Monday 15 May 2023

Sanjay Subhramanyam on Ranajit Guha

Ranajit Guha was one of the first non-STEM subject academics to understand that it was better and safer to emigrate to the West if one wanted to pose as knowledgeable about India and were concerned with promoting a Communist ideology- or, more accurately, appearing to do so.

Sanjay Subhramanian, who is as useless as Guha, writes in NLR

Ranajit Guha, who died recently in the suburbs of Vienna where he spent the last decades of his life,

he had emigrated to England in 1959 

was undoubtedly one of the most influential intellectuals on the Indian left in the twentieth century,

he had no influence. He was part of an academic availability cascade or citation cartel of singular futility. 

whose shadow fell well beyond the confines of the subcontinent.

The Naxalites briefly made it plausible that tribal people would be in the vanguard of a Maoist revolution. But Indira Gandhi killed off that possibility. India would veer between Dynasticism and Hindutva. India has thrown no shadow beyond its confines- though, no doubt, it exported one or two Godmen. 

As the founder and guru (or ‘pope’, as some facetiously called him) of the historiographical movement known as Subaltern Studies,

which was useless. As far as I know only one- Ajay Skaria- is under 60. But he is as stupid as shit and teaches cows in Minnesota. 

his relatively modest body of written work was read and misread in many parts of the world,

by cretins. The whole idea behind the Left's 'long march through the institutions' was to influence the younger generation and thus shape the future. All that Subaltern Studies did was write pseudo-Hegelian or Foucauldian garbage and lower the prestige of History as an academic discipline.  

eventually becoming a part of the canon of postcolonial studies.

which was stupid shit. What works is whining about Whitey not pretending that tribals are going to encircle the Cities and impose a Maoist regime. On the other hand, the Khalqis did come to power in Afghanistan- briefly. Even the Soviets wouldn't tolerate their murderous stupidity. Afghanistan's future lay with the Prophet Muhammad, not Chairman Mao.  

Guha relished the cut and thrust of intellectual confrontations for much of his academic career,

he abused everybody except his chums as 'elitists', though he was careful to do it as far as away from India as possible.  

though he became somewhat quietist in the last quarter of his life, when he took a surprising metaphysical turn that attempted to combine his readings of Martin Heidegger and classical Indian philosophy.

To be fair, he was interested in Hegel- which is okay for a Marxist- but got confused easily. 

This confrontational style brought him both fiercely loyal followers and virulent detractors, the latter including many among the mainstream left in India and abroad.

Subaltern shite had some salience so long as the Left Front ruled West Bengal. It was not beyond the bounds of possibility that their replacement would be Maoist not Mamta.  

Guha was never one to tread the beaten path, despite the circumstances of relative social privilege into which he was born. His family was one of rentiers in the eastern part of riverine Bengal (today’s Bangladesh),

these guys had to run away from the Muslims. After the Brits left they needed some other group of Whites to worship. 

beneficiaries of the Permanent Settlement instituted by Lord Cornwallis in 1793.

beneficiaries of the Brits who kept Muslims from slitting their throats 

The area of Bakarganj (or Barisal) from which he hailed was also the birthplace of another Bengali historian, Tapan Raychaudhuri (1926-2014)

who actually knew some history 

from a similar zamindar background. Raychaudhuri was himself a complex figure, a raconteur and bon viveur with a melancholy streak, who was destined to play Porthos to Guha’s Aramis.

on separate continents. These Musketeers were shit at fighting.  

Guha was sent to Kolkata (Calcutta) for his schooling in the 1930s, where he attended the prestigious Presidency College in that city, and soon became active as a Communist. It would have been in these years that he acquired his violent aversion to the ‘comprador’ Gandhi and his version of nationalist politics, which accompanied him for much of his life.

The buddhijivi bhadralok hated anyone who was preventing them from slitting their own throats.  

He also came under the influence of an important Marxist historian of the time, Sushobhan Sarkar,

who wrote the manifesto of the CPI and who did influence two generations of Bengali students. Sumit Sarkar is his son.  

while at the same time developing a stormy relationship with another leading figure, Narendra Krishna Sinha (not at all a Marxist), under whose supervision he was meant to work on a thesis concerning colonial economic history in Bengal, which was never completed.

Because Sinha insisted that PhD students do actual research in the archives. They weren't allowed to write any old garbled shite. 

Around the time of Indian independence, Guha left Kolkata briefly for Mumbai, and in December 1947 travelled to Paris as a representative to the World Federation of Democratic Youth, led for a time by the controversial Aleksandr Shelepin.

a hard line KGB officer who brought down Krushchev.  I suppose this is why Guha was assumed to be a proper Communist working to some secret master-plan. The fact that he wrote nonsense was just 'cover'. 

Over the next few years, until his return to Kolkata in 1953, Guha travelled widely in Eastern Europe, the western Islamic world, and even China; this included a two-year sojourn in Poland, where he met and married his first wife.

So he must have been a properly vetted Commie agent.  

On his return to India, he was already accompanied by ‘an aura of heroism’ (as one of his friends wrote) and exercised a degree of charisma and mystique over younger colleagues that would serve him well later.

They thought he was Stalin's agent plotting the destruction of democratic India. Naturally, this appealed to Bengali Hindus who wanted to be killed not just by Muslims but also by the proletariat and the peasantry so that the Russians or the Chinese could take over the country.

After a brief stint as a union organizer in Kolkata,

i.e the sort of thing which would have put him on the path to a seat in the State Cabinet. But that would be too high profile a job for a sleeper agent.  

he embarked on a peripatetic career in undergraduate teaching and began publishing his first essays on the origins of the Permanent Settlement in the mid-1950s.

So, this academic stuff was just 'cover'.  

But these years also saw Guha’s estrangement from the Communist establishment, since – as for many of his generation – the Hungarian crisis of 1956 proved a turning point.

The real turning point was Kruschchev's visit to India in 1955. The Soviets decided that India was too shitty to go Communist. Nehru was a good enough stooge.  

Though his plans to defend a doctoral thesis never came to fruition,

standards have fallen since then- thanks to his ilk 

he was eventually able to find a position in 1958 at the newly founded Jadavpur University, under the wing of his former teacher Sarkar. But he quickly abandoned this post to move first to Manchester and then to Sussex University, where he then spent nearly two decades.

There were plenty of Commies in Britain. They looked after their own.  

There is much about this phase of his career around 1960 that remains obscure, including how a barely published historian managed to obtain these positions in the United Kingdom,

Sanju is shy of telling us what is bleeding obvious. Guha was supposed to be Shelepin's sleeper agent. No doubt, in an emergency- e.g. if an atomic scientist had to be got out of the country- he would be activated. Cool!  

where few other Indian historians had penetrated.

Because Indian history is best studied in India, not Manchester. Also if you want to influence Indian students to become Communists, you need to actually be in India.

Oral tradition has it that he was also proposed for a position in Paris, at the VIe Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, apparently at the initiative of the American economic historian Daniel Thorner

a good man who spent a decade doing useful research in India. Probably not a Communist spy. He simply refused to name names.  

(himself a refugee in Paris from McCarthyite persecution). It was also Thorner who helped arrange the publication through Mouton & Co of Guha’s first book, A Rule of Property for Bengal (1963).

Thorner knew India was moving to the Left. He needed the imprimatur of supposed KGB agents like Guha so as to be able to continue to visit the country after he himself took up a job back in the States.  

This work remains something of a puzzle six decades after its first publication.

It was shit because Guha had shit for brains. There is no puzzle.  

Though begun as a work of economic history, it eventually became what is quite clearly an exercise in the history of ideas.

i.e. it had no content because Guha knew nothing and wanted to know nothing. Still, if he published such worthless shite, he must be a high level Soviet 'sleeper'.  

Driving it at a basic level was Guha’s own childhood experience in a rural context where the Cornwallis Permanent Settlement had set the rules of the game,

but Fazl ul Haq had changed those rules when Guha was a teenager.  

eventually leading (in some views) to the progressive agrarian decline of Bengal over a century and a half.

British officials, like A.O Hume- founder of the Indian National Congress- had been demanding its replacement since the 1870s. The Government was getting very little revenue while a vast parasitic class of intermediaries were crushing the cultivators.  

But rather than analyzing class relations or related questions, Guha instead turned to debates among East India Company administrators in Bengal in the 1770s and 1780s over how the agrarian resources of the province were to be managed.

Because the relevant archives were within easy reach of the red-brick, or white-tile, University where he taught.  

This was presented as a complex struggle between different tendencies in political economy, influenced on the one hand by the Physiocrats in all their variety and splendour, and on the other by adherents of the Scottish Enlightenment (to which Governor-General Warren Hastings was attached).

All this was sheer nonsense. The Brits took over the existing system but increased security of tenure.  A comprador class of clerks who doubled as money-lenders rigged things in their own favor. What happened in Bengal was only different from what happened in Madras or Bombay because the pre-existing system was different.  

Demonstrating an impressive talent for close reading, Guha took apart the minutes, proposals and counterproposals that were presented and debated in the administrative councils of the time.

This is pure farce. John Company was a commercial enterprise. Debates were concerned with what could be done, how cheaply it could be done, and how much money this would make.  

A central figure who emerged in all this was the Dublin-born Philip Francis.

A political appointee and a randy bugger who had an affair with the lady whom Napoleon forced Talleyrand to marry. He was shot in a duel and returned to England. His malice created plenty of problems for Hastings but nobody at that time believed the fellow gave a shit about darkies or had any genuine convictions- though he wrote well. 

While the opposition between Francis and Hastings had usually been read simply through the prism of factional politics, Guha was able to elevate the differences to a genuine intellectual debate, with lasting consequences for Bengal.

In other words, Guha read what he wanted to read. He distorted the truth. This was fine with the Brits because they were laughing at the brown monkey.  

At the same time, it may be said that the work showed little or no concern with the ‘ground realities’ of eighteenth-century Bengal, and even less with the complex property regimes that had been in place before Company rule.

Because Guha was as ignorant as shit.  

This would have required Guha to engage with Mughal history and issues of Hanafite Muslim law, which were rather distant from his inclinations.

Fuck Mughal history, Guha didn't want to engage with India, period.

Furthermore, there is little in A Rule of Property to suggest that it is a Marxist history, however broadly one wishes to interpret this term. Reviewers at the time often compared it with another work that had appeared a few years earlier, Eric Stokes’s The English Utilitarians and India (1959),

Stokes was to modify his views after visiting India. It became obvious that Indian reality had nothing to do with what some clerk in the India Office wrote to some other clerk.  

probably to Guha’s chagrin. Stokes painted with a broader brush and embraced a larger chronology, but also showed less talent for the close reading of texts.

Because those texts were shit.  

But there is probably more that unites these books than separates them. While Stokes’s work was quite widely acclaimed, Guha’s somewhat unfairly languished for a time in obscurity.

Not unfairly at all. Back then, there were plenty of third or fourth generation lawyers who weren't illiterate thugs. They knew that Guha was writing nonsense.  

It is noticeable that for the remainder of the 1960s, Guha more or less ceased to publish, and when he did so in 1969 (in the form of a review of a long-forgotten edited volume on Indian nationalism) it was a bitter attack on the Indian history practiced in England, including Sussex University, ‘where the students are inducted into the rationale of […] thinly disguised imperialist procedure’.

In other words, the brown monkey started biting the hand that fed him.  

It was around this time that Guha decided to spend a sabbatical year in India, based at the Delhi School of Economics through the mediation of his friend Raychaudhuri who was teaching there.

By then, Indira had moved to the Left. A pact with the Soviets was in the offing and the CPI had been squared.  

The communist movement in India to which Guha had been attached in the 1940s and early 1950s had by now undergone considerable changes. The pro-Soviet Communist Party of India (CPI) had in 1964 split to produce the CPI(M), which was initially more oriented to Chinese communism and far more hostile to the ruling Indian Congress party.

Bengali buddhijivis, quite naturally, turned to Mao after he attacked India. If the Naxals could enable foreigners to conquer the country, they must be supported- right? 

However, in 1967, a further splintering occurred in the context of a rural uprising in north Bengal, to produce the CPI(ML), which eschewed parliamentary politics in favour of a strategy of armed peasant and student mobilization.

i.e. killing policemen and judges and so on with the result that nobody raised a peep when those rabid dogs were put down. 

Radical student groups in cities such as Kolkata and Delhi formed in support of the tendency, generally known in Indian parlance as ‘Naxalites’.

The CPI was thought to be keen on fostering these 'Left Adventurists' to counter the CPM.  

Guha, a visitor to Delhi in 1970-71, found this new movement attractive given his own pro-Maoist thinking and began to frequent these student groups.

By then people like Joan Robinson had become propagandists for the Cultural Revolution. Also, Maoists in the French Academy were entrenching themselves.  

A handful of memoirs have gone over this ground, including a recent one by the development economist Pranab Bardhan. Owing to his fieldwork, Bardhan had a good grasp of Indian rural problems and was less than impressed with what he saw at a rather cloak-and-dagger meeting orchestrated by Guha,

his mystique hinged on the notion that he was some sort of secret agent.  

describing it in Charaiveti (2021-22) as a ‘collection of clichés’, with speakers ‘regurgitating rhetoric … learned from some cheap pamphlet’.

as opposed to regurgitating garbage learned from the Delhi School of Economics.  

Nevertheless, some of these students not only became activists but also historians, drawing directly on Guha’s formulations for inspiration.

They were soon inspired to emigrate because, thanks to Leftist policies, India was becoming an ever shittier shithole. Why be a Maoist in Mumbai when it pays better to be a Maoist in Manhattan?

The first of Guha’s renewed historical interventions was an essay, first published in 1972 but with subsequent incarnations, on the Indigo rebellion of 1860 in Bengal.

1859. By 1860, a Government Commission had addressed the grievances of the cultivators.  

This was accompanied in the same years by several texts of political commentary concerning the Congress and its political profile as well as state repression and democracy in India.

The RSS helped put an end to Indira's experiment with Fascism. Peasants were organizing under their own leaders- people like Charan Singh. West Bengal was a bit backward in that respect but Bangladesh was suffering famine thanks to Mujib's doctrinaire Socialist policies. 

Still, it was hilarious that this elitist nutter was babbling about the 'subaltern' when, in State after State in India, 'backward caste' leaders were taking over the Administration. 

Amid the political turbulence of the decade (symbolized by the infamous period of Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi), Guha’s intellectual influence began to spread.

Fuck off! What spread was the belief that Socialism was shitty. China turned from Marx to the Market. Gorby tanked the Soviet Union. True, the Left Front remained in power in West Bengal but that was a testimony to the utter uselessness of Bengali politicians- more particularly the 'barristocratic' type.  

In part, this was aided by the move of Raychaudhuri to a position in Oxford; several of Raychaudhuri’s doctoral students came to be advised in reality by Guha, acting as a sort of éminence grise based in Brighton.

Bengalis are work-shy. The farm out work to unqualified people- Guha didn't have a PhD.  

This eventually led to a series of informal meetings in the UK in 1979-80, where a collective decision was made to launch the movement called ‘Subaltern Studies’, using a term drawn from Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.

This was because these elitists didn't want genuine proles gate-crashing their party. The fact is, the Italian term 'subalterno' doesn't mean the same thing as the English word 'subaltern'. In the former, the meaning is what we would call an NCO- i.e. a prole who might rise by ability up to a point- whereas in English the meaning is 'a young chap from the officer class who will be rapidly promoted'. Churchill started off as a subaltern. He was the grandson of a Duke and his father had been a senior Cabinet Minister. 

The first volume with this title appeared to considerable fanfare in 1982

This was a clique promoting itself for careerist reasons. One result of their rise was that illiterate nutters could get a PhD in History without doing any genuine research. Also, maybe this shit had something to do with 'bio-politics' and saying 'boo to Neoliberalism!'. Then Gayatri Spivak stuck her oar in and people realized they could pretend that some great-aunt who hanged herself because her parents insisted she stay in skool rather than get married was actually saying 'boo to Neo-Liberalism' in the only way the dumb bint could do so.  

and was followed a year later by Guha’s second book, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India.

This was hilarious. By then the CIA knew everything there was to know about such insurgencies. But, since peasant insurgencies don't matter, they quickly forgot. Meanwhile in India, a farmer's leader had become PM (albeit briefly) and mass mobilization of farmers would soon become a very effective tool to force concessions from the Government.  

This, after roughly two decades of relative occlusion, was the moment of Guha’s second coming. In an opening salvo in the first volume of Subaltern Studies, Guha railed against the ‘long-standing tradition of elitism in South Asian studies’,

i.e. some Professors (mainly Whites) actually studied South Asia. This was very wicked of them. Brown monkeys don't need to study South Asia. They should be given tenure and left in peace to scribble nonsense.  

and after listing various elements which composed the foreign and indigenous elites, summarily declared that the ‘subalterns’ were the ‘demographic difference between the total Indian population and all those we have described as the “elite”’.

This was Charan Singh's point. Then people discovered that his son had been quietly working for IBM in America rather than collecting cow-dung in some remote rural fastness. Jats lost their bid for leadership of the 'backward' classes to people like Lalu Yadav whose wife's qualification for becoming Chief Minister was that she was completely illiterate.  

He further argued that the ‘subalterns’ or ‘people’ had their own ‘autonomous domain’ of political action,

in India, these were caste based 'Samajwadi' parties or older formations like the Lok Dal or Janata Dal.  

and that an elitist view of Indian nationalism had led to a consensual narrative which laid aside ‘the contribution made by the people on their own,

The elite didn't want to admit that it had been comprador. But then, because India had turned to shit on their watch, their kids emigrated. Sad.  

that is, independently of the elite to the making and development of this nationalism’.

This is what British newspapers in India had been saying since the Eighteen fucking Eighties!  

This open attack on not only British historians but Indian ones was the occasion for a set of violent exchanges, particularly with historians attached to the CPI(M), as well as more conventional nationalists.

There were also a couple of guys who cared about historiography. They soon learnt to keep quiet.  

These debates occupied much of the 1980s, by which time Guha had moved to his last academic position at the Australian National University.

Australia has always been very kind to its aborigines.  

By the end of the decade, and the publication of six volumes under Guha’s stewardship, Subaltern Studies had established itself as the dominant force in the study of modern Indian history.

Only because nobody was studying Indian history. Like Sanju, they were just writing any tendentious nonsense which came into their little heads.  

This was despite the doubt cast on the originality of the project itself, given earlier forms of history-from-below, as well as issues related to the highly uneven contents of the six volumes. Intellectual fatigue with the standard left-nationalist historiography may explain some of this triumph,

No. The Left had shat the bed. The only question was whether Commies could- like Vijayan in Kerala now claims to have done- embrace Deng Xiaoping's policies and hand the country over to the Corporates.  

but the novel jargon of the new school also played a part.

Spivak played a part. If you have a useless PhD in Eng Lit, you could write Subaltern shite without knowing the first thing about Indian history.  

Suppose my granny tells me her granny, as a little girl, had a puppy dog which bit her hand and that this left a scar still visible to her dying day. I could write a dissertation about how the Viceroy and the Secretary of State for India were complicit in the judicial soul-murder of the sodomized subaltern under the sign of Neo-Liberal catachresis because puppy dogs are cute and shouldn't bite nice people.  

During the 1990s, the main thrust of the project as a contribution to radical social history became progressively diluted, and the group itself began to fragment and disperse, with some bitter recriminations from erstwhile participants.

By then, genuinely 'subaltern' people like Mulayam Singh and Mayawati were becoming Chief Ministers.  

By the time of the twelfth volume, published in 2005, the project had largely lost shape and become mired in a fruitless engagement with deconstructionism on the one hand, and cultural essentialism on the other.

Because these guys had gained tenure and were alarmed that they were having to supervise illiterate nutjobs. That's what happens if you turn your subject to shit. You are condemned to teaching shite to shitheads.  

Returning to the original moment of 1982-83, however, several peculiar features of Guha’s stance are worth mentioning. One was his insistent adherence to a particular reading of the structuralism that had been popular in the 1960s, not so much the structural anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss as the reinterpretation of Saussurian linguistics by figures like Roland Barthes.

This 'reinterpretation' involved ignoring what the author had written and imposing some crazy shite of your own on his text.  

As we know, Barthes’s own position shifted considerably in the years after his ‘Introduction à l’analyse structurale des récits’ (1966), but Guha did not follow him in this trajectory.

Barthes suddenly realized that Marxism, Freudianism,  and Structuralism where all just as bourgeois as Madison Avenue. 

Instead, he stuck to certain strikingly simple ideas based on a binary division between elites and subalterns.

Then Mayawati started erecting statues of herself all over the place and living large. There was only one binary division- viz. that between those who are as rich as fuck and guys who do shitty jobs- like teach cretins worthless shite.  

This is turn became the basis of another article of faith, namely that the voice and perspective of the subaltern could alchemically be extracted from colonial records of repression through certain protocols of translation.

So, if an Indian peasant says 'I want higher minimum support prices' we should translate his statement as 'the grandiosity of the Planetary Technology of the Hegelian bad infinite as counterposed to the catachresis of the grandiosity of the Shandesh my Mummy used to prepare is the historically inevitable victory of the catachresis of the grandiosity of the Shandesh which I wish somebody would bring me just now only.' 

These ideas, expressed by Guha in some form in the first volumes of Subaltern Studies, can also be found in some of the essays by his disciples. But they are laid out at greatest length in his Elementary Aspects, which provides us with another example of the long (and ultimately unsuccessful) struggle to reconcile structuralism and historical materialism.

Some Structural Causal Model must fit the data set provided by material historiography. But it can't be based on the blathering of a Bengali gobshite. 

Friendly critics such as Walter Hauser

who did proper research in India from the Fifties onward. Back then, Americans were interested in finding out the truth about how agrarian Asian nations worked. But there was no point doing so. The thing didn't matter in the slightest.  

were distressed to find in the work an unmistakable strain of elitist hectoring and a somewhat unsubtle flattening out of the complexity of peasant societies, while nevertheless recognizing Guha’s importance in the renewal of peasant history.

There was no such renewal. Back in the Fifties and the Sixties, the CIA took an interest in such things. Then, everybody understood that peasants don't matter. Let them grab what they want or, better yet, fuck off to the Cities and begin to rise.  

There were also issues raised by historians of the longue durée like Burton Stein over whether Guha had not confounded distinct categories such as hunter-gatherers and peasants through his adherence to the logic of binarism.

Guha was saying 'I am the only member of the true elite coz the rest of you are a bunch of monkeys. Just take my word for it already.'  Meanwhile, Mahesh Yogi had made billions teaching credulous Westerners how to levitate. 

In the years that followed, Guha’s most influential writings took the form of essays, many of which were collected in a volume entitled Dominance without Hegemony (1997), which argued that the colonial political system in India (unlike the British metropolitan polity) was one in which open coercion outweighed persuasion, and that the Indian state after independence had continued to practice a version of the same nakedly coercive politics.

Independent India could do extra-judicial killing on an industrial scale. British officials had to be more circumspect otherwise they might not get a gong on retirement. 

He also developed his somewhat problematic reflections on historiography, which appeared in their final incarnation as a set of published lectures, History at the Limit of World-History (2002).

It was senile shite.  

In some of these later essays, we find Guha moving away from his structuralist position to try out other approaches. One of the most successful and widely cited is ‘Chandra’s Death’ (1987), in which Guha presents a very close reading of a small body of legal documents from 1849 in Birbhum, concerning a botched abortion leading to the death of a young woman.

Guha, a Kayastha, had praised Ramram Basu- also a Kayastha- to the skies but ignored the fact that he procured abortions for his mistresses.  

It is foolish to suggest that an abortion occasioned by an illicit love affair between people related by marriage involved any 'structural' forces operating on Society. It was believed that the abortifacient remedy available was safe and that the whole matter could be managed discreetly without scandal to the community. Sadly, the lady died. There was a judicial investigation. Still, suppose the man involved had really loved the woman, they could have eloped and joined the Baishnob sect and lived happily ever after. 

On the other hand, it is true that a very grave systemic injustice occurs if men have dicks. The real cause of dicks is Neo-liberalism. Say 'boo to Neo-liberalism'! If you don't, you are a Fascist- unless you are actually a Fascist, in which case, have a nice day. 

Here, we see Guha deploying his intimate knowledge of rural Bengal, as well as his hermeneutic skills dealing with materials written in a ‘rustic Bengali’ possessing an ‘awkward mixture of country idiom and Persianized phrases’.

Rustics in Bengal would have spoken rustic Bengali even if, a century later, some fucking elitist cunt didn't like it.  

Though interspersed with genuflection to Michel Foucault, these are moments when Guha comes closest to the spirit of Italian microstoria, an approach he never formally engaged with.

did he informally suck its cock? These are the sorts of questions a truly subaltern historiography must concern itself with. 

In contrast, the lectures on historiography take a very different tack, espousing the by-then fashionable Nietzschean critique of the Enlightenment and claims for the superiority of literature to history. We also encounter the introduction and defence of the concept of ‘historicality’ as a manner of re-enchanting the past.

Telling lies about it. Why not? Maybe the thing will be picked up by the History Channel. Or we could have a Netflix series like Bridgerton but with plenty of Bengali vampires and British werewolves and evil Capitalist cannibals wearing silk top-hats.  

This would lead, almost ineluctably, to the last phase of Guha’s career, where he would largely turn to literary criticism written in Bengali and focusing for the most part on the usual suspects of the Bengali literary pantheon.

He was very very old. It warms the cockles of our hearts to think of this imbecile returning to the literature which first sparked his interest in writing vacuous, worthless, shite.  

Unsurprisingly then, over the lifespan of nearly a century, Ranajit Guha’s trajectory was one of many unexpected twists and turns.

No it wasn't. Guys who had to run away from Muslims prefer to relocate to Europe which has a history of slaughtering Semites. Also, India pherry hot.  

The ‘biographical illusion’, as Pierre Bourdieu termed it, may call for a neater form of emplotment than what this life affords us.

There was a plot by stupid Leftists which resulted in their discipline turning to shit. That may not be neat, it may not be elegant, but that's all that happened here.  

This is despite the fact that we are dealing with someone with a powerful drive, not to career and careerism, but to a more complex form of charismatic self-fashioning


in which Guha largely eschewed the limelight,

he was lazy 

which he left to some of his younger disciples. Perhaps the secretive habits of his early adult years proved hard to shake off.

If he was a Soviet agent he was being paid by Europeans then. What is certain is that he preferred to be paid by White people and to reside thousands of miles away from shitty sub-continental subalterns.  

Nevertheless, by choosing the fringes of the academic world, Guha managed to exercise a greater influence than many of those who held the great seats of academic power. In this, he showed that he did indeed have a consummate understanding of politics and its workings.

Academic politics matters not a jot more especially if victory means turning your subject into shit. Those who won't learn from history are condemned to teach it.  

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