We in this country are at a fork in the road , the path we move from here can have lasting impact because the momentum carries over. It seems to me that the notion Hindus are internalizing about abrahamic religious people is of seeing them as rigid, inflexible, whom one can neither influence to change their views nor be able to bring them back into the fold. This leads to seeing them as permanent enemies. As opposed to seeing their beliefs as wrong and wishing to correct them on that or evolve society to one of civic nationalism where the more missionary zealtory can be dealt with by creating appropriate culture of education and public norms in negating such zealtory. Individualism, Secularism falls into this .
This leads to a mindset of siege mentality. Where persons lost to other faith are seen to be lost forever and soon joins the ranks of enemies along with their future descendants in perpetuity. Thus making Hindus an ethnic identity where faith is nominal and creating an ethnic state with permanent 5th column enemies to curse for all ills and use them as a bogey to scare people with to win elections. Hence moving away from egalitarian ideas which sees people’s belief as fungible and can be changed over time through engagement to the model of caste endogamy where belief of the people is now a permanent feature of identity , where their individuality is of no consequence.
Recent article by Christophe Jafferlot points to this. As one can imagine, such siege mentality of seeing others as inflexible rigid enemies can be damaging to entire society and polity and makes it less stable over time. There are only 2 ways to deal with this, First is to believe that people can be won over. This can either be through “ghar wapsi” in a religious sense to bring people back into the fold and hence worry less about demography change or also through the change in normal civic norms to chip away religious impulse which has been used by the west and more clearly by France .The other is more regressive and dangerous path of colonial repression or fascist genocides . While one can reject the works of Christophe Jafferlot as being biased, one can simply check this empirically to notice the total lack of any literature one can point to on how they are willing to engage with large number of people of these faiths. What is the governing ideology under which these people can find themselves to be fully integrated citizens?. Where is the effort in education, where is the evidence of mass contact and engagement , be it either ghar wapsi or The leaders speaking about this governing ideology?. And offering basic services to people or even bringing uniform civil code or changing divorce laws for muslim women does not do much unless one enunciates what this new governing ideology of belonging is.
How do we create a more civilized society is a question we in India should consider. The primary political problem in India is one of “vindictiveness” of the state ,politicians and ideologues. In furthering this, they launch cases against the accused. Due to low opportunity environment of the state , many in India get entangled by its laws. We should try to improve on society by trying to bring an end to vindictiveness of state through its powers.
The best way to do that is by giving Bail to the accused in most cases unless they pose danger or can influence the case . The less powers the state possesses to be vindictive against the individual, the better. Since India’s Independence, we have never valued the need to create a more civic society or raise the civic consciousness of citizens. Instead we have been led to believe in the bogeyman villain of other ideologies. These are intended to make people to seek feudal protection instead of seeking to better laws and find refuge in the civic consciousness of the citizens instead and through that find refuge in courts of law.
The aim , the end game of human progress is a conscious civic society that rises above any ideology attempting to hack citizens to further their own ends and protect the rights of citizens . The answer is not to point to hypocrisy of one side or another. The answer is not to explain the new twists and turns in a case. We have had enough data as it is, we dont need explanations of how a case has come about, we dont need to compare with x,y,z of how the people of same ideology are hounding others. The answer is to figure out solutions to better our civic society by giving each other more freedoms and restricting the vindictive powers of the state.
Indian media relishes more in ‘hate’ and ‘adoration’ than it does in raising the awareness of citizens to their rights. That with every arrest, every accusation, every new act of vindictiveness by any political organization, or ideology , their own individual rights are being trampled. That it could be them is the one point they chose not to point out. And why should they? even after 70 yrs of Indian Independence, the news media has never evolved to ever making this point , they stand to benefit more by being substandard by getting people to root or boo one side or the other, by being closer to one political party or the other.
The ideas of enlightenment were never properly translated to Indian electorate by its elites. The purpose of having a vote is to have a means for an individual to curtail the tyrannical nature of the state. It is to reduce himsa, one step at a time.
And since it is BJP that is in power, they can help us in that direction by offering us that .
Many Hindus, and nowadays many true liberals in the west fail to comprehend why reason is not valued. This probably has to do with the peculiarities of human brain that once something is framed as dangerous or sinister or dark or bring about the ill motivations of other , everything that they say after that will not stick or will be seen through this frame, what will stick though are the alluded motivations. I presume this method was first applied by the church and perhaps deployed against the pagans. To count sins of your past to dispirit and demoralize you and make you believe there is no light ,reason, redemption or goodness within you. To have any of that you need to convert to their belief.
What made them succeed is that most people are not smart, cannot see the divine or goodness within themselves, cannot see a way to redeem themselves in their own minds or in society. They will not read through a 500 pages book to discover the flaw in the argument. If the first 10 pages or few tidbits make sense, that’s enough.
Indian journalist manu joseph made an interesting observation in one of his articles, on why the woke exist?. It really is about the market place. Bad journalists who cant work hard or the average writers or singers, musicians etc dont have much value on basis of their talent. They cant compete in talent. However, if you go woke and accuse , you gain credit. And in anycase, you need to neutralize their accusations for your work to be respected. That cannot be done by just laying out the arguments, because there is no market for you. why should anyone listen to you when they get to propagate their views and accusations against you and infact teach your kids in schools and universities anyway?. If you remind them and accuse them to be neocolonial , neoconverts, sepoys, racist, bigoted against polytheists in their approach(to true liberals in west, the analogues of these), you get a chance to neutralize the momentum due to inertia of all that and then perhaps have a meaningful exchange .
Until you have a market , you will not be listened to, you have no functional value. We dont live in a polytheist world where truth is discovered by sages and valued by society. We live in a world dominated by evangelical religions where their truth has already been established, all that remains is to annihilate the others. You need to count their sins in front of all of them before you are listened to. Dont let the inner nerd within you cringe at doing that. This needs to be done. Most people are stupid most of the times, even if you are highly intelligent, you too are stupid about many things many of the times, you need to factor in your own stupidity ,insecurities and the stupidity and insecurities of the average joe . Mass stupidity and insecurities have destroyed civilizations.
The straight path is often not the fastest one as seen in this Brachiostochrone curve.
Continuing present theme of figuring out solutions. One thing we can do is document people making up brazen lies and incidents of bad rhetoric for posterity. Good standards require us to do so at least in regards to journalists and scholars.
“Under a government of the Hindu Right, India is witnessing yet another phase of reaction and orthodoxy, a return to medieval Brahminical values that seek to monopolise rights for a select few and turn everyone else out of the body politic.” This is said by a historian, Ananya vajpayei .
“You can either erect a Hindu Rashtra that is already always a caste society and a patriarchy, or you can build an egalitarian, secular, pluralist and inclusive India. “
“The first step in protecting our Constitution is to recognize the seamless continuum between caste-based discrimination and communal hatred that provides the very plinth of Hindutva.”
There is a question going around in twitter asking that “if journalism is filled with many inaccuracies and lies, how trustable are historians?”. In this case,it is a clear lie to say that bjp is trying to foist caste once again on India society.
What is interesting is that liberals and left in India seem to keep making arguments, whether journalism or in academia of associating negative values to Hinduism in its totality and exculpating any negative values to other religions or ideologies.
In terms of rhetoric there seems to be little differentiation between bigots of other religions and them. Many journalists in India have used “cow piss drinkers” etc jibes to others, something one finds in common with islamic bigots for example. or disparaging the word “bhakt” which is similar to the word “muslim” or “christian”. It is not surprising that a lot of people dont trust many of these people.
It is a question that comes to my mind. Now, the best representative of congress would perhaps be Nehru.
Nehru did not believe in free speech. Nehru and Indian national congress didnt care for religious minorities during partition or afterwards, which mostly were non muslims in muslim majority areas. They were happily abandoned. They do not believe in individualism, the Hindu code bill reform was only for Hindus, congress never attempted to reform muslim civil code under nehru and didnt care since. So it doesnt believe in common citizenship transcending religion based on some kind of universal rights either. It does not value nor has it ever made the case for wealth as something useful to escape zero sum game or something useful or necessary to create a liberal society. A big difference between it and western liberalism which does give value to wealth. The major reforms were carried under PV narsimha rao, though under congress, he had been sidelined entirely. Nehru too never supported capitalism. So, the only thing it seems they support is a feudal dynasty and specific group rights. It has not produced any worthwhile literature in favor of individual liberty or try to get its own voters to consider. Which should be their primary goal if it indeed is the goal. So, is there a vision?.
I am beginning to think it would make more sense to try to come out with solutions to problems, even if one goes wrong in doing so, with many iterations over time will help society . Instead of just dunking on mistakes. I dont see that contributing to much of anything by itself and there are many doing that anyway. The earlier post was on probability and humanities, continuing on the theme. Instead of Bayesian probability to which many disagreements were raised. This time however I have come up with the idea of error rate. Inspired by Feynman in his “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” . I think If we were to bring about this idea of error rate into Humanities, we could bring about the idea that most ideas in life do not work as they are imagined, that police are supposed to help us, except there are exceptions to this. And same is true in general for any theory as well. If we can come up with error rates for different sociological theories or impress on them to measure this, It could bring about an end to some of the theories for its own sake. Or better give a good face saver which is important as well to get people to not invest wholly into bad ideas. Egos can make it difficult for people to walk back on ideas. And many years might be wasted in making amends.
The interview of this is interesting. He speaks of idea pathogens, how they arise in areas where ideas and consequences are separated and so things are made up. What this misses out in my view is that a lot of elites kids are probably not good at science or math or have any interest in them. But are well connected and these degrees in social sciences are about status, much of the wokeism is about status. An Indian journalist Manu Joseph wrote an article once on wokeism as people who know that objectively they are not as talented, but by being woke they can boost themselves in society and gain status. We need to figure out how to ensure these people have decent careers without having to make things up. More on parasitic ideas later.
A quote of John Adams “The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.” From Wikipedia.
I think the primary difference between western conservatives and Indian ones and perhaps in other countries too is that Western conservatives have preserved their traditions through interactions with revolution happening among them and inherited a lot of wealth having own think tanks and institutions. The consequence of this has been a faster upgradation of rights for women, blacks in america ,civil rights among others. In India and other places, being at the receiving end of colonialism followed by lack of wealth has meant the right has been haphazard. Every society has its dissenters even within an ideological group. So even of many conservatives among muslims ,Hindus and others, there might have existed many people who might have wanted to close the gap between maintaining some sense of belief and tradition while updating on social and scientific progress. I think it is harder to achieve that without sufficient wealth. Question is, in presence of wealth, could one have ended up with better response or it would have led to more entrenched dogmas. And I am not talking of oil wealth like saudis. Wealth can help ease the strains of change . Hinduism being polytheistic, I think there might have been a more robust positive intellectual development in the right had there been wealth, I think this is true for Islam as well. So the progress in India and in muslims countries was perhaps harder and even more heroic than it did in the west. I think our knowledge of non western conservatism largely comes mediated through academic left or journalism and I am worried about gellmann amnesia effect.
I see one of the main differences between India and west is of breaking down of the illusion of religious harmony in the west. The inter christian violence between catholics and protestants in 30 yr war led to westphalian peace. It was here that leaders in west accepted that there was no choice but to accept the reality of heresy/bigotry .It also meant over time that they realized no stable peace could be built on religion but only by transcending it through effective political and civic institutions. There is a strange argument nowadays where values gained from transcending religion is also being credited to religion. This reminds me of “everything comes from India” man in the comedy series of Goodness Gracious me.
In India , because among dharmic religions, the degree of violence was low without full scale wars with millions dead, the belief among Indian and Hindu elites has been to continue to pursue this path of compromise among various communities under the goal of religious harmony. Even now, many use slogans of “sarv dharma sambhav” , all these create illusions that brings much heartache and sense of betrayal among people when they dont come true now with evangelical monotheism. One hence feels cheated by the elites rhetoric and it is here congress has to break away from this. Had one been realistic about this, much of the violence during partition could have been avoided . This illusion needs to be broken. In the west it took violence in large numbers to get over the idea that solution could be found within Christianity itself . In India one must get over this before much violence happens and that can only happen if people move away from naive Gandhian view of religious harmony so that it would become embarrassing to even say that.
Much of the problem I see in Indian religions ,society and civilization to me is merely the willingness to compromise or to solve issues through syncretism to avoid larger violence. This leads to low optimal solution at local level rather than to scaling the powers of state and political institutions and upgrading the civics of the people and their understanding of it. The same is true for caste violence as well. I dont believe there ever was large scale mobilized caste wars. Had this happened the society would have no choice but to address it as well. The illusion now is carried over by Hindu atheists as well, a willingness to just let things be.Here is where I think even atheists are going wrong as well. Their belief that answer to problem of religion lies in atheism.Their denial of the religious nature of man is the issue. This is a reality irrespective of whether they be theistic religions or atheistic ones like marxism. They too are better off insisting on good polity,civic institutions as a solution. A model in order to work must work for extreme cases and not merely local ones where compromise is possible. Until this illusion of compromise remains there is no value placed on political realism and India will remain under threat of significant violence in its future. It is important therefore to make the case for impossibility of religious harmony and compromise and let people know there is no getting around the issue of religious bigotry on all sides. No answer to the issues of religious bigotry can be found inside dharma. And in general I think it is true that we forge ahead better in a sure footed way when our idealistic illusions are seen to be broken. Indian liberals,left and atheists must abandon the denial of religious bigotry and simply accept that there are bound to be religious bigots even among minorities and constitution protects that as well. They need to make this absolutely clear for otherwise they are seen to be either cheating the people with false illusions of harmony or engaging in what is termed as minority appeasement. To me, the most charitable view of their behavior is idealistic delusion. Enlightenment ensues as a result of breaking down of such illusions.
It is hard to always point out one’s own turning. When do we change our views, why, are there personal reasons, reflections to why we do what we do. How does the abstract knowledge changes our views and when is it that our personal experience changes our views and consequently us. How much do each of us remember in how we change our views regarding anything at all.
I come from a telugu speaking state, I am an introvert. The fact that I could personally experience these data points to me implies that many others have seen much more than this and it isnt one reads in newspapers. And hence the accusation of fake news by liberals, for they believe or rather hope that people dont gather information horizontally within communities.
The account of how History is presented in popular culture and even in academic works is poor.This is also true in general culture of news reporting as well.The problem with humanities has always been its presentation of facts without working out on the proper language first. By comparison, science and maths figured out a better language in which facts find their place . This is so because facts are abducted into certain agendas or sometimes certain facts are denied their due relevance. This also makes one question for example, how historians have come to conclusions one way or other. Are some of their results a product of certain personal prejudice or out of some desire for creating a larger national project?. All this is due to lack of numerical values while presenting their work . It is also the case that a lot of our understanding is also subject to discovery of new evidence as well. This again makes people suspicious . A better way to present data and further the understanding in popular culture and even in academia is to present all theories,facts within a Bayesian paradigm and people be taught the alternative theories, the facts as they stood a hundred years ago and how the facts have changed over time and different theories have been losing strength . This takes one away from confrontation between different ideologies to one of analysis. Presenting things this way helps further everyone’s understanding and sidestepping ideological faultlines in academia and popular culture as well. The other thing that could be added to is the costs of persisting with certain ideas or ideologies. The unique claim that only certain ideas led to violence etc also leads to counter charges and hence forth. Instead one could present the costs of all ideas and ideologies .The costs of taking certain course of action and the potential repercussions. Only when one forces a non partisan language couched in numbers on all do we change the way one sees things. If everyone presented their views in this way, of assigning permutations and combinations of various happenings and then to whittle them down based on data available does it lead to non ideological acceptance of various ideas. The benefit of this method is that it forces all opponents to give a probability score to not only their idea but to ideas of others as well. This is the advantage of science, where scientists give out the various possible explanations to something and then subsequent data is used to figure things out and even change models. The world is a place where low probability events happen fairly regularly. And the costs of each of these events would be different. And one can do a cost analysis of these events and whether they are worth pursuing. And one more advantage of this idea is that it leads to tests of one kind or other to see whether an idea is working out as their ideologues claim or otherwise. This brings forth people to come forward to have their ideas be put to test In order for people to show that their ideas are indeed working, they need to show evidence on a timely basis. This would remove much need for bickering. Every group needs to show some evidence for both .That their ideas are working and also that the costs of their ideas are limited. A few examples would be to present our understanding of Hellenic knowledge of mechanics had Antikythera mechanism not been discovered. Or how much our knowledge would have been lost about Indian history had Arthashastra been lost.And the number of available independent sources of Arthashastra surviving to present day.Or how divergent would our understanding of Indian mathematics be if Bakhshali manuscript did not survive.All this would provide an empirical probabilistic view of looking at our history and also our present place in our world.And that hope is that it would create a more intrinsically informative understanding of our world.