Those who had lost common rights and lacked the right to vote had recourse to extraparliamentary modes of expressing their political will: petitions and pamphleteering enabled by radical printers, but also marches and mass meetings—in a word, crowd politics.

Which failed. General Napier- conqueror of Sindh- showed the 'Physical Force' Chartists his canons. He could blow them to kingdom come.  Physical Force was precisely what they Chartists didn't have. Radicals like Cobden & Bright succeeded in getting rid of the Corn Laws because Free Trade, at that time, was advantageous to a Britain that was rapidly industrializing. Economics trumped Agitprop. 

In such activities they drew on utopian forms of popular Christianity and radical libertarian language about the rights of freeborn Englishmen.

They crashed and burned. Once the workers were enfranchised, they tended to vote Tory or Unionist. It took the great convulsion of the First World War to open a path to power for Labor- which turned out to be more fiscally responsible than Aristos like Churchill.  Methodism, not Marxism, triumphed in 1945 but precisely for that reason, Labor was able to see that Markets weren't evil. By the Fifties, Britain had a 'Butskellite' consensus.

Many of them advocated for an expanded franchise, hoping that it would afford ordinary people political leverage in a rapidly changing society.

Yet, the dominant personality of the Thirties was Stanley Baldwin who pretended that what he really wanted to do was be a pig farmer. He claimed that his one great political achievement was to reverse the ratio of Etonians to Harrowvians in the Cabinet. No wonder, Orwell- an Etonian- lost his shit.  

Finally, with the Reform Act of 1832, the bar for property ownership shifted to allow some middle-class Britons to vote. Limited as this reform was, it was the first evolution of the franchise and suggested that others might follow—that, gradually, Britain might become a democratic constitutional monarchy.

The Reform Act was about giving increasing representation to industrial constituencies. But this meant Poor Law Reform such that 'eligibility' became more stringent. Essentially, the Work House became more fucking horrible than ever. This was why Oliver Twist was always clamoring for more gruel.  

The hugely popular working-class Chartist movement that erupted in the 1830s

failed completely 

patiently petitioned Parliament for the vote against an ominous backdrop of riots and strikes in an era of European revolution. Women’s suffrage movements emerged, too.

Working class men didn't want women to vote. Sad.  

The racial distinction of these subjects of the Crown from the millions of other riotous subjects around the empire abetted their success.

They failed completely. There were no 'riotous subjects' elsewhere. Britain was able to make settler colonies self-garrisoning and self-governing by about the end of the Civil War.  

In the mid-19th century, Britain crushed a series of colonial rebellions, sharpening the division between white and nonwhite subjects.

In Jamaica, an Australian who had been appointed Governor, did take some illegal measures. That's true enough. But, people like Kamala Harris's paternal ancestors had mixed feelings about Paul Bogle- the Baptist preacher who played the biggest part in the uprising in one particular parish.  

Just two years after a Jamaican uprising was brutally suppressed in 1865, working-class British men who were seen to have proven their “respectability”—with permanent addresses, sobriety, and savings accounts—were given the vote.

There was zero connection between these two events. Disraeli, in 1859, had tried to push through a reform act believing this would help the Tories. Lord George Russell also tried in 1860. But Palmerston refused to countenance any such thing. Thus the thing was only possible after he died. The American Civil War- the first truly modern 'total war'-  did change things. Essentially, it showed that the military power of a nation depends on its citizens' willingness to fight.  Manhood suffrage was inevitable because in the event of total war, there had to be a levee en masse. The Prussians had grasped this. It was Bismark's decision to outflank the Liberals by allying with workers which was to drive progress to 'social democracy' despite spirited opposition put up by the likes of Herbert Spencer. 

Meanwhile, Jamaica—where the minority white population had formerly ruled through a local assembly—reverted to direct British rule as a Crown colony, as security against the majority-Black population.

The plain fact is, Whites couldn't compete with Blacks on a level playing field. What can I say? African genes are simply superior. That's why Grievance Studies is needed to dumb down darkies.  

Further expansion of Britain’s property-based franchise followed in 1884.

This did make an immediate difference in the highlands of Scotland which meant that the Irish Catholic middle class too had to take a more radical direction.  

This narrative of expanding enfranchisement looks like a story of progressive democratization, at least for white men. But in important ways, it also reduced democratic participation in British politics.


As historians such as James Vernon have shown, political energies became focused on voting and elections,

which they had been in the days of John Wilkes 

guided by an establishment print culture.

which had existed in the days of Cromwell. Political energy decreased continually because people could rise up economically or, if they couldn't, could drown their sorrows in cheap gin. Also, emigration was a great safety valve.  

Privatized and institutionalized politics based on organized parties and secret balloting at times overtook more radically democratic, extra-parliamentary forms of expression.

People stopped doing stupid shite because the 'opportunity cost' had increased. You could make money or emigrate and make even more money instead of listening to ranters and running amok. The other point is that the Brits were really good at shooting or transporting nutters. This is because the property owners were highly solvent and could finance such things. Still, compromise was often cheaper and better for the economy.  

Political space shrunk;

People stopped listening to crazy ranters coz they had better things to do. 

class solidarities fractured.

Though such 'class solidarity' tended to involve killing Catholics or smashing machines.  

Women, once central to the informal politics of public spaces, were increasingly excluded from the associations of a more formally organized male social body.

Very true. They were forced to sleep outside in kennels. Queen Victoria was often whipped savagely by Gladstone.  

Meanwhile, the monarchy acquired an important cultural function, becoming increasingly revered by and dear to Britons from the 1870s on.

Why? Darwin's theories had weakened the Church. That left the Crown as a secular symbol nobody cared enough about to actively hate. 

Even at the time, the constitutional theorist A. V. Dicey

a Liberal Unionist alarmed by Gladstone's Irish policy. He only turned to Referendums as a device to prevent Irish Home Rule which he believed the English voter would roundly reject. The basic problem was that Dicey believed that the Lords had become pusillanimous and would not protect the Constitution. 

perceived that the expanded franchise had reduced democracy by reposing power in the hands of a party machine.

He was concerned with the Constitution. Also, lets face it, he just didn't want Catholic Ireland to go its own way.  

His proposed solution was to double down on voting by having people vote directly on certain issues via referendum (the mechanism through which Brexit has become a reality).

Only if the outcome was what he wanted. David Cameron made the same mistake.  

After World War I, though service to the nation became the new basis of enfranchisement, allowing unpropertied men over age 21 and women over age 30 to vote, it became increasingly clear that the British state would smother democratic desires that ran counter to its interests.

Very true. The democratic desire to run amok was indeed smothered. But this was because voters didn't have democratic desires. They wanted more cool shiny stuff.  

Having suffered profound loss, Britons were determined to assert democratic control over foreign policy to ensure their government did not embroil them in avoidable conflicts going forward.

No. The State was swinging 'Geddes axe' to cut the military budget and restore pre-war standards of living. The Chief of the Imperial General Staff gave a talk explaining that Britain didn't have the military resources to keep India, the MENA, or even Ireland. Indeed, the Army would be hard put to suppress a Bolshevik revolution. That's why during the General Strike a large number of the upper middle class enrolled as 'Special Constables' under the command of crazy Lesbians. Thankfully, both the Tories nor the Trade Unions wanted to see the backs of these demented dykes and so a compromise was made. But this did mean that Britain would have to take the path of appeasement. 

But the state found means to evade them, drawing on practices developed during the war, including propaganda, censorship, and discreet aerial forms of warfare abroad.

This is silly. Brits were cool with TE Lawrence or Bomber Harris bombing the shit out of savage tribes. Indeed, Maulana Azad hints to us, Nehru's ending of aerial bombardment of North Waziristan was one reason why the Khan Brothers administration in NWFP collapsed. Incidentally, bombing Wahabbi raiders saved Iraq in 1919. 

With such tactics, the British state sought to pursue its interests free from the check of Britons skeptical about the benefits of war and colonialism.

Quite false. The Secretary of State concerned was perfectly happy to give details of such operations- emphasizing their effectiveness (i.e. lots of wogs were killed)  because it increased confidence in Financial Markets. Brigadier Dyer boasted of machine gunning Indians and was given a very handsome reward for it. 

Many citizens realized their shrinking leverage over the state.

No. Citizens realized that if you went up to a bunch of navvies and started lecturing them on the vast number of fuzzy wuzzies being killed by some Brigadier, them guys would take up a collection for him and vote Tory at the next election. Priya doesn't get that the War on Terror was popular when Americans thought lots of rag-heads were being killed or sexually tortured. What they didn't like was Marines being killed by suicide bombers. But people only soured on that war of revenge when it turned out it meant higher taxes and higher oil prices. Killing furriners is cool only if it makes a profit. Otherwise, they must be encouraged to kill each other at their own expense. 

In 1921, in support of questioning by radical members of Parliament, a Times editorial called the government’s expansionist policy in Iraq the greatest departure from parliamentary oversight “since the days of the Stuart Kings” in the 17th century.

So what? Journalists say the darnedest things. What worried people was that the Bolsheviks had established a Kurdish Soviet and the White's were losing to the Reds without Britain being able to do very much about it. Ataturk, in Anatolia, was kicking ass. The Commonwealth Premiers were pissed off. There would be no more Gallipolis. Lloyd George would fall by the end of the next year.  

A month later, the paper endorsed Lord Islington’s letter warning that the old Crown vs. Parliament conflict had revived in the guise of a battle “between the nation and the Executive”—a view echoed by numerous supportive readers.

Lloyd George had overreached himself. Mesopotamia could turn into a money-pit. (It didn't, but French Syria did). The Greeks weren't strong enough to keep Smyrna. Worst of all, there was sympathy for the Bolsheviks amongst the working class. Nobody liked the Whites whom Britain was supporting. Geddes axe meant that foreign and colonial policy had to change. The bigger problem was that the world had changed and nobody really knew what Britain's role in that world would be. Indeed, one might say, this era only ended with either Macmillan's 'winds of change' speech or Wilson's 'East of Suez' policy. 

Many Britons, like the denizens of nominally independent colonies such as Iraq and Egypt, became doubtful about government claims, ever suspicious of a hidden hand defying democratic writ.

In Iran, that paranoia continued to exist- indeed, it is something of a joke.  

From the 1950s to 1980s, British critics concerned about the activities of the “secret state”—the “new Thing” disempowering ordinary Britons (as the historian and activist E. P. Thompson styled it)—looked to 18th-century traditions of democratic protest to assemble popular movements in support of nuclear disarmament and civil liberties.

Nobody in England gave a shit about these guys. Some Bengalis liked Thompson though they had resented his daddy.  CND was an abject failure. Greenham Common, however, was cool. But the dykes remained even after the missiles disappeared. 

Being a republic did not immunize the U.S. government against similarly engaging in covert activities to evade the check of public opinion while also bolstering antidemocratic regimes abroad.

The CIA was totes cool in the Fifties and Sixties. Then people realized it was stupid and useless. Just fucking kill Castro already. Also, fuck is MK-ULTRA? Men staring at goats? Admiral Turner's purge got rid of that sort of monkey-shines.  

In 1953, for instance, Britain and the United States jointly undertook an operation to displace Iran’s popularly elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh,

who had managed to gain some sympathy in New York. Still, he was a fool. Prof. Zaehner, Spaulding Professor of Ethics, toppled him in a manner not just suave but witty. Kim Roosevelt distributed money. He genuinely loved Persian literature and civilization.  

who was pushing back against Britain’s influence in the country and working to increase the power of Iran’s parliament vis-à-vis its monarchy. The United States then supported the Iranian monarchy’s transformation into a truly authoritarian government.

Iran either has authoritarian government or is a famine stricken anarchy. The Shah's big mistake was the 'White Revolution'- i.e. land reform. The silly man was too Lefty. He should have tried to emulate the Saudi monarchy.  

These covert capacities have stymied U.S. presidents who promise to heed Americans’ antiwar desires and end the war on terror.

No. What stymies US presidents is vested financial interests including those of Media moguls and guys who make a lot of money when oil prices rise. 

Drone operations in Asia and Africa increased under then-President Barack Obama, who was just “one man on top of a huge national security establishment,” in the words of antiwar lawyer Michael Ratner.

Obama also kidnapped and killed Osama. Voters liked that. Sadly the Benghazi attack seems to have harmed Hilary.  

To shield his failure to end the war,

he extended it. He blames Cameron and Sarkozy for this. 

Obama enveloped it in even greater secrecy.

What an American President should do is tweet details of all America's military and security and intelligence plans and personnel so that terrorists can kill Americans more easily. How can we call our country a democracy if we are not actively helping our enemies to kill our people? In a sense, a democracy which choses as its King an enemy agent is much more truly democratic and responsive to the will of the people. This is because the great mass of citizens hate their own country and want to see it go up in flames. 

The involvement of agencies such as the CIA strove to keep it out of American sight

Sadly, if you have over a million low IQ grunts with access to top secrets, everything is going to end up on Wikileaks or even some online game chat group.  

and out of American minds, rendering assent irrelevant.

Fuck assent. Just make us rich already. Fuck. That's an argument for voting for Vivek Ramaswamy.  

The United States may be a democratic republic, but it is one in thrall to a state whose institutional inertia makes it deeply antidemocratic

in the opinion of a cretin who teaches stupid shite 

—partly because of imperial priorities strikingly similar to those nurtured by Britain’s monarchical state.

Which has a nice Hindu Punjabi boy as its PM.  King Charles puts on black-face to make him feel more at home. 

OMG! I now get what Priya is really saying. The US should make Charley its King. Then Rishi will be ruling over Amrika! How changa would that be?

If modern constitutional monarchies and republics are liable to evade the check of democratic opinion, older monarchies at times proved more accountable to it.

I suppose Priya means older monarchies were more sensitive to the mood of the yokels and the menials because they lived cheek by jowl with them. What they wanted was to kill foreigners and take their cool shiny stuff. 

Indeed, the crowd politics that are often a powerful vehicle of democratic expression depend on a dynamic of reciprocity between rulers and ruled that has been at the core of past monarchical polities.

Where? Tzarist Russia? Bourbon France? Germany under the Kaiser? No. Priya means the Manchu Emperor and the Ottoman Caliph. 

In many monarchies of precolonial India, risk-sharing between ruler and ruled offered insurance against famine.

No. India like China had very big famines. The Brits reduced excess mortality and finally ended the thing altogether but the transition to Democracy meant they reappeared, at least in East Bengal. Still, it is true that famine is bad for landowners who should club together to keep their workforce together and thus prevent a fall in rents. 

Revenue payments were a share of the harvest

which still means starvation if there is a  negative supply shock. 

rather than pegged at fixed rates; rulers maintained grain stores for times of need.

So do speculators. Arbitrage is a good thing. Preventing excess mortality is good for business.  

As historians such as Ravi Ahuja and Prasannan Parthasarathi have shown, this paternalism arose not out of monarchical benevolence but in response to ordinary people’s demands, which acquired potency through the threat that they might otherwise seize grain by force or withdraw their labor from—and thus their consent in—the regime.

If the regime collapses you get an invasion. Things might get worse as the foreigners start enslaving you and grabbing your cool, shiny, stuff.  

Political elites had an interest in performing charitable acts that shored up their status.

Merchants and landlords had this same interest but even more strongly. If the labor force contracts, rents and profits decline. However, real interest rates might rise.  

Creative democratic visions fortified some polities. As historian Priya Atwal has shown, the Sikh kingdom in Punjab was the product of marital alliances between clans and thus depended on a sense of common destiny.

But there were and are 'martial alliances between clans' even without there being any kingdom or sense of common destiny. Sikh power was established by Sikh military prowess. Martial qualities not matrimonial alliances mattered back then. Plenty of priestly or mercantile families have complicated marriage alliances. But they don't rule shit.  

Still, in some parts of Britain, marriages were arranged to put an end to feuds. Viceroy Dufferin's marriage in 1862 had this aspect. The Scottish aristocracy has long memories. 

Sikh political thought further ensured that Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingly authority depended on partnership with the Sikh Khalsa Army, which was infused with an ethos of collective kingship.

What happened to that ethos? The plain fact is Ranjit's military genius was of no common order. But, he was also a superb manager of people. Still, it is a fact that the Sikhs were just great at cultivating the land and rising in commerce or the professions as they were good at fighting. The Brits were careful to nurture and cultivate the Sikh ethos though, sadly, the plan to resettle Sikhs in Canada met opposition from the Whites there. 

Despite this dynamic and relatively functional political culture, the British saw the Indian subcontinent as mired in so-called oriental despotism,

Whereas the truth is most parts of India were ruled by LGBTQ anarcho-syndicalist Soviets. Also, most Indians were from Norway 

a backward form of rule in need of eradication by Europeans bearing the wisdom of Western liberal democracy—albeit holding off on bestowing it until South Asians became supposedly fit for it.

The truth is India was not backward at all. It was on a par with the Kingdom of Wakanda. That is why the Indian could easily defeat European Armies and Navies. Sadly some mean Professor told the Indians that they were backward and Oriental. That is why India became a colony.   

Meanwhile, British commitment to liberal political economy wreaked havoc on the reciprocal relations that had sustained Indian governance.

Indian governance was so great that any small bunch of European merchant adventurers could take over large swathes of the country yielding rich revenues. On the other hand it is true that the LGBTQ collective which ran Punjab had to give up reciprocal fisting when Queen Victoria signaled she was so not amused. 

Where they ruled, the British adopted a policy of non-interference in times of dearth.

Then they discovered this meant loss of revenue. They had to do the sensible thing. That's how enlightened self-interest works. Nehru, on the other hand, thought India should be fed by America which should also give lots of 'free money' coz Whitey said mean things  

Laborers lost other means of empowerment

I suppose she means thugee, pindari and other forms of 'social banditry' 

as colonial economic priorities transformed the environment. The power to withdraw labor,

i.e. to either starve or become a bandit 

the very mobility of the poor, became a particular bogey to a colonial state

No. The Brits were cool with landowners bringing in cheap labor from tribal areas- e.g. the Chota Nagpur plateau. Their own plantations did so including those in the West Indies, Fiji etc. Empires, from the time of the Assyrians, have been about encouraging mobility. The Brits made investment in agricultural land safe and increasingly (because of population growth, for a Ricardian reason) profitable. This in turn made being a barrister very profitable. Sadly those barristocrats turned seditious and screwed over vast numbers of people who had grown complacent under Pax Britannica. Some of those worst affected ended up immigrating to Britain.  

determined to discipline the society it was governing, sparking the invention of concentration camps to detain famine victims.

To feed them. They might think they'd be better off trying their own luck away from the camp, but they would be wrong.  

The empire’s minions affirmed that “despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement”—as East India Company bureaucrat and philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in his 1859 essay “On Liberty.”

He was a minion of a Commercial Company not of the Empire. 

In many cases, these transformations occurred while Indian elites remained nominally in power.

But they also happened in England where English elites remained nominally in power. In fact everything happens when some elite or the other is nominally in charge.  

But even kingdoms that withstood the encroaching British threat saw major change that ultimately sealed their fate. The influence of British patriarchal norms in the Sikh kingdom,

Punjab was ruled by LGBTQXYZ activists 

for instance, triggered questioning of women’s involvement in Sikh rule (which the British contrasted to the more discreet, symbolic, matriarchal role of their own queen, Victoria), dooming the last Sikh queen Rani Jindan’s bid to defy British conquest in the 1840s.

If only the Sikhs hadn't questioned 'women's involvement in Sikh rule' they would surely have prevailed. Furthermore, if they had fully embraced a transgender identity, they would have conquered Delhi. Now, if only they had granted equal rights to animals and plants, they would rule over the Universe.  

Some states, such as Tipu Sultan’s Mysore, became intensely autocratic in the course of transforming into fiscal-military states along European lines in order to resist the British.

Mysore didn't want a Muslim ruler. Equally, Muslims in Punjab and Peshawar didn't really want Sikhs to rule over them. As for 'fiscal-military' states, either you have some such thing or you get conquered. Sad.  

The creation of the kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir as part of the unraveling of the Sikh empire exemplifies the way British colonialism undermined democratic checks

which didn't exist then and which don't exist now 

on Indian monarchy. In 1808, Ranjit Singh, the maharaja of the Sikh empire, annexed Jammu to his kingdom. But he soon co-opted Jammu’s Dogra Rajput rulers into his own administrative structure, making Kishore Singh (followed soon after by Kishore’s son Gulab Singh) the raja of Jammu under Sikh rule—another instance of the Sikh kingdom’s reliance on partnership among powerful chieftains and its complex conception of sovereignty.

Dogras were good fighters. Under capable leadership they too would have had an expansionist kingdom just like the Gurkhas of Nepal  

Gulab Singh was given taxation rights over lands in Punjab, too, and emerged a powerful figure in the Sikh court.

Because of lack of democratic checks. Also LGBTQ activists were not properly insisting on transparency and accountability. Same thing happened under Obama when Hilary emerged as a powerful figure.  

Gulab Singh expanded the empire into Kashmir (then under Afghan rule); his nephew was the empire’s prime minister. Eventually, this Dogra dynasty nurtured ambitions to ascend the Sikh throne themselves, attempting a coup in 1843 and extracting much of the kingdom’s treasury to Jammu. Finally, they colluded with the British conquest of the Sikh kingdom;

The truth is that the Afghans and Muslim Punjabis would have taken control back from the Sikhs had the Brits not intervened. That's why Sikhs became loyalists. 

and in 1846, the British rewarded them by selling them a new, separate kingdom of “Jammu and Kashmir.” It was the largest “princely state” (that is, territory that the British ruled indirectly through a local monarch) in the subcontinent.

It was a shithole. The avaricious Dogra may have been bad, but the Afghans had been worse. 

Such commodification of sovereignty was integral to the functioning and expansion of British colonialism, as historian Steven Press has shown,

Fuck off! The Brits didn't commodify sovereignty and sell themselves to the highest bidder. It is a different matter that the East India Company- like its predecessors in the sub-continent could sell off Diwanis or whole Kingdoms. Indeed, the Durrani Afghans had initially put Kashmir under a Hindu who rebelled. After he was defeated Kashmir's worst days began. The Sikh invasion was initially welcomed but proved little better. If only J&K had come under direct British rule, it could have progressed greatly. The people are smart and industrious.  

and radically altered the process of monarchical legitimation.

Monarchs became legitimate by killing anybody who might want the crown- more especially if they were blood relatives. 

The fateful Dogra-British deal is the root of Kashmir’s misery:

Because the Brits invented jihadi Islam- right?  

As historian Mridu Rai has written, British backing enabled Dogra rulers to impose a highly personalized and decisively Hindu sovereignty over the majority Muslim population of Kashmir,

which is fond of killing Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Some British backed Dogra prevented this for about a century. How deeply unfair! A proper LGBTQ anarcho-monarchy would have encouraged kaffirs to kill themselves after handing over their daughters for rape. 

“erasing earlier traditions of layered authority shared simultaneously by various levels of Kashmiri society.”

No such thing existed under Afghan rule.  

In 1947, the Dogra king acceded the state of Jammu and Kashmir to independent India,

because Muslims invaded just as they had done during the Second Round Table Conference.  

without the assent—or any effort to secure the assent—of the Kashmiri population. His rule had never depended on local assent, but instead on British support.

Sadly, rule which depended on 'local assent' was always so much shittier that the place got invaded and the locals were enslaved.  

All this is not to say that Indian monarchies and empires were utopic before British intervention, but that there were rich political cultures in place to hold monarchs accountable when they became extractive or oppressive.

Not in Punjab or J&K (or anywhere else). Either a monarch kicked ass or Afghans or Sikhs or Marathas or Pindaris invaded- unless of course the people had given up any type of productive work and taken  to cannibalism.  

This moral purchase explains why Indian monarchs proved such compelling and influential leaders in the massive rebellion against British rule in 1857.

No. Sikh Princes were enthusiastic allies of the Brits as were several other serene Highnesses. The Mughal Emperor was useless. Some Maharshtrian Brahmins- including the Rani of Jhansi- were effective but they were not monarchs. Even the Rani was only a regent. 

Indeed, realizing these monarchs’ enduring claims on Indian loyalty, the British resolved to make better use of them after that rebellion. After 1858, areas that had been governed directly by the East India Company came under Crown rule. But further British expansion would take the form of indirect rule through local rulers, these so-called princely states comprising roughly 40 percent of British territory in the subcontinent. Rulers submitted to treaty relationships with the British in India, paying a subsidy

or receiving one if too poor 

and ceding control of foreign policy in exchange for protection from internal risings and external threats. The states’ deepening indebtedness to the British effectively signed away considerable control over internal affairs, too.

A good thing. Still, as Mahatma Gandhi pointed out the main recreation of the Princes was raping and robbing their own subjects. 

Though Indian monarchy survived, these colonial arrangements disempowered ordinary people.

In particular LGBTQ collectives lost their power to hold elected politicians to account. Under the Moghuls, lesbian auditors would frequently force the Grand Vizier to fist himself vigorously so as to demonstrate that he hadn't hidden any embezzled money up his prison purse.  

Propped up by the British, monarchs no longer had to accede to their subjects’ demands,

Previously, the Nizam would perform Hindu ceremonies at the behest of the Hindu majority amongst his subjects.  

and Indian monarchy acquired a new authoritarian style.

Previously, when they executed people or conducted massacres, they did so in a democratic and egalitarian style.  

Meanwhile, British officials continued to propagate the idea that India’s princely rulers were corrupt, petty despots

which they were 

to justify continual interventions in their realms

e.g. preventing a Prince killing his relatives or robbing and raping his subjects 

—a stereotype that haunts historical understanding of them today.

because the truth has that unfortunate habit.  

In Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, the British likewise partnered with chiefs, princes, and pashas against anti-colonial elements.

No. Princes- e.g. the Gaekwad- often allied with 'anti-colonial' elements. Sometimes this was because Princes were patriots. At other times, it was a strategic move so as to increase their own power.  

The resolutions of the 1945 Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England, which sought an end to colonial rule, spelled it out: “The democratic nature of the indigenous institutions of the peoples … has been … replaced by autocratic systems of Government.”

This was a fantasy but not laugh out aloud funny at that time. However, it soon would be. Wealthy Ghanaians soon regretted bringing Nkurmah back to take over from the Brits.  

It is difficult to generalize about these myriad precolonial states, as their histories are locally rooted. In South Asia, the Gandhian movement sought to recover the democratic precolonial culture of the panchayat, or village councils,

which Ambedkar opposed coz village panchayats were shitty 

but we have yet to fully grasp or redeem other political customs and possibilities nurtured in states the British taught the world to think of as stagnant and dissolute backwaters.

Nobody was interested in anything the Brits taught once they fell behind Germany and America.  

Yet doing so allows us to recognize, as economist and philosopher Amartya Sen did decades ago, that democratic practice is not limited to elections as invented by the West.

And yet India is sticking with the type of election invented by the West. Sen isn't prancing around in a dhoti. He wears tweed jackets and teaches at Harvard.  

Indeed, a too-narrow preoccupation with elections has caused many societies, especially Western ones, to devalue forms of public deliberation and collective action essential to security against oppression.

Very true. Why does Rishi Sunak not attend meetings of the LGTQWYZ collective? How come he is not vigorously fisting himself in solidarity with disabled goats in Guatemala? How can gain security from oppression when Biden obstinately refuses to have gender reassignment surgery every Tuesday?  

In drawing attention to monarchies’ possible responsiveness to democratic will,

e.g. in the Kingdom of Wakanda. 

my aim is not to encourage a turn to monarchy, but to

babble nonsense so as to qualify for further affirmative action. Basically, this broad is pretending her ancestors suffered worse things at the hands of Whitey than African American slaves or the autochthones of the Americas.  

discourage a too-easy equation of a voting republic with democracy—an equation that Americans arrived at through the influence of British colonial thought.

No. America was an actual voting republic. After the Civil War, the Brits extended the franchise in a Jacksonian manner. British colonial thought didn't matter to any one.  

The British idea of oriental despotism was

true. The question was whether the Sublime Porte could reform itself and go on the offensive. The answer was no. The 'sick man of Europe' would get sicker. What was surprising was that the Young Turks worsened things. Then came Ataturk who imposed the Roman script and who got rid of the Fez. Turkey was no longer Oriental. After the War it even became somewhat democratic.  

a self-serving myth that stoked misunderstanding of precolonial monarchies and forgetting about cultures of common rights and collective action in Western societies.

The misunderstandings of stupid, powerless, people didn't matter in the slightest. When stupid, powerful, people misunderstood something, lots of blood and treasure was lost and finally those stupid people lost power or their memory was consigned to obloquy. 

Gay is right that monarchies are upheld by violence,

but violence is upheld by economics. Killing people costs money. 

but so too are the states of many republics—especially those harboring imperial agendas of eradicating “despotism” elsewhere.

But they stop harboring such agendas when it proves too costly in blood and treasure. In the end, only economics matters. 

Questioning our assumptions about monarchy as the “other” of democracy

is silly. Plenty of monarchies are democratic. But they could as easily be Fascist or Socialist. 

helps us reflect on what real democracy entails.

Priya is too stupid and ignorant to reflect on anything.  

Democracy is not the endpoint of a process of political evolution from an original state of anarchy or tyranny; it is the continual collective struggle for liberation in every kind of polity.

Nope. It's just a name given to a particular type of political arrangement. The thing has no essence or magical power.  

“Democracy is not a settled state, but a shifting expression of collective will,” one British journalist reflected in the Guardian after the massive 2019 march against Brexit.

 An utterly meaningless observation. If a collective will exists then its expression will shift from time to time irrespective of the form of government. 

This is the culture that drove and was nurtured among the Indian farmers who joined what was likely the largest protest in history in 2020-21.

Few Indian farmers participated. They wanted a rent-strike but that wasn't on the table.  

It is a culture of empowered political agency, a sense of the sovereignty of every human being.

It is stupid shite. Ukraine shows that 'empowered political agency' only exists if people will pick up guns or brew up Molotov cocktails to reclaim sovereign territory from an invader. 

This is what anti-colonialism was fundamentally about:

talking bollocks while the guys paying for the bollocks-talkers improved their economic position- unless the opposite happened coz they were as stupid as shit.  

rediscovering personal sovereignty.

Personal sovereignty is not enough. We must decolonize our colons by granting independence to our intestines and assholes. Let them go where they will shitting on the heads of stupid Professors.  

For thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi, swaraj (self-rule) was about

sleeping naked with his grand-nieces so as to gain superpowers 

unlearning capitalism and colonialism’s denial of mutual obligation to become, once again, an ethical being:

This involved taking plenty of money from Birla and Bajaj and Sarabhai and so forth 

“It is Swaraj when we learn to rule ourselves,” Gandhi wrote, echoing thinkers such as Leo Tolstoy. “It is, therefore, in the palm of our hands.”

So long as his dick wasn't in the palm of his hands, we didn't object too much.  

Anti-colonialism’s objective was an “enlightened anarchy in which each person will become his own ruler.”

and grant independence to his own asshole so it could shit on his own head.  

The goal of human life is

not to fucking die- at least not immediately 

self-rule—each of us monarchs unto ourselves.

Why stop there? Why can't we be Popes unto ourselves? Also we can be our own rape counsellors if by chance we happen to sexually assault ourselves. The problem here is that we might become our own Professors and award ourselves PhDs in every subject under the Sun.  

This is a cultural ideal that resonates even with Americans who, despite their allegiance to a republic, embrace stories about fairy-tale queens and princes as vehicles for working out ethical ideals.

Also, as a vehicle for porn. You should see what Prince Harry does to Prince William behind the pay-wall of the Buggers of Buckingham Palace website. 

It is the radical libertarianism that animated the 18th-century English working classes

had actually existed there would have been no fucking England in the Nineteenth Century. The place would have been called La France d'outre-Manche

and the mutually committed members of the Khalsa Army.

why not mention the Khalistani Army? They are certainly fit to be committed.  

As we continue to wrestle with the legacies of colonialism, it remains a democratic vision to which we might aspire, together.

Satya will take over 'Waris de Punjab' to restore the rule of LGTQWXYZ coalition in a revived Khalitan. The sad thing is she might do a better job of things than the clowns currently running things there. 

Meanwhile, I aspire to watch the latest Marvel offering re. Wakanda on the Disney Channel. Western Democracy will never be the same again.  

Saturday 29 April 2023

priscae vestigia fraudis

Brand plucked from Dvivedi's Vashkarni at Samaldas
You crossed Black Waters, Mohandas,
Con now- 'Sic te diva potens Cypri'
English hard for Sanskrit slippery.

'Twixt Dad's Pushtimarg & Mum's Pranami Dhera
sic fratres Helenae, lucida sidera
To divide a Stella Maris ; twin djinn Fury 
 Ind's Ashvins- the Drink's Dioscuri!

Hoping to make it big, in horsehair wig, Babus who Horace peruse
Become but the Stagirite's Porus- worthy of Sen-tentious abuse
Till on 'priscae vestigia fraudis' Bapu pauses, determines our causes
Propemptic to Ezekiel's Miss Pushpa tossed to Tarshish Waters
Alas! Mohandas!
E'en Nahars, utterly Martian, have daughters.


That it, our every betterment, yet besiege
Peace hath a Prince! Not Love a Liege.


Horace had written a 'propemptica' or 'bon voyage' poem to Virgil in which he reproached the impious invention of the Mariner's craft. For the young Mahatma, who had 'lost caste' by crossing the 'Black Water', this particular poem, which he might well have studied- if only to matriculate and to gain a better handle on the 'Roman Law' paper he needed to pass to qualify as a barrister-  would have been didactically linked to Virgil's 4th Eclogue- in which it is written, of the Millenarian Age to be established by the Universal Emperor, - pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis, quae temptare Thetim ratibus, quae cingere muris oppida

In  Timothy Ades translation-  

Few traces will survive of such old frauds
As Shipping, Agriculture and Defence

This is pretty much a description of Nehru's policy for India. Sadly, his daughter rebelled a little. What to do? Women are like that only. 

Friday 28 April 2023

Satia's Sanghera- decolonizing the colon

Franz Fanon was from Martinique- which is not a colony but a part of the Republic of France and thus of the EU.

Fanon spent some time in Algeria which was settled by French people. The indigenous Arab majority, however, weren't too happy with these invaders and, I suppose, were glad to see the back of them.

Priya Satya and Sathnam Singh Sanghera are of Indian heritage. British Rule in India was nothing like French rule in Algeria or, more sadly for us Babus, Marinique's participation in the EU. 

Yet Priya, writing of Sathnam's new book in the Nation, begins her review by mentioning Fanon. For heavens sake, why? India, which was never a settler colony, had been independent for a decade by the time Fanon got to Algeria. 

For anti-colonial thinkers of the last century, decolonization was not a mere transfer of power. It was about reparation, including repair of the self.

Not as far as India or Kenya or Egypt of any other actual African of Asian country was concerned. The indigenous people wanted the interlopers out. Also they wanted to move into their nice shiny bungalows and offices. Still, for economic reason, they might tolerate the continued presence of some Europeans. But there was zero need to 'repair the self'. Getting back to the ancestral religion was a different matter. Repentance or 'metanoia' may have been required. But giving up Gin and Tonic and reverting to traditional garb, did not involve any great spiritual repair or reparation. The thing was salutary. 

It is good to change your habits- especially as you get older. There were plenty of Europeans who thought they should give up their Citified ways and an addiction to cocaine and move back to the countryside so as to grow their own turnips.  At any rate, that is what I was told by such Europeans as I was acquainted with before I took to dropping in on them so as to read out my latest translation from Dante, Goethe, or Sir Mix-a-Lot. 

“Decolonization is the veritable creation of new men,” wrote Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth.

Fuck would he have known about it? The fellow was as French as onion soup. God alone knows how he was supposed to cure Arabic speaking lunatics. 

I suppose, ex-slaves or the descendants of serfs might have divided loyalties or what Du Bois called 'Double Consciousness'  or may have experienced cognitive dissonance. But Sikhs- Sanghera is a Jat Sikh- experienced nothing of the sort. The Brits had encouraged their religion and, in Sikh regiments, British officers encouraged and led Sikh forms of worship. Moreover, Lahore University, unlike Calcutta University, was 'Orientalist' from the first- i.e. greater stress was placed on learning Persian and Sanskrit- while British policy was favourable to the development of Punjabi language literature in the Gurumukhi script though administrative records continued to be maintained in Nastaliq. 

As Jean-Paul Sartre made clear in a preface to the book, decolonization was equally required of former colonizers: “Let’s take a good look at ourselves, if we have the courage, and let’s see what has become of us.”

The Whites in Algeria hated Sartre and tried to kill him. The Algerian conflict was nothing like anything seen in the British Empire. Sartre was supposed to be some sort of Leftist philosopher. His country was pretty shitty and had seen plenty of collaboration with the Nazis. The French did need to take a good look at themselves and become a little less shitty. This also involved telling their Philosophy professors they were stupid and worthless. Fanon, poor fellow, was bucking for promotion by sucking up to these nutters. Foucault had a good Psychiatrist who did some original work on lithium salts. The Maoists forced the fellow out of Medicine. But he had a good prose style- i.e. could write vacuous bollocks- and thus got in to the French Academy.  

But the “new humanism” envisioned by these thinkers could not flourish, as first the Cold War,

which was in full swing when Fanon & Sartre were writing stupid shite. Indeed, the Americans were backing nutters like Sartre (John Ford hired him to do a screenplay for a Freud bio-pic), Derrida, Foucault etc. precisely because they were stupid and useless and thus bound to embarrass or run afoul the mainstream French Communist party.  

BTW, India was ahead of France in that women had the vote and Communists were free to organise and fight elections. Incidentally, Ranajit Guha, representing the Indian Communist Party, had visited Paris as part of Alexander Shelepin (the future KGB chief who was believed to have gotten rid of Kruschev) World Democratic Youth Conference for fucking to death not just Democracy, not just Youth, but the whole fucking World. 

Guha was just 5 years younger than Shelepin. But then, M.N Roy had been Lenin's man in China, which is why the guy ran away to the safety of a brief spell in a British Indian jail cell. Sarojini Naidu's elder brother- Chatto- wasn't so lucky. He either starved to death in Moscow or died in a Gulag. 

My point is, India was ahead of France as far as Lefty Lunacy was concerned. True maybe Communism might not arrive in Peking by way of Calcutta but- thanks to Rajni Palme Dutt and the Gaekwad giving 5000 quid to the Labor Party in 1918- it was not wholly absurd to suggest that Communism might come to Paris by way of Saigon and Algiers, or that Dutch tulips might flame red thanks to a virus imported from Djakarta. 

Satia and Sanghera- being second generation shitheads too stupid to become either Rishi Sunak or Vivek Ramaswamy- must try to glom onto a genuine grievance their Muslim brothers and sisters might have- viz Bush/Blair's brutal war of revenge which under Obama Mama just turned into stupid-greedy, self-defeating, shit. 

and then the so-called War on Terror,

which failed almost immediately. By 2004, Iran was emerging as the major beneficiary. By 2014 it was triumphalist. Iran boasted of controlling four ancient capitals- Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sana. This wasn't too far from the truth. 

The plain fact is that the financial crash at the end of Dubya's reign put paid to any notion that the West would shape, and profit by, the 'New World Order' (or 'Rules Based Comity of Nations'). Obama and the Arab Spring was an Indian Summer of hope before wintry clouds drew in.  

hindered the emancipation of decolonizing nations,

They were decolonized long ago. Fanon's Algerian heroes briefly flirted with radicalism in the Sixties but soon turned into a kleptocratic junta which, in the Nineties, crushed the Islamists.  

renewing the commitment to the ideas of Western civilizational superiority that had long upheld Western empire.

Portugal kept its Empire longest. Nobody thought it had civilisational superiority precisely because everybody admitted that its people were very good and decent and just lovely to get along with.

In recent years, however, calls to reckon with the West’s imperial past have regained a sense of urgency.

Fuck off! Nobody gives a shit. The UK is run by a guy called Rishi Sunak. A brash young man named Vivek Ramaswamy is running for President of America.  Both are very very fucking rich. But they didn't study worthless shite at their very expensive Colleges. 

The United States, Britain, and other nations in Europe are now the scene of insistent questioning of the public glorification of slavers and imperial “heroes,” the provenance of museum collections, and the inequalities dating from the colonial era that are shaping the impact of the climate crisis.

The thing is a fucking nuisance. Still, if it permits Governments to get rid of History from School curriculums, good can come out of bad. 

But as the British journalist Sathnam Sanghera drives home in his new book, Empireland, widespread ignorance about the past

such as that which he himself displays. Don't forget Kwarteng's PhD was in shite of this sort. He managed to fuck up the British economy more quickly than any other Chancellor. Clearly, studying History makes you thicker than shit.  

has made coming to terms with it exceedingly difficult. Sanghera sardonically proposes an “Empire Day 2.0”—an update to the pro-empire holiday that was part of the British calendar from 1902 to 1958—to promote awareness about an imperial past that continues to elude British consciousness, despite the innumerable quotidian ways in which it infuses the country’s language, economics, food, state institutions, demography (including Sanghera’s very existence as a Sikh Briton), and more.

Sanghera supports compulsory repatriation of New Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. They were only able to settle in Britain because of the Empire which was very evil. Let us rid ourselves of this horrible reminder of those disgusting darkies who suckered us into ruling over them.  BTW, I iz not bleck. It's just that I don't wash regular coz, according to a little known provision in Magna Carta, only Super-Models are allowed to lick the dirt of my lily-white skin.

Confronting this past is crucial to contending constructively with the United Kingdom’s public history, racism, relations with Europe, pandemic management, and more.

No it isn't. Rishi Sunak's family contended constructively with whatever was negative about UK history. Follow that example by all means. Don't bother with Sanghera. Affirmative action can only go so far. The guy has nothing interesting to say.

Sanghera describes his own journey in making sense of the imperial past, which began in 2019 when he visited Punjab—where his family is from—while making a documentary for the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar, where British forces

Indian soldiers commanded by a British soldier born in India whose family owned a famous brewery. Brigadier Dyer went on to lead Indian soldiers to victory over the Afghans a short while later. He was made an honorary Sikh by the priests of the Golden Temple. Sadly, he forcibly enrolled the entire Amritsar bar as special constables and forced them to do work they thought degrading. That's why their fellow lawyers across the length and breadth of India went crazy.  

killed hundreds of Indians gathered in a city park. Visiting the Jallianwala Bagh memorial, Sanghera learns the true extent of the brutality and injustice of the 1919 massacre and its place in a longer history of British violence toward and racial humiliation of Punjabis

there was no such history. Some Punjabis had killed or molested Whites and Dyer took revenge. This worked. The struggle shifted to one against not Whites but the Udasin Mahants. Olivier, as Secretary of State, came down on the side of the Akalis. It was the Arya Samajis whom the British Governor considered mutinous.  

—a past entirely left out of his high school history curriculum.

The thing is not left out of Indian school curriculums. But Sanghera's parents didn't send him home for his education. They paid a lot of money for him to study in England.

In any case, what are a few hundred deaths compared to the million Sikhs that the Akhal Takht claims were killed during Partition? The Khalistan insurgency may have had a death toll of at least 30,000. The Brits were the best thing that happened to the Sikhs- at least in the opinion of some of their own leaders and intellectuals.  

What he knew of the British Empire had, if anything, left him feeling vaguely proud as a Sikh—a community he’d long believed had done well under it.

This is perfectly true. 

The Koh-i-Noor diamond, which had once belonged to the Sikh king,

who took it from an Afghan King who had swallowed it and was forced to shit it out 

was now among the crown jewels as a symbol of “great British-Sikh relations,” he’d thought, but the scales fall when he learns that the diamond had been seized by the East India Company and that its return has been demanded ever since.

The scales fell from my eyes when I discovered that Iyerland- which I believed the Brits had specially created so as to house drunken Iyers like myself- had been run over by half Marathi leprechauns named Varadkar. 

Sanghera reflects on his miseducation as he discovers the reality of British rule in Punjab

which was very good compared to what went before or what came after- at least from the Sikh point of view 

and realizes how colonial racial notions haunt even the psyche of formerly colonized people—including those now living in the metropole.

Very true. His parents fled General Dyer and came to settle in Wolverhampton because there are no White peeps there- innit? What haunts the psyche of young Punjabis is the prospect of getting a visa to Canada or Yurop or Amrika. On the other hand, now Amritpal Singh has been arrested, perhaps Sanghera will put on turban and take over the leadership of Waris Punjab de.  

Sanghera offers his book as an audit on British historical education, revealing the carelessness with which British children are taught their country’s history.

Us Brits don't want to know about shitty colonial wars. Just tell us about how the Europeans, headed by a bloke named Caesar, invaded Britain till Nigel Farage rose up and told him to fuck the fuck off back to Brussels.  

Even the world wars are whitewashed, with history lessons ignoring the enormous contributions of Black and brown people to the British war efforts.

They contributed less than a quarter to the war effort. Frankly, the Imperial game was not worth the candle from the Defense point of view.  

For Sanghera, this exclusion from episodes central to “our national story” was his education’s “most serious and painful omission.”

He should have been taught about how British workers had previously killed or otherwise ejected immigrants who were prepared to work for low wages. Come to think of it, the Brits were one of the first countries to expel the Jews. My point is, an accurate account of English history would have had White kids signing up with the BNP. 

At a reunion for his grade school, Wolverhampton Grammar, he finds himself newly conscious of the “imperial tone” of Britain’s public schools and how they celebrate empire

rather than telling wogs and nig-nogs to fuck off back where they came from 

while avoiding teaching about it. “Education,” he concludes, “can be a tool of colonialism.”

This man is a tool right enough. He may appear educated but he is as thick as shit.  Still, his parents spent good money to get him into a posh school so maybe he is thick in an upper-class way- like Kwarteng, or BoJo. Shit. Sunak too is probably thick. There goes my pension!

It may surprise some that a Briton today needs to prove

to earn a little money and get affirmative action 

the imperial roots of things like Britain’s racial diversity and racism.

Britain should have clamped down on coloured immigration in 1947. Apparently, it was the Governors of West Indian colonies who insisted on no Visa barriers for the 'Windrush' generation so that emigration serve as a 'safety valve'.  

But Sanghera shows that such knowledge has been deliberately excised

by Leftists and anti-Racists 

from British society, compelling an adult Sikh Briton to set sail to find the walls of the Truman Show world that has shaped his existence.

This is crazy shit. I personally know at least four Sikh Leftist intellectuals in the Wolverhampton area. The father of a friend of mine who was high up in Indian intelligence met one such for dinner. He wanted to know the truth about whether his Bedi ancestors had sided with the Udasin mahants who had made Brig. Dyer an honorary Sikh. The scholarly gentleman quoted chapter and verse to explain why this had been the case and, as a bonus, gave an insight into Amarinder Singh's maternal family background. Later, the Intelligence man explained to his son that this sort of information was not available in India. It wasn't just that the Brits had burned some archives. The fact is our own people had destroyed a lot of files. Leftist Sikhs in the UK pieced these things together. Why? They wanted a proper theory of 'class formation' or some such Commie drivel. Incidentally, one of the best Punjabi poets of that time had actually read Hegel. My point is that Sanghera represents a steep fall in the quality of Sikh intellectuals in this country though some of the people I am thinking of had actually worked in factories, done construction, etc. But that was why their brains weren't stuffed with shit. It was always instructive for a chap influenced by the Cambridge school of history to sit with these dignified, white bearded, men to get a bottom-up perspective. I suppose, as Punjab turned into a shit-show under AFSPA, that 'subaltern' view embittered the twilight years of the Sikh Leftist intellectual. 

“The idea that black and brown people are aliens who arrived without permission, and with no link to Britain, to abuse British hospitality” has been, Sanghera writes, “the defining political narrative” of his lifetime, even as he endured routine “Paki-bashing” in 1970s and ’80s Wolverhampton, once the constituency of perhaps the most notoriously racist politician in recent British history: Enoch Powell, whose dreams of becoming viceroy of India were shattered with the country’s independence in 1947.

Kids who go to a posh school in a place like Wolverhampton are going to get bashed up one way or another.  

Empireland is not a lecturing or hectoring book but rather a generously shared journey of discovery.

It is a sound enough careerist move. But Sanghera will be saddled with having to write Introductions to more and more retarded narratives penned by refugees from yet more noisome shitholes.  

Sanghera is a journalist in the Orwellian mold, inviting readers to witness his experiment on himself as an example of the conclusions that a decent, acerbically witty, public-school-educated Brit might arrive at after wading through the evidence of what Britain owes to empire. (Orwell himself appears frequently in the book, as a critic of empire in its heyday.)

Orwell was either a police-spy or a genuine Lefty. Sanghera is a self-promoter. Had he studied something worthwhile at Uni, he'd be a billionaire by now.

A chapter on colonial migration to Britain is followed by an account of the massive scale of white migration out of Britain—a net exporter of people through the 1980s.

These figures are known to be misleading.  

Sanghera contrasts Britons’ “sense of…entitlement” to move freely about the world and resist assimilation with their resentment toward immigrants to Britain.

Very true. Would Sikhs like Muslims to move back to East Punjab? Perhaps. What about such Hindus as they chased away? The truth is the Sikhs want Rohingyas to come and settle among them. But only if they are LGBTQ. Nothing less will do. 

Using the first-person here (“our tendency as travelers,” “our racism”), he gallantly implicates himself in such habits and mentalities—an assertion of belonging, at whatever cost, that demonstrates what it is to take responsibility for the culture and deeds of one’s nation, however marginal one’s ties to them.

Indeed. I often say to my pal, King Charlie, 'Us Brits are too goshdarned pale innit? This spooks the nigh-nogs who think we might be ghosts. Tell you what, lets do black-face for the coronation. Rishi will be thrilled.'  

Sanghera grew up wanting “to be more British” than the rest of his family.

I wanted to be more Chinese than the rest of my family. Bruce Lee was big back then.  

He is explicit about his love of country, rejecting Paul Gilroy’s description of British national identity as “brittle and empty” and proclaiming his pride in its achievements.

Fucking over Hitler or Napoleon or the Spanish fucking Armada. The Danes were okay. They invented the Ham omelette. 

He validates those moved by Boris Johnson’s 2016 speech glorifying “British soft power,” while at the same time compelling reflection on what it means to “be British.”

Being British means leaving reflection to mirrors or other shiny objects.  

For Fanon, decolonization depended on moving “from national consciousness to political and social consciousness,”

which is why his island is still part of France. The locals were smart enough to see they'd be way better off as part of the EU.  

from rediscovering national culture to creating it by collectively constructing a new future.

But the future will be new even if don't construct shit. All we need to do is to stop repairing stuff or else smash a statue or two just to move things along.  

Sanghera calls for something similar in urging Britons to face up to uncomfortable facts in order “to navigate a path forward” and “work out…who we want to be.”

We don't want to be this sad loser. We want to be Rishi Sunak. Oh. You've been reading my diary. All right! I want to be Priti Patel and wear stiletto heels! Happy now? 

Expressions of patriotism are perhaps also a necessary safeguard against the accusations of “anti-Britishness” inevitably lobbed at those proffering critical views of Britain’s past.

Very true. Priti might try to bite this fellow's face off. Gujju females can be very fierce you know. 

By reminding his readers of the long tradition of British dissent about empire—Victorian

Edwardian. Victoria died before the Younghusband expedition 

outrage at the looting of Tibet, for instance—Sanghera is able to frame the return of that loot as perfectly British and also dashes cold water on the argument that we can’t judge colonial activities by today’s very different standards. For good measure, he facetiously throws in a long footnote that fulfills the obligatory demand that nonwhite Britons express gratitude for all that Britain has given them.

How come nobody made any such obligatory demand of me? Is it coz Tamils are darker than Sikhs? Fuck you Whitey! Fuck you very much! 

Observing how his education had made him view his Indian heritage through patronizing Western eyes,

Actually, it was his Daddy and Mummy moving to Youkay which caused him to have such eyes.  

Sanghera recalls the story of Duleep Singh, the abducted Sikh boy king who was exiled to England and coercively Anglicized after the British conquered Punjab.

He married an Abyssinian alcoholic after converting to Christianity.  

Singh later reeducated himself and tried, belatedly, to revive the Sikh Empire.

So did I. Whiskey can do that to you.  

Sanghera recognizes that he is similarly “making an effort to decolonize myself”—present tense.

Try detox first. If that doesn't work, try an exorcism. Only if that fails should you decolonize yourself by granting independence to your arse so it can make lots of money shitting out books about decolonizing the colon.  

It is difficult to “review” such a personal journey, one that seems to continue the inventory of the self that Sanghera began with The Boy With the Topknot, his earlier memoir about growing up Sikh in Wolverhampton. Empireland, after all, is not intended for professional historians like me but rather for those who don’t already know that the horror story of the Black Hole of Calcutta—the story of the crowded dungeon where dozens of British prisoners suffocated to death that long served to justify the British conquest of Bengal in 1757—is unreliable.

What justified the conquest of Bengal was that it was as easy as pie and very very fucking profitable. On the other hand, it isn't true that the Black Hole of Calcutta is Ranajit Guha's anus. He lives in Vienna. 

Indeed, while scholars will find Sanghera’s pattern here somewhat nerve-wracking—first taking seriously the inaccurate claims typically invoked to deny the realities or the importance of colonialism, then showing how they don’t stand up to scrutiny—he is speaking to a lay audience that has absorbed pieties and fictions about the empire from everywhere rather than facts from today’s actual historical experts.

Some woke intellectuals did create A level papers in Empire History but few students took the bait.  On the other hand, West Indians certainly had grave cause for complaint if their ancestors had been victims of the slave trade. Nothing similar can be said about India. As Disraeli pointed out, the place hadn't really been conquered. The Brits just supplied a service for a fee. 

But Empireland does offer a case study in the transformative effects of a self-guided tour of scholarship on the empire.

Priya means 'Is Sardarji ka bara bajh gaya- he should have studied History properly at Uni. Instead he just opening books at random and now has gone totally doolally.  

Sanghera dives headfirst into an ocean of dissertations, journal articles, and books from academic presses, citing a roll call of major scholars in the field, albeit with some notable omissions. The historian Kim Wagner

an odd choice. Punjabis think there was an agent provocateur involved. Don't forget that back in the Twenties and Thirties, there were influential families who claimed to have triggered the massacre (suggesting they could do it again) so as to restore the 'smack of firm government'. BTW, elderly Punjabis used the word 'Rowlatt' to mean disorder and confusion. But then, Ghaddar had and even worse meaning.  

guides him in Amritsar and the art historian Alice Procter

again an odd choice. Still, the earlier generation of curators tended to embarrass the fuck out of plebeians like me by assuming we must be descended from some Raja or Dewan with a similar surname. Also a lot of them were homos- at least that was my assumption.

in museums, but it’s unclear whether anyone has similarly guided his reading. And so, though Sanghera learns about everything from the origins of Britain’s ownership of Manhattan to the genocide of Tasmanians, he arrives at some odd conclusions about the literature itself, such as that “very little about British empire…is certain or knowable”—a claim belied by the rest of his book.

Perhaps this is the native shrewdness of the Sikh asserting itself. The fact is nothing in Punjabi politics is as it seems. There is always another side to the story.  But that is also why Punjabis are a spiritual and moral people. Material reality is deceptive. Spiritual Truth is irrefragable. 

It’s not that our knowledge about the British Empire is uncertain, but that a grasp of historiography is essential to navigating writing about it.

No. You don't have to be able to write in a certain style to be able to separate what is propaganda from what is truth. Kipling- a great lover of the Punjab- made this point forcefully.  

Much of the existing literature was “born imperial”—written by the empire’s scholar-administrators and boosters—as I demonstrated in my book Time’s Monster.

But James Mill wasn't a 'scholar-administrator'. He compiled a book and got a job with John Company.  The primary sources for historians are administrative archives, but they predate Imperialism properly so called. 

It was scholarship invested in supporting imperial aims, often verging on propaganda, to assuage continual doubt about the enterprise

No. Initially, writers wanted to show there was money to be made in a certain place. Later on, once the Flag had followed trade, there were auditor's reports. Sometimes a loss making region was retained for a a strategic or defensive purpose. But, over all, the thing had to cover its costs or else paramountcy became merely cosmetic or notional. Portuguese rule in large parts of Africa had that quality but there were also parts of India which officials were careful to leave well alone. 

—explaining devastating violence in India, for instance, as part of a plan of eventual uplift.

Only because 'uplift' meant more trade and a better return on capital.  

Moreover, its lasting influence has depended on the destruction of compromising official records, as Sanghera himself recognizes.

Not really. The one thing Indians know about official records is that they were filled with lies.  IPS officers knew that well enough. As for the Heaven Born ICS Magistrate, they would frequently boast that they never looked at CID files and would hear no gossip about such matters at the Club. 

In recent years, historians have gone to great lengths to revise this faulty, contrived view of the British Empire. It matters who writes history and which sources and methods they use. Yet despite a wealth of alternative sources, Sanghera often quotes, frustratingly, from works that he knows have been debunked

by credentialized cretins who wrote bunkum 

(e.g., Jan Morris’s glorifying Pax Britannica trilogy from the 1960s and ’70s). He takes at face value a claim about the “Sikh hatred for Muslims” in the Indian Uprising of 1857 in Lawrence James’s Raj, a 1998 pro-empire narrative that was based on British sources.

Delhi's Muslims were obliged to take it at face value more particularly after Sikhs very kindly explained things to them before slitting their throats. Still, there were Sikh noblemen who owned property in Delhi and they protected their tenants even if they were Muslim.  

Scientists have disproved “race science,” but when pseudoscientific racial misconceptions persist, we don’t say the science is uncertain.

We say that our current Structural Causal Model is incomplete or tentative in certain respects. This does mean that there is uncertainty as to whether a particular data set is being currently misinterpreted.  

Likewise, historical knowledge about the British Empire isn’t uncertain because of a 2003 popular book written by a historian of finance

Niall Ferguson. Finance was fundamental to the Empire. What some racist wrote didn't matter at all.  

who didn’t consult the vast literature on the regions and peoples that lived under it and who explicitly sought to offer “lessons for…the United States as it stands on the brink of a new era of imperial power.”

Okay. That's hilarious. The Iraq quagmire did line a few well connected pockets but it was a disaster for which we will continue to pay a very high price for decades. I'm not saying the occupation of Iraq couldn't have paid for itself. But you'd have had to disintermediate the neo-cons and the evangelicals and...urm... every fucking American blathershite except there were British and French and German blathershites who were even more demented.  

Sanghera stresses that history is argument, but there are more and less accurate arguments.

Nope. There are Structural Causal Models. Arguments are second order and imperative or non-informative if based on assumed, not measured, parameters.  

To suggest that making historical claims “is almost always a matter of opinion” devalues the careful scholarship that allowed Sanghera to assemble his book’s own quite clear conclusions.

Screw careful scholarship. We have become a lot better at building and testing Models. Just point us to data-sets. If we can make money out of the thing here and now, then maybe someone might be interested in our arguments. If Kwarteng had learned something useful from his Econ PhD, he'd still be Chancellor. 

The portrait of an unfathomable literature does, however, play effectively to Britain’s “anti-intellectual” culture, allowing Sanghera to make his case on the very same commonsense grounds on which the Conservative MPs of the so-called “Common Sense Group” oppose any reckoning with the empire. He offers his assessments as those that any reasonable person (that very English legal standard) encountering an imposing literature might reach.

It is common sense, that people from New Commonwealth countries who came to England and began earning well above the average MUST have received benefits from English rule. Why not tax them at a higher rate so as to make reparation payments to those the Empire harmed? Race is a costly to disguise signal- i.e. scope for evasion is low. Sadly, this means the most talented will fuck off if they aren't already non-doms.  

Autodidacticism has always been important to anti-colonialism, given the complicity of educational institutions in empire.

History teachers used to row over to the West Indies to whip slaves during the Summer Vac.  

Fanon and Gandhi engaged in intense study and self-examination, as did the Punjabi revolutionary Bhagat Singh, who read copiously right up to his execution in 1931.

Because Netflix hadn't been invented yet.  But even if it had, the fact remains that Fanon's natal place is still part of France. His study and self-examination were useless. Neither Gandhi nor Bhagat Singh moved the clock on Independence. Indeed, Gandhi probably delayed it. So what why mention them now? They were self-publicists- sure- and Bhagat Singh is a romantic hero but, in his own eyes, so was Savarkar.  

Sanghera shows that rigorous independent reading (presumably enabled by institutional access to scholarly literature) produces a fairly solid understanding of imperial history, apart from a few stumbles arising from the undue deference he gives to less reliable works.

Sanghera has written self-serving shit of the 'me poor brown boy- boo hoo!' variety. Priya has written nonsense. They are well matched.  

Avoiding such stumbles would require a guided tour. When Sanghera concludes‚ citing P.J. Marshall’s 1976 book East Indian Fortunes as well as remarks by a researcher at the Adam Smith Institute (a neoliberal think tank), that scholarly opinion is “divided” on whether empire mattered in Britain’s industrial revolution, one wishes that a mentor had been there to nudge him toward more recent scholarly works, such as Maxine Berg’s Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain or my own Empire of Guns (on Sanghera’s home region, the Black Country)—or toward the crucial genre of the scholarly book review.

Such work is tendentious. The plain fact is that the industrial revolution would have occurred even if Dutch ships carried British exports. What about French ships? Then, there would have been no United Kingdom.  

Among serious scholars, there’s meaningful disagreement about the diverse ways that empire mattered in the industrial revolution, but not whether it did.

It didn't. The Belgian industrial revolution- kickstarted by two Brits- shows this. Essentially, if real wages had risen too much in the North, then people from there would have shifted to some similar area and industrialization would have proceeded there. This was the reason that though people read William Cobbett, they knew that it wasn't possible to turn back the clock to Merrie England. Suppress industry at home and industrialists go work for some Continental magnate or go pollute some Edenic stretch of the new world. Sadly, this would mean that the skilled workman too would go to where technology was progressing fastest. Merrie England would be stuck with inbred nitwits.  

Without such a guide, Sanghera is liable to make too much of a fact like “some of the tax revenue” collected by the colonial government “went to Indian schools,” counting it against the claim that the British drained Indian wealth. But this meager instance of public expenditure was often the result of Indian movements pressing an otherwise uninterested colonial government.

The colonial government had no objection to Indians paying a cess and thus gaining schools. Most Indians, however, wanted nothing to do with edumication. We all strive to have our own sub-caste classed as 'Educationally Backward'.  

Once we consider that indigenous governments might have done more (Baroda, one of the “princely states” that the British ruled indirectly through local potentates, spent much more on education),

because that was what the Gaekwad wanted. He also gave 5000 quid to the Labour Party in 1918. No doubt the Tory Viceroy had indirectly ruled that this should be done. 

it’s difficult to chalk up such expenditures as a net gain for Indians—especially if colonial education aimed to make them docile subjects.

Why stop there? Why not suggest that Whitey's education is designed to cause Black dicks to shrink? Also it is making darker skinned women lose the razor sharp teeth they used to have in their voracious vaginas. Thus the only reason you see so many White peeps all over the place in Amrika Yurop is coz coloured women haven't bitten off their heads with their vagina dentata. 

Wake up sheeple! Don't you get that Edumication is a trick Whitey be using to enslave you and turn you into good little Professors? Wouldn't you rather have a ginormous dick or a twat which can bite people's heads off?  

It is difficult to overestimate the value of mentorship in the study of history:

If you are paying more than about twenty pence for it, you are being swindled. 

Sanghera’s account of the profound costs of an impoverished historical education

which is zero. Kwarteng's PhD in stupid shit cost the UK billions.  

appears in the United States at a time of the systematic gutting of social science and humanistic learning.

Wait till Vivek becomes President.  

Still, even unguided, Sanghera arrives at the sturdy conclusion that Britain derived substantial material benefits from its empire

because sensible countries receive substantial material benefits from stuff that they do 

(assembling an especially excellent rebuttal to imperial apologists’ desperate gesturing at “India’s railways”).

Got to say, Indians turned out to be shit at heavy engineering. Marshall was right. Indian entrepreneurs were of poor quality. But, as Visvevarayya knew, the bottleneck re. indigenous engineering and technological manpower had been removed by the mid-Thirties. If we'd had sensible leaders like Fazli Husain and Lala Harkishen Lal and the Nawab of Khatri and Nariman in Bombay  (the Justice party in Madras was sensible enough) Indian could have had ten percent catch up growth for two decades more particularly because of the War.

Time and again, he demonstrates the clarity that comes with acquiring more than “a superficial understanding of imperial history.” It is reassuring, as a scholar, to learn both that the literature is sound on the whole and that our role as teachers is important.

Teachers are needed so lads can graduate from writing 'Boo hoo! I'm brown' to 'Dear Whitey, do you have to be so fucking White? Have you tried dying yourself with woad? Or would that be too Tory? '.  

At times, the determined neutrality of Empireland allows Sanghera to clinch the reasonable-person argument: Whether you believe that Britain’s relations with its colonies were good or bad, it’s clear that “brown people are here because” Britain had colonies.

Few 'brown people' would be here if real wages weren't higher than back home. You'd probably have the same number of Indian billionaires in Mayfair- but the Tandoori restaurants would be run by enterprising Albanians. Seriously, they make a good curry.  

But often, this studied neutrality results in contradiction. Despite chronicling Victorian dissent about colonialism, Sanghera, in a fit of fairness of mind, defends the canard that “You can’t apply modern ethics to the past.”

Or to the present because modern ethics is twisted shit about not pushing a fat man out of the path of a run-away trolley.  

Despite his astute skepticism of the balance-sheet approach to empire, he nevertheless attempts to “weigh up” its legacies. After proclaiming that reading history as “a series of events that instill pride and shame [is] inane,”

though lots of Sikhs read their history in that way and have very successful careers in the military before starting up their own business. 

he ends by affirming his pride in the empire as “the biggest thing that ever happened to us [and] the world.”

Yet, that's not how Brits actually feel. Defeating the Armada- okay. Dunkirk- fair enough. The Battle of Britain- now you're talking! Nobody except Niradh Babu gave a shit about the Battle of Plassey.  

Attachment to the idea of descending from something that mattered on a massive scale is perhaps understandable, but by this logic, Germans might also express pride in that big thing that happened to them, whatever the destruction it caused. It might be better to simply see history (like the Germans, actually) as a means of understanding our humanity.

Coz if we don't see history that way we might misunderstand our humanity and try to live like giraffes.  

A zeal for “balance” also leads Sanghera to hasty reproach of some advocates for change. He rebukes an activist’s suggestion that the presence in the Tory cabinet of several prominent British Asians whose families emigrated from East Africa may be rooted in the role of British Asians as “subcolonial agents,” describing it as an attempt to ascribe individuals’ political views to “ethnicity.”

There were plenty of Africans employed in the Colonies. They tended to be very good at their jobs and quick to spread new techniques for growing cash crops. The problem was that the terms of trade tended to fall- this is the 'immeserizing growth' theory. 

Anyway, Kwarteng was from Ghana and Zahawi is Kurdish Iraqi.  

But this is an argument about their history, not their ethnicity, akin to Sanghera’s own explication of the historical roots of white Britons’ racism. The peppering of criticism of campaigners for change recalls Orwell’s efforts to disarm readers against his call for socialism by assuring them of his shared distaste for vegetarians, pacifists, feminists—the “woke army” of his time.

Is Sanghera calling for Socialism? If not why compare him to Orwell- who, let's face it, wrote rather well.  

Certainly, the culture war around the subject of empire has made it difficult to express curiosity or admit ignorance and thus engage in the learning essential to getting past that past. But it’s only comparable to “children fighting in a playground,” as Sanghera calls it, if we mean a situation in which one kid bravely speaking the truth is being bullied and silenced by another kid many times his size (in terms of institutional power and resources) who insists that he is actually very small and has never been that powerful. Sadly, steering this middle path hasn’t protected Sanghera from torrents of abuse, including death threats.

OMG! I was that paragon of parrhesia in the playground explaining to the bullies that their daddy put their pee pee in their Mummies chee chee place and that's how babies are born. Sadly, I got a lot of death threats and torrents of abuse from their parents until I was finally sacked from my position as Vice Principal. 

For many anti-colonial thinkers, autodidacticism strengthened the bonds of community with others seeking change.

This was also true of mutual masturbation.  

Upon reading Tolstoy, Gandhi began a dialogue with the author;

who was already corresponding with some young Hindu. Tolstoy had read Vivekananda and Ramakrishna.  

he also read the Bhagavad Gita in the company of London’s Theosophists.

coz he hadn't read it at home due to being shit at Sanskrit 

If distance from today’s activists was somehow necessary to Sanghera’s book, a sense of connection with the anti-colonial past might have been all the more empowering.

Not if anti-colonial past farted in his face.  

But apart from the very late mention of the unlearning that Duleep Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru subjected themselves to,

they were under the impression they were prima ballerinas at the Bolshoi. Some rude fellow pointed out that they were Indian men. They cried and cried. 

Sanghera doesn’t invoke those who made and won the argument about empire—including the role of education in sustaining it—in the past century (forcing him to often reinvent the wheel). While he knows that imperialists like Lord Salisbury acknowledged that the empire enriched Britain, apart from a brief mention of Dadabhai Naoroji, Sanghera omits the long line of brown and Black thinkers who have made this same argument.

If a rich guy does business with you, you naturally assume that he is doing well out of the deal. You don't have to be a mighty thinker to make this argument.  

He explores the relevance of colonial-era white supremacist notions

which were more prevalent in parts of Europe which had no fucking colonies. 

to Britain today without a sense of the intervening anti-racist struggle that renders this a question today.

This is unlikely. He would have heard about the Anti-Nazi League and their clashes with skinheads. 

He is delighted when Black Lives Matter suddenly makes his “esoteric” study of the British Empire “mainstream,” but colonialism isn’t esoteric; masses of people have been thinking about and struggling against it while he was fed public school pabulum.

i.e. the sort of shite which gets you to Ivy League 

BLM didn’t come out of nowhere.

It came out of America which had slavery. But America is cool and anyway West Indians can legitimately make the same complaint. Indians can't.  

Without awareness of this anti-colonial tradition, Sanghera at times underestimates the suffering that empire caused. He believes Sikhs took Britain’s side in the ghadar of 1857, but Punjab only appeared loyal because of the devastation of recent conquest and preemptive British counterinsurgency action.

In other words the Punjab Service was competent whereas the Bihar and Bengal Armies were very shitty indeed.  

Punjabis in California later named their movement to free India the Ghadar Party in homage to the rebels of 1857.

This is an Arabic word which means treachery. I suppose Lala Hardayal chose it. He was academically very accomplished and became a Philosophy lecturer. In other words, he was stoooopid. Bhai Parmanand persuaded him to embrace celibacy just as he had persuaded the Mahatma. But Hardayal kept marrying Swiss or Swedish damsels. You can take the boy out of Punjab, you can't take the Punjabi out of the boy. 

Sanghera’s obliging concession that he has “had a better life” in Britain than he would have had in India forgets the historical tie between India’s relative poverty (if that is the measure of a good life)

says a lady living in America 

and Britain’s prosperity. He perceives Punjabi migration as a kind of upward mobility facilitated by colonialism, but much of it was a desperate effort to escape colonial policies that caused hunger and landlessness. Many Punjabis arrived in Britain after the traumatic mass displacement caused by the British partition of Punjab in 1947.

Very true. Anglicans from Bedfordshire massacred Sikhs and forced them to abandon their rich agricultural lands in West Punjab. One lady, Edwina Mountbatten, raped trillions of elderly Sikh men causing them to die of exhaustion. This is why Punjabis tried to escape to the West Midlands.  

It’s tragic that adults today must undergo the same process of psychological and cultural recovery that Gandhi and Nehru did ages ago.

Very true. Many adults are crying their little eyes out because they are having to go through the process of psychological and cultural recovery which caused Gandhi to prance around in an adult diaper while Nehru had to put on a sherwani.  

The historical record is clear; it’s just that most people have been assiduously kept ignorant of it,

despite the very many videos on Pornhub showing Viceroy orally raping Indian peasants. British extracted gazillion gallons of jizz from starving Indians. Kingji may kindly make reparation.  

and the current British government wants things to stay that way.

Rishi is suppressing the truth about theft of Indian jizz by past Viceroys. 

Still, I share Sanghera’s inspiring optimism about the changes afoot in British education

Question- Which Viceroy guzzled the most Indian jizz?

a) Viceroy Deep Throat

b) Viceroy Honeytits Cumbucket

c) Viceroy Cock Gobbler

d) Viceroy Dufferin

Oddly, the answer isn't (d). It used to be when I were a lad. But many changes have been afoot in British education since then. 

and in museums around the world, thanks to courageous efforts like his and those of movements like Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall.

Zelensky's Ukrainians are arrant cowards compared to those who campaigned against Cecil Rhodes. 

“Sikh” means student; it is a faith based on trust in teachers (gurus) and in community, on collective service and learning.

Where is the Guru Granth Sahih and where is 'Empireland'?  

And so, in fraternity, I wish Sathnam chardi kala on his ongoing journey.

But not chaddi kholo otherwise some Viceroy will gobble your knob. Mind it kindly.