Monday 31 July 2023

Ram Guha now thinks he is Einstein!

Which was the first Western country to impose highly discriminatory immigration laws targeting Ashkenazi Jews? Britain. The French, because of the Dreyfus affair may have been more vocally anti-Semitic, but in England the thing suddenly became eminently fashionable.

Consider Keynes's reaction to meeting Einstein-

'He is a naughty Jew boy covered with ink –that kind of Jew – the kind which has its head above water, the sweet, tender imps who have not sublimated immortality into compound interest. He was the nicest, and the only talented person I saw in all Berlin, except perhaps old- Fuerstenberg, the banker Lydia liked so much, and Kurt Singer, two foot by five, the mystical economist from Hamburg. And he was a Jew; and so was Fuerstenberg and so was Singer. And my dear Melchior is Jew too. Yet if I lived there, I felt I might turn anti-Semite.

This is rich! How much more anti-Semitic could this Old Etonian cunt have turned?  

For the poor Prussian is too slow and heavy on his legs for the other kind of Jews, the ones who are not imps but serving devils, with small horns, pitch forks, and oily tails. It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains. I vote rather for the plump hausfraus and think fingered Wandering Birds. But I am not sure that I wouldn’t even rather be mixed up with Lloyd George than with the German political Jews

Britain had more than its share of 'political Jews' in the Cabinet at the time.  Come to think of it, Reading got a better deal from America during the First World War than Keynes would manage during the Second.

Why was British, or American, anti-Semitism relatively ineffective compared to what happened in Germany? The answer, obviously, is that Britain and America did sensible things and thus remained secure and prosperous. Germany did stupid shit. Since persecuting Jews is stupid, they naturally went in for it till they were defeated, partitioned, occupied and forced to get rich by doing boring stuff.

Turning to the subject of this post, it is a remarkable fact that, whenever Ram Guha reads a biography about somebody famous, he starts believing he himself is the 'ibbur' or partial incarnation of that personage. Moreover, he has an urgent message from that famous person for India which is currently in exactly the same position as Germany under Hitler or Italy under Mussolini.

 Guha now believes he is Einstein- who, as a Zionist, had a problem with Muslims attacking his people some years before Jews in Germany themselves became subject to attack- writes in 

I present a selection of striking remarks

they are not striking. They are anodyne shite. 

by Albert Einstein excavated through Fritz Stern’s research.

Stern is critical of Likud and tones down Einstein's Zionism. The fact is, Einstein, like Tagore, had a loathing of the 'fanatical' Muslim even though both in Palestine and East Bengal, the 'turbulent pugnacity' of the Muslim peasantry was economic in motivation rather than an expression of religious bigotry. However, it is true that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem joined hands with Hitler during the Second World War. But then, so did Netaji.  

These deal not with science

on which Einstein made interesting remarks 

but with matters of morality and politics.

which he had no knowledge about. 

My first quote dates to the year, 1901, when Einstein was in his early twenties. It has him saying: “The foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.”

Foolishness is not conducive to the search for truth. But 'faith in authority' is not foolish. It is 'Muth Rational'.  Einstein had faith in the authority of the German Universities which were to a greater degree, than in the Anglo-Saxon world, under State control and direction. That's why Einstein- who had changed nationality to avoid military service- happily applied for Austrian citizenship to secure a post in Prague before effectively resuming German citizenship to hold a yet higher post in Berlin. However, it is not clear whether Einstein regarded himself as German rather than Swiss. True, he was given a German diplomatic passport but, at a later point, he was able to travel on a Swiss passport. However, he did take definite steps to relinquish German citizenship after settling in America.  He became an American citizen in 1934 by a joint resolution of Congress.  

To sum up, Einstein's smart handling of issues related to his nationality, show he had a sound understanding of legal issues related to citizenship. Moreover, in criticizing Germany, he was acting as a Swiss citizen- because that is how he saw himself.

On the other hand, Einstein understood the role of State authority in protecting and fostering the various Universities which hosted him. That wasn't foolish at all. Indeed, it was rather clever of him to keep changing his allegiance0 so as to advance his career. However, it was his great merit which opened doors for him. He truly was an ornament to any country which granted him citizenship.

One presumes that Einstein here principally had scientific authority in mind.

Scientific authority is established by 'crucial' experiments. It would be foolish to dispute such evidence. 

Yet, for young adults, a foolish faith in parental authority can also be misplaced,

No. Such faith can be forgiven. It is a 'mitigating factor'. Displaying a paranoid suspicion of Mummy and Daddy's intentions is not just foolish, it is the kind of thing that gets you locked up in a padded cell.  

whereas for men and women of all ages and all nationalities, a foolish faith in political authority is not always to be recommended either.

Being foolish is bad- unless, like Ram Guha, that's how you earn your bread. Still, if you have no faith in political authority, you are condemned to being a vagabond. You can't put down roots. You can't pursue any mentally demanding scheme of research. You will spend your life on the que vive for an abrupt descent of the polity into either anarchy or tyranny. People will consider you a paranoid nutter and give you a wide berth. 

Born in the German Empire, Einstein moved to Switzerland in his teens.

He took Swiss citizenship to avoid conscription. On moving to Berlin, he stipulated for retention of Swiss nationality because he was still young enough to be called up for military service. By the end of the War, Germany was so hated that Einstein gained by being seen as Swiss though he did not dispute that as an employee of the Prussian State, he was automatically a German citizen.  

His early scientific work was done in Zurich. In 1913, when he was in his thirties, he was persuaded to move to Berlin, the capital of Germany and of German science. Einstein liked his new scientific colleagues, yet he found the conformity of the German public, their uncritical devotion to the Kaiser and the Fatherland, deeply problematic.

No he didn't. Otherwise he'd have returned to neutral Switzerland.  

In January 1914, he wrote that “the free, uninhibited view is generally something alien to the [adult] German”.

Lots of Germans kept saying that. But they stayed in Germany if that was advantageous to them.  

Elsewhere, Einstein spoke of the “inborn servility” of the Germans. (These comments resonate with the state of India and of Indians today.)

They resonate with the state of Karnataka where the CM is very servile indeed to Rahul.  

The First World War broke out later that year. Einstein was appalled by the jingoism around him.

To be fair, the Brits were worse. Lots of academics- philosophers in particular- felt they had to attack German thinkers with might and main. British propaganda against the 'Hun' was far more fierce and effective than anything the Germans could come up with. Even the British Royal Family changed its Germanic sounding name.  

In 1915, the physicist asked the war-crazed Germans to learn to treat “power-hunger and greed” as well as “hatred and bellicosity” as “despicable vices”.

No he didn't. He kept very quiet while carrying on with his, admittedly, path-breaking research.  

The Germans professed to be Christians and boasted of their commitment to the Christian faith and claimed to be acting in consonance with it. Einstein called out this hypocrisy when he told them: “Honor your Master Jesus Christ not in words and hymns, but above all through your deeds.”

But Einstein didn't consider that carpenter's son his own master- did he? Incidentally the German 'Hymn of Hate' was written by a Jew. Indeed, Jews enlisted in the German Army with greater enthusiasm than the Christians. It simply wasn't true that German Jews were not patriotic or had participated in any so called 'stab in the back'. 

In the same year, 1915, the Goethebund of Berlin, a forum of artists and scientists, asked Einstein his views of the war. Einstein replied: “The psychological roots of the war are in my opinion biologically founded in the aggressive characteristics of the male creature.”

Lions aren't aggressive at all- right? That's why they don't have Armies and Field Marshalls and big big wars. 

The fact is, outside his specialist field, Einstein was a simpleton. That was fine because it went well his image as an absent minded professor detached from reality. 

Of course, the male propensity to violence does not manifest itself only in wars between nations; consider, again, the India of today, where young men are at the forefront of violence enacted in the name of religion and/or politics.

When was not this case? In which country do you find most assaults are carried out by elderly ladies?  

Among Albert Einstein’s correspondents was the Swiss-French novelist, Romain Rolland, incidentally a friend also of Gandhi and Tagore.

He later became a worshipper of Stalin.  

In August 1917, Einstein wrote to Rolland that Germany’s military victories in the late 19th century had left the country with “a religious faith in power which found in [the hyper-nationalist and anti-Semitic historian Heinrich von] Treitschke an appropriate, not an exaggerated, expression.

Treitschke started off as a Liberal. Then he realized that the Hapsburg and Romanov Emperors would make common cause against a Liberal, Democratic, Germany, while France- fearing a rival power on the Rhine- too would join a 'Holy Alliance' to crush Liberalism. Von Bernhardi, a Prussian General, could be considered Treitschke's successor and there was an attempt to attribute 'War guilt' to him. Nothing came of it because, truth be told, all the polities of Europe- Cantonized Switzerland excepted- had similar designs on the territory of their neighbours. 

'This religion dominates the minds of almost all of the cultured elite; it almost completely extruded the ideals of the Goethe-Schiller era.”

There were no such ideals. There was merely 'Sehnsucht'- i.e. adolescent yearning. It was obvious that France wasn't going to export Democracy or Liberalism. Bonaparte just wanted to make all his brothers and sisters Kings and Queens.  

Once more, the parallels with contemporary India are depressingly visible.

Fuck off! India doesn't want to conquer its neighbours. On the other hand, it evinces little desire to be conquered by jihadis or ruled by a half-Italian dynasty. Guha finds this very reprehensible.  

The power-crazed religion of Hindutva has become so influential as to largely extrude the ideals of the Tagore-Gandhi era.

Exclude. What Guha is extruding is a turd. Tagore demanded that Hindus unite to combat Islam and Christianity. His was a voice in the wilderness. Gandhi demanded that the Brits hand over control of the Army to the INC  because, he said, Hindus are non-violent and thus without the Army to protect them, the country would be ruled by Muslims and Punjabis.  

Fritz Stern himself remarks that Einstein had “contempt for nationalist narrowness in any form”.

He thought Indians were biologically inferior. It would be a pity if Indian nationalists prevailed. 

At the same time, Einstein did believe that the continuing persecution of Jews in Europe made their own search for a homeland justifiable.

More particularly if this involved taking land away from 'biologically inferior' people. This was the Liberal view- shared by Keynes and Bertrand Russell- back then.  

He supported the migration of Jews to Palestine in the belief and hope that “there should be a tiny speck on this earth in which the members of our tribe should not be aliens”.

What is better is if no Jew or Gentile is treated as alien despite holding citizenship, simply on the grounds of creed or colour. Einstein had no problem settling in Jim Crow America.  

He was in this sense a Zionist, who endorsed the creation of a Jewish State in the Middle East.

He turned down the Presidency of the new State. He was no fool. Israel at the time was poor and weak. Few would have predicted its rise as a STEM subject super-power.  

Nonetheless, he did not want the residents of this state to be selfish and parochial in the way he had witnessed the Germans to be.

No doubt, Guha thinks Jim Crow America wasn't 'selfish' or 'parochial' in any way. African Americans were lynching themselves because they enjoy that sort of thing- right?  

Thus, as Einstein wrote in October 1919, “one can be internationally minded, without renouncing interest in one’s tribal interests.”

The context was Einstein's support for Zionism and the immediate creation of a Jewish State in Palestine.

(This formulation, we may note, is not dissimilar to that of Tagore who, likewise, sought to blend an inclusive and non-jingoistic nationalism with an openness to the world.)

Tagore kept warning his people that they would lose their property and lives in East Bengal. The bhadralok needed to keep the Brits around.  

Einstein opposed the race-based nationalism of the Germans

but was cool with the 'tribal' nationalism of the Zionists. On balance, he was right. Germany is better off not being nationalistic. Without Israel, Jews in the West might still face a lot of persecution.   

and had reservations about Jews adopting this template in the new homeland they wished to create.

To be fair, it looked as though the Jews could get 'mawali' or protected status from a Hashemite Kingdom which might unite the Arabs. The problem was that the Jews would then become a class of middlemen and professionals in the Cities of the Levant. Herzl's ideas was that they should become an agricultural people. The sturdy yeoman makes the best soldier- or so people thought at that time.  

In 1929, after there were violent clashes between Arabs and Jewish settlers in Palestine,

German and British Jews blamed Russian and Polish Zionists for alarming the Palestinians by their 'maximal' rhetoric. However the trigger for the riots was a religious issue involving Jewish access to the Wailing Wall. Einstein, like Tagore, had no great love for the 'fanatical' Muslim.

Einstein wrote to the leading Zionist, Chaim Weizmann (later the first president of Israel), that “if we do not find the path to honest cooperation and honest negotiations with the Arabs, then we have learned nothing from our 2000 years of suffering, and we deserve the fate that will befall us”.

At the time, this was a reasonable belief. Many Jews had internalized the view that their people weren't cut out to be soldiers. Still, Einstein would have been delighted to witness Israel's military successes.  

What is happening in Israel today bears witness to the wisdom of Einstein’s remarks.

Fuck off! What we are witnessing is the wisdom of Jabotinsky's views. Israel is simply a State like any other. If it defends itself and pursues sensible economic policies, then its erstwhile enemies offer it the hand of friendship.  

With a fanatical right-wing government in power, and liberal Jews on the retreat, Israel is further than ever before from finding that necessary path towards honest cooperation with the Arabs.

Which is why Israel will do fine. Truth be told, there is no need to curb the Israeli judiciary. If you closely examine any decision favourable to the Palestinians, you find that the Bench hasn't actually given them anything. They may appear to be shutting a door over here, when, in fact, they are knocking down the whole wall over there.  

Hopefully, the Chinese will broker a deal such that the Israeli knowledge-economy gets its mitts on the hugely intelligent and talented youth of Palestine. These are the guys we need working on clean energy and de-salinification and smart stuff of that sort. 

All through his life, Einstein meditated deeply on how an individual should relate to the world.

Nope. He meditated deeply on a unified field theory- one which would be valid even if there were no human or other conscious beings in the Universe. He knew nothing of Econ or Poli Science or Sociology.  

He deeply cherished human relationships

who doesn't? Even Johnny-no-mates cherishes his relationship with Mummy and Daddy.  

and, unlike other great scientists who were exclusively focused on their work and career,

which ones? There were plenty of great scientists who had other interests.  

made many close friends.

He was a celebrity and enjoyed being a celebrity. He had an active sex life. Good for him.  

He knew that an individual life found meaning in the web of connections it built with other lives.

He also knew that it was nice to get a salary from an Institute funded by a Jewish philanthropist. 

While the Western capitalist society of his time celebrated what Ayn Rand famously (or notoriously) called “the virtue of selfishness”,

Nonsense! Ayn Rand only became famous after the failure of Roosevelt's New Deal. The Economy recovered because of the War but more and more Americans chafed at the regulatory regime whereby the Government controlled industry.  

Einstein, on the other hand, sought – not always with success, of course – to practise what we may call the virtue of selflessness.

No, he didn't. He looked after number one- which was cool because he was doing amazing work.  

Einstein’s anti-chauvinist and anti-narcissist philosophy was beautifully expressed in his funeral oration for his fellow physicist, Rudolf Ladenburg, in Princeton in 1954.

1952. Guha isn't good with dates.

I quote: “Brief is this existence, as a fleeting visit in a strange house. The path to be pursued is poorly lit by a flickering consciousness, the center of which is the limiting and separating.

This sounds a bit like a line from Beowulf. I suppose the Germans were up on that sort of thing. 

“The limitation to the I is for the likes of our nature unthinkable, considering both our naked existence and our deeper feeling for life. The I leads to the Thou and to the We – a step which alone makes us what we are.

Einstein was also a friend of Martin Buber.  

And yet the bridge which leads from the I to the Thou is subtle and uncertain, as is life’s adventure.

I suppose Einstein had noticed that anybody can sound profound in a non-STEM subject. Not Guha. Whatever he writes is always foolish. 

“When a group of individuals become a We, a harmonious whole, then the highest is reached that humans as creatures can reach.”

But, in STEM subjects, disharmony is even better than harmony.  

However, let me end this column not with Albert Einstein’s words

Words like these-

 Today I have been made happy by the sight of the Jewish people learning to recognize themselves and to make themselves recognized as a force in the world. This is a great age, the age of liberation of the Jewish soul, and it has been accomplished through the Zionist movement, so that no one in the world will be able to destroy it. 

but with those of the author of Einstein’s German World.

 Stern asked Einstein whether he should study Medicine, as his parents wanted, or History. 'Medicine' Einstein replied. 'History is not a Science'. Since Stern had low IQ he chose History and did well enough in that field because he simply didn't understand why German anti-Semitism became so virulent. The short answer is Catholicism. The Junker could adopt anti-Semitism to win over the Catholic minority. In any case it was 'the Socialism of Fools' and Germans were plenty stupid. Pretending, as Arendt did, that it had something to do with Holfjude (Court Jews) transmuted into Bankers or Industrialists is simply silly. 

Himself an exile from Hitler and the Nazis,

His parents emigrated when he was 12.  

in reflecting on the painful, tormented, hate-and-violence-filled history of his times,

The America he emigrated to had plenty of hate and violence for African Americans and Hispanics, not to mention the indigenous people.  

Fritz Stern remarked: “No country, no society, is shielded from the evils that the passivity of decent citizens can bring about.

Fuck off! Britain is plentifully shielded despite having a very polite and courteous citizenry. Constitutional Checks and Balances under the Rule of Law, together with sensible Economic and Defence policies are all that is required.  

That is a German lesson of the twentieth century – for all of us.”

When Indira Gandhi locked up her opponents and instituted a Dictatorship, Guha & Co were entirely docile. Narendra Modi wasn't. That's why he is Prime Minister while Guha is dreaming of himself as the Indian Einstein. 

The plain fact is, the 'German lesson of the twentieth century' is that decent citizens of a Democracy should be passive provided the Rule of Law obtains. If politicians screw up the economy, kick them out at the ballot box. But decency is not enough. If the people believe crazy shit, crazy shit is gonna happen one way or another

In Germany, between 1880 and 1945,  'decent citizens' believed that conquest was the path to security and prosperity.  The transition to Democracy- or 'Social Democracy'- proved disastrous on two separate occasions. Germany only became prosperous and secure after 'decent citizens' turned their backs on 'political engagement'. They concentrated on making nice cars or machine tools or other deeply boring stuff of that sort. The Germans do have some Historians and Economists and so forth but none as stupid and ignorant as Guha. Clearly, this is a great shortcoming which they must urgently rectify.  

Friday 28 July 2023

Feisal Devji's murderous Gandhi

 Positive law is law as the command of a sovereign.  Unlike natural or judge made or equitable law- where some process of ratiocination may lead every suitably qualified jurist to, in good faith, arrive at the same conclusion- positive law is arbitrary and its application is limited by jurisdiction or treaty. It is not universal though, by convention, it may become so for many practical purposes.

Consider the Mansfield judgment in the Somerset Case-

The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged

Turning to subjective, imperative or deonitic logic, as opposed to intersubjective law, we find that a person is welcome to believe that his spiritual preceptor, or religious pontiff, is a sovereign authority capable of creating positive laws or injunctions applicable to herself and her fellow acolytes. No rational, moral or political consideration can militate against acceptance of the command though no doubt one may rebel and change one's loyalty. Here strict obedience is linked to 'strict merit'. 

Can positive law be 'universal'- i.e. have unlimited jurisdiction? If a King- like Alexander- had really conquered the entire Earth- sure. Alternatively, if a particular Prophet had correctly predicted that everybody would convert to his Religion then its laws would be seen as universal. The same applies to an ideology which gains global hegemony. But nothing of the sort has happened yet. If it did, we might think that those positive laws were logically necessary in some sense. In other words, the process of deontic reasoning must have that particular terminus for some reason to do with that type of reason itself. No other outcome was possible. The terminus represents indefeasible law, perfect and harmoniously constructed. 

This can be linked to a separate notion of positivity- e.g. Godel's Liebnizian notion of a positive property- which could be seen, mathematically speaking, as a proposition about ultrafilters. To simplify matters, consider a partial ordering with a supremum. Historically, this is associated with perfectibility. Perfection is the predicate of a supremum and this is a positive property if its negation would detract from its excellence. For Hindus, Lord Ram is Purushottam- the perfect man- just as Prophet Muhammad is Insan-e-kamil. It is tempting to say that such and such a perfected personage must have the predicate of sovereignty and is thus the source of positive law. But can we show that such law is logically necessary- i.e. we could arrive at by a priori means? Hindu Mimamsa (hermeneutics) would say- 'No. If the command is Scriptural, it must have the quality of 'apoorvata'- i.e. always suggesting something new or novel on every iterated reading. We might say that meaning is 'co-evolving', not static or axiomatic. This means that for Hinduism, Law is defeasible and regarded as 'samskari'- i.e. conventional. Nyaya- that is Justice- is merely a service industry. Niti- that is Policy- is essentially ad hoc and contextual. Such a view is perfectly harmonious with the Anglo Saxon legal tradition- or, thus it must appear to Hindus like me who have lawyers in our family tree. 

This raises the question, what can Hindu or Anglo Saxon jurisprudence say about the possibility of a perfect command- such as would issue from a perfect personage, a 'Judge Hercules'-  and which must also have the quality of 'naturality' or non-arbitrariness and meet other such rational or category theoretical criteria?  

One may go further and speculate that, if there are perfect laws, and those laws are positive, a perfect lawgiver must be possible. But, if possible then why not actual- because it is more perfect to actually exist than to merely be compossible with Existence?  This is like the Ontological proof of God but also Arrow's theorem which says if there were a perfect Social Choice Rule it must be Dictatorial. But a 'compossible' Dictator or Law-giver who actually exists is more perfect than one who is merely logically possible because it is more perfect to be than not to be. Hamlet, in the grip of Agrippa's trilemma, might, however, disagree. We sympathise. Nobody wants to have to kill Uncle just coz a Ghost is telling them to do it. 'Witnesses' and 'Oracles' are all very well but you have to draw the line at Ghosts- right? 

Turning to a Hindu for whom the apotheosis of our Love is uttermost Contempt, the fact is, Mahatma Gandhi came from a part of India where many successful mercantile communities placed their faith in pontiffs of Divine Perfection and supposed Impeccability. Some, like the liberal Aga Khans, have helped their communities rise up by leaps and bounds. But the hyper-orthodox Bohra Syednas seem to been just as efficacious. Ordinary Hindus, like me, from other parts of India fully appreciate various Hindu & Jain sects having their origin in Gujarat- e.g Arya Samaj, Swaminaryan, etc- but we are aware that there can always be a 'bad apple' or else a vain, virtue signalling fool, like the late Swami Agnivesh of whom I once thought highly of. 

Sadly, the Mahatma's father had been an acolyte of a Pushtimarga 'Maharaj' who was shown, in a libel case from a few years before Gandhi was born, to have slept with the wives of his acolytes and infected them with syphilis. There were other such scandals in different Faith communities at that time. This did not destroy 'shradda' or devotional piety because it was possible to continue to be loyal to such a pontiff by arguing that what was important was to obey his command even if the result was immoral and repugnant coz God moves in mysterious ways or some shite to do with prarabhda karma or some arcane wrinkle to Sufi-Goofy Muhammadiya esotericism. 

Gandhi, as a loyal subject of the British King Emperor, had tried to recruit Indian soldiers during the First World War on the basis that obedient service without hope of reward was a positive duty- i.e. one which only applied to abject Indians, not Burra Sahib conshie jailbirds like that son-of-an-Earl, Bertrand Russell. 

His fellow Gujaratis chased the Mahacrackpot away. Gandhi learnt his lesson well. Doing a U turn, he suddenly set up as the Commander of a Congress/Khilafat combine which claimed there was a positive duty to resign from all Government posts, boycott the courts and Schools and Colleges and so forth. Sadly, unlike Sinn Fein which had successfully set up a parallel legal system, Gandhi's efforts failed because there isn't enough money in the world to pay lawyers not to practice or bribe swindlers not to swindle.  The other obvious problem was that Hindus and Shias didn't really believe they had a duty to fight for a Turkic, Hanafi, Caliphate. One might as well suggest that cats will happily marry dogs. s

 The bigger problem was that what the masses wanted was comprehensive land reform. But this would lead to the disintermediation of 'barristocrats'- the Administration, British or otherwise, gained by scrapping 'Permanent Settlement' and dealing directly with 'ryots'-  and the rise to political power of agricultural 'educationally backward' castes in the countryside- which was what eventually happened from the Sixties onwards. 

 Gandhi's importance to the INC was that he, with seeming naivete, always insisted that the British must transfer all power, including control over the Army, to the INC. In other words, Gandhi was the Dictator because he was making a maximal demand. In some garbled way, the fellow was channelling Ramakrishna in that he claimed to be a Muslim because he read bits of the Quran while also being a Dalit because he sometimes cleaned toilets (though only one small sub-caste of Dalits does so) . Gandhi also claimed to be a woman because he liked to sleep naked with young girls and, back in those days, people would say of their daughters 'she has never slept more than arm's length away from her Mum or Granny.' so as to assure the prospective groom's family that the lass was a virgin rather than a trollop. 

Though Gandhi appeared a conciliatory and gentle soul, the fact that Gandhi demanded absolute power for the INC ultimately alienated all other groups and communities. This became clear at the Second Round Table Conference, Gandhi succeeded in uniting the Muslims, the Dalits, the non-Brahmins of Madras Presidency, the Sikhs, the Christians, and everybody else against the INC. Thus, the Tories got to dictate the scope and pace of reform. Still, Gandhi remained the source of all positive law for his acolytes. By doing the stupid shit he commanded, they might get reborn on a paradisal planet where everybody lives for ten billion years and there is no sex or dirty pictures or nice movies to watch or cool clothes to wear.

Facile Devji, in a paper titled 'morality in the shadow of politics', tries to argue that Gandhi was seeking a 'natural' or 'universal' political morality whereas the truth is he- who regarded politics as a 'cash cow'- was merely asserting his own authority, as a 'Mahatma', to promulgate 'positive law' binding on his acolytes. This also meant he could both launch foolish agitations as well as arbitrarily withdraw them because of some supposed, quite venial, lapse on the part of an acolyte. This was fine so long as Gandhi himself went to jail and stayed there for a bit. If, as happened in South Africa, he did a deal and got out of jail after a few weeks, his former followers might beat the shit out of him. 

Gandhi explains that Swamy Shraddanand (who, like Gandhi, wasn't a Brahmin and who had given Gandhi his old title of Mahatma while promoting himself to the status of Swamy), had asked him to do a thorough commentary on the Gita rather than arbitrarily stipulate that the Shramanic doctrine of Ahimsa was counselled by that 'Sanaatani' text, just on the basis of a few 'stray verses'. 

The context, obviously, was Gandhi's calling off the Non Cooperation Movement after violence broke out at Chauri Chaura. Since Gandhi was a confused fellow who wrote in a garbled manner, his musings on the Gita are shitty. However, a Hindu can easily see that the fellow was trying to appeal to the orthodox position. Indeed, at the time, he was sill describing himself as 'Sanaatani'. 

Devji, choosing to remain oblivious to Gandhi's own explanation of why he produced a book on the Gita, writes-

Having put an end to his first great movement of non-cooperation

he had previously called off the anti-Rowlatt agitation when violence broke out. He wrote to the Viceroy saying he wouldn't withdraw Non-Cooperation even if violence broke out. But, that's precisely what he did do. He cooperated with his own prosecution by pleading guilty to sedition, avowing his allegiance to the King Emperor, and asking for the stiffest penalty under the law. He was released early but kept very quiet for the whole duration of his sentence. 

following the First World War, Gandhi sat down to learn the lessons of this early experiment in mass politics.

The lesson was to stop promising to deliver Swaraj. Try pretending to be do social work or some such thing.  

In 1926 he went on to impart these lessons to his fellow workers in the Sabarmati Ashram by way of a series of lectures on the Bhagavad Gita.

He was the head of a cult. In any case, there was a tradition of freedom fighter- e.g. Tilak, Aurobindo etc- writing a commentary on the Gita or some other such text. What made Gandhi peculiar was that he didn't know Sanskrit.

Gandhi was interested in exploring the relations between violence and non-violence, which he thought were so intimate that one could very easily turn into the other.

This is because Gandhi had noticed that when a man is sexually intimate with a woman, they both change gender. That's a good reason to abstain from sex.  

Seeking out the Archimedean point that made such a turning possible, the Mahatma had occasion to criticize any ethics that would divide good from evil on the basis of a moral calculus.

This would be a rational or 'natural' or 'intuition' based ethics as opposed to the positive law which a King or Pontiff creates by issuing a command.  

How, he asked, was an ethics possible that recognized the intractability of ignorance and compulsion?

In other words, what is the point of seeking agreement, on the basis of rational discussion, on what is right and wrong? People are as stupid as shit. They should just listen to some Mahacrackpot or, at the very least, give him money.

Any ethical system that relied upon knowledge and choice, he thought, was either deluded or true only for a very small elite.

Charlie Manson would have agreed.  

A common ethics, then, had to be one which recognized ignorance and compulsion not negatively, as posing limits to moral life, but rather in the form of positive virtues like duty and obedience.

Positive law is law as command. Virtue has the quality of producing actions which exhibit 'strict' or 'condign' merit when they fulfil the command of the concerned authority. Otherwise there may be congruous merit but, in a sense, virtue only gives rise to it accidentally. 

Gandhi’s commentary on the Gita was therefore an attempt to think about moral action in the context of ignorance and compulsion,

in which case people should worship a Mahacrackpot and do any type of stupid shite he commands them to do. 

which he did by focusing on the integrity of the act itself divested of the idealism lent it by any moral calculus

This involved doing stupid shit coz the Mahatma commanded it.  

 The story has often been told of Gandhi putting an end to the first and arguably most successful experiment with civil disobedience across India in 1922, after some of his followers burnt to death nineteen policemen trapped in their station at a place called Chauri-Chaura.

This meant that all sorts of 'approvers' would come crawling out of the woodwork claiming that Gandhi and his lieutenants had been inciting them to violence as part of some complicated conspiracy. This would mean that Gandhi & Co. could be prosecuted for waging war on the King Emperor.  Few of the higher ups would see jail time- good lawyers would see to that- but the movement would be crippled financially. There would be no money for Gandhi's crackpot schemes. 

Explanations of why the Mahatma should have called off a movement that was enjoying extraordinary success include, on the one hand, his fear of losing control over its potentially revolutionary drift,

 a fair point. Nehru, in his autobiography, mentions Baba Ram Chandra- a former indentured labourer from Fiji who had become radicalized. On having to return to India he became a peasant agitator in UP. Nehru condemned him for appealing to Hinduism and for wanting what the peasants wanted- viz. no more landlords. Gandhi, Nehru, etc. didn't want to be displaced by popular peasant leaders like the Baba. Also they didn't fancy being transported to the Andamans.  

and on the other his realization that the Indians who took to all manner of violence during the satyagraha were not quite ready for their freedom.

People who listen to Mahacrackpots aren't ready for shit.  

I am interested neither in the communist theory of Gandhi as an agent of some bourgeois nationalism desperate to rein in the people’s revolutionary impetus,

the people's 'revolutionary impetus' had to overcome the muscle-men of landlords and factory owners. Still, if the people beat the shit out of those muscle-men, they could get the deal they wanted. One reason lots of bhardralok Bengalis joined the INC was because the 'pugnacious and turbulent' (in A.O. Hume's phrase) peasants of East Bengal had been flexing their muscles and getting more favourable Tenancy legislation.  

Landlords could get injunctions and, sometimes, pay for Government troops to be employed on their behalf. But that game had to be worth the candle. 

nor, for its part, in the liberal theory of a people too immature for independence.

India needed a Navy of its own to protect its shores. It didn't get an Indian admiral till about 1958. Nehru's India could neither feed nor defend itself nor prevent massive ethnic cleansing. On the other hand, it could slaughter Razakars and Commie insurgents.  

Such explanations cannot account for awkward details like the fact that no situation could be very revolutionary that was stopped by a man to whom no police or military force was available,

No situation is very revolutionary unless the guys running things are utterly shite.  

or the fact that Gandhi had consistently demanded immediate self-rule

he demanded the handover of all power, especially control of the Army, to the INC. In 1939, he clarified that INC was a Hindu party. Since Hindus won't fight because they believe in Ahimsa, it followed that they needed the Army to defend themselves from the Muslims and the Punjabis. 

and always rejected the claim of India’s being unprepared for independence.
a country which isn't independent either does not want to be independent or else is not prepared to become independent. What Gandhi didn't say was that India would be unviable as an independent country. Why? Because that clearly wasn't true. However, because the INC couldn't play nice with the Muslim League, the price was partition and an exchange of populations. Burma and Aden and so forth would, of course, go their own way. 

Non-violent protest was, for the Mahatma,

only cool if he commanded it 

not a means but an end in itself,

doing what the Mahacrackpot told you to do was an end in itself.  

one that stood apart from politics conceived as a practice of conjuring up some future.

Politics is about getting to be an MP and then a Cabinet Minister and so on. Gandhi could not prevent Congress-men from taking this route though his own dedicated acolytes concentrated on spinning cotton and talking bollocks.  

While such forms of civil disobedience had political consequences, in other words, their purposes were achieved in the very moment of expression rather than subsequently.

Only if they failed abjectly.  

And so acts of non-violent resistance were already free and did not require an independent or democratic state for their guarantee.

They didn't even need to be actually resisting anything. We are welcome to go on hunger strike till the law of gravity is repealed.  

Indeed it was only this kind of freedom that deserved the name, being immediately within the reach of anyone who desired it, no matter how powerless or oppressed.

Genuinely oppressed people can't do passive resistance or civil obedience. They can be beaten to death. But, in that case, they stop being people and become food for the worms.  

When Gandhi’s would-be followers resorted to violence in 1922, therefore, they had already lost their freedom,

No. They lost their freedom after being arrested. Some lost their lives after being hanged.  

not by abandoning morality so much as by forsaking the immediate virtues of satyagraha for a politics dedicated to some time other than the present, whether this was in order to avenge a past or to create a future.

Nonsense! Guys who are killing policemen aint doing satyagraha. What happened in Chauri Chaura was that lots of guys paid a little money to join Congress. They though Independence was coming any day now and, once that happened, they'd all get freedom fighter pensions and the pick of Government jobs and contracts. If more and more small towns had killed policemen, India would have got what Ireland and Egypt got in 1922. 

In fixing upon the present as a site of freedom Gandhi refused any politics that would sacrifice it for the future, and indeed inverted this logic to say that only by sacrificing the future can we safeguard it.

Gandhi may have been a crackpot but he made no such claim. He did not deny that we need to make sacrifices in the present to have a better future- including a better rebirth on a paradisal planet where there is no sex or dirty pictures.  

For a future known ahead of time would no longer be true to itself,

Yes it would. That's why people believe in karma. By following the commands of the pontiff or preceptor you get a wonderful after-life.  

while at the same time blinding us to the possibility of incalculable change,

we aren't blind to that at all. A fucking asteroid could hit the Earth or another World War might suddenly break out.  

which the Mahatma identified with the working of God in history.

No he didn't. Facile is making this shit up.  

So in his 1924 preface to Satyagraha in South Africa, Gandhi described moral action in the present as a dharma yuddha or holy war,

why not a jihad or Crusade?  

because it risked everything to attend upon and welcome the incalculable:

we don't need to risk shit in order to welcome the incalculable.  

That is the beauty of Satyagraha, it comes up to oneself;

like the smell of one's own farts 

one has not to go out in search for it.

So just do it in your sleep in the comfort of your own bed.  

This is a virtue inherent in the principle itself. A dharma-yuddha,

such as those waged by Hindus against non-Hindu invaders or occupiers 

in which there are no secrets to be guarded, no scope for cunning and no place for untruth, comes unsought; and a man of religion is ever ready for it.

Gandhi was ready to join the British Army at the start of the Great War. The Brits didn't want him. My dharma-yuddha involves being ready to sleep with Super-models.  

A struggle which has to be previously planned is not a righteous struggle.

A spontaneous mass uprising is more likely to succeed. If the thing is planned in advance, the Government can act strategically to ensure it fails.  

In a righteous struggle God Himself plans campaigns and conducts battles.

Which is why British rule in India was the fruit of righteous struggle. God was indeed an Englishman rather than a horny Welsh adulterer.

A dharma-yuddha can be waged only in the name of God,

just like a jihad or Crusade. 

and it is only when the Satyagrahi feels quite helpless, is apparently on his last legs and finds utter darkness all around him, that God comes to the rescue.

By getting the nutter to plead guilty to all charges and go meekly off to jail.  

 The Mahatma sought to inhabit the present in such a way as to maintain both its own integrity and that of a moral life possible in no other time.

We all inhabit the present. Its integrity isn't compromised even if we fart loudly while wanking. No moral life can be lived in some other timeline than the one you presently inhabit.  

This accounts for his promises made throughout a lengthy career that self-rule might be achieved within a year, or his calls for the British to depart India immediately and let her suffer invasion or civil war, as in the famous Quit India movement of 1942.

No. What accounts for Gandhi saying stupid shit was that it was advantageous to him to say that stupid shit at that time. Gandhi thought the Japs would win. So he told the Brits they should fuck off. Gandhi was wrong and soon changed his tune.  

The philosopher Mohammad Iqbal

he was Punjabi and thus incapable of saying anything sensible. Still, the guy had met Bergson and so was babbling some shite about 'duration'. BTW, after meeting Mussolini, Iqbal began praising that fool who was massacring Muslims in Libya. 

had perhaps the most acute comment to make about Gandhi’s focus on the present in a speech delivered to the All-India Muslim Conference in March of 1932. He claimed that the struggle of imperialism and nationalism in India was based upon a fundamental misunderstanding.

Prophet Muhammad had clarified that Muslims would inevitably rule over everything. Stupid Christians and Hindus didn't get this. 

For oriented as they were to the future in which their ideals lay, the British were unable to recognize themselves as oppressors in the present,

whereas Mussolini was just lovely. The Libyans should have been grateful to the Il Duce.  

while Gandhi was equally unable to grasp that his interlocutors could only be engaged by arguments that invoked this future:

No. They could be engaged by kicking their ass and sending them packing.  

The Western man’s mental texture is chronological in character.

Stupid Western men may have been shite like this at that time. Smart peeps knew Einstein's theory according to which different observes might see events in a different sequence. On the other hand, time in quantum theory is rigid and absolute. However, it might not be real at all. The Universe may be a hologram.

He lives and moves and has his being in time.

Eastern man lives and moves and has his being in comic books. Fu Manchu will fuck you up something chronic.  

The Eastern man’s world-consciousness is non-historical. To the Western man things gradually become; they have a past, present and future. To the Eastern man they are immediately rounded off, timeless, purely present ...

You can take the Punjabi out of the Pind but you can't shit on his head because he will beat the fuck out of you. Sad. 

The British as a Western people cannot but conceive political reform in India as a systematic process of gradual evolution.

Which is what it actually was and is.  

Mahatma Gandhi as an Eastern man sees in this attitude nothing more than an ill-conceived unwillingness to part with power and tries all sorts of destructive negations to achieve immediate attainment.

The Japanese were even more Eastern. When they didn't get what they wanted by negotiation, they used military force in exactly the same way that the Germans and Italians did. 

Both are elementally incapable of understanding each other. The result is the appearance of a revolt.2

Iqbal was soon proved wrong. British Viceroys with political skill- e.g. Reading and Irwin- played Gandhi like a fiddle. After the Second Round Table Conference, Congress was isolated and demoralized. It contested elections and formed Provincial administrations in 1937. By then Viceroys didn't bother talking to Gandhi. They just locked his people up till they calmed down and accepted whatever the Brits deigned to offer. Nehru explains that this was because Congress's financiers didn't want to go to jail or to face expropriation. 

Whether or not Gandhi’s struggles missed their mark, he well understood that the future was his enemy’s greatest redoubt.

Not even Gandhi was stupid enough to think that British power wasn't declining around the globe. That's why he doubled down on 'Quit India'.  

Not only the mental texture of Western man, but modern politics itself was founded upon predicting and controlling the future,

Eastern man didn't predict and control the future with the result that he incessantly shat his pants.  

which was why the Mahatma set out to oppose it in a venture he called a holy war, whose battles were about setting moral action in the present against a politics of the future.

Fuck does this mean? Do stupid shit today even though this will fuck up your future something rotten?  

My task in this essay is to describe the way in which Gandhi thought this war through after the failure of his first great satyagraha in 1922.

All his previous satyagrahas failed as would his future satyagrahas. The mistake was to call off the anti-Rowlatt agitation. Gandhi explained that he first needed a certain some of money and then the second agitation would succeed. But it failed utterly because of Gandhi's panicked and precipitate unilateral surrender. In 1918, the Labour party- to whom Tilak had given 5000 quid of the Gaekwad's money- had promised to grant India independence. By 1924, they decided this was impossible because Indians were shit.  

Not the explanation of an event, then, but rather the words and actions of Gandhi as he struggled to come to terms with what he called “the death of non-violence” are of interest to me, since they provide us with an exemplary analysis of moral life in the shadow of modern politics.

This is nonsense. Moral life has completely changed modern politics during the course of my life. Being nasty to Gays, Blacks, Jews, Women etc, etc, is no longer cool. Gandhian shite wasn't moral it was mad when it wasn't hypocritical.  

That the Mahatma took responsibility for the failure of his non-violent form of civil disobedience indicates that he thought it to be one of theory rather than of practice.

Gandhi was responsible for calling it off which is why it failed. Otherwise, the Indian employees of the Government would have been cautious about cracking down on the agitators. The mofussil police, in particular, `could easily hedge their bets by working with the local Congress leaders and quietly defying orders from the IPS cadre. The British Indian army was not averse to shooting niggers on an industrial scale but would only do so on its own terms. The civilian administration would be displaced by the military. This meant power would eventually pass to Sandhurst trained Indian officers. This might have suited the Princes but it would leave the barristocrats out in the cold. 

What he learnt from this failure was to attend to the nature of violence more closely, as something embodied not simply in crimes like arson or murder, but more generally as a quality inherent in all action.

This is Jainism 101. Gandhi had plenty of Jain friends. He understood that the reason Munis wear muhpatti and sweep the path before them is so as to avoid violence to microscopic creatures.  But there was also the Tolstoyan notion that having sex causes violence. You have to give up sex and devote yourself to crazy shit otherwise it's like you are basically a serial killer. 

Violence occupied Gandhi not as a political, let alone a peculiarly Indian, problem, but as a problem of everyday life.

Gandhi was in a dangerous line of work. He kept getting beaten up in South Africa. In India, where people prefer to kill rather than thrash those who create a nuisance, he was careful to pose as a Saint. It's bad luck to kill a Saint- more particularly if the fellow is feeble-minded.

Yet it was the battlefield that provided him with a site to think about such violence,

because Vivekananda & Tilak had already chosen that site. Gandhi was playing catch-up.  

specifically the battlefield of the Bhagavad Gita, whose hero, Arjuna, suddenly loses the will to fight in a fratricidal war,

Arjuna ends up killing his eldest brother in an unfair manner.  

and has to be persuaded to do so by his divine charioteer Krishna.

Because that is God's plan. 

Gandhi was not alone in seeing this war as the greatest manifestation of a dharma yuddha, to which he returned frequently for inspiration. 

Very true. Similarly the Pope is not alone in seeing the Bible as a book of particularly importance to Christians.  

Rather than representing the end or limit of moral action, the battlefield was for Gandhi its true home.

No. Gandhi was a Bania. Kurukshetra was for Kshatriyas and one or two Brahmins. Vaishyas and Shudras were not welcome. Incidentally, battlefields are the end or limit of moral action for those who die there.  

Perhaps because moralists tend to describe warfare as the instantiation of all vice,

which moralists are those? Courage is a virtue, not a vice. Warriors on our side are considered highly virtuous.  

thus depending upon the fear it inspires to justify their arguments,

Facile may shit himself when he hears of War- which was fair enough, because the War on Terror was about killing Muslims wholesale, but this is not the usual reaction.  

the Mahatma, who thought fearlessness the essence of virtue,

Facile thinks shitting yourself while quaking with terror is the essence of virtue 

chose to locate morality on the battlefield instead.

If you are on a battlefield, don't keep surrendering unilaterally. That's cowardice, which is immoral.  

In doing so he dismissed the political ideal of a state at peace as a good example of righteousness,

No he didn't. He wasn't utterly stupid.  

even letting go of otherwise much-invoked models like Rama the king as a personification of virtue, or his capital, Ayodhya, as its privileged site.

Gandhi never lot go off Lord Ram. He may have been a crackpot but he was Hindu. 

But then the ideal of ramrajya, or Rama’s rule, with which Gandhi is so often associated, should not be seen as a political category in either its traditional or modern senses, since Rama here was not a king so much as a son, brother, father and husband.

But Ramrajya means The rule of Lord Rama as King, not as a son or a husband or a guy who was very good at shooting arrows.  

More importantly he was the hero of sacrifice,

No. He was a hero who did heroic stuff like kill demons.  

willing even to have his own wife suffer and die in the name of duty,

Nope. That's a later addition. By then there was the notion that the viyogini was superior to the yogi. Separation was higher than Union.  

and therefore a model for everyday life.

Unless you are married to a super-model in which case don't send her off to the forest. Keep her around to make everybody else jelly.  

Similarly war is not given over to politics in the Mahatma’s telling of the Gita, and is often rendered into a spiritual struggle, as if in recognition of the fact that a state at war no longer represents even its own political ideals, though it might claim to be defending them.

A state of war is not able to make claims of any sort. Warring sides, on the other hand, can make all sorts of claims.  

Lying at the heart of politics

is the polity. War occurs between polities 

while at the same time constituting its outer limits,

No. War may be a continuation of politics but is always subsumed by it. Thus, decisions to go to war, continue the war and to end the war are all political.  

war has the paradoxical status of being political and anti-political at the same time,

No it doesn't. During a war, Generals may gain political power but this can also happen after war has ended.  

even threatening the dissolution of politics altogether,

Politics is not dissolved though specific polities may be.  

and in all these ways it serves as the most appropriate arena for moral action considered as a far more protean and universal form of human behaviour.

Nonsense! Fighting is not 'protean' or 'universal'. There is little point doing it, if there is great disparity in fighting ability.  

It is this form of action that Gandhi focused upon when thinking about the place of morality in the shadow of politics,

No. Gandhi did not focus on warfare. Smuts did. He became a Field Marshal. Gandhi had risen to the rank of Sergeant in the Ambulance Corps. It simply isn't true that the guy was the Gujarati Clausewitz.  

which he did most powerfully in a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita delivered at the Satyagraha Ashram in 1926.

Gandhi was a Bania. The Gita says Kshatiryas should fight well. Banias should not. They should stick to making money.  

I will return to Gandhi’s commentary on Arjuna’s dilemma in another section of my essay, and begin instead with a remark made towards the end of his lengthy interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, which was made piecemeal during its public reading over several days at the ashram: “Following the death of nonviolence,

i.e. the demise of the notion that if you train yourself in non-violence you can achieve something miraculous.  Still, Gandhi's nutty acolytles did queue up to get beaten on the head during the Dandi Salt march. 

we discovered the value of the spinning-wheel,

it enabled these nutters to add negative value to cotton.  

as also of brahmacharya [celibacy].

Sadly, Gandhi's own sons fucked their wives and had babies.  

Beyond the river (Sabarmati) is bhogabhumi [the site of passivity],

realm of enjoyment or reward.  

while this is karmabhumi [the site of action].”

But those actions were useless and stupid. 

Notable about this comment are the two distinctions it makes: the first between non-violence and spinning or celibacy,

No. The distinction was between Non Cooperation as a political tactic and sitting quietly in the Ashram and spinning and refraining from sex because the Brits would not chuck you in jail if you were merely being useless rather than an active nuisance.  

and the second between these practices of the ashram and those of the life beyond. How is non-violence different from spinning or celibacy?

In this context, Non-violence means 'Non Cooperation'. Facile is too stupid to understand this. 

Why do these practices make of the ashram a site of action compared with the world outside as one of passivity?

Not passivity- enjoyment. Gandhi is saying 'Motilal and CR Das and the Swarajists are having a fine old time as members of the Legislative Council. Those cunts were opposing the raising of the Salt Tax- which is the moral equivalent of eating caviar and quaffing champagne-  instead of spinning or refraining from fucking their wives.  

Non-violence, says Gandhi, was something negative and had no existence of its own.

Nope. He is saying that fighting the Brits, instead of cooperating with them by sitting quietly spinning cotton, was very naughty. 

Facile, in his muddled way appears to be getting at the pravritti/nivritti distinction in what follows-

Unlike violence, which sought to have an effect as instrumental action, non-violence did not plan, produce or achieve anything, but rather made change possible by withdrawing from such action. Non-violence, however, did not flee the world of cause and effect, but made possible the most spectacular changes in it, and this by a process of negation instead of affirmation. Non-violence allowed for changes in the world of cause and effect by setting up ever-newer arenas of withdrawal in a manner deliberately opposed to the instrumental action so beloved of politics. Non-violence, indeed, was so little a positive entity, let alone a political strategy, that Gandhi saw it as a kind of epistemological quality, one whose detachment he defined as an effect of truth: Truth is a positive value, while non-violence is a negative value. Truth affirms. Nonviolence forbids something which is real enough. Truth exists, untruth does not exist. Violence exists, non-violence does not. Even so, the highest dharma [duty] for us is that nothing but non-violence can be. Truth is its own proof, and non-violence is its supreme fruit. The latter is necessarily contained in the former.

For Banias, pravritti means 'make money'. Nivritti means set up an Ashram and get other businessmen to fund it. Obviously, the latter is the holier and therefore better way coz God wants us to be useless tossers.  

Now the comparisons made in the passage above, between truth and violence as positive objects and untruth and non-violence as negative ones, suggest that Gandhi had come to see a series of complicated entanglements among them which no longer permitted of easy distinctions.

No. Gandhi, in his feeble-minded manner, was just giving a self-aggrandising account of how he was totes a Sadhu Mahatma which is why everybody should give him money so he could piss it away on his crackpot schemes.  

This becomes clear in an example of violence that Gandhi gives from the Gita, that of Karna, Bhishma and Drona, all good men who yet sided with the evil Duryodhana in his battle against the Pandavas: Whether out of compassion for Duryodhana, or because he was generous-hearted, Karna joined the former’s side.

Duryodhana made Karna a King even though he was believed to be a Suta's son.  

Besides Karna, Duryodhana had good men like Bhishma and Drona also on his side.

Because they were retainers of his father. Bhishma had passed up the throne which, after the death of Pandu, passed to Dhritirashtra, His partiality for his son could be said to cause the war. 

This suggests that evil cannot by itself flourish in this world.

No. It suggests that cousins might well have land disputes and this might result in bloodshed. This is a familiar story to Indians.  

It can do so only if it is allied with some good. This was the principle underlying non-cooperation, that the evil system which the Government represents, and which has endured only because of the support it receives from good people, cannot survive if that support is withdrawn.

Gandhi surrendered unilaterally. He cooperated in his own prosecution by pleading guilty. He was a stupid man though some considered him to be good.  

Just as the Government needs the support of good men in order to exist,

Governments need the support of smart and capable people. But so does any political party which wants to overthrow the existing administration.  

so Duryodhana required men like Bhishma and Drona in order to show that there was justice on his side.

No. He needed them because they were very very good at killing people.  

Gandhi’s use of this example to illustrate non-cooperation as a form of nonviolence is curious,

it is stupid. He was a stupid man.  

since the good men supporting Duryodhana did not after all withdraw their support of him, so that the evil of the Kauravas could only be defeated in a war of extreme violence, which the Mahatma elsewhere calls a righteous one. The problem was not simply that good men refused to withdraw from evil, but that evil itself, or rather the violence it gave rise to, was also a product of goodness and inextricable from it.

The Gita explains that the war occurred because it was part of God's plan. Some great and virtuous heroes, like Ghatotkacha, were listed to die as were some naughty people.  

Here, in the mutual entanglement of truth and violence, untruth and non-violence, might be found the latter’s cause of death.

This could be said of Yuddhishtra. But he didn't die. Drona did, though he had the boon of only giving up life by his own will.

Still, the wider context was that of the transition from a nobler age to our own age of darkness.  

This was why it became imperative to think about action and its inevitable violence in greater detail, because non-violence alone was capable neither of replacing nor even of comprehending it.

This stupid shit is stuff Facile pulled out of his arse. Non-violence means using money not force to get what you want. Banias like Gandhi- or that 'nation of shopkeepers' the Brits- understood that Violence costs money. To get better quality Violence you need to spend money on scientific research and the production of superior munitions. The Great War hammered this message home. You need planes and submarines and tanks to prevail. The Wilsonian League of Nations was supposed to keep the peace and prevent a second War. This could be done by freer trade and Capital movements. Sadly, the Wall Street Crash put paid to that pipe dream.  

In other words the task Gandhi set himself in his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita was

to justify his own stupid schemes like Khaddar and, later on, Nai Talim and so forth.  

not to avoid action, or even its inevitable violence, but to attend upon its very materiality in a sort of phenomenology.

Magic is a sort of phenomenology. 

Spinning and celibacy, we saw earlier, provided the Mahatma with illustrations of moral action, having been chosen as experiments for his inquiries into its nature. Experiment, of course, was the English word Gandhi used to describe the various practices, such as non-cooperation or non-violence, which he promoted from time to time as ways of being faithful to the truth. Like the practice of non-violence, spinning and celibacy were also not instrumental activities, being meant neither to produce homespun cloth in the first instance, nor to endow the body with some unusual power in the second. Indeed Gandhi speaks of these practices without once mentioning anything they are supposed to produce,

No. Gandhi initially promoted both as means to valuable ends. Celibacy, or sperm conservation, improved your health and enabled you to concentrate your mind. Retained semen was believed by Tantriks and Taoists to get transmuted into the elixir of immortality. Meanwhile, spinning cotton was meant to boost the earning power of poor villagers. Also the homespun thread could be a substitute for machine made yarn for the weavers. 

since it is precisely their character as disengaged actions that he is interested in.

Because he was disengaged from politics by reason of having been sentenced to six years in jail. There had been some criticism back in England when Gandhi was released early and so he was sending a signal that the Government needn't keep him in jail for him to refrain from mischief. He would sit quietly in his Ashram spinning cotton and refraining from fucking his wife.  

This is especially true of celibacy, which most clearly exits the instrumental logic of purpose and production, cause and effect, that for Gandhi marks the nature of violence, and of politics in particular as a practice of violence: “If destruction is violence, creation, too, is violence. Procreation, therefore, involves violence. The creation of what is bound to perish certainly involves violence.”

Gandhi had taken the oath of celibacy after meeting the Arya Samaji leader Bhai Parmanand. He had gained the title of Mahatma from Munshi Ram who was promoting himself to the rank of Swami under the name Shraddananda. Celibacy in the cause of National Service is still part of Indian politics- look at Narendra Modi.  

Unlike practices of non-violence, however, spinning and celibacy are not negatively conceived, but important in their own right as experiments in freedom.

So unmarried spinners were experimenting with freedom even if they were slaves. Cool.  

What is more, they are the most material and weighty of actions, because disengaged from the idealizing imperative of instrumental thought, for which every act has meaning only in terms of some vision of the future, whether as cause or effect, purpose or product. Indeed violence might well represent the real outcome of such unreal acts that take leave of their own materiality to try and control the future.

Magic may be the most material and weighty of actions. Sticking pins in a voodoo doll is disengaged from fucking reality. So are most demented actions.  

So in his example from the Gita invoked earlier, it becomes clear that for Gandhi Duryodhana’s plan to annihilate the Pandavas is violent because unreal,

the guy tried to kill them by burning down the House of Lac. Fuck is Facile wittering on about?  

relying as it does on the support of good men like Karna, Bhishma or Drona, whose purposes in supporting the Kauravas were very different from his own.

Karna could have put a stop to the War by revealing his parentage and ordering his younger brothers to serve the Kauravas. Bhishma and Drona were bound by their vow or sense of duty. Kurukshetra was a 'vishodhana'- a great purgation and blood sacrifice- ordained by God. 


In fact the Mahatma suggests that these men fought under Duryodhana’s banner for completely non-political reasons,

just as soldiers fight for non-political reasons. The thing is a matter of duty. You do what you are paid to do. You don't need a Mahatma to tell you what is fucking obvious.  

including compassion and generosity, which gave their actions materiality and so goodness.

Fuck off! What gives actions 'materiality' is that they involve material things. Goodness, however, is not material. Facile is fathering his own mishegoss on the Mahatma.  

The point here is that actions intending to control the future not only are perfectly ideal in themselves,

No they aren't. Setting the alarm clock is not an ideal action in itself. It's just shit you do even though you know you are too fucking drunk to get up tomorrow and go to work.  

but are ideal also because they can never quite control even their own instruments.

Fuck does Facile think 'ideal' mean? He has just described a 'hit-and-miss' not an ideal action.  

By this point a typically Gandhian reversal has been effected,

like when one of his financiers killed dogs and so he started babbling about how killing bow wows was true Ahimsa. If you weren't chasing canines and clubbing them to death, then you were guilty of the heinous type of violence. This is a reversal all right but it was obvious why Gandhi was doing it. Sarabhai had given him money. Sarabhai killed dogs. Killing dogs is good.  

and we realize that the very peculiarity of his concerns with spinning or celibacy in fact represents the peculiar materiality of everyday life, which forever escapes the idealizing violence of instrumental action, itself another name for politics.

No. We realize that Facile is as stupid as shit. Gandhi was promoting spinning as a panacea for Ind's economic woes- also since he was taking money from mill owners like Sarabhai, he was positioning himself as the weavers' friend.  As for celibacy, back then there was a cult of the celibate 'Superman'. Hitler was supposed to be celibate. Hardayal, being Punjabi, was so celibate he kept marrying Swiss or Swedish belles. Aurobindo, being Bengali, was actually celibate but 'Divine Mother' got him to give up brandy and cigars.  

Spinning and celibacy are therefore practices in the materiality of action as a characteristic of everyday life, intended to restore to all action its gravity or existential weight.

No action has 'gravity' or 'existential weight' though fisting yourself incessantly- as I fondly imagine Facile to do- may lead to prose of this sort.  

But this is by no means a nostalgic or even desperate effort to retain some old-fashioned materiality within the abstract politics of modernity.

Modern politics is not abstract. It is based on socioeconomic and geopolitical considerations.  

Indeed we might even say the opposite, that the increasing idealization of modern politics actually makes the materiality of action more disruptive and powerful.

No. The materiality of modern politics makes doing stupid shit disruptive which involves a powerful reaction involving having riot police kick your fucking head in or, if that is not possible, rapid economic decline till smart peeps emigrate.  

In any case, the Mahatma is adamant about the intractable nature of such materiality, which he merely brings to political consciousness by offering it up as a sacrifice to the latter’s idealism.

No. Gandhi was adamant about stupid shit not Facile's nonsense.  

In other words, everyday action can only protect itself from politics by

ignoring it completely. Thus, when taking a shit, you can protect yourself from politics by reading only the sports section of the newspaper. 

attending to its own materiality,

e.g. by wiping your bum 

just as politics can only protect itself from its own idealism

why should it do so? Being seen as idealistic rather than mercenary is an advantage for a politician. 

by recognizing the intractable nature of action’s everyday materiality.

Economics is the science which makes 'everyday actions' mathematically tractable. It figures out how to improve allocative and dynamic efficiency such that everybody is potentially better off.  

But the act is material in more ways than lacking instrumentality,

instrumental actions- e.g. wiping your bum- are material 

which as I have described it thus far may quite rightly be confused with a lack of motive or intention. What makes an action instrumental is neither motive nor intention, but the illusion that it might be absolutely created and absolutely controlled:

That is a thaumaturgic or magical action, not an instrumental action.  

that it might therefore be a sovereign act in the peculiarly theological sense this word has for modern politics.

Modern politics has no such shite. Continental philosophy may do, but it is shit and has had zero political effect.  

As the fantasy of a creation from out of the void, such action may characterize monotheistic thought,

or polytheistic thought or a Sci Fi series where a Time travelling masturbator sets off the Big Bang.  

but is opposed by the notion of karma, action seen to be completely determined

nope. Karma says where and to whom you are born is determined in that way save by the operation of prarabdha karma where some other person's benevolent action or blessing is like an arrow shot off so as to deflect the path of another arrow which is already in flight. Facile knows nothing about Hinduism. Annie Beasant popularized the notion of prarabdha karma amongst Congi cunts.  

by a chain of cause and effect which begins before the actor’s birth and continues well after his death. I shall return to this notion of action as part of a predetermined universe

an Occassionalist Universe is not necessarily predetermined. Facile is utterly ignorant.  

illustrated by the idea of rebirth, as well as to the role it plays in Gandhi’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. For the moment it suffices to note the following irony: that the act can only accede to its materiality

if it isn't an act but rather is a being with a will of its own. Thus my wiping my own bum can only accede to its own materiality if it could also decide to become a Dolly Parton impersonator.  

and thus also its autonomy if it is limited, contingent and determined by the weight of a past rather than by the idealism of a future.

Either there is hysteresis, in which case present actions display 'path dependence' or there is ergodicity. Economics studies this sort of stuff. Facile is an ignorant turd who is trying to sound smart.  

In other words, action enjoys its materiality and autonomy only if it is

capable of moving to Vegas and pursuing a career as a Dolly Parton impersonator. Inaction, on the other hand, could enjoy its autonomy by getting gender reassignment surgery without actually going under the knife.  

separated from the instrumental thought that would idealize it, and it retains its separateness only insofar as it finds itself in a universe of determinations and is so unfree.

Purva Mimamsa explains that only purely gratuitous acts qualify as karma kanda.  

Gandhi’s phenomenology of the act is about precisely this unfreedom of everyday action,

Everyday actions aren't concerned with freedom or unfreedom or phenomenology. Slaves wipe their bums the same way Senators do.  

which he reflects upon in the concept of authority as the one form of determination that is moral rather than merely brutish in its force. 

There is a concept of moral authority and a notion that there is something 'brutish' about sending stupid cunts to jail if they repeatedly break the law and create a nuisance.  

Now the paradox of authority is that it commands and forbids choice at the same moment, in effect demanding that a moral actor dignify his will by exercising it once only in the decision to obey.

Facile is confusing allegiance with authority. Once you pledge allegiance to a particular creed it may be the case that some choices are forbidden. But authority exists independently of allegiance. You can choose what you like but Authority may punish some and reward other choices. 

The weightiness of this choice, says

Facile, not 

the Mahatma, lends it a reality unknown to those who choose lightly and out of self-indulgence: The action of a man whose intellect is not fixed on one aim, who is not single-minded in his devotion, will branch out in many directions. As the mind leaps, monkey-fashion, from branch to branch, so does the intellect. A person who clings to his life will seek help from any vaid or saint or witch-doctor

or Mahacrackpot 

whom he meets. Similarly, a monkey will fly from branch to branch and ultimately meet an untimely death, the victim of a sling-shot.

or pistol shot 

The mind of a person of uncertain purpose grows weak day by day and becomes so unsettled that he can think of nothing except what is in his mind at the moment.

Whereas a man who is single minded can think of things which are in other people's minds at that moment- right?

Gandhi was not single-minded. He did not specialize in being a Holy Man nor was he solely dedicated to Politics or Social Reform or Handloom weaving or 'Basic Education' or anything else. Like a monkey he jumped around mimicking failed fads from previous decades. This was cool coz Birlas and Bajajs and so forth still found they got value for money by financing that nutcase.  

 Choice, therefore, becomes unreal by repetition and ends up as a purely mental fixation on self-gratification.

Gandhi's genius was to make the job of the Viceroy- not to mention Muhammad Ali Jinnah- easier. Still so long as Birlas and Bajajs and Sarabhais raked in the cash, he could keep his money-pit of an Ashram.  

Giving it up to authority, however, allows choice access to

authority's dick which it can proceed to suck off  

reality by freeing its agent from good as well as evil, seen as objects to which the moral actor is attached, and in whose name he justifies his action: We say that we should offer up everything to God, even evil.

If you are Vaishnav rather than Jain- sure. Why not? 

The two, good and evil, are inseparable, and so we should offer up both.

There may be some impurity in the sacrificial offering but God is cool with that 

If we wish to give up sin, we should give up virtue too.

Giving up a bad habit is not the same thing as offering a sacrifice to God. Sin is bad for you. Giving it up is good for you. Virtue is good for you. Giving it up is bad for you. However, it is a sin not to offer sacrifices to God and so giving up that sin is pleasing to Him. It is a virtue to offer sacrifices to God. Giving up that virtue is displeasing to God. 

Gandhi was not a Brahmin or a Shraman. He was a low IQ Bania without a University degree. He expressed himself badly. 

There is possessiveness in clinging even to virtue.

If you are clinging to it, it isn't virtue. Still, having a good reputation is useful. Even Gandhi kept quiet about his sleeping naked with girls. 

 Authority, then, in giving the act its materiality and autonomy

is doing something impossible. Of course, one could say 'by grace of Rahulji, I am able to take a shit from time to time. Nehru invented the asshole. Indira discovered how to use asshole to expel turds- which is why she was expelled from Congress and set up a purely dynastic party of her own. Rajivji invented the computer and the internet which enabled even humble Congress workers who have accumulated billions to learn how to shit. Under Soniaji's benevolent reign, vast quantities of shit were produced and thus Congi assholes were kept busy. Then evil Narendra Modi came to power and hatred and constipation prevailed. Now Rahulji has opened shop of lurve in the bazaar of hatred, Congi assholes can aspire to shit on everything just as the Mahatma intended.  

in the most everyday manner, by the same token gives it a kind of freedom as well.

The freedom Congi cunts are interested in is that involved in looting the country. 

And it is the authoritative nature of this freedom that the Mahatma proceeds to study in his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. It should now be evident why Gandhi, in the statement I first quoted from him, on the one hand distinguished non-violence from spinning or celibacy, and on the other described these practices of the ashram as active ones, compared to the passive practices of the world beyond.

It is not evident at all. Facile hasn't explained anything at all. I have. Non-violence and Celibacy were supposed to endow Satyagrahis with magic political powers. That shite failed. Gandhi was having to keep very quiet in his Ashram otherwise, next time he was arrested, he would not get early release. 

Gandhi was saying the Swaraja Party was enjoying (getting bhoga) in the outside world while he and his nutty acolytes were doing karma yoga by spinning and refraining from fucking their wives. 

His commentary on the Gita

a Theistic text with an Occasionalist metaphysics 

conducts a phenomenological examination

 The Gita is itself an epoche or 'bracketing'. A commentary on a phenomenological work is not itself a phenomenological investigation unless it is looking for some irreducible and invariant intersubjective aspect of its reception. But Gandhi is neither doing hermeneutics nor phenomenology. He is trying to show that he is acting in consonance with the Bible of the Hindus. If you accept Gandhi as your Guru and consider Guru to be higher than God, then you may well believe that obedience to him will win you a better after-life even if the fellow turns out to be a paedophile. 

of the act’s materiality, in terms of what he considered to be its necessary relationship with an authority that alone bestows upon it some measure of freedom.

Like other cult leaders he was proclaiming his own Divinity or, at any rate, the great theological merit of giving him money for his crackpot schemes. Sadly, some such Gods get shot. 

And while such speculations might seem at times arcane,

not if you are running an Ashram in which case the thing is routine 

it is worth repeating that they insistently take everyday life as their subject, and deal with it in the most quotidian of ways.

quotidian means every day. But every day life never takes itself as its subject. Tidying up is an every day task. Doing what Marie Kondo does aint every day. It is 'life-style' or 'life-coaching' shite.  

Indeed it was the Mahatma’s frequent self-description as a crank, and his very obsession with what he often called fads, such as fasting, spinning or celibacy, that put his concerns squarely at the centre of everyday life.

Coz he was excluded from political life or, getting high and being the life of the party.  

And this is not even to mention his immense popularity, which to this day brooks no rival anywhere in the Subcontinent.

Jinnah eclipsed him in Muslim majority areas. Bengal never took to him. Patel is now bigger- literally taller- in Gujarat but NaMo is its favourite son. 

But why think about action, authority and freedom through a reading of the Bhagavad Gita?

It's a Hindu thing. Facile won't understand.  

The suitability of its content apart, it was the sacred authority of the text that drew Gandhi to it: not because the Gita was in fact such an authority, but because its reading allowed Gandhi to pose authority itself as a question for all action.

Nonsense! The Gita was authoritative for Hindu politicians because Vivekananda and Tilak and so on had made it so. Gandhi, to retain 'obligatory passage point' status, had to get in on that act. 

It goes without saying that posed as it was in a reading of the Gita, this question enabled the Mahatma to address the nature of action in his typically indirect way, as if from outside the arena of politics.

The guy was out of politics. He needed to show the Brits that letting him out early from Jail would not create a nuisance for them. He'd wait till after the full sentence expired before getting up to any monkey tricks. 

Of course, the Gita had been an important text for modern Hinduism since the nineteenth century, especially among nationalists and religious reformers. (The names Vivekananda, Tilak and Aurobindo

They were aligned with the 'garam dal' and the Revolutionaries. Gandhi was a Loyalist and protege of Gokhale. 

immediately come to mind). With these men, very interested in their country’s political life, the text seems to have functioned as an authority alternative to that of politics seen in the traditional terms of artha or power.

Artha isn't power. Politics is called 'Rajniti'. Raj means 'to rule'. Artha means either 'meaning' or material means- i.e. wealth. Facile is writing about a religion and a culture he knows absolutely nothing about. 

Is it possible that given their political subjection during this period, the Bhagavad Gita allowed these men to distinguish authority from power in a way that refused even to define the former as a legitimate form of the latter?

No. That isn't possible at all unless you are Facile level stupid and ignorant. The fact is lots of the Princes and Thakurs and so forth claim descent from the epic heroes. Hindus wanted a Hindu 'Rashtrapati' who would be a modern version of the 'Chakravartin'. In Rajendra Prasad, that's pretty much what they got. 

Britain had adopted the notion that authority derived its power from representative institutions. The settler colonies had become self-garrisoning and self-legislating by the 1880s and something similar was afoot in the directly ruled parts of India. The problem was that India was not homogeneous and, truth be told, Pax Britannica was not to be sneezed at. 

Whatever the case, such colonial interpretations of the Gita brought to the fore a thinking of ethics rather than of politics.

No. These guys were saying, God- the God of the Hindus- wants you, if you are Hindu, to campaign for Indian independence. If that means having to get rid of untouchability and purdah and sectarian and regional prejudices, so be it. Just do it already.  

But the fact that it is war that provides the arena of moral action,

No. There is a battlefield where it is immoral to shit yourself and run away screaming because cowardice is a vice, but there is also everywhere outside the battlefield. If you didn't want to fight, you could say so and walk away. 

rather than simply its limits,

It is not the case that war is the 'limit case' of anything ethical. You may kill others either on the battlefield or elsewhere provided you are licensed to do so. But, this does not mean you can abandon conventional morality and ethics even if you are a professional soldier engaged in battle or a Sheriff hunting down a band of murderous thugs.

for the Bhagavad Gita as much as for its colonial interpreters, suggests that this ethics was not meant to be something inner or spiritual as juxtaposed with the outer or material world of the state.

Facile thinks the 'outer, material, world' is of the state. This is paranoid shit. Government costs money. The State has a very small and limited interface with the vast majority of people. It is not really true that the neighbour's cat is surveilling you on behalf of the Department of Anti-Masturbatory Activities.

Indeed we shall see with Gandhi that morality addressed the politics of the state

India had lots of States. Gandhi was welcome to live in a Princely State like Rajkot or Baroda rather than under British rule.  

precisely by undoing these divisions of inner and outer, spiritual and material, which were all products of the latter’s modernity.

Ancient tribes and cultures had a division between the inner and outer, spiritual and material and so forth. There have been theocratic states whose foundation was supposedly spiritual and not material. Modernity doesn't bother too much with that shit. Economics matters. Technology- including military technology- is very important. Spiritual shite can be left to low IQ crackpots. Religion is merely a service industry for the feeble minded except in so far it has a reputational effect or enables you to kick heroin or something eminently utilitarian of that sort. 

For Gandhi, then, the Bhagavad Gita was neither history nor scripture, and certainly not philosophy.

But, the Gita is Scripture and Philosophy even though we are all welcome to try to make it about how cosmically significant we are. But we can do that with anything- Astrology, Crystals, UFOs, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Tarot cards, playing LPs of the Grateful Dead backwards- everything and anything can be made into a vehicle of self-aggrandizement. 

To begin with, the Mahatma always made it clear that far from being a symbol of precolonial authenticity,

The Gita is authentic and predates British colonialism.  

the text for him was completely mediated by his first reading of its English translation

No. Gandhi says it was completely mediated by his own personal experience of doing Satyagraha. Nobody in the Vegetarian Society in London in the 1880s or 1890s was doing Satyagraha.  

while a student in London: 
It was at this time that, coming into contact with two Englishmen, I was induced to read the Gita: I say “induced” because I had no particular desire to read it.

Gandhi would have known the broad outlines of the Mahabharata and the Gita. He wasn't raised by wolves. True, he was a bit thick but he had learnt some Sanskrit at School. Had he stayed on at Samaldas College, he would have had a passable knowledge of the subject. 

When these two friends asked me to read the Gita with them, I felt rather ashamed. The consciousness that I knew nothing about our holy books made me feel miserable.

To be fair, you need to know the Vedas to get a lot of the literary references in the Gita. Also, it helps to know game theory- or at least have an inkling of the sort of heuristic 'discrete mathematics' used by ancient Indian tax collectors and administrators. 

The reason, I think, was my vanity.

He felt ashamed he was a Bania rather than a Brahmin and that he knew only about making money.  

I did not know Sanskrit well enough to be able to read the Gita without help.

If reading it for the first time, why not rely on a commentary?  

The two English friends, on their part, did not know Sanskrit at all. They gave me Sir Edwin Arnold’s excellent translation of the poem. I went through the whole of it immediately and was fascinated by it.

Most people who read it became equally fascinated. However, if a high IQ mathsy guy- like Andrei Weil- got fascinated with it, then great advances in mathematics could be made.  

In any case, continues Gandhi, the book is not a work of history for both epistemological and ethical reasons:

It is Scripture, just like the Bible or Quran. This has nothing to do with 'epistemology' or 'ethics'. This is God's Revelation to man. You may say 'I don't believe there is a God or that this particular book really is Holy'. We may reply 'God has denied you the gift of Faith. Sucks to be you!'  

The Mahabharata is not a history; it is a dharma-grantha.

Gandhi uses the English word 'history' and confirms that 'itihasa' is different from a chronological chronical listing dates and facts. Dharma-grantha means Religious Book.  

Who can ever describe an actual event?

Me. You. That's why language is so useful. Gandhi was a bit shit at describing things because he saw only his only his own wondrousness.  

A man cannot exactly describe even a drop of water seen by him.

Yes he can. It was an ordinary drop of water. It was a greenish drop of water. It was rather a small drop of water etc, etc. For any particular purpose, a good enough description can be given. What Gandhi, poor booby, was getting at was that only an omniscient being can list all the true predicates of any thing because the net of predication includes all things.  

God having created him so weak, how can he describe an actual event perfectly?

He can do so perfectly for any practical or utilitarian purpose.  

In this battle, moreover, the warriors were, on the one side, the sons of Dharma, Vayu, Indra and Ashvinikumars and, on the other, a hundred brothers all born at the same instant.

Had Vidura- described by Krishna as Dharmaraja- not been insulted by Duryodhana, which is why he did not take part in the War, the outcome might have been different.  

Have we ever heard of such a thing actually happening?

We have heard that Gandhi liberated India. But seeing is believing. What Indians could see was that Gandhi had failed to deliver Swaraj as he had promised.  

Duryodhana rode on the chariot of adharma, and Arjuna that of dharma.

But Duryodhana and Karna were killed by acts of adharma. Gandhi truly was as stupid as shit.  

The battle described here is, therefore, a struggle between dharma and adharma.

It was a struggle between two different conceptions of dharma. Duryodhana holds to the older thymotic code. Yuddhishtra is upholding a 'universalist' homonoia favourable to the metic and mercantile networks.

 As far as its status as scripture is concerned, Gandhi claims that the Gita is not a particularly Hindu book but rather a non-sectarian teaching of ethics: “This is a work which persons belonging to all faiths can read. It does not favour any sectarian point of view. It teaches nothing but pure ethics.”

Gandhi was lying. The Gita is Vaishnavite and affirms Occasionalism. But all can read it with profit even by atheists because it is excellent literature. Still, Weil got it wrong. It says 'fight'. Weil should have joined the French Army as was his duty. By seeking to evade it he almost got shot in Finland. 

Far from being a book of revelation in the monotheistic sense, it is actually a second-order source of authority, important only because one cannot find true gurus or preceptors in the present age.

This is special pleading of a Purva Mimamsa type. There is absolutely no harm for any Hindu in accepting the Gita as Divine Revelation. On the other hand, the interpretations given by stupid nutters should be rejected though there is no harm in relying on commentators for help with philology, Vedic and Upanishadic references, and, most importantly, its, mathematical, game theoretic, structure.

The text is important, in other words, not as a source of revelation, since it is not in fact capable of solving the problems of everyday life,

Texts don't solve problems. Reading them may, however, enable you to do sensible things.  

but instead as an authority for everyday action:

Everyday action needs no authority. Facile may disagree. It takes a telegram from the Caliph to get him to wipe his bum.  

If by Shastra we mean a book, the Bible, the Koran and other books have been before mankind for so many hundreds of years, but no-one has come to the end of these problems. The intention of this verse is to tell us not to look upon ourselves as an authority, that is, not to be guided by our wishes and feelings.

Gandhi is speaking the Purushottam Yoga chapter of the Gita. Shastra, in this context, means the rules given there. This would be 'Vigyan' not 'Matam'- i.e.  heuristic praxis not doctrine and thus not linked to any particular sect, Deity, or 'Positive Law'. Notice that Purushottam means the 'perfect man' though 'purush' can also mean God in Vedic contexts.

 What does it mean for the Bhagavad Gita to be an authority?

It means you are a Vaishnav or Smartha or other ecumenical type of Hindu.  

For one thing, it means that the text is not a work of philosophy

No. A work of philosophy can be authoritative and create positive law for those who accept its 'Matam' (Doctrine). However, the 'Vigyan' (Science, or Praxis) associated with it may be useful to anybody- e.g. Hatha Yoga can be profitably practiced by Christians, Atheists etc.  

but one whose very externality allows individuals to judge their actions in its terms,

any text which says 'be nice' or 'do your duty' or 'don't be a fucking cry baby' allows us to judge our actions on its terms.  

and in doing so to form a community of interpreters whose debates over the text submit the actions of each one of them to examination.

The Gita dates from a period long after the formation of such a community. 

For the Mahatma, therefore, the Gita, like the unavailable guru,

The Lord is not unavailable. Gandhi thought God spoke to him. 

is an authority chosen and even interpreted, though not in a way that sets specialized learning over the generality of moral action that is available to all:

Gandhi thought God told him to do certain things- e.g. sleep naked with little girls so as to get super-duper Ahimsa powers.  

Simple like a villager that I am,

Gandhi was pretending to be a villager just as previously he had pretended to be a really smart barrister.  

why should I insist on reading the Gita myself?

So as to appear as scholarly as Brahmins like Tilak.  

Why should Mahadev refuse to do that?

Mahadev Desai was a Brahmin.  

Why did I take this upon myself?

Because he had set up as a Sadhu-Mahatma 

Because I have the necessary humility.

You have to be very very humble to let other people call you 'Great-Soul'.  

I believe that we are all imperfect in one way or another. But I know well enough what dharma means, and have tried to follow it in my life. If I have somewhere deep in me the spirit of dharma and loving devotion to God, I shall be able to kindle it in you.

The reverse was equally true. If Gandhi was devoted to God, God could go to the Devil.  

As an external authority

which it can only be for actual Vaishnavites 

the Bhagavad Gita creates a community of interpreters

nope. Vaishnavites already existed.  

by preventing subjects from speaking in their own names.

But Vaishnavite commentators speak in their own names- Ramanujan, Madhva, Vallabha, etc.  

It also prevents the actions of these subjects from being idealized in the instrumentality of political life,

No it doesn't. A Vaishnaivite Swamy is welcome to stand for election and become CM or PM. Look at Yogi Adityanath.  

thus giving them both freedom and materiality.

Everybody already has both.  

This is why Gandhi was so insistent upon maintaining the externality of the Gita,

He was a Vaishnav of the Vallabh sampradaya. We would not find it remarkable if the Pope insisted that the Bible is uncreated or if the Grand Ayatollah insists the Quran is uncreated, or the Shankracharya to insist the Vedas are uncreated. All may take a political role. Popes once had considerable temporal power. The Iranian Supreme Guide certainly wields immense authority.  

prescribing for its recitation all manner of ritual attentions, because it was “necessary to create an atmosphere of holiness round the Gita.”

Whereas the Pope encourages us to read our Bible while sitting on the toilet- right?  

Yet at the end of the day he had to confess that the book alone offered no help:

No. His conclusion was the book told us to rely on God for help. Paper has no magical power even if there are some ink stains on it.  

The conclusion of our study of the Gita is that we should pray and read holy books, and know our duty and do it. If any book can help, it is this. Really, however, what help can a book or a commentary on it give?

Gandhi read Tilak's Gita Rahasya in Gujarati translation in prison and this whetted his appetite to produce something of his own. Truth be told, it was a pedestrian work but then Mahadev Desai tried to tart it up a bit and this got included in the English translation.

 The point of authority, therefore, was neither its power nor its truth but merely its externality.

 In which case, authority was not distinguishable from the outhouse. Facile doesn't think before he writes. 

This comes through very clearly in that part of Gandhi’s commentary on the Gita where he suddenly describes a Protestant named Wallace, who experimented with Hinduism before turning Roman Catholic and accepting the authority of the Pope: If the Pope is immoral, there is bound to be corruption in society, but any person who has decided that he will do nothing on his own but do only what the Pope asks him to do, will only benefit himself.

i.e. live well and gain Heaven. Nothing wrong with that.  

A Protestant would say that one should obey one’s conscience,

So would a Catholic. I suppose Gandhi had absorbed some stupid anti-Catholic propaganda when in England.  

but this Wallace kept his conscience out

how does Gandhi know? He doesn't. He is simply maligning some innocent fellow because he was a habitual blathershite  

and surrendered himself to the Pope.

This is the canard that Catholics are all the slaves of their confessors. Gandhi truly was a shithead.  

His giving up concern for his conscience was a great idea.

Says a nutter whose big idea was to spin cotton so as to destroy its economic value.  

 Gandhi was not interested in a book called the Bhagavad Gita or even in its message,

But he was interested in promoting himself as a great Sant. This was useful enough for his financiers. 

but rather in the kind of moral action that the external authority they represented made possible, such externality being a prerequisite for the autonomy and materiality of action.

No. If there is an external authority which lays down positive law, then there is heteronomy. Materiality follows from embodiment. It is inescapable if actions issue from bodies.  

His reading of the Gita was therefore nothing more than an exploration in the nature of action. 

Which type? Shitting is an action. Was that what Gandhi was exploring the nature of?  

The setting for Gandhi’s exploration of moral action was Arjuna’s celebrated dilemma on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

So, the only type of action Gandhi was concerned with was the type which alters the political landscape. The Pandavas were challenging the existing geopolitical order.  

Arjuna’s dilemma, according to the Mahatma, was not whether he should or should not kill his relatives, but how any choice he might make in the circumstances would be at all meaningful morally. After all, whether he killed or did not, a slaughter would in any case ensue, and one in which he was fully implicated. How, then, could Arjuna either claim or avoid responsibility by any choice he might make? Or as Gandhi puts it, Let us suppose that Arjuna flees the battlefield. Though his enemies are wicked people, are sinners, they are his relations and he cannot bring himself to kill them. If he leaves the field, what would happen to those vast numbers on his side? If Arjuna went away, leaving them behind, would the Kauravas have mercy on them? If he left the battle, the Pandava army would be simply annihilated. What, then, would be the plight of their wives and children?...If Arjuna had left the battlefield, the very calamities which he feared would have befallen them. Their families would have been ruined, and the traditional dharma of these families and the race would have been destroyed. Arjuna, therefore, had no choice but to fight.

Actually, Arjuna's dilemma arises because Karna is his eldest brother. If Yuddhishtra knew this, there would be no war. The Pandavas would be content to be slaves of their cousins if that is what Karna wanted. The clever bit in the plot is that Arjuna could have known this if he wanted to because a Gandharva had given him the gift of seeing whatever he wanted to see in the manner he wanted to see it. But, this boon was 'asvamika svatva' (unvested property) because Arjun hadn't accepted the boon. But the Gandharva hadn't taken it back either. So, when Arjun experienced 'vishada'- i.e. became alienated from himself or 'asvamika', the reader expects it to vest and, such the artistry of the plot, we only later realize that Arjuna did indeed get the vision he wanted. But, like Karna, Arjuna wanted the war to go ahead. The bonus is his getting the Divine theophany as God's gratuitous gift. 

The question here is therefore the opposite of that normally asked in discussions of ethics: not how one should exercise choice, but how an act might retain moral meaning in a situation where choice itself has become superfluous.

Everyone knows the answer to this. We all have to die. We can do it with dignity or we can scream loudly and shit ourselves.  

And choice becomes superfluous only in a world where every act includes what it intends as well as its opposite, thus giving rise to violence.

Very true. When a guy sinks a knife into your chest he not only kills you, he also restores you to life.  

Such a totality could be addressed neither by a calculus of means and ends nor by the arbitrariness of conscience, but instead, Gandhi thought, by action that abandoned choice altogether, which was after all meaningless if it could not determine the future.

This is foolish. You have a choice between doing x- even if it is futile- and not doing x. Thus, whether I scream and shit myself or not, won't change the future if a bus is about to run over me. But I may chose not to scream and just focus on the shitting part. 

For only action that gave up the myth of control or effect might occur within a universe of determinations without itself falling prey to the sublime character of its totality.

Coz shitting yourself has the sublime character of the totality of shitting yourself- right?  

Starting with the criticism that moral choice was delusionary and selfindulgent,

if the guy doing it is delusionary and self-indulgent- what else could it be?  

Gandhi went on to reject its unacknowledged politics, by which such choice was held to determine the future

influence it, not determine it 

and so retrospectively justify itself,

Nope. The justification is proleptic- i.e. it is a representation of a future development as if it were already accomplished. 

just as ends are said to justify means.

Proleptically, sure. Once the end has been attained, you need to show that no other means would have been as efficacious.  

But how was choice or will to be eliminated from moral behaviour?

Through Stoic askesis or its Sufi or Hindu equivalents. Facile should have read Sorabjee. He is out of his depth here. I suppose a Saivite like me would speak of a jivanmukta.  

For one thing by rejecting the quest for self-realization upon which it was so often predicated in an ostentatious disavowal of crass instrumentality.

Yes, yes. But every other Sufi and Swamy had been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt, for thousands of years. Half the dudes and dudesses in the Epics had mega-superpowers and could have sorted everything out in half a second.  

Though a votary of self-realization at other times, the Mahatma was deeply suspicious of its narcissistic potential

hilarious! A guy who ponces around in an adult diaper pretending to be a Mahatma is suspicious of narcissism! 

in his commentary on the Gita, because he thought that such a concern deprived action of its gravity by turning it into one among many options in an endless quest for fulfillment.

Like spinning cotton in between sleeping naked with young girls.  

Self-realization as a spiritual activity should therefore be replaced by self-purification as a bodily one:

Yay! Enemas for everybody! 

'We discussed yesterday that we should speak not of “self-realization” but of “self-purification”.

To purify yourself of blemishes and contingent accretions is to come to a realization of  yourself. 

Self-purification is to be achieved through the body.

It is to be achieved through Raja Yoga which is of the mind and the spirit 

We act through the atman [soul] to the degree that we act through the body.

No. We act through the body. The atman is not affected though the jiva may suffer influx of karma binding particles.  

In truth, however, the atman does nothing, nor does it cause anything to be done.'

This is the Upanishadic doctrine of the two birds. The jiva partakes of the fruit. The atman looks on but does not partake. Facile appears ignorant of this doctrine which Gandhi presents in a garbled fashion. 

In other words self-realization was only possible by way of bodily action as a form of self-purification, since the self did not exist without a body that determined it:

No. The atman exists with or without a body. Gandhi wasn't wholly ignorant of Hinduism. He was merely bad at expressing orthodoxy.  

All this talk about knowledge is because of the body; otherwise, for an unembodied one, how can there be any question of knowledge?

The atman can gain moksha or kevalya gyaan through knowledge without being embodied. Gandhi was merely a confused fellow. The fact is, God does not have a body but knows everything.  

The highest knowledge of all in the world is knowledge of the self.

Only if the self is identical with the universal soul.  

Moreover, the idea of a human being having no body exists only in our imagination.

Only if God doesn't exist and we are meat machines. 

Mortification of the body, therefore, is the only means of self-realization and the only yajna [sacrifice] for everyone in the world.

Only if God doesn't exist. Otherwise, God may grant theophany as he does to Arjuna.  Vedic yajna does not involve mortification of the body. No such thing is required of those who can't or don't want to perform such ceremonies. 

Running against the current of moral thought down the ages, this was an extraordinary attack

No. It was garbled nonsense. But the fellow wasn't a scholar or a Brahmin. He was a politician who supposedly was able to unite Hindu and Muslim. Also, the Brits were supposed to have a soft spot for him.  

on the supposedly free subject of ethics,

as opposed to slaves forced to discuss that shit to avoid the lash` 

conceived in terms of a spiritual or mental self that remained unhampered by the body. 

Minds are relatively unhampered by the body when engaged in ratiocination. 

It was also an attack on the knowledge that gave substance to the freedom of such an ethical subject.

No it wasn't. It was garbled nonsense. BTW knowledge doesn't give 'substance' to a concept. If it could do so, it would be magic. You would only need to conceptualize a time machine in order to have one. 

Both attacks were prompted at least in part by Gandhi’s recognition that this self and its knowledge were necessarily confined to a few adepts alone,

Or so low IQ cult leaders or charlatans would have us believe 

 serving at most only as ideals for the rest and not therefore the stuff of everyday morality.

Which consisted of doing what they were told.  

But it is important to note that the Mahatma did not reject this form of ethics because it was difficult for the generality of people; indeed he thought them capable of far more in the way of sacrifice

as he himself said of Dalits, the mass of people have less sense than a cow. They should simply eat grass and turn up to be milked every so often. 

than anything prescribed a moral elite by the votaries of self-realization.

Stuff like getting an education and having an interesting job and making love to your significant other in a manner stimulating and joyous rather than mechanical and abject.  

What he objected to was the fact that such aristocratic forms of ethical life depended upon luxuries like time and learning that were not available to most.

Save in countries which industrialized, urbanized and went in for consumerism and sexual freedom and education in STEM subjects and having high-tech nuclear and other such weapons. 

But more than this he thought that selfhood could not exist apart from the body

No. He was a Hindu. He thought there were disembodied planes of existence accessible through transmigration.  

and that knowledge was never adequate to the choice required of it.

Gandhi did not deny Umasvati's claim that all beings sooner or later attain kevalya-gyana.  

And so Gandhi

as the leader of a cult  

had to eliminate moral choice altogether by sacrificing its agent and knowledge to action as a process of forgetting. This involved disciplining oneself to behave in such a way as to make morality something habitual and spontaneous,

like cows saying 'moo' and giving milk 

in the same way as the body functioned automatically and was so free:

When a man’s ears, nose, eyes, and so on, go on performing their functions naturally without conscious willing on his part—the winking of the eyelids does not need to be willed, there must be some disease if it is otherwise—we say of such a person that his sense organs, having become free of attachments and aversions, function spontaneously.

No we don't. Hindus say that a Jivanmukta or Yogijiva has become free of attachments and aversions. But such beings are rare. Moreover they would exhibit siddhis- miraculous powers- e.g. being able to inhabit different bodies simultaneously. Gandhi himself was sleeping naked with young girls because of some garbled Tantrik belief that he'd gain Ahimsa super-powers and thus be able to prevent Muslims slaughtering Hindus in Naokhali.

Having in this marvelous


way turned willing into a disease

for people stupid enough to follow him save hypocritically and so as to line their own pockets or establish their own dynasties 

and revealed the body as a site of freedom,

Fuck off! Gandhi revealed the body as the site of not having any nookie though, sadly, for some young girls, their naked body was the site which warmed that disgusting old carcass in bed. 

the Mahatma went on to recommend that the latter’s spontaneity be extended to moral life by a practice of forgetting that was both familiar and easily available:

this was low grade brain-washing. The crackpot headed a cult. 

When typing on a typewriter has become mechanical work with the typist, the finger will alight on the right letter even when he is not looking at the keyboard; he who is able to work in such a spontaneous manner and is fully alert, like the typist, in everything he does, may be described as the Buddha.

But a typist is not actually described as the Buddha. He is described as a guy who can do his job in his sleep. The Brits ruled India in a 'spontaneous manner'. Viceroys got through their work without any expert knowledge or, indeed, much effort. Some, like Reading and Irwin- being professional politicians- took the trouble to talk to Gandhi and thus fuck him over. Others- like Willingdon and Linlithgow- just beat his supporters and locked him up if he wagged his tail. The kicker was Mountbatten turning up at the last moment and turning Britain's handover of power into a ceremonial triumph. Both India and Pakistan remained in the Sterling zone but only India begged Mountbatten to stay on as Governor General. 

But forgetting has to do with more than spontaneous action,

No. Forgetting just has to do with not remembering. Spontaneity has nothing whatsoever to do with forgetting or remembering or any other shit bubbling away in Facile's brain. 

and involves putting even the objects of one’s morality out of mind, so that these latter cannot become part of some bargain in which one good deed is repaid by another.

Why not? You may have forgotten that the object of your morality is to save your arsehole from buggery. But this means you may, in a moment of spontaneity, find yourself being sodomized as part of a bargain with the good folk currently running Amnesty International.  

For this orientation of an act to the future would simply smuggle politics back into ethics by an obscure back door:

Facile's obscure back door may indeed have been used for smuggling purposes. Perhaps that's why he's turned out the way he has. 

We should not serve anyone with the hope that he, too, will serve us one day,

More particularly if you are a waiter at the Dorchester.  

but we may serve him because the Lord dwells in him and we serve that Lord.

Fuck off! We may serve him if he pays us, or our employer, for that service. Otherwise, what we are doing is harassment or else a public nuisance of some sort. Even the winsome Facile. offering his obscure back door for smuggling purpose to all and sundry because the Lord dwells in them, creates a public health hazard of a particular sort. 

If we hear anyone crying in distress for help, we should immediately run to him and help him.

Only if we can actually help. Useless nutters should ran away in different directions to get help from smart and sensible people or, better yet, professionals of some type.  

We should help the Lord crying in distress.

No. If we find God lying by the side of the road,  crying out in great distress because he needs fellatio immediately, we should not suck that hobo off.  Facile may not be aware of this, but God is never in distress. Don't offer sex or money or anything else to fuckers who talk about God being sad or lonely or needing a beejay. 

After doing what was needed, we should feel that it was all a dream. Would the Lord ever cry in distress?

He'd laugh heartily watching you wipe his jizz from your beard.  

Though it seems far-fetched, Gandhi’s advice in the passage above offers us a way of dissociating moral action from the politics of reciprocal obligation and contract, avoiding which entails forgetting ethical relations and therefore rejecting any community based upon them.

Garbled nonsense does offer a path to being totes disassociative, but so does getting hit on the head or being really really drunk or suffering from psychosis. 

This was certainly the Mahatma’s way of avoiding all action motivated by sentimental reasons like pity, horror and even hatred, each deriving from an imagination exercised by stories of needless suffering.

Facile is saying Gandhi was a selfish bastard who didn't give a shit about starving Indian peeps.  

So while he advocated the display of suffering voluntarily undergone,

beggars may mutilate themselves to make more money 

Gandhi thought that it could only inspire admiration in the hearts of observers, and prompt their conversion to the sufferer’s cause, rather than calling forth passions stoked up by tales of victimization and the obligations of charity as much as revenge that they implied. Indeed, as responses to suffering, charity and revenge used the same language and thus amounted to the same thing, which was perhaps why one could so easily turn into the other.

This is a modern, Western, perspective. During the War on Terror, which was a War of Revenge, Western politicians did speak of pumping lots of Development Aid into Afghanistan, if not Iraq. However, the Aid racket only got off the ground after Gandhi was shot. For the non-West, Revenge is possible but Charity is a pipe-dream. Al Qaeda could spare the money to bring down the Twin Towers. It didn't have the cash to rebuild them.  

Quite unsentimental himself,

but as greedy for money as fuck 

Gandhi remained level-headed during the most tumultuous of times, refusing to enter into what he thought of as a political relationship of pity and gratitude with his interlocutors.

He needed money for his money-pit Ashram and crackpot schemes. But, no politician displays any 'political relationship of pity and gratitude' though no doubt they are grateful for the odd beejay and thought it a pity the thing didn't happen more often.  

Action without a subject

All this meant that the traditional figure of the moral subject,

which, for Hindus, is a person who can gain merit or expiate sin in specified ways 

constituted by will and freed from bodily dependency,

a being constituted by will and freed from bodily dependency is super-natural. Facile, cretin that he is, thinks it is the 'traditional figure of the moral subject'.  

had to be replaced by someone quite different.

who could smuggle all sorts of contraband stuffed up his obscure back passage.  

Gandhi chose as his moral exemplars the figures of the child and the slave, who had in the past, a few religious ideals apart, served as the very emblems of moral lack. While criticizing the unhealthy effect that slavery had upon the master,

who might not know he owned slaves because someone else managed his Portfolio.  

who was after all tied to his slave by self-interest,

in which case the slave might be safer and better fed than if he were free 

the Mahatma saw in the latter someone who could forget himself because he was unable to exercise choice:

The slave can never conceive of his existence without his master.

Fuck off! Slaves who keep running away obviously can conceive of free existence.  

A person who has the name of another on his lips all the twenty-four hours will forget himself in the latter.

No he won't. Lots of cunts keep babbling about some Sports hero or whatever but they are still able to do their jobs and manage their own affairs.  

The atman [individual soul] becomes the paramatman [universal soul] in the same manner.

No. The illusion that they are different may be dispelled by hesychasm or onomatodoxy or chanting this or that mantra.  

The slave, then, becomes for Gandhi the model of a moral subject,

No he doesn't. Under the Brits, slavery had been outlawed. Gandhi may have talked bollocks but even he did not talk Facile level stupid bollocks. 

as indeed he was for a number of religious traditions in India and beyond.

No. 'Das' or 'Ghulam' would translate into English as 'devotee' not slave. The point about slaves is that they can be sold. No devotee says that God could sell them to the Devil and they would happily transfer allegiance.  

Similarly, children were examples of virtue because they alone could be counted as truly free,

a dependent person may be care-free, but isn't actually free. A bird in a cage may be well looked after but it isn't free to fly where it would.  

their physical, and even intellectual or spiritual, needs all being taken care of by adults, so that they could live non-politically in the immediate present:

but they could also live politically in the immediate future or in the far off past. Kids can play at 'Napoleon vs Captain Kirk'.  

If children have faith, they can live as a sthitaprajna [one who is single-minded or selfpossessed] does.

I suppose a cat with that same gift of faith might equally be a jivanmukta.  However, we are interested in adult sthitaprajnas who can give us valuable advise on complex matters of interest to adults. 

They have their parents and teachers to look after their needs. They have, therefore, no need to take thought for themselves. They should always be guided by their elders. A child who lives in this manner is a brahmachari [celibate], a muni [saint], a sthitaprajna. 

This sentence is typical of Gandhi's ignorance and stupidity. Still, for Hindus we can easily un-garble it. Back then lots of semi-literate cunts were trying to 'Hinduize' the Biblical injunction ' I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.' The actual Hindu version has to do with 'Sahaja Yoga'. There are always plenty of very child-like Babas and Matajis available for Indians to worship if that's what tickles their pickle. 

        He is so in the sense that he does what he is asked to and carries out every instruction.

No child carries out every instruction precisely because kids are still developing. Gandhi was truly as stupid as shit.

By locating traditional virtues like freedom and faith, to say nothing of celibacy and asceticism, in the unexpected figures of children and slaves, Gandhi was doing more than pointing out the superficiality and contradictions of older ethical models.

No. Gandhi was displaying his idiocy. There's a good reason Indians don't read this shit. It is stupid. Still, like Hitler, Gandhi fascinates Indians because he was a useless, stupid, cunt who nevertheless became really famous.  

He was also attempting to universalize moral ideals in non-hierarchical ways and see them at work in every aspect of social life.

No. He was shitting out a book because he had nothing better to do and, anyway, that was the fashion back then. I should explain, if you wrote stupid shite in English, people might make fun of you. But if you did it in Gujarati, people said 'this guy is trying to reach the really stupid cunts in the villages. Obviously, you've got to talk like a stupid, ignorant, cunt if you want to communicate to stupid, ignorant, rural, cunts'.' My point is that no 'universalizing' is involved when you are pretending to be thicker than the thickest rural prole.  

This did not, of course, mean that the Mahatma glorified slavery and advised obedience to all authority.

It did not mean anything at all.  

Indeed his own life was dedicated precisely to contesting such authority,

Nope. His life was dedicated to setting up as an authority on some worthless shite he called 'Satyagraha'.  

whether in the form of politics or religion, and however imperfectly he might be seen to have done so. Obedience was important because it was a necessary and inevitable part of social life in general.

No. Obedience was only required of people paid to do a particular job. British India merely required subjects not to break the fucking law.  

And if anything it was more important for moral life in particular, since even an ethics founded upon conscience requires obedience to the call of one’s better self if it is to function.

But obeying the call of one's better self involves defying the call of one's worse self just as it involves sodomizing the asshole of non-being so as to jizz in the rectum of existential cataphasis. 

So 'obedience', in this context, means the same thing as 'defiance' and certain types of sodomy and jizzed in rectums.  

Instead of seeing in obedience merely a limit to moral action,

which is as meaningless as seeing in obedience the jizzed-in rectum of cataphatic meta-ethics.

in other words, Gandhi recognized it as an irreducible element of ethics,

No. He was a Hindu. Sovereign Gods too have an Ethical life.  

one whose virtue needed to be fostered in its own right, much as religions of various kinds had always done, though perhaps not for the same reasons. And in doing so he showed up the poverty of ethical principles, as they are commonly understood,

there is no such common understanding. The vast majority of Hindus believe that ethical principles are univocal. Indira, King of the Gods, may fall by committing the same sort of fault as the poorest or richest amongst us.  

confined as these are to a moral aristocracy

A 'moral aristocracy' would have a different code from the hoi polloi. But Hinduism upholds moral univocity such that even the Gods may be reborn as mortals because of some lapse of a type we might ourselves make. Anyway, in Gandhi's time, the notion was that the 'moral aristocracy' was 'beyond good and evil'.  

while prevaricating about crucial features of social life, obedience being only the most obvious instance of these.

Obedience is not a crucial feature of social life. Not being a fucking asshole all of the fucking time is the sine qua non.  

While children and slaves might have provided models of virtue for the Mahatma, he did not think that moral subjects were all the same, and possessed no generic idea about them. On the contrary, he defined their obligations in the most multifarious ways by citing the old notion of swadharma (individual duty), according which people belonging to different castes, genders and generations each had their own particular role to play, also therefore owing obedience to particular authorities.

Or not. What Krishna says to Arjuna is 'do what you like'. It turns out Arjuna wants to do stuff which gets him the theophany of Yogishvara. But this was because Arjun was a partial incarnation of Indra. Most soldiers of the period would have settled for some nice dirty pictures.  

Opposed to the standardized subject of modern law,

Modern law does not have a 'standardized subject'. Legal personality can be of various types. It is a justiciable matter. It is a different matter that certain administrative processes may posit a standardized population. 

and therefore of politics as well,

Which democratic nation's politics assumes a 'standardized subject'? Politicians need to say one thing to elderly cunts like me and another thing to young and smart peeps wot know about Nanotech and Crypto and other such Sciencey stuff. 

swadharma could not be determined by others but only decided by oneself.

You are welcome to outsource that determination.  

And its task was not simply to differentiate one’s own duty from that of others, but also to distinguish among the recipients of one’s action.

This is not the meaning of swadharma which is self-determination of 'eusebia' or that for which you will show a pious regard. This is quite different from contractual obligations and entitlements or their corollary under customary and other types of relationships. It is not the case that two people doing the same job have to have the same pious observances. Thus, I may be a very good teacher but have no feeling of piety for the shite I teach. Another guy may have that piety but be a shit teacher. Guess who gets the sack?  

This ostensibly unequal treatment, both of oneself and of others, produces real equality

Nonsense! Nothing produces real equality though, no doubt, it may exist in certain places and certain times.  

in an almost communist sense, as in the famous shibboleth “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

That is a slogan, not a shibboleth. For some purposes, this does describe certain social relationships. 

And it does so by turning the subject who distinguishes and differentiates into someone who by that very token is samadarshi, able to see everything equally:

Growing up in a nice, loving, family familiarises you with 'from each according to his ability &c' but this does not make us 'samadarshi'. What does is Gnosis- i.e. penetrating the veil of phenomenal reality and achieving omniscience.  

When can we say of a person that he is samadarshi?

It should be remembered that 'samadarshi' was the name of a newspaper produced by a Brahmo offshoot. The alternative name was 'the Liberal'. The meaning is someone who is generous enough to see beyond his own selfish interest and to admit the validity of opposing claims so that a compromise can be arrived at.  

Can we say so of that man who would give equal quantities to an elephant and an ant?

Sure, if paid a little money to do so. Otherwise, why bother?  

Indeed no. We can say it of him who gives to each according to his or her need.

So, give more to the big guy who can fucking trample you. Give little to the little guy. Fuck can he do about it?  

The test of equal regard, however, as of moral action in general, was undoubtedly sacrifice,

Plenty of people had sacrificed their lives in the Great War. Gandhi & Co hadn't risked theirs. Sulking in jail aint a sacrifice if you are constantly banging on about how great a sacrifice you are making in the national cause. 

which Gandhi prized above knowledge, freedom and the like because 

the fucker hated knowledge, freedom and the like. What he enjoyed was talking bollocks and posing as a 'Great Soul'. 

it was the only moral form available to everyone without distinction.

These fuckers sacrificed nothing. They were parasites living off money begged in the name of the poor and abject.  

Indeed the bulk of his commentary on the Gita is taken up with a discussion of sacrifice, whether it is called spinning, celibacy, fasting or dying.

Doing stupid shite is no sacrifice. These nutters should have earned money and given it to the poor instead of raising funds meant for 'Harijans' etc. and then spending it on maintaining their moneypit Ashrams and other crackpot schemes. Kumarappa, a Chartered Accountant by profession, refused to pay the Ashramites out of the Bihar Relief funds because they were useless tossers. Gandhi was miffed but had to get Birla or Bajaj or some other such guy to pick up the tab. 

Lots of other Cult leaders were able to make a profit by exploiting the labour power of their acolytes. Gandhi, sadly, lacked that skill. That's the reason he had to keep intervening in Indian politics. 

For the Bhagavad Gita, of course, it is not dying but killing that is seen as the ultimate sacrifice,

Don't be silly! Doing your dispassionately could be a sacrifice- if God says so- which he does in the Gita- but not otherwise unless you are an actual Vaishnavite abiding by all the other 'Vyavahara' rules and 'Niti Shastra' admonishments. 

It simply isn't true that the Gita says 'kill some people already! That's the type of Sacrifice, God really appreciates! Jack the Ripper has the biggest mansion in Heaven because he kept slicing and dicing helpless women.'  

in its own way much more arduous than dying when it involves killing one’s relatives.

Facile is probably of Gujarati descent. People from that State tend to believe that the rest of us spend most of our time slicing and dicing our relatives because of disputes over land ownership.  

Though in principle opposed to killing, the Mahatma did see it as being unavoidable on certain occasions, for instance when it came to protecting the weak.

Gandhi was as weak as shit. He needed a lot of protection. Sadly, once Patel became Home Minister, he didn't get it.  

But his approbation of the act went much further when describing Arjuna’s dilemma:

The Gita permits no distinction between one’s relatives and others.

Yes it does. Arjun is more closely related to his brothers than to his cousins. Thus, it is cool for him to fuck the latter up.  

If one must kill, one should kill one’s people first.

Nope. Kill cousins to save brothers. Kill strangers to save cousins. That's the Price Equation rifht there

Shri Krishna asks Arjuna: “What is this you are saying about people being your relations?”

Lord Krishna knows that Arjuna will end up killing his eldest brother, Karna. The drama here is that the reader knows this too. So we enjoy the irony of the dialogue. The fact is, it was reasonable for a guy like Arjun to believe that Lord Krishna could find some clever way to prevent bloodshed and yet gain a good outcome for everybody. Obviously, Arjun doesn't know that Krishna is actually the Godhead and has a maximally beneficial plan.  

The Gita wants to free him from this ignorant distinction of some people being his relations and others not.

Krishna is a maternal relative of Arjun. But he is also God. One may speak of 'nescience' but not ignorance in this context. 

He has resolved to kill.

No he hasn't. He has resolved to fight. Fighting may entail death but so may performing surgery.  

It was not right, then, that he should shrink from killing particular individuals.

Yes it was. When you join the Army you should shrink from killing your comrades rather than enemy combatants.  

The duty enunciated by swadharma required that one’s own relatives be killed before anybody else,

No. Kill cousins to protect brothers.  

this proof of detachment and equal regard being the truest way in which killing could partake of morality.

Which is why a serial killer who chooses his victims at random would be especially meritorious in the eyes of Facile- right?  

Such forms of killing even represented the most sublime of moral acts, because they entailed greater sacrifices than merely dying for others. And so Gandhi repeatedly praised the sacrificial killings, whether only intended or actually carried out, that were ascribed to heroic or saintly figures like Arjuna, Harischandra and Prahlad, though he did not, of course, recommend the practice among his contemporaries.

Facile isn't a Hindu but he is certainly stupid enough to be a Gandhian.  

How did the apostle of non-violence come to see killing as the highest form of sacrifice, and therefore as the supreme moral act?

He didn't really. He was simply incapable of saying or writing anything sensible. Still, his shtick was how there were guys in villages in Gujarat who were even stupider than him and it was those rural shitheads that he himself represented.  

The process of reasoning that led him to this conclusion was driven by a desire for universality:

in which case he'd have written in English, not middle-school Gujarati.  

ethics was either possible everywhere and available to everyone or it had no meaning at all.

Ethics is about being nice, not naughty. Gandhi was doing stupid shit but wanted to appear to be nice because he needed money to do stupid shit. That's it. That's the whole story.  

We have already seen how this desire informed the Mahatma’s rejection of choice, knowledge and self-realization for authority, obedience and self-purification.

it also informed Gandhi's embracing stupid shit very very tightly- save when he was sleeping naked with young girls.  

It is because he did not think any morality worthwhile that abdicated responsibility in situations of extreme violence,

Plenty of Indian soldiers had shown that type of morality in European theatres of War. Gandhi himself had shown courage under fire in South Africa. But, in February 1922, he lost his nerve, shat himself copiously, and then unilaterally surrendered and went meekly off to jail. 

or had to be confined to a moral aristocracy, that Gandhi ended up investing traditional moral categories like authority and sacrifice with a universality they had not previously possessed.

Gandhi invested shit. Still he was useful to Birlas and Bajajs and so on. Come to think of it, he got Motilal out of a spot of bother when his elder daughter went and married a Muslim. My point is Gandhi was a useful enough chap to know, but he had shit for brains. Still, Indian politics has never been a high IQ affair.  

For his idea of ethical universality was fundamentally egalitarian in nature,

No. Elitism can be a universalist. Facile has spent a lot of time in this paper arguing that Gandhi was pushing an ad captum vulgi creed aimed at the bovine masses.  

and thus tied to the politics of anti-colonialism, though without partaking of its instrumentality, which bartered the virtues of the present for ideals of freedom and equality in the future.

This is nonsense. Anti-colonialism saw no 'virtues of the present' and might have no 'ideals of freedom and equality in the future'. Facile is talking Bolshevik shite. Anti-Colonialists merely wanted to kill Whites and exterminate every last trace of their noxious civilization. ISIS doesn't want freedom and equality. It wants Caliphs and Emirs with lots of slaves and concubines.  

This is the sense in which Gandhi’s morality can be said to exist in the shadow of politics, with whose practices it had perforce to engage, if with the gravest of doubts.

Fuck off! Gandhi had been a lawyer and then became a full time political agitator and organizer. That's how he made his money. Since he was shit at politics, and since he'd gained the title of 'Mahatma', he set up as a moral and spiritual leader so as to get money for his money-pit Ashram and other crackpot schemes. He had to keep going back to politics because he was shit as a Guru. 

Rather than simply an inheritance from some Indian past, therefore, his deployment of traditional moral categories, all transformed in the process, might be recognized as an effort to avoid those, like legal freedom and equality, that provide the currency of modern politics.

What the fucker avoided was the British notion of an Indian whose identity was not wholly confessional. The plain fact is that Jinnah was Secular. Gandhi was not.  Still, it took the Brahmin genes of a Nehru to thoroughly fuck over India's economic and defence strategy. 

And this was important not because politics was altogether evil, but because it was founded upon an instrumentality that sacrificed the present for the future,

Politicians are myopic. Politics is not founded on an instrumentality, it is itself an instrument- one concerned wholly with the present- as in who gets which office today. A week is a long time in politics.  

thus denying the former its existential weight while robbing all action of reality.

Facile lives in a world where his obscure back door is constantly smuggling all sorts of shit because some asshole has robbed action of all reality or has turned existential weight into existential height.  

The Mahatma’s alternative, then, was to sacrifice the future for the present,

all politicians are accused of doing this. 

in the faith that the former would be better secured by attending to the latter’s virtue.

Gandhi said everybody should give up sex. That way there'd be no fucking humans to fuck in, and thus fuck up, the future.  

Controlling the present, afterall, was more feasible than predicting the future, which was one reason why self-purification and sacrifice were so crucial for Gandhi, and part of the same logic as his otherwise inexplicable rejection of locomotives and fast cars, which he thought deprived their passengers precisely of a lived present.

This is stupid shit. Gandhi took trains and travelled in cars and ships and aeroplanes. True, he repeated some nonsense he had read in a pamphlet but it was all part of his shtick as Mickey Mouse as a diaper wearing Swamy.  

Indeed the Mahatma can be said to have inhabited the present more fully than anybody in the last century,

Indians don't say that. Gandhi inhabited the good old days when the INC wasn't a den of thieves serving an Italian dynasty.  

and to have invested it with more significance than it had ever possessed, if only by replacing the fleeting and illusory character of this category with a gravity appropriate to modern times.

In modern times, gravity was discovered to be the weakest force. Moreover, category theory itself explains why categories don't greatly matter. One way or another they lack 'naturality'. It is the notion of a functor which is useful.  

And so to become arenas for moral action, war and killing had also to be diverted from their orientation to the future and made fully present.

Defence planning is oriented towards a future conflict. However, war greatly increases time preference. The doctrine of mutually assured destruction brings this out very clearly. It is preferable if both sides can completely wipe out any future for Humanity within fifteen minutes of the commencement of hostilities than to permit a long war of attrition which would have the same result in any case. 

For Gandhi saw in the battlefield not an exception to ethics but the very stuff of its reality,

So did everybody. Don't forget Gandhi had been a Sergeant in the Ambulance Corps. He understood that soldiers can't steal from each other or shit in each other's soup because that would cause morale to disintegrate. Indeed, it is a bad idea to spend a lot of time raping and looting because troops would prefer to do that rather than fight the enemy.  

if only because it provided a site for moral action that politics could not occupy without risking self-destruction.

Politicians do have to oversee military strategy. Germany's fate made this obvious.  

Instead of withdrawing from such violence, then, moral action had to prove its mettle by domesticating and even going beyond it,

Facile thinks moral action involves spending a little time every day stabbing a parent or a sibling.  

to occupy an arena such as Arjuna did on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where politics might not venture because choice had been rendered superfluous there.

Politics did play a big role in the Kurukshethra conflict. Duryodhana made some bad decisions which alienated potential allies, while, on the whole, Yuddhishtra made good decisions. 

Choice is not superfluous in the Gita. You can do what you like though you can also chose to do what God tells you to do more particularly if you are granted the Divine Theophany.  

Only by exceeding its future-making violence in this way would politics finally be cast in morality’s shadow:

Cool! If Rahul stabs Priyanka and thus domesticates future-making violence then his politics will finally be cast in morality's.... mould, not shadow. Facile is as shit at English as he is at thinking. A thing can cast a shadow on another thing. A thing can be cast in the mould of another thing. But nothing can be cast in the shadow of another thing. 

In this world which baffles our reason, violence there will then always be.

But this world doesn't baffle our reason at all. Also violence can greatly decline if we get the mechanism design right.  

The Gita shows us the way which will lead us out of it,

No. The Gita is a great text for soldiers who relish war.  I suppose what Gandhi means is that the Gita shows us a way to escape the circle of rebirth. However, pious Vaishnavs may prefer to remain chained to the wheel of transmigration so as to serve the Lord. 

but it also says that we cannot escape it simply by running away from it like cowards.

It may take greater courage to run away. Lord Krishna himself has the sobriquet Ranchod- one who runs away from war. Indeed, that is why Lord Krishna and his people moved from Mathura to Gujarat- as every Gujarati knows. 

Anyone who prepares to run away would do better, instead, to kill and be killed.

Lord Krishna, and all sensible people think otherwise. Gandhi was not sensible and every sentence he ever uttered or committed to writing was foolish, mendacious, mischievous or all three. But then he was a politician belonging to the Indian National Congress- a party which will achieve apotheosis under Rahul when India itself splits up so fractally as to permanently erase any ecumenical type of Hinduism.