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India/western Sociology
Recovering India’s Past - Contemporary Debates on the History and Civilization of Ancient India
Event Date:
Thursday, March 26, 2009 6:30pm
Event Location:

Venue: India Community Center - 525 Los Coches St.
Date/Time: Thursday, March 26 at 6.30 pm
Admission: Open; Suggested Donation $10 to defray expenses
Register by email

The Forum @ ICC invites you to the first of a series on Indian civilization, a probing discussion on "Recovering India’s Past: Contemporary Debates on the History and Civilization of Ancient India" at ICC at 6.30 pm, Thursday, March 26.

How do today’s Indians interpret ancient Indian civilization? For some, their civilization is ever more relevant, and for others – often in the name of modernity – ever less so. These are not new debates, and they often involve contested representations of early Indian history. Yet they are more relevant than ever before in today’s global age, as the presentation by Professor Robert Goldman, an authority on ancient Indian civilization will explicate.

Prof. Robert Goldman teaches Sanskrit at UC Berkeley. His areas of scholarly interest include Sanskrit literature and literary theory, Indian Epic Studies, and psychoanalytically oriented cultural studies. He has published widely in these areas, authoring several books and dozens of scholarly articles. He is perhaps best known for his work as the Director, General Editor, and a principal translator of a massive and fully annotated translation of the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. His work has been recognized by several awards and fellowships including election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Crosspost of Mudy's, concerning the above.
<!--QuoteBegin-Mudy+Mar 26 2009, 09:02 AM-->QUOTE(Mudy @ Mar 26 2009, 09:02 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Came via email -  Temp thread.
<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Recovering India’s Past - Contemporary Debates on the History and Civilization of Ancient India</b>

Hello All,

Tommorrow (26th March), there is going to be a talk by Prof. Robert Goldman in ICC Milpitas on the topic ("Recovering India’s Past - Contemporary Debates on the History and Civilization of Ancient India")  at 6.30 PM.

  You can see more details of this in the link: http://www.indiacc.org/node/523 

Though Prof. Robert Goldman ( a professor of Sanskrit in Berkeley) has done some work on Valmiki Ramayana, he was one of those people who signed the letter of Michael Witzel to California Textbook Board opposing the changes proposed by Hindu community. By doing this he has supported the Anti-Hindu nature of school text books.

Prof. Goldman wrote an article "Kama, Guilt and Burried Memories"  in the book  "Vishnu on Freuds Desk". This book uses so called Freudian psychoanalysis and throws filth on Hinduism. Prof. Golman has attacked the fundamental tenets of Hinduism in the most obnoxious manner.  He says that Indian children have Oedipus complex (Marrying one's mother). He then says that in India  victim of abuse is encouraged to revere or even worship his abuser.    His writing and the critique of it can be seen in the site: http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/...nu_frameset.htm

  We should oppose these kind of academics who are wrong and abusing towards Hinduism.  Many of us are planning to attend tommorrow talk and question him during the question & answer session. It would be great if you can join us. Already 4 or 5 have confirmed.

  By participating tommorrow we can show that Hindus can objectively and accurately point out incorrect writings and the filth that is thrown on Hinduism.

By participating tommorrow we can show that Hindus can objectively and accurately point out incorrect writings and the filth that is thrown on Hinduism.  But more than that, if Hindus show up in strength and disapprove of these kind of abuses, it sends the message.  <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Under Western Eyes; From Milton to Macaulay

By Balachandra Rajan
Well, do you know the theory of rights as we know them today emerged in the Christian Church, full-blown doctrine, in a debate between the Franciscans and Dominicans, centuries beofre John Locke ever thought of rights. In fact the history of human rights is the history and discussion is very simple. It started out with the question of whether the Church could own property or not. That is to say, was the human being the Sovereign, Dominus, of the Earth, and everything in it or was he merely a custodian. So the notion of Active and Passive notion of Rights, three centuries of discussion, people, was in theology, in Christian theology. there is nothing modern in any sense of the word, in whatever notion of modernity you wish to use, which unities theories of human rights, discourse about human rights, from its Christian origins. And furthermore, what is so modern, assume for a moment, counterfactually, that suddenly John Locke woke up one day and had this wonderful theory of human rights, maybe Simon B.. had it, maybe Hobbes had it, doesn't matter, someone had, woke up one, wonderful geniuses as these Europeans are, and came up with a full blown theory of human rights.

Secularist ideologue has a funny tantrum during the conference (interestingly, it was precipitated by a claim that Sikhs were being imposed on by the secularist state).


<!--QuoteBegin-dhu+Mar 31 2009, 01:51 PM-->QUOTE(dhu @ Mar 31 2009, 01:51 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Well, do you know the theory of rights as we know them today emerged in the Christian Church, full-blown doctrine, in a debate between the Franciscans and Dominicans, centuries beofre John Locke ever thought of rights.
wonderful geniuses as these Europeans are, and came up with a full blown theory of human rights.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTL8eUvQGFE
[right][snapback]95957[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Wha? Now don't tell me I fell asleep and woke up to a world that's started in 'anno domini'/year '0'?

Since I may not be allowed to bring in what Dhu summarised in the christian/islamic slavery thread or the Mahabharatam stuff that Ramana mentioned there (since christowest dates MBh to 'probably' 300 'BC' to 400 'AD', will just look over the hedge - the one in Uppaganistan - into the neighbours patch).

<b>Cyrus (6th century BCE): charter of human rights.</b> 'Wonderful genius'? Admissibly. But not very 'European' if you ask me... Then again, chalking it up to the Indo-Europods may be the next attempt.

(Though there's some in the west now trying to deny that Persia has anything to do with human rights since it offends christian sensibilities.)

Anyway, from a link at Vohuman: A Zoroastrian Educational Institute:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->One of the significant events in ancient history is <b>the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great.</b>

On October 4th, <b>539 BC,</b> the Persian Army entered the city of Babylon, which was then the capital of the Babylonian state (in central Iraq). This was a bloodless campaign and no prisoners were taken. Later, on November 9th, King Cyrus of Persia visited the city. Babylonian history tells us that Cyrus was greeted by the people, who spread a pathway of green twigs before him as a sign of honor and peace (sulmu). Cyrus greeted all Babylonians in peace and brought peace to their city.

<b>On this great event, Cyrus issued a declaration, inscribed on a clay barrel known as Cyrus’s inscription cylinder. It was discovered in 1879 by Hormoz Rassam in Babylon and today is kept in the British Museum. Many historians have reviewed it as the first declaration of human rights.</b>

<b>Cyrus’s Declaration</b>

"I am Cyrus, the king of the world, great king, legitimate king … son of Cambyses … whose rule Bel and Nebo loved and whom they wanted as king to please their hearts.

"When I entered Babylon as a friend and established the seat of government in the place of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord (induced) the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon (Din Tir) (to love me) and I daily endeavored to praise him. My numerous troops walked around in Babylon in peace, I did not allow anybody to terrorize (any of the people) of the country of Sumer and Akkad. I strove for peace in Babylon (Ka Dingir ra) and in all his (other) sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon (who) against the will of the gods (had/were … I abolished) the corvee (yoke) which was against their (social standing). I brought relief to their dilapidated housing, putting an end to their main complaints. Marduk, the great lord, was well pleased with my deeds and sent friendly blessing to myself, Cyrus, the King, who reveres him, to Cambyses, my son, as well as to all my troops, and we all (praised) his great (name) joyously, standing before him in peace … I returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad who Nabonidus has brought to Babylon (su sa na) to the anger of the lord of the gods unharmed in their chapels, the places which make them happy.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

What's all this christian bragging on 'human rights'?
The sheep always lie and take credit for everything.
Another example of such christolying:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Hospitals a pagan concept</b>
Church Hospitals (WLD)

In November 2000 the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Catholic Church of Australia owned not one but two of Sydney's largest hospitals, St Vincent's and the Mater.

Not bad for an organisation that <b>once vehemently opposed the development of medicines and medical care on the grounds they were deemed, "against God."</b>

<b>Ellen Ellerbe in The Dark Side Of Christianity [1995]</b> says that when the Black Plague swept Europe in the sixth century, claiming an estimated 100 million lives, theologians dismissed it as God's punishment for not obeying the church.

<b>The field of medicine, as developed by the Greeks and Romans, she says, was considered "heretical."</b>

"After the plague, the church dominated the formal discipline of medicine. The most common medical practice between the sixth and sixteenth centuries used for every malady became 'bleeding.'

"Christian monks taught that bleeding a person would prevent toxic imbalances, prevent sexual desire, and restore the humours.

"By the sixteenth century this practice would kill tens of thousands each year. Yet, when a person died during blood-letting, it was only lamented that treatment had not been started sooner and performed more aggressively."

US writer Rupert Hughes [1872-1956] said Christianity often takes credit for introducing medical treatment.

"[Yet] Christian ministers fought quinine, anaesthetics, education, the kindly treatment of the insane, and practically every other form of progressive mercy," he said.

<b>Recently a high-profile Christian evangelist said on Australian radio that the church introduced the idea of hospitals.</b>

<b>Yet history clearly tells us hospitals existed some two hundred and fifty years before Christ came to earth.

In fact it was one of Buddhism's most celebrated ancient rulers, King Asoka [291-232 BC], who founded the first hospitals and medical centres in India.

Asoka also established nurseries for the cultivation of medicinal plants and sent missionaries as far north as Persia to teach healthcare.</b>

How ironic that some of today's largest hospitals are owned by the very Christian organisations that once condemned healthcare as "pagan" and "heretical."

But as most secular people know, if there is a buck to be made, you can be sure the church will be there grasping for it ...<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
On the matter of Ashoka, while Indians and definitely IF knows (but apparently christowest doesn't): he didn't just have human hospitals, he had veterinary hospitals. More than just "human rights": animal rights.

mobile wackipedia on the history of "Veterinary medicine":
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->A pillar in Vaishali, India, displaying edicts of Emperor Asoka (272—231 BCE); the pillar records King Asoka building hospitals for both humans and animals.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
East or west

Ali Hashmi

dissects Imran Khan's views on materialism and religion and argues that we should end our search for a messiah

Imran Khan: from international cricketer and heartthrob to a confused politician

Afriend recently forwarded me an article written by our national cricketing hero and philanthropist, Imran Khan, called ‘Why the west craves materialism and the east sticks to religion.’ It is prominently posted on several Islamic websites and is an unabashed (and ill-informed) defence of religious orthodoxy with some awkward and factually inaccurate jabs at Science and Reason.

Mr. Khan has gained considerable respect for his philanthropic work, primarily as the driving force behind the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Trust which has been doing great work for cancer patients for many years. On the surface, his essay is a description of his origins and evolution from an upper middle class family in Lahore, educated at a posh private school, and then in England, to international cricketer and heartthrob, onward to sober politician, dedicated philanthrophist and, it would seem, budding Maulana. Early on, he attacks Charles Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection as ‘half-baked’, which, with our current state of knowledge, is like calling the theory of gravity half-baked. This point was addressed in some detail in a rejoinder by Dawn columnist Irfan Husain in a piece entitled ‘Imran Khan vs Charles Darwin’.

Mr. Khan correctly points to the horrors of the Inquisition, supervised by Christian religious orthodoxy at the time, as having left a lasting impression on Western civilization and reinforced the notions of a secular society, i.e. one where organized religious orthodoxy would not have a direct say in matters of state. He fails to mention (or does not know) that it was, in fact, the development of the scientific method (which he maligns repeatedly), that eventually broke the hold of the clergy on public life, and allowed for the Renaissance, the Christian Reformation and the Enlightenment to lay the foundations of modern Western society as it exists today. Also, with the descent of Europe into the dark ages following the fall of the Roman Empire around the 5th century CE, it was the still young and dynamic new religion from Arabia whose rulers actively encouraged their philosophers, intellectuals, scientists and physicians to collect all known knowledge around the world at the time in their libraries and places of learning, critique it, analyze it and develop new ideas. This was the time of the leading lights of Islamic learning, men of towering intellect such as Ibn Seena, Al-Farabi, Al-Kindi and others. These were the people who kept the light of knowledge alive during Europe’s dark ages and allowed the beginning of the renaissance in the 13th century. This is all described in some detail in Dr. Pervaiz Hoodbhoy’s book: ‘Religious orthodoxy and the battle for rationality’.

Mr. Khan talks about humans having to be ‘intellectually convinced’ of an argument instead of being ‘drilled’. In fact this argument flows logically when humans, in our typical fashion, hold themselves above the natural world they live in instead of as part and parcel of it. Behavioural science, beginning with the experiments of Pavlov a hundred years ago, has proven that, in fact, behaviour can be easily ‘drilled’ by sufficient repetition and motivation.

Mr. Khan’s repeated invocations of supernatural interventions notwithstanding, his own evolution into what he describes as a ‘world class athlete’ would never have been possible if his entire effort revolved around praying to the Almighty to make him a better player. The application of scientific methods of training, nutrition, rehabilitation and conditioning played a substantial part in both his success as well as his career’s longevity, allowing him to play and succeed long after most of his contemporaries, who were not as dedicated as he was, had faded into insignificance. Here too, he of all people, should appreciate the role ‘drilling’ played in his success. It is now an elementary principle of sports science that repetition and practice, within physiological bounds, is the key to developing ‘muscle memory’, so crucial to peak performance at the highest level. In addition, his bashing of science seems a little churlish given that without the technologies of electronics, television and the mass media, he would have remained just another obscure player playing a colonial sport that a large part of the world did not know or care about.

Does the East have a ‘superior family life’ as he insists? This assertion dovetails nicely with the ranting of Christian fanatics here in the US who are forever extolling the virtues of family and periodically being arrested for child abuse and homosexuality. Of course the family system in Europe, North America and all industrialized countries has changed, in some cases to the detriment of children and single parents. However, does the ‘extended family’ of Pakistan and other developing countries, a result primarily of economic factors, not present its own problems and challenges? I am of course referring to comfortable middle class families and not to the unfortunate poor and destitute who are still being tortured by barbaric feudal and tribal family relations. including honour killings, wife burnings and the like.

He poses two philosophical questions to science and finds it wanting. What is the purpose of existence and what happens after death? Science has never concerned itself with the first, because as a collection of a body of evidence about the material world of nature, it does not involve itself with the metaphysical or supernatural. The first question has always been the purview of philosophy, and has been answered many times by philosophers, both of a religious and non-religious bent. The same applies to the second question. Of course science has answered what happens to us after death. Our physical shells rejoin the earth which gave birth to them. What happens to the ‘soul’, the ‘spirit’, ‘ruh’, etc? Again, this is outside the purview of science but has been answered many times by others.

Mr. Khan finds the roots of all morality in religion, ignoring (or oblivious) of the fact that morality predates religion, and organized religion, especially as he describes it, is a very recent phenomenon in history. Human kind’s presence on the planet dates back millions of years, but only in the relatively very recent past have humans begun organizing their beliefs into formal religious rituals and practices. There are several sources to consult on this for the interested reader but a good start would be Mr. Ali Abbas Jalalpuri’s ‘Aam Fikri Mughaltay’ (Common Intellectual Falsehoods).

Mr. Khan alludes to the lack of racial tension in Pakistan, ignoring the vicious ‘class persecution’ of the poor, forever consigned to toil in misery so the few rich and influential can live in obscene opulence. He also chooses to ignore the persecution of religious minorities and those arbitrarily deemed infidels (Ahmadis, Shias etc). He acknowledges that Western countries provide more rights to their citizens, whatever their ethnicity or religion, but fails to connect this to industrial development which leads to employment, education and all the associated social relations. Justice and the rule of law, his party’s main platforms, are admirable goals, but these abstract concepts are built on the foundation of economic relations i.e. the means that people utilize to secure food and shelter. It cannot be otherwise. Until Pakistan and other ‘developing’ countries break the stranglehold of large landholders and transnational corporations by developing indigenous industry to wean themselves off foreign ‘aid’, and then use that self-reliance to develop a strong education system which will lead logically to stronger institutions like the judiciary, they cannot hope to uplift large sections of their populations out of poverty and misery.

We do not have to look far. Our neighbours to the East and Northeast, India and China, have adopted differing approaches but are achieving similar results and stand poised on the threshold of joining the West and ultimately supplanting it as world powers. We can either choose to take a similar path, or continue playing the role of agents in the pay of Western powers. One of the symptoms of a colonised mentality is hope in a ‘strong leader’, an ‘ultimate rescuer’ or messiah. History’s experiments with that approach have been a resounding failure, and hundreds of millions have paid with their blood, including our forefathers. Let us be those who learn from History rather than those condemned to repeat it.

The author is a graduate of King Edward Medical University, Lahore and a practicing Psychiatrist in Arkansas, USA

> > It is not so much about definitions as it is about
> > conceptualizations--cluster of concepts, which are part of some theory.
> > And
> > such a theory filters what you experience of.
> >
> > In the first case, it sounds like there is only one way of describing,
> > like the rights-talk (or its variants) is the best way of describing.
> > Here,
> > the debate is not so much definitions, but to what extent theory of
> > does captures the experience of the natives? If one denies the
> > rights-talk,
> > one is not denying the phenomenon, that is, a coarse description
> > theories accept.
> >
> > Abt the second case. Surely the ragpicker's experience is different from
> > yours. Do your and his experiences share any common structures? Assuming
> > that a common structure is being shared, the only way to defend such a
> > possibility is linking it to 'collective culturality'.: again, people
> > resort
> > to their pet notions of what culture is.
> >
> > Idem for the third case.
> >
> > All these cases share one thing: does whatever is seen in some place
> > constitute culturality? Those who answer in the affirmative share this
> > claim
> > as well: every practice is cultural; and such claims do have nothing to
> > say
> > about cultural differences, except that cultural difference is a
> > difference
> > in beliefs. The explanatory relation between practice and belief is
> > defensible only within the ambit of semitic theologies.
> >
> > Best,
> > Reddy, V.
<!--QuoteBegin-"amit"+-->QUOTE("amit")<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-"Acharya"+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE("Acharya")<!--QuoteEBegin--> A very important post and one of the best post in this thread. Indians have to understand this.
Each point is a large topic to be discussed.

I will comment on this later<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Eh? I thought it was the decision of the Mods to stop all posts dishing personalities?

Acharya, two points.
I dont want to bring in the personalities. It was the education and period which created that thought process.

From another forum

A Great article in a TELUGU news paper by some Shri Shri Shri Hebbar Nageshwar Rao garu.

{Site doesnt archive: http://andhrabhoomi.net/comment.html}

I have uploaded the image files here for any Teleugu reading members:

All translation errors or mine:

The events unfolding as part of current LokSabha elections highlight the need for a comprehensive review of our Constitution.

The speech attributed to Varun Gandhi snow balled into many more such intolerant speeches. But the response to these subsequent speeches by the other politicians is not attracting the attention or severe punishment that Varun Gandhi ‘s speech received.

Varun Gandhi allegedly said that “I am from Gandhi family, Hindu and Baratiya. I will cut the entire hand if one lifts a finger against Hindus”. This has been flagged as intolerant speech and resulted in his arrest and cases under National Security Act.

Andhra Pradesh INC president D Srinivas did not identify himself as anything in his speech. He did not say I belong to such family, or Hindu or Bharatiya. But He allegedly said that “He will cut the entire hand if one lifts a finger against Muslims”.

For any logical or reasonable mind, if what Varun said constitutes a intolerant speech, D. Srinivas speech also becomes an intolerant speech. Only a person with vested interest will see these two speeches as different.

However, the election commission did not show the same urgency and vigor acting against D Srinivas as it showed in Varun Gandhi’s case. Replacing Hindu with Muslim word caused this much difference in the constitutional bodies response.

D. Srinivas type of speeches happened in many other states. Election commission is giving notices to all these people at its own pace. By the time the reviews complete the entire election process will complete. But Varun Gandhi got stuck in Padma Vyuha. Whether he becomes Arjuna or dies as Abhimanyu to be seen.

The word “Muslim” represents a religion. The misconception that Hindu also represents a religion is converting nationalism into religious feeling. If “Hindu” is a religious word, then the laws applied to Hindus cannot be applied to Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains. So the “Hindu” word is used to represent a GROUP of religions.

If we call this group of religions a nationality then Varun Gandhi’s use of “Hindu” word symbolizes his nationalistic view. But “Muslim” word doesn’t represent a group religions the way “Hindu” word does. It represents a specific religion only. Then D. Srinivas’s statement represents a specific religion and does not constitute hating other religions. So the section 125 doesn’t apply Varun but applies to D. Srinivas’ speech.

It makes it clear the need to include this representation in the constitution. In a democratic country peoples mandate is paramount. If the people’s mandate implemented properly, the constitutional assembly formed in 1946 wouldn’t have written the Independent India’s constitution. The constitutional assembly would have formed in 1947.

Associating “Hindu” word with religion happened after British. As a result hundreds of thousands of years of nationality became a religion 
The section 125 in IPC says that “Any action that causes intolerance between religions would result in up to 3 years of jail term”. It is against law to cause intolerance between religions. But speeches that insult the entire nation (race) should be even bigger crime. But the section 125 in IPC does not cover the speeches against the Indian nation.

This oversight in IPC allowed MDMK’s Vaigo cannot be prosecuted by Election Commission for his hate speech against Indians in support of LTTE. He said that “India will not stay united if Sri Lankan government doesn’t stop its action against LTTE”. In fact Vaigo should be arrested even before he completes this sentence. But the governments run by politicians will not do that.

It is very surprising to hear the election commission say that such an intolerant and anti-national speech doesn’t come under EC’s code of conduct. By submitting an affidavit to honor the Indian Constitution all the political candidates automatically fall under EC’s code of conduct. By making an anti-national statement Vaigo rejected our constitution.

It is a historical fact that, before Britishers altered our nation and nationality all the Indians accepted Hindutva as their nationality and national entity. Nationality extends to the aspects of religions, languages, arts and sciences, commerce, agriculture, political entities. It is not one specific thing, but it is the entire thing. But Britishers made this nationality, into one specific aspect of our nationality.

Before the birth of religions itself for millions of years, our nationality existed. Religions born and disappeared. But our nations civilization and nationality stayed same. Religions from outside entered this land. Nationality doesn’t change by birth of a religion or demise of a religion or an entry of an external religion. 400 years of American nationality didn’t change because few external religions came to America. Then why should Indian nationality?

This nationality has been called with different names. Sanatana Nation, Bharata Nation, Hindu nation etc. It is historically proven people’s mandate. Two thousand years back Salivahana Monarch called this nation Sindhu Nation.

“Sthapita Tena Maryadaa Mlecharyanam pridhak pridhak… Sindhu sthanamiti jneyam arya beejam…”

Thus when the Sindhu and Hindu words represented this nationality, Islam did not even born. Christianity did not arrive in to this land. Why should Hundu nationality, Bharatiya nationality change because of these two religions? Like all other religions that existed in this Hindu nation, these new religions also must become part of this nationality. Before the advent of Islam and Christianity, this nation has Vaidika, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Sakteya, Ganapatya, Saura, Paasupata, Boudha, Jaina religions as part of this Hindu nation. None of these religions did not say they are different race and need separate nation.

Hindutva thus proved its plurality and national identity. Calling for the external religions to become part of this Hindu nationality similar to all Indic religions is not an intolerant speech. It is the noble call to unity among all Indians. But British left this poisonous misconception among our polity and constitution.

The constitutional bodies such as Election Commission and Supreme Court must give proper definition to this religions and nationality.

Politics is part of democracy. Religions are part of Nationality. The nationality of this country goes with different names such as Hindutva, Bharatiya, Ajanabha, Sanatana. This hasn’t come with religions. Britisher did not give us this nationality. This Hindu nationality of ours is ever existing and ever lasting.
Mental slaves

Although Indian intellectuals take pride in fierce independence, some have from time to time allowed themselves to be mentally enslaved by foreign hegemons. “Macaulay’s children”, like Janakinath Bose and Satyendranath Tagore, emerged from British-educated institutions in the late 19th century to buttress Western colonial rule. Without such articulate but pliant native collaborators, says historian Niall Ferguson, “British rule in India simply would not have worked.”

Thankfully, India’s fertile soil also produced their foils. Seers like Aurobindo Ghosh, who wrote the stirring New Lamps for Old in 1893, named British imperialism for what it was ~ oppressive alien rule. Even as the intellectual space was being smothered by the colonial educational apparatus and its assembly line of privileged “natives”, the counter-narrative of nationalism could not be eradicated.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a new strand of sycophancy emerged in India as a satellite of the Soviet Russian state. Not all Indian communists condoned the excesses of Stalin’s Russia though. Mahendra Nath Roy decided as early as 1929 that he could no longer defend a totalitarian state in which “purge” and “Gulag” substituted for governance. Ideologically rigid Indian Marxists, however, accused Roy of deviation from the “Moscow line”.

Well until the collapse of the USSR, India had a gaggle of intellectuals that unquestioningly toed the dictates of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. They argued against objective factual reality that the Soviet invasions of Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) and Afghanistan (1979) were beneficial to the victims for allegedly freeing them from Western imperialism.
Quick to condemn the atrocities of the USA in countries like Vietnam and the Congo, dogmatic Indian Marxists got tied up in moral knots when Moscow committed crimes against humanity.

In the 1960s, mirroring the Sino-Soviet split, a breakaway faction of Indian Marxists shifted allegiance to the “Beijing line”. Disguised as “internationalists”, they threw their lot behind Mao’s violent totalitarianism and supported China’s war against India in 1962. The choice was not difficult for this lot since their homeland was a “capitalist state”, while the dreamland to the north of the Himalayas was a “socialist state”.
Procrustean loyalty to China robbed Indian fellow travellers the freedom to analyse international questions with an open mind. As Mao’s military machine rolled into Tibet and committed nothing short of cultural genocide in the 1950s and 1960s, pro-Beijing Indians parroted official Chinese propaganda that the land of the lamas was being emancipated from “serfdom”.

Teleological Marxist visions of linear stage-by-stage ascent from one mode of production to the next was so ingrained in the minds of pro-China Indians that they could justify the destruction of Tibet’s age-old autonomy and non-materialistic civilisation as necessary for “progress”.
By regurgitating the occupying power’s doctored history of Tibet, India’s Maoist mavens revealed the hollowness of their anti-imperialism. Unspeakable horrors perpetrated on Tibetans in the name of modernisation were repackaged and presented by China’s Indian friends as “liberation”.
The saving grace was that covering up China’s crimes in Tibet was a minority position in India’s intellectual spectrum. Even socialist leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru could see through the smokescreen and felt deep sympathy for Tibetans under Chinese yoke. New Delhi’s decision to offer asylum to the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of his persecuted people was an affirmation of Indian independence.

But China-worshipping Indian ideologues kept hammering away in their mouthpieces that the Dalai Lama was an agent of Western imperialism and that his Central Tibetan Administration based in India was a travesty.
World public opinion has been firmly behind Tibetan non-violence and spirituality as alternatives to consumerism and violence. But India’s Maoist intelligentsia harped on about pre-1949 Tibetan “serfdom”.
Mass murder and demographic re-engineering, radioactive nuclear testing, super-exploitation of minerals and other acts of impunity by the Chinese state in Tibet never tugged at the heartstrings of these zealots who only saw the bright side of communism. Hitler was visible to them but not Pol Pot.

Some contemporary Indian media luminaries are continuing this tradition by visiting Tibet at the official invitation of Beijing to act as eyewitness to the alleged benefits that Tibetans had received from being forcibly incorporated into China. Like “embedded journalists” who went along with the occupying US army into Iraq after 2003, these figures are being shown the sanitised version of Tibet’s “liberation”.
Glowing tributes to China’s crushing of the Tibetan spirit emanate from their pens, reiterating the old Indian Maoist shibboleths of how Tibetans were saved from “feudal slavery” by Mao’s marauders.

Happily reliant on the pre-arranged itineraries of their hosts in Beijing, India’s China admirers cannot admit the simple truth that more than 300,000 PLA troops had invaded the bodies and homes of ordinary Tibetans and terrorised them.
When the vast majority of Tibetans living under Chinese colonialism decided to boycott Losar, the Tibetan New Year, to mourn the killing of hundreds of protesters by the PLA last year, some blinkered Indians announced to the delight of their Chinese hosts that they found Tibetans in a festive mood filled with excitement.
In recent tributes to the Chinese state’s celebration of “Serf Emancipation Day” (the day the PLA occupied Tibet and dissolved the Dalai Lama’s government in 1959), India’s pro-China lobby not only dished out the formulaic servile praise for Beijing but also critiqued “pseudo-scientific” history of the “so-called Tibetan government-in-exile.” It cited unabashedly from “documents in the possession of the Chinese government” as if they were paragons of objectivity.
Some of these lobbyists are using their bully pulpits to influence Indian readers in the English language just as the PLA “re-educates” recalcitrant Tibetans after rounding them up for dissent.

The current-day manifestation of meek dependency in sections of the Indian literati is not limited to moral bankruptcy on the question of Tibet. Some among them are embellishing authoritarian credentials by staunchly promoting the militaristic government of Sri Lanka, which is prosecuting a vicious war in contravention of humanitarian and human rights laws.
By advertising personal friendships with “ethnocratic” rulers of the Sri Lankan state who epitomise Sinhalese chauvinism and by reducing the war in Sri Lanka to their distaste for the terrorism of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, these Indian opinion makers are reifying the genuflecting tendency which has a long history.
Likewise, there is a constituency of elites in India which defends the egregious policy of Indian cooperation with the military junta in Myanmar on the grounds that this serves “pragmatic” national interest.

Paradoxically, despite living in a free and democratic environment in which they can express their views publicly, these Indians have no appreciation of the freedom that human beings around the world are struggling to obtain from repressive political structures. They define the parameters of “freedom” selectively in order to further personal prejudices or to act as public relations fronts of foreign interest groups.
The challenge before India’s intellectuals is to rise above the partisanship of pseudo-progressives and to determine an independent line on every major international question, be it Tibet, Sri Lanka or Myanmar. Should they fail to do so, India would be left burnishing “old lamps” of untruth and groping in the dark for a distinct place in world affairs.

(The writer is a researcher on international affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse, New York)


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->1. It is very disappointing to see how these evolutionary theorists of religion lack knowledge of religions other than garden variety Judeo-Christianity (where they seem to have at least some factual knowledge, as in Scott Atran's case, they reproduce standard textbook stories about Hinduism that have been left behind a few decades back).

2. If they did a serious study, it would perhaps strike them that no one has ever given either theoretical or empirical proof for the claim that religion is a human universal. From the 13th century onwards, European travelers, missionaries, merchants and scholars simply assumed that there would be religion in all societies. With this assumption in the background, they looked for the 'beliefs' and 'gods' of these societies. In the process, these western minds invented religions everywhere. Later scholars began to create all kinds of definitions of "religion" in order to accommodate their (cultural) intuition that religion is universal. As though a definition of a word can help us decide on the universality of a phenomenon. After all, we don't use a definition of the word "gravitation" in order to find out whether gravitation exists on all planets, do we?

3. The same goes for the so-called theories or explanations of religion. These simply presuppose as a pre-theoretical given that religion exists in all cultures and societies. Then they concoct ad hoc accounts groomed to explain for this pre-theoretical assumption. In the process, they abuse evolutionary biology, cognitive neurosciences, psychology, etc. to produce unscientific just-so stories. What they seem to miss, is that this is a massive exercise in the fallacy of petitio principii. That is, one assumes the truth of a proposition whose truth should be demonstrated: that religion is a cultural universal.

4. If this course intends to be scientific and serious in any way, it will have to answer a few questions: What is the proof for the universality of religion? How could one test this claim about the universality of religion? That is, which criteria allow one to test the presence of religion in a culture or society? This cannot be solved by giving definitions as to "the universal belief in spiritual or superhuman beings." Notions like belief, spiritual, superhuman are too vague to provide us with any real test. One cannot also draw on evolutionary biology and claim that it shows that religion is universal, since evolutionary biology does not give us the structural properties that allow us to recognize the object of religion (and this would simply be a repetition of the petitio principii).

5. If one begins to realize the difficulty of proving that religion is a human universal, then the question becomes: How come all these brilliant minds have simply presupposed that religion is universal? Historically, it is very clear that we have inherited this assumption from Christianity. Christian theology tells us that God has given religion to humanity. It is inscribed in our souls, so to say. Thus, the stubborn presupposition that religion is universal (whether among scholars of religion, biologists, psychologists, common sense, ...) is simply a secularized Christian theological claim.

6. Perhaps all these evolutionary thinkers are then abusing Darwin's beautiful and brilliant theory in order to reproduce an old theological story about humanity. Surprising no, given the supposed atheism of people like Dan Dennett?

Anyway, those interested can have a look at S.N. Balagangadhara, "The Heathen in His Blindness...": Asia, the West and the Dynamic of Religion (Leiden, 1994; Manohar, 2005).


Jakob De Roover<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Please take a look:

Google books

The Holistic Inspirations of Physics

Thanks, ramana
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. <b>The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.</b>

cross post (pravda article)<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
brihaspati wrote:<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Since at least two posters here have expressed doubts about the applicability of "Left-Right" characterizations, can we have a clarification of what different posters understand by the two terms? More in terms of differences and contrasts, please?

Very relavant.
This "Left-Right" characterizations of Indian politics and comparison to western model is flawed.
We have to understand the history of the political groups in India for the last 40-50 years and influence of the neo-liberal, neo-marxist, post-modernist movement on Indian elite.
After 1960s Indian elite was exposed to the western world and the internationalists movement of the 60s in large number as never before in Indian history. Indian elite before that were mostly the few rich upper class western educated in Oxford/Cambridge before Independence and were leftist like Jyothi Basu. This social transformation of the Indian intellectuals in the 60s/70s was significant since the internationalist movement/Green movement/leftist movement dominated the Indian political scene so much that there was no space for any other national ideology. WKK, peace movement, anti-nuclear movement and rights movement including human rights was appropriated by these groups.
Frankfurt school one such center was influential on the Indian elite.
The distorted leftist/marxist ideology inside India is due to these influences in the Indian elite an you can still see many national leaders showing the symptoms of these indoctrinations. Indian education and media shows these distorted Indian variations of all these "cultural theories" and "left ideologies". Indian education was the first victim of this influence with RT gaining prominance in the west with neo-marxist views of Indian history. This created a movement to change the Indian text books, media, cinema and all public intellectual space with pseudo secular, neo-liberal view points distorting Hindu values and Hindu thought process. Western trained sociologists deepened this penetration and actively started pushing social change inside Indian soceity with Mandal and other movement creating social tension.
Hindu tolerance, Hindu world view has been appropriated by the neo-liberal ideologies and groups and the leftist/socialists started showing pseudo secular behavior to represent historic Indian liberal social behavior.

In the 1970s the leftist consolidated their hold in WB and Kerala and joined the INC to create
leftist oriented media and education.Indira Gandhi and her period including emergency even made many nationalists and communists work together.
In the 1980s the political formation was centered around PM Indira Gandhi and parties opposing her. With Pakistan supporting the Khalistan and other left groups within India the Indian leftist was supporting many anti-state groups within India and joining the internationalists who had become dominant in the world.

Pakistan and jihadi Islamist indoctrination in the 80s created another dynamics which created problems for the leftist/socialist ideology. They became sympathizers for the Islamic jihadi movement internally in Kashmir and also external global Islamic/Jihad movement which was secretly supported by internationalists. Indian internationalists/leftist by the early 1990s ended up supporting(some without choice) Kashmir jihadis, Pak jihad movement and totally dominated the political representation of India in the west and elsewhere.

This dynamics of Indian left continued until 1992 when the nationalists and Hindutva groups marched ahead into the center stage with the Ayodhya movement. The left/marxists which until 1992 was mostly anti-Congress, anti-Indira Gandhi and anti-State found itself in the national politics with significant political power in the UF govt as a coalition group. The left even smelled power with the thought of Jyothi Basu as the Prime Minister in 1996. Home minister was a communist for the first time in Indian history. INC without a significant leader was receding and had no clear ideology.

Indian population was under the assault of Islamic jihad movement at the border. Regular unsuspecting Indians were under the assault of psuedo-secular movement by the neo-liberals who took complete control over the Indian media by the early 1990s. Indian economy was reeling under the socialist policy/license Raj setup by the INC since early 1960s by the neo-leftist. With the assassination of RG the leadership of the Indian polity was under shock and in this circumstance PM PVNR steered India towards stability till 1995.

In this mess by the late 1990s the EJs from the west poured more money and expanded their conversion activity inside India creating its own social tension. They increased more tension with the Hindutva group by provoking and creating conditions for violence. It increased more money for conversion and provoked demonization of Hindu groups and Indian culture in general.
We see the transformation of INC which was born as a nationalistic party for gaining the freedom from the British colonial occupation has transformed into a left/socialist party by the 1990s and formed govt with the left to keep away the nationalist from gaining power. In the 1990s the INC also took the leadership of liberalization and privatization of Indian economy while at the same time showing left/socialist image.

After the 1998 win of the NDA and the nationalists the left and INC joined together and defined themselves in term of non-nationalists and secular and even secular fundamentalists. INC has slowly absorbed all the left ideology and by 2009 was seen as the left/socialistic center of Indian politics and different from the nationalistic political center.

With all this mess and media confusion and heavy psuedo-secular propaganda the average Indian public is confused and lost trust with the media. Hindu tolerance, Hindu world view has been appropriated by the neo-liberal ideologies and pseudo secular movement distorting Hindu values, Hindu thought process and demonized Hindutva. Educated Indians have been indoctrinated to stop supporting Hindutva and nationalist cause with media campaign and distortions.

generation : pyre
burial : mortuary
weapon : centurion
massacre : invasion
+ prediction : augury

This is a standardized question. It can only be understood within a theological framework, where <i>worship </i>is offered to the true god and <i>sacrifice </i>to the false god.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Huynh Kim Khanh, <b><i>Vietnamese Communism: 1925–1945</i>. </b>Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982. 379 pp.

This excellent study shows how Ho Chi Minh, who was the most important single person in the founding of the Vietnamese Communist movement between 1925 and 1930, lost control of it in the early 1930's. Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist, but the leaders who ran the Communist movement in the mid 1930's were much more concerned with Communism as an international movement than they were with Vietnamese nationalism. Ho regained control only around the beginning of World War II. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Let me put it very crudely so that you know who is talking to you: <b>If I am right, if my research program is right, the last 300-400 years of social sciences in the world is worthless, completely worthless; </b>your sociology, your political science, your philosophies of law, your theories of religion, just throw it in the dustbin, if I am right.  Prof. Balagangadhara<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-dhu+Jul 18 2009, 05:25 PM-->QUOTE(dhu @ Jul 18 2009, 05:25 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Let me put it very crudely so that you know who is talking to you: <b>If I am right, if my research program is right, the last 300-400 years of social sciences in the world is worthless, completely worthless; </b>your sociology, your political science, your philosophies of law, your theories of religion, just throw it in the dustbin, if I am right.  Prof. Balagangadhara<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I had suspected this.
THis colonial experiene of the European nations which resulted in topics such as sociology etc are fake and useless.

THey created it to face the eastern advanced civilization in the 1500 onwards
These fellows insist on "discovering" religion in every situation.

<b>The Marxization of the Upanishads</b>
ANswer to the above

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>The Persistence of Ideology
Grand ideas still drive history.</b>
Ideological politics: the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem salutes Bosnian Muslim recruits to the Waffen-SS in 1943.
Ideological politics: the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem salutes Bosnian Muslim recruits to the Waffen-SS in 1943.

In 1960, the sociologist Daniel Bell published The End of Ideology, in which he argued that ideology—understood in the sense of a coherent, single-minded philosophical outlook or system of abstractions intended as much as a lever to change society as a description to explain it—was dead, at least in the West, and in the United States in particular. A combination of democracy and mass prosperity had “solved” the political question that had agitated humanity since the time of Plato. There were to be no more grand and transformative, if woefully erroneous, ideas; all that remained was public administration, with, at most, squabbles over small details of policy. The new version of the old saw, mens sana in corpore sano, a sound mind in a sound body, was a capitalist economy in a liberal democratic polity. That was the lesson of history.

In 1989, as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were reforming—indeed collapsing—so rapidly that it became clear that Communism could not long survive anywhere in Europe, Francis Fukuyama went one step beyond Bell and wrote an essay for The National Interest titled “The End of History?” In this soon-to-be-famous article, later expanded into a book, Fukuyama suggested that the end of ideology that Bell saw in the West was now global. By “the end of history,” he did not mean the end of events, of course; one team or another would continue to win the Super Bowl, and there might yet be wars between national rivals. But broadly, history had given its lesson and mankind had taken it. Henceforth, those who resisted the march of liberal democracy were like the Luddites, those English workers at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution who smashed machines, blaming them for destroying the independent livelihoods of workers at home.

At the end of his essay, however, Fukuyama—more concerned to understand the world than to change it, by contrast with Marx—implicitly raised the question of the role of ideology in the world’s moral economy. With no ideological struggles to occupy their minds, what will intellectuals have to do or think about? Virtually by definition, they like to address themselves to large and general questions, not small and particular ones: as Isaiah Berlin would say, by temperament, they are hedgehogs, who know one large thing, not foxes, who know many small things. Fukuyama admitted that he would miss ideology, if only as something to oppose. “I have ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its North Atlantic and Asian offshoots,” he wrote. “Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.”

As it turned out, of course, we did not have long (let alone centuries) to suffer existential boredom. Our dogmatic slumbers—to use Kant’s phrase for the philosophic state from which reading David Hume roused him—had barely begun when a group of young fanatics flew commercial airliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, thus demonstrating that pronouncements of the death of both ideology and history were somewhat premature.

In truth, we should have known it, or at least guessed it, without needing to be reminded. Fukuyama’s concluding sentences contain a hint of the psychological function that ideology plays. It is not just disgruntlement with the state of the world that stimulates the development and adoption of ideologies. After all, disgruntlement with society there has always been and always will be. Dissatisfaction is the permanent state of mankind, at least of civilized mankind. Not every dissatisfied man is an ideologist, however: for if he were, there would hardly be anyone who was not. Yet ideology, at least as a mass phenomenon, is a comparatively recent development in human history.

Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete. Their security gives them the leisure, their education the need, and no doubt their temperament the inclination, to find something above and beyond the flux of daily life.

If this is true, then ideology should flourish where education is widespread, and especially where opportunities are limited for the educated to lose themselves in grand projects, or to take leadership roles to which they believe that their education entitles them. The attractions of ideology are not so much to be found in the state of the world—always lamentable, but sometimes improving, at least in certain respects—but in states of mind. And in many parts of the world, the number of educated people has risen far faster than the capacity of economies to reward them with positions they believe commensurate with their attainments. Even in the most advanced economies, one will always find unhappy educated people searching for the reason that they are not as important as they should be.

One of the first to notice the politicization of intellectuals was the French writer Julien Benda, whose 1927 La trahison des clercs—“the treason of the clerks,” with “clerk” understood in its medieval sense as an educated person distinct from the uneducated laity—gave a phrase to educated discourse. Today, people most frequently use the phrase to signify the allegiance that intellectuals gave to Communism, despite the evident fact that the establishment of Communist regimes led everywhere and always to a decrease in the kind of intellectual freedom and respect for individual rights that intellectuals claimed to defend.

Benda meant something much wider by it, though support for Communism would have come under his rubric: the increasing tendency of intellectuals to pursue lines of thought not for the sake of truth, or for guiding humanity sub specie aeternitatis, but for the sake of attaining power by adopting, justifying, and manipulating the current political passions of sections of humanity, whether national, racial, religious, or economic. The political passions that Benda most feared when he wrote his book were nationalism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism, which then had plenty of intellectual apologists, and which indeed soon proved cataclysmic in their effects; but really he was defending the autonomy of intellectual and artistic life from political imperatives.

That ideological ways of thinking have survived the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union would not have surprised Benda. The collapse did severely reduce Marxism’s attractiveness, and despite decades of attempts by intellectuals to dissociate the doctrine’s supposed merits from the horrors of the Soviet system, it was only natural that many people believed that the death of Marxism meant the death of ideology itself. But as Benda might have predicted, what resulted instead was the balkanization of ideology—the emergence of a wider choice of ideologies for adoption by those so inclined.

The most obvious example of an ideology that came into prominence—or better, prominently into our consciousness—after Communism’s fall was Islamism. Because of its emphasis on returning to Islamic purity, and its apparent—indeed noisy—rejection of modernity, most people failed to notice how modern a phenomenon Islamism was, not just in time but in spirit. This is evident from reading just one of Islamism’s foundational texts: Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones, first published in 1964. The imprint of Marxism-Leninism is deep upon it, especially the Leninist component.

Qutb starts with cultural criticism that some might find eerily prescient. “The leadership of mankind by Western man is now on the decline, not because Western culture has become poor materially or because its economic and military power has become weak,” he writes. “The period of the Western system has come to an end primarily because it is deprived of those life-giving values which enabled it to be the leader of mankind.” Since, according to Qutb, those “life-giving values” cannot come from the Eastern Bloc, he thinks (like Juan Domingo Perón, the Argentinean dictator, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister) that a Third Way must exist: which, he says, can only be Islam.

Just as in Marx only the proletariat bears the whole of humanity’s interests, so in Qutb only Muslims (true ones, that is) do. Everyone else is a factionalist. In Qutb’s conception, the state withers away under Islam, just as it does—according to Marx—under Communism, once the true form is established. In Marx, the withering away comes about because there are no sectional material interests left that require a state to enforce them; in Qutb, there is no sectional interest left once true Islam is established because everyone obeys God’s law without the need for interpretation and therefore for interpreters. And when all obey God’s law, no conflict can arise because the law is perfect; therefore there is no need for a state apparatus.

One finds a unity of theory and praxis in both Qutb’s Islamism and Marxism-Leninism. “Philosophy and revolution are inseparable,” said Raya Dunayevskaya, once Trotsky’s secretary and a prominent American Marxist (insofar as such can be said to have existed). And here is Qutb: “Thus these two—preaching and the movement—united, confront ‘the human situation’ with all the necessary methods. For the achievement of freedom of man on earth—of all mankind throughout the earth—it is necessary that these methods should work side by side.”

Like Lenin, Qutb thought that violence would be necessary against the ruling class (of bourgeois in Lenin’s case, unbelievers in Qutb’s): “Those who have usurped the authority of God and are oppressing God’s creatures are not going to give up their power merely through preaching.” Again like Lenin, Qutb believed that until human authority disappeared, the leader’s authority must be complete. Referring to “the Arab” of the Meccan period—an age whose moral qualities he wants to restore—Qutb says: “He was to be trained to follow the discipline of a community which is under the direction of a leader, and to refer to this leader in every matter and to obey his injunctions, even though they might be against his habit or taste.” Not much there with which Lenin could have disagreed. The British Stalinist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote of himself: “The Party had the first, or more precisely, the only real claim on our lives. . . . Whatever it had ordered, we would have obeyed.”

Qutb is as explicit as Lenin that his party should be a vanguard and not a mass party, for only a vanguard will prove sufficiently dedicated to bring about the revolution. And like Leninism, Qutb’s Islamism is dialectical:

    [Islam] does not face practical problems with abstract theories, nor does it confront various stages with unchangeable means. Those who talk about Jihaad in Islam and quote Qur’anic verses do not take into account this aspect, nor do they understand the nature of the various stages through which the movement develops, or the relationship of the verses revealed at various occasions with each stage.

Compare this with Lenin’s Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder:

    Right doctrinairism persisted in recognizing only the old forms, and became utterly bankrupt, for it did not notice the new content. Left doctrinairism persists in the unconditional repudiation of certain old forms, failing to see that the new content is forcing its way through all and sundry forms, that it is our duty as Communists to master all forms, to learn how, with the maximum rapidity, to supplement one form with another, to substitute one for another, and to adapt our tactics to any such change that does not come from our class or from our efforts.

There are many other parallels between Leninism and Qutb’s Islamism, among them the incompatibility of each with anything else, entailing a fight to the finish supposedly followed by permanent bliss for the whole of mankind; a tension between complete determinism (by history and by God, respectively) and the call to intense activism; and the view that only with the installation of their systems does Man become truly himself. For Qutb’s worldview, therefore, the term Islamo-Leninism would be a more accurate description than Islamofascism.

Qutb was a strange man: he never married, for example, because (so he claimed) he found no woman of sufficient purity for him. You wouldn’t need to be Freud to find the explanation suspect, or to find his reaction to Greeley, Colorado, in 1950, where he spent time on a scholarship—he saw it as a hotbed of unrestrained vice—somewhat hysterical, a cover for something seething deeply and disturbingly inside him. Devotion to an ideology can provide an answer of sorts to personal problems, and since personal problems are common, it isn’t surprising that a number of people choose ideology as the solution.

Ideological thinking is not confined to the Islamists in our midst. The need for a simplifying lens that can screen out the intractabilities of life, and of our own lives in particular, springs eternal; and with the demise of Marxism in the West, at least in its most economistic form, a variety of substitute ideologies have arisen from which the disgruntled may choose.

Most started life as legitimate complaints, but as political reforms dealt with reasonable demands, the demands transformed themselves into ideologies, thus illustrating a fact of human psychology: rage is not always proportionate to its occasion but can be a powerful reward in itself. Feminists continued to see every human problem as a manifestation of patriarchy, civil rights activists as a manifestation of racism, homosexual-rights activists as a manifestation of homophobia, anti-globalists as a manifestation of globalization, and radical libertarians as a manifestation of state regulation.

How delightful to have a key to all the miseries, both personal and societal, and to know personal happiness through the single-minded pursuit of an end for the whole of humanity! At all costs, one must keep at bay the realization that came early in life to John Stuart Mill, as he described it in his Autobiography. He asked himself:

    “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?” And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, “No!” At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.

This is the question that all ideologists fear, and it explains why reform, far from delighting them, only increases their anxiety and rage. It also explains why traditional religious belief is not an ideology in the sense in which I am using the term, for unlike ideology, it explicitly recognizes the limitations of earthly existence, what we can expect of it, and what we can do by our own unaided efforts. Some ideologies have the flavor of religion; but the absolute certainty of, say, the Anabaptists of Münster, or of today’s Islamists, is ultimately irreligious, since they claimed or claim to know in the very last detail what God requires of us.

The most popular and widest-ranging ideology in the West today is environmentalism, replacing not only Marxism but all the nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that Benda accused intellectuals of espousing in the 1920s. Now, no one who has suffered respiratory difficulties because of smog, or seen the effects of unrestrained industrial pollution, can be indifferent to the environmental consequences of man’s activities; pure laissez-faire will not do. But it isn’t difficult to spot in environmentalists’ work something more than mere concern with a practical problem. Their writings often show themselves akin to the calls to repentance of seventeenth-century divines in the face of plague epidemics, but with the patina of rationality that every ideology needs to disguise its true source in existential angst.

For example, a recent column in the Guardian, by the environmental campaigner George Monbiot, carried the headline the planet is now so vandalised that only total energy renewal can save us. Monbiot, it is true, does not offer us heaven on earth if we follow his prescriptions; only the bare—and by no means certain, for “we might have left it too late”—avoidance of total biological annihilation. But behind Monbiot’s urgency, even hysteria, one senses a deep lust for power. He cannot really believe what he says, for starters. “Do we want to be remembered,” he asks rhetorically, “as the generation that saved the banks but let the biosphere collapse?” If it is really true that we must either have “total energy renewal” or die, however, we cannot be remembered as the generation that let the biosphere collapse, for if we let it collapse, ex hypothesi no one will be around to remember us. This reminds me of patients I used to see who would threaten suicide, in the clear expectation of a long life ahead, unless someone did what they wanted. And though Monbiot says that it is uncertain that anything we do now will make any difference, he nevertheless proposes that every human being on the earth follow his prescriptions.

The environmentalist ideology threatens to make serious inroads into the rule of law in Britain. This past September, six environmentalists were acquitted of having caused $50,000 worth of damage to a power station—not because they did not do it but because four witnesses, including a Greenlander, testified to the reality of global warming.

One recalls the disastrous 1878 jury acquittal in St. Petersburg of Vera Zasulich for the attempted assassination of General Trepov, on the grounds of the supposed purity of her motives. The acquittal destroyed all hope of establishing the rule of law in Russia and ushered in an age of terrorism that led directly to one of the greatest catastrophes in human history.

Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His new book is Not with a Bang but a Whimper.


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