...So we passed, handcuffed and in silence, through the streets of Washington, through the Captial of a nation, whose theory of government, we are told, rests on the foundation of man's inalienable right to life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness! Hail! Columbia, happy land, indeed!
Oh, would thatI had died the way the Sikh did! I can not go forward. I shallnot submit to being made to see more clearly than I do. Yet, ifI turn back I am self-confessed coward! Furthermore, how can Iturn back! How shall I reach India, alone, alive? As a corpse Ishould no longer interest myself. And if I should succeed inreaching India, I should despise myself, because you and Jimgrimtreated me as fellow man and yet I failed you. On the other hand,if I go forward they will teach me the reality of things, of whichalready I know much too much! It has been bad enough as failedB.A. to stick my tongue into my cheek and flatter blind men--pompous Englishmen and supine Indians--for a living. I have hadto eat dust from the wheels of what the politicians think isprogress; and I have had to be polite when I was patronized bymen whom I should pity if I had the heart to do it! And I couldendure it, Rammy sahib, because I only knew more than was goodfor me and not all of it by any means! I do not wish to know more.If I saw more clearly I should have to join the revolutionaries--who are worse than those they revolute against! It is alreadybad enough to have to toady to the snobs on top. To have to agreewith the snobs underneath, who seek to level all men to a commonmeanness since they can not admire any sort of superiority--thatwould be living death! I would rather pretend to admire theEnglishman whose snobbery exasperates me, than repeat the liesof Indians whose only object is to do dishonestly and badly butmuch more cleverly what the English do honestly and with all thestupidity of which they are capable!
Minor segments of earlier history may have been rescued or 'retrieved' -- e.g. Greek 'democracy,' Aristotle, the Magna Carta, etc. -- but these remain subservient, if not instrumental, to the imperatives of the modern historical narrative and to the progress of 'Western civilization.' African and Asia, in most cases, continue to struggle in order to catch up, in the process not only forgoeing the privilege of drawing on their own traditions and historical experiences that shaped who they were and, partly, who they have become but also letting themselves be drawn into devastating wars, poverty, disease and the destruction of their natural environment. Modernity, whose hegemonic discourse is determined by the institutions and intellectuals of the powerful modern West, has not offered a fair shake to two-thirds of the world's population, who have lost their history and, with it, their organic ways of existence.
"The indictment [the Western/modern question, 'Why be moral?'] also issued from a gross underrating of the 'moral' force that was regarded within the Islamic tradition as an essential and integral part of the 'law.' At the foundation of this underrating stood the observer's ideological judgement about religion (at least the Islamic religion), a judgment of repugnance, especially when religion as a moral and theological force is seen to be fused with law. The judgement, in other words, undercuts a proper apprehension of the role of modernity as a legal form, of its power and force. Historical evidence [in modernity/Enlightenment thought and its intellectual progeny] was thus made to fit into what makes sense to us, not what made sense to a culture that defined itself -- systematically, teleologically, and existentially -- in different terms. This entrenched repugnance for the religious -- at least in this case to the 'Islamic' in Muslim societies -- amounted, in legal terms, to the foreclosure of the possibility of considering the force of the moral within the realm of the legal, and vice versa. Theistic teleology, eschatology, and socially grounded moral gain, status, honor, shame, and much else of a similar type were reduced in importance, if not totally set aside, in favor of other explanations that 'fit better' within our preferred, but distinctively modern, countermoral systems of value. History was brought down to us, to the epistemological here and now, according to our own terms, when in theory no one denies that it was our historiographical set of terms that ought to have been subordinated to the imperatives of historical writing.
If we live in a world of states, and if out-of-state existence is impossible, then we all must live as national citizens. We are the nation, and the nation is us. This is as fundamental as it is an inescapable reality. Nationalism engulfs both the individual and the collective; it produces the 'I' and 'We' dialectically and separately. Not only does nationalism produce the community and its individual members: it is itself the community and its realized individual subjects, for without these there is no nationalism."Leading sociologists and philosophers have emphasized the pervasive presence of the community in individual consciousnesses, where the social bond is an essential part of the self. It is not only that the 'I' is a member of the 'We,' but, more importantly, that the 'We' is a necessary member of the 'I.' It is an axiom of sociological theory, writes Scheler, that all human knowledge 'precedes levels of self-contagiousness of one's self-value. There is no "I" without "We." The "We" is filled with contents prior to the "I." ' Likewise, Mannheim emphasizes ideas and thought structures as functions of social relations that exist within the group, excluding the possibility of any ideas arising independently of socially shared meanings. The social reality of nationalism not only generates meanings but is itself a 'context of meaning'; hence our insistence that nationalism constitutes and is constituted by the community as a social order. 'It is senseless to pose questions such as whether the mind is socially determined, as though the mind and society each posses a substance of their own' [citing Pressler and Dasilva's Sociology]. The profound implications of the individual's embeddedness in the national community is that the community's ethos is prior and therefore historically determinative of all socioepistemic phenomena. And if thought structures are predetermined by intellectual history, by society's inheritance of historical forms of knowledge, then those structures are also a priori predetermined by the linguistic structures in which this history is enveloped, cast, and framed.Like law, nationalism is everywhere: it creates the community and shapes world history even before nationalism comes into it.
There is in all of us a strong disposition to regard what is lawful as legitimate, so much so that many falsely derive all justice from law. It is sufficient, then, for the law to order and sanction plunder, that it may appear to many consciences just and sacred. Slavery, protection, and monopoly find defenders, not only in those who profit by them, but in those who suffer by them. If you suggest a doubt as to the morality of these institutions, it is said directly—“You are a dangerous experimenter, a utopian, a theorist, a despiser of the laws; you would shake the basis upon which society rests.
Our lives are encumbered with the dead wood of this past; all that is dead and has served its purpose has to go. But that does not mean a break with, or a forgetting of, the vital and life-giving in that past. We can never forget the ideals that have moved our race, the dreams of the Indian people through the ages, the wisdom of the ancients, the buoyant energy and love of life and nature of our forefathers, their spirit of curiosity and mental adventure, the daring of their thought, their splendid achievements in literature, art and culture, their love of truth and beauty and freedom, the basic values that they set up, their understanding of life's mysterious ways, their toleration of other ways than theirs, their capacity to absorb other peoples and their cultural accomplishments, to synthesize them and develop a varied and mixed culture; nor can we forget the myriad experiences which have built up our ancient race and lie embedded in our sub-conscious minds. We will never forget them or cease to take pride in that noble heritage of ours. If India forgets them she will no longer remain India and much that has made her our joy and pride will cease to be.