Friday, 2 May 2014

Narendra Modi & the Indian Liberal- part II

Indian 'Classical' Liberalism has a long and distinguished pedigree. It has existed almost as long as English Liberalism has existed. Indeed, historically, there has been a symbiotic relationship between the two.

This is because the East India Company was a typical Tudor monopoly- one created by the Monarch rather than something arising out of the operation of the mercantile capitalism of the City of London.
Pym and Hampden, in protesting Ship Money were also protesting against a method by which the Monarch could make himself financially independent of Parliament and usurp Absolute Power. This would happen if the Monarch had the right to finance the Navy, which in turn would be used to garner vast wealth for him from 'the Indies' which he could use to maintain a standing army.
The position of the Indians under British rule was similar. The taxes they paid for their own defense enabled a foreign Court to prosper by expanding its hegemony which then made it less and less dependent on the goodwill of its subjects and thus less inclined to rule those subjects according to their customary laws.
Pym, it must be mentioned, considered the right of the King even to levy a tax on imported goods- currants, if memory serves- which the Judges had approved, to be a mischievous innovation and a dangerous departure from what obtained under good Queen Bess. In other words, Pym is articulating the central grievance of the class which was to become the mainstay of Indian Liberal Opinion in the second half of the Nineteenth Century.
Bacon and Wentworth might be considered to be forerunners of the sort of Benthamite Imperialism which dominated the High Victorian Raj. True, Bacon had been compelled- 'coward conquest of a wretch's knife'- to shut the gate of Equity- which is why, under the Raj, customary Law, as approved by Shastras, took precedence- but equally true, if unacknowledged, is the fact that Britain, unlike America, eventually took Wentworth's course- and a 'Doctrine of Necessity', or Schmittian 'State of Exception'- is in fact hardwired in the DNA of  South Asian Jurisprudence.
In other words, Indian Liberalism's inability to commit to Legalism has to do with its historical co-evolution, as opposed to Colonial encounter, with the British Constitution's unwritten and unthought known.
Seventeenth Century England- like my Indglish Delhi of the Ninety Seventies- had more words than things- more Hermetic Correlations than Concrete Universals. Its Shakespearean sufflaminandus erat and meretricious Miltonic bombast expended itself in the sort of internecine hollowing out of ethos which, alone, can enslave a People, a Polis, to the project of Empire.
Indian Liberalism- that impossibilist project by which Hearts and Minds continually and ever more egregiously redact their own foundational act of Chrematistic Panic and Capital Flight- is the not Marxian mirror but Occassionalist and impotent image of shite that happened here in England when us filthy beef-eating Mlecchas were still Thymotically poor, Technologically primitive and, in consequence, vastly more Metaphysically Mannerist in prosody and phrenes splittingly precious in prose.
After the Glorious Revolution, more especially under the corrupt Walpole administration, things change.  Whether it is the posterity of the interloper Thomas Pitt or, that scion of an usurper, Tipu Sultan- we see Liberalism, Narcissus like, lose itself in a French mirror- the dubash Ananda Ranga Pillai gives way to that General of Tipu's who, in our Vernacular textbooks, is celebrated for saying Namaz in French.
For Burke, for the Anglo-Irish, for Joyce, ultimately, Parisian synoecism defeats England with its Manchesters and Bradfords in advance.
What of Ind- with its Presidencies and Princedoms and tropical luxuriance of secretive systems of sclerotic Punditry and erotic Purdah?
Cornelia Sorabjee was a shriller Sarojini and both as ultimately ludicrous as Pandita Ramabhai.
Sharada dies- driven out, in the name of Political Correctness, from the highly Politic Charity named for her- eleven days after delivering.  Her child is the Alamma Prabhu- not dead, not alive- of Indian Liberalism.
There is another child- the child the very beautiful Jashodaben could have had- and that is Liberal India's true shehzada.

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