Posted on: 23 January 2014

A guide to state secrecy surrounding Subhas Chandra Bose
By Anuj Dhar
8th May, 2013

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose secured our freedom but in the last 6 decades our Government seems to have confined him to hidden vaults, where thousands of secret records about him have piled up.

It will shock you to know how many ministries and departments in New Delhi are holding secret records relating to Netaji. Not only there are classified files with the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Cabinet Secretariat and Intelligence Bureau, but also--for some inexplicable reasons--with National Museum, Ministry of Urban Development, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Department of Food & Public Distribution.

Can you think of any pre-Independence national icon of ours about whom so much of classified material has been retained up to now? This 23rd January seems just the time to tell our Government that its obsession about keeping everything secret about one of the greatest Indians ever must end. Transparency will only do good to our democracy.

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The present entirely rotten political system based on dynastic servility, tokenistic equitable growth & populism and consequent profiteering by looting the nation has to be overthrown before the truth can emerge. I suspect our so called ' honourable' politicos ruling India since 1947 conspired with their allies the Soviets to prevent the facts about Netaji's latter political life being public knowledge for realpolitik.

It's hard to be sympathic towards someone who looked to Hitler for support & assisted the Japanese invasion into Burma.

very eloquently urgent need to see Nethaji in a proper light becomes imperative.....It is shocking to know that classified information exists to a man who is revered and respected by several across the country...Good read R.b.S.I.....

Michael Aram Tarr: It is indeed clear in hindsight. But then as now…the golden rule in geopolitics has been: "Enemy's enemy is my friend". I often wonder how history will view the bombing of two cities of innocent citizens - Hiroshima and Nagasaki?…when the air is cleared of propagandist thinking.

True, but it was a gap between my grandmother and myself. She thought the atomic bombing of those two cities was okay because it guaranteed the safety of my grandfather in the US occupying force, but I still see it as a war crime..

This brings us to the point that 'judging acts of history is not a wise thing at all'. Every character in history would have been compelled to act according to the prevalent tradition, pressure and situation of his time. Only opportunism rules…not vision of historical judgement. Just look at the pre-emptive wars in the middle east and the nauseous propaganda that is going along with it. Also look at the high number of decent educated people who are egging, supporting and are wilfully silent about the actions of the western powers that are involved in a covert genocide even as we are speaking. This is history in the making and we can do nothing about it. So eventually history is all about 'might is right'… isn't it.

I am not so sure that we can blame the lack of "vision of historical judgement" for the cynical and opportunistic war crimes of the Bush & Blair administrations…. But in the case of Subhash Chandra Bose it is the duty of the nation, which he gave his life towards founding, and where he is still held as one of the most venerated leaders of it Independence Movement, to release all the materials pertaining to him withheld in its archives. Like Gandhiji and his so called 'gay correspondence' all this information must be open to the public so that we can fully understand our heroes as they are and not as government public relations fictions or myths.

This…I agree with you entirely. Unless of course the Nehru regime has some inconvenient truths to hide.

RBSI : I don't think we should cut Bose any slack for sympathizing with fascists/Nazis. It was very evident at the time that these forces were anti-democratic, racist and prone to extreme violence. I just don't get the "enemy's enemy is my friend" argument. It is beyond me how any right-thinking moral person can prefer the Japs or Nazis over Great Britain! Not all nationalists in India were as blinkered in their vision as Bose. In fact Mr Rajaji (one of the greatest of all Indian statesmen) unequivocally opposed the Quit India movement because he thought it is unprincipled to let Britain down at a time when it is battling truly evil forces that posed a threat to human civilization!

As far as the atomic bombings of Japan are concerned, one has to understand that US was an unwilling participant in the War to begin with. WWII wasn't a war instigated by US or UK. It was a totally unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor that induced US to enter the war. And I believe but for US, the Nazis/Japs would've probably won the war and we would be in a very different looking world today! (definitely a less free world). The world owes US (and even UK) a huge debt for taking on the aggressor instead of continuing with the policy of the 30s which was to placate the fascists and stay docile.

It was a real shame that men like Bose (and even the likes of Gandhi and Nehru) did not take a clear public stance against fascism. With the odd exception like Rajaji, the nationalists here were too keen to get hold of the kursi and too insular and amoral to spare a thought for the implications of a world order dictated by Nazis or Japs.

Lastly I don't think the victor has written history in the case of the West. Western civilization (more specifically the anglo-saxon variety) is that rare civilization that can laugh at itself. It is so capacious that even virulent ideologies like Marxism that hate Western capitalism took birth in England! (wasn't Marx a London based journalist). The West has been extremely critical of its involvement in slave trade and western scholars have written huge tomes indicting themselves though it was that very civilization that put an end to slavery! Even today western scholars like Noam Chomsky find a voice to lambast the West for all the ills of the world! So I believe it is inaccurate to say that the victor always gets to write the history. Definitely not true in the Western world!

You are indeed gifted with the art of gentle persuasion Shrikanth Krishnamachary. But I am afraid your arguments reflect the mainstream narrative…some of which have doubtful credibility today. One could say all of what you say is true or maybe not…at the same time. I recall an extensive discussion in another thread on FB regarding the US involvement in Pearl Harbour. It was not as inadvertent an entry as it has been made out to be… "Pearl Harbour memo shows US warned of Japanese attack. On the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbour, the attack that propelled America into the Second World War, a declassified memo shows that Japanese surprise attack was expected."

The Truth About Pearl Harbor: A Debate By Robert B. Stinnett, Stephen Budiansky On December 7, 1941, U.S. military installations at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii were attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Could this tragic event that resulted in over 3,000 Americans killed and injured in a single two-hour attack have been averted? After 16 years of uncovering documents through the Freedom of Information Act, journalist and historian Robert Stinnett charges in his book, Day of Deceit, that U.S. government leaders at the highest level not only knew that a Japanese attack was imminent, but that they had deliberately engaged in policies intended to provoke the attack, in order to draw a reluctant, peace-loving American public into a war in Europe for good or ill. In contrast, historian and author Stephen Budiansky (see his book, Battle of Wits) believes that such charges are entirely unfounded and are based on misinterpretations of the historical record. It’s been often said that “Truth is the first casualty of war.” Historians and policy experts now know that the official government claims, including those made by U.S. Presidents, that led to the Spanish-American War, World War I, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and other conflicts were deliberate misrepresentations of the facts in order to rally support for wars that the general public would otherwise not support. Was this also the case regarding the tragedy at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II—or are such charges false? We are very pleased to provide a debate between these two distinguished experts.

PEARL HARBOR - MOTHER OF ALL CONSPIRACIES President Roosevelt (FDR) provoked the attack, knew about it in advance and covered up his failure to warn the Hawaiian commanders. FDR needed the attack to sucker Hitler to declare war, since the public and Congress were overwhelmingly against entering the war in Europe. It was his backdoor to war. FDR blinded the commanders at Pearl Harbor and set them up by - - denying intelligence to Hawaii (HI) - on Nov 27, misleading the commanders into thinking negotiations with Japan were continuing to prevent them from realizing the war was on - having false information sent to HI about the location of the Japanese carrier fleet.

…déjà vu! An all too familiar a story.

RBSI : We live in an era where it is fashionable to look down upon mainstream wisdom but give too much credence to conspiracy theories. Roosevelt may or may not have known about the attack. But the fact is that Japan was the aggressor and so was Germany. These countries have blood on their hands. We can debate whether US would've entered the war sooner or later without Pearl Harbor. But that's a smaller issue. The bigger point is that Germany and Japan in the early 40s represented ideas inimical to our civilization. And we must all be very delighted that the anglo-saxon world won the war. But I guess Bose felt otherwise.

As I said earlier...when the truth is hidden from public view and intelligent conjecture is branded as a conspiracy…then it is left to each person to choose his own version of the story. This is how it will always remain… I do agree with your view that the cruelty of the Nazis and the Japanese are by no means defensible. But I also have the same objection towards the covert genocide undertaken under cleverly articulated mass propaganda by the anglo-saxon powers... we are all so naturally comfortable with. History teaches us only one lesson…don't cross them or be prepared to pay the price.

My definition of a conspiracy theory - "an alternate theory that has been articulated by common sense when the official theory just doesn't make sense".

I am not sure what is the covert genocide you are referring to. The German and Japanese genocides are the ones very well documented, especially the Japanese atrocities in China. I suppose Bose was aware of all that! He was too intelligent and educated a man to be totally oblivious to the virulence of the fascists

…the wars for oil in middle east and Afghanistan.

That's more recent history yes. And even in those cases the motive is debatable. And the impact on innocent civilians and degree of brutality hardly comparable to Nazi or Jap genocides of the 30s!

Oil has aways been the main reason for major wars in the last century. Reasons and arguments have just been woven around it…to almost make it almost indistinguishable… Oil and the origins of the ‘War to make the world safe for Democracy’ By F. William Engdahl The German rail revolution: The rail infrastructure to transport this rapidly expanding flow of industrial goods, was the initial locomotive for Germany's first Wirtschaftswunder. State rail infrastructure spending doubled the kilometers of track from 1870 to 1913. The German electrical industry grew to dominate half of all international trade in electrical goods by 1913. German chemical industry became the world's leader in analine dye production, pharmaceuticals and chemical fertilizers. Paralleling the expansion of its industry and agriculture, between 1870 and 1914 Germany's population increased almost 75% from 40,000,000 to more than 67,000,000 people. Large industry grew in a symbiosis together with large banks such as Deutsche Bank, under what became known as the Grossbanken model of interlocking ownership between major banks and key industrial companies. [17] One aspect of that economic expansion after 1870, more than any other, aside from the program of Admiral von Tirpitz to build a German Dreadnaught-class blue water navy to challenge British sea supremacy, that brought Germany into the geopolitical clash which later became World War I, was the decision of German banking and political circles to build a rail link that would connect Berlin to the Ottoman Empire as far as Baghdad in then-Mesopotamia.

The Baghdad Railway (Turkish: Bağdat Demiryolu, German: Bagdadbahn, French: Chemin de Fer Impérial Ottoman de Baghdad), was built from 1903 to 1940 to connect Berlin with the (then) Ottoman Empire city of Baghdad, where the Germans wanted to establish a port in the Persian Gulf,[1] with a 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) line through modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. …"However, war began on August 1, 1914 — and one day later the secret treaty establishing the Ottoman-German Alliance was signed, perhaps giving credence to the notion that the issue had not been fully resolved. In fact, restriction of German access to Mesopotamia and its oil, and strategic exclusion from rail access to the Persian Gulf was enforced by British military presence during World War I, and afterwards by removal of the would-be Baghdad Railway from German ownership. Thus the potential consequences to Anglo-German economic rivalry in oil and trade by the existence of the railway, rather than the financing of it is seen by some as the deeper issue."

Agree. I dont deny German culpability again in WWI. But the reasons weren't purely economic. The German public was notoriously chauvinistic and patriotic seeking to defeat Britain in trade, colonies, industries, military might...(name any dimension). One thing to be realized is that Germany is a fairly new state in world history. It came about only in the 1860s/70s under Bismarck. This country had been the battleground of so much violence over the past 400 yrs (Thirty years war and all that) that when it got its opportunity in late 19th cen, it was too keen to assert its supremacy. Its Kaisers of that period were immature. Foolhardy. Rhetorical. I repeat again - Germany has blood on its hands :)

War reparations, unemployment and engineered hyper inflation were the reasons for the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Every nation that has fought a war has blood on its hands. This is not to defend the atrocities committed by the Germans or Japs. But thats what propaganda is all about. How much do we talk about the 100 million american indians and millions of aborigines who have been systematically exterminated. The human story is far too complex to take sides. There are may layers to it if one goes deeper. The best standpoint is that of an observer...

RBSI : Different countries would've reacted differently to those war reparations...there were war reparations yes. But the same countries also wrote off huge debts post WWI. But it is the hurt and humiliation of defeat that Germany chose to nurse

American Indians werent exterminated systematically. Whites and American Indians co-existed for centuries...Indian population declined because of frequent skirmishes, european diseases, interbreeding among other things. It wasnt a systematic pogrom. But one has to understand it was a remarkable clash of civiizations in the old West with the highly advanced European civilization clashing with very primitive tribes (some of whom were hunter gatherers) I aint justifying any violence but such a clash of unequals was bound to be tragic in the long run. Anyway, American Indians now are largely integrated into mainstream and are proud members of the most prosperous landmass the world has ever known! The world is a better place for European settlement of the Americas

Really glad to see Rare Book Society of India participate in discussions. It's been a while! And, one misses Mr. Ratnesh Mathur's steadying hand when he is absent.

Re : " ... the wars for oil in middle east and Afghanistan. " Moral hypocrisy is a commodity that all nations can share equally R.B.S.I. India, along with China, is becoming as involved in mineral-rich Afghanistan as any of the Western nations. In the 2013/14 financial year , India will be providing more military aid to Afghanistan than will be provided by the British government over the same period. Indian corporations are already investing very heavily in Afghani infrastructure projects - and - the Indian government is providing large sums of development aid . This money is provided with ' no strings attached ' , of course. India, by the way, is also taking on an increasing responsibility for training the Afghan army , as the Western presence is wound down, see below :

Re: " The enemy of my enemy is my friend " Poor logic. Bose was a fascist - pure and simple - and he chose his ' friends' accordingly. It's fairly astonishing to most independent observers, that Bose remains something of a ' hero ' in India. I can't think of another nation on the Earth where a man of such dubious and controversial credentials would continue to be so openly admired. His association with the Nazi government in Germany was NOT a matter of simple expediency - a compromise forced by the pressure of circumstances - it was a matter of political conviction - on his own part. Nor were his beliefs established suddenly, as a result of Britain (or British India) entering the war in 1939. They had been founded long before - as the man, himself, acknowledged. In 1934 , just a year after Hitler came to power, Bose wrote : "In spite of the antithesis between Communism and Fascism there are certain traits common to both. Both Communism and Fascism believe in the supremacy of the state over the individual. Both denounce parliamentary democracy. Both believe in party rule. Both believe in dictatorship of the party and the ruthless suppression of all dissenting minorities. Both believe in planned indusrial reorganisation of the country... ... These common traits will form the basis of a new synthesis. That synthesis is called by the writer ' Samyavada ' - an Indian word, which means literally, ' the doctrine of synthesis or equality. ' It will be India's task to work out this synthesis." - Subhas Chandra Bose ' The Indian Struggle: 1920- 1934 ' ( 1934, p.346)

Good points Mr. Craig. I didnt know Bose had expressed intellectual sympathies for these ideologies going as far back as 1934! Though I am a conservative by nature and always been anti-Congress, I feel glad that Nehru prevailed over the likes of Bose in internal Congress power struggles. For all their faults, the Nehruvians atleast did believe in the democratic process and were not virulent haters like Bose.

I cannot but agree with the last two observations of Shrikanth Krishnamachary and Julian Craig regarding Bose. In historical hindsight...Bose's strategy seems amateurish and overly ambitious. He was a great patriot and a good man... but made poor decisions and choices. But he served as an icon for a military hero that Indians craved for during the freedom struggle.

About not "judging" history. Fair, but we must judge people in History. Ghosts from the past get resurrected from time to time to serve political agendas. Sardar Patel and Bose are just two. There are many others.

Shekhar Sathe: That is how people are made. They need past role models and references to make sense of the present. And 'EVERY' political party resorts to this clever device…some even implying a relation with the most famous surname in this country. : )

Yeah, but the concession of fairness should apply equally to all contenders. And we must either support or oppose the persona.

Thanks for the alert, Shashi. Hate to see a forum for rare books of India, get reduced to merely discussions of history. We live in times where funding for new research in India is rare & the few studies which do get published by small publishers lie in obscurity & get dismissed by vested interests under labels of marxism etc. On the other hand, the search-engines & digitization of old words by the internet, provides so much information that even people making a career of some specialization, can pretend to be polymaths. Its appears no longer necessary to be a philomath as a first step. To be a good "professional historian", one needs to have " a preference for the concrete & the particular" & a distrust of the abstract & general & yet we have Proust & his incomparable re-creation of the past. I quote from Alan Bullock's classic essay of February 1951 - " The Historian's Purpose" & recommend it to the history inclined playing point-counter-point on this blog. Bias is inevitable in writing on history but as Bullock & any writer on the subject of " philosophy of history" highlights, it also means that its important for people to develop a view on metahistory/ weltanschauung. You dont need to agree with Toynbee or Spengler in their entirety but one certainly needs to develop a holistic metahistory perspective else personal biases tend to override writings/commentary on history. I see little point therefore in entering this debate where each person provides one tid-bit/point based on their bias. Unless we get down to some level of personal debate - travels, experiences, nationality etc., its not possible to come to any useful conclusion on such debates. What is " Anti-Congress" ? What is "Anglo-Saxon" ? What is "Western" ? "Western" from a geographic perspective or from a philosophy perspective ? Whats wrong with "Marxism" & whats right with "Capitalism" ? If so many kingdoms of India were taken over by the deceit of a corporate ( East India Co.) & its shareholders, isn't it logical that so many Indian nationalists were ( & even now, continue to be) skeptical of such multinational corporates/capitalism ? So does their opposition to free-markets & free flow of currencies make them Marxists ? ...Of course, like with so many things, the answers are not in the extremities of the labels but in the middle-ground between Socialism & Capitalism, Yin & Yang , Gnosis & Praxis etc .

Ratnesh Mathur: that a dense comment or what? : ) In one single stroke you have touched upon so many subjects, perspectives and ideas... and by implication disagreed with everyone here and obliquely accused them of being pseudo-intellectuals!! : )

ha ha ... yes, geography over history, any day ...

Very dense comment indeed. Ratnesh - We haven't discussed Marx in this thread at all! And I don't see why history shouldn't be discussed on a "rare books" thread. And I also don't see why non-historians (or amateur enthusiasts) should be precluded from discussions. Regarding your comments on labels, we actually haven't dropped too many labels on this thread. Most of the discussion has been very concrete and not abstract at all.

Ha ha ... and there was Mr Mathur chastising some of us only a week or two ago for our indulgence in " intellectual masturbation " ! Judging by the contents of the post above - he is not adverse to such forms of cerebral relief himself, from time to time. Personally, I have endured enough lectures on " Toynbee & Spengler ", and on the entire meta-narrative of history and the constraints of historiographical construction, to last a lifetime - and I do not visit the R.B.S.I. to sit through or participate in anymore of them ! Having said that - debate* is important, because it is only through the appreciation and acknowledgement of different points of view from our own that any ' consensus view ' can be formed. (*Even if such ' debates ' are only really games of contradictory ' ping -pong ' - but this is Facebook, we should remember - and not the Oxford Union, for heaven's sake !) Coming to an impartial understanding of history often requires the shedding of a few of our own carefully guarded political or cultural props - but most of us, I imagine, would rather observe the world as it is, or as it was, dispassionately, from the centre ground - and not from the extremities on the ' Left ' or the ' Right '. But - politics and history have an intimate and symbiotic relationship - the one is very much the study of the other and vice versa - and the two bedfellows are often difficult to separate without argument. It is the ability to differentiate between objective truths and subjective fictions, using calm and balanced reasoning, that distinguishes the historian from the ' hack ' . ------------------------------------------------------- If I may be permitted to provide a quotation - in the best scholarly tradition - and as we seem to be in that sort of whimsical mood - that I think is very relevant to the subject in hand. These are the thoughts of the great Friedrich Hayek on the nature of historical impartiality - and why the need for ' neutrality ' on the part of historians, is particularly important. It is a passage (cut slightly short) that was a real eye opener for me when I first came across it some years ago, and it has stayed at the back of my mind ever since : " The influence which the writers of history exercise on public opinion is probably more immediate and extensive than that of political theorists who launch new ideas... Most people, when being told that their political convictions have been affected by particular views on history will answer that they never have been interested in it and have never read a book on the subject. This, however, does not mean that they do not, with the rest, regard as established facts many legends which at one time or another have been given currency by writers [of] history. In the indirect and circuitous process by which new political ideas reach the general public the historian holds a key position... It is only at several removes that the picture that he provides becomes general property; it is via the novel and the newspaper, the cinema and political speeches*, and ultimately the school and common talk that the ordinary person acquires his perception of history. In the end even those who have never read a book and probably have never heard the name of the historians whose views have influenced them come to see the past through their spectacles... Most people would be greatly surprised to learn that most of what they believe about [ historical ] subjects are not safely established facts but myths, launched from political motifs and spread by people of good will into whose general beliefs they fitted." - from ' Capitalism and the Historians ' (1954) p. 8 - 10 -------------- * We might wish to add ' social media ' into the equation, from our modern point of view.

Let me un-dunce it then. I don't preclude history nor amateurs from the forum. Its not my forum anyways. Am just a member with amateur knowledge of history & a collection of mature/antiquarian books & pictures. I just wish to see more diversity of topics in the thread debate. Even while debating history, the point that Alan Bullock makes is NOT to be limited by just " the concrete & the particular" ( even though most professional historians tend to, to excel in their work ). The last line from his essay is worth noting - " And it is a fair question to ask - who sees the more - the airman who flies continually across several countries 5000 feet up, from where he can see the land for miles and miles, or the countryman who has lived in one place all his life but knows the valleys, the woods and lanes of his own countryside like the back of his hand ? "

Well made points Julian. The necessity for an inclusive debate on history cannot be overemphasized. In a society where historians isolate themselves in ivory towers discussing meta-history and refusing to engage intellectually with amateurs, the quality of public discourse suffers and common debates on history get hijacked by bigots and demagogues. Let us not forget that some of the greatest historians of all time were in fact amateurs who did not study history "professionally". Eg : David Hume, Edward Gibbon or even Adam Smith (a fine economic historian in his own right). These men learnt history by reading voraciously and discussing the same with other fine minds. As simple as that. Not by getting bogged down by theories of meta history and refusing to make the slightest opinionated judgment lest they get labeled "amateur" or "unprofessional". Gibbon for instance was highly opinionated and strongly believed that Christianity played a role in the decline of classical civilization - a view shared by other Enlightenment figures. However now history has progressed and the mainstream view is that Christianity doesn't deserve as much flak as Gibbon thought it did. That doesn't make Gibbon a fraud! History sans opinions is tasteless, timid and inconsequential.

Also, contrary to the politically correct view, the real "truth" doesn't always lie at the center. Sometimes the far-right may get it right. Sometimes the liberals might. Which is why it is important to encourage heterodoxy and strong opinions in the quest for truth

So in some respects, history is not a science to be perfected in an academic ivory tower by burying oneself reading books, but by allowing all kinds of people to voice their opinions (formed from their respective readings) and learning to draw a consensus view from the cacophony of partly informed opinions. It's a bit like figuring out the true "worth" of a stock by trading the same and deriving a single price from the wisdom of the crowds!

Ratnesh : The answer to that rhetorical question that Bullock poses is not always the second scenario as you are probably inclined to conclude. Sometimes the generalist does know more than the specialist who knows his particular region/topic inside out. A classic example is the history of India. When we wish to judge our freedom movement for instance, we need to understand not just the Gandhis, the Patels, the Nehrus and the British Raj, but also the industrial revolution, European enlightenment, British history, Protestant reformation, Hinduism, Islam, medieval Islamic conquests, the racial heterogeneity of India, the caste system among other things...Unless one has a reasonable idea of all these very diverse disconnected topics, it is impossible to comment rationally on say a Gandhi, a Bose or a Nehru or a Churchill! So the airplane pilot does know more in a lot of historical scenarios I can think of than the hardened specialist

…"cerebral relief"!! Now this is a gem by any measure! Good one Julian Craig. :))

Brilliantly put Julian Craig! Couldn't agree with you more ...(of course I had to read Hayek's quote twice to understand it). But then its always good to see you back in form! Prose at its elegant best.

Ratnesh Mathur: This perspective is indeed worth pondering: …"The last line from his essay is worth noting - " And it is a fair question to ask - who sees the more - the airman who flies continually across several countries 5000 feet up, from where he can see the land for miles and miles, or the countryman who has lived in one place all his life but knows the valleys, the woods and lanes of his own countryside like the back of his hand ? "

Shrikanth Krishnamachary: Lot of interesting and sensible observations in your last few comments. Well put. You might be aware by now that almost all the participants on RBSI are amateur historians... and many of them make a lot of sense. None of us profess to be experts of any kind and this is essentially a forum to put forth and discuss our understanding of a particular subject in history. Let me also tell you… that over the years we have learnt more here than in probably any university.

RBSI : I am not even an amateur historian, but just an ordinary Joe with an interest in the past. History is much too important to be left to historians :) And whatever we do (be it the preservation of art, rare books, promoting museum culture) are all simply means to improve historical understanding among the citizenry. Which is why I believe refraining from historical discussions as Ratnesh originally suggested defeats the purpose of the forum.

I agree with you Shrikanth. Let me assure you that by RBSI's liberal but yet exacting standards…you do qualify as a promising amateur historian. Welcome to the experiment! : )

On a platform that RBSI has nursed for a few years now, an amateur may not remain amateur for long. RBSI has generally succeeded in feeding the hungry and the thirsty and also managed to maintain plural and secular decorum. It has also allowed people to have their diametrically opposite say. I am visiting these threads after a lapse of several weeks and I know not what I have missed.

Thank you Shekhar! So many of you have made this a fascinating platform for us. RBSI continues to be an unending learning experience for me. It is interesting to ponder as to how we have all evolved over the years in one of the early experiments on social media.

Hello Rare Book Society of India. I'm not sure if adding to this thread rather belatedly would find any interest, but I do so nonetheless as the dismissal of important ideas and issues under popular rhetorical statements seem absurd. "Enemy's enemy is my friend" may or may not be be poor logic as has been so termed here, but that has been the very idea that has formed military alliances across history, something that often led to bitter conflict. The bloody wars of the previous century demonstrates it too well. Taking WWI, Germany was dragged into the Austro-Russian conflict due to her alliance with Austria; England and France participated due to their alliance with Russia; Belgium jumped in due to her alliance with the English against Germany and so on. Also, Bose has been termed a fascist, and in corollary, an enemy of human dignity. But, we have been urged by intellectuals better initiated to the meaning of ideologies like communism, socialism, capitalism and fascism that one ought to familiarize oneself with the true import those terms before employing them in conversation, especially when propagandist forces have shopsoiled them to the extent that their true character is no longer discernible. A fascist society is one which is run under state sponsored capitalist dictatorship, that is, where surplus wealth of capitalists is partly or wholly substituted by that of the state, under protection of state law and enforced by state policing, for production of value which is then distributed unequally among the citizenry without accountability to those who produce it. The nations that profess capitalist leanings, that is methods where private capital is used independent of governmental involvement to stimulate production, are really fascistic to varying degrees. Therefore, Britain and the U.S. were as much into fascism as Italy and Germany, with the exception that the latter two states had leaders not chosen under plebiscite as defined by the former two. The world wars saw these flavors of fascism fight against each other for supremacy, triggered by Germany's imperial ambitions fanned by the success of Britain's. An overt, and thus good, example of a fascist regime is the British Empire in India, where no representative political system existed through which the natives could participate in their own governance. Around 10% of what was produced accrued to the British state, while almost all of the rest was handed over to British capitalists until the rise of Indian native industry in the last decades before independence. Thus, Indian rule was engineered to be despotic while the idea of political liberty applied only to the Mother Country. The Viceroy sat atop an enormous pyramid of civil and military power, reporting to the Secretary of State for India who was responsible to Parliament only in theory, both supposedly advised by the Council of India, with none among this whole clique being Indian. (That being said, it needs to be made clear that modern India, and most countries that do not practice socialistic production and distribution, is fascistic too.) Therefore, terming Bose a fascist while largely approving the governance of British India cannot be consistent with each other, nor can be the indictment of India on account of it's support for Bose on such grounds. In fact, there are a number of parallels with the methods of Bose and that of Oliver Cromwell. The ideologies of both were extra-official, to that of the Congress and the Parliament respectively, and were thought to need military backing. Both were charismatic and powerful mobilizers of men, seeking to emancipate their countrymen and minority groups from the tyranny of the King's rule. To that extent, both have their followings. Henceforth, it would be better if sweeping statements are qualified and expanded upon rather than letting their mere declarations justify themselves. If any of my statements above are deemed erroneous, I would be happy to hear critiques.

Well put Shashi. I'm not even a amateur historian, just an observer. From the little that I have seen and read in my life, I fail to see much difference between the Alliance of the Germans, Japanese and Italians and the Allies. They were all after Empire and they were all ruthless. Maybe the Germans and Japanese were more efficient (ha, ha, talk about stereotypes!) but they all wanted Empire and were major thieves and criminals (IMHO). Hitler's major crime was his eradication of the Jews and Gypsies etc. but beyond that can someone enlighten me on why the Allies were 'better' than the Germans and Japanese?

Shashi Kolar : There are always questions of degree when we discuss regimes of the past. There is no utopia on earth where you have representative democracies that discriminate against none, ensure perfect equality of opportunity, uphold human rights to the highest degree and also ensure fast economic growth! All this is book talk. Utopias don't exist and the human condition is fundamentally tragic. What we can do is choose the lesser of the evils. Whether you like it or not, the Allies did represent the lesser of the evils back in 1940. (To be Contd)..

Coming back to the "Empire" and the way the very idea of Empire keeps getting castigated time and again on these threads. Let's not forget one thing. For most of human history, the primary mode of governance and state-organization has been the "Empire". Be it the Mauryan Empire, the Roman Empire, the Chola Empire, the Byzantine Empire, Holy Roman Empire, the Mughal Empire, Ottomon Empire or lastly the British Empire! So the idea of Empire isn't something invented in Britain. In contrast, it is the modern "nation state" based on ethnicity/common culture that is a relatively new idea in world history which may be said to have taken root in Britain earlier than most countries (given that Britain was one of the earliest and most successful "nation states" in the modern sense of the term. The story of the last 400 years has been one of the decline of the idea of "Empire" as more and more countries took the example of the British and formed "national" identities which then later evolved into representative democracies. So the irony is that no country has contributed more to the decline of "Empire" as an idea than Britain what with its parliament and constitution and tradition of limited government which restrained what the monarch could or could not do.

In fact even if you were to go back to the 18th century (the days of the worst excesses of the East India Company), Mr. Warren Hastings was overthrown not by Indian "nationalists" but by the British Parliament which impeached him! It's the sort of thing that would've been unheard of in most other parts of the world at the time. This is the kind of leg-pulling tradition which limited the excesses of the British Empire wherever it existed. Such a leg pulling tradition simply did not exist in say Nazi Germany or fascist Japan. These regimes were a hark back to the bad old days of unrestrained Empire (pre 16th cen) that had previously prevailed in the ancient and medieval world.

Ofcourse none of my arguments imply that the freedom movement was a bad thing or that 1947 was a bad event. Ofcourse not. Indian independence was an idea whose time had come. But one has to understand how these ideas evolved in world history! It's fashionable these days to talk about "political independence" as if the British Empire was this evil thing that deprived large parts of the world of "political independence". What needs to be understood is the meaning of the term - "political independence". India wasn't politically independent in 1600 or for that matter 1200 or 800 or 400 AD. Nor was UK. Nor was Rome. The very idea of political independence refers to a system where there are limits on the powers of a government through the sanctification of a constitution and a parliamentary body (which may or may not be representative) that ensures there is no arbitrary taxation or looting! This idea, whether you like it or not, originated in Britain with the "Glorious Revolution of 1688" which clipped the fangs of the monarchy in the long run. Other countries followed suit in their own different ways over the next 300 years giving birth to the "modern world" as we understand it. It's all very easy to romanticize the past. But the fact is that the past was terrible and the present that we enjoy so very much has come about as a result of processes kickstarted in a handful of western european countries (especially England) starting with Magna Carta

Lastly in relation to your specific comment on the abuse of the term "fascist", debates on phraseology will not lead us anywhere. The larger issue is - "Is it right to draw a moral equivalence between US and UK in 1940 - vibrant, diverse democracies with severe limitations on executive powers of govt imposed by the force of tradition, constitution and above all a free press - and Nazi Germany/fascist Japan where there was little/no curtailment of executive powers of the government and where the executive power in question overtly used racial theories to justify mass genocide and territorial expansion.

Shrikanth Krishnamachary: It might sound politically-incorrect… but the difference between the good-side and evil-side gets terribly blurred if you observe the 'action and consequence' keenly. One does it 'overtly' and the other does it 'covertly'. Both of them employ different devices to make their subjugated ones toe the lie. Mastering the art of sly under the guise of civility is a more clever way to achieve the same purpose. Take the case of all the world bodies today - UN, IMF, WB… they purport to do a lot of good and of course they do…but only at their own terms after maintaing their dominant position and interest.

RBSI : As I said the human condition is fundamentally tragic and we don't live in a perfect world. The difference between overt and covert devices is a very very crucial one with huge implications for our civilization. The very essence of our civilization is to rein in our impulses and think about long term consequences. As Julian Craig said earlier, we must not get into moral arguments where countries get judged by a very high utopian standard that nobody fulfills. But instead remain pragmatic and judge policies and countries by their results. The fact is that the post War world of multilateral organizations, conventions and conferences and other forms of civil "naatak" as the cynical may view it has worked! The last 70 years have been very very peaceful compared to the early part of 20th century when an irrational Germany caused problems time and again.

Absolutely! You are indeed wise in your observation that the human condition has been tragic for most part of history. This is life and it is foolish to seek out utopian scenarios and interpretations.

But...this is how I see the game being played out over and over again. And it is heart rending... Four D's strategy! Demonise : their 'target leader' who stands up against them through ceaseless propaganda e.g. Tipu Sultan to Saddam Hussain Dehumanise: the local population as if they don't deserve human compassion by not highlighting their loss and misery by suppressing media coverage e.g. Iraq, Syria etc etc Discredit: any person who disagrees with the foreign policy and make him look like a nutcase or a communist.e.g. Ron Paul (their own Presidential candidate!!). And finally Destroy: Carpet bomb the entire country in the name of freedom. What is surprising in this whole exercise is that most people are unaware as to who actually benefits in this vicious game played out in the name of national interest. Which is only partly true. The answer lies in 'coporatisation' of the entire world. Nothing wrong by itself…but its motive and agenda is anything but human-friendly if left unchecked. The resources of the 'enemy country' would be vied by the resource companies of the aggressor country. The military-industrial complex benefits only when its arms, bombs etc are used and deployed. This was even directly cautioned by Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell speech as the President of USA. The infrastructure companies benefit when all the bombed and destroyed cities have to be rebuilt. All this to be payed back from the bleak resources of the destroyed country. The mercenary armies masquerading as security agencies. The thousands of army contractors who supply every item needed running to trillions of dollars. Where the hell is national interest in this whole game??? Beats me. I am aware that this comment can ruffle quite a few feathers! : )

I'm not sure why ideas of Utopian States or questioning the primary role of governance through empires have been bought into the argument when neither were being judged. That the former cannot be established and the latter continues to exist (through commercial enterprises maintained by States, thus making them fascistic) can be assumed to be true. If it is thought that the idea of the British Parliament was to respect the wishes of the people it represented against autocratic forces, be it that of the monarchy or the aristocracy, this is incorrect. The House of Commons, though peopled through the electorate, was largely composed of landowners under whom the electors worked. It was biased towards the wealthy by minimum stipulations of income and property before one ran for MP. There was no secret ballot till 1872 and none of these MPs received salaries until 1880. Thus, only those who could afford to be independently wealthy could govern the country and often did for their own benefit. Read the reports of the factory inspectors, Corn Law agitations, reactions to the Irish Famine and treatment of Indian questions to gather more. Laissez-faire (that is, no governmental involvement in trade but for enforcing civil order) was in common currency by the 1860s, promoted by wealthy landlords who populated a - supposedly reformed - parliament who's interests it served, giving rise to popular unrest (called Chartism) among the other classes. Contrary to what has been stated, the Empire was established and expanded under such a parliament and not despite it. No global empire existed when parliament was established, and the Empire reached it's largest size post WWI directed by it though it is claimed that Britain stumbled into it. America's insistence on it's dissolution, so as to replace it with a commercial empire, was the condition under which that country chose to help Britain. Another contributing factor to its demise was the view held by British socialists that it was no longer practical to hold on to empires politically. Examples of instances where a system opposes itself, like the impeachment of Hastings (though here government was opposing an incorporation, not itself), are available in every society. Considering the spiritual system of India, it is easy to find such examples dating back to the BCs. Similarly, there were forces opposed to Nazi Germany during the reign of Hitler. But none of these were effective, in the same manner the official entreaties of British civil servants regarding Indian governance never did fall upon the ears of anybody in parliament (read William Wedderburn's writings for example, or that of MP John Bright). As stated before, the Secretary of India was only nominally responsible to parliament. It will be absurd of me to state that it was the British Empire who introduced evil to India, or that it bought nothing salutary. The prising of her history, culture and teachings were largely under personal enterprise before it received official sanction, often at the mercy of one man, the Viceroy. The character and efforts of individuals deserve the highest respect and gratitude. But, not so much their official machinery. Some of the reasons are: * No increase in per capita income from 1757 to 1947 (according to Angus Maddison himself, who was quoted in another thread often incorrectly and incompletely) * Cash crops (cotton, wheat) boomed while agrarian productivity and per capita food consumption declined * Life expectancy fell by 20% between 1872 to 1921, probably the greatest fall in all of its history. Famine and pestilence were blamed and sluggish relief provided. * In 40 years since 1870, it is estimated that 30 million Indians have perished due to hunger and pestilence. * Irrigation attracted only a fifth of total public expenditure, 90% of which was used to irrigate the Punjab and North-Western Provinces for commercial crops like cotton, opium, sugarcane and wheat for which the financial returns were the highest. The huge, stagnant water systems in these canals directly led to malarial epidemics in famine years. * No stimulus to native industry. To take railways as an example, though millions of men and women were employed to lay the tracks, more jobs were lost than were created during the first 75 years of the railways, no doubt because almost every rail and locomotive that formed it was imported from Britain. India was thus deprived the industrial boost that Britain flourished under during the development of her network. India's forests that furnished the wood needed to build coaches were reduced to a sixth of the land area, from a third. It is easy to dismiss these concerns as being nationalist or marxist, as was done of Dadabhai Naoroji. But, he titled his work on Indian distress as being "Un-British", thus approving British ideas of governance but not it's implementation in India. The British people deserve much credit, but some of it's institutions, like those of India, have aspects that are terrible and that is what is being alluded to above.

Brilliantly elucidated Shashi Kolar! You raised the bar again. Much to think about...

With all due respect, it seems to me that if R.B.S.I. members wish to bloviate extemporaneously upon subjects and themes that were brought up within different threads, some time ago (e.g. Prof Naoroji) , then they might perhaps wish to limit the scope of their remarks, their alternate points of view, and the list of their grievances and ' allegations' (as it were) - otherwise these exchanges simply become too large and defuse to engender any sort of coherent or meaningful response. Not that any of us are averse to the occasional bout of bloviation, you understand - and sometimes, we may regret that we did not have a chance to make a point ' at the time ', or we might wish to express an observation that came to mind after the fact. Clearly, we can only ever enter into these micro-debates as time in our own various 'non-virtual' lives permits, and if members wish to continue certain 'conversations' - then that is their prerogative - but - surely it is more practical and constructive to address specific ideas and opinions in a systematic fashion - rather than jumping from one large and abstract ' issue ' to the next - a pattern that only results in a multitude of questions and in increasingly disconnected responses ? ----------------------------------- Anyway : to move away from the broad and the abstract, and to focus on the particular for the moment : It seems that my description of Mr Bose as a " fascist " (above) has ruffled a few feathers. Well, that is understandable – nobody likes to see their respected national stereotypes cast in a negative light, do they ? Or certain carefully cultivated mythologies challenged - but, in this particular context I was using that particular word simply as a matter of reasonably well established fact – no epithet intended - and I stand by its usage. I see no reason for the amendment or retraction of a ' sweeping generalisation ' - as the historical record supports the contention, and no immediate judgement was being passed on my part - although, having said that, I would always maintain that individuals who hold such views, or organisations that promote the same, are, indeed, the " enemies of human dignity ". Further : I'm sure that most of us are quite aware of what ' Fascism ' is – in the doctrinaire, and strictly political sense - and we do not need a definition provided for us here – as above - in the prosaic style of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is important to keep in mind that the form of 'Fascism ' that developed in Italy & Germany, post-1918, did so in response to a very particular and unique set of economic and historical circumstances – national/ military humiliation, the collapse of traditional governing elites, hyper-inflation, mass unemployment etc & so on – and the term should not really be used, in a blanket fashion, to describe political movements or political figures in different times, and in different places – but, inevitably, it has been and it will continue to be. Perhaps then, with this in mind, I should not have described Mr Bose as a ' fascist ' so brusquely – but should simply have drawn attention to his ' unquestioned flirtation with, and self-confessed admiration and sympathy for, fascistic ideology.' ----------------------------------------- Why then do we ever use the term ' fascist ' in a broader sense, I wonder ? In Europe ' Fascism ' had its roots in a wildly exaggerated sense of national importance – in ultra-nationalism – in the belief that certain, very specific races or cultures had an extra significance, a higher purpose, when contrasted with other races or cultures. ' Fascism ', simply expressed, is patriotism (which can be a perfectly healthy and constructive force, if properly channelled) that has been raised and distorted to the level of idolatry – and this is a process that we can continue, occasionally, to see at work in our own post-modern world. Many people believe, for example, that the ' Hindutva ' philosophy that has arisen in India over the last few decades (again, in response to very particular circumstances) , has a certain ' fascistic ' sub-text or aspect to it – but, it is certainly not my place to say whether this is really the case or not. In our own day age, of course, ' Fascism ' has come to assume a broader meaning than it did in the time of a Bose, or a Mussolini, seventy years ago – it now has a cultural as well as a political meaning - and is rather casually used to describe any movement or organisation (or indeed, any personal attitude) that is redolent of a certain type of dogmatic intolerance or lack of open-minded ' liberality' . The term has also been used (again, as we see in the comments above) in a retrospective sense – to label and pass judgement upon political/ military/ cultural movements, entities or nationalities, as they existed and operated in the past. Such judgements are , of course, subjective and have been formed largely as a result of ' modern ' perspectives, and by reflective thinking long, long after the fact - and, as such, are largely meaningless, and almost completely a-historical. Such retrospection, however, can serve as a valuable tool, a sharpening stone, for those who have their own particular axe to grind with history. An excellent example of this phenomena has been provided within this very thread: as those who would seek to find an immediate and relevant parallel between the type of ' colonialism ' that was practised by European powers (with the full co-operation of indigenous, non-European elites) throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and European ' fascism' as practised for a brief period of about 20 years in the early twentieth century - have presented their thoughts above accordingly. I do not say that such thinking is entirely inappropriate or that such analogies are outrageous* - if you look hard enough for a pattern that you wish to see, then one is bound to find a way of locating it - but - IMPORTANTLY - this is a point of view that many people would categorically dispute - quite emphatically dispute - on many levels, and over far ranging historical and political grounds. It has been mentioned above, and on one or two other ' threads' recently, that one cannot really come to a full understanding of the nature of ' colonial ' history, unless one is aware of a certain amount of European history – particularly of the evolution of European political thought from the eighteenth century onwards – which was, very broadly speaking, an extended dialogue concerning the boundaries of popular representation, and its relationship with traditional power structures. Many of these ideas percolated and permeated throughout European dominions and colonies during the same period - and there were always very divergent attitudes and opinions concerning the nature, the extent and the moral basis (if any) for colonial governance. The need for, and the ultimate purposes of 'colonialism ' were endlessly analysed, discussed and debated by the ' powers that be' and by the intelligentsia of Europe, from the late 18th century onwards - in a manner that was very far removed from what we might term ' fascist ' - and latterly, by the intelligentsia (both European and non-European) of the various colonies themselves. It would be interesting to see some of these themes explored in greater detail at the R.B.S.I. - as and when they come along - as they undoubtedly will do - in the fullness of time. --------------------- * Resisting a strong temptation to do so.

I am truly amazed at the intense level of intellectualism and scholarly debate here and have just one more question. Do these subjects that we discuss here pertain to your line of work or is it a hobby? If it's the latter, how do you find the time? Shashi, Subbiah, Julian, Ratnesh, Shrikanth???

Hello Ms. Ullal. A lot of the credit should go to Mr. Subbiah Yadalam, who, apart from running a well known and successful business in Bangalore, has remained committed to this page for 4 years on a daily basis. Reading up the works of and about the best minds of the past has been one of great interest for me. I'm just another IT professional in Bangalore, and derive more benefit from such readings than what could have been vocationally afforded. There are others like Vikram Sampath who, while remaining in the computer industry, have written entire books on their subjects of interest, organised literary fests and collated classical Indian music online. He is now pursuing a degree in music abroad.

It really is a privilege to have access to RBSI. Thank you Subbiah.

Shashi Kolar : Some clarifications. British Parliament and the crucial distinction between "democracy" and "political freedom" : Great Britain was not a democracy in 1700. It was not a democracy in 1800. Heck it was not a democracy even as late as 1900. Yet, Britain enjoyed more "political freedom" back in 1700 than most other countries on earth. It is one thing to be a democracy. It is quite another thing to ensure political freedom. Now what do I mean by political freedom? Simple. It means freedom for the common man from politics to the extent possible in his everyday life. It means being able to govern one's destiny to the extent possible without worrying about state actions every other day. It means freedom from arbitrary and unpredictable taxation. It means freedom from state sponsored violence and pogroms. Ofcourse, professional nitpickers can pick and choose exceptional episodes from British history and talk about how political freedom was violated in year X or year Y. But I am not going to waste time talking about exceptions instead of the rule. Political freedom as explained above did not exist over most parts of the world in 1700 or even as late as 1800. To a great extent the developments in Britain over centuries (starting with Magna Carta, Puritan revolution, 1688 revolution, the reforms of the 1830s and finally the introduction of secret ballot) have made political freedom a reality not just in Britain but in very large parts of the world. Political freedom is so much more than ballot voting and "electoral democracy". Angus Maddison and your suggestion that I misquoted his figures : The ghost of Angus Maddison is back to haunt us again on RBSI :) Firstly Mr. Maddison's research very clearly points to a significant increase in per-capita income during British Raj (by British Raj, I mean 1857 to 1947 - not the haphazard administration of EIT from 1757 to 1857 when the whole of India was not under British rule anyway and the Mughal still reigned in Delhi). I agree that the increase in income was not massive. In fact I acknowledged this very clearly in the last thread. The only reason I brought up Maddison was to counter the repeated claims that British rule impoverished India - which is simply an untrue claim. Yes, there were losers. But there were also winners. You cannot pass judgments by focusing on the losers alone. Ironically the men who misuse Maddison's figures are the "nationalist" historians of the land who repeatedly refer to the decline in Indian share of World GDP from 22% to under 5% between 1700 and 1947. A totally meaningless statistic by itself as there was a major Industrial Revolution happening in England (and Europe and US) during these two centuries.

Julian : That was as good a post as I've ever read on FB :)

Vinita : In fact all these debates over the past 2 weeks on this forum were triggered by your post in the previous thread to which I responded. But for your little post, I wouldn't have discovered this forum nor would I have participated in either of these discussions :)

Thank you Shrikanth! But while we go on debating fascism, communism, capitalism and all the other forms of government, we need to answer only one question. "Did that form of governance bring peace and prosperity to its people?" To me, that is fundamental. It does not matter what kind of terms are used for the kind of government a country has, as long as it is GOOD governance. For instance, a benevolent dictatorship as in Singapore, brings prosperity to its people, while unchecked rampant capitalism, as is happening now in the US and UK, can bring misery. Whether Bose was a fascist or not, is immaterial. His intentions were good - maybe misdirected by today's standards - and to me, he was a hero. Remember, one group's terrorist is the other group's freedom fighter. Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi were perfect examples of this.

It is incorrect to assume that political freedom, as defined by your latest comment, is what parliament stood for. The House of Commons, in the late 18th century, claimed that it represented all whom it taxed and all for whom it legislated. This was largely untrue, as evidenced by American colonists citing no representation, by the struggle of the Anti-Slavery movement, and by political dissenters at home. Many of these were commoners, burdened with unjust taxation of which that of the Corn Laws was the most cruel. Great proletariat movements like the Anti-Corn Law League and Chartism demanded the removal of high taxation and for fair representation. The Factory Acts that were passed at regular intervals throughout the century for better working conditions were also due to popular agitations. Lapses in or lack of social justice is what lead to Marx's Communistic and Dickens' anti-capitalistic views. These issues were neither peripheral not insignificant; they were the very ones that shaped 19th century politics. As Sidney Webb noted, "We began with no abstract theory of social justice or the rights of man. We seem always to have been incapable even of taking a general view of the subject we were legislating upon. Each successive statute aimed at remedying a single ascertained evil." These changes were not bought about by working within the existing system, which left to itself might have bought them about very belatedly, but by rallying enough popular opinion to force parliament to act. It is these movements, and the noble souls and sentiments behind them, that deserve our highest respect and not the institution of parliament itself. Coming to the economic impact, I quote Maddison from 'The Economic and Social Impact of Colonial Rule in India': "From the beginning of British conquest in 1757 to independence, it seems unlikely that per capita income could have increased by more than a third and it probably did not increase at all." The EIC was supposedly in India only to trade and govern their outposts, while the Raj was here to help civilize the country. Yet, that fact explains the general economic impact. The middle-classes and the land owners did benefit, but to the detriment of the masses, a circumstance that can hardly justify good and honest governance that the Services claimed to stand for. India's rate of population growth did not differ significantly from those extant around the times of the Mughals until 1921, when famines and pestilence, the chief culprits, no longer posed as much danger. This was not due to better sanitation or medical care, something that was provided only in urban areas which amounted to less than 10% of the population, but due to the lack of the spread of diseases like plague and cholera, the reasons for the disappearance of which is still not conclusively known (see "Famines, Epidemics, and Population Growth: The Case of India" by Michelle McAlpin). One cannot judge the economic progress of a state by measuring the total investment put in or the GDP produced without getting at the beneficiaries. The investments came from English capitalists with guaranteed rate of returns from Indian revenues, while the GDP was carved up among them and the Government of India. Indian industry took a significant cut only in the decades leading to independence. Similarly, in the case of modern India, one cannot claim economic progress based chiefly on it being the 10th largest economy when 800 million people earn less than Rs. 20 a day. As regards empire, Britain did not volunteer to dissolve it, led by conditions across centuries to such a termination (it was at it's peak after WWI, as has been mentioned). It was an outcome of the second world war and of the growing recognition of domestic movements towards independence. The prime minister who lead Britain in the war was a staunch imperialist, while his successor was a socialist. Both ideologies existed in strength. The people chose the latter one after the war, which gave India it's political independence. It would have happened either way because, as Attlee noted "[t]he conditions that made it possible to defend a string of possessions scattered over five continents...have gone." Henceforth, it would be better if broad statements are qualified so one knows what they are based on. It would be difficult to converse with such statements flying both ways, as they could be more or less true and more or less false at the same time.

Again we have a comment where administrations are judged by an utopian modern standard without giving sufficient attention to the process of change. Regarding this extract : "House of Commons, in the late 18th century, claimed that it represented all whom it taxed and all for whom it legislated. This was largely untrue, as evidenced by American colonists citing no representation" Ofcourse it was untrue if one were to judge the reality of the day by an exacting 20th/21st century standard. What is important is that the notion of 'no taxation without representation' was common currency in Britain in 1700s unlike most other countries around the world. It was also a living reality in Britain itself after the passage of the Bill of Rights of 1689 which significantly limited the powers of the monarch. In fact the Bill of Rights of 1689 was the inspiration for the American colonists. Another classic example of an essentially English idea inspiring a "freedom movement" in the colony. Other English laws with similar long lasting influence on liberty include the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, the Petition of Right (1628), Non-renewal of licensing laws pertaining to press censorship in 1695. But this debate is not going to go anywhere if the admittedly learned commentators here are going to focus on specific "injustices" of the past without ever bothering to use their 18th century glasses or shoes to get some moral perspective on the same. To go back to my earlier comment - I quote myself - "Britain enjoyed more political freedom in 1700 than most countries on earth". I never said Britain had absolute political freedom or it enjoyed freedom that is comparable to what we take for granted today. Regarding Maddison again : My comments in the earlier thread were based on figures published by Maddison which point to a very modest increase (but significant nonetheless) in per-capita income. Yes, it was not massive. But I never said it was. Per-capita income has stagnated throughout human history. The phenomenon of consistently increasing incomes became a reality in England/Netherlands and a few other countries in 17th/18th centuries - a process that was kickstarted back then lasts to this day all over the world. It is a debate for another day on what made this increase in per-capita incomes possible after millenia of stagnation. I would recommend Gregory Clark's fine book - A Farewell to Alms - which dwells more on this in the best scholarly tradition. At any rate this is not the right place or time for a discussion on economic history or per-capita incomes in India during the Raj. I didn't bring this up on this thread. It is a topic that belongs to the previous thread that was dedicated to the Raj. Regarding the dissolution of the Empire : At no point did any of us here say that Britain voluntarily dissolved the empire. What has been said is that British history (and more generally Western European history) over the past 500 years created circumstances all over the world which made the idea of "nation state" increasingly popular and viable leading to the decline of "Empire" as a preferred model of state organization.

This has been by far…one of the most well written, well researched and finely nuanced discussions RBSI has ever had. Thank you Julian Craig, Shashi Kolar and Shrikanth Krishnamachary! All of you should seriously consider writing as a profession sometime in your life. It is indeed a delight to read Julian Craig's cleverly crafted comments when the discussion gets complex and inconvenient. His scholarly and yet irreverent style immedately lightens up the mood of the discussion. How many of you have heard of 'bloviate' for example? : ) But I tend to agree with Shashi Kolar's line of thinking and his well-crafted masterful interpretation of the Raj and its times.

I really enjoy Mr. Craig's comments. Irreverent is a very good way to describe his style, and I enjoy the humor and biting sarcasm in them.

Well, that is very kind of you to say so R.B.S.I/ Mr Kolar - but - I think that we could do with a little less mutual back-slapping and a little more substance within these debates/ threads/ exchanges/ rants [ delete as appropriate ]. Re: " Many of these were commoners, burdened with unjust taxation of which that of the Corn Laws was the most cruel. Great proletariat movements like the Anti-Corn Law League and Chartism demanded the removal of high taxation and for fair representation. " Oh dear, oh dear ; I think that Mr Kolar has been reading too much E.P. Thompson again ! As for Sidney Webb – keep the Red Flag flying dear boy, keep it flying ! Honest to goodness, it seems that the appeals for more balanced and more original source material in these ' conversations ' has been falling on deaf ears. Dig deeper, look further ! These top-down/ bottom-up, egalitarian perceptions of history become so thoroughly platitudinous and tiresome. If one has an objection to or distaste for hierarchical forms of government – be it on moral or economic grounds - then that is all fine and well – and many people hold similar views across the globe ; but please don’t expect all of us to subscribe to the same position, or present your own particular narrative in such a sanctimonious and hand-wringing style. No single political ideology holds the monopoly on historical truth. While an enthusiasm to explore and engage with historical themes is to be applauded, might I request that R.B.S.I. members who dress to the ' Left ' try to restrain themselves when it comes to the alteration of historical realities. Let's try to tone down the rhetoric, shall we? Mr Kolar : I do not have the time (or indeed, the inclination) to go through all of your various contentions concerning the development of British democracy and parliamentary procedure – one by one – suffice to say, I disagree with the majority of them. To take but one example : It was the land-owning Tories (the ' Conservatives ' ) , under Peel, who repealed the Corn Laws – not the Liberals ; and in doing so, Sir Robert split the party in two, and consigned it to the electoral wilderness for twenty years. Now that took some balls ! The idea that ' social reformers' have always been on or of the Left is nonsense, a fiction. Gladstone, perhaps the most ' progressive' Prime Minister of later Victorian decades (e.g. the ' Factory Acts ' that you mention, and much else besides) was originally a Tory who left the fold and crossed the divide. There were just as many aristocrats in the Liberal Party in the nineteenth century as there was amidst the ranks of the Tories (their traditional home, of course). Nineteenth century Britain was not defined by the success of its populist ' proletarian ' movements – what a ridiculous notion ! Although, they certainly played some part in shaping the agenda of the times – through demands for legislative reform, that were subsequently enacted by parliament – an institution for which all classes had a VERY healthy respect. As Mr Krishnamachary, quite rightly points out in his comments above, reform-minded movements such as the Chartists and so on were only able to have their voices heard, because Britain was a country that had always permitted a good deal of personal freedom, and was (generally speaking) very tolerant. Political self-expression has always been considered an inalienable, ancient right in Britain - ' the vote ' is just a contemporary manifestation of this instinct. Victorian Britain was characterised – not by its poor, huddled, voiceless masses - as the Marx Brothers would have us believe – but by its industrial and entrepreneurial dynamism, its scientific achievement and cultural refinement, and by its expanding international outlook. A robust form of Christianity and a practical strain of Utilitarianism (that was also carried to India) were more important/ significant in initiating social reform in 19th century Britain, than any embryonic, protean ' Socialist ' movement (a retrospective label, in this context). The greatest changes in British society between 1800 and 1900 were, in my view; (1) the movement of large numbers of people away from the land and into the expanding cities (this process had been going on for some time, but accelerated c.1800). (2) the expansion of the middle classes and an increase in general affluence and living standards for the majority of the population. Yes – poverty existed in Victorian Britain – of course it did – squalid, back-breaking Dickensian poverty – but proportionally, it was in decline. By 1900 (if memory serves) about 15 -20% of the population were considered to be genuinely ' poor' i.e. living at, or just above, subsistence level. (3) An increasing role for the central State - the growth of a truly ' national ' consciousness ; or the slow triumph of government interventionism over laissez-faire attitudes; which unfolded in graduated phases throughout the century. By 1900, Britain was on the verge of establishing the framework for what we call today, the ' Welfare State' . Taxation, which had always been very LOW (never " High " by modern standards ) for most people – was, as a result, on the rise.

Post Script : Prof. Angus Maddison - explained (see below) :

Okay!...Even I am sufficiently confused now. Much as I enjoy reading conflicting and contradictory opinions and arguments...this debate which is based on conflicting ideologies has reached its logical limit...I guess. : ) But then I leave it to these worthy gentlemen to take the call...

Re: " This debate which is based on conflicting ideologies has reached its logical limit ..." Well, the R.B.S.I. is your ship, Admiral - and we all just sail upon her - if you wish to haul up the anchor, heave ho, and set a change of course - then just send word from the bridge. It would be a shame, however, to close down this dialogue altogether (which has been one of the more involved & engaging ' debates ' of recent times at this site) - perhaps the various participants can pick up the pieces on another, related thread ? I'm quite sure that both Mr Kolar and Mr Krishnamachary have many more interesting perspectives to share - and for us all to contemplate. Of course, we all depend upon the material that the administrator chooses to post - it is the platform that we pontificate upon - and we all appreciate that eighteenth/nineteenth century history and the Anglo-Indian Imperial relationship, is but ONE aspect of the R.B.S.I.'s rather large historical remit - but - this thread has provided a lot of material around which future topics could perhaps be based. If I might make a suggestion for such a theme : One name that has kept on popping up of late, has been that of Dadabhai Naoroji : perhaps his life and career could serve as the basis for an interesting future discussion - extending, as it does, in a number of unusual directions - a founding member of the Congress Party, who was also a member of the British Parliament (the first of three such Indian M.P.'s prior to 1947). Why is it that Naoroji remains a relatively obscure and silent figure - while the bumptious and noisy Bose has his statue in the town square ? What does this say about contemporary attitudes and opinions towards the more recent history of the Indian sub-continent ? I'm not sure how many people in either India or in Britain are aware of the degree of cross-cultural exchange (in terms of both ideas & individuals) that occurred during the later (as opposed to the very early) colonial period - Naoroji, is but one example of this phenomena - a participant at the dawn of the modern form of ' gloabalisation ' - which we can all see around ourselves today.

Oh!... that was just a suggestion. Please do continue if you find it appropriate. I quite enjoy reading these intellectual bouts.

Suggestion on Naoroji taken!

RBSI : One doesn't mind continuing the debate provided there is genuine respect for the other side's intellectual integrity and a veritable curiosity about the making of our past. Brilliant points from Mr.Craig again. I especially liked the observations on the great Conservative reformer Robert Peel - who is one of the most under-appreciated of statesmen. His policies of free trade and repeal of tariffs were instrumental in ending the "Hungry Forties" Another eminent conservative figure who often championed "progressive" causes is the great Edmund Burke - a man often sobriqueted "the Original Conservative". Burke was ofcourse a Whig back in the day, but he represented the "right wing" of the Whig party. And you see this arch-conservative, who is idolized by the Right even today, championing the cause of American colonists, writing against slave trade and even leading a campaign against Warren Hastings and the EIC! Now Burke wasn't a part of the proletariat! He was not even a radical. He was the classic upper class conservative, a vocal defender of tradition and propriety, a defender of "Prejudice", a man who has authored such lines as this - "Prejudice renders a man's virtue his habit"! Also let's not forget British society's key role in ending slave trade and slavery - institutions that have blighted man since the dawn of civilization. Men like William Wilberforce and Zachary MaCaulay who led the charge in this regard again were not left-wingers. They were devout Christians. It is a shame that such important personages receive so very little footage in our history books. The inadequate coverage of English and American history in our school textbooks is worth noting and it is the ignorance of Western history that contributes to such a jaundiced view of the West among many in India. And yes, as I mentioned in an earlier comment of mine, Mr.Craig rightly emphasizes the important distinction between political freedom and electoral franchise. The "vote" was indeed just a belated manifestation of political freedom for many Englishmen. Now why are we discussing all this? These topics came about because Ms Ullal wanted to know in what respect was Nazi Germany very different from Imperial Britain. I hope the discussion on British history over the past day has helped address this question and made it abundantly clear that there cannot possibly be any moral equivalence between Hitler's Germany and Churchill's Britain. These nations have had very very different pasts.

Peel's times are a good example of how the parliament and the party system was, many a time during his tenure, only nominally representative the interests of the people. That it did claim to do so, and the fact that it did not, are evident from the major political events in the first half of the 19th century: the Parliamentary Reform Acts, Catholic Emancipation, the repeal of the Corn Laws and the failure of the Chartists. Parliament was pressured to concede to each of first three under brinkmanship, or threat of civil disorder, and Peel was involved in all but the first. The Chartists, despite garnering support from millions of people across 10 years, were extinguished under threat of force. Peel has been lauded for his calm and practical leadership unhardened by immutable dogmas of Toryism that the young Disraeli, for example, harbored. But he had to contend with fierce blow-back from his own party for the emancipation, the repeal and also for the relatively minor issue of the Maynooth grant. He also began relief operations in earnest to help the victims of the Irish Famine, but was soon followed by Russell who did not carry the same enthusiasm. The principles of Laissez Faire and of Malthus precluded steady and substantial help, a posture identical to that taken by the Government of India in the 1870s during the famines there. As Mr. Craig and Shrikanth have said, Peel was a great reformer. But, the party system undermined him. We here have good examples of an ineffectual parliament holding a few sensible, progressive people captive, a point that I have attempted to make in this thread. G. B. Shaw (I hope his socialist leanings would not disqualify his observations for those suspicious of Marxism) has made persuasive arguments against such a system in his works. Please pick up "Everybody's Political What's What" and "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism". Seldom are such ponderous subjects treated with such wit and perspicacity.

Mr Kolar : I don't think Peel was undermined by the Party system. Infact the history of early 19th cen England is testimony to the extraordinary reforms that could be carried out by enlightened individuals within the constraints imposed by the parliamentary system by means of the age-old parliamentary techniques of brinkmanship, negotiation and leg-pulling! Techniques that often helped prevent the unrestrained abuse of executive power. And let's always be cognizant of the fact that the primary objective of having a parliament is to trammel the exercise of power. Now executive power can be used to attain ends that may be deemed either desirable or undesirable, progressive or retrogressive, in hindsight. The Parliamentary system ensures that there are obstacles in the realization of these ends! One can think of the Parliament as this quintessential conservative force in society that ensures gradualist change and deliberation in legislative procedure. Hence by definition, any kind of legislative reform (be it good or bad) is "despite" the parliamentary system and not because of it. And that's how it should be! So when one bemoans instances of Parliament holding back the reforms of "sensible people", one misses the point. It is the duty of Parliament to hold back untrammeled passage of "reforms", sensible or otherwise. Coming back to Peel : Peel's free trade policies ushered in a new era in Britain - an era of low tariffs and unprecedented economic growth. This experience of Britain in late 19th century is contrary to the hackneyed protectionist claim that free trade can work against the interests of the domestic economy. Ironically it was the revival of protectionist tendencies under Joseph Chamberlain in early 1900s that caused a split in the ruling party and led to the Liberal victory of 1906! This probably indicates that the British public viewed the legacy of Peel''s free trade policies positively and was not in favour of a return to the bad old days of 18th century mercantilist policies. As an aside on a lighter note, I am curious about the use of the phrase "sensible, progressive people" in your comment. I hope it doesn't carry the implication that good sense is the monopoly of "progressives" while the conservatives are never "sensible" :)

My , my - the hearth still flickers yet ... From Bose to Peel - and back again. These threads seem to take on a life of their own ! But - I think that this will be my final contribution to this particular discussion, Gentlemen. It has run its course – and lets move onward. I’m quite sure that various issues above will be picked up on different threads soon enough, and will continue to be dissected and deliberated upon. But - just in case Mr Kolar thinks that he might get away with the last word (and we couldn't have that now, could we Mr Krishnamachary ?! Both of us being ' sensible ' types ) - I forward a few final thoughts and jottings. --------------------------- I suppose that, speaking in strictly semantic and hair-splitting terms, Mr Kolar - it would be quite difficult to describe the British Parliament as anything other than having been " only nominally representative of the interests of the people " during much of the nineteenth century. BUT : The type of ' democracy ' that we enjoy today is – as I’m sure that you are aware - a modern concept historically speaking, and an even more modern actuality. Only 5% of the British population were entitled to a vote prior to the passing of the Reform Act of 1832 - and just 7 % immediately afterwards. This tiny elite was, of course, made up by the aristocracy and land-owning classes, as this had been the established pattern stretching far back into the feudal, medieval mists. The electoral franchise slowly grew as the century progressed : the relevant figures after the passing of Act of 1867 were : 16% of the population with a vote - after the Act of 1884: 28% - after the Act of 1918 : 74 % - and after the Act of 1928: 98 %. (see Longmans Handbook- Cook/ Stevenson p.90) And so, on this basis, I shall not quibble with you over the use of the word "nominal ", and only with the context in which you have used it. The implication in your most recent post above is that this " nominal " representation was the cause of great discontent amongst the general population – that it was considered a grave injustice - and that radical elements were on the march, demanding their rights, and seething with a revolutionary will to overthrow the established order !! This sort of evocative depiction might be beloved of those of us who wish to view the development of post-industrial society through the prism of ' us versus them '… by those who perceive history only as the story of ' class warfare '. BUT: This ' struggle ' was never really the primary focus in Victorian Britain. Not really. But WAIT! I hear you cry – there WAS proletarian discontent – what about the Chartists, and others, who attracted so much support ? What about the riots and incidents of civic disorder? Yes, all of this is true, and occasionally people died. BUT: Most of these ' tinder-box 'situations, and the impulses that drove them, were quietly defused by a graduated and equitable concession by the ' elite ', by the ' bourgeoisie ' (if you like) in their capacity - in their honourable and ancient capacity - as your " nominal representatives of the people ". If you stop to consider the sort of horrifying chaos and disorder that was engulfing the rest of the European continent throughout much of the same period – one must ask : Why was the situation in Britain so different, so relatively stable by comparison ? The answer is quite simple: ' Conservatism ' in the social sense of the word – and not the political – has always been the default position of the British people. By ' conservatism ', I mean a belief in the established order of things, a belief in graduated rather than revolutionary change, a belief in ' timeless ' values. In Britain this social conservatism combines itself with a long standing reverence for the Church, the State and for the Monarchy – the hierarchy – as it has evolved over hundreds of years. And, by and large, this continues to be the case, although this paradigm is frequently contested. After the upheaval of the Reformation and the carnage of the English Civil War, four hundred years ago - political change has never been of a dramatic nature in Britain , because – very, VERY generally speaking – the people have accepted the status quo – and they have not felt unjustly treated. Or if they have done so, the cause has been addressed. Why do you think that the class system is so entrenched in the British psyche ?? It is because we don't believe in Utopia. Our government system continues to function pretty well, as it is - with only the occasional alteration or adjustment. This isn't to say that in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries various socialist solutions to various practical problems were not tried and tested in Britain - yes, they were - Trade Unionism became a powerful force, the Labour Party came along to represent the working class voice – and today, as a result of a certain amount of social engineering, the U.K. is a tax-payer funded 'Welfare State' guided by the principle that those who have should help those who have not... BUT: This egalitarian ethos is still very widely challenged, and the scope and the dimensions of the Welfare Society are the subject of much heated debate. Tradition is STILL the backbone of British society, I would argue – not Whiggish ideas of ' progress'. It is this perspective that, if you are serious in attempting to understand British history – and by extension, British Colonial history – that you should try to come to grips with. Of course, all of this is only my own opinion, and there are many Englishmen who would consider my views to be ' old -fashioned ' or even ' reactionary ', but I have come to these conclusions over many years. I appreciate that modern British history is a subject upon which you seem to have read a great deal of material - I had never heard of the ' Maynooth grant ', for example, and had to look it up - but , try to approach the Britain of the 19th century - from time to time - without wearing those spectacles that you have acquired in 21st century India ! Enough of such ramblings. Best Wishes etc &c.

By far the best comment I have read on RBSI in a while. Thanks for the same Mr. Craig.

Thanks Julian for summing up very well thoughts that have come up over the past day or so. I leave you with an extract that defines British Conservatism from Robert Blake's book - "The History of the Conservative Party - From Peel to Churchill" - that has been on my to-read list for a while now. "The Person who was a Conservative of the more thoughtful sort in Peel's day, his outlook, prejudices and passions, would've been quite recognizable to his counterpart who voted for Winston Churchill in the 1950s. There was a similar belief that Britain, especially England, was usually in the right. There was a similar faith in the value of diversity, of independent institutions, of the rights of property; a similar distrust of centralising officialdom, of the efficacy of government (except in the preservation of order and national defence), of Utopian panaceas and of 'doctrinaire' intellectuals, a similar dislike of abstract ideas, high philosophical principles and sweeping generalisations. There was a similar readiness to accept cautious empirical piecemeal reform, if a Conservative government said it was needed. There was a similar reluctance to look too far ahead or worry too much about the future; a similar scepticism about human nature; a similar belief in original sin, and in the limitations of political and social amelioration; a similar scepticism about the notion of 'equality' "

I will agree with Julian Craig on one and only one issue - less back-slapping please! As for 'bloviate' - I guess we all have subscriptions to 'a word a day!' Lastly, as to how Conservatism is the default position of the British people - it's not just the British to whom this applies but to ALL countries, including the US. The liberals are always the ones wanting change while those who are comfortable with the status quo, generally the majority, despise it. Just my two bits. I don't see how you guys find the time to read or write on these issues, fascinating as they are.

I agree! These are amazingly bright gentlemen! …but then back-slapping is a wonderful thing to do.

RBSI : Backslapping is just a polite means of "agreeing to disagree". I don't think anyone of us has changed his / her opinions over the past week because of this debate! People, no matter how well read or intelligent they are, tend to have a certain world view buttressed by certain assumptions. A challenge to those assumptions is always unwelcome. The intellect is simply used to rationalize pre-conceived world views. Maybe I am being a tad too harsh. Maybe people do reflect on the arguments for a day or two. But within a week or so, the debate will recede from the memory and they will be back socializing in their own circle populated by men and women with similar world views :) That's human nature for you. Being a conservative I am very sceptical about changing human nature. Ofcourse I had a good time engaging in a bit of "intellectual masturbation" as Ratnesh may put it. But that's about it. Life goes on as usual

On this subject of intellectual intransigence, I heartily recommend an e-book by Arnold Kling an American economist - published last year titled "The Three Languages of Politics". Kling broadly categorizes political partisans into three camps - Conservatives, Progressives and Libertarians. Each camp speaks a different language which the other camp cannot understand. Kling explains this by saying the orientation of each camp is along a different axis causing this total incapacity to meet the other camps halfway. Conservatives base their arguments along the "civilization-barbarism" axis. Any public policy or assessment of a historical episode is based on where it stands on this particular axis. Progressives (or Liberals) base their arguments along the "Oppressor - Oppressed" axis. Every little thing is judged on whether it makes the balance more in favour of the "Oppressors" or the "Oppressed". Libertarians base their arguments along the "Freedom vs Coercion" axis, where everything is judged based on whether it makes individuals less or more free So if you get these three men in a room, its quite possible they approach a single issue with three different orientations along different axes which makes any kind of intellectual exchange impossible!

Apparently this kind of political orientation is biological - one is born conservative or liberal. Have to find the study regarding this.

Shrikanth, you're not just a conservative - you're also an Anglophile, from what I can see! :)

Ms Ullal : "Anglophile", "Anglophobe" - these are just labels. Jargon. Catchphrases that enable us to stereotype the thoughts of complex individuals we don't particularly like. I've used such labels myself at many points in my life. So this isn't a criticism of you :) Here's a quote by VS Naipaul that dwells on the deleterious impact of using jargon to simplify one's arguments - "Nearly thirty years ago I went to Argentina. It was at the time of the guerrilla crisis. People were waiting for the old dictator Perón to come back from exile. The country was full of hate. Peronists were waiting to settle old scores. One such man said to me, "There is good torture and bad torture." Good torture was what you did to the enemies of the people. Bad torture was what the enemies of the people did to you. People on the other side were saying the same thing. There was no true debate about anything. There was only passion and the borrowed political jargon of Europe. I wrote, "Where jargon turns living issues into abstractions, and where jargon ends by competing with jargon, people don't have causes. They only have enemies."

Much wisdom here...