It appears that Jews, Indian and African Britons abandoned Labour in droves and voted for other political parties. Would be curious to learn who they voted for. Suspect many voted for the Liberal Democrats.
Are there any English exit polls? [Updated with this exit poll hat trip Ali Choudhury.] Do we know how Pakistani Britons, Bangladeshi Britons, Indian musiim Britons, muslim Britons in general voted?
In the above conversation it was implied that minorities and people of color in USA vote Democrat. My response is that in America Asian Americans and Latino Americans are “swing voters” not wedded to either party. Black African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat. However, I think President Trump will likely do a lot better with the Black African American vote in 2020 than he did in 2016.
Labour lost only nine percentage points of the BAME vote
Conservative Tories gained only one percentage point in additional BAME voters
Liberal Democrats gained only six percentage point in additional BAME voters
Other political parties gained two percentage points of additional BAME voters
Labour–if these exit polls are not contradicted by other exit polls–did FAR better in 2019 among BAME voters than I thought (and that many political commentators thought). To my surprise the Liberal Democrats only gained six percentage points of BAME voters (for 12% total) and the Conservative Tories only gained one percentage point in additional BAME voters.
My new question is why did the overwhelming vast majority of BAME Britons vote for Jeremy Corbyn? Why did so few BAME Britons vote Liberal Democrat?
Did the moderate muslim Britons almost universally vote for Jeremy Corbyn? If so, why? Would love to hear from Veedu Vidz and Rakib Ehsan.
Much of the discussion over the last few weeks on this weblog (see “Open Thread”) has involved the internal politics of India, and its clearer trajectory in regards to a Hindu sense of self. Most of the comments are not really worth reading, as they repeat platitudes. I have said little because I know very little which would add much to the discussion.
That being said, let me take a break from pre-Christmas activities, and just express the framework or “filter” which I use to understand what’s going on in India (and elsewhere) today. I am not someone who believes that to understand modern social-political ideologies in post-colonial nations all you need to do is understand the colonial experience. On the contrary, I lean toward the position that many national identities have deep roots and histories (e.g., China, Iran, and England, to name three). For more on this perspective, see Azar Gat’s Nations.
But, neither is it true colonial, Western, and international, currents are irrelevant in understanding notionally primal and indigenous nationalists and pan-nationalisms. To give three examples. Chinese nationalism in the early 20th-century explicitly looked to the West, and east toward the success of Japan, in attempting to create a post-imperial identity. Iran in the early 20th-century coalesced around a resurgent Persian national identity in a multi-ethnic society which had heretofore been bound together by Shia Islam (imposed on Iran by Turkic Safavids in the 16th and 17-century). Finally, the emergence of the German nation-state under the Kleindeutschland vision is hard to understand without the French Revolution, and the shock it imposed on German elites, and in particular the Prussians.
These three instances are clear, distinct, and organic nationalisms. In many ways, elements and configurations of these nationalisms were preexistent to the 19th/20th-century variety. The Safavid state under Shah Abbas I to me served as a template for the Pahlavi project. There were inchoate elements of German nationalism in various polities of the Holy Roman Empire, in particular in the Habsburg domains, where aristocratic cosmopolitanism was always balanced with the hegemony of German culture around Vienna. Finally, the imperial Chinese state in various forms was already proto-modern quite early. I would emphasize the Northern Song period, around 1000 A.D.
But there are other nationalisms developed in the 20th-century which created something de novo in a very real sense. Kemal Ataturk attempted to fashion a form of Turkish post-Ottoman identity explicitly modeled on a Western European template. Though Ottoman Turks did have an ethnic identity, and some level of ethnic chauvinism, the reality is that the Ottoman identity was primarily one of religion. Modern Turkish is written in a Roman alphabet. This means that modern Turks are detached psychologically from the literature of the Ottoman period, which is written in Arabic script. This was clearly a conscious attempt by Ataturk to fashion something new and unmoored from the past.
Even more nebulously, Pan-Turkism and Pan-Arabism appealed to an ethnonationalism more organically suited to the European context and history. Though Pan-Turkism never became much more than moral and logistical support by the Turkish government for various national resistance movements (Turkey has long supported a community of Uighurs), Pan-Arabism was influential in much of the Arab world in the middle of the 20th-century.
Pan-Arabism was closely connected to Arab Nationalism and in particular the Ba’ath parties. A reductive way to describe Ba’athism is that it was a escape valve for religious minorities to espouse a form of nationalism that united them with Muslims, and often Sunni, majorities. But Ba’athism became popular for a reason. The rationale for Ba’athism may have some connection to the discomfort with majoritarianism by minority elites in the Arab world, but the 20th-century demanded a form of social cohesion beyond what Sunni Islam had earlier provided (the radical Leftism of some Arab nationalist movements is another path).
Because of Arab opposition to Western imperialism in the early 20th-century, it is not surprising that Ba’athism has been connected in some way to fascism. The problem with our understanding of fascism and right-wing nationalism in the early 20th-century is that Nazism has overshadowed all other forms. But movements to challenge Communism’s appeal to the young and radical were diverse and widespread. For example, right-wing Zionism of the Revisionist school (the ideological ancestors of the Likud party) had connections to these broader trends.
Which brings me to three ideologies which also arose in the modern period: Hindu nationalism, Pan-Islamism, and the “Two-nation theory.” Hindu nationalism and Pan-Islamism arose at the same time, as notables and intellectuals within Hindu and Muslim traditions reacted to the shock of Western modernity. Both these traditions have a mythos of being primal, but the reality is that many elements are quite modern.
To illustrate this, the Iranian Islamic Republic was an explicit attempt to turn back toward indigenous forms and values, but it retains a broad democratic system of governance (democracy being Western). The Shia movement in Iran clearly had resonances with earlier Pan-Islamists, in particular in its early ambitions, and over the past few centuries had integrated and reacted to stimuli from the West far more extensively that modern traditionalist Shia establishments.
Hindu nationalism is in a similar boat. On the one hand, its roots are ancient, and it reflects a vision with deep local roots. But it has had to adapt and develop tools which are quite modern, and only comprehensible in the modern context. Which brings us back to some associations of right-wing Hindus with right-wing movements elsewhere…and a connection to Nazis and genocide.
You could present the case that Hindu nationalism is particularly pernicious at the root. It is brown Nazism of a sort. I am very skeptical of this take, because Hindu nationalism has a rationale of its own, and must be viewed as an indigenous reaction to Western imperialism. Palestine’s Zionist Revisionists associated with Italian fascists in the 1930s. If you know the history of Italian fascism this is not so peculiar. Similarly, various Arab notables and nationalists expressed pro-fascist, and later even pro-Nazi views. Some of this is due to shared affinity because of common enemies, while some are purely mercenary and situational.
This brings me to the “Two Nation Theory.” As above, this is based on a myth. The collapse of Ashraf hegemony, the rise of Indian Muslims, reconfigured the social and political landscape. Muhammed Ali Jinnah was the grandson of a Hindu merchant of ambiguous sectarian affiliation who was personally not particularly pious. The idea of an Indian Muslim nation makes sense for such a man, but not the Turco-Persian grandees of yore.
For various reasons, the Indian republic rejected this vision. I believe that in doing so they rejected the march of history, which has been toward greater sectarian identity and passion. Western commentators attempt to understand Hindu Nationalism on their terms, but just like the rise of an indigenous Indian Muslim identity is now stripped of West Asian accretions in the substance*, Hindu Nationalism is not comprehensible without understanding the interests and foci of native elites.
Where does this leave us? Everywhere and nowhere. In the past and looking to the future. Extracted out of the context of world history over the past 200 years Hindu Nationalism can seem uniquely invidious. But I doubt it is so unique at all. Rather, it is a novel cultural complex that draws deeply on indigenous atavisms. It is part of a broader waxing of local movements the world over.
* Pakistanis may claim West Asian origins or associations, but the national language is Urdu and Indo-Aryan dialect. The Ashraf of yore would have enshrined Persian as the national language.
Special thanks to Mayuresh Madhav Kelkar for sending this. I would start watching this excellent Dari Farsi documentary 1 minute 19 seconds in. There are many excellent ancient maps of central and south Asia.
I just want to watch this again and again, just to listen to the narrator’s voice. Majestic, wise, soft and sweet. For those so sure Afghanistan will fall; any nation with voices like this is perchance stronger than she appears. This may be where the homo sapien sapien modern civilization was born.
Our Brown Pundit Zachary Latif will hopefully share his perspectives on Pakistani Psychosis soon. Tarek Fatah gives a good synopsis of Pakistani Psychosis and Islamism in the above video. I am not an expert on Pakistani Pysochosis, and cannot validate many of Tarek Fatah’s perspectives on Pakistan. However, with respect to Islam, many muslims (including prominent religious leaders) privately share many of Tarek’s views, but the vast majority are too afraid to share their views publicly. Tarek Fatah is very knowledgeable about Arabic, Islamic scripture and Islamic law. If you have the time, please watch the entire video.
What is Pakistani psychosis? I am not completely certain and look forward to evolving my views with new information. To oversimplify, it is the combination of several things:
Kushal Mehra is one of Hinduism’s and atheism’s greatest thought leaders and scholars. Kushal does not identify as Hinduttva and describes himself as non left. However he is deeply respected by Hinduttva people and knows many of her leaders. He is a Hindu Atheist. Of the 10 ancient Darshanas (or sights or views or philosophies) of Hinduism he follows Chaarvaaka. [Other philosophies include Buddhism, Jainism, Samkhya/Yoga, Purva Mimaamsaa/Uttara Mimaamsaa, Nyaaya/Vaisheshika, Ajivika]
Ali and Armin are two heroes of the world’s 1.6 billion muslim heritage global community. I am only 4 minutes into the above video but intend to watch and comment on it.
This is to address some of the comments here about hinduism/vedanta/enlightenment etc made here, twiter and the other article about Hindutava by Annan.
I am frequently surprised by how much difference there is in “web” hindutva/hinduism (including this blog) and on the ground Hinduism/Hindutva. Let us be very very clear the ethnicity and traditions from which on the ground hindutva is driven. It isnt driven by high level intellectualism which has been professed here/ twitter etc. Its driven on the ground by Hindu conformists/ conservatives of North Indian stock. There is nothing problematic about it. But let us be at least honest about it. In India because every “hindu” community is so large that they feel what they profess is real “Hinduism”. I have met Bengali “hindu” and Tam Brahm who possess no electoral power back in their own state go on and on teaching others about Hindutva/Hinduism. The hindutva world does not run for better or for worse on Tukaram/ Adi Shankracharya/ Vivekanda/Charvaka. Had it been then Arya Samaj would have been bigger than RSS. It runs on Ram /Hanuman and for females(Durga). It projects masculinity(again not a value judgement) and not on “enlightenment” values/intellectualism. Its not run by hindu “free thinkers” like the ones we find over the internet. The web space is not projecting the real face (positive or negative) of the movement on how its conducted on the ground. Please lets separate what we want and our own projection over the movement and our analysis on what the movement really is. The day some other “Hindu” movement (led by Slapstick Teasari and Annan) becomes bigger than the current one i will happily accept that.
Some at Brown Pundits have expressed dismay at my using the phrase “caucasian intelligentsia”, maybe because they see this as a criticism of white people. To be clear I am not criticizing people of European ancestry or European influenced culture; but rather a very subtle, pernicious and dangerous colonization of the mind. Some caucasians and non caucasians are at the epicenter of this imperial oppressive hegemonic system. And many good caucasians and non caucasian are fighting against the caucasian intelligentsia. Malcom X and Ali ably describe this caucasian intelligentsia. They call this phenomenon the “white liberal.” Since many caucasian liberals fight against the caucasian intelligentia, I am uncomfortable with the term “white liberal.” I also do not completely agree every aspect of what Malcolm X and Ali say. With that caveat, please listen to the whole thing. the clip is only six minutes long. Some great quotes:
“The white liberals [caucasian intelligentsia] from both parties cross party lines to work together toward the same goal”
“The white liberal differs from the white conservative in only one way . . . the liberal [caucasian intelligentsia] is more deceitful, more hypocritical than the conservative”
“Both want power but the white liberal [caucasian intelligentsia] is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the negroe’s friend and benefactor and by winning the friendship and support of the negroe the white liberal [caucasian intelligentsia] is able to use the negroe as a pawn or weapon”
Ali says that we should love our race and culture
Most but not all of the caucasian intelligentsia comes from post modernism. A sizable minority of the caucasian intelligentsia comes from other caucasian pathologies that can be elaborated on in another post. To massively oversimplify post modernism seeks to negate all metanarratives and universalist norms to observe the world as it truly is. In practice however, modern post modernists see the world through a very narrow incomplete, misleading and biased western ethnocentric filter. In practice they dispute the core of European Enlightenment liberalism and Eastern philosophy, three features of which are:
All humans are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, including the right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (eastern philosophy conforms)
All humans have the right to freedom of art, speech and thought (eastern philosophy conforms but adds freedom of intuition and feeling)
All human beings are potentially powerful, potentially wise and sovereign (eastern philosophy conforms but adds “divine”)
Post modernists disagree with all of these, seeing them as tools of oppression, hegemony, exploitation, colonialism, imperialism, sectarianism, bigotry, prejudice, racism. Post modernists see free expression, liberty or the concept of everyone being potentially wise, powerful and sovereign; as potentially violent and potentially oppressive.
Post modernists are trying to damage the self confidence (Atma Vishwaasa in Sanskrit) of black Americans of African ancestry similar to what they did to former European colonies in Africa and Asia during the 1800s and 1900s. To quote from a previous Brown Pundit post:
I happen to have Saloni’s genotype and she is certainly closer genetically to Sindhis than to most other South Asians. That being said, my own response to her tweet is this: my personal experience is that many liberal Pakistani & Indian Americans are highly nationalistic.
To be honest, it’s mostly Indian Americans. I don’t know too many hyper-nationalistic Pakistani Americans. I think that has to do with the fact that despite India’s social-political problems, its democratic and pluralist history, along with the international appeal of Mahatma Gandhi, makes it easier to be an Indian nationalist than a Pakistani nationalist if you are an American.
Also, there is a cultural “code-switching” that is common among Indian Americans, where they are fluent in, and totally embedded within, a Left-of-centre cultural zeitgeist in the American landscape. But, they also are comfortable switching into their parents’ more Indian nationalist views in different contexts. Rather than synthesizing the two worldviews (which may not be possible), Indian Americans just switch facultatively between the two, because the two social milieus never really engage each other.
Because I am Bangladeshi American it is hard for me to relate. Bangladesh is a very young nation. Both my parents have spent more than 3.5 times of their life living in the United States than an independent Bangladesh. In fact, both lived as Pakistanis for far longer than they lived as Bangladeshis! Additionally, it is not a major geopolitical player, and there are ambiguities with the relationship to both India and Pakistan enough that socially my family has felt comfortable with both Indians and Pakistanis in the USA.
P.S. I do get annoyed when I’m identified as Pakistani American by people just because of my last name. Since I am not vocal about being a “Bangladeshi American” I only find out later people had assumed I was Pakistani. Apparently, in some Indian circles, I am known as a “Pakistani American geneticist”, albeit not a particularly nationalistic Pakistani (told to me by an Indian journalist friend).
I am cross-posting my review of Tahmima Anam’s novel “A Golden Age” from my personal blog. This review was originally published on The South Asian Idea in 2010.
She spoke, with fluency, the Urdu of the enemy. She was unable to pretend, as she saw so many others doing, that she could replace her mixed tongue with a pure Bengali one, so that the Muslim salutation, As-Salaam Alaikum, was replaced by the neutral Adaab, or even Nomoshkar, the Hindu greeting. Rehana’s tongue was too confused for these changes. She could not give up her love of Urdu, its lyrical lilts, its double meanings, its furrowed beat.
—Tahmima Anam, A Golden Age, pg. 47
Literature often yields insights into political events in ways that traditional historical accounts cannot. History tells us of war, rebellion, the process of state formation, but the medium’s strength does not lie in describing the complex human emotions that lie behind such events.
As a Pakistani-American, reading Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age, a novel set during the 1971 war between East and West Pakistan that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh, was an enlightening and somewhat disturbing experience. 1971 is rarely discussed in Pakistan, and when it is, it is always in the context of the “dismemberment” of the country and the treacherous role played by India in this process. For decades, Pakistani history textbooks referred to Bengalis as traitors and the “enemy within” (a point discussed by the eminent Pakistani social scientist Rubina Saigol). We never discuss the reasons why the Eastern wing of the country wanted to declare independence. Neither do we critically assess our own role in this second Partition of the subcontinent.
Obviously, the historical narrative is very different in Bangladesh. There, 1971 is celebrated as a war of independence, leading up to the formation of a new state. It is a victory against occupation and oppression, similar to the American Revolution or indeed of India’s winning of independence from the British. In this version of the narrative, Pakistanis are seen as the villains and the Bengali freedom fighters as heroes.
While this is the basic narrative backdrop of A Golden Age, what makes the book worth reading is Anam’s complex psychological characterization, particularly of her protagonist Rehana Haque, a middle-aged widow and mother of two teenage children. Rehana is from Calcutta and is Urdu-speaking, having moved to Dhaka after her marriage. She is a reluctant revolutionary, being drawn into the battle for Bangladeshi independence mostly against her will, through her two college-going children. It is through Rehana’s character and her ambiguous and divided feelings about the events around her that Anam expresses the complex personal ramifications of political events.
Language is a particularly powerful marker of identity and during times of conflict the language one speaks often takes on huge significance. Today sixty years after the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, there is still conflict over whether Hindi and Urdu are two registers of the same language or two completely distinct tongues. In Pakistan, Urdu has become increasingly “Arabized” and “Persianized” while Hindi in India has became “Sanskritized”. Similarly during 1971, an individual’s decision to use Urdu or Bengali became a marker of his or her political position. Urdu, Pakistan’s official language, was seen as the language of the occupier, while Bengali became a symbol for the distinct identity of “East Pakistanis” and their fight for their own state. But what of people like Rehana, those who were Urdu-speaking Bengalis? In order to show loyalty to the national cause, they were expected to give up their language.
What effect does this dilemma have on the individual? Anam depicts Rehana as a lover of Urdu poetry, especially of the Ghazal. Even her son, Sohail, who is politically very engaged with the Bengali cause, writes love letters to his girlfriend in which he extensively quotes Urdu poets. When he leaves to join the resistance, one of the only books he takes with him is the Ghazals of Mirza Ghalib. Clearly then, even someone so politically committed to a free Bangladesh could not abandon his love of Urdu, the language of the “enemy.”
A Golden Age is a powerful story of a nation’s violent birth. More importantly, it is the story of the harrowing choices individuals are forced to make in times of conflict. Which comes first, one’s ethnicity, language, or nationality? Reading this book has caused me to continue to ponder the fascinating questions of identity, both national and personal.