Enlightenment and Violence: Modernity and Nation-Making
Publication Year: 2014
Enlightenment and Violence is a history of ideas that proposes a multi-centred and non-Eurocentric interpretation of the Enlightenment as a human heritage. This comparative study reconstructs how modernity was negotiated in different intellectual and political contexts as a national discourse within the broader heritage of Enlightenment.
The author has compared 16th and 20th century Indian history to the early modern histories of Persia, Turkey and Western Europe in order to ground analysis of their 20th century nation-making experiences within a common problematic.
The focus is upon an ethic of reconciliation over totalizing projects as a means to create non-violent conflict resolution in the modern context. It is suggested that an emergent ethic of reconciliation in nation-making—inspired by the Indian paradigm—harbours the potential to create more democratic and ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Akbar's “Universal Peace” (Sulh-i Kul): Relevance to the Enlightenment
- Chapter 2: The European Enlightenment: Between Revenge and Reconciliation
- Chapter 3: Early Indian Nationalism: Between Liberty and Authenticity
- Chapter 4: The Indian National Movement and Gandhi: The Ethic of Reconciliation as Mass Movement
- Chapter 5: The Ottoman–Turkish Experience of the Enlightenment: Mass Movement and Programme
- Chapter 6: The Heritage of Non-violence in the Nehru Period: The Ethic of Reconciliation in Nation-Making
- Chapter 7: Iranian Enlightenment: Struggle for Multi-Cultural Democracy and Its Demise
Other Volumes in the Series[Page ii]
- Volume 1: Independence and Partition: The Erosion of Colonial Power in India by Sucheta Mahajan
- Volume 2: A Narrative of Communal Politics: Uttar Pradesh, 1937–39 by Salil Misra
- Volume 3: Imperialism, Nationalism and the Making of the Indian Capitalist Class, 1920–1947 by Aditya Mukherjee
- Volume 4: From Movement To Government: The Congress in the United Provinces, 1937–42 by Visalakshi Menon
- Volume 5: Peasants in India's Non-Violent Revolution: Practice and Theory by Mridula Mukherjee
- Volume 6: Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943–47 by Rakesh Batabyal
- Volume 7: Political Mobilization and Identity in Western India, 1934–47 by Shri Krishan
- Volume 8: The Garrison State: Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab, 1849–1947 by Tan Tai Yong
- Volume 9: Colonializing Agriculture: The Myth of Punjab Exceptionalism by Mridula Mukherjee
- Volume 10: Region, Nation, “Heartland”: Uttar Pradesh in India's Body-Politic by Gyanesh Kudaisya
- Volume 11: National Movement and Politics in Orissa, 1920–29 by Pritish Acharya
- Volume 12: Communism and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1939–45 by D.N. Gupta
- Volume 13: Vocalising Silence: Political Protests in Orissa, 1930–32 by Chandi Prasad Nanda
- Volume 14: Nandanar's Children: The Paraiyans’ Tryst with Destiny, Tamil Nadu 1850–1956 by Raj Sekhar Basu
Copyright © Tadd Fernée, 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Fernée, Tadd Graham, 1971- author.
Enlightenment and violence: modernity and nation-making / Tadd Fernée.
pages cm.— (Sage series in modern Indian history; XV)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. India—Politics and government. 2. Enlightenment. 3. Political violence. I. Title.
DS445.F47 954.03’5—dc23 2014 2014001968
ISBN: 978-81-321-1319-5 (HB)
The SAGE Team: Supriya Das, Archa Bhatnagar, Anju Saxena and Dally Verghese
[Page v]This book is dedicated to Kyoko Mifune.
Without her courageous actions and persistent questions, the book would never have been written. This book has attempted to answer the questions I never could answer.
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Series Editors' Preface[Page ix]
The SAGE Series in Modern Indian History is intended to bring together the growing volume of historical studies that share a very broad common historiographic focus.
In the 50 years since independence from colonial rule, research and writing on modern Indian history has given rise to intense debates resulting in the emergence of different schools of thought. Prominent among them are the Cambridge School and the Subaltern School. Some of us at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, along with many colleagues in other parts of the country, have tried to promote teaching and research along somewhat different lines. We have endeavoured to steer clear of colonial stereotypes, nationalist romanticization, sectarian radicalism and rigid and dogmatic approach. We have also discouraged the “flavour of the month” approach, which tries to ape whatever is currently fashionable.
Of course, a good historian is fully aware of contemporary trends in historical writing and of historical work being done elsewhere, and draws heavily on the comparative approach, i.e. the historical study of other societies, states and nations, and on other disciplines, especially economics, political science, sociology and social anthropology. A historian tries to understand the past and make it relevant to the present and the future. History thus also caters to the changing needs of society and social development. A historian is a creature of his or her times, yet a good historian tries to use every tool available to the historian's craft to avoid a conscious bias to get as near to the truth as possible.
The approach we have tried to evolve looks sympathetically, though critically, at the Indian national liberation struggle and other popular movements such as those of labour, peasants, lower castes, tribal peoples and women. It also looks at colonialism as a structure and a system, and analyzes changes in economy, society and culture in the colonial context as also in the context of independent India. It focuses on communalism and casteism as major features of modern Indian development. The volumes in the series will tend to reflect this approach as also its changing and developing features. At the broadest plane our [Page x]approach is committed to the Enlightenment values of rationalism, humanism, democracy and secularism.
The series will consist of well-researched volumes with a wider scope, which deal with a significant historiographical aspect even while devoting meticulous attention to detail. They will have a firm empirical grounding based on an exhaustive and rigorous examination of primary sources (including those available in archives in different parts of India and often abroad); collections of private and institutional papers; newspapers and journals (including those in Indian languages); oral testimony; pamphlet literature; contemporary literary works. The books in this series, while sharing a broad historiographic approach, will invariably have considerable differences in analytical frameworks.
The many problems that hinder academic pursuit in developing societies—e.g., relatively poor library facilities, forcing scholars to run from library to library and city to city and yet not being able to find many of the necessary books, inadequate institutional support within universities, a paucity of research-funding organizations, a relatively underdeveloped publishing industry and so on—have plagued historical research and writing as well. All this had made it difficult to initiate and sustain efforts at publishing a series along the lines of the Cambridge History Series or the history series of some of the best US and European universities.
But the need is there because in the absence of such an effort, a vast amount of work on Indian history being done in Delhi and other university centres in India as also in British, US, Russian, Japanese, Australian and European universities, which shares a common historiographic approach, remains scattered and has no voice. Also, many fine works published by small Indian publishers never reach the libraries and bookshops in India or abroad.
We are acutely aware that one swallow does not make a summer. This series will only mark the beginning of a new attempt at presenting the efforts of scholars to evolve autonomous (but not indigenist) intellectual approaches in modern Indian history.
I researched and wrote this book as a visiting Fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru University Institute of Advanced Study in New Delhi, India, in 2010. I am grateful to the university for this opportunity to live in India and reflect upon these questions. I would like to thank the Institute director, Aditya Mukherjee, for his intellectual support and generous help during my stay. I would also like to thank Mridula Mukherjee and Bipan Chandra, both of whom offered intellectual guidance and inspiration. I received the help of a community of colleagues and friends while writing this book. I would like to thank Anindo Sahar for long conversations that helped shape the direction of this book, and for his many fruitful research suggestions. At an early stage in the research, Katerine Neal-Phleng and the late Paul Fletcher provided important inputs. My long-time collaborator and friend, Ali Mirsepassi, was an important inspiration and source of ideas in writing this book. He provided important encouragement. The comments and suggestions of all of these people gave the book its shape. I would like to thank Sandy Casado for her patience and kind support during the time of writing this book.[Page xii]
Introduction[Page xiii]Interpreting the Enlightenment as a Heritage
This study investigates the Enlightenment heritage as a problem in the history of ideas, an interconnected web spanning debates on nationalism, revolution and post-structuralism. Within this context, the value of progress, science and political organization has been interrogated. The heterogeneous experiences of modern nation-making provide the material for visualizing the historical patterns and collective social institutions that demonstrate the often conflicting kinship patterns of the Enlightenment heritage. The central historical thesis departs from certain comparative reflections of the historian Bipan Chandra.1 The Gandhi–Nehru paradigm in India's National Independence Movement achieved Enlightenment objectives and advanced the nation-making process through a notion of immanent truth as opposed to transcendental truth. This necessarily entailed a nation-making course of non-violence based upon an ethic of reconciliation. The Indian experience, in this respect, differed from the predominant paradigmatic experience embodied in the Russian or Chinese Revolutions, which claimed a historical–ontological link to the French revolutionary precedent. In the revolutionary aftermath, the Indian people did not become the victims of the means they had used to obtain emancipation.2 This historical precedent paved the way for the American Civil Rights Movement, the Polish Solidarity Movement and the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.
There are, in this, implications for the Enlightenment heritage as a philosophical problematic. The tradition, at its best, transcends the dichotomous and teleological metaphysics defining it [Page xiv]in conventional philosophical discourses. Its 20th-century cumulative and interactive formations suggest neither alternative modernity nor history as a single unbroken line hinting at hidden transcendental intent. Nor do Romantic constructions of Enlightenment as an imprisoning and invasive alien discourse—or valorizations of the fragment—survive historical scrutiny. The Enlightenment heritage is not manufactured uniquely by a catalogue of verbally constructed rules (“the rules of the ‘language’ of post-Enlightenment rational thought”), but coloured by the tacit and cumulative habitus patterns of phenomenal lifeworlds.3 Each modern experience embedded within the Enlightenment heritage is plural, tension-laden and a context-specific universal—requiring a temporal rather than totalizing analytic. It resembles John Dewey's centerless environment of multiple histories, or “non-recurring temporal sequence”: “a thing of histories, each with its own plot, its own inception and movement toward its close, each having its own particular rhythmic movement.”4 Dewey articulated an ideal of public action involving “modified institutions” based on “possibilities” and “imagination” of “old things in new relations serving a new end which the new end aids in creating.”5 The central means-ends issue concerns—as far as nation-making prospects for a democratic modernity—the political construction of violence.
The Enlightenment heritage is analyzed through variable elements in the diverse and interactive nation-making experiences of Western Europe (modernity and Enlightenment between England and France) and in three situations of colonial and semi-colonial domination and national struggle: the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, British India, the Indian Republic and Iran leading through the Constitutional Revolution to the mid-20th-century National Front coalition. This book is the study of these different moments—and possible horizons—in the Indian, Turkish and Iranian Enlightenment formations: both the specific historical [Page xv]contexts in a common globalizing space, and the discursive–practical components operating at the level of transferable power mechanisms.
The Enlightenment, however tacitly, is a heritage which profoundly shaped 20th-century nation-making developments. It is a broadly discursive–practical—rather than specifically religious or cultural—heritage. The 20th century manifested its power and self-contradiction in momentous world revolutions fusing its disparate elements in varied combinations. The century's highly violent Russian and Chinese revolutions (socialist ideology merged with nationalist mobilization) culminated in the largely bloodless Eastern European and Russian revolutions (democratic aspiration merged with nationalist mobilization). Decolonization—in varying discursive–practical constructions of violence—highlighted the power of multi-class mass political participation motivated by opposition to existing conditions and widespread goal consensus in the French Revolutionary pattern. Traditional solidarity values integrated with socialist frameworks, i.e. in the avowedly Marxist Vietnamese Revolution, indicating an underlying fact–value entanglement on the practical level despite official discursive constructs.6 The 20th-century Enlightenment heritage therefore transcended religious and cultural divisions—yet in a multi-centred flux of participation that exploded the conventional dualistic metaphor of a modernity–tradition frontier.
The Enlightenment is therefore not—despite dominant claims to the contrary in the 18th-century French experience—a unified or contained ontology or epistemology. It has the living reality of a problem, or assemblage of problems, and not the singular inanimate reality of a stone—or the lifeworld terrain of meaning production rather than merely immutable natural law. The problems are universal: world space transformations produced by expanding capitalism, irreversible conditions of human interconnectedness vulnerable to cyclic destabilization, hazardously altering geopolitical landscapes, deepening resource restraints, climate change, colonial legacies of subordinating metropolitan integration and neo-colonial authoritarian modernization. These elements relate, in turn, to a heritage of cumulative struggle for [Page xvi]freedom requiring unceasing protection; and a universal if hierarchally apportioned vulnerability providing the underlying logic for non-violence.
The 20th-century practical experience of the Enlightenment heritage undermined many of the Enlightenment's own received discursive assumptions about modernity, i.e. Universal History grounded within the closed logic of a metaphysically dichotomous time horizon. The death of such vivid metaphors signals the more subtle and fundamental demise of an underlying dichotomy between evaluation and description with implications for political action and the rank-ordering of social goods.7 The existentially ubiquitous fact–value entanglement provides an analytical key for interpreting 21st-century modernity in terms of the central importance of the lifeworld—i.e. embeddedness in basic solidarities of family, work and belonging—as a defining criterion of dignity for development processes. The major lessons of the 20th-century Enlightenment heritage were: the dominant development paradigm based upon purely objective forces—supposedly external to human imagination—is tantamount to a politics of authoritarianism; and that—if a free society is to be built—being and becoming must interact practically as a creative ensemble rather than be dichotomized based on rigidly imposed intellectual schema. As ideal types, the alternatives are the immanent–reconciliation or the transcendental–totalization horizons.
Revolution is a moment in development, unless it is envisioned as a golden gate to heaven or “leap in the open air of history.”8 The 20th-century Enlightenment heritage was defined by world revolution, while the 21st-century should be shaped by democratic rather than authoritarian material development. The core Enlightenment problem concerns immense global wealth–poverty disparities, hierarchic class dynamics and the problematic of development between authoritarian and democratic discursive–practical legacies. Democratic development constitutes collectively empowering human interaction systems and generates new existential–ethical understandings of the [Page xvii]human place in the world. The authoritarian development mode is exemplified in Kemal Ataturk's nation-wide imposition of a rigidly homogenous cultural code supposedly representing universal modernity, and public purge of traditional ideas, values and identities through violent means. The ideal of democratic development, by contrast, was embodied in Jawaharlal Nehru's critical reserve regarding state power, principle of non-violence and context-specific logic of modernization. The driving principle of Nehruism linked economic development and political freedom in democratic nation-making. In Nehru's policy the Gandhian ethic of reconciliation was implemented through pluralist and non-interventionist solutions to the myriad centre–state and civil society dilemmas of the early Indian republic. Both Ataturk and Nehru derived their politics—in profoundly differing manifestations—from the secular Enlightenment heritage. They highlight the diverging transcendent–authoritarian and immanent–pluralist potentialities of the heritage.
The Nehruvian paradigm demonstrates that development harbours a wider practical potentiality than merely a nihilistic and absurd mass uprooting of populations. It discloses a meaningful development mode: immanently invested with multiple cultural meanings and values, and democratically constrained rather than transcendentally positing the universal infallibility of the ruling elite. It recognizes the value of the lifeworlds, embeddedness and the everyday within the development process, rather than forcing these elements into a secondary category where they may be sacrificed to a so-called higher end.
The theoretical resources for rearticulating the Enlightenment heritage in light of 20th-century learnings were largely produced during the 20th century, and require a synthetic re-interpretation of radical pluralist innovators in Enlightenment interpretation like John Dewey, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, Michael Polanyi, Mohammed Arkoun, Abdul An-Naim and Amartya Sen. All of these thinkers have confronted the lifeworld-meaning dimension, or embeddedness, as a central problem in modern development experiences. Methodologically, we must interpret Enlightenment patterns and structures employing heterogeneous multiplicities—the pluralistic production of order, irreducible to a pre-established unity—rather than dualistically opposed pairs [Page xviii]bounded within closed and homogenous frames (structuralism) or an essence–object correspondence (metaphysics).9
The Enlightenment, as an open historical field of contingently radiating threads, never the less requires analysis in terms of the structuring power of an analogical central knot. This region of density shows the Enlightenment heritage as predominantly linked—in a violence–practice discursive compound—to nationalism through the paradigmatic experience of the French Revolution. It is here, in relation to this compound, that the Indian nation-making experience created through its successful practices an alternate region of discursive–practical density in horizon-possibilities for mass political mobilizations.
The historical memory of the French Revolution as a national mass movement has produced an enormous concentration of imaginative power, so that “ever since 1789, there has been one magic word which contained within itself all imaginable futures, and is never so full of hope as in desperate situations—that word is revolution.”10 The French Revolution is described as being an “extraordinary novelty” and “a religion without religion.”11 Hegel wrote that “It has been said that the French Revolution resulted from philosophy” and that it let us perceive that “man's existence centers in his head, i.e., in Thought, inspired by which he builds up the world of reality.”12 This was what Walter Benjamin meant when he wrote that modern revolutionary politics—evoking a messianic horizon—tacitly “enlists the services of theology.”13 It is a transcendental imagining of a historical event, rather than its immanent practical analysis.
[Page xix]This suggests the total and ontological character of the interpretation that has largely prevailed of this seminal historical event (“the birth of modernity”), its seductive promise of entry into an entirely new political and intellectual space as a mode of imagining.14 This ontology of inside-out identity and homogeneous linear time in nation-making, the imaginative analysis of the French Revolution by its own leading actors, requires re-evaluation with reference to new historical learnings—above all concerning the naturalness or inevitability of violence in mass-based political change. It should be emphasized, however, that the future is not already written on some determined discursive level, as if the French Revolution were merely a “language” whose adoption guarantees a fixed end.15 A history of ideas should not merely trace a succession of ideas, but demonstrate idea formation within the historically destabilizing conditions of modernity and the crises which have defined it.
Methodologically, neither Arthur Lovejoy's “history of ideas” nor Michel Foucault's “history of systems of thought” correspond precisely to this analysis of the Enlightenment heritage as a history of ideas. It is, however, partly indebted to both methodological innovators. Foucault employed two methodologies in the history of ideas. He initially employed a “broadly Heideggerian framework of historical ontology” where “he sets himself up as the prophet of the end of one epistemic age and the beginning of another” in “eschatological” fashion.16 The present analysis corresponds to Foucault's methodological shifting of the Kantian Transcendental Aesthetic (Time–Space) from a priori objective knowledge boundaries to the historical contingency of necessary ideas. Also, there is some affinity with Foucault's employment of the “unthought” (the “silent horizon [of] the sandy stretches of the non-thought”) where the “necessary judgements” of a “science of [Page xx]nature” are of secondary order to the problem of “existence.”17 Such diverse figures as John Dewey, R. G. Collingwood, Max Weber and Amartya Sen—in varying but related ways—have also emphasized the lifeworld meaning-dimension over natural laws in social science and historical methodology. However, Foucault's breaking up and repackaging of totalized modern European history as colourfully distinct units—each defined by a dominant episteme floating in the oceanic unthought—presents a curiously inhuman and non-participatory vision of historical transformation that doubtlessly adopted a tacit Heideggerian intellectual authoritarianism. Secondly, Foucault employed the methodology of “discursive formations” where “discursive rules govern statements” with “no suggestion that language as such has undergone any fundamental transformation from the Classical to the modern age.”18 The present history of ideas—although concerned with discourses—has no special affinity with this structuralist methodology in its cold suppression of the phenomenological subject. The agentative subject should be embedded within the wider material world of everydayness, but need not evaporate like a structure puppet imprisoned within intermeshing frameworks of theoretical discourse.
There is affinity, by contrast, with Lovejoy's focus upon the unthought, “unconscious mental habits,” and “metaphysical pathos” within the lifeworld space of a transitional historical horizon continuously adding to itself, and where “unit ideas” recombine in new combinations.19 However, the focalization upon “unit ideas” as the enduring element in Lovejoy's analysis tends to view social actions as “growths from seed scattered by great philosophical systems.”20 Both Foucault and Lovejoy undertake the history of ideas within the limits of Eurocentrism, perhaps precisely in neglecting to theorize capitalism as a global phenomenon of defining linkages. For the present analysis of the [Page xxi]Enlightenment heritage, such analytical limits are methodologically impossible.
The central analytical framework, therefore, is neither “unit ideas” nor “episteme” but discursive–practical regions of density. The only feasible basis for a history of ideas linked to mass social movements are the material realities (poverty, ignorance, gender subordination and other subjugating experiences) that have moved the dispossessed majority in modern mass movements. The material is not external to imagination, but a meaningfully full reality only as embedded within human and cultural contexts. While these phenomena constrain human empowerment and progress, they have also moved historical change from below. But, as the subaltern methodological intervention emphasized, these powers remain unrecorded except as residual traces of silenced, fractured and damaged experiences of disempowered majorities.21 As self-representation through writing implies a heightened level of social power, a history of ideas is necessarily elitist compared to the darkness of historically erased populations. Embedding a history of ideas within social movements entails breaking away from conventions focused exclusively on the central state, elite terminologies and elite perceptions of modernization.22
Focus should shift to the meaning for populations undergoing the modernization process, the interaction of those phenomena with the lifeworlds, or the relation between respective discursive–practical formations and greater or lesser achievements of human freedom. The historical record shows important and meaningful differences in how varying discursive–practical formations have emerged and interacted with mass movements to produce alternative social and political realities. Discursive–practical formations require analysis of their multi-centred relational significance (not god-like causality) for workers’ right to organize, i.e. in releasing human capabilities, or population expulsions or massacres, i.e. constructions of violence, and how they negotiated the public memory of collective traumas. While accordingly rejecting a dichotomous modernization discursively [Page xxii]constructed as History's irresistible March, it is mistaken to condemn in Heideggerian fashion modernization and even modernity as a homogeneous universal violence with identical consequences everywhere. The modern world—far from an ethical void—contains meaningful differences.
Discursive–practical regions of density—as analytical tools for historicizing ideas through their immanent and material formations—should divest social movement theory of the atemporal textures of Judgement Day. Mass movements and revolutions enshrine the unique revolutionary status of nationalism because—as a unique historical horizon—it involves an ensemble of temporally compatible motivations among classes, status groups, communities, etc. These historical moments continuously re-constitute regions of density in combining levels of elite self-consciousness and the invisible vistas of the popular in ever new forms. The articulation of regions of density, therefore, requires an analytic of temporal horizons, not totality. There is no final revolution with the aura of Judgement Day. The ensemble of temporally compatible motivations that create national revolutions are merely temporal horizons upon a larger and relatively unforgettable scale, but blend into the multitude of historically invisible and intimate temporal horizons of phenomenological everyday life, i.e. those infinite impulses of struggle and self-preservation keeping populations alive in the ordinary everydayness of a desperate world.
The French Revolutionary heritage is the central region of discursive–practical density because the radically violent deterritorialization inflicted upon the global majority by expanding capitalism—a mass of bodies reduced to worthlessness by overabundance, labour disembedded and forced into migration, curtailed capacities, exclusion from representation—has pulled them towards its vortex with the force of a black hole. The French Revolution, from this perspective, is a material rather than merely discursive problematic of embeddedness, embodiment and the unthought. Great pressure is required to force populations to risk violent death in revolt against authority. Following Karl Polanyi, the Enlightenment heritage as a political phenomenon—inevitably linked to its other manifestations in science, war, technology, culture, etc.—is above all a matter of self-protection [Page xxiii]by populations suffering the impact of multiple modernizations.23 Like Polanyi, the argument is for a democratic modernization rather than a romantic call to preserve the fragment from modernity's effects. What should be avoided, in this connection, are fanciful methodological tendencies to ontologically sublimate either violence or community—i.e. that community has either some inherent higher value in itself or was lacking in violent hierarchy prior to modernity, or that political mass violence has some inherent link to the rising of a future new dawn where hierarchy will cease forever to exist.24
The trials of 20th-century historical practice have revealed the Enlightenment heritage in manifold and conflicting ways, and distinctive empirical residua stand in tension with the dominant French Revolutionary paradigm. We may identify tacit and self-reproducing discursive–practical patterns. These patterns contain shared and differing discursive–practical components, the specific combination of which produces a distinctive discursive–practical balance of forces in historical time. The discursive–practical formation in sublimated authoritarian violence as means—epitomized in Stalin's Soviet Union—was shared tacitly and to degrees by dominant discursive patterns in the Turkish and Iranian modern nation-making experiments. Simultaneously, they contained significant but minor—i.e. they did not overturn the balance of forces—discursive–practical currents grounded in non-violence and reconciliation. The Indian nation-making experience—while containing important minor currents grounded in sublimated authoritarian violence as means—ultimately saw the balance tilt to favour non-violence and reconciliation as a sustained mass movement leading to a democratic national independence.
No ultimate origins can explain these differing paths (i.e. cultural, structural etc.), for there are no homogenous wholes at any national or civilizational level. There is only the context-specific interaction of discursive–practical components patterned through mobile and semi-stable historical-temporal structures [Page xxiv](i.e. economies, technologies, institutions, populations, discourses and languages). These sociologically constitute modern societies and personal experiences everywhere. They do so in the temporal manner of a problem, i.e. without guaranteeing any determinate outcome in advance. India could have taken a different path. Had the British assassinated Gandhi, for example, it is possible that a Left-style violent revolution might have gained ascendency by drawing mass support from out of the vacuum. The 1877–78 Russo-Turkish War, by contributing to the suppression of the Young Ottoman movement, almost certainly changed the Ottoman discursive–practical horizon from a democratic ethic of reconciliation to a totalizing politics in the emerging public sphere.
Methodologically, this approach derives interpretively from Sen's “components,” replacing ontological ideational and identity claims with the “unthought.” The inside-out identity paradigm—i.e. a prior existing and discoverable whole (West, the Orient)—yields to the constructivist logic of choice over ontological discovery. Any tradition is constituted temporally of variable, heterogeneous and overlapping “components” rather than existing as a premade whole.25 Community members—passively or actively—construct any tradition discursively and practically through the interaction of explicit and tacit dimensions in time. All traditions are temporal interplays of presence and absence (i.e. of components).26 Sen invests “embeddedness” and “unthought” with material significance by centering freedom as “capabilities” linked to culture as constitutive and mobile “components.” “Capabilities”—essentially a theory of “embeddedness”—emphasizes the importance of being at home within the large nation-making processes of state centralization, industrialization and secularization.
The lifeworld—interrelated “functionings,” or “beings and doings”—constitutes a person's personal–collective being (i.e. health, security, self-respect, belonging, etc.). Freedom involves the “capability to do things (the person) has reason to value.”27 The setting for struggles over meaning and values are context-providing [Page xxv]relations for the reproduction of social existence (distribution of material resources, means of appropriation of scarce goods, etc.). The varying interplays of circulation and production (of goods, money)—for all of the coercion, inequality and violence endemic to class conflict—do not conceptually represent an absolute reality. The ethical and political problem of capitalism is constituted of multiple elements subject to limit, degree, contingency and interrelation of means and ends, without the mythic conception of an absolute historical process binding social actors teleologically to a single absolute objective. We must avoid totalizing conceptions. For example, the “logic of universal capitalist expansion” in the case of Ottoman manufacture, was context specific: instead of disappearing with incorporation into the periphery of the capitalist world system, it adapted and resisted European onslaught through cost control, use of imported commodities and products and exploitation of niche markets.28
Sen's paradigm of a decentred world contextualizes modernity locally. He, thus, sees methodological error in absolute focus on conceiving perfect institutions as the foundation for the just society (i.e. Ataturk's transcendental blueprint of universal modernity), rather than focusing on the plurality of real lives that people are able to lead (i.e. diverse experiences, traditions and valuings of doing and being).29 Rather, various “combinations of functionings” are evaluated comparatively.30 Sen's comparative methodology has affinities with the comparative—rather than metaphysical—analytics introduced by important 20th-century thinkers such as Saussure and Wittgenstein who similarly dismantled totalizing transcendent thought constructs to favour more pluralistic investigative horizons. No single hidden reality will provide the conceptual key once and for all, evading the limits imposed by the pluralistic qualities of existence in time.
Nation-making experiences, through this lens, suggest the permanent interaction of agency with a historical unthought where multiple discursive–practical frontiers are expanded and transformed. The height of the mountain depends on how one climbs it. [Page xxvi]Viewed through this framework, important 20th-century experiences suggest alternate emergent temporalities to the French Revolutionary paradigm. They embody novel discursive–practical assemblages produced in pragmatic response (i.e. learnings) to the specific limits of the historically dominant paradigm with its imagined spatiotemporal frontiers.Towards a Multi-Centred Interpretation of the Enlightenment Heritage
The historical problem of Enlightenment is divided into four segments: (a) the relation of nation-making to Enlightenment (an impact–response colonial epistemic imposition vs. placeless summons to broad human emancipation rooted in multi-centred, cultural-historical and self-protective impulses). (b) The vision of modernity (a fixed universal structure vs. plural modes of conceiving power and meaning within mutating institutional-population ensembles). (c) The politics of nationalism (modes of constructing an inside-out vs. open identity framework for modern belonging–public values). (d) The nature of the national movement and the national revolution (seizure of state power vs. prolonged grassroots public transformation, these violence and non-violence alternatives linked to specific temporal horizons). These opposed inside-out and multi-centred modes of imagining inscribe national modernization (primitive accumulation leading to industrial transformation) between democratic and authoritarian alternatives, and between composite cultural constructions of modernity and cultural Westernization.
The Enlightenment, when viewed concretely, is always plural, emerging discursively and practically within the broader field of tensions produced between globalizing capitalisms, nation states and populations in distinctive circulatory processes. Each of these national experiences, however, faced universal problems: of nation-making with a religiously and ethnically diverse population, the struggle of new democratic political configurations against older hierarchic orders invested with traditional sacred value, and the need to create new imaginary foundations for legitimacy in the wake of radical and unprecedented change. Thus they also faced the issue of forced assimilation of minorities to [Page xxvii]create a unified national culture, the prospect of a war of modern ideas and values against the traditional past, and attempts to lay absolute intellectual claims corresponding to the new power of the modern state. The three countries outside of Europe faced the additional issue of long term struggle with the economic and political intervention of European colonial power. The distinctive means employed in engaging this crisis in its political and economic dimensions as independence movements was a powerful deciding factor in shaping the road to nation-making they ultimately followed at the level of the post-colonial state. This was especially significant in relation to the plural terrain of emergent civil society.
The context-specific collective deployment of any discursive–practical combination constructs a specific temporal horizon. The thinkable–unthought interaction entails that possibility stands higher than a given axiomatic ground taken for the limits of historical reality. Tacit and self-reproducing discursive formations interact with agents in conflict situations (i.e. independence struggles) and civil society building and institutional organization (i.e. development), the two of which contain multiple overlapping dimensions.Towards a Non-Eurocentric Interpretation of the Enlightenment Heritage
Epistemically, the Enlightenment heritage represents adaptive coping with a shift in the “social center of gravity” provoked by rapidly emerging secular scientific and technologically conditioned social forms.31 It is—as Foucault suggested—a “permanent critique of ourselves” linking “elements of social transformation, types of political institution, forms of knowledge, projects of rationalization of knowledge and practices [and] technological mutations.”32 It is Eurocentric only within the provincially imagined limits of a specific historical construction of Enlightenment. Within the limits of this study, it is multiple nation-making [Page xxviii]patterns analyzable through variable discursive–practical formations in their interplay of means to ends.
The study opens with an analysis of the Akbar period in the Mughal Empire (1556–1605) and the political experiment in Universal Peace (Suhl-i Kul), identifying significant Enlightenment discursive–practical elements. The purpose, rather than to identify a prior origin for the birth of the Enlightenment tradition (this time in Asia), is to break away from the homogeneous paradigm of Origins and employ Sen's multi-centred and molecular concept of cultural or ideational “components.”33 Although chronologically prior to what is known as the European age of Enlightenment, Universal Peace merely illustrates one example of many possible moments in the early modern interaction of state formation and population.
The idea of a fountainhead for Enlightenment, grounded in European civilization and spread historically via colonialism, is deconstructed as a Platonic myth grounded in an inside and out metaphysic.34 There is, instead, a multi-centred historical temporality where modern democratic ideas reside in “constitutive elements” rather than a “whole.” The methodological point is not to belittle the classical Greek heritage that grounded the modern giants of European thought such as Hegel, but to emphasize that the “highest good” or “ideal unity” (underlying Orientalist claims to Western uniqueness) is one possible mode of imagining rather than a scientifically defensible reality.
The totalizing mode of imagining is critiqued by Sen for its reductive forms of analysis: democracy is reduced to a material or legal basis (“institutional fundamentalism”), or justice is reduced to an economic basis. Sen's analysis emphasizes freedoms (i.e. “capabilities”) as irreducibly heterogeneous and requiring maintenance rather than a “single all-purpose remedy” (note the two temporalities). Freedoms, for Sen, requiring complementarity between state and civil society institutions, include existential issues of self-respect linked to variable conventions and customs, and protection from violence. It concerns the temporal and many-sided texture of emergent civil society or the lifeworld as [Page xxix]the long-term condition for building stable democratic political organization and sustainable modes of non-violent conflict resolution. “Components,” as elements of a tacit–explicit discursive interaction, are constitutive of the pre-theoretical and proximate lifeworld of “capabilities” blending into our intimate everyday being (unconscious awareness, memories, visual imagination, language, believing and belonging).
As a historical study in ideas, then, Sen's notion of traditions is used to map political movements and developments in terms of “constitutive elements” or “selected components” instead of the essential blocks and unbroken lines typified by—for example—Bernard Lewis’ conception of Islam or Hegel's conception of the West in his Philosophy of History.35 The epistemological ground of Sen's thought embraces not the “whole” but “components”: the dialectic of the thinkable and the unthought suggested in Michael Polanyi's theory of the “tacit dimension.”36
Historical thought, in its imaginative construction of potentially infinite patterns based on assembled observations, and lacking the inner compulsion of mathematical necessity, requires recourse to Polanyi's concept of the “tacit dimension” if it is not to extrapolate its own pattern indefinitely as a dogma of metaphysical grounds in the quest for certainty (i.e. Comtean positivism, Hegelian historicism, vulgar Marxism).37 This temporal terrain promises not final answers but an “inexhaustible source of new, promising problems,” i.e. epistemic non-closure structured through possibilities of existing knowledge.38 The tacit dimension invests scientific value not in “metaphysics derived from first principles” but the bearing of scientific facts and values upon [Page xxx]“a still unrevealed reality.”39 This directs us methodologically—to borrow from Wittgenstein—from ideal unity to temporal horizons: “you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships,” “a concept not closed by a frontier,” entailing the task of identifying interactions between the thinkable and the unthought.40
It is difficult to overstate the importance of the “unthought” as a theme for 20th-century thought. Foucault, identifying in the Kantian revolution a defining methodological “temporality,” argued for the embeddedness of all modern thought within an “unthought” (existing, working, speaking etc.).41 The sometimes obscure but ubiquitous methodological dilemma of the “unthought” (in Bachelardian or Husserlian phenomenology, Saussurian structuralism, Foucauldian “episteme,” Deweyan pragmatism, Weberian “elective affinities,” Michael Polanyi's “tacit dimension” and Nietzschean “genealogy”) has produced highly variable modes of interpreting the Enlightenment as a non-linear phenomenon. These sea changes in 20th-century thought provide the ground for dismantling the often tacit colonial paradigm which dominated or erased non-Western viewpoints, and incorporating the much wider human experiences of modernity, development, progress, scientific achievement, secularism, the nation, justice, ethics and aesthetics.42
We need to think in terms of difference and not sameness. The non-European national struggles embracing the democratic principles of Enlightenment drew deeply from indigenous cultural resources in ideas, values and mobilizing ideologies. They did not simply derive epistemic or political structures from Western resources (as in the inside-out mode of imagining)—even despite greatly uneven relations of global power and sometimes elite aspirations to reproducing artificially closed ideals of Western[Page xxxi]modernity. The historical reality was multi-centred. This is the history of ideas that the following chapters aim to map out: where the pattern in nation-making significantly tatters and yields new forms that offer substantive political lessons for us today.The Enlightenment as Embodied Means and the Problem of Violence
What this task must make explicit—within the Habermasian problematic of changing attitudes to authority and power within a historically reconstructed public space—is the emergent unthought relationship to, firstly, violence and, secondly, to time. Neither—upon the social plane—is any way natural. The distinct yet interconnected national experiences in this analysis are elucidated in terms of the means. The means, i.e. discursive–practical limits, are studied within the framework of political violence upon the nation-making path following the paradigmatic moment of the French Revolution. At the core of these comparisons in modern nation-making are the distinctively opposed temporal horizons—embedded in the violence and non-violence alternative—of closed ontological totality and an open ethic of reconciliation. Both tendencies are manifested in each of the cases examined here, with one or the other gaining ascendance through the heterogeneous context of movements acting upon bodies and minds.
In contrast to the classical problematic of Enlightenment, centring the spread of philosophical ideas to a population's minds, the temporal point of departure must be everyday life (habitus, values, public gaze and representations unrelated necessarily to writing and reading) as prior to pure ideas. It is the pre-epistemic relation to others, the world lived together and shared, defined materially and spiritually by belonging, and necessarily limited by dynamic horizons where the future is either not remembered or has yet to happen (i.e. a temporal horizon). This is linked to the broader problematic of embodiment encompassing themes of the lifeworld and the body while challenging the Cartesian model of the “subject” contained within its own bubble-like consciousness (i.e. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx's theory of labour, Deweyan pragmatism, Polanyi's “indwelling” and Foucauldian “ethical substance”). Moral virtue, in the struggle for a non-violent and [Page xxxii]democratic modernity, precedes totalizing claims of intellectual virtue.43 The actions and ideas of intellectuals, from civil servants to clerics, become relevant viewed within the everyday lifeworld context as the site of nation-making. From this perspective we may identify certain Enlightenment values in political liberty and social equality, communication over violence, and tolerance in situations of diversity. These ideals have often been negated by the violent means used, ostensibly, to attain them. But if the End is ultimately justified by an omniscient perspective—and this was the worst thing to emerge from the Marxist tradition among some of his followers—then any amount of violence is justified to get there.44 This was the meaning of Benjamin's comment, the “puppet called historical materialism is to win all the time.”45
The practical principle of non-violence must be linked to temporal horizons of everyday life. The Enlightenment heritage is not a single doctrine or idea complex but is grounded within specific geographic or historical moorings, and there is no single metaphysical identity underlying it. In light of this, we may conceive secularism as two distinctive and potentially opposed practical possibilities linked to violence and non-violence. It stands between a substantive modern ideology claiming to supersede older truths (a feature of important moments in the Turkish and Iranian experiences) and as an open conceptual space permitting multiple worldviews based on tolerance (as was critical to the Gandhi–Nehru periods in India). The first variant on secularism can ultimately negate the democratic principle on the road to a professed ideal unity or highest good, a dilemma with visible roots in the French Revolutionary experience and its Comtean intellectual afterlife. The second, rather than seeking to supersede the everyday, endeavours its transformation while embedded within its own resources of power and meaning. At stake are degrees of autonomy for civil society vis à vis the state, or the pluralism and [Page xxxiii]self-reliance tacit in the ethic of reconciliation (“holes”)46 versus a totalizing programme of violence from above in a univocal claim to the future (“ideal unity”). At stake is the political construction of violence and unique ontological claims to truth.
By historically analyzing the multiple interacting expressions of the Enlightenment heritage, foreseeable events may be avoided. A case is made for an Enlightenment ideal as based on a set of identifiable values committed to non-violent conflict resolution rather than any single cognitive worldview claiming a new monopoly on truth. It follows that the region of density for the Enlightenment heritage should shift to the ethical core of Enlightenment in non-violence. Where claims to total truth or moral certitude justify mass murder—even on grounds of modern secular ideologies—we can say the Enlightenment has been fundamentally betrayed. From this perspective, this book is an auto-critique of the many-sided universal Enlightenment heritage. While historical experience provides learnings, the heritage guarantees nothing if we do not make it happen ourselves (i.e. it does not refer to a single transcendent reality guaranteeing victory). In a case for Enlightenment as immanence and against transcendence, the corresponding discursive–practical formations are highlighted historically in their ethical and political consequences.
The Enlightenment as a heritage–value complex is conceived following Tzvetan Todorov's mapping in terms of autonomy, secularism, truth, humanity and universalism.47 Todorov sees perpetual ambiguity between rational autonomy and received traditions rather than the transcendence of all traditions in favour of a modern essence. He also recognizes that violent means to achieve Enlightenment democratic ends negates those ends, and urges that this unthought terrain be elucidated critically. The strength of the democratic Enlightenment, Todorov maintains against the grain of substantialist or essentialist thinking, is the absence of identity as a kind of presence (following the tradition [Page xxxiv]of Hume, Adorno, Wittgenstein, Sen and more ancient thinkers such as Nagarjuna): a tacit critique of the inside–outside logic that has sometimes defined modernity as a unique identity (the modern self as a de facto Protestant, rationalist, European, etc.). Such bounded identities necessarily exclude countless people who fall outside of the definition and yet live in and experience the material and spiritual stakes of the modern world in everyday life interactively (roughly, the new environment created by modern science, technology, scholarship and social life, not least in its negative aspect of deprivation).Elements of a Material Analysis of Enlightenment “History of Ideas”
As a history of ideas, integrating a limited history of practices and institutional carriers, this study undertakes a mapping of the frontier between the thought and the unthought. While the political memory of the French Revolution dominated the horizon choices made by nationalist movements in the Turkish and Iranian cases—despite impressive experimental moments in alternative temporalities—it was the Indian national movement under Gandhi that expanded the frontiers of the unthought to reveal a temporal choice grounding nation-making in the ethic of reconciliation. The experience of the Indian National Movement, founded on the technique of Satyagraha and nonviolence, questions the self-evidence of historically received ideas about national mass movements, revolution and the heritage of Enlightenment.
The Indian national experience—a historical memory yet to be caught up with theoretically—dialectically shares multiple aspects with earlier moments in modern Enlightenment and nation-making. Simultaneously, it initiated an alternative epistemic and political paradigm of nation-making, political struggle and social conflict resolution. The Indian struggle against European imperialism diverged discursively from the metaphysical framework of expectation where violence is a politically natural or inevitable process. It diverged practically from state power seizure as the privileged threshold moment for rupturing national modernity from the traditional past. Following independence, national [Page xxxv]development was undertaken under unprecedented democratic conditions of universal suffrage. There is a demonstrable continuity between these two moments in terms of a specific mutation in the political tradition of democratic Enlightenment upon the discursive–practical plane.
The positing of temporal horizons for modern mass movements and regimes forms the basis for this comparative study. The inside-out temporal horizon of the French Revolutionary heritage may be counter posed to the multi-centred tradition of Husserl's phenomenological time, where the lifeworld is prior to totalizing cosmic time. A three-dimensional thickened present imbricates the past and the future in an irreversible interplay of presence and absence (implying the interactive thinkable and unthought components of the tacit dimension).48 Enlightenment from whichever source across the globalized terrain is always highly selective and reinterpreted, and differs significantly in its outcome in consequence of the ideational framework adopted and linked directly to the means.49
On the level of practices, following Weber, the study locates ideas within the practical context of institutional carriers. It identifies their role in a struggle among status groups, classes and individuals over power (opportunities), instrumental rationality interacting with traditional action, altering relationships of power and meaning, and the problem of legitimacy.50 Weber's ethical insight, that “the more that action elevates … absolute values, the less it reflects upon the consequences of … action”—or “ethics of conviction” versus “ethics of responsibility”—is a recurring and central mode of mapping political developments as the relation of means to ends.51
The broader context for these experiences, following Norbert Elias, is the logic of state formation as a matter of survival with the emergence of a European multi-state matrix and its extending [Page xxxvi]colonial appendages. There were universal experiences in organization of population for taxation, administrative and military purposes, scientific and technical development, moments of state consolidation and state collapse: the rapidity of modernization itself inducing conflict and instability.52
We also see smaller struggles inside of expanding state territory, following Karl Polanyi. These show resistance and self-protection from among groups or communities within the population to state-capital processes, in dispersed instances that can potentially constitute a unified national revolution with the appropriate level of organization and favourable objective conditions.53 By this logic everyday life (including the individual soul) is the site of struggle, in multi-centred fashion, and not the historical totality as the unfolding of a linear essence (i.e. Hegelian historicism, Herbert Spencer or Auguste Comte).
Political developments are mapped using Antonio Gramsci's distinction between the moment of frontal assault “insurrection” and the long and diffused “ideological and political preparation, organically devised in advance to reawaken popular passions.” This suggests the overlapping planes of power and meaning as “the matrix of new changes,” or the “war of movement” as distinct from the “war of position”—yet assuming “war of position” has its own value beyond merely a prerequisite to the “war of movement” despite their dialectical relation.54
This serves to distinguish the logic of the Indian national movement under Gandhi as a self-conscious hegemonic project from other experiences of power seizure in this study, although the potential for this hegemonic politics is visible at the civil society level (if not leadership) to varying degrees in each instance (notably Iran showed powerful historical instances, and indeed does today). The Gramscian concept of hegemony is used in two senses: of the value of leadership preceding the winning of governmental power, and this struggle significantly occurring upon the “front of cultural struggle,” or the irreducible world [Page xxxvii]of meanings. Here “hegemony as a complement to the theory of the State-as-force” implies that consent may be wrested from the dominant group by opposition forces over an extended temporal duration.55
As Braudel also notes, the site of everyday life is a struggle over values, complicity and consent.56 In these processes, following Weber, dealings with meaning—as opposed to pure causality—always contain a degree of ambiguity linked to multiple options and their unforeseeable ethical consequences in context-specific practice.57 Any totalizing historicism is inadequate for dealing with meanings, and in turn values and imaginings that constitute lifeworlds. Solutions are “necessarily indeterminate” in that “the solution of an unsolved problem is indeterminate.”58 Movements—embedded partially within contingent realities and material interests—create horizons of reception for new ideas and affective disinvestment in authority through multiple interpretative radials that transcend the symbolic constructions of discourse.Priority of Analyzing Violence in Nation-Making
Why violence as a central focus? The defining moments of modernity concern emergent forms of political violence—let us take (as conventional examples) the English Civil War, the American, French and Industrial Revolutions (and Napoleonic Wars), the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, decolonization and the project of a new global juridical order following World War II. Each was an experience of traumatic violence, bringing into question the relation between rapidly changing existence and traditions of value, requiring radical adjustments in institutional accretions, the authority of ideals, imaginings and thought over choice and [Page xxxviii]conduct.59 Each had a profound family relation to the heritage of Enlightenment.60 If these various moments in the history of capitalism as a site of struggle do not represent a teleological advance towards Condorcet's “true perfection of mankind” through “reason,” they certainly represent crucial experiences of learning.
If we define historical modernity in terms of the disappearance of traditionally established authorities (hierarchies directly implying violence), we are on more stable empirical ground than if we talk about any fundamental rupture with traditional culture (concerning meanings).61 Yet the interaction of institutions and lifeworlds, in all of its ambiguity, constitutes an integral dimension in the problematic of modern violence. The lifeworld is the oldest theoretical-historical problem in the Enlightenment: it is found in the Vico-Descartes debate.62 For a long time the lifeworld was swallowed in the aggressive theoretical polemics between Enlightenment universal historicism and Romanticist iconoclasm and defence of the fragment. At the lifeworld level of everydayness, however, the dilemma of modern power is a matter of protection. This refers to a condition of vulnerability at once universal and appallingly unequally divided, in a world where growth and dynamism have their counterpart in violence and deprivation.
The problem of transforming traditional-hierarchic institutionalized and sacralized violence into democratic-egalitarian forms of political interaction has been at the core of European Enlightenment from its beginnings in 17th-century natural right theory through John Locke to Immanuel Kant. The universal[Page xxxix]undertaking of Enlightenment should be to consolidate and provide momentum for these democratic instances within a sustainable and independent institutional framework, while placing constraints on historically inherited systems of social and political oppression.
This is also why we find many historical Enlightenments, or actual and potential historical moments of democratic practice (in Sen's sense of “components”), in the tension-laden mutations of lifeworlds everywhere. The Enlightenment heritage should imply the tradition of independent growth for scientific research, as of multi-centred civil society in general, and a secular conception of truth as linked to tangible evidence in matters of social justice and historical memory.63 Yet this has often not been the case, and we have seen recurrent authoritarian modernities under varying ideological banners claiming Enlightenment (in the form of regimes, imperial conquest and wars of aggression).
These different faces of modernity are central in an analysis of political violence as a discursive–practical history rather than a natural force, and where the Enlightenment is conceived as many proliferating roads with differing ethical consequences—or multiple temporal horizons. The political work of Gandhi took up the mantle of democratic Enlightenment values—using a rich composite of Indian and non-Indian influences—and extended its practical implications on the everyday plane of non-violent mass political mobilization, as a self-conscious practical alternative to a transformative politics of violence based on a professed monopoly on truth.
The Enlightenment conception of “‘Reason,’ in the traditional sense, was, above all, a faculty by means of which human beings were supposed to be able to arrive at one or another set of immutable truths.”64 Almost from the historical beginnings of Enlightenment (at least as it has been so named), violence has too often retained the role of the commanding force of social [Page xl]change in a seeming echo of the ancient Greek coupling of bios and bia, “life” and “force,” which in the Iliad was expressed in the spectacle of the Trojan War as the human collective unconscious.65
The overwhelming region of discursive–practical density for the Enlightenment heritage among democratic social movements has been the French Revolutionary tradition. It happened only yesterday, in historical terms, even as today the Second World War begins gradually to fade from human memory as a personal experience. This study is aimed at expanding on-going researches into a broader and more pluralistic conception of democratic Enlightenment. The Enlightenment heritage is not a moment in European history, but a human aspiration for dignity and security under all of the modern world's dangers.
The study focuses historically upon discursive constructions of organized violence as the means to an ideal end. The biggest leak of classified material in US history by American soldier Bradley Manning—to unmask the American military's “bloodlust” in Iraq and Afghanistan—testifies once more to the inherent terrorism and fundamental incoherence of acts of so-called liberation employing organized mass murder and domination. These still remain buried as an unconscious framework of assumptions in dominant modern political worldviews like a poisonous flower—beautiful promises that lead only to the production of dead bodies and all of the ghosts of bitterness they unleash over generations. We do not have to choose between a politics of such organized violence—claiming to uphold modern or enlightened ideals—and the fate of a 13-year-old girl like Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow who was tried in a Somalian Sharia court for adultery and stoned to death after being gang raped by three men.66 There are other roads in existence between such extremes of violence, and we have the obligation of making such heritages self-conscious and explicit.[Page xli]An Overview
Chapter 1 discusses Enlightenment discursive–practical formations for the early modern period in the 16th-century reign of Emperor Akbar. The Mughal Empire under Akbar belonged to the Islamic Triumvirate of South and South West Asia, including the Ottomans and the Safavids. This geo-political entity with its abundant linkages forms one basis for the present historical comparison.
Akbar's public policy was linked to court politics, changing political alliances, and transformations in the broader world of everyday life. The Akbar period saw the flowering of ideas significantly comparable to the later ideas of the West European Enlightenment: centring reason over inherited belief, freedom of thought as the condition of social-political wellbeing, envisioning progress of contemporary people over the ancients, a valuing of secular ethics of general compassion over religious dogma, and the positing of an epistemic limit to human knowledge in the name of pluralism and non-violence.
This is an amazing if coincidental parallel with the Cusa, natural right and Lockean discursive formations implying the logical correlation of thought in historical action. As in the European case, the epistemic limit was the guarantee of non-violent conflict resolution. This non-violent mode of political imagining in state-making was produced in dialectical conflict with powerful monotheistic social forces. These upheld an ontological link between sectarian truth and violence as the means to crisis resolution in early modernity. The Akbarian counter-tendency—embodied the “modesty of thought”—constitutes a discursive–practical formation. Similarly, the political mission of purity proclaimed by conservative forces was linked to power bids. Inflated ontological claims were linked to violence and power, and sought specific power-constructions in changing times.
Non-violence in Akbar's time was a self-consciously adopted contribution of the Chishti Sufi tradition. It expanded the compass of moral consideration to include non-human animals. We see the rejection of proselytization, slavery and widow burning. The Ibn Arabi tradition is affirmed over al-Ghazali, in rejection of ontological precedence for one religion over others. This humanist temporal horizon, incorporating all faiths, grew from political [Page xlii]efforts to integrate and unify the multiple ethnic-religious population under the self-consolidating Mughal state. These intellectual developments grew in patterns of changing political alliances in a multi-centred struggle for power within the expanding spatiotemporal state consolidation process.
We see institution building during the Akbar period as the selective affirmation of values, or institutional ethics. It was partly pragmatism, partly value-driven, and only partly conscious in the selective construction of a political horizon from a multi-threaded template of Indo-Islamic traditions. These sources included the humanism of Amir Khusrau, the pantheism of al-Arabi, Jain ethics, aspects of the Mahabharata, and the political legacy of Emperor Ashoka, among others. The patronage of Chishti saints had importance in terms of the values they upheld, i.e. respect for all religious communities within a tradition of non-violence.
We see neither unique truth claims nor appeals to fabulist causality in the rationality of Universal Peace (sul i kuhl), and claims to moral over coercive power. The experience poses the questions: is the truth whole, or temporal? Is it better to force, or to dialogue, with others holding different views? The Akbar period upheld a dialogic reason rather than “pure” reason based on ontological certitude. It, hence, differed from the 18th-century mechanical conception of reason, which often excluded choice among alternatives in favour of conformity to Laws of Nature. Universal Peace was articulated within the context of an unprecedented Mughal state formation process, bids for hegemony (dawn meetings, etc.) and an integrated public (via translation bureaus, etc.), which transpired within an international complex of early modern pressures including innovations in artillery, the influx of silver from the New World, and growing awareness of scientific and geographic progress in Europe.
The traditional conservative ulama were marginalized by the centralizing state, with patronage transferred to a new group of secular-oriented philosophers appealing to moral universalism. The Akbarian court conceived a policy for expanding state centralization based on the principle of composite nobility, which in turn required an ideological reordering of the regime towards a secular rationality (i.e. to encompass varying Muslim, Hindu and other worldviews). The House of Worship saw open debate [Page xliii]among Hindus, Shi'i and Sunni Muslims, Jains, Christians and Zoroastrians, where the dialogic process undid the limits of the discursive universe of Revelation—creating both consternation and new horizons. This joint development of independent reason, explicitly opposed to the reason of one's upbringing, was linked to genuine conflicts of power in the state-making process. We also see the acknowledgement of the need for institutional defences of freedom, at least at the elite level, and the forging of linkages between the centralizing state and popular movements of Bhakti–Sufi professing religious and human equality.
At the international level, new possibilities of violence in the state-formation process produced new conceptualizations of violence—Spain's Philip II saw the state as an instrument of Providence, while for Akbar a multi-religious state could be built on dialogic principles as a more effective mode. Akbar corresponded with both Philip II and Shah Abbas of Persia, urging them to undertake state consolidation through a policy of tolerance and universal religious equality rather than the truth–violence–dogma triangle of intolerance. During this period a number of Persian refugees, victims of Shah Abbas’ religious policy, arrived in India and significantly participated in the intellectual and practical formation of sul i kuhl.
The intellectuals of Akbar's court transformed their universal Pantheist mysticism into a coherent state policy of religious tolerance. These experiences indicate two descending levels of bid for hegemony: the experiment in composite nobility, and the interaction with Bhakti–Sufi saints in a domain of popular attitudes with far more radically egalitarian consequences for ideas.
A complex intellectual re-conceptualization shaped Akbar's policy, articulated by court philosophers led by Abul Fazl. Within the dialectical interaction of agentative and structural dimensions in early modernity, the court of Akbar displays identity as a choice rather than a fixed inheritance. Out of the rich discursive multi-verse of Indian traditions, and the complex constraints of early modern political conditions, Akbar chose—in response to a specific conjuncture of events detailed in the chapter—a line of non-violent and humanist thought. We see a central concern with the question of violence in a reimagined temporal horizon linked to state centralization policy where secular science, art and multi-religious equality were promoted. The predominance [Page xliv]of this new political tendency was definitively ended in favour of an exclusive politics of religious purism in the War of Succession (1657–59), which also saw the writing of Dara Shikoh's The Mingling of Two Oceans as a philosophical plea for the unity of the Hindu and Muslim religions.
Chapter 2 analyzes the internal pluralism and composite construction of the European Enlightenment as a discursive tradition and mode of imagining, and seeks to refute the notion of its monolithic character.67 The European Enlightenment is analyzed in terms of two competing temporal horizons in nation-making practice. There was totality, focused on the transcendental absolute, and the ethic of reconciliation, focused on the everyday. These alternative discursive–practical formations governed struggles to cope with dilemmas of public meaning and public conflict resolution in early modern European state-formation. Four seminal experiences are analyzed in terms of their discursive construction of violence in nation-making. These include the 17th-century Natural Rights movement and the 18th-century French Enlightenment as discursive formations, and the English Civil War and the French Revolution as practical–discursive formations. The interaction of state-formation, post-Reformation religious war and European global expansion provides the political background. Four interrelated patterns are shown through analysis of these early modern experiences.
Firstly, at the centre of the European Enlightenment was the 17th-century Scientific Revolution. It interacted with state formation and inter-class dynamics, in a newly expanding frontier of secular-scientific knowledge that contrasted with existing ideals of religious knowledge in stasis. This conflict between being and becoming entailed the dialectical transformation of temporal horizons and modes of imagining time—notably historical time in relation to contemporaneous crisis. The primary discursive–practical formation was a contested yet persistent ontological [Page xlv]conviction of total reconciliation, usually grounded in a complex fabrication of the imagination dubbed Nature (i.e. as a counterpart to growing scientific discoveries about nature, and intended to create their equivalent in certitude within the social-political sphere).
These new Enlightenment modes of imagining provoked two principle ethical responses in (a) the relative character of knowledge, or pluralism-acknowledgement and (b) the claim to ontological certainty in system, laws, Nature, History, or substance, eliminating the difference between natural law and socio-political experience within a totalizing purview, or totality-assimilation. Both of these modes of imagining were bound up either consciously or unconsciously in specific attitudes to the problem of political violence. Historically, these two modes of imagining interacted with state-formation and primitive accumulation processes, and other nation-making and revolutionary projects, as emergent discursive–practical formations.
Each mode of imagining is embedded in different valuations. The pluralism–acknowledgement mode of imagining tends to tolerance, pluralism, learning, self-reliance and an everyday temporal horizon, demonstrating a profound linkage between intellectual pluralism and practical non-violence. It tends to emphasize the importance of institutional limits to power as a guarantee of nonviolent conflict resolution on an ongoing and provisional basis, rather than totalizing visions of final resolution claiming ontological legitimacy (i.e. a temporal ethic rather than absolute vision of reconciliation). In this way, the pluralism-acknowledgement mode of imagining constitutes a break from Plato's powerful dualistic metaphor of the cave.
By contrast, the totality–assimilation mode of imagining, as an epistemic totalization claiming privileged access to reality, demonstrates the linkage of epistemic totalization and political violence. As the heir of the temporal-historical imagining of Providence, violence goes from being providential to natural, i.e. conforming to fixed historical laws and guaranteeing the victory of one side over the other in a conflict because of their privileged access to the Truth. Thus, the totality–assimilation mode of imagining extends the Platonic dualistic metaphor of the cave with its anti-democratic implications.
[Page xlvi]From these two modes of imagining within merely the European Enlightenment tradition, it follows firstly that there are multiple paths to Enlightenment where neither means nor ends are identical; secondly, that Enlightenment is dialectical (i.e. rather than conforming to a principle of identity or definition); thirdly, that when viewed uniquely as an objective process (enclosed within known rules), modernization excludes broad public participation and so ceases to be democratic—it becomes the imagined project of a state elite laying claim to transcendent historical truth.
Secondly, modes of imagining are constituted in immanent material history which is multi-centred and temporal. Democracy is not grounded in the unified or atemporal nature of the universe, or the Will of God (the transcendent). It is a human mode of imagining politics non-violently. The Enlightenment—because of transcendental pretensions—has not always been democratic. In its teleological self-imagining, usually linked to totality-assimilation, it has often been anti-democratic and elitist as an intellectual worldview. The predominant tendency in the 18th-century French Enlightenment was a dualistic mode of imagining temporality, or temporal horizon. The future makes war on the past in a transcendental moment of rupture.
Historically and sociologically, democratization was multi-centred rather than teleological (the unfolding of an idea, reason, or a cultural essence). This multi-centred history involved the everyday interaction of self-protection, hegemony and violence within the state formation processes of early modernity. Within this context, there were turning points in the mode of imagining and public articulation of the limits and possibilities of democracy (discursive formations). The discourse of the Levellers in 1647 was one such precedent-making moment. These interactive struggles, in their give and take, produced institutionalized modes of political participation, raising the important question of institutional ethics.
Along similar lines, the political discourse of foundation (i.e. Machiavelli) is an imaginary construction linked to primitive accumulation and the rivalry of the interstate matrix. It is a mode of imagining time teleologically from pure beginnings, vesting the state with identity continuity. Violence on behalf of this unifying narrative of assimilation is pitted against the plurality [Page xlvii]of memory. This new imaginary construction interacted dialectically with the old truth–sacred–violence triangle of Providence. The resulting discursive compound, in turn, interacted with the new scientific imaginary construct of mechanistic continuity in a conflict between being and becoming. Discursive–practical components cross religious-secular boundaries, often by way of tacit transmissions.
In these processes, we see the creation, and not the discovery, of meanings. They are created upon the immanent plane (usually in piecemeal fashion by many people), not discovered upon the transcendent plane (following the pattern of Revelation). There was no underlying democratic teleology (i.e. linked to ancient Greece), but a multi-centred struggle in which democratic pluralism was one possible outcome. This was the immanent context for the 18th-century French Enlightenment, with its elevated ontological claims to nation, humanity and its use of the Platonic metaphor of the cave. The elite lead the prisoners from darkness to the radiance of outside light in a radically dualistic imagining of secular social knowledge as transcendental. This futuristic temporality, conceived within the political context of nationstate formation and the bourgeois public sphere, as a variant on foundation, claimed a-temporal status beyond those conditions of everydayness (i.e. immanence) which were the declared site of false consciousness.
Similarly, modernity did not have a single point of origin (i.e. in Europe). This is the projection of a religious-philosophical imaginary. Metaphorically speaking, it was less a unilinear process conforming to a single logic than a multi-centred and interactive game where the rules changed continuously across altering temporal-geographic conditions.68 Within this game, the politics of hegemony were played out, despite strategic claims by some to have accessed the single hidden logic behind the screen of appearances once and for all.
Thirdly, the 17th-century English Revolution is compared to the 18th-century French Revolution in terms of discursive formations linking Enlightenment and violence. This comparison, firstly, subverts the dominant dualistic conception of transcendent [Page xlviii]modernity engendered by the French Revolutionary paradigm (the actors’ views of themselves). Modernity and religion were not opposed in any clear inside-out pattern in the English experience (i.e. a Christian discursive universe was employed to achieve secular ends, notably the reduction of the priesthood to a merely natural or political status). The result is a more nuanced and multi-centred conception of immanent modernity where meanings (i.e. of religion) are not set in advance upon a transcendental plane. Upon the immanent plane, meanings change in relation to power configurations.69
In the French Revolution, secondly, the explicit encasing imaginary of Providence was removed but reinstalled tacitly with similar ideological dimensions as a total claim on historical change. New names and imagined ontological references were supplied. In both the English and the French Revolutions we see a radical new imagining of time. Both contained the underlying imaginative notions of revenge and final assimilation. These functioned in tension with the aspiration to construct democratic institutional bases for open-ended conflict resolution.
A similarity exists in the tension between the politics of the everyday and the politics of absolute ends. Mundane institutional guarantees of everyday justice were in tension with empyrean visions of Justice. The latter were to be realized through ontologically sanctified direct action (i.e. violence). The longstanding tradition of European republicanism was in tension with bids for the highest truth. A tacit clash persisted between the pragmatic openness of unresolved civil society—permitting a sense of the tragic—and the final resolution of closure grounded in ontological postulates. The category of the secular did not, with the shift to the French Revolution, deliver modern politics from the temptations of the second variety of political thought. The secular was equally capable of adopting the tacit structure of totality.
It follows that both experiences were divided between two conflicting discursive formations: consensus as a point of departure, based on ontological certitude and defended by sanctified violence; and consensus as a provisional goal to be reached intermittently through discussion among diverse viewpoints. The [Page xlix]interaction of the immanent plane of lifeworlds and the transcendental plane of dogmatic worldviews produced these conflicting temporal horizons. Both revolutionary states, in related fashion, had to compete for the loyalty of the population while also trying to coercively master them. The problem of population and hegemony provided the context for the centralizing state in its adoption of discursive–practical formations.
Both countries experienced the related “ontological” or cultural problem. Community, hit by institutional, material and social trauma, and exploring new modes of imagining, was heavily mediated by status and never pure. The ontological problem sees attempts in modern politics to treat the crisis of the soul. The Weberian tradition of conceiving community has greater affinity to historical reality than community conceived in terms of a Heideggerian romanticism (which dodges the power problem in traditional societies). The ontological crisis produced a rich debate over the meaning of the secular, which produced multiple new discursive formations and practical lessons.
The lesson of the English Revolution was: institutionalized secularism is required to protect the rights of the person, in a way that a traditional discursive universe cannot. Locke's contribution to non-violence was the breaking of the violence–sacred–truth triangle following the English Civil War.70 Locke's secularism imagined a politics of non-violence breaking with the epistemic paradigm of Plato's cave, envisioning degrees of certainty over absolute certitude (the immanent aspect). At the same time, he conceived Laws of Nature governing History that became a new ontology of violence (against the propertyless, slaves, native inhabitants of the New World) in a variant on the inside-out imagining of modernity (the transcendent). This confirms the assemblage as a tacit and socially immanent process.
The debate between Locke and his pupil Shaftsbury shows that violence, however tacitly buried in a historicist and national dynamic, was a consciously emergent question, as well as the credibility of metaphysical foundations in the inside-out language of the universal. Shaftsbury provided an alternative and [Page l]comparatively immanent secular framework for coping with experiences of early modern nation-making, i.e. in his defining of the secular community as unbounded by fixed identity.
Voltaire, inspired by the English experience, articulated political violence as Nature, i.e. natural means to a new world against unjust rulers, within the epistemic and elitist framework of Plato's cave dividing light from dark. Voltaire, with Diderot, followed a logical substantialist tendency towards enlightened despotism. It contrasted with Montesquieu's conception of multi-sided causality (the ancestor of Weber, Durkheim and the Annales School) and institutional rudiments (i.e. division of power) as the basis for democratic and non-violent conflict resolution.
The lesson of the French Revolution in this aspect (for we should examine it through multiple aspects) concerned the violent seizure of state power as a Final End. It posited the intention of transforming society from above through a rationally necessary conceptual programme or value-independent universal (the transcendent). It simultaneously devalued existing meanings and customs as merely the contingent rubbish thrown up by history (the immanent). This discursive–practical formation undermined democracy, learning and self-reliance—and thereby, paradoxically, the very precepts of Enlightenment in a fatal political self-contradiction.
Chapter 3 discusses the 19th-century Bengal Renaissance and the early Indian national movement, showing how the Enlightenment discourse can and has been used for multiple and sometimes contradictory purposes. It does not harbour an essence, destined for either good or ill, but is composed of constitutive elements. In different variants as a discourse of improvement, it was used by the colonial state to justify domination and by Indian activists in early efforts to demand political justice and ultimately independence. A discursive universe is ambiguous: human beings give it meaning in time through action (in Weber's sense of “ethics of conviction” and “ethics of responsibility”).
From the late 19th century, the Enlightenment was visible as a tacit background of thought, or mode of imagining constituted of specific temporal horizons—and not necessarily as a self-consciously held doctrine (i.e. the historicist horizon of “origins,” the republican conception of politics as risks in time). Emergent discursive–practical formations, sometimes linked explicitly to [Page li]the historical heritage of Akbar, and sometimes to the French Revolution, were articulated by agents through the precedent-setting trials of practice.
This period sees the emergence of political activism and an Indian civil society—yet within the semi-hegemonic and coercive secular permutations of Empire. The policy of divide and rule saw a campaign to construct an Indian history suited to colonial needs. We see discursive–practical formations embodying the legacy of the French Revolution-nationalism interacting with Indian influences in the multi-poled construction of this legacy in myriad new practical forms and conventions. These early Indian experiences of political struggle suggest that democracy is a mode of life, uniting people through dreams, with an ambiguity and sliding range of possibilities exceeding the “rules” of a given discourse. That is, it is an ongoing practical experience of learnings.
Their struggle was rendered ambiguous by the necessity of the English language in its gamut of limitations and possibilities, the institutional carriers of administration, print industry, factories and schools. This provided the context for the Anglicist and Orientalist debate (1820–30s) with its modes of imagining from future total assimilation to origins and pure identities in the past (discursive formations). The European Enlightenment was seminal in Indian intellectual developments, from the radicalized notion of civil society in Thomas Paine to Comte's infallible methodology, as were Indian intellectual traditions in the Vedanta College and Brahmo Samaj.
We see the emergence of two distinctive temporal horizons in moderate and radical Enlightenment, both representing an ambiguous exploration of multiple currents in thought and practice. They take us from multiple worlds to rupture, and from critiquing specific practices to critiquing the social totality, as two modes of temporal imagining. We move from a critically embedded dialogic reason (also articulated in the Akbar period) to a Cartesian-solipsism. The second posits rational subjectivity beyond social relationships where community as such becomes a falsehood in historicist–determinist terms. Both existed in ambiguous relation to Empire and sought the reform of inherited social-cultural systems of hierarchy and subordination. They constitute emergent discursive–practical formations.
[Page lii]The first is embodied in the figure of Rammohun Roy. Despite a cosmopolitan-inspired national project of eliminating hierarchic obstacles to broad public solidarity, we see a decentred pluralism grounded in a many-sided conception of truth. Like Abul Fazl in the Akbar period, all religions are different roads to a single truth. Because unknowable within human epistemic limits, they cannot legitimately be defended with violence. His campaign crossed a wide spectrum of linguistic and religious boundaries while professing Enlightenment values of liberty, equality and humanism inspired by the French Revolution and emergent post-Napoleonic War European nationalisms. Multiple components interact.
Rammohun Roy's action showed a shift from being to praxis or everydayness. He affirmed the immanent value in political action in the tradition of the French Revolution, and the tendency to analyze an earthquake or mechanical accident in terms of demonstrable causal hypotheses rather than a partisan “Will of God.” He turned the traditional sources of Indian meaning-production—from Bhakti to Islamic monotheism—from ontological figures into radical forces of change and interaction with the flux of modern political temporality. His thought transcended the limits of any particular discursive universe of meaning, entering a secular conceptual space of humanist compassion. His transformations demonstrate the plane of immanence (i.e. the creative mutability of meanings in relation to power configurations).
The ambiguity of Rammohun Roy's exploration of practical capacities in relation to a many-sided conception of truth was dialectical; but the epistemic limit in encountering the other and embracing the unknown as unknown created a trans-dialectical space grounded in openness and non-violence. The dialectic as an absolute must forever transcend difference in favour of absolute unity through knowledge of the other. Unlike contemporary European heirs to the Enlightenment in Herbert Spencer and Comte with their ahistorical finalist discourses, Rammohun Roy did not relegate or marginalize the problem of pluralistic ethical choice to the unthought and obsolescence in the name of a single mechanistic rationality or scientific law.
The second temporal horizon, or radical Enlightenment, emerged embodied in ambiguous fashion in Derozio and consolidated subsequently as a convention by others influenced by his example. This generation, unlike Rammohun Roy, was trained [Page liii]initially (rather than subsequently to traditional learning) in Western education. They took French Revolutionary iconoclasm to new lengths in a mode of imagining centring rupture with the irrational. They envisioned a single possible road to modernity patterned on the European experience, which they took to be universal. Their notion of political change featured the compression of time into a totalized instant, a rupture that must negate the past in a renovation of the whole of existence. While Rammohun Roy had embraced the irreducible ambiguity of religious meaning, turning the hermeneutical dimension to democratic advantage, they negated it favour of a single mechanical reason envisioning an ontological narrative of absolute future transcendence based on the dogmas of the 18th-century French Enlightenment.
In fact, the conception of India's past held by the radical Enlightenment stream negated its historical reality. By imposing a logical schema similar to Durkheim's notion of purging confused and disorganized vulgar thought to distil a purely factual and scientific purview, they dogmatically overlooked important 18th-century developments such as emerging states showing Enlightenment tendencies and popular movements showing democratic-egalitarian modes of thought.71
Towards the end of the 19th century, we see the emergence of strong revivalist responses to colonial rule (as a common temporal horizon and political convention based on fixed and pure collective identity). These presented a negation of the earlier multi-religious egalitarian tendency introduced by Rammohun Roy's Brahmo Samaj. The elite intellectual goal was to restore the Hindu tradition to its pure sources and regenerate it for the political purposes of the present. Thus, two imagined communities existed as political options for Indian nationalism between a national community sharing common economic interests and a notion of national community as a distinctive religious identity. It reflected a revolt against the cultural Anglicization of English educated Indian intellectuals, and the apparent ineffectiveness of their political methods in relation to colonial state power.
In this chapter we see the emergence and consolidation of a diverse set of discursive–practical formations, or the pluralism of [Page liv]ethical choice and tacit transmission, to be negated or adopted in subsequent expanding movements of political action.
Chapter 4 locates the Gandhian experience of the Indian national movement within the tradition of Enlightenment and the French Revolution as a crucial moment in practical and intellectual history. We see both extensions and important critiques of these traditions, the affirmation of democratic Enlightenment values and a critique of violent means to those ends. Viewed within this wider matrix, Gandhi gives articulation to the precepts and ideals of the early European natural rights movement (moving through Cusa to Dewey) in the concept of an epistemic limit, cementing this insight to the practical technique of non-violence grounded in Indian traditions reconstituted for the purpose of building a broad based Indian civil society and secular democratic modernity.
Emphasizing means, public self-reliance and mass participation, the Indian experience highlights the pitfalls of using historicism as a framework rather than non-violence. Historicism identifies certain categories of people as appropriate targets for political violence (punishment, revenge, transcendence) in the name of a higher end (Providence, Lockean development, revolutionary terrorist determinism, utopian projections of modernity). Gandhian non-violence transformed the nationalist convention from a substantive discourse grounded in the inside-out logic of intrinsic and homogeneous identity to a convention of nationalism without essence, pluralism and relational identity—a concept of nationalism without enemies. Thus, there is a discursive shift from transcendence to immanence.
This repeats the dilemma of consensus as either an ontological point of departure or a recurring provisional condition within a democratic-dialogic framework. We see a moral rather than epistemic universalism, or an ongoing ethic of reconciliation without closure. This is based on the premise of difference rather than absolute knowledge as the prior necessary condition for harmonious cohabitation in homogeneity.
This mutation in the discursive convention of nationalism addressed core problems of modern national politics inherited from the French Revolutionary experience: the forcible assimilation of minorities; the notion of a violent war of modern ideas on the past; and the tendency to an absolutist statist ideology [Page lv]championing a single truth system targeting a historical end product through violent means. The Indian political experience is compared to a Deweyan conception of temporality and deliberative democracy, a reconciliation of being and becoming and fact and value, the everyday world over the absolute, or the principle of growth over final ends. It is contrasted with Heidegger's romantic idealization of community in being as a fragment isolated from the processes of modern democratic change and scientific critique of traditional worldviews as rooted, integral and authentic. Following Deweyan logic, tradition and modernity are combined in proportion to their value in consolidating democratic society.
The Gandhian experience is identified within the second human rights wave, concerned with social as well as political rights. It is identified with humanism, explicitly placing the ethical criterion of human conscience beyond all religious discursive universes in secular fashion. This outlook is exemplified in a prolonged and heated debate over a scripturally sanctioned stoning that took place in Afghanistan, but is a consistent line of Gandhian thought.72
This humanism is not a substantive secularism, i.e. a historicist state ideology making claims to new secular truth and identifying enemies of this truth (transcendental). It is secularism as a politics of tolerance and the separation of the state from public truth production (immanent). We see a humanist appeal to solidarity in conscience, public view, lived practically through the body, in progress envisioned as self-sacrifice and suffering for others towards a more democratic and non-violent social order.
Where Hegel had remained ambiguous about whether progress as sacrifice had meant of the self or others, Gandhi clarified this directly—thereby showing the so-called “cunning of reason” as basically an unspoken concern with the issue of violence.73[Page lvi]Finally, it is identified with the tradition of Montesquieu in placing priority upon the functioning of democratic institutions rather than visionary or charismatic qualities of leadership, claims to systems of absolute truth, or other overriding tendencies claiming a higher principle and permitting the absolute concentration of political power. We see an explicitly different mode of imagining the issue of political violence, which by reconstructing the tacit and explicit components of the phenomenon shows that it was never natural but thought-laden, and subject to the pluralism of ethical choice. Discursive–practical components as tacit transferable power mechanisms are made explicit through comparison.
In one way Gandhi, as a leader, expressed the principle of historical contingency in terms of the decisive function of individuality in historical change within a leadership role. But his thought and practice have an acutely dialectical relationship to the existing Indian public sphere as it had evolved through the 19th century with the Moderates, the Extremists, the revolutionary terrorists, and the emerging religious politics of Hindu and Muslim authenticity (ideologies of modern state-power-resource competition) under the changing political logic of the British Raj. These complex dialectical interactions extend and critique existing and emergent Indian political traditions of thought and practice. They show the logical interrelation of Gandhian thought and the multi-threaded cosmopolitan tradition of Enlightenment and the heritage of the French Revolution. In this way, institution building and institutional values—relevant for an understanding of the Nehru period—can be clarified logically within the conceptual pattern of Enlightenment and understood as a unique historical phenomenon.
These multiple discursive–practical interactions upon the field of power during the struggle over Empire and India's political future are analyzed (through invented tradition, modes of belief and imagining, and modes of being and doing including public discourse and the public gaze) in terms of their construction of the issue of political violence. We see competing constructions of loyalty (secular public or communalist constructions of loyalty) with their crucial political implications. The analysis shows the significance of the Gandhian intervention as a mode of mass democratic mobilization and organization, or means. It expands [Page lvii]the public sphere in relation to and in tension with convention-forming precedents including the Ganesh Festival, religious riots and revolutionary terrorism in the 1890s, the Age of Consent Controversy (1891), and the politics of the Moderates and the Extremists, in their constitutional and extra-constitutional varieties as means (discursive–practical formations).
The Gandhian intervention must be understood within the complex of political and intellectual conditions following World War I, where a humanism of pluralism rather than totality began to be articulated by thinkers from Rabindranath Tagore to Simone Weil—a broad intellectual and political detour from teleological imaginings to the everyday in the tradition of Enlightenment. Varied new democratic experiments were simultaneously underway in the new nations created by collapsed Eurasian land empires.
In contrast to some of these experiments, the Gandhian technique shows a long-term creative struggle over hegemony at the level of power and meaning, constructing the Indian nation as a political force and multi-class and religious movement committed to secular democratic independence. It is without demands for other ideological and identity commitment. This politics—based on public everydayness and the multi-centred creation of parallel power networks—redefined the conceptual limits of state power, from an elite epistemic instrument to a broad network of relations. It posited widely based consensus and participation over the instantaneous and violent seizure of power. It is the political logic of mass movement over programme from above. This is a mutation in the French Revolutionary paradigm of mass mobilized political change to another temporality and mass movement.
At the discursive level, this Gandhian intervention self-consciously broke the identity–ontology–violence link with its anti-democratic and anti-secular implications. This had been cemented within the emergent Indian public sphere through earlier discursive–practical interventions by figures as Aurobindo or Saraswati. It had been cast in secular variant by revolutionary terrorists in determinist bids for power. We see Gandhian thought manifested as political practice notably in the Non-Cooperation (1919–22), Civil Disobedience Movements (1930–32) and the ongoing Constructive Programme.
[Page lviii]Between the French Revolution and the Indian national movement we see two conceptions of truth. In the first, truth is a totality exceeding all limits and permitting all means—precisely the philosophical concern Kant expressed over Spinozist–Hegelian modes of imagining action. In the second, the precondition for seeking truth is the limit of non-violent conflict resolution and mutual recognition of difference. These political moments express crucial and dialectically opposed discursive–practical currents in the historical tradition of Enlightenment. They bring to light broader global linkages in the history of Enlightenment thought and practice on the level of discursive–practical formations.
Chapter 5 recounts the experience of the Ottoman–Turkish Enlightenment, dating back as far as pragmatic modernization efforts in the 17th century in response to international pressures (notably military at this early stage). It took on greater intellectual coherence as a broadly conceived nation-making project—within the multi-centred and contested politics of state centralization—by the late 18th century (i.e. 1720s Tulip Era saw secular rationalist discourses articulated, followed by translations of French Enlightenment texts). By the early 19th century, as European imperial economic penetration reordered the power balance on the economic front, migration, urbanization and popular revolt were precipitated. This altered the de facto power sharing arrangements among religious communities.
Initially instituting a structural rather than ideological secularization (through the creation of bureaucratic and diplomatic organs), the state formation process gradually dismantled the heaven sent hierarchic order and reordered and disintegrated old alliances (Janissary–Sultan–bureaucracy–ulama). The “people” were posited as the core principle of sovereignty (1826). The creation of new schools (i.e. military, engineering) required for state consolidation served as powerful ideological carriers and shifted the centre of power and knowledge towards modern temporal–political horizons. These included totalizing positivist ideologies promoting Westernization as a universal norm, or the Laws of Nature—linked to new global configurations of power. There was a radically altered self-consciousness among the divided political elite, and forged linkages with an emergent Ottoman civil society (pacifist and democratic movements, later labour movements).
[Page lix]Initiated from above, the Ottoman–Turkish Enlightenment was divided historically—within a radical crisis of state hegemony inflicted by imperialism—between two main ideological flows. Firstly, there were statist discourses committed to variants of Central European inspired enlightened despotism as programme (against democracy but for efficient mobilization of the population). Secondly, there were broad based grassroots movements seeking hegemonic transformation through mass political participation–bridge building conceived by marginalized elites in solidarity with other social classes. These embraced multi-religious secular democracy in theory. They undertook the practical creation of public works, job creation, newspapers, credit organizations, mixed schools, national representative bodies—in sum, civil society building based on public self-reliance and activism.
The Enlightened despotist tendency was exemplified by the Mahmud II period (1808–39) and the Tanzimat revolution–subsequent politics (from 1839). The broad democratic tendency was exemplified in the brief but profound Young Ottoman revolution (1876). In these two competing visions of Enlightenment we see the struggle over a constitution, against the centralization of power–concerning state structure, and over the question of national representation within a highly contested constitutional framework.
There were multiple projects of consciousness-building constituting discursive–practical formations upon the immanent terrain of emergent civil society. The Young Ottoman experience saw grass roots projects aimed at broad multi-religious solidarity. The revolution of 1876 saw mass mobilization with troops, ministers and theological students in important organizing roles. The movement included influential intellectuals such as Namik Kemal who held that national development is valid only when combined with public freedom and participation. He urged the creation of public networks linked by traditional ethical values. Namik Kemal and others like him contributed a forceful democratic critique of Enlightenment ideologies linking development to authoritarianism as a mechanist doctrine. They promoted an alternative Enlightenment discourse insisting upon the centrality of political liberty to nation-making and linked it to the world of traditional meanings and identities.
[Page lx]The Young Turks, formed in 1889, contrasted with the openness and ambiguity of the Young Ottoman Enlightenment politics in advancing a rigidly unified ideological outlook. It heralded back intellectually to the mechanist strain in the Ottoman–Turkish experience. The multi-religious inclusivity and ideal of broad popular participation in a hegemonic project yielded to a new Enlightenment ideology. It centred ethnic homogeneity and the revolutionizing of cultural life from above based on “laws of nature,” rupture, “general will” and assimilationist notions of antecedent identity.
The Young Turk tendency, itself a response to demographic changes resulting from military defeat, new military schools, and the specific political environment created by Abdul Hamid II, culminated in Mustafa Kemal Ataturk with his Comtean historicist vision of a linear, teleological modern essence. The state was constructed as an instrument where all means are justified in transforming society according to a universal blueprint of modern civilization. Ataturk was a radical political thinker and adherent of a vision of Enlightenment influenced by the seminal Turkish intellectual Ziya Gokalp.
In practice Ataturk's transcendental ideal of Enlightenment involved the negation of civil society and manifestations of public self-reliance on the grounds of national immaturity. Thus, even as traditionally marginalized sections of the population (i.e. women) were given public visibility and new rights, the general population was disempowered as autonomous social activists in being denied the possibility of creating state-independent organizations. Certain sections of the population who did not fit into the conceptually laden state plan of modernity were deemed, in historicist terms, to be primitive throwbacks or not to exist (i.e. Kurds). Above all, Ataturk self-consciously cemented a link between violence and truth in a politics of direct seizure of state power where the dialogic is suppressed in the name of epistemic totalization. The impressive if troubled Turkish democracy of today is the product of the long term struggles of the Turkish population partly as a result of, but also in spite of, the Kemalist political legacy. As a self-conscious project of Enlightenment, it envisioned democracy as secondary to the revolutionizing of culture according to a universal epistemic blueprint.
[Page lxi]Chapter 6 demonstrates Nehru's originality as a thinker-statesman within the Enlightenment tradition, through a broad sketch of the post-independence Nehru period. There are important linkages between Nehruism and the Indian national independence movement under Gandhi. Out of competing forms of political loyalty and mobilization strategies, Nehru upheld the secular national-democratic principle following the Gandhian ideal. Pakistan, meanwhile, constructed a new republic based on religious identity.
Nehru followed the lessons of the Gandhian period in crucial ways: the ideal of non-violence as a means, an inclusive moral universalism rather than epistemic totality as the basis for national belonging, a subordination of politics to liberal democratic institutional procedure, and a context-specific groundedness in the everyday as an approach to political change. Thus, the Gandhian modifications of the received Enlightenment tradition were transferred to India's post-independence politics in the Nehru period. This was done through the difficult shift from a mass movement to a political party, via a mode of institutional ethics. These ethics were most visible in the pluralist and non-interventionist solutions to the various centre–state and civil society dilemmas facing the new Indian republic.
Through pluralistic mechanisms power was negotiated through a many-sided politics grounded in the principle of self-reliance and an ethic of reconciliation. The chapter discusses the post-independence language policy, linguistic state reorganization, the accession of Princely states and tribal policy as a pluralistic and many-sided form of politics. It rejects historicist political modes of imagining which construct an often authoritarian single centre of power linked to a linear unfolding of truth (i.e. as a fixed narrative). These experiences make clear that Nehru saw liberty as multiple, conflicting and sometimes mutually subverting freedoms—and that he did not conceive nation-making as a single scientifically determined destiny.
It follows that Nehru attempted to seriously reckon with existential issues of selfhood, loyalty and values, rather than steamrolling such differences under a programme of Utilitarian uniform interest. Nehru followed a middle road between traditional claims to being (values, identity) and modern political–economic becoming through a critical democratic framework [Page lxii]based on the humanist ethical principles inherited from the national movement. The precondition for this politics was the non-negotiability of secularism—not as a substantive ideology dictating the truth, but as a public space open to multiple points of view and lines of action based on the principle of non-violence.
The chapter makes the case that the historical prerequisite for these political experiments was the prior popularization of democratic politics on the ground during the struggles of the national movement—or the long-term struggle over hegemony concerning legitimate political authority, ideas, values and meanings.
It follows that Nehru—who clearly saw the link between dogmatic ideological certainty and political violence in the Soviet Union and China—did not envision development based on a discourse of universal laws where science and technology are linked to a specific and whole claim to truth. It is for this reason that Nehru, in contrast to many of his political contemporaries, regularly emphasized the crucial role of the dialogic and insisted upon the irrelevance of forcing any ideas upon the diverse Indian population.
Nehru's outlook is captured in one of his letters, where he speculates about the creation of a classless society through nonviolent methods. He denounces coercion and the “language of violence” in favour of “peaceful democratic pressures.” He denounces the tendency to think that “a principle can only be stoutly defended by language of violence” in a political imaginary where “there are no shades, [but] only black and white.” He identifies this tendency in modern politics with “the old approach of the bigoted aspect of some religions.” It contrasts with “the approach of tolerance of feeling that perhaps others might have some share in the truth also.” This latter approach he explicitly identifies with his ideal of the scientific approach as an open minded basis for thought and action.74
Chapter 7 traces the historical experience of the Iranian Enlightenment through the broad social movement known as the Popular Movement. It was grounded in largely non-violent, mass based and multi-class and ethnic political protests committed to national independence and constitutional democracy. It is [Page lxiii]traced from the Tobacco Revolt (1890–91) and the Constitutional Revolution (1906–11) through to the National Front period under the leadership of Mohammed Mosaddeq (1941–53). Mosaddeq emphasized public self-reliance, liberty and social rights. He promoted non-violent mass participation in the nation-making process as the long term basis for rooting a secular democratic Iranian political culture. He consistently emphasized independence from foreign domination as the prerequisite for nation-making, and strived to reconcile democratic modernity with Iranian traditions.
The Enlightenment ideals embodied in this grassroots movement coexisted in profound historical tension with alternative visions of authoritarian Enlightenment inspired by the discursive–practical model of Kemal Ataturk. These were to be imposed upon a passive population from above. It was envisioned as a total regeneration upon a transcendental Western pattern (Reza Khan, Muhammad Reza Shah). This practice derived stability from collusion with the foreign domination which bedevilled 19th- and 20th-century Iran. This was due to its location between an expanding imperial Russia and the British Indian Empire (and from 1900 because of oil). The boundary between these two discursive–practical Enlightenment flows as organized responses to imperial pressures and proliferating internal division—between a pluralist democratic and authoritarian Eurocentric politics—was often ambiguous among early intellectuals and leaders in their exploratory struggle.
A new intellectual and social reformist movement exemplified in Malkom Khan emerged in the mid-19th century, responding to Nasir al-Din's state modernization efforts (1848–96). It self-consciously identified with the philosophy of the European Enlightenment (notably, Comte and Saint Simon) as a championing of secular knowledge. It also developed in dialectical relation to earlier Iranian religious reformist moments including the often anti-clerical and monarchic Isma'ili, Shaikhi and Babi movements, and going back to the immanentist intellectual revolution initiated by Mulla Sadra (d.1640).
At the popular level the movement for democratic modernity was influenced by migration patterns among Iranian workers and merchants, who were exposed to modern political concepts abroad (notably in India) and initiated the Iranian socialist [Page lxiv]movement at the opening of the 20th century—this later evolved into the initially popular and pluralistic Tudeh Party. This ultimately compromised itself through ideological and political subservience to the Soviet Union.
We see a growing public consciousness within an intermittent constellation of often multi-ethnic civil society organs (newspapers, trade unions, parties, associations) that the state routinely sought to undermine. The experiences of seminal thinkers and activists such as al-Afghani and Malkom Khan are interpreted within this multi-centred international pattern of politics and idea production. The evidence points to these thinkers failing to recognize this multi-centred dynamic of modernity. They largely embraced a Eurocentric theoretical interpretation of modernity as a single unified flow emanating from the West.
Meanwhile, the practical experiences of the multi-class Tobacco Revolt and Constitutional Revolution showed, at the popular level, an impressive degree of non-violent organized resistance. They were grounded in Iranian national traditions of protest while serving modern democratic political ends. Popular activism forced the state to bow to its demands on successive occasions and finally established constitutional rule of law and a National Assembly.
Early national leaders failed to fully appreciate this potential at the theoretical level. The predominant worldview among early intellectuals took a narrow view of Iran's rich past as purely reactionary. Along French Revolutionary discursive–practical lines, the past was suitable only for a total moment of rupture. Yet the reality of public participation in these movements did not reflect the dogma that all religious people, ideas and values are inherently reactionary by some law of history. The idea of any anti-thesis between Islam and democracy at this historical period appears largely unknown to the popular outlook. The initial lines of division appear to have pitted a multi-class popular movement (containing its own contradictions) against a tentative modernizing state linked to imperialism along self-protective lines of anti-violence—that is, a broad public against the arbitrary and self-serving violence of the authoritarian state. Islamism as a discursive–practical formation was later fostered—in innovatively imaginative fashion—in several specific contexts within concrete moments of power struggle. It first manifested itself in historically minor but symbolically important fashion in 1907–08.
[Page lxv]Mosaddeq, as the dominant nationalist leader after 1949, provided an organizational alternative to Left individuals following the decline of the Tudeh Party. A courageous anti-imperialist, he and his contemporaries critiqued communist politics for its violence and disrespect of political freedom. They identified Iran's struggle with Nehruvian politics in India and worldwide progressive independence movements linking democratic modernity to local tradition and culture. The National Front coalition movement was based on an ethic of inclusion and reconciliation within a pluralistic public organization—showing a powerful discursive–practical break from earlier intellectual trends borrowing Eurocentric and elitist frameworks of modernity.75
Its various organs drew intellectual inspiration from Montesquieu to Bertrand Russell and Marx, as well as indigenous Iranian sources and the political tradition of the Popular Movement generally. Mosaddeq rejected a single voice or completed identity for the nation, including the homogenous ethnic identity constructed and violently perpetrated as a staple of national politics by the Shah. He promoted non-violent political means rooted in the unrestricted growth of a plural civil society within the framework of law as well as direct public action through mass strikes and demonstrations. He affirmed an open ended nationalism without essence, or moral rather than epistemic universalism.
For a wide number of reasons that are addressed in the chapter, this experiment did not finally succeed. It was the successful crushing of this movement by foreign and domestic forces, and the reinstatement of the Shah's foreign-backed authoritarian regime, that paved the way for the eventual popularity of a Shi'i Islamist politics. This was based on ideologically constructed notions of authenticity as influenced by thinkers such as the Heideggerian Ahmed Fardid, the Ernst Junger-inspired fiction writer al-e Ahmad, and the sociologist Al-e Shari'ati who combined Marxist revolutionary theory with modern Islamism. These intellectuals [Page lxvi]paved the way for an educated middle class acceptance of the Islamist ideology as an anti-imperialist politics that rejected democracy as a foreign importation. This was a discursive–practical turning harbouring grave consequences for Iran's future, and particularly its long-term democratic aspirations. The multi-class mass movement for democracy in today's Iran provides proof that the nation's population has come to recognize the bankruptcy of this ideological option, and that the Iranian Popular Movement is still alive and growing as a tradition.Connecting Thread
The connecting thread between these chapters is the project of explicitly articulating the discursive–practical means-ends ensemble in modern nation-making experiences. This entails a project of demystifying violence. If we consider the famous study of violence by Georges Sorel, we see a promotion of the opposite tendency for purposes of increasing the hope of revolutionary success. He wrote:
men who are participating in great social movements always picture their coming action in the form of images of battle in which their cause is certain to triumph. I proposed to give the name of ‘myths’ to these constructions, knowledge of which is so important for historians: the general strike of the syndicalists and Marx's catastrophic revolution are such myths. As remarkable examples of myths I have given those which were constructed by primitive Christianity, by the Reformation, by the Revolution, and by the followers of Mazzini. I wanted to show that we should not attempt to analyze such groups of images in the way that we break down a thing into its elements, that they should be taken as a whole, as historical forces, and that we should be especially careful not to make any comparison between the outcomes and the pictures people had formed for themselves before the action.76
[Page lxvii]Rather than wilful lapse into self-deluding mental states of faith that sublimate ordinary violence to an imagined higher level, the analysis in the following chapters encourages a lucid evaluation of means and ends premised on an ethic of non-violence. Sorel was right to recognize the centrality of collective struggle in creating a just world, but wrong to celebrate messianic violence as harbouring any positive practical quality. It was the modern ideological delirium of such Messianic violence that encouraged nearly an entire generation of the Left to support the criminal acts of Stalin, and convinced the September 11 hijackers that they were liberating the subjugated Muslim world and earning a place in Paradise.
The common idea running across the work is an alternative historical construction of the Enlightenment heritage for nation-making projects. This is best exemplified in the Indian National Movement under Gandhian leadership—but these exemplifying tendencies were present also in Turkish, Iranian and European historical experiences. There are three levels to Gandhi's political contribution to the legacy of Enlightenment: the question of values, the epistemic problem, and finally the issue of practice. The practical aspect points to the problem of violence and the heritage of the French Revolution as a paradigm of political action within the Enlightenment tradition. The point of discussing Gandhi in the context of Enlightenment is not so much to claim him for Enlightenment—as if Enlightenment were some massive block defined by a single identity or essence, and we fall squarely inside or outside of it. One purpose of the discussion should be to reappraise the Enlightenment as a multi-centred, heterogeneous, and non-Eurocentric heritage—a departure from the views of both its conventional admirers and detractors. Enlightenment is a tradition, yet one where ongoing appropriations and interpretations are invariably selective and function in a pluralistic context. Therefore in discussion of the heritage of Enlightenment on the broad scale of the Indian national movement and the other cases it is really difference to be explored rather than sameness.
1 For example, Bipan Chandra, Indian National Movement: The Long-Term Dynamics (New Delhi: Vikas, 1989) argues that the national movement offers the world lessons in social transformation in comparable fashion to the British, French, Russian, Chinese and other modern revolutions.
2 See Mridula Mukherjee, Peasants in India's Non-Violent Revolution: Practice and Theory (New Delhi: SAGE, 2004) for the theory of the National Independence Movement as a non-violent revolution.
3 Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse (Minnesota: University of Minneapolis Press, 1993), 39.
4 John Dewey, The Philosophy of John Dewey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), 410/555.
5 John Dewey, A Common Faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), 48–49.
6 James DeFronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996), chapter 4.
7 Hilary Putnam, The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and other essays (2002) for an in-depth examination of this issue linking John Dewey and Amartya Sen.
8 Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 2007), 261.
9 This derives from Henri Bergson's contribution to analyzing historical time, in rejection of Heidegger's unified and closed being and the Hegelian deduction of existence from an absolute concept. See Henri Bergson, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (1888), chapter two. It inspired Gilles Deleuze's theory of the “rhizome” and non-linear “becomings.”
10 Simone Weil, Oppression and Liberty 1958. (London: Routledge, 2001), 37.
11 Les Collections de L'Histoire. No.25. La Revolution Francaise. Oct.–Dec. 2004. Interview with F. Furet. “Apres Robespierre, Lenine…”.
12 Georg Wilhelm and Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History. (New York: Dover, 1956), 436–37.
13 Benjamin, Illuminations, 253.
14 Ferenc Fehér ed., The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity (1990).
15 This would be the weakness in Francois Furet's otherwise important interpretation of the French Revolution.
16 Gary Cutting, “Introduction. Michel Foucault: A User's Manual,” in The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, Gary Cutting ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 16–20.
17 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage, 1973), 322–23.
18 Cutting, Cambridge Companion, 16–20.
19 Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 7–11.
20 Ibid., 17.
21 Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India.
22 Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey.
23 Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (Boston: Beacon, 1957).
24 For the best example of defending pre-modern innocence, see Ashis Nandy; see Ranajit Guha Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India for a recurrent pathos linking mass violence to intimations of a new dawn.
25 Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian (London: Penguin, 2005).
26 Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (New Delhi: Oxford, 2000), 234.
27 Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (Cambridge: Belknap, 2009), 231.
28 Eric J. Zurcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: From the Ottoman Empire to Ataturk's Turkey (London: I.B. Taurus, 2010), 46.
29 Sen, Justice, 232.
30 Ibid., 233.
31 Dewey, Common Faith, 62.
32 Michel Foucault, The Foucault Reader (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 43.
33 Sen, Development, 232–34.
34 Gaston Bachelard, La poétique de l'espace (Paris: Quadrige, 1957), 9; La dialectique du dehors et du dedans.
35 This is notably in “The Roots of Muslim Rage” (Atlantic Magazine, September 1990) and less in classics like The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London: Oxford University Press, 1961) at least at the level of detailed empirical analysis.
36 Sen's introduction to Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (New Delhi: Penguin, 2010), where he identifies the importance of Polanyi's theory in his view.
37 For Hegel, this seems to occur in efforts to transfer the dialectic from the Phenomenology to a concrete historical narrative in The Philosophy of History.
38 Polanyi, Tacit Dimension, 61.
39 Ibid., 70.
40 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Malden: Blackwell, 2001), 27–28.
41 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage, 1973).
42 Aditya Mukherjee, “What Human and Social Sciences for the 21st Century: Some Perspectives from the South.” Paper read at National Congress on “What Human and Social Sciences for the 21st Century?” 7th December, 2012, University of Caen, France.
43 These terms are used as in Aristotle's Ethics.
44 The broad and heterogeneous Marxist tradition constitutes—notably in 19th-century workers’ rights struggles—one of the crucial dimensions of the democratic Enlightenment as a human heritage.
45 Benjamin, Illuminations, 253.
46 This refers to Gaston Bachelard's phenomenology of the lifeworld in La poétique de l'espace where the relation of the “productive imagination” to “values” cannot be reduced to geometric terms but involves multiple cominglings of memory, imagination and forgetting.
47 Tzvetan Todorov, L'Esprit des Lumières (Paris: Laffont, 2006).
48 Edmund Husserl, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (1893–1917).
49 The French Revolution itself presents such a mixed-bag of forces and traditions. Francois Furet, Penser la Révolution française (Paris: Folio, 1978), 200.
50 Max Weber, “Basic Sociological Concepts,” in The Essential Weber (London: Routledge, 2004), 341–42.
51 Ibid, 331.
52 Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process (New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000).
53 Polanyi, Great Transformation.
54 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2004), 109–10.
55 Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, 56.
56 Fernand Braudel, La Dynamique du Capitalisme (Paris: Flammarion, 2008), 67.
57 Weber, Essential Weber, 329.
58 Polanyi, Tacit Dimension, 87.
59 This is how John Dewey defines modernity and its dilemmas.
60 This is used in Wittgenstein's sense of “family relations.” Philosophical Investigations, 27–28.
61 The ideal of destroying all “false meanings” to create a better world is articulated in Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. As an information war conducted through civil society, it contains nothing objectionable in any free society but promises to be very slow. As a state politics, it promises a disastrous authoritarian nightmare.
62 Vico denied that the sources of certainty and knowledge are found in “clear and distinct ideas” (i.e. pure geometry omitting history and ordinary experience), but rather in the variegated complex of our multiple activities, practices, embodidness and imagination. While Descartes rejected history as a mass of errors, Vico emphasized history as the world of the humanly made and bearer of values.
63 The problem of creating public memory—itself a “temporal horizon”—is clearly important in this comparative study, following the groundwork prepared by Paul Ricoeur, La mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli (Paris: Seuil, 2009).
64 Hilary Putnam, Ethics without Ontology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 98.
65 Yse-Tardan Masquelier. De la violence a la non-violence. Le Monde des Religions. September–October 2007, No. 25, 50.
66 “Somalia: Girl stoned was a child of 13,” Amnesty International, retrieved 31 October 2008.
67 This follows a growing tendency in Enlightenment studies: Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Gertrude Himmelfarb, The British, French and American Enlightenments (New York: Knoph, 2004). Unfortunately, in “The Illusions of Cosmopolitanism,” For Love of Country (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), Himmelfarb articulated a narrow and essentialist Eurocentrism.
68 “Games” is used in the pluralistic and open sense articulated by Wittgenstein in the Philosophical Investigations.
69 This seems to be an unspoken but significant assertion in Foucault's work.
70 The concept of violence–sacred–truth triangle is articulated in Mohammed Arkoun, The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought (London: Saqi, 2002).
71 Emile Durkheim, Les Règles de la Méthode Sociologique (Paris: Flammarion, 2009), 77–81.
72 We can also identify counter-examples, such as the debate with Tagore over the divine status of the earthquake. Such examples undoubtedly show a momentary failing (i.e. of judgement) requiring explanation—they do not, however, negate the broad general tendency constructed in this analysis and its confirmation at the structural level through institution building linked to specific practices and ideas. That is, a structural passage between non-violence and a commitment to a broad participatory democratic politics in Gandhian practice.
73 Mark Lilla, The Stillborn God (New York: Vintage, 2008), 210.
74 Jawaharlal Nehru, Letters to Chief Ministers, Volume 5 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989), 83.
75 We should note that such Eurocentric frameworks have little to do with the West, but are often inspired by such supposedly scientifically authoritative writers as Comte. Islamism, too, has heavily borrowed from Western self-critical discourses to attack the West—in a vein having a more imaginary than realistic quality.
76 Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 20.[Page lxviii]
This study investigates the link between violence and change at the historical core of Enlightenment and nationalism. The problem of violence was central—in diffused and tacit way—to Thomas Hobbes’ and Max Weber's analyses of modernity, Hegel's historical “slaughter bench,” and Fernand Braudel's conception of modern history as the “violent division of the world.”1History as a Maze
The maze is the most apt metaphor for writing history today, in the wake of Emmanuel Levinas’ (1906–95) assertion that History constitutes the imperialism of the same, a titanic mode of imagining in Universal History as assimilation. This was a critique of Hegelian totality under Heideggerian inspiration with the aim of finding a way out. It would seem that modern universalism, by trying to break the walls between people, created even more—a conundrum made much of in the modern literature.
It is detectable already in Christopher Marlowe—Faustian self-destruction as the central modern archetype and knowledge as the abyss from which it flowers—whose unsolved and politically dubious murder invited this comment in 1593: “I find the matter as in a labyrinth: easier to enter into it than to go out.”2 Since Dostoyevsky declared a wish to send “all systems and theories to the devil,” there have been many trying to find a way out along a romantic road.3 It has often fostered a mood of nihilism. Melville's Captain Ahab said regarding the white wall of the absolute—a multiple metaphor from ontological emptiness to [Page 341]American Manifest Destiny as historical fanaticism—that “sometimes I think there's naught beyond.”4
In the 20th century, the conceptual maze produced the confusion of a false identity between liberation and agitation. It refers to the confluent confusions of the unthought. This was exemplified in Claude Levi Strauss’ hailing of Louis-Ferdinand Céline's Journey to the End of Night (1932) as a “revolt against all forms of oppression and injustice” and an ally of the Left in its opposition to a common bourgeois enemy. The novel was perhaps the greatest literary expression of anti-democratic counter-Enlightenment in the 20th century. The underlying reality of the world is meaningless horror, which is periodically manifested, and all of the rest is empty words.5 Céline's nihilistic hate of the bourgeoisie appealed to the Left. His rejection of egalitarian values appealed less to them—but this could pass as a healthy loathing for bourgeois institutions. They failed to see that it portended his collusion with the Vichy government during the World War II German occupation of France.6
This confusion between emancipation as political liberty and cultural authenticity was expressed in Michel Foucault's praise of the 1979 Iranian Islamist revolution. He would hardly have welcomed such a movement in France. Orientalist fascination fused with longings for the “death of man” must have contributed to his readiness to celebrate the Iranian exception.
This confusion traces the fault line of a modern intellectual paradigm crisis. The great attraction of disillusioned Left thinkers to Heidegger (Ranajit Guha, Partha Chatterjee, Talal Asad or the 1960s French poststructuralists) exemplifies it. The dominant representations of modernity as an infallible monolith prepared to inflict cosmic justice—linked to power configurations—are not least to blame for the predicament.
Is historical imagination as much a straitjacket as Levinas implied in saying to approach the other we must be uprooted [Page 342]from history as a totality?7 Levi Strauss’ call to “dissolve man” because human rights are merely West-centric embraced cultural relativism.8 But Levinas, devastated by experiences of totalitarianism, was concerned with an ethical critique of politics permitting each to live their life as a “secret”—something not to be known, dominated and controlled by power as an object in the name of higher claims to truth.9 Such a concern with human autonomy and respect for the other has its prerequisite in a notion of universal reason and recognition of historical truth—as a human capacity for ethical and practical problem solving on dialogic grounds.
As Levinas implied, alternative modes of historical imagining to a totalized synthesis exist. We should beware of Heideggerian ontological generalizations about knowledge as essentially the domination of the other, where “nothing is any longer able to withstand the business of knowing, since technical mastery over things bears itself without limit”—even as this tendency may be included among the multiple potentials recognized through a critical evaluation of knowledge production.10Heideggerian Historicism and the 20th-Century Left
Heidegger, like Céline, came of age on the bloody European battlefields of World War I and this trauma formed his worldview. Politically, he declared modern democracy the “moribund semblance of a culture” and liberalism “the slavery of contingency.”11[Page 343]A Nazi collaborator during World War II, he never renounced these views. Philosophically, he has often been celebrated as the champion of a new pluralism. His thinking, however, was deeply essentialist.
Heidegger's revolt against modernity affirmed the cultural authority of community. This grounded his naïve embrace of Nazism as German national salvation under the alien Weimar Republic. Modernity is a unified, pervasive and tacit worldview, controlling people unwittingly.12 An authentic connection to being is consequently lost: “inauthentic historical existence (is) burdened with a legacy that has become unrecognizable to it.”13 A unified public meaning, based on the “loyalty of existence to its own self,” the “sole authority that a free existence can have,” where “everything good is a matter of heritage”—could restore authentic roots.14 At best, Heidegger urged a world of mutually respecting pure fragments.
Heidegger's (often tacit) followers—while celebrating his supposed pluralism—have inherited his philosophical essentialism. Chatterjee's structuralist notion of Enlightenment as a “thematic,” for example, presupposes a single worldview invested with essentialist limits: “the stricter definition of scientific truth is now contained within the wider notion of rationality as an ethic” linked to “epistemic privilege as the last bastion of global supremacy.” It is a “seduction” and “prison” which negates the “symbolic orderings” of “non-scientific cultures” and their “pre-theoretical practical” orientations in “everyday life.”15 Historical actors are often represented as little more than discursive structure puppets.
This Heideggerian analytic of the unthought, projects the principle characteristic of the “post-Enlightenment worldview” as an “entirely new idea of man's control over nature.” This [Page 344]anti-modernism, linked tenuously to Marx in the “rational conception of society” as imposed upon the “relations between man and man,” ultimately entails a romanticization of community in a pattern of imaginatively fabricated essentialisms buried under discourse analyses.16 Capital is the Manichean antithesis of community.17
The only glimmer of hope within this totalizing and Kafkaesque purview—oppressed by an all-pervasive and hidden alien worldview—is a mysteriously utopian outside. Chatterjee evoked a “new beginning” where the “old problematic and thematic (is replaced) with new ones.”18 It is a variant on the totalizing Heideggerian “other thinking” or “other beginning.”19
John Dewey addressed the being–becoming conundrum that was also Heidegger's obsession, but from the immanent view of a self-transforming Enlightenment heritage. Dewey wrote, “The idea of a whole, whether of the personal being or the world, is an imaginative, not a literal, idea.”20 The conundrum of the maze is, in important ways, imaginary between these dialectical poles of black and white, totality and fragment, and new and old worlds. The impassioned rejection of the world on any fixed essentialist premise undermines the very hope and wakefulness required for changing it. For essentialism never sees the immanent world, only the totalizing transcendental vista projected beyond it.
We may alternatively open our eyes to multiple forking paths as suggested in Dewey's philosophy of conceptual pluralism: in post-traditional societies no single set of truths can serve exclusively for understanding the world. Yet this is an opening for more ethical and creative ways of imagining social life in a centreless environment of multiple histories. The achievements of science hold great promise as well as tragic risk. That is, the pluralistic consequences of modernity—for all of the colossal challenges they present—should not be pinned down philosophically [Page 345]by any pessimistic or closed ontological totalization, i.e. it is only on the opposite side of the total grave of capitalism imagined as a seamlessly unified juggernaut that value in science, knowledge, politics and existence (i.e. as absolute realities) may be retrieved.
The essentialist attitude presents a stubborn and closed politics of loyalty to an Idea, an empyrean fantasy, rather than the open and imaginative analytic vista required for elucidating the multiple practical and ethical problems presented by global capitalism as a varied and changing interplay of forces implicated in massive structural violence.
Regarding history and the imagination, Collingwood writes: “the underside of this table, the inside of an unopened egg, the back of the moon. Here again the imagination is a priori: we cannot but imagine what cannot but be there.”21 History, he says, is a critical activity of going beyond what the authorities say, a rediscovery of what is forgotten or occluded, a constructive practice based on evidence. The a priori imagination, as such, remains neither real nor unreal upon the threshold of a universe that is unfinished.
This is unthinkable without the principle of intellectual autonomy basic to the democratic Enlightenment tradition. There is grave responsibility in historical writing without metaphysical guarantees of unity or closure. The renunciation of history as a “white myth” does a disservice to the democratic heritage of Enlightenment. David Irving was ready to bury the historical memory of the Holocaust on Nazi methodological grounds (his rejection of the Enlightenment heritage), and thus became unacceptable to the social science community.22
The Enlightenment is not an objective reality, but a tradition based on provisionally accepted, continuously contested, values and meanings. This implies methodology as responsible allegiances within civic institutions where adjustment of standards through multiple crosschecks is always possible. It is a practical and self-protective ethic, rather than a claim to being. The Left [Page 346]paradigm crisis of the late 20th century produced maze-like conceptual wanderings into arcane questions of being. For Foucault, the “being of language” had been “forgotten since the sixteenth century,” and might presumably be revived with the “death of man.”23The Secular and the Comtean Legacy
The secular is proposed as a limit, not a totalization. Cautious of such steps as already taken by Spinoza (collapsing God into nature) and later taken by Hegel (collapsing God into man)24 in their tacit granting that every human action is thereby permitted, Kant posited a limit—concerned fairly directly with the problem of constructing violence—in refusing any guarantees of ultimate reconciliation, i.e. non-closure.25
The secular signifies one departure from multiple discursive religious universes in the linking of truth to evidence rather than authority (belief may be self-certain but lack evidence). This is a historical learning, not a truth of the universe. It has critical ethical implications (i.e. Saint Thomas Aquinas: heretics must be “shut off from the world by death” as an institutional ethic).26 It does not follow that the secular must make substantive truth claims about the world intended to necessarily supersede other worldviews as the seal of metaphysical propositions. This seal was the implication of Comtean positivism, a mode of imagining highly influential—though in differing degrees—to the cases in this study.
A self-proclaimed “heir to the French Revolution,” Comte (1798–1857) considered his influential positivist philosophy to be the constructive force of world regeneration in the wake of the necessary destructive work of the Revolution. Considering [Page 347]his writings, the “final study of social phenomena” and part of a “final condition of which nothing can halt the great evolution,” he declared “no further systems possible.” He had unveiled “the true and definitive nature of modernity.” He declared “politics and (his) philosophy” to be a part of one “inseparable universal system,” an “objective criteria of social reconstruction,” prepared to collapse the barrier between “public and private life” in a “final institution” based on the “true totality of human existence.” His single “regenerative doctrine” suggested a single universal path to national modernity.27 Such a seal must be rejected for reasons of democratic principle—it violates the freedom of thought secularism was intended to gain.
It follows the Cartesian paradigm where a natural inner light opposes belief radically to knowledge. It bore the potentially totalizing implication that habit and tradition unfounded in reason must be eradicated. Comte made an explicit horizon target of what Descartes had rather deliberately left tacit.
Michael Polanyi, like Céline and Heidegger, came of age through the World War I trauma.28 Polanyi's “tacit dimension”—in contrast to them—self-consciously and critically upholds the Enlightenment heritage. It is an imaginative horizon invested scientifically in—while seeing ethically beyond—the human dialectical attitude of unceasing transcendence in the cognitive mastery of ever new beings. It concedes and respects the other as stranger in principle. The belief realm of our practical and everyday relation to the world, in so far as temporality links meaning to inner experience, has an “inexhaustible profundity.”29
We see that Levinas, Heidegger, Polanyi and Dewey were struggling within a roughly shared conceptual problematic. In varying ways, they either reconstructed or rejected the dominant Enlightenment paradigm. The answers they produced have radically differing practical and ethical implications.[Page 348]Transcendent and Immanent
Geographically, the Enlightenment is conceived in terms of Braudel's contention that, beyond the Orientalist and other culturally essentialist modes of imagining, we are really talking historically about the interactions of a common Eurasian space.30 The suggestion is an interrelated web of varying historical–temporal structures including economies, technologies, institutions, populations, discourses and languages—in sum, the complex of mobile and semi-stable forms. This implies a multi-centred theoretical lens reflecting the methodological achievements of the Annales School of history under the influence of Emile Durkheim (i.e. his notion of the complex causational situation).31
This differs from the distinct spirit, or essence, investing ethical life, state, culture and religion, forging a distinct destiny, as we find in Hegelian teleology. It follows a neo-Saussurian or Wittgensteinean conception of identity/meaning as relational or comparative rather than transcendental. This immanent methodology parts with the classical opposition between the universal and the particular. Identity is not essence but relations constituting individuation without hidden metaphysical places.32 This is also the non-essentialist pattern by which Sen's ideational and cultural components interact and mutate.
The assumption of abstract form following a mathematical paradigm—where the starting and terminal points as a sequence are interlocked in necessity and there is no option of variance in the outcome except in error—is inappropriate as a metaphor for problem solving in a history of ideas (i.e. the metaphor of the crossword puzzle). Following the interventions of Bachelard, Saussure and Nietzsche, it is hard to take seriously the totalizing premise of continuity–narrative that underpinned the Western philosophical tradition going back to Plato's metaphor of the cave, i.e. knowledge as a universal dualism dividing night and [Page 349]day. Its historicist heir imaginatively projects a totalizing system (i.e. chronologically, thematic categories, divisions of reality and objects of study, origin–essence–identity claims linked to a narrative such as the Gibbon–Hegel Athens–Jerusalem–Rome triangle33) as an inviolable scientific postulate rather than tools or modes of imagining.
The diverse roots of modern democratic ideas are traceable through multiple “constitutive elements” in many civilizational–cultural traditions—intermingled with undemocratic elements and requiring differentiation—and not to some unitary civilizational–cultural whole. What follows from Sen's fluid, molecular and demonstrable conception of ideas and identities is ambiguity rather than essentialism (to describe in fixed terms of one definition, or one origin). We find that multiple traditions exist in dialectical relation to one another rather than any distinctive identity reducible to substantive definition (in the Aristotelian tradition). This would affirm Weber's neo-Kantian notion that disenchantment shows a dialectical or overlapping quality between the religious and the secular, and is not merely the unpeeling of false consciousness in a secular discovery of the world as it really is.
Seyla Benhabib has argued that the feminist project becomes impossible once the entire tradition of Western philosophy as a universal project of emancipation is deemed worthless as a discourse.34 This logic applies equally to historical and contemporary civil and human rights efforts, national independence struggles and labour politics. To say the opposite is rather like Margaret Thatcher's famous quip that she owes nothing to the tradition of feminism.
Yet despite the important contribution of Western philosophy to such democratic struggles, notably in the principle of rational autonomy from dogmatic belief, the Enlightenment as a tradition far exceeds Western philosophy in dimension and scope. John Dewey noted this, with particular reference to the limits of Eurocentric thought “it shows a deplorable deadness of imagination to suppose that philosophy will indefinitely revolve within [Page 350]the scope of the problems and systems that two thousand years of European philosophy have bequeathed to us.” He argued “the whole of Western European history is a provincial episode.”35
For this reason Dewey argued that it was time to be done with finished philosophical edifices. He presents a valuable conceptual framework on the meaning of democratic change in relation to the hegemonic Enlightenment. He articulated persisting tensions between Eurocentric limitations and emancipatory promise. The present project intends to push the conception of the Enlightenment tradition beyond its Eurocentric limits simply on the basis of an empirical history that respected historians including Gertrude Himmelfarb have—to all appearances—preferred to ignore.36 This intention is very far from the essentialist declaration of Enlightenment as the enemy of either innocence or community, as we see in Nandy and Chatterjee, respectively. The champions of Eurocentrism and the non-Western fragment both stand on transcendental ground, which gives their arguments an atemporal, fixed and fanciful quality.John Dewey and Centre-Less Temporality
Dewey's centre-less temporality is summed up in two passages. Concerning methodology, he wrote that concepts concerning social phenomena are “means for determining a non-recurring temporal sequence.” It corresponds to his notion of temporality: “life is no uninterrupted march or flow. It is a thing of histories, each with its own plot, its own inception and movement toward its close, each having its own particular rhythmic movement; each with its own repeated quality pervading it throughout.”37 It is a historical–sociological–conceptual equivalent to Joseph Conrad's subjective–ephemeralist remark, “it is impossible to [Page 351]convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence.”38 This might refer to the cumulative qualitative substance of civil society formation as a many-sided and open-ended collective experience.
Dewey addressed totalizing concepts with similar concerns to Foucault, without retreating into the fragment: “Philosophy forswears inquiry after absolute origins and absolute finalities in order to explore specific values and the specific conditions which generate them.”39 Embracing modern scientific achievements, Dewey criticized the dominant metaphysical narrative of scientific Enlightenment manifested in movements proclaiming a new universal truth. He described Comtean positivism as the “division into a superior true realm of being and a lower illusory, insignificant or phenomenal realm.”40
It is false, in light of this, that Dewey did not recognize the tragic. He affirmed its inevitability linked to the irreducible fact of difference in ways of being and seeing the world: “To deny this qualitative heterogeneity (on the basis of claims about ultimate reality) is to reduce the struggles and difficulties of life, its comedies and tragedies, to illusion: the nonbeing of the Greeks or to its modern counterpart, the ‘subjective’.”41 The tragic, for Dewey, meant that “experience means primarily not knowledge, but ways of doing and suffering.”42 It was a temporal condition that—rather like the episteme or the tacit component—could not be overcome: “in the end what is unseen decides what happens in the seen” and “when all is said and done, the fundamentally hazardous character of the world is not seriously modified, much less eliminated.”43
Dewey saw in the world an “inextricable mixture of stability and uncertainty,” and pervasive “ambiguousness.”44 He affirmed centre-less multiple histories, or temporality. Again, [Page 352]like Foucault, he reflected upon the pluralistic consequences of modernity rather than its closure. He rejected pure reason, seeing reason as having “a real, though limited, function, a creative, constructive function.”45 This Deweyan concept of temporality is heir to the Kantian temporality of non-closure and belief reconstruction intended to render the conflict resolution path non-violent. Kant's tacit non-violence was made explicit by Dewey, who denounced the “tradition of violence” or “dogma of dependence upon force.”46 Instead, he called for “a wider and fuller union of individual efforts in accomplishment of common ends.”47 This suggests multiple civil society formations as studied in this book.
In sum, one tradition of Enlightenment can be traced centring the building of a political order grounded in an ideal of nonviolence. This includes among its most important figures those who sought freedom in Enlightenment terms from secular and religious violence of every ideological variety, as well as the large scale structural violence produced by the predatorial logic of unrestrained capitalism.
Dewey's Enlightenment concept of temporality contains a radical self-critical component, for he was committed to democratic humanist values and a modest notion of progress far from phantasms of total change. Foucault, by contrast, viewed politics as a condition where “humanity installs each of its violences in a system of rules and thus proceeds from domination to domination,” erasing the distinction between democratic and authoritarian regimes. It makes a democratic mass movement pointless and inherently oppressive as compared to politics of the self.48
The mass democratic movements in this study—selected for their intellectual and practical ambiguity upon the map of modernity as compared to the Russian or Chinese Revolutions—are closer to a Deweyan than Foucauldian vision (although we do find varieties of the politics of the self). They elude the [Page 353]conventional conceptual pattern of modernity (modernity vs tradition, universal vs particular, etc.) derived largely from the constructed memory of the French Revolutionary experience. Dewey, unlike Foucault, would not have been enchanted by the 1979 Islamist turn in the Iranian Revolution as a “strange, unique road.”49 He was not seeking a ‘way out’ of modernity through any enchanted door (i.e. the “death of man”).
Wittgenstein, in view of the often violent dogmatism of rational Enlightenment, would have preferred to leave religious traditions untouched and uncriticized in a spirit of pluralism and tolerance. Dewey also maintains that the complexity of religious traditions as human value/meaning resources be acknowledged. He never the less affirmed that a radical deconstruction of religious traditions—in light of scientific and democratic modernity—is irreversibly shaping the contemporary world in unfinished and undecided manner. From the perspective of the rights of the person, it must.
Dewey and Weber, in a post-foundationalist reformulation of the Kantian horizon, saw tragedy as a temporal mode flowing from the inescapable conflict of moral ideals in the world. Their tacit recommendation was that, without the make–believe of conflict-free society beyond all power, such conflicts can and must be resolved to the greatest extent possible non-violently through appropriate institutional arrangements. For Dewey, this entailed self-reliant mobilization of the population for whom they are intended in the mode of deliberative democracy. It is an immanent—not a transcendental—vision.Multi-Centred History
In the history of ideas, we cannot—except in bad faith or constrained by the moral dogma of the fragment—ignore the logical connections between thoughts: notably, the concept of an epistemic limit as the basis for an ethic of non-violence common to India and Europe visible in this study. This universalism, however, [Page 354]does not require or assume any fundamental ontological uniformity (i.e. of “structure” etc.), the historical conditions giving rise to the idea being comparable but also significantly different.
Secondly, in the history of ideas, we cannot assume merely a distinction between ideas, rather than an opposition: as if the different conceptions of Enlightenment held by the British Raj and the Indian national movement were merely different, and not opposed. At the level of analyzing ideas that flowered into political action, we see a dialectical relation. But we need not assume this relation is encased within an absolute or uniform principle of rationality (identity), implying a necessary process of succession with ultimate victory for the most rational idea in the Hegelian (or sometimes Weberian) sense of the highest plane of pure thought.
This is to invest rationality as a plural phenomenon with a homogenizing ontology, a religious notion of Providence—the very thing Dewey warned against in the name of responsible choice. The aforementioned Saussurian–Wittgensteinean notion of relational identity is itself dialectical in such an open way, just as we might point to Nagarjuna's dialectic of the void.50 Opposed dialectical entities can co-exist without any eventual victory of one over the other: the most conspicuous case being Enlightenment and Romanticism.
This implies a Nietzschean conception of the pairing of necessity and chance, the genealogical tension in The Birth of Tragedy where at best we find an affirmation of contingency and so difference. But once the Nietzschean metaphysic of the Will to Power is introduced, we end up equating the pursuit of truth as well as meaning merely with the quest for domination—probably the root of the Heideggerian and poststructuralist attitude.
This was Foucault's slip in following the Nietzschean road far enough to assert that “all knowledge rests upon injustice” and that “the instinct for knowledge is malicious.”51 This view underappreciates not only the importance of argument and evidence in the cause of justice, as did Nietzsche himself (who cared nothing for it), but also the practical meaning of choice as ethical pluralism. Positivist historicity was methodologically wrong—from [Page 355]Condorcet to Saint Simone and Comte—to link scientific advance to inevitability as a prophetic discourse based on the innate goodness of the mind and projecting a utopia where all conflicting values are eliminated through science (or a technocratic elite).
Historical knowledge, as a negotiable and contested dialogic practice, constructs a public template for collective learnings. We are ethically responsible today, as an alternative with historically known consequences, for what Nietzsche could not have known in urging the political construction of a new aristocracy and disparaging Enlightenment principle (democracy, open scientific inquiry) as a modern slave mentality.52 History is an organized knowledge construction combining inferential thought processes and evidence with ethical as well as scientific implications. In eradicating the moral value of truth as evidence, forgetting and repetition of past political tragedies become more likely. The traces of violence upon the victims can be erased by the perpetrators. There is a tacit conceptual complicity from those supposing nihilistically that rule of law is only “delight in the promised blood” (i.e. democratic and authoritarian systems are the same on a basic level).53
There is no methodological call for a universal history as in medieval Christian historiography, where the “historical process is everywhere and always of the same kind, and every part of it is a part of the same whole.”54 This is what the post-structuralist spirit rightly attacked. Any historiography modelled on this basis is another variation on Providence or an imagined unitary transcendent will, or history as a great plot—what Levinas warned against. Yet nor is its counterpart, say, a Greco-Roman oecumenical history revolving around a particularistic centre of gravity in Greece or Rome appropriate to the conditions of today's world: the sometimes tendency of national history as a unique inner impulse unfolding as a narrative in isolation from simultaneous [Page 356]events transpiring elsewhere, or the dogged insistence upon the micro-history as a principled revolt against the inevitable tyranny of every holistic claim.
Methodologically, neither can confront the crucial problem of linkages: say, the linkage between ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the US military–industrial complex in the eight-year-long Iran–Iraq War or the complex multi-agency conundrums linking Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Western powers upon the terrain of Afghanistan in its war against Soviet Invasion. This linkage network provides a more scientifically convincing explanation for the 9–11 attacks with their specific agents and discursive agenda. There was an intelligible context. In the absence of widespread public awareness of linkage systems, a metaphysical recourse to the eternal essence of Islam in Western media (suiting the illicit self-representative claims of the terrorists) endangered and maligned millions of Muslims.
To comprehend these many-sided situations—which after all are the shaping force in everyday life today—we require a multi-centred history.55 This study, as a history of ideas, follows Chris Bayly's concern with the worldwide interconnectedness and interdependence of political and social changes. He analyzes the relations between the core industrial world economy and those events impacting back upon it to mould its ideologies and social/political conflicts, and how forms of human action come to resemble each other: a “complex parallelogram of forces.”56
In the domain of a history of ideas, consider the impact of the American civil rights movement under Martin Luther King and the shaping influence of Gandhian practices and ideas upon America's political fate on the civil society level. It goes without saying that a discursive–practical study of the Enlightenment heritage focused on the United States offers a wealth of research domains (i.e. the American Civil War, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement). Conversely, the intellectual and political world of the American Transcendentalists—in their struggle against slavery and imperial wars of expansion—were among [Page 357]Gandhi's important influences. King's writings suggest the complex cosmopolitan overlapping and conceptual non-essentialism of these experiences and movements: “I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of non-violence was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom.”
King conceived his struggle in terms of the “common cause of minority and colonial peoples in America, Africa, and Asia struggling to throw off racialism and imperialism.” The fundamental aim of his politics was to “enlarge democracy for all people.” King contrasted democratic practice with violence:
[T]he frequent method (of political change) that has been used in history is that of rising up against the oppressor with corroding hatred and physical violence. Now of course we know all about this method in Western civilization because in a sense it has been the hallmark of its grandeur, and the inseparable twin of western materialism.57
This represents an important discursive–practical formation that ruptures a tacit frontier of a long-held unthought. It transformed the discursive parameters of American politics.
We might also consider Norwegian John Galtung's influential theory of structural violence, derived from an interpretation of Gandhian thought. It effected the transvaluation in terms of seeing violence in patterns of hunger reflecting inequitable distribution of resources in everyday life. This is significant for institutional ethics. These instances affirm the democratic Enlightenment heritage while showing modernity as perpetually transforming energies and imagination free from any dichotomy between “reason” and “meaning,” “West” and “East,” or any such reductive binary.58 We require a multi-centred history to understand and appreciate these moments, both critically and in terms of the lessons that they can impart to us. For example: Under what objective circumstances can a non-violent mass [Page 358]movement actually succeed?59 There is a multi-centred global basis for such a study, in the wake of recent decades from South Africa to Myanmar, Tunisia to Iran.The Enlightenment
Conventional Enlightenment accounts begun and ended in 18th-century Europe, centred intellectually in France and politically upon the French Revolution. This is an exceedingly narrow view. This tendency has contributed to such frozen abstractions as the imagined anti-thesis between modernity–tradition that presumes religion to be the inherent enemy of modern progress, or that all traditional ideas and values must be excluded from participation in the democratic nation-making process. This project attempts to reveal the weaknesses of the dogmatic French Revolutionary Comtean paradigm, and where there are existing alternatives.
Significantly, in all Enlightenment movements prior to Gandhi, the problems of means and violence were overlooked—it was tacitly broached by natural rights theory and Locke in promoting tolerance and secular ideals but never became the focus of reflection. It remained in the unthought—scattered components lacking self-conscious assembly. Meanwhile, violence as a legitimate means was frequently taken for granted and sometimes affirmed in the name of larger metaphysical ideas and ends—it was imagined in direct linkage with an unfolding historical reason. Violence remained in the unthought, but was coded, patterned or structured via a narrative. This often had anti-democratic implications in the process of nation-making, forcing minorities into the framework of a larger ideal mould, and served to imaginatively justify colonial or imperial aggression. The Enlightenment heritage was linked to massive violence—whatever the motive complex may really have been—most conspicuously in American discourses justifying the Iraq War (2003–11). Today, 60–70 per cent of the child population suffers psychological problems after years of traumatizing daily violence.60
[Page 359]It is doubtlessly in response to the many unresolved tensions—between authoritarianism and liberty, religion and secularism, nation and humanity, social justice and political freedom, reason and violence, etc., knotted at the heart of modernity—that the received understanding of Enlightenment underwent radical waves of reinterpretation throughout the 20th century. This represents the multiple invisible frontiers of the unthought, resoluble only through practice. Because of this, the project of modernity still evokes premonitions of danger and pessimism as often as optimism and hope.
We may say the Enlightenment itself has been a persistent site of changing hermeneutical interpretation over the meaning of modernity and various paradigms of the nation. Who does it belong to? Where does it begin and end? The traditional view of Enlightenment as a unitary phenomenon, as an entity called the Enlightenment, and an event which transpired largely in 18th-century France—in short the view of the Enlightenment as a completed historical project—has ceded increasingly to a radically alternative understanding of Enlightenment rather as a process or a way of thinking with ongoing and global implications and a highly pluralistic character.
The older and more conventional Enlightenment periodization conceives the departure point as 1715, the year of the sun king Louis XIV's death, and envisions a teleological progression involving the dominant French figures of Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau culminating in the 1789 French Revolution. The Enlightenment period is presumed to end with the general disillusionment fostered by Napoleon's ascendancy to Emperor, sullying the values and promise in whose name the Enlightenment struggle had been fought. By this account the circuiting of ideas, across and within European societies, evolved through a predominantly intellectual and cultural movement. This movement self-consciously gave a label to the encompassing historical period, and was marked by historical events of which the movement was the author, culminating bleakly in the moment of the Terror.
Dorinda Outram's The Enlightenment (2005) contains a useful survey of the newer interpretative developments regarding the Enlightenment produced over the course of the 20th century. The leading pre-war interpretation articulated in Ernst Cassirer's 1932 The Philosophy of Enlightenment defined a period bounded [Page 360]by the lives of the two philosophers Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). The predominance of this model expressed the tacit assumption of Enlightenment as a primarily philosophical, if not even apolitical, movement, flying well above the disorder and conflict of immanent history. Such an intellectually elitist model restricted the fuller implications of Enlightenment in the politics of both everyday life and mass movements, the process of nation-making and lines of collective action via parties. It, hence, functioned as an unproductive barrier against reflection upon the full significance of Enlightenment for contemporary politics and culture in the world of globalization.
In the post-war period Cassirer's view of Enlightenment found an influential heir in Peter Gay's two volumes, The Rise of Modern Paganism and The Science of Freedom. Gay takes up the essentialist mantle in arguing that “there was only one Enlightenment.” As the title indicates, for Gay the programme of Enlightenment is essentially hostile to religion as a new worldview intended to uncompromisingly supersede older ones. This implies the depth to which Gay's view of Enlightenment partakes of a preconceived interpretation, one based on the paradigm derived from the French Revolution. This reflects a narrow view of Enlightenment privileging particular discourses within the 18th-century French tradition, leaving others out of account. The historical construction lacks the degree of cultural diversity or the plural forms of rationality a multi-centred Enlightenment vista offers in changing ways of thinking and being.
It was not until the 1970s that a more complete picture of the Enlightenment outside Europe began to supersede the older model. H.F. May's 1976 The Enlightenment in America and A. Owen Aldridge's The Ibero-American Enlightenment both “made it impossible any longer to see the Enlightenment as a unified phenomenon, or one that was unaffected by geographical location.”61 Meanwhile, Franco Venturi identified Enlightenment as a force in Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland, Hungary and Russia, arguing that it was “precisely in these ‘peripheral’ areas where the stresses and strains within the Enlightenment could be [Page 361]best analysed.”62 This dawning recognition of the pluralistic character of Enlightenment hinges on the unveiling of a geographic problem which is also the undoing of European Empire.
In the wake of these studies, Outram writes that “We are now far more aware of the many different Enlightenments, whether national or regional, Catholic or Protestant, of Europeans and of indigenous peoples. This diversity mirrors the inability of eighteenth-century people themselves to make any single definition of Enlightenment.”63 Here we come upon the problem of the inherent pluralism of Enlightenment as a modern and global experience as it crashes against the long standing essentialist tendency in Western thought, a survival of Platonic Forms, which must insist that only a single definition is permissible as the true one for any particular subject and construct an ontological system toward establishing that certitude.
What we see in these interpretative developments is a temporal and geographical expansion and dispersal pointing to what Gramsci has called “a relation of forces in continuous motion and shift of equilibrium” rather than a reality that is “static and immobile.”64 The Enlightenment as an event ceases to be a monolithic block containing an essence and a teleological underpinning. It suggests what DeLanda has argued, that in order to “approach history in a non-teleological way,” it is necessary to give up the idea “that human societies form a ‘totality’, that is, an entity on a higher ontological plane than individual institutions and individual human beings.”65 He argues that it is “crucial to emphasize (…) that the entire process does not emanate from some essence housed in people's heads, particularly not any reified essence such as ‘rationality’.”66 Regarding modernity, he writes that “nothing intrinsic to Europe determined the outcome, but rather a dynamics bearing no inherent relationship to any one culture.”67 The very variety of interpretations of Enlightenment [Page 362]suggests a hermeneutical problem, one subject to numerous interpretations each having a role in creating the very tradition itself. This already implies an inescapable condition of pluralism which de-centres the production of all closed systems.
In her own analysis, Outram locates the construction of the Enlightenment discourses in relation to the social and political crisis of the 17th century. Opposing the linear view of the Enlightenment as a mainly French phenomenon with a terminus in the French Revolution, she writes:
A peaceful period called “Enlightenment” was not ended by a sudden upheaval called “Revolution”. For most of Europe it is far truer to say that Enlightenment and Revolution proceeded side by side for much of the century. One could even say that the Enlightenment began with Revolution, that which occurred in England in 1688, which created the conditions for the emergence of the philosophy with which John Locke discussed new thinking about the relationship between ruler and ruled.68
Outram's view echoes the pioneering work of Paul Hazard, whose work “defined the modern, ‘broader’ notion of the Enlightenment” and was the first to “establish the beginnings of the Enlightenment proper in the seventeenth century.”69 Hazard contrasted the stability of the classical ideal to the restless character of Enlightenment thinking, and thereby argued for the importance of the Enlightenment as a particular way of thinking in response to the experience of modernity. In other words, Hazard conceived the Enlightenment in terms of a broader problematic of modernity, providing a more nuanced frame than the simplistic division between medieval and modern minds, or a clear frontier dividing these historical periods with the facile ontological clarity comparable to that often evoked as dividing the East and the West.
Hazard's Crisis of European Consciousness, moreover, shows to what extent the European Enlightenment constituted a set of social revolutions combined with a complex revolution in [Page 363]consciousness. This revolved around what we might call Europe's confrontation with an ontological vacuum. In the context of a worldview ontology gives an explicit account of what is most real independently of any mistaken interpretation and so assigns a clear hierarchy of value or significance to experience.
Ontology involves assertions about the nature of being. Such beliefs generally remain at an unconscious level. Assertions are not typically made—except in routine surface and self-reproducing manner—until a crisis situation renders explicit their problematic nature. Their truth value is then brought into collective question. The frontiers of the unthought are pushed at multiple points. Varying possible roads open up, implying collective commitments. The historian subsequently endeavours to analyze and remember these paths, thereby constructing discursive–practical horizons.
Such a crisis has been the subject of experiences of Enlightenment analyzed in this book. It has simply expanded the analytic space opened by Outram and Hazard, to discuss the experiences of non-Western societies. These are often consigned erroneously to a static condition out of laziness, prejudice or imitation or some combination of the three.
It is because we stand globally today in the midst of this discursive–practical paradigm crisis—and it impacts our everyday world—that we cannot afford to imagine the Enlightenment heritage as an event that is behind us. The crisis of consciousness is global, and there is no way out beyond the immanent horizon of our everyday struggles to live in mutual respect and dignity. Other alternatives—hierarchic and violent—certainly exist. We have seen them. The meaning of the Enlightenment heritage—among other things—is to self-consciously reject them because of the systemic violence they imply. It is in this light that we may look beyond the limits of the unthought, to recognize that the Enlightenment heritage has grown because of the Gandhi–Nehru paradigm.
1 Fernand Braudel, La Dynamique du Capitalisme (Paris: Flammarion, 2008), 94.
2 See the epigraph to Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 5.
3 Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 146.
4 Herman Melville, Moby Dick (London: Wordsworth, 1993), 136.
5 Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit (Paris: Gallimard, 1952), 14–15.
6 Levi Strauss, Voyage au bout de la nuit de Louis-Ferdinand Céline Critiques 1932–35 (Paris: Imec, 1993), 176.
7 Robert J. C. Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (New York: Routledge, 1991), 43–44.
8 Richard Wolin, The Seduction of Unreason. The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 5.
9 Emmanuel Levinas, Ethique et Infini (Paris: Fayard, 1982), 69–75. He was a Jewish Lithuanian child refugee during World War I, lived the Russian Revolution, and lost much family while imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II.
10 Martin Heidegger, “On the Essence of Truth,” in Basic Writings (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993), 129.
11 Heidegger, The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 277; Wolin, The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 25.
12 Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000, 23–39).
13 Heidegger, Being and Time (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 358.
14 Ibid., 351/357.
15 Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986), 16–17.
16 Ibid, 14.
17 Ibid. 169–170.
19 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” in Basic Writings, 231; Michael Inwood, A Heidegger Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers 1999), 6–7.
20 John Dewey, A Common Faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), 18.
21 R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (New Delhi: Oxford, 2000), 242.
22 Had he been a Nazi, but disinclined to purposefully distort evidence to a higher end, the issue would have been different. But then, he would not have been a Nazi except in name.
23 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage, 1973), 44/387.
24 Technically, Feuerbach did this in Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 30.
25 Lilla, 170–211.
26 Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1958), 149.
27 Auguste Comte, Discours sur l'Ensemble du Positivisme (Paris: Flammarion, 2008), 18–32.
28 Both Polanyi brothers served in the Austro-Hungarian army.
29 Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2009), 68.
30 Fernand Braudel, Capitalism and Material Life: 1400–1800 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973).
31 Fernand Braudel, Ecrits sur L'Histoire (Paris: Flammarion, 1969), 41–85, for Braudel's theory of temporal multiplicity.
32 Ferdinand de Saussure, Cours de Linguistique Générale (1916) (Paris: Payot, 2005), 1–32.
33 Lilla, 190.
34 Seyla Benhabib, “Feminism and the Question of Postmodernism,” in The New Social Theory Reader, ed. Steven Seidman and Jeffrey C. Alexander (Noida: Routledge, 2008), 156–62.
35 John Dewey, The Philosophy of John Dewey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 13.
36 Gertrude Himmelfarb, “The Illusions of Cosmopolitanism,” in Martha Nussbaum with Respondents, For Love of Country (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), 74–75.
37 Dewey, The Philosophy of John Dewey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), 410/555.
38 Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness (London: Penguin, 1973), 39.
39 Dewey, Philosophy, 38.
40 Ibid., 289.
41 Ibid., 66.
42 Ibid., 77, 78.
43 Ibid., 280.
44 Ibid., 281.
45 Ibid., 50.
46 Ibid., 649.
47 Ibid., 651.
48 Foucault, Michel. “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon Books, 85. We should not forget, though, his frequent participation in political activism during his lifetime.
49 Ali Mirsepassi, Intellectual Discourse and the Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 1.
50 Jean-Marc Vivenza, Nagarjuna et la doctrine de la vacuité (Paris: Albin Michel, 2001), ch. 3.
51 Foucault, Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, 95.
52 In Beyond Good and Evil, several passages explicitly promote a political order of rank based on fixed difference to create a “higher man.” This implies a criterion of truth in the service of this “higher” end. Irving's historical methodology would be a more recent equivalent. Nietzsche was far from a Nazi, but partook of an authoritarian epistemology where knowledge construction should serve higher ‘aesthetic’ ends.
53 Foucault, Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, 85.
54 Collingwood, Idea of History, 49.
55 This, naturally, would be empty without micro-histories to construct it.
56 C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World: 1780–1914 (Malden: Blackwell, 2004), 7.
57 Martin Luther King, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (San Francisco: Harperone, 1990), 16–44.
58 See Tim Jacoby, Understanding Conflict and Violence. Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Approaches (New Delhi: Routledge, 2008), 38–48.
59 By objective conditions, I have in mind a comparative study like James DeFronzo's Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements (1996).
60http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/4ef14e3c0bd5ad74baf903a1b1ad849c.htm (accessed 25 December 2013).
61 Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 4.
62 Outram, Enlightenment, 4.
63 Outram, Enlightenment, 8.
64 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, 1971), 172.
65 Manuel De Landa, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (New York: Swerve, 2000), 19/37.
66 De Landa, Nonlinear History, 40.
67 De Landa, Nonlinear History, 51.
68 Outram, Enlightenment, 133.
69 Peter Hulme and Ludmilla Jordanova, ed., The Enlightenment and its Shadows (London: Routledge, 1990), 3.
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About the Author[Page 386]
Tadd Fernée is currently a guest lecturer at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he leads seminars on Comparative History and the History of Ideas. The author completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in the year 2009–2010. The author has published the following books and articles: (co-authored with Ali Mirsepassi) At Home and in the World: Islam, Democracy, and Cosmopolitanism (April 2014); “Modernity and Nation-making in India, Turkey and Iran” in International Journal of Asian Studies (2012); “The Common Theoretical Terrain of the Gandhi and Nehru Periods: The Ethic of Reconciliation over Revenge in Nation-making” in Studies in History (2012); “Gandhi and the Heritage of Enlightenment: Non-violence, Secularism and Conflict Resolution” in International Review of Sociology (forthcoming); and “The American Civil War as a Social Revolution: The Enlightenment, Apocalyptic Imagination and Changes in Moral Perception” in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Linguistics, Political and Social Science, History and Philosophy (forthcoming).