Friday, November 30, 2007

The doors of our consciousness are turned outwards and hence we have lost the inner security, inner happiness and inner fullness of life

Where is the living we have lost in consumption?—by A.D. Savardekar
posted by RY Deshpande on Thu 29 Nov 2007 08:18 PM PST Permanent Link
The problem of our age is that we, the global society, have turned outwards. Triumphant science and technology have spread before our enchanted eyes the panorama of not only comfort and pleasure but also of outer knowledge and the power it brings. The telescope and the microscope have extended the reach of our surface search, taking us away from our centre. We have sought to increase our consciousness but away from our psychological centre and in a way that is forgetful of it.

In pursuance of this goalless voyage we have come far, but have landed up with agnosticism, dilettantism and cynicism in our approach to things. We have knowledge of all kinds but we are not sure of the conclusions we derive from it. We have loads of information available at finger-touch, ready to turn our minds into god’s own. And we equip our young ones with ‘job-oriented’ education. After all, the population is on the rise, and a growing population is a growing ‘market’. In our enthusiasm for production we are so much enamoured of computer, which far surpasses human working in its quantitative aspects, that we do not hesitate to ascribe Intelligence to it or even characteristics of human personality. A quantum leap of quantity is taken by us as a sign of quality. We do not understand or we ignore the darker side of applied science which likes to denigrate all human and spiritual values and, if possible, to eliminate them.

Our enjoyment of life is a morbid haste and an attempt to extract from it as much pleasure as we could squeeze out. We do not enjoy life as the ancients did, with the joy of life on the open face. Today we do not just want to enjoy but we want to know that we are enjoying.

In our attempt to draw pleasure from life we have to rely on external gadgets to constantly stimulate us. TV is there to bombard us with the very latest news or whatever other form of excitement we ‘need’ at the moment. If outside home, we carry music in our mobile, so that not a single dull moment passes, if we have some free time. Even while jogging or working out, music has to be there to help us make effort.

In creating music we take recourse to technical ingenuity rather than creativity. Our music is no more fine, subtle or soothing. It has to be loud enough to impinge upon our nerves. Its rhythm has to be crude and primitive so that it can enter our physical system easily. We have no patience for subtle and intricate rhythms or for finer musical vibrations, which can give us an inward touch.

In literature we have reached the acme of depravity. We are prepared to sink to any extent to express the ‘reality’, and whatever is realistic, must be suitable for expressing. Whatever is sublime is either bombastic or pretentious. This is our motto. We cannot read a prize-winning book and be inwardly happy. “No, no; how can you be that? The reality being what it is you cannot be truly happy; but you have one way out. You can have ‘fun’ instead. You may seek pleasure as much as you like.”

In poetry lack of meaning and rhythm have become necessities. And metre? Oh, we do not want to bind ourselves down to a metre! After all, we have to be spontaneous in poetry, we want to express whatever comes up; and if the subconscious muddle is the first thing to rise, we must express it without hesitation and without the intervention of metre. This is how ‘free-verse’ is born. Fidelity to metre would make the poetry rhythmic and subtle. We do not want that; and no, no idealism please! Our delight is in the turbidity of composition, a vagueness and a lack of direction. To the modernist mentality a Wordsworth or a Tagore is terribly out of date, an anathema.

In our paintings we are not satisfied with expressing one motive at a time. We would like to have intermingling of tints, light dying away into obscurity and shades that blur the contours. We want to have an impression of many motives at the same time and that too not in a harmonious manner. We need a certain tortuousness and tangledness in the movement.

If ever we think of ultimate things we find and conclude that Truth is merely relative; there is no absolute truth. And if there is, nobody has ever realized it. Hence there is no purpose in life. ‘You may seek,’ we contend, ‘but you will only move from uncertainty to uncertainty. So why bother? Plan your life intelligently and enjoy it to the fullest. The business of looking for purpose is a waste of time.’

We do not believe in inborn greatness. All so-called great people were either clever and hard-working or it was something in their genes that gave them qualities and made them famous. There is nothing ‘divine’ in greatness as old-fashioned men believe. Besides, if we look carefully enough into the details of their lives we will find ample defects of character. If we can’t find them easily, we are prepared to undertake painstaking research to find the sensational details. No, all are human animals, after all.

Ours is an age of hunger, hunger for power, for enjoyment, and no doubt also for knowledge. But we would like to pursue, by and large, a knowledge that would help multiply the objects of hunger. If some of us do not know enough about the available means of enjoyment, the Advertising Industry is there not only to inform but impinge upon our senses with sufficient cunning and finesse the importance and worthiness of the object of enjoyment no one can afford to miss. If you don’t have the need, no problem, we will implant the need in you.

About sexual matters we are open-minded. Almost no relation is barred between two consenting adults. Gone are the days of looking upon sex as something that should take place under sanction of the time-honoured institution of marriage, so as to keep it in moderation. But who wants to curb one’s freedom? Everything is permissible, so go ahead, of course you have to ‘take care’, otherwise you will land up in trouble. But, in any case, do not suppress natural instincts; otherwise you will have psychological problems!

‘What, do you mean to say that we are not deep enough? We have not thought about life? What nonsense! What are we doing yoga for? Haven’t we learnt yoga from a world-renowned Guru with a million disciples? We are regularly practising asanas and pranayama and sometimes do even the japa of ‘OM’. This practice has increased our efficiency, vigour and productivity considerably and enhanced our business prospects. Who then can say that we are not practising spirituality?’

Now, all this is not a moral issue, not at all. The global society’s attitude is not immoral, necessarily. This is an issue of Outwardness vs. Inwardness. To quote Katha Upanishad:

The self-born has set the doors of the body to face otwards, therefore the soul of a man gazes outward and not at the Self within—

parānchi khāni vyatŗņtsvayambhūstasmātparānga paśyati nāntarātman.

The doors of our consciousness are turned outwards and hence we have lost the inner security, inner happiness and inner fullness of life. This is not to say that outward progress is to be despised. We can progress outwardly also, improve environment, conquer space, contain diseases— actually in a far better way—if we, as a collectivity, regain the inner touch.

The poet of yesteryear, TS Eliot, wrote these three soulful lines:

Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Perhaps we may add as a sequel:

Where is the living we have lost in consumption?

What is the process by which sustained corporate success is achieved?

Values in Business Sunday, November 25, 2007 The Issue Garry Jacobs
Sustained corporate success that extends over decades and continuously expands without apparent end or limit has thus far been a luxury enjoyed by very few companies. So unusual is this phenomenon that when it does occur, we tend to look upon it in awe and admiration rather than closely scrutinizing its origins and history for a clue to the process. In fact, we are so sure that this high achievement is the result of some exceptional talent or extraordinary luck that we rarely even ask the most fundamental question: "What is the process by which sustained corporate success is achieved?" Some may even wonder whether there actually is a process at all. But science assures us that there is a process behind all phenomena—physical, social, psychological, and even spiritual.
This question that we have asked first is actually the last that can be answered. Before we ask how an organization grows, and grows continuously, we must ask several other questions. If organizations grow, there must be an energy or force that drives that growth. What is that energy? Where does it come from? How is it converted into achievement? How does it generate growth?
Our search for answers to these questions spanned more than a decade and literally circled the globe. Drawing inspiration from such diverse sources as the philosophy of Indian yoga, the process of social development, and the psychology of personality, we caught a glimpse of a wider vision, arrived at a hypothesis, and applied it to a study of some of America’s most successful corporations.
Our aim was to trace the historical development of these companies from their early days, to identify the most prominent factors, both internal and external, responsible for their growth, and at the same time to examine each of these companies at different levels from top to bottom and in cross section of their activities in order to identify characteristics common to the entire organization. Our work involved an extensive research of literature and more than 100 interviews in 15 leading companies.
The first and probably the most important of our findings is the all-pervasive role of human energy in the development of individuals, companies, and societies. We observed that this energy is converted by successful corporations into an atmosphere of intensity, which other companies lack. We have sought to discover the origins of that energy and the process of its conversion into intensity for a clue to the secret of enduring success.The generation and conversion of energy is the key to corporate development. But who or what accomplishes this great transformation? In answering this question, we have to introduce the reader to the most important personality in the life of any company—the personality of the corporation itself.
Personality is a comprehensive term that includes several component parts. We found that the parallel between the individual and the company is far more than a metaphor. It contains a deeper truth. All the pieces of the corporate puzzle began to fall into place, and a pattern of interrelationships emerged. Values, organization, people, systems, skills, technology, machines, materials, and money are not isolated components; they are parts of an integrated, living whole—a personality.
Each of these parts contains a vast reserve of untapped energies and potentials, which the corporate personality releases and utilizes for its growth. We are all familiar with the power of money and technology, so much so that we easily overlook other powers of the corporate personality that contain equal or greater potentials. Henry Ford started with $28,000 and tapped one of these powers to fuel a 25,000-fold expansion of his company in 25 years, without any additional investment. J. Willard Marriott and his son exploited another of these powers to convert a few small drive-in restaurants into the eighth largest U.S.-based hotel chain in the world. A considerable portion of this book is devoted to exploring the rich creative potentials of the powers of corporate personality.
It is very easy to get lost in admiration of one or two powers of the corporate personality and lose sight of the whole, of which they form only a part. But much of the power of organization results from the interrelationships between these parts, the golden gaps that have to be bridged to combine them into a single, unified whole. Merck & Company, Inc. rose from sixth place to first in the American pharmaceuticals industry by bridging the gap between research and marketing. C. E. Woolman—a simple, friendly, lovable man—transformed Delta Air Lines, Inc. from a crop-dusting operation into the world’s most profitable airline by building bridges between people. We have tried to focus in on these organizational interrelationships and illustrate how they have been built up by successful corporations.
The whole we have been describing is itself a part of a greater whole. The living organization is a child of society. The difference between the individual and the company is that people grow by becoming independent of their parents, while corporations grow by forging a more intimate relationship and interdependence with the society that fostered them. A stationmaster who recognized this truth 100 years ago founded what is today the largest retail operation in the world, Sears, Roebuck and Company. Tomas Bata, an uneducated shoemaker who discovered it, expanded his company 15-fold in 5 years and built it up into the largest shoe manufacturer in the world. A couple of young computer buffs made it the springboard for the 1,500-fold growth of Apple Computers, Inc. in a period of 8 years. Shy, inarticulate Robert Woodruff used it to build up The Coca-Cola Company into the most articulate marketing organization and the most popular soft drink in the whole world. Later in the book we explore some of the infinite potentials of this perpetual child-parent relationship.
Finally we come to the process that leads to enduring success. It is the process by which personality develops. We have sought to discover and explain the intimate relationship between the growth of individual personality and the development of the corporation and show how both are expressions of the same process. By consciously following this process, any manager can become a significant individual in the life of the organization, and any company can energize itself and embark on a course that leads to endless expansion and enduring success.
For those who seek the ultimate boon of endless corporate expansion, we invite you to that great adventure and to share our glimpse of a vision of the process. For those who seek a more limited boon like doubling your profits or sales, the book presents specific strategies for achieving your goal. Posted by Garry Jacobs at 9:45 PM 0 comments

In my view of the world, the most basic right of all is one that we are born with: the right to self-ownership

The Origin of Human Rights from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma
This is the 42nd installment of my weekly column for Mint, Thinking it Through.
This is the 42nd installment of Thinking it Through, and over the last 41 weeks, I have often bored my readers with talk of “rights” and “freedoms” and so on. Such talk is everywhere—politicians love to speak of rights to display their compassion, and of freedom to display their liberalism. Often, though, these terms are dreadfully misused, and hide double standards that none of our politicians are exempt from. With a humble ponderousness alert, allow me to explain my notion of the basis of human rights.
In my view of the world, the most basic right of all is one that we are born with: the right to self-ownership. All legitimate human rights emerge from this. If we own ourselves, we obviously have the right to life, and to live as we please. Our thoughts and speech belong to us—thus, the right to free speech. Our labour, and the fruits of our labour, belong to us—thus, all property rights. And so on.
All these rights are contingent on our respecting the rights of others— they have no meaning otherwise. For example, my right to free speech entitles me to express myself as I please only when it does not involve an infringement on someone else’s right. If Mint refuses to publish this column, I cannot accuse it of censorship—my right to free speech ends where Mint’s right to property begins. On my own blog, and in a public space, I don’t have to worry about this.
Our politicians, and many commentators, display double standards when it comes to protecting our rights. They would agree that a person’s life is his own property, and that taking it away from him—i.e., murder—is wrong. Equally, they would agree that his labour belongs only to him, and to deny him of it amounts to slavery. But they don’t extend that logic to other human rights that have the same moral basis.
For example, if it is wrong to deny me of my labour, why does it become okay to take away some of the fruits of my labour? If the government marched us off to work for it for four months of every year, most of us would protest and call it slavery. If one-third of our income is taxed, it amounts to the same thing. But we don’t protest. Indeed, if murder and rape and slavery are wrong, then what about import duty and censorship and taxes? The same principle sits at the heart of all these matters—the right to self-ownership. Any politician who defends free speech but opposes free markets, or vice versa, is being philosophically inconsistent.
There is, of course, a utilitarian justification for limited taxes. Our whole framework of rights stands for nothing in the real world if there is no one to protect them. That, many classical liberals like me would say, is the only real justification of government. We accept the taxes necessary for this as a necessary evil. But while the government cannot carry out this basic function properly—the rule of law is effectively absent or at best arbitrary for most poor people in India—it spends most of our taxes on other, wasteful things. Furthermore, it places huge restrictions on our freedoms—and, thus, infringes our rights.
The kind of rights I have described, the ones which arise from the right to self-ownership, are known to philosophers as negative rights. To respect them, others simply have to refrain from infringing them. But politicians have also come up with another class of rights known as positive rights. These require action from others.
For example, people speak of a right to education, or to health care, or to a livelihood. These are all desirable things, but there is no philosophical basis to describing them as rights. Indeed, positive rights directly clash with negative rights, and require their infringement. After all, how can a government provide education or medicines to some people without taking away the property of others via taxes? Redistributing property like this amounts to infringing the rights of some people to fulfil the needs or desires of others. I am not arguing that our government should not fund education or health care, but talking of it in terms of “rights” is shallow and meaningless.
Of course, we do not always make policy in the real world by referring to philosophy and first principles. Often, we look at consequences. And here we find the greatest triumph for the system of negative rights that I have just described. History stands testament to the link between freedom and progress: the countries that wipe out poverty the quickest have been the ones that have guaranteed economic freedom to their people. Social freedoms are equally important to enable a country’s citizens to express their potential to its greatest extent. Human progress is directly proportional to the respect shown to all the human rights that emerge from the fundamental right to self-ownership.
Politicians who ignore all evidence for this assertion are free to do so, of course. I would not dream of infringing on their right to self-delusion.
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You can browse through all my columns for Mint in my Thinking it Through archives.

Lind argues, the libertarian Reaganite revival is dying out, which is opening back up a further leftward shift

A little bit of Back to the Future. Brilliant piece in the Financial Times. He discusses the historical trends since the 1930s in the US primarily but in the Western world more generally, that have lead to the current political change he sees underfoot. Lind writes:

Whether a Democrat or a Republican is inaugurated in January 2009, the centre of political gravity in the US is well to the left of where it was a decade ago. President George W. Bush’s own contribution to the shift has been negligible. It is the result of long-term, tectonic shifts in political and economic ideology that are affecting all developed countries.

In fact given that a Democrat won the popular vote in 2000 (along with one house of Congress), the 2004 election may be historically considered the outlier depending on the ‘08 result.
The shift is as follows.
From the 1930s, the farther left was identified with statism or communism. The right was weakened (libertarianism, economic laissez faire). The center was held by the New Deal welfare state, calling itself the “Third Way” as a bulwark against further left state control. The right then, was really more the moderate Right: Rockefeller Republicans, Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, even Richard Nixon. They tried to chip away at certain elements of the welfare model but not the model itself. Then:

Between 1968 and 2004, the political spectrum shifted to the right with respect to economic (but not social) issues. Long before the collapse of the Soviet bloc, socialism was discredited as a viable economic alter­native. Parties of the left in the western world abandoned programmes of nationalising the economy for welfare-state liberalism. The disappearance of radical socialist or populist alternatives turned the former “third way” or “centre”, welfare-state liberalism into “the left”.

Neo-liberalism, which as Lind smartly points out, was basically the moderate economic conservatives, in the form of Clintonian and Blair “Third Way” politics, allowed a revival of the Left (now moderate right as Democrat) in the 1990s. Clinton and George HW Bush are basically equivalent in terms of their outlooks.
Now Lind argues, the libertarian Reaganite revival is dying out, which is opening back up a further leftward shift, itself then re-defining who is right and center (relative to the new left):

What formerly was the left – welfare-state liberalism – is once again the ­centre. To its left (in economic, not social, terms) is protectionist ­populism; to its right, neoliberalism.
This comes as a disorienting shock to Clinton-Blair third-way neoliberals. Having positioned themselves as the reasonable mean between the welfare-state left and the economic libertarian right, they have awakened to find that they are now the extreme right. The clever ones are inching their way, ever more carefully, towards today’s new centre.
You can hear the change in what prominent would-be centrists are saying. In the 1990s, when neoliberalism was the centre, the line was: we must slash middle-class entitlements in order to be more competitive in the global free market. Now the line is: in order to save free-market globalism from populists preying on middle-class economic anxieties, we must expand the middle-class welfare state.
The winners – at least for now – are welfare state liberals such as old-fashioned New Dealers in the US and their equivalents in other countries. The position of the original “third way” of 1932-68 always made sense. Middle-class social insurance programmes, by guaranteeing economic security, reduce the appeal of populism, socialism and other kinds of ­radical statism, and make possible broad political support for open and competitive national and global markets. You will hear much more of this line as politicians rush to occupy the new centre in the years ahead.

As someone generally (on economic issues) of the moderate conservative/neo-liberal view, this now puts me in the weird position (if Lind is correct) of being right. Just not (now) farther right. The libertarian argument arose in response to “stagflation” of the 1970s. It succeeded in destroying that, but in a Hegelian-like dialectic, could not deal with the economic prosperity it helped create. It didn’t answer social questions. It has been discredited as a governing philosophy (though perhaps not as economic policy) in light of the failures of the Republican Legislature from 1996-2006 and the Bush II Presidency.
Hence the birth of a neo-protectionist mentality. And in that sense, I would agree with Lind, I would like to see (though little as possible) some dealing on a governmental level with issues like health care and job training because I’m more afraid of the protectionist left. Particularly when it comes in the form of “movement liberalism” a la Daily Kos.

The Essential Frédéric Bastiat, edited by Sauvik Chakraverti

On Monday, December 3, the Liberty Institute in Delhi is going to release their latest publication: The Essential Frédéric Bastiat, edited by Sauvik Chakraverti. I will be part of the panel for the book launch, and any India Uncut readers who wish to turn up are invited. The details, copy-pasted from the invite I’ve received:
Venue: Somany Hall, ASSOCHAM House, 47 Prithvi Raj Road, (Opp. Safdarjung Tomb), New Delhi 110011
Date: Monday, December 3, 2007
Event Schedule: 6.15 pm Tea and Coffee
6.30 pm Introductory remarks – Dr René Klaff, FNSt
Comments – Sauvik Chakraverti, columnist, and author of Antidote
Remarks – Sharad Joshi, MP
Comments – Amit Varma, columnist and blogger
Open Discussions Vote of thanks – Barun Mitra, Liberty Institute
8.00 pm Dinner
I’ve been invited, needless to say, because I’m the latest winner of the Frédéric Bastiat Prize for Journalism. Sauvik, who has edited the book, is the only other Indian to win it: he was joint winner in 2002. His speech at the award ceremony that year was quite delightful, and I share all his sentiments, though unfortunately not his optimism.
Also read: Remembering Frédéric Bastiat.

Capitalism within a democratic and politically free system offers a healthy channel for the redirection of negative emotions like envy and greed

Nov 29, 2007 THAT'S RICH ! from Dr. Sanity
In the 30's and 40's it became increasingly clear to Marxists that something was fundamentally wrong with the master's economic hypotheses. Like the followers of Jesus, they had been waiting a long time for the second coming,and they expected the collapse of capitalism at any moment. In fact, they were greatly encouraged by the Great Depresion and were certain that it was imminent.
But like a bad dream, capitalism just wouldn't go away, and instead of collapsing, it rebounded stronger than ever.
Why, they wondered anxiously, are the proletariat not rising up in rebellion against the oppressive forces of capitalism? Far from rising up against their "oppressors", that same proletariat were buying into the capitalist system and the "American Dream" in large numbers. The sharp differences between the classes were slowly eroding, and more and more of those in poverty were finding their way into the middle class, thus gaining hope for themselves and their children.
Not only that, to the great astonishment of the socialists etc., the "oppressed" proletariat seemed relatively happy and content with their lot!Happy and content people do not generally initiate violent revolutions nor rise up against their so-called oppressors--particularly when they don't feel oppressed, but feel empowered.And, furthermore, much to the puzzlement and subsequent rage of these same intellectuals, in those places in the world where socialist and communist theory had triumphed, wealth was disappearing; initiative was in decline; and the human misery index was climbing. This was the legacy of Marx's "social justice".
Instead of creating a utopia for the proletariat, Marx and his theories only generated the conditions for societal suicide.The clever capitalist system was actually co-opting the oppressed workers, and helping them enter the dreaded "middle class"!Marx always expected that the middle class would disappear as capitalism developed, since he believed that the only sustainable positions were the ones of his dialectic.
That is not what actually happens in the real world as it turns out.Whenever people are given political liberty and allowed to pursue their own happiness (and not the mandates of the state), the ranks of the middle class expand and grow stronger. In fact, the values and ideals of this particular economic group have come to anchor society in the United States.
Far from wanting to ignite a worker's revolution as Marx predicted, they enjoy the creature comforts of the capitalist system and feel themselves empowered by it. Worse (from the communist/socialist's perspective anyway), the typical person in the middle class believes that he or she can better themselves by using the many opportunities offered by a liberal, capitalistic democracy.Even in Communist China, capitalistic pursuits and entrepreneurship have become the true "opiates" of the masses--in the sense that to the degree people are free to pursue their own happiness and work for their own interests--i.e., where they have economic freedom, even if they don't have political freedom-- they are relatively content, and are unlikely to fulfill the ardent communist/socialist's revolutionary fantasies.
From a joint post written by Dr. Sanity and SC&A some months ago:
...a successful middle class demands that government answer to them, and not the other way around. Democracies are not developed or sustained by the political extremes- they are the trust and legacy of a vibrant, functioning middle class....In the most successful societies there is a large middle class, and anyone has the potential to succeed if they have a good idea, commitment to work and plenty of drive. America, Canada, the UK, Australia and Israel are all examples of societies that while very different, are very successful. As barriers to entry into the middle class becomes more onerous and difficult, requiring expensive and hard to obtain permits and licenses; societies are less successful and become progressively more likely to fail. The nations of the Arab world is a good example of that. There is no middle class in most of the middle east; only an elite, plundering class who are the beneficiaries of the oil wealth the land is blessed with; and a lower class, condemned by the elites to poverty, ignorance and oppression.
When there are few barriers to entering the free market, then the middle class can thrive; and the more successful the entrepreneurs and community becomes, the greater the stake the people have in maintaining peace and prosperity. Thus they become true conservatives. Is it any wonder then that the backbone of society--the hard-working middle class, middle-income Americans-- lean toward the Republican party?
So, how do we explain those many wealthy individuals who make up the ranks of the Democrats--the closest thing we have to the socialist party here in the U.S. (and they are certainly backed by legions of lunatic leftists who wholeheartedly subscribe to Marx's discredited theories)?
Having achieved a degree of success and/or wealth in our free society, a person who has worked their way out of the middle class (or out of poverty) is then subjected to a constant barrage of both subtle and overt messages created to make him/her feel guilty for doing so. Propaganda aimed at discrediting "the rich" (who actually pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to begin with) is pervasive and unrelenting. The Democrats use this rhetoric all the time to stoke the fires of class warfare.
This was not always the case. Once upon a time in America there was a certain pride that came with the "rags to riches" story that many Americans lived. Both Democrats and Republicans believed that this was a country where it was understood that if you worked hard, you could get ahead; make something of yourself and even become President someday! There were no social or class restraints imposed in America and that's why people came to this country to begin with. Equal opportunity meant that anyone with an idea or talent could make a successful life for themselves.
But equal opportunity gradually morphed into a demand for equality of outcome. And that if you don't have what the other guy has, then it must be becaused you have been oppressed by the other guy--after all, you can only get ahead by stepping on someone else. Your gain MUST be someone else's loss.
Here is where the Marxist garbage of "oppressor vs oppressed" has had the most impact on American society. Having been taught from kindergarden on that capitalism is a zero-sum game (and by definition evil) many Americans have difficulty in thinking of resources or wealth as ever-expanding, and tend to think that someone else's gain must be their loss. If you have only two choices--to be either an "oppressor" or one of the "oppressed", most people would generally prefer the latter because it means they must be nicer people.
This kind of thinking inevitably leads to envy, and a cult of victimhood with all the associated social and political conflicts those emotions generate. Envy, in particular, is the lovely human emotion that drives all socialist systems; and it exists in pure, unadulterated and vicious form in those systems. And, in answer to the unspoken question, yes; capitalism also thrives on envy-- and even greed.
But, capitalism within a democratic and politically free system of government offers a healthy channel for the redirection of negative emotions like envy and greed into something positive for both the individual and the larger society.
Something, I might add, that marxism, socialism and all its malignant variants completely fail to do. You cannot escape the reality of this dark side of human nature. You can either channel that dark side and use it constructively to benefit the individual and incidentally the society he lives in; or you can encourage and facilitate it in all its destructive power, and by doing so create the hell on earth we've come to associate with communist and marxist societies.
I'm sure that the usual accusations will instantly be hurled at me for saying such a thing. The victims of the world will rise up against intellectual oppressors like me someday and....wait a minute! Doesn't that proposed scenario sound strangely familiar? Since I started writing this blog, I have been taken to task by the left about how everything economic position I take is "socially unjust" and that policies like that will "impact the poor most of all..."; that conservatism is racist, sexist, or some other such nonsense. I'm sure I will get emails describing how such insensitive suggestions will result in harming little children and puppies disproportionately and without compassion.
But, no matter what they say about my motives, it remains a fact that poverty and misery have a cure; and that cure is capitalism and freedom. Now, that's rich, isn't it?

Prehistory continued until the time of the scientific revolution, until the 17th century

There are two huge contemporary obstacles to spiritual growth, materialism, and its corollary, the idea of progress. I'm currently in the middle of a fascinating book that discusses this, The Order of the Ages: World History in the Light of a Universal Cosmogony, by Robert Bolton. Bolton points out that our traditional division of the human adventure into prehistory, history and post-history is not exactly accurate. This is because prehistory didn't really end 5000 years ago, or whenever written records begin. Rather, for all intents and purposes, prehistory continued until the time of the scientific revolution, which didn't really get underway until the 17th century. Consider, for example, ancient Egypt. Although it is considered a part of history, it "retained the same theocratic form for some five thousand years without any radical or irreversible change in its spiritual or social order." This is a rather staggering idea to contemplate; I'm not so sure we can contemplate it, since we are so imbued with the ideas of progress, change, and evolution, which were inconceivable for the ancients.
As Mead suggested in God and Gold, I don't think we understand the extent to which we are all -- religious and secular alike -- living in a world with such radically different assumptions than any humans who existed previously. In short, we are living in history, and must therefore cope with linear, irreversible time, whereas premodern peoples lived in a timeless state -- or, to be perfectly accurate, a cyclically temporal state that resonated with eternity. Traditionalists maintain -- and they may well be correct about this -- that this premodern, timeless mode is normative for human beings, and that we were never meant to be where we are. Certainly the numbers are on their side, given that human beings only stumbled into this thing called "history" so recently. Perhaps life is so confusing because we were never meant to be here -- we literally drifted into this temporal viaduct, and now we can't get out or find our way back into the timeless.
Again, it's almost impossible for us to think in this way, because we have to eliminate from our minds all of the anxiety that goes along with the temporal mode, which is also intrinsically quantitative and materialistic (as I will further explain below, if not later). For example, we are naturally very concerned with the linear amount of time we spend on the planet -- the quantity of our years -- in such a way that it can eclipse the quality of our life. Part of the reason for this is that in the modern world, quality no longer resonates with eternity, so it might as well be just more quantity. In other words, in the modern world even quality tends to be reduced to quantity. We can all experience this, for example, in the bland "flattening" of aesthetic qualities. Most everything is constantly "different," and yet, just more of the same.
This especially becomes noticeable if you are able to step outside history and live in a more timeless mode. There is a kind of constant change which, ironically, is no change at all, since change is only possible in light of permanence. If everything is changing, then it is logically equivalent to nothing changing -- like fashion, it's difference without a difference, or mere agitation. So it's a kind of timelessness, but somehow the opposite of the timeless plenum enjoyed by our furbears. How to describe it? It's sort of an empty plenum or overflowing vacuum, is it not? A cornucrapia of BS. Now, just to throw another mankey wrench into the works, Bolton points out that we are actually no longer living in history. Rather, that ended way back in -- well, people can argue over exactly when history ended, but it was definitely over by the start of the 20th century.
History over? How can that be? World War I, World War II, the communist revolution, the British invasion, the Red Sox winning the World Series? Yes, just agitations in the posthistorical void.
Maybe. Perhaps I should point out that I'm just grappling out loud with some of Bolton's ideas. Taking them out for a test spin, so to speak. Because they are so very different from our usual way of looking at things, it requires a leap of sympathy in order to consider them in good faith, rather than just rejecting them out of hand. Ultimately we are coming back to the question of whether progress actually exists, or whether we're just fooling ourselves while the apocalypse waits just around the corner, ready to interrupt our regularly scheduled post-historical delusions once our spiritual degeneracy is complete.Bolton notes that as late as the fourteenth century there was "nothing that need necessarily have led to anything different after another five hundred years, whereas the pattern of changes from the fifteenth century onward was unmistakably cumulative." So that is when history began. But it was very, very different from our post-historical situation, since it still resonated with the timelessness that preceded it, and in fact, can be seen as a sort of "prolongation" of those timeless qualities, now in time.
With the entrance into history proper, Bolton writes that it was as if a damn had burst, so that all of the potential in these eternal ideas flooded out into time. But eventually the force of the "explosion" weakens, until we have reached our present state of exhaustion, in which we are more distant than ever from the living principles that animated our civilization. To a large extent, time, history, and change are all tied in with the development of science, which, for the first time, introduced real -- and seemingly inevitable -- progress. However, again, our technical progress over the past few hundred years is so "directly demonstrable and tangible" that it "can almost stifle any sense that something else may have been lost at the same time." In fact, Bolton argues that these tangible changes serve to reorient us to matter, which has the consequence of masking "a relentless loss of both a consciousness and of a spiritual energy of a far more essential kind."
This needn't necessarily be thought of in an explicitly religious way. I'm thinking, for example, of Van der Leun's reverence for the 16th century essayist Montaigne, whose.... whose essaying over a range of timeless human concerns remains unsurpassed over 400 years later. Or consider Bach, or Shakespeare, or Rembrandt. How did they do what they did? It has been commented that it couldn't have been "difficult" for Shakespeare to have written his plays, for if it had been difficult, it would have been impossible. One could say the same of Mozart, who had a kind of musical fecundity that is probably literally inconceivable to us. No one today seems able to do what Shakespeare or Mozart or Montaigne did so effortlessly back then, under conditions that we would find impossible to begin with. Why is this?
According to Bolton, it has to do with the nature of time and our fall into materiality and quantity, and the consequent historical movement away from a kind of consciousness that is no longer familiar to us. Or, to be perfectly accurate, it is still accessible, but it must be self-willed. For reasons we will get into later, in the post-historical world, consciousness contracts unless active counter-measures are taken.

My interpretation of Marx is that he argues that capitalism actually generates multiple forms of subjectivity

While Hegel’s metaphysics would be rejected by Habermas, Honneth and others drawn to this notion of “contradiction”, these traditions still attempt to preserve a sense of the necessity of a particular critical standpoint by grounding that standpoint in an analysis of the immanent logics of certain forms of practice - communication, recognition, etc...
The underlying concept here is that there is some kind of inherent nature that leads “necessarily” through certain moments in the process of its realisation, where the concept of “necessity” here doesn’t mean (I think) that a particular developmental unfolding “had” to happen, but rather that this development can be retrospectively reconstructed as logical - and therefore the prior moments of that development can be posited to exist in some necessary and intrinsic relationship to one another. At the same time, the “inherent nature” that drives the whole process (in a weak, non-causal sense of the term “drive”), and the (reconstructably) “logical” character of the process itself, makes it possible to ground a critical perspective in the “inherent nature” whose existence has only become fully (or, at least, more fully) manifest in the present time.
One way of viewing Habermas’ project would be as an attempted “secularisation” of this kind of argument. So, communicative action (or, for Honneth, perhaps “recognition” or similar categories) has an “inherent nature” - but one that has only become recognisable over time, and through an historical development which we can (reconstructively) recognise as a logical progression. This “progressive” dimension of this historical unfolding (the potential to “order” development logically or rationally) is taken to enable critique to align itself with the expression of “inherent nature” as unfolded in time, and thus to ground critical judgements against forms of perception and thought that less adequately express the most current available insights into this “inherent nature”.
My argument (and deep apologies - this will be fast, furious, and profoundly inadequate) is that Marx represents a very different attempt to “secularise” such moments from Hegel - one that problematises far more of Hegel’s perspective than Habermas - from my point of view - seems to do. I take Marx to be suggesting that capitalism is characterised by something that appears to be an “inherent nature” that possesses certain “logical” characteristics that can plausibly be interpreted as historical developments unfolding over time, even though this interpretation is not strictly accurate even for capitalism itself (I haven’t sketched this argument in full, but preliminary gestures are here - along with scattered points in the surrounding posts in the series).
I unfortunately have very little time to develop the implications of what I’m saying (and I haven’t established this argument as a reading of Marx yet, let alone as a plausible basis for a critical social theory), but just very briefly: one implication, if I can make this sort of argument work, would be that Habermas might be engaging in something that Marx would consider a “fetishised” form of thought: taking something to be an “inherent nature” (albeit an historically emergent nature), and grounding a critical standpoint in this notion of “inherent nature”, when an alternative form of theory might be able to show how this “nature” is much more actively and contingently generated in collective practice - that it represents, not some kind of immanent potential that resides in social practice as some sort of tacit (if weak and non-causal) telos, but simply a potential for us, which we are enacting in determinate ways that can be illuminated via a theory of practice.
This approach significantly muddies the issue of how you ground a critical standpoint - not least because it suggests a need for great caution when endorsing the specific sensibilities that present themselves to us as expressing some “inherent nature”. Once we reinterpret this “inherent nature” to be something more like “the inherent nature of capitalism, so long as we continue to reproduce this social system”, then deriving your critical ideals from this single location may be tantamount to rejecting any forms of subjectivity or practice that actually point beyond capitalism.
And yet - and here we get to the notion of “contradiction” as I’ve tended to use it - my interpretation of Marx is that he argues that capitalism actually generates multiple forms of subjectivity, which point in many different directions, each seizing on different moments of a multifaceted social context without recognising their own partial characters. My suggestion would be that perhaps critical standpoint within the framework I am trying to outline involves a sliding among available perspectives, with the Benjaminian goal of making our history “citable in all its moments” - or if that sounds a bit totalising, at least, more “citable” than it tends by default to be at the present time.
From this perspective, capitalism is contradictory - but this contradiction by itself won’t “resolve” in any particular way: capitalism reproduces itself through a movement over time that is “contradictory” in something like the sense of the passages from Phenomenology above - where, in spite of an immense amount of “development” and the “overcoming” of all sorts of concrete social institutions, the same “inherent nature” still continues to play itself out, and can therefore plausibly come to be read as the “telos” of all this frenetic, coercive “becoming”. It is this “inherent nature” that needs to be overcome, from the standpoint of the sort of critique I am trying to develop, in order to overcome capitalism; and contradiction, within this framework, is the means of the reproduction of a particular society, rather than a way in which that society points beyond itself. Yet Marx also does maintain that that somehow this contradictory process of reproduction does generate determinate potentials to overcome the “inherent nature” that it reproduces. Which brings me to my terminological dilemma of the moment.
The difficulty (well, one of many difficulties) with my articulation around this issue, is that I’m aware of a tension between my vocabulary, when I want to express that:
(1) capitalism reproduces its own “inherent nature” via “contradiction” in this “Hegelian” sense - via a process that presents itself as the unfolding of an historical logic that appears to realise this nature,
(2) capitalism, in reproducing itself, also generates the practical potential for overcoming the endless production of its own “inherent nature” (Benjamin, as usual, has a lovely term for this - something along the lines of “a revolutionary cessation of happening”).
In the conference talk, I used the term “contradiction” to refer to the emancipatory potentials I’m discussing in #2.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Great Hindu yogis and sages from Shankaracharya to Sri Aurobindo are classified by modern Marxists as right-wing

The Myth of the Hindu Right Written by Dr. David Frawley
Hindu Religious Pluralism
The Hindu religion is a pluralistic tradition that accepts many paths, teachers, scriptures and teachings. One cannot be a Christian without accepting Christ or a Buddhist without accepting Buddha, but one can be a Hindu without accepting any single figure. In fact there are Hindus who may not follow Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Vishnu or other Hindu sages or deities and still count as Hindu.
Hindus have been at the forefront in arguing for the cause of religious diversity and the acceptance of pluralism in religion, rejecting the idea that any single religion alone can be true.
This Hindu idea of religion—which is also subscribed to by so-called right wing Hindu groups like RSS—is obviously not part of the agenda of the religious right in the West. The American Christian right is still sending missionaries to the entire world in order to convert all people to Christianity, the only true religion. It is firmly fixed on one savior, one scripture and a rather literal interpretation of these. Yet when Hindus ask the pope to make a statement that truth can be found outside of any particular church or religion they are called right-wing and backwards, while the pope, who refuses to acknowledge the validity of Hindu, Buddhist or other Indic traditions, is regarded as liberal! Such pluralism in religious views is hardly a cause for any right-wing movement in the world, but is also considered progressive, liberal, if not leftist (except in India).
Hinduism and Science
Unlike the religious right in the West, the Hindu movement is not against science or opposed to teaching evolution in the schools. Hinduism does promote occult and spiritual subjects like astrology, Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga or Vedanta, but these are the same basic teachings found in the New Age in the West, generally regarded as a liberal or leftist movement, not those of the religious right in the West. Many leaders of the Hindu movement are in fact scientists. For example, RSS leaders like former chief Rajinder Singh, or BJP leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi have also been professors of modern physics. The Hindu movement sees the union of science and spirituality as the way forward for humanity, not a return to medieval views of the universe.
The Hindu right is often defined in the media in terms of caste, as favoring the upper castes over the lower castes. This is another distortion that is often intentional. Modern Hindu teachers have been at the forefront of removing caste. This includes great figures like Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Aurobindo. It includes major Hindu movements like the Arya Samaj, the largest Vedic movement in modern India, and the Swadhyaya movement.
The VHP, the largest so-called Hindu right wing group, rejects caste and works to remove it from Hindu society, giving prominence to leaders from lower classes and working to open the Hindu priesthood to members of all castes. While caste continues to be a problem in certain segments of Hindu society, it is generally not because of these current Hindu social, religious and political movements, but because their reform efforts are resisted.
The real social problem in India is not simply caste but jati, which refers to family, clan, community and regional interests. Many so-called anti-caste movements in India, including those honored by the left (like movements of Laloo Prasad Yadav) actively promote the interests of one community in the country over those of the country as a whole.
The Hindu Movement and Women’s Rights
Generally, the right wing in the West is defined as opposed to women’s rights. However, there are many women’s groups and active women leaders in the Hindu movement and in the Hindu religion. Being a woman is no bar for being a political or religious leader in India as it often is in the West. Hinduism has the worlds’ largest and oldest tradition of the worship of the Divine as Mother, including as India itself. Great female Hindu gurus like Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi) travel and teach all over the world. The Hindu movement worships India on a spiritual level as a manifestation of the Divine Mother (Shakti).
The Indian Left: The Old Left
In India, the political terminology of right and left is defined by Marxists, who like to call anyone that opposes them right-wing or fascists. According to their view anything traditionally Hindu would have to be right-wing on principle, just as only their views are deemed progressive, even if supporting Stalinist tactics. This means that in India such subjects as Yoga, natural healing, vegetarianism and animal rights are all automatically right-wing because they are causes of the Hindu mind, with antecedents in ancient Indian culture. Great Hindu yogis and sages from Shankaracharya to Sri Aurobindo are classified by modern Marxists as right-wing, if not fascist.
However, the Indian left is mainly the Old Left, emphasizing a failed communist ideology and state economic planning such as dominated Eastern Europe in the decades following World War II and took it nowhere. It wreaked the same havoc with the economy and educational systems of India and kept the country backward. Indian communists are among the few in the world that still proudly honor Stalin and Mao (while warning of the danger of Hindu fundamentalism)! Communist ruled Bengal still teaches the glory of the Russian revolution for all humanity, though Russia gave up communism ten years ago! The Old Left was itself intolerant, oppressive and dictatorial, sponsoring state terrorism and genocide wherever it came to power. Indian leftists have never rejected these policies and look back with nostalgia on the Soviet Union!
Therefore, we must remember that the leftist criticism of Hinduism coming from the Indian left is that of the old left. This old left in India does not take up many of the causes of the new left like ecology or native rights. It even sides with the policies of the political right-wing in western cultures upholding the rights of missionaries to convert native peoples and continuing colonial accounts of Indic civilization.
The communist inspired left in India has tried to demonize the Hindu movement as a right-wing phenomenon in order to discredit its spiritual orientation. The aim of the Indian left is to keep the Hindu movement isolated from any potential allies. After all, no one likes fascists, which is a good term of denigration that evokes negative emotions for both communists and capitalists.
The causes taken up by the Hindu movement are more at home in the New Left than in right wing parties of the West. Some of these resemble the concerns of the Green Party. The Hindu movement offers a long-standing tradition of environmental protection, economic simplicity, and protection of religious and cultural diversity. There is little in the so-called Hindu right that is shared by the religious or political right-wing in western countries, which reflect military, corporate and missionary concerns. The Hindu movement has much in common with the New Age movement in the West and its seeking of occult and spiritual knowledge, not with the right wing in the West, which rejects these things. Clearly, the western right would never embrace the Hindu movement as its ally.
To counter this distortion, some Hindus are now arguing for a new ‘Hindu Left’ to better express the concerns of Hindu Dharma in modern terms. They would see the new left as more in harmony with Hindu concerns and a possible ally. Hindu thought has always been progressive and evolutionary, seeking to aid in the unfoldment of consciousness in humanity and not resting content with material or political gains as sufficient. Hindu Dharma should be reexamined by the new left and the distortions of by the old left discarded. The new left will find much in Hindu Dharma that is relevant to its concerns.
The Hindu movement can be a great ally to many social movements throughout the world. It has a base of nearly a billion people and the world’s largest non-biblical religious tradition, with a long tradition of spiritual thought and practice. The Hindu movement can be an ally for any native causes, environmental concerns, women’s spiritual issues and movements toward economic simplicity and global responsibility, to mention but a few.
Groups espousing such causes may have looked upon Hinduism as an enemy, being taken in by leftist propaganda. They must question these distortions of the old left. They should look to the Hindu view for insight, even if they may not agree with it on all points. They should not trust the anti-Hindu stereotypes of the old left, any more than they trust the views of the now defunct Soviet Union.
Towards a Non-Political Social Order
However, the entire right-left division reflects the conditions of western politics and is inaccurate in the Indian context. We must give up such concepts in examining Indic civilization, which in its core is spiritually based, not politically driven. It reflects older and deeper concerns that precede and transcend the West’s outer vision. As long as we define ourselves through politics our social order will contain conflict and confusion. Democracy may be the more benign face of a political order, but it still hides the lack of any true spiritual order. We must employ the vision of dharma and subordinate politics to it, which should be a form of Karma Yoga.

The regional parties are not merely local but they reflect strong local nationalisms

Home > Edits & Columns >Indian Express: Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 0000 hrs
What Dr Singh has put his finger on is the crisis of the Indian nation today. The Constitution presumed that there was a single national purpose that everybody agreed upon and that the Centre would be in charge of expressing that, with the states left to play a minor role to reflect local aspirations. But that story fell apart during the Emergency. The eighties were a false decade, when once again Congress hegemony hid the tensions. But since 1989, there has never been a single national purpose. The BJP has a different definition from that of the Congress, since it has a different story of why India is a nation. The regional parties are not merely local but they reflect strong local nationalisms, which were suppressed during the Independence struggle. The national stories the Congress and BJP tell are upper-caste/upper-class north Indian — indeed Doab — stories. Large parts of India feel left out of it. Tamil Nadu, Assam and even Bengal were never fully part of either the Hindutva or the syncretic Hindu-Muslim unity story which the Congress tells. Nor are groups such as dalits, tribals and many backward castes and religious minorities (as Sikhs tragically demonstrated in the eighties). The debate on Ram Setu showed that even the Ramayana is not a national epic but only a north Indian, non-Dravidian one.
But the flexibility of the Constitution is proven by the fact that what was once thought to be a centralist structure now sustains a diverse decentralised discourse. But the politicians need to acknowledge that a single national purpose cannot be presumed any longer; it has to emerge from daily negotiations and accommodations of local aspirations. India, after 60 years of democracy, will not march to a top-down elitist tune of a single national purpose. A whole new story needs to be created as to why India is a nation with a true and organic unity in diversity and not one presumed.
But this requires a strict adherence to Constitutional norms and not high-handed Central diktat which imposes President’s rule as the UPA did in Bihar. It requires clarifying the rules for unseating incumbent governments to avoid a farce such as the one in Karnataka, and imposing the rule of law that protects Taslima Nasreen from the mob, regardless of whether her attackers are MLAs in Hyderabad or Congress/ Trinamool instigated fundamentalist Muslim mobs.
If anything, the future will contain even weaker ‘national’ parties and stronger local ones. This is not a problem. There is no need to be fearful of India’s unity as Nehru’s generation was. India’s unity has been forged in the crucible of democracy and it can weather a weaker Centre and stronger states. What the Centre must do is to play by the rules and guarantee the Fundamental Rights promised in the Constitution. The writer is Professor Emeritus at the LSE and member, House of Lords

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The social evolution from the hunter-gathering mode of subsistence through the ages of shepherding, farming and commerce

Smith was aware of the ‘folly’ of pursuing riches and he cited this as one of the factors that undermined feudal governance (blessed as it was at the time by Eugene McCarraher’s forbears in Christian ethics). These fractious feudal lords were ever at war with neighbours, used violence to contain their serfs (their ‘slaves’ Smith called them), and were oppressive in the extreme. However, they were tempted to acquire ‘trinkets, baubles’ and such like by diverting surplus produce from their domains to the purchase of these ‘useless’ artefacts, meanwhile keeping their peasants on subsistence incomes.
But unknown to them, they were undermining the base of their own power because to acquire these products from nearby ‘towns’, which acquired them from trade with foreign parts of Europe, they had to divert more and more of their annual produce away from paying their retainers, armed force and people who worked their lands, which put paid to their ability to cause strife (and not a little rapine) in the rest of England.
Adam Smith points out that while the objects of their avarice were ‘useless’ (he had very firm ideas on frugality as opposed to prodigality), they nevertheless were the products of the employment of artisans and labourers. In fact he contrasts the dismissal of a thousand feudal retainers with the employment elsewhere of thousands of manufacturing labourers; the former representing the dénouement of feudalism, the latter the beginning of the commercial age of man.
This transformation of feudal society is summed by Eugene McCarraher as ‘a pretty clear wink at the duplicity of desire’! Is Eugene sympathetic for the feudal lords and barons? Would he prefer it to have continued? Was the Reformation a ‘bad’ event? For Adam Smith it had nothing to do with regret for an age that was passing. The purveyors of selfish avarice had no idea what they were doing (as is often the case in social evolution). But the expanding demand for the trinkets generated demand for the employment of labourers who could produce them, transport them, and distribute them to final customers. No employment meant destitution.
This consequence put poor men to work and fed their families. This was a social benefit. Just as the building of stone churches, cathedrals, and castles created work for labouring men and income for their families, and the acquisitive lust for works of arts – painting, statues, religious artefacts – created work for the artists and artisans over the centuries where there was not much work around, except backbreaking labour in the fields. All this Eugene misses in his diatribe against Deirdre McCloskey and his cheap shots at Adam Smith.
Eugene writes: 'Smith was pointing to a "philosophy of futility" as the moral economy of capitalism’. That some of the initial steps to the ‘age of commerce’ were driven by the silly avarice of a few idle landlords in no way sullies the spread of commerce as a superior creator of ‘opulence’ on a scale unknown in human history. For all the millennia that preceded the 18th century the lot of the poor labourers and their families was a monotonous repetition of unchanging per capita income at or below the level of subsistence. The hewers of the products of land did just that, their heads filled with credulous superstitious nonsense and their aspirations brutalised by the brute course of the events that afflicted their short lives.
Knowledge necessarily came from philosophers who came from within those who lived off the surplus output produced by the labouring majority. The social evolution from the hunter-gathering mode of subsistence through the ages of shepherding, farming and commerce are the themes of Adam Smith’s essay on the History of Astronomy, his Essay on Languages (1761), his Moral Sentiments (1759), his Lectures on Jurisprudence (1762-3), his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1763) and his Wealth Of Nations (1776).
Adam Smith did not create commerce, or ‘capitalism’ (a 19th century phenomenon, unknown to Smith); he observed and tried to understand what was happening to ensure that for the first time in human history, per capita incomes for all of those in society, not just the rich few with the rest on subsistence only, were rising and continued to rise. How human societies have managed this process, how they used the vast surplus resources for good or ill, or how they resolve the perennial problems of human life, are not subjects that Adam Smith commented upon. He was a humble philosopher, not a partisan.
When and if Eugene McCarraher reads Adam Smith’s whole legacy he may wish to reflect on how different it is from his somewhat limited idea of it as represented in his review. Smith did, however, send a message to Eugene McCarraher (don’t ask me how – perhaps it is an example that God’s works are a ‘wonder to behold?). He’ll find it in Moral Sentiments, in Book IV, chapter ii, paragraph 2.12 to 18, pages 231-34.

For a tourist it bears the promise of endless pleasure, salivating strippers, heaving hedonism

Living Las Vegas By Ali Eteraz
Las Vegas only makes an impression if you don’t look past the illusion. Peek beyond the veil that the corporations have cast and its nothing more than a series of asphalt lanes and bus routes. For a tourist it bears the promise of endless pleasure, salivating strippers, heaving hedonism.
For a resident, on the other hand, Las Vegas is the fat black guy with dreads who spends his day time in the bookstore discussing politics (with a guy carrying a briefcase too big for his body) and at night moves to the 24 hour café; playing chess against the bespectacled white guy called “The Tutor” who makes his living hanging out in the university library, getting hired by students to do their homework.
  • The real Las Vegas is the stripper named “Ana” who came from Texas three years ago because her parents are dead and she is putting her sister through college.
  • Las Vegas is the cocktail waitress in an all-too-revealing sarong whose bedside is littered with French novels, Foreign Affairs magazine and books no longer in print.
  • Las Vegas is the two Mexican sisters, one a waitress the other a babysitter, both of whom barely speak a word of English, going out to a small lounge in a forgotten strip club to hang out… with one another.
  • Las Vegas is the landlord at the end of “crack alley” who keeps trying to rent his space out to 99-cent stores, only to find that they fold within a month or two and leave without paying rent.
  • Las Vegas is the three people that know what Darfur is and meet in a grocery store to discuss how to organize a rally in order to create awareness.
When I first arrived in Vegas, I went to every single show the city has to offer: Cirque du soleil, Spamalot, The Producers, the vast panopoly of magic shows, the dance shows, the concerts. Within a few weeks I was struck by the complete and utter lack of melancholy in the city. I wanted to find something Shakesperean, I said to my friend. I wanted to encounter some tragedy, I added. I did not want to be made to feel that life was the act of a stage host picking you out of a crowd and bringing you onto the stage to participate in a magic trick. I knew life was more, even here in Las Vegas. So, I searched for it. I went looking for pathos.
Long drives in the middle of the night through silent streets; early morning forays into an empty gaming hall where a blind Chinese woman tells you to get up from the one stool you are sitting on because she has a good feeling about that particular slot machine; afternoons of shooting pool with a bunch of “service industry professionals” after they have worked the graveyard shift; the fifty Latino kids in the evening filling out the tiny pool using lawn chairs as flotation devices; the cab driver coming home at five a.m.; being woken up by some old guy throwing rocks at your window – in all of these things I found the pathos I was looking for.
Las Vegas is not an illusion. It is a place where people live. Tags: , , , , Ali Eteraz is a writer and lawyer. He has lived in the Caribbean, Pakistan, the Middle East, and the US. His personal website is here. Posted in Columnist

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Absolute dependence of all on everybody else is today’s virtue, inequality is its price

Theory of Moral Sentiments is not a hymn to ‘charity’. It’s about the moral social harmony of society, not from people loving each and everybody else, but from their anonymous dependence on each other, most of whom they never know of, nor need to be concerned about two or more links along the chain of connections among them.
Whereas family connections are framed in social bonds among the members, with diminishing intensity of the bonds as friends and then acquaintances are considered, finally diminishing to zero as the vast world of strangers comes into contact. But our market connections continue productively whether we act from love or indifference and anonymity, if there is a ‘mercenary exchange of good offices’ between us, and we breach no laws and cause no harm.
Going to the extreme of selfishness (‘greed is good’) is neither necessary nor appropriate. Absolute independence is from long-gone past ages of mankind in which self-sufficiency was a virtue, perfect equality ruled, and everybody was poor to the same degree (and life spans were shorter).
Commercial society changed all that.
Absolute dependence of all on everybody else is today’s virtue (Rousseau was wrong!), inequality is its price and everybody is ‘rich’ to different degrees (the poor in the rich countries are incomparably better off materially than the poor in any previous societies), and life spans are longer.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kalinga Eye Hospital & Research Centre, Dhenkanal

ORISSA HEALTH CARE Where there is a will, there is a way
Meet Mr Keerti, an Oriya, who although stays out of the state for his survival keeps thinking about Orissa's development and does what ever possible to his capacity.

The two examples which I have gathered is:
1. Kalinga Eye Hospital & Research Centre, Dhenkanal -By A NGO NYSASDRI, with 17 lakhs in hand from a government grant for setting up of an eye hospital, was wandering how to do and what to do, Mr Keerti came on the way to help him. It was sure that with just 17 lakhs you cannot build an eye hospital. The building alone will cost much more than 17 lakhs.
2. The idea suggested by Mr Keerti to go for a rented house with minimum 3000 sq. ft. area. Fortunately they got it in Dhenkanal town on rent for Rs.8000 per month and Keerti helped in procurement and installation of equipment and instruments which took away all the 17 lakhs rupees they had.
3. The eye hospital did 1000 eye surgeries in the first year and in three years time the hospital in the same rented building had touched 5000 surgeries per year.
4. Looking at the grand success of this eye unit in Dhenkanal, Keerti helped them in connecting to ORBIS-International who helped NYSASDRI in providing grant to build an eye hospital of their own with 10,000 sq. ft built up area and also to establish paediatric eye care services in Dhenkanal to serve Orissa's children with eye problems.
5. If you are interested you can visit Kalinga Eye Hospital & Research Centre in Dhenkanal town.
If anybody wants to contact Keerti please contact by email:
Phone:0-9443830116 An extract from the talk with Mr Keerti
From a freelance reporter in Orissa during a meeting at a conference

The job is as much about character and temperament

You are here: Home > News > UK's Tony Blair says religion crucial to him By Paul Majendie Sun 25 Nov 2007, 0:01 GMT LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) -
Tony Blair, often considered reticent about his religious beliefs in 10 years as British prime minister, has said religion is hugely important to him. Blair said politicians spoke about religious faith in America but if you did so in Britain "frankly people do think you are a nutter (crazy)".
Last year, in an untypical remark, he sparked criticism from anti-war campaigners when he said that God would judge whether he had been right to go to war in Iraq, a decision that was deeply unpopular with many British voters.
Blair is widely believed to be considering converting from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, a switch he was always apparently reluctant to make when prime minister.
When Blair was once pressed in an interview about his beliefs, his press spokesman Alastair Campbell famously interrupted and said: "We don't do God."
But the former prime minister, who stepped down in June after a decade in power to become a Middle East peace envoy, was much more open in a BBC TV documentary about what motivates him.
"You know if I am honest about it, yes of course it was hugely important. You know you can't have a religious faith and it be an insignificant aspect because it's, it's profound about you and about you as a human being," he said.
"If you don't have that strength it's difficult to do the job which is why the job is as much about character and temperament as it is about anything else. But for me having faith was an important part of being able to do that."
European Union Trade Commissioner and close political confidant Peter Mandelson said of Blair: "He's not an exhibitionist when it comes to religion but deep inside him it is very, very important. "This is a man who takes a Bible with him wherever he goes and last thing at night he will read from the Bible."
Blair, an Anglican in a country that has never had a Catholic premier, met Pope Benedict at the Vatican in June. He has long denied speculation about his faith that had been sparked by his regular attendance at mass with his devout Catholic wife Cherie and their four children. Blair was seen in the media as being reluctant to convert during his decade in power as this could have provoked a conflict with his role in appointing Anglican bishops.
He may have also felt the need to tread carefully while mediating in the Northern Ireland peace process between the province's Catholic and Protestant communities. (editing by Peter Millership) © Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved. Learn more about Reuters

Friday, November 23, 2007

Who remembers the Alipore Bomb Case today?

Recent Publications 1
Bande Mataram and the Revolutionary Struggle
A century ago India was swept by a
phenomenon as the newspaper
Bande Mataram inspired the country to
resist British rule and demand
independence. Bipin Chandra Pal and
Raja Subodh Mullick were two of
Sri Aurobindo’s associates in the
launching of the Bande Mataram. In
this issue there are two articles that recall
those early days and the personalities
that helped to shape the independence
Pictured to the right is the entrance to
the Bande Mataram office in Kolkata. It
is the first door on the left, next to the
commemorative plaque on the wall.

The newspaper Bande Mataram was a landmark
in the early development of India’s independence
movement. When resistance to the British was
unthinkable to most Indians and independence was a
distant ideal, Bande Mataram circulated across the
country, inspiring people with fiery language and great
acumen. Bipin Chandra Pal launched the newspaper in
August 1906, a year after the British gave the final
announcement that they would partition the presidency
of Bengal into two separate provinces. Bengalis
responded with protests and initiated the first mass
movements of boycott and swadeshi, abstention from
British goods and the promotion of indigenous goods.
The writers of Bande Mataram, like Sri Aurobindo who
became the chief editor in December 1906, drew
attention across India to the struggle in Bengal,
attempting to inspire a nationwide movement for
The main nationalist body at the time, the Indian
National Congress, emphasized cooperation with the
British. Established in 1885, its leadership consisted of
middle class Indians who had learned ideas of democracy,
natural rights, and nationhood through English
educations. Hence, these nationalists had deep trust in
the British and confidently petitioned them for various
reforms and for greater representation in the government
of India. Bipin Chandra Pal himself had joined the
Congress in 1886 and had expressed his loyalty to the
British thus: "We are loyal, because we believe in the
workings of the Divine Providence in our national
history, both ancient and modern; because we believe
that God himself has led the British to this country, to
help it in working out its salvation, and realize its
heaven-appointed destiny among the nations of the
When the British partitioned Bengal in 1905 a new
voice emerged within the Congress. The younger
generation of members, known as the "Extremists,"
believed that India must look to itself for advancement,
not to Britain. Pal himself was deeply disillusioned by
the partition and became a main leader of the
Extremists. He wrote, "The belief that England will of
her own free will help Indians out of their longestablished
Civil servitude and establish those free
institutions of Government which she herself values so
much was once cherished, but all hope has now been
abandoned."2 The Extremists declared swaraj, "selfrule,"
as their goal and Pal wrote that "God made man
in his own image, essentially and potentially free and
pure. . . . The desire for autonomy is constitutional in
Pal and the other Extremists argued that India could
become a powerful, independent nation only through
struggle, not by petitioning the British. Pal wrote that
a new spirit was sweeping the country, one which
"accepts no other teacher in the art of self-government
except self-government itself. It values freedom for its
own sake, . . . it does not believe serfdom, in any shape
or form, to be a school for real freedom in any country
and under any condition whatever. It holds that the
struggle for freedom itself is the highest tutor of
freedom."4 The type of struggle which Pal advocated
was "Passive Resistance, . . . an organized determination
to refuse to render any voluntary and honorary service
to the Government."5 Pal’s passive resistance also
involved establishing independent administrative
structures, such as councils, boards, courts, etc.6
Sri Aurobindo was also a prominent Extremist, but
he took a different direction than Pal. His nationalistic
interests had developed two decades earlier, in
conjunction with abuse that his father had suffered at
the hands of the British. Sri Aurobindo knew that the
swadeshi movement in Bengal had great potential in
terms of the development of a widespread independence
movement. Hence, he began traveling with Pal in spring
1906, as the latter addressed enormous crowds. Later,
in August, Pal invited Sri Aurobindo to begin writing
for Bande Mataram. However, the editorial board
strongly preferred Sri Aurobindo, so the relationship
between Pal and the newspaper was severed in
December, and Sri Aurobindo became the chief editor.7
The key issue was that Sri Aurobindo brought a
revolutionary approach to Bande Mataram. Sri
Aurobindo and Pal were both Extremists, but the latter,
in comparison to Sri Aurobindo, remained within the
Bande Mataram and the Revolutionary Struggle

gentlemanly world of the Congress. Pal envisaged a
completely peaceful and lawful movement for
independence, but Sri Aurobindo was very skeptical of
this.8 He had not received a British education in India,
designed to serve imperial interests, but had been
educated in Britain itself, where he learned of the many
bloody conflicts by which Western countries had gained
independence and had founded strong nations. Hence,
in a 1907 article he implied, in a critique of the lobbying
efforts of the Indian National Congress, that India might
have to undergo the same conflicts as the West had: "It
is a vain dream to suppose that what other nations
have won by struggle and battle, by suffering and tears
of blood, we shall be allowed to accomplish easily,
without terrible sacrifices, merely by spending the ink
of the journalist and petition-framer and the breath of
the orator."9
Sri Aurobindo attempted, in the pages of Bande
Mataram, to prepare the country for violent conflict.
He approved highly of the passive resistance of Pal and
the other Extremists, but he knew that the British would
not sit idly by while the swadeshis jeopardized their
economic interests. In a famous 1907 series of articles,
"The Doctrine of Passive
Resistance," Sri Aurobindo wrote
that if the British continue to
respect "life, liberty and property,"
then passive resistance is the best
approach, but if they should use
violence, violence in turn is called
for: "Liberty is the life-breath of a
nation; and when the life is
attacked, when it is sought to suppress all chance of
breathing by violent pressure, any and every means of
self-preservation becomes right and justifiable,—just
as it is lawful for a man who is being strangled to rid
himself of the pressure on his throat by any means in
his power."10
Sri Aurobindo knew that many Indians, though they
might be in favor of independence, would object to a
violent reaction. He countered such a reaction by
reflecting on the Hindu belief in the ultimate unity of
all things. Many Hindus object to violence on the basis
of this belief, but Sri Aurobindo used it to argue for
the use of violence in certain circumstances: "To submit
to illegal or violent methods of coercion, to accept
outrage and hooliganism as part of the legal procedure
of the country is to be guilty of cowardice, and, by
dwarfing national manhood, to sin against the divinity
within ourselves and the divinity in our motherland. . .
. If the instruments of the executive choose to disperse
our meeting by breaking the heads of those present,
the right of self-defence entitles us not merely to defend
our heads but to retaliate on those of the headbreakers."
11 It is not a sin to commit acts of violence
in such circumstances. Rather, a retreat from violence
would be a sin: "The morality of war is different from
the morality of peace. To shrink from bloodshed and
violence under such circumstances is a weakness
deserving as severe a rebuke as Srikrishna addressed to
Arjuna when he shrank from the colossal civil slaughter
on the field of Kurukshetra."12
Sri Aurobindo hence called Indians to a far more
dire struggle than envisioned by Pal and many of the
other Extremists. It would only be through great
personal risk that India would attain freedom: "The
path to Swaraj can never be safe. Over sharp rocks and
through thick brambles lies the way to that towering
and glorious summit
where dwells the
Goddess of our
worship, our goddess
Liberty. Shall we dare
to aspire to reach her
and yet hope to
accomplish that
journey perilous with
unhurt bodies and untorn feet? Mark the way; as you
go it is red and caked with the blood of those who have
climbed before us to the summit. And if that sight
appals you, look up and forget it in the glory of the face
that smiles upon us from the peak."13
Sri Aurobindo wrote the above words in tumultuous
times, for riots had broken out in spring 1907 between
Hindu swadeshis and Muslims who opposed the
movement. Although not believing such riots to be
essential to the independence movement Sri Aurobindo
did believe they were the first signs of a prolonged
conflict which would take place between the British
and the Indians.14 However, the tumult in Bengal came
Sri Aurobindo called Indians to a far more
dire struggle than envisioned by Pal and
many of the other Extremists. It would
only be through great personal risk that
India would attain freedom.
to an end in 1908 when the British imprisoned the
Extremists’ leaders and suppressed their newspapers. Ten
years later the independence movement would resume,
but under a different set of leaders, circumstances, and
ideals. For instance, Gandhi would reject overt violence,
practicing passivity even in the face of direct physical
harm. Yet, in spite of the many differences between
them all, men like Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo
Ghose laid an important foundation for India’s
independence movement. They helped to push Indians
from a state of calm acceptance to proud and determined
resistance, ready to face prolonged struggles and cruel
treatment in order to achieve the independence of their
— Dr Edward Ulrich
Dr Ulrich is an Assistant Professor of Theology at the University
of St. Thomas in the United States. After attending the 2004
National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar,
"Religion and Politics in India", he became fascinated by Sri
Aurobindo’s nationalistic activities.
1Haridas Mukherjee and Uma Mukherjee, Bipin Chandra Pal and
India’s Struggle for Swaraj (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay,
1958) 12.
2Ibid., 21.
3Bipin Chandra Pal, Swadeshi and Swaraj: The Rise of the New
Patriotism (Calcutta: Yugayatri Prakashak, 1954), 59-60.
4Ibid., 55.
5Ibid., 63.
6Ibid., 216-18, 245-49.
7Mukherjee and Mukherjee, India’s Struggle, 61-64; Sri Aurobindo,
Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, 26:28-29.
8Pal, Swadeshi and Swaraj, 51-52, 61-63, 68, 216-17, 246.
9Sri Aurobindo, The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, 6:299.
See also ibid., 6:28-30.
10Ibid., 6:278.
11Ibid., 6:294.
12Ibid., 6:278.
13Ibid., 7:480-81.
14Ibid., 6:314.
This August we will celebrate the completion of sixty
years of Indian independence. As we look around us
there are no signs of any memory of that struggle,
neither are there any traces of the ideals that drove
people to acts of heroism. The India of today would
be unrecognisable to the spirit of those who so readily
gave up their lives to bring independence to their
Who remembers the Alipore Bomb Case today? Not
many. Kolkata was then the capital of India. The
importance of the whole episode is that this bomb
was thrown and this case was fought right in the
capital of the country, and this is what made the
British feel that the very seat of their power was
being shaken.
Perhaps we will never know all the details of the
saga of India’s freedom struggle. There were many
who played a role in this drama but who remained
deliberately in the background. Their contributions
remained unseen but it is certain that without their
support the heroes would not have achieved so
much. One such quiet figure was Raja Subodh
Chandra Mullick.
While Sri Aurobindo was still living at Baroda he began
visiting Kolkata to start his revolutionary work. The
base for that work was provided by Raja Subodh
Mullick through the auspices of Charu Dutt, who had
known Sri Aurobindo since his Cambridge days and
had since become an I.C.S. officer, posted in Thane.
Dutt, who was related to Subodh Mullick by
marriage, introduced him to Sri Aurobindo. When Sri
Aurobindo finally left Baroda and arrived in Kolkata,
it was in Subodh Mullick’s house that he first lived
until he established his own household.
Mullick’s palatial house at No.12 Wellington Square
still stands today, but in a state that brings tears to
the eyes. It is a large, three-storey mansion of
pinkish orange colour. From the road one can see a
high wrought-iron gate which in the past was opened
to let in horse carriages. Everything about the house
No. 12 Wellington Square
The Story of Raja Subodh Mullick and the Bande Mataram Office
evokes an age of graceful luxury. It is said that the
room at the corner, which has one window on the
side of the main thoroughfare and the other facing a
narrow lane, used to be occupied by Sri Aurobindo.
A century ago this grand house was lit up with
chandeliers, and the exquisitely carved wooden
balcony must have had a regal beauty, while today
it is covered in dust and wild plants. The architecture
is more European than Indian and in its glorious days
even the decoration inside was European; the rooms
had carpets, book-lined shelves, and paintings.
This mansion is a historical monument where some
of the high moments of the freedom struggle were
lived out, the fruits of which we are enjoying today.
When Sri Aurobindo was acquitted in September
1907 in the case resulting from a police search of
the office of the nationalist newspaper Bande
Mataram, Rabindranath Tagore had come to 12
Wellington Square to meet and congratulate him.
Sri A.B. Purani vividly describes the scene in his
biography, The Life of Sri Aurobindo:
Tagore had published his "Homage to Aurobindo"
while the prosecution was going on, in anticipation
of a sentence. But, as Sri Aurobindo was acquitted,
when he came to congratulate him, he said
ironically in Bengali as he embraced him: "What!
You have deceived us!" (by not going to jail). Sri
Aurobindo replied in English: "Not for long will you
have to wait," implying that he would not be out
of prison much longer.
It was also in this mansion that Nolini Kanta Gupta
first met and spoke to Sri Aurobindo. Nolini-da had
been sent to invite him to the Manicktolla Gardens
where the young revolutionaries were staying. The
lifelong tie that bound them for decades began here.
As we know, Sri Aurobindo could not go with him
that day, but Nolini-da remembers how he politely
declined the invitation and how he expressed himself
in Bengali. He spoke softly and slowly since speaking
in Bengali did not come naturally to him, having spent
his childhood and youth in England.
An early, undated photograph of the mansion at 12 Wellington Square.
6 Recent Publications
Just behind the mansion is the house where the Bande
Mataram office was located. It was part of a series
of houses which belonged to the same property;
perhaps it was meant for distant relatives. A very
narrow, virtually private lane separates the mansion
from this block of more modest houses. One can
even now see the back gate of the
mansion almost facing what used to
be the front door of the office, thereby
suggesting that people could go easily
from one house to the other. Although
the paper had been started by Bepin
Chandra Pal it was Subodh Mullick and
his cousin Nirod Mullick who were its
chief financial supporters. They had
even given the place for housing the
A little door in a narrow lane—this is all
one can see today. But it was from
this tiny office, a hundred years ago,
that the call for revolution had gone
out. From here started the fire that
was to rage all over Bengal. The work
of waking India from her tamas was
done from this tiny lane. Page after
page of stirring prose came out from
here, written in English, in a style which
had both lucidity of mind and intensity
of feelings. These words would provoke
the British, arrests would be made,
some would be trapped in prisons, and others would
walk unwavering to the gallows. A nation would rise
up and fight for its rights.
Who was Subodh Mullick and how closely was he
associated with Sri Aurobindo? He came from a
wealthy family which owned vast properties. Subodh
Chandra Mullick was
not really a "raja"
(king). It was a title
given to him by the
people, owing not
only to his vast
wealth but also to
his generosity. He
had donated a sum
of one lakh rupees
to the National
College at Kolkata, of which Sri Aurobindo was the
first Principal. It is popularly believed that the title
"raja" might have been affixed to his name after
this act of generosity. What that sum represented a
hundred years ago can only be imagined from the
way it impressed the people.
Subodh Mullick had studied at Presidency College
and later had run away to England to join Trinity
College at Cambridge. Apparently he never took a
degree from the University since he left without
completing his studies. He may even have made an
effort at studying law while he was in England. Perhaps
this common background
brought him closer to Sri
Not only did he give his full
support, morally and
financially, but he was also a
political associate. So much
so that after Sri Aurobindo
was arrested in Kolkata on 2nd
May 1908, Subodh Mullick’s
other house in Varanasi was
searched by the police on 8th
May. Then two days later, on
1 0th May, while the Mullick
family was away at Varanasi
the police searched this
beautiful house in Kolkata and
turned it upside down in their
effort to get hold of any
incriminating documents. The
police knew very well that
Subodh Mullick had made his
mansion in Wellington Square
the centre of political activities
headed by Sri Aurobindo. Meetings were held there
and important decisions were taken. Few people
know that he too was arrested and jailed in Almora
for fourteen months. After his release in February
1910 when he returned to his Wellington Square
mansion, Sri Aurobindo paid him a visit. It was the
last time they ever saw each other.
Today this historic building
stands in faded splendour, a
reminder of the days when
the entire nation was inspired
to sacrifice so much. The
country has not forgotten
Raja Subodh Chandra
Mullick. There is a park in
Kolkata named after him as
well as a road, and even
Wellington Square has been renamed in his honour.
He was a man who had lived a life of luxury befitting
a king and yet was prepared to face hardships and
even imprisonment for upholding his beliefs and
asking the freedom of his country.
Sunayana Panda
Commemorative marble plaque next to the
main gate of Subodh Mullick’s mansion.
Just behind the mansion at 12 Wellington
Square is the house where the Bande Mataram
office was located. A little door in a narrow
lane—this is all one can see today. But it was
from this tiny office, a hundred years ago,
that the call for revolution had gone out.
Recent Publications 7
Sri Aurobindo
Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of
Historical Interest
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication
Department, Puducherry
612 pp., ISBN: 978-81-7058-827-6, Rs 190
Size: 14x22 cm
Binding: Soft Cover
This book consists of notes,
letters, telegrams, and public
statements written by Sri
Aurobindo at various times. It
includes approximately three
hundred pages of material not
included in the SABCL edition:
well over a hundred pages are
published here for the first time
and the rest were previously
published only in journals or as
parts of different books. Of the material already
published in the SABCL edition and included in this
new book, half is from the now-discontinued volume
Sri Aurobindo On Himself and the other half from Letters
on Yoga and the Supplement volume, which was never
brought out as an independent book. Most of the rest
of the letters from On Himself, written by Sri Aurobindo
after 1927 and touching on the subject of himself and
his sadhana, will be included in a new volume entitled
Letters on Himself and the Ashram.
This documentary volume is divided into four parts:
autobiographical notes, which consist primarily of
things he wrote to correct statements made by others
about him; letters of historical interest, mostly written
before 1927 to family members, political and
professional associates, people interested in his yogic
practice, and public figures; public statements on
Indian and world events; and public notices concerning
his ashram and yoga. It contains a detailed table of
contents and nearly sixty pages of editorial notes,
containing information on the people and historical
events referred to in the texts.
see page 13 for an article
on Autobiographical Notes
Sri Aurobindo and the Freedom Struggle of India
(Bharater Swadhinata Sangrame Sri Aurobinder
A bilingual compilation of Sri Aurobindo’s writings
on political events of India
— Compiled from the Works of Sri Aurobindo
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Society, Kolkata
288 pp., Rs 150
Size: 14x22 cm; Binding: Soft Cover
This book is a bilingual compilation of Sri
Aurobindo’s early political writings in English and
Bengali, brought out as a tribute to him on the centenary
of his return to Bengal from Baroda. The English section
consists largely of articles from Bande Mataram and
from the "New Lamps for Old" series in the Indu
Prakash as well as some of his political speeches and
essays from On Nationalism and Man—Slave or Free?
The Bengali section includes Jagannather Rath, or The
Chariot of Jagannath, an editorial from Dharma,
several articles on nationalism from Karmayogin
(translated from the original English), excerpts from
Karakahini, or Tales of Prison
Life, and letters to his wife,
brother, and political colleagues.