Monday, June 20, 2022

Unsettling Utopia: The Making and Unmaking of French India A Review

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Unsettling Utopia: The Making and Unmaking of French India

Jessica Namakkal
New York Columbia University Press, 2021.

Pondicherry has perfected the art of the revolving door politics. Political loyalties are fluid and personalities matter more than party ideology or organization. Jessica Namakkal has studied the politics of the French Colony from the middle of the nineteenth century till the establishment of the township of Auroville in 1968, a dream project of the Mother of the Ashram. Are the two institutions, the Ashram created by Sri Aurobindo and the township of Auroville inspired by the utopian ideal of finding perfection in human societies. Her argument that both these institutions represent a continuity with the colonial past makes sense in the light of recent developments. 

Pondicherry merged with the Indian Union in 1954 and the process of achieving the "merger" was fraught with both drama and hard nailed real politik. This book unpacks some of the main contours of the social and institutional changes that took place in the region as a direct consequence of French policies initiated during the Third Republic. Her area of study is restricted to the Pondicherry region and ignores the developments in Chandranagore near Calcutta now Kolkata. An aspect of recent history that all historians dealing with what is grandly termed "decolonization" ignore is the fact that French territories in India, as distinct from Indo-Chine was the allegiance to Fighting France under Charles de Gaulle during the years of the Second World War. As an ally, French authorities were ably assisted by the Police and other agencies of British India. In the interwar years a number of political prisoners took refuge in Pondicherry including Sri Aurbindo, V S S Iyer, Vanchinathan and Bharathi. After the outbreak of World War II the tide turned towards repression and the use of non state muscle men called "goondas" in the local patios. Jessica uses the same term throughout the book without the least irony or explanation. 

Pondicherry during the Third Republic was the site of a republican experiment that tries unsuccessfully to weld the revolutionary idea of Egalite or equality with the new fangled ideas of Racism and civilizational hierarchies were being discussed in the Parisian saloons and intellectuals. The justification for French colonialism was their mission civilisatrice or Civilizing Mission. The republican adherence to the values of the Revolution meant that citizenship was extended to colonial subjects and in this France under the Third Republic was certainly more progressive than the Portuguese, Dutch and the British colonizers. This progressive measure was tempered by the formal renunciation of Indian customs and religion. The introduction of this policy created conditions that were to complicate the transition to Indian statehood. The author seems to imply that the French authorities freely deployed armed men to attack and sometimes even kill those who were in favor of Indian statehood/merger in the contrived linguistic use in Pondicherry. 

The fact is that the conditions of World War II and the relatively smooth relations between French and British authorities introduced an element of uncertainty as far as the future of Pondicherry was concerned. And given the caste configuration of Pondicherry, the French authorities unlike the British permitted the tapping of toddy and settled a sizeable number (nadar/gramini/ udaiya) in areas lie Saram, Mudiliarpet, Bahour and Karaikal. The lucrative liquor vends were largely in the hands of these privileged groups and so a steady pool of armed men ready and able to enforce the will of their French masters was readily available and this was a factor that contributed to the violence that Rajkumar and B Krishnamurthy have spoken of.

This book is written in a style and tenor of a "post colonial" narrative. There are important issues that have been left out and the thesis that the Ashram and Auroville represnt colonial legacies can be contested. However this is an important contribution to the recent history of Pondicherry.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Imran Khan, History and Political Rhetoric: The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is falling apart

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Battle of Plassey, 1757
   Imran Khan, the recently deposed Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is shaking things up in his country. Pakistan is caught in the vice like grip of two crises of its own making: the Islamic militancy or Taliban attacks from Afghanistan and the rising volume of attacks from the militants fighting the Army in Baluchistan. Added to this is the economic crisis that is inexorably leading Pakistan to an economic collapse, And Sri Lanka comes immediately to mind. China, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have all refused to bale out the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and default of its debts is on the cards. Against this grim scenario let us see what the cricketing hero Imran Khan has been doing.

Ever since his removal from office, He has been criss crossing the country in a chopper commandeered from the Government of Khyber Pakahtunwa, where Imran Khan's PTI is in office and has addressed massive gatherings (jalsa) in Islamabad, Attock, Jallalabad, Faisalabad, and several other important cities. In spite of all the road blocks thrown up by a shaky regime, Imran Khan has succeeded in taking his message to the very heart of the Electorate. It does not take a psephologist like our own C Voter Organization to predict a substantial victory for the PTI in KP, Sind and parts of Baluchistan. In Punjab the Sheriff Family has a substantial base. Everywhere Imran Khan has been driving home the same message: betrayal of the mandate by a corrupt criminal gang out on bail. He is of course hitting out against the Sheriff Family including Nawaz who stands convicted and the present Prime Minister, Shabazz Sheriff who is out on bail. Khan's rhetoric is so impassioned that it draws immediate reaction from the crowd. The disturbing element in his political strategy is the deliberate use of Islamic Religious identity to sell his political image. Drawing on the Koran he has constructed a political theology that essentially states that a good muslim will stand with Imran Khan against traitors who conspired with internal and external enemies of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Of course, USA is singled out as the external enemy.

Imran Khan political rhetoric combines historical examples and searing contempt for the present rulers. When I was a boy Cherry Blossom was only a shoe polish. In Pakistan Cherry Blossom is the preferred term of endearment for Shabazz Sherif. Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto is often spoken of as a Bimari (disease) that rhymes with Zardari. The most devastating attack is reserved for Nawaaz Sherif and Shabaaz Sheriff who are called Mir Jafer and Mir Sadiq. It is not quite clear  who is identified by these names.

In his use of History, Imran Khan is  much too careless. He repeatedly states that Siraj ud Daullah, the Nawab of Bengal, was the representative of the Mussalman Mughal rulers. Nothing can be further from the truth. The Mughals had ceased to be a factor in Indian politics by the first decade of the eighteenth century when the Mahrattas rose to prominence and were raiding territories from Punjab to Bengal. In fact Siraj ud Daullah's maternal grandfather Alivardi Khan had stopped even recognizing Mughal Hukkumat (regime). Mir Jafer was the candidate propped by  Ghasiti Begum, the widow of the late ruler who himself had seized the throne by deposing Safraz Khan. In the Battle of Plassey, Mir Jaffer held back his troops thereby Robert Clive claim his first major military victory in India. Of course, the Battle of Plassey and later the Battle of Buxar paved the way for the rule of the East India Company. Given the factional nature of loyalties in precolonial India, Mir Jaffer was not betraying his state. He was only furthering his factional agenda. Mir Sadiq, is said to have betrayed Tipu Sultan.

Imran Khan is setting fire to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He is effectively using the themes of treachery, slavery, economic collapse, foreign debt and the War on Terror as effective weapons against the current regime. It is certain that his message resonates with the youth.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Nine Lives of Pakistan Dispatches' from A Divided Land by Declan Walsh A Review

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The Nine Lives of Pakistan Dispatches from a Divided Land

Declan Walsh
Bloomsbury 2021

I heard of this book in a YouTube pod cast of the Lahore Book Club presented by Shri Adnan Moiz and since I am a keen observer of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and have been following the byzantine politics of the Garrison State rather closely. The dramatic events leading to the exit of Shri Imran Khan has had the nation transfixed even as the Soap Opera unfolded over an entire month. It seems that the Establishment, the Paistani euphemism for its Deep State consisting of the Army and its Secret Service finally had its way. 

This book by Declan Walsh, a correspondent of the New York Times and The Guardian, who spent a decade covering Pakistan from the closing years of the Premiership of Benazir Bhutto through the years of Nawaz Sheriff follows the developments on the political stage by in-depth interviews with men and women not the movers and shakers but humble folks. Friends in low places help us understand reality better than friends perched higher up the ladder. He seeks out human rights activists like the woman lawyer Asma Jehangir, the "encounter specialist" of the Karachi Police and follows the adventurers of a true believer in the Islamic Jihad, Colonel Imran as he sped from Taliban hideouts in Waziristan to a dusty death on the road to Peshawar. Like a cat Pakistan has had Nine Lives and how many of them has it used.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan made wrong political and ideological choices and the society is paying a huge price for them. The whole idea of Pakistan as a home for Indian Muslims which culminated in the state being created by the British did not involve even the courtesy of a perfunctory consultation with the indigenous populations of the region that came to be called Pakistan. Thus Punjab, Sindh, North West Frontier Province now called Khyber Pukhtunwa  were not taken into confidence. The result is the huge fault line the divides the Mohajirs from India and the rest of the population. The Mohajirs are a discriminated lot and have turned to urban terrorism in Karachi in order to carve out political space for themselves. The MQM is a potent political force and its exiled leader Altaf is able to control the city from his exile in London. 

The other fault line is more elemental and this goes back to 1893 when the Durand Line was established. I have given the link of my study of the Durand Line here. The Historical and geopolitical aspects of the 1893 Boundary are spelt out in my essay. More important is the fact that Zia ul Haq the Military Dictator of Pakistan walked into the American trap in Afghanistan with his eyes wide shut. A Soviet occupied Afghanistan could have been prevailed upon to accept the Durand Line as the international border. Instead the Pakistani Army and its ISI entered th war against the Soviets by acting as conduits for supplying weapons and arms to the "mujahudeedn" the freedom fighters who were recruited on a pan Islamic basis thereby laying the foundation for the Global Jihad that we see all around us. The second mistake was to fall under American threats and signing up on the War on Terror in 2001. US for reasons that are as yet unclear decided that al Qaeda was behind the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11. Consequently Pakistani Army was forced to fight the very Taliban it had created trained and helped capture power in Afghanistan. Now the War of Terror turned out to be a disaster both for Pakistan and Afghanistan. The unrestricted use of drones in their war killed large number of civilian non combatants. Link: In this Essay we have assessed the impact of Drone attacks and Declan Walsh has drawn attention to the fact that only Imran Khan condemned the attacks. The American War on Terror turned Pakistan into an enemy and the Taliban have not forgotten that betrayal and unfortunately the Army and its leadership seems to be quite indifferent to the ground reality.

The most fascinating part of the book is his use of personal stories to flesh out the rancid realities of politics in Pakistan. The life of the Imam of the Red Mosque who became the founding member of the TeT and the life of Salmaan Taseer are both done to bring out the deepening social divide in Pakistan. The western elite lead a life insulated from the harsh realities of price rise, fuel shortages, lack of medicines and health facilities while the poor have only their Allah and their religion for comfort. The result is a deadly cocktail of social unrest and religious fanaticism and Wash uses the example of Qadri the man who shot and killed Salmaan Taseer to show how deep the poison of religion has seeped. And this toxic legacy is here to stay.

Walsh is careless in his research. On page 70 he writes that Gandhi was killed by the RSS. This narrative was pushed by Nehru and his cohorts but the reality is that the Courts and three Commissions of Inquiry appointed by the Government of India has shown conclusively that the RSS had nothing to do with the killing of Gandhi. By lining Gandhi's assassination with the RSS Nehru sought to gain political mileage in the  days  following the Partition. It is not necessary for a western journalist to repeat this canard even in a book for a general audience. 

I liked this book as I am familiar with the main events. However there are larger questions that Walsh ignores. Pakistan today is caught in a quagmire of Jihadi inspired militancy, Taliban assertion, Baluchi resistance and Sindhi Nationalism. Its survival is now seriously in doubt as the leaders have made wrong choices at each and every critical moment of its history. The War on Terror is the most recent and accepting Chinese loans for the CPEC is another. India will watch what is happening and will not interfere.

Friday, March 18, 2022


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Stalin remains a controversial figure in modern history. His reign of terror in the 1930s saw  tens of thousands of innocent men and women marched off to their death. The forced collectivization following the failure of the New Economic Policy saw at least 10 million peasants die of starvation and the rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union was achieved at a huge human cost. The German attack on Soviet Union after the collapse of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact consumed another 25 to 30 million lives. When we face such statistics we can only remember what Stalin once said: The death of an individual is a tragedy but the death of millions is a statistic. Cynical though this statement is, it contains the sad truth.

What kind of a man was Stalin. This book, by Geoffrey Roberts published by the Yale University Press is based on an analysis of the books in Stalin's  Library. The Stalin Digital Archive created by Yale University contains a  complete catalogue of his Collection of nearly 25,000 books. These books were distributed over three buildings : the dacha where he lived, the Kremlin Office where he worked and an annexe which he used for his official entertainment and meeting party colleagues. After his death in 1953, when Soviet Union lurched suddenly towards destalinization his library was dismantled and books distributed to a number of different libraries. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 provided the opportunity for scholars to reexamine the legacy of Stalin. Yale University was first to grab the opportunity and a number of  documents, papers, letters and books of the Russian statesman were regathered collated and catalogued. The book under review is a product of that endeavour.

Stalin was a well educated and well read man. This came as a shock to me even though I have read the Biography of Stalin by Issac Deutcher. As a Marxist, he believed that books were the tools of the mind and his Library contained a rich collection of classics of European Literature. Apart from Georgian and Russian, Stalin could read French but was not adept at English or German. It seems that he made an attempt to learn English as he told H G Wells when he met him before the War. Stalin covered the margins of the books he read with notations--pometki--and these marginal notations are used by the author to probe and explore the mind of Stalin as a reader, thinker and ideologue.

Geoffrey Robert has written an interesting book but a large chunk of the space is taken up by regurgitating the history and life story of Stalin which is by now widely known. He does take time out to dispel some of the myths that have grown around Stalin. He was not an agent of the Tsarist secret police, Okhrana. And unlike the picture of a dour blood thirsty tyrant, Stalin seems to have been intellectually engaged and as the author points out, did not take his own personality cult seriously as he was too intelligent and self aware go be taken in by panegyrics of his sycophants. 

A book of this sort raises an obvious question. Is Stalin being normalized and humanized by such efforts. As a human being Stalin was cold and brutal as his own daughter Svetlana recalled in her Autobiography. When his eldest son was captured by the Germans during World War II, Stalin did not treat his daughter in law and granddaughter any different. They were imprisoned as were other families of Soviet PoWs in German camps. This son was shot by the Germans and only after that was his daughter in law released from prison. Stalin had read the works of Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev,  Kamenev, Bukharin very carefully and the copies of their work were preserved carefully in his collection. 

This book is worth reading as it eschews the pieties of post colonialism and makes a sincere effort to look at Stalin as a reader and producer of ideas. Some of his books such as his work on the National Question are still considered works with great theoretical value. We may recall what Walter Benjamn once wrote: It is not the books that come alive by being collected, it is the collector.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Essays of U V Swaminatha Iyer Tradition and Modernity in Tamil Literary Culture

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Essays of U Ve Sa The Man who Revived Ancient Tamil Literature

Translated by Prabha Sridevan and Pradeep Chakravarthy

New Delhi: Niyogi Books 2022

Dr U V Swaminatha Iyer (1855-1942) is a personality who is in every sense a man of his times. He lived before the Pure Tamil Movement and the Dravidian Movement reshaped the cultural and political landscape of the Tamil region and therefore was able to make a remarkable contribution to the study of Tamil Literature. He was trained in Sanskrit and Tamil, a bilingual skill which is utterly absent in the "scholarly" tradition today. Like Hindi in the North which almost at around the same time, Tamil too was caught up in a battle that ultimately decided the shape structure and morphology of the language and some scholars call that identity battle the beginning of the Tamil Modernity. 

The book begins with the line: "Tamil is a classical language spoken by more than 80 million people across the world." The bland statement hides an important claim :classical status for a living language which in itself is problematic. What deserves attention is the place of "classical" languages in the literary cultures of the world. If we take Latin as an example it is well known that almost all the major European languages inherited their grammar script and to a large extent their literary models from Latin and after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fourth century AD these were adopted or refashioned and repurposed for writing vernacular languages, the vulgate tongue. Therefore the classical status of a language is not predicated merely on its "antiquity".  In the case of Tamil and other languages as Sheldon Pollock in his now classic work, Language of the Gods in the World of Men, the literary forms and grammatical structures evolved within what he calls the Sanskrit Cosmopolis. The use of Sanskrit language and Grantha script by powerful dynasties like the Cholas and the Pandyas shows that ninetieth century and early twentieth century preoccupation with a politicized linguistic consciousness did not influence the literary and scribal culture of the early medieval age.

This book consists of 29 essays written by U V Swaminatha Iyer and were originally published in Tamil literary magazines that had wide circulation in Mylapore, Egmore, Mambalam and other parts of Madras city: Ananda Vikatan.Along with Pratapa Mudaliar who is remembered for writing his Autobiography and is a precocious venture into scriptal consciousness, Iyer also wrote his autobiography after he retired from Presidency College. The collection of essays in this book are largely autobiographical and detail his life as a scholar in search of a "lost heritage", the Lost Literature of Tamil. It is a pity Umberto Eco had not heard of Dr U V Swaminatha Iyer when he wrote the Name of the Rose. Iyer hunted, searched, copied, edited and published Tamil literary classics and today the claim of Tamil being a Classical Language is largely substantiated by the body of early texts that he discovered and published.

Swaminatha Iyer was the protege of Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai under whom he studied Tamil and who gave him the name Swaminatha. The Tiruvadurai Adheenam hada rich collection of Tamil Manuscripts, a Scriptorium rich in documents collected over several centuries. With the intervention of Tyagaraja Chettiyar, Iyer got the post of Tamil Pandit in Kumbakonam College and from this point onwards he began the task of collecting Tamil Manuscripts. Jiva Chintamani, a Jaina work was the first major work and it was followed by the discovery and publication of Purunanurru, Silapadikaram, Manimekkalai and other works. As the essays in this book describe in the imitable style adopted by this great savant his search took his to temples, houses of descendents of Tamil scholars, Saivite Mutts and culturally influential people. Access was not easy and there was competition. However the single minded devotion was crowned with success and with the advent of Print, Swaminatha Iyer was able to bring the literary past of Tamil Language to a wider audience. It must be said that in this task Damodaram Pillai (1832-1901) Armugha Navalar also helped in the endeavor of rediscovering the lost literary heritage. 

Were the classics of Tamil literature which today are glossed under the rubric Sangam Literature really lost. Are there no mention of these works during the early medieval period. Did the transition from palm leaf as a medium of record keeping and manuscript preservation play any role in the disappearance of these works. David Shulam in his outstanding work Tamil A Biography has provided just the answer. Unfortunately given the deep and unseemly crust of identity politics in which Tamil Studies exists today  books like the one by Sridevan and Chakrvarthy will remain rare. The authors have done a splendid job in providing lucid translations of the essays of this great savant.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

R Nagaswamy Archaeologist, Historian and Public Intellectual A Tribute

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The death of Dr R Nagaswamy, the doyen of Tamil Archaeologists and Epigraphists is a great loss to the world of medieval studies in general and Tamil History in particular. The importance of Nagaswamy lay in his fearless and at times extremely sophisticated exposure of the identity politics driven scholarship that clogs the academic space in  the region today. Partly the identity politics in the Tamil cultural sphere revolves around the contentious issues of Language Culture and  Heritage. Nagaswamy was the only scholar who could effectively challenge the fake racial narrative of Dravidianism because he was well versed both in Tamil and Sanskrit. Perhaps he was the last Historian who could read the inscriptions of Rajaraja I in the Rajarajesvara Temple straight off the wall and he could as easily read the Sanskrit inscriptions on the walls of the Chidambaram Temple. This linguistic facility to read the languages and scripts of Tamil Nadu made him reject the pieties of the antiquity of the Tamil language.

Nagaswamy was not convinced that the Harappan Script was the ancestor of the Tamil script and though a prominent IAS Officer advanced the claim of reading several pictographs on the Harappan seals as variants of Tamil phonemes, Nagaswamy took the politically dangerous road of opposing the bogus identity politics driven research which was expedient. This did not mean that he did not take the early Tamil classics seriously. It is worth recalling that the marine exploration off the coast of Nagapattinam of the ancient site of Puhar was launched when he was the Director of the Department of Archaeology. Unlike the situation today, fifty years backs Archaeology was still a rational discipline which was practiced within reason and respected the protocols of research and verification. 

Nagaswmay founded the journal Damilica which had acquired a world wide reputation. I remember reading this journal which was printed on map litho paper when I was pursuing my PhD at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Inscriptions which were of particular importance were edited and published. And sometimes, as in the case of the famous Jambai Brahmi Inscription differing interpretations were possible. Nagaswmay discovered and published the Puzhankuruchi Inscription and that was a landmark discovery. He started a series entitled Tamil Mavattu Kalvettukal, Tamil District Inscriptions and more than eight districts were fully covered in this new series begun by Nagaswamy. And after he left the office of Director State Department of Archaeology this series like Damilica fell by the wayside. Nagaswamy was keen to see that the McKenzie  Manuscripts were made available to the world of scholarship and he encouraged his Department to edit the volumes and after the study of Taylor in the late nineteenth century we have Nagaswamy's contribution. To say the he enriched the world of scholarship would not be an understatement.

Nagawamy spent the decades after he retired from service exploring the Saiva Agamas. Generally neglected as historical sources, Nagaswamy identified the Maukuta Agama as the possible inspiration for the great temple of Rajaraja I at Tanjavur. Unfortunately most scholars in Tamil Nadu today can neither read Tamil or Sanskrit and consequently the quality of scholarship has declined sharply. 

Towards the end of his life, Nagaswamy took upon himself the onerous task of exposing the Sanskrit basis of Tamil literary creations. Though historians like George Hart and David Shulman have argued that Tamil is deeply indebted to Sanskrit and vice versa, the pulavars generally prefer to see an autonomous origin of the Tamil Language and Script. In their imagination the Indus Valley looms large.

Nagaswamy was a true bhakta and wanted to see the wealth of Temples preserved and protected. The Tiruchendur Temple Incident happened during his time and I am not aware of what his stand was. And given the circumstances it would have been dangerous for him. However, Nagaswamy played an important role in helping India recover the Sriviliputtur Bronzes from UK and the repatriation was on the basis of his expert testimony given in the London Court. More importantly, the judgement has set a precedent based on which India under Prime MInister Narendar Modi has successfully repatriated more than 250 pieces of stolen art.

Nagaswamy was a true scholar and the world of medieval history stands impoverished with his death.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Woke Racism: How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America: A Review

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Woke Racism: How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America

John McWhorter

Today USA is fast becoming an Orwellian dystopia where Mothers are called Birthing Persons and men win women's races by "identifying" as women. A College Women's  Swimming team faced this problem and the Twitter mob came out in strength yelling "Transphobic Bigots" which quickly sent the challengers scurrying for cover. Welcome to the Brave New World of Woke America. 

John McWhorter is a Professor of Linguistics teaching in an Ivy League University and is Black. Both these details are important as the book under discussion will be trashed by white liberals had it been written by a white person, worse he would have been called racist bigot by a lynch mob of raving wokes. The author prefers to call the new leaders of the emerging socio-political ideology in USA as Elect not woke as the term irritates them no end. Let it be remembered that the term woke first circulated in black communities as a catch all term for a person with a perceived heightened sense of racial justice, a social justice warrior in short. 

Is Wokeism a New Religion. The author argues that the new ideology has all the markings of a new religion or cult. Its Bible White Fragility and its priests a whole army of well educated "corporate" "wall street" millennials who imagine that their earrings in six figure salary is the outcome of "white privilege" and made to atone for their success by supporting the Black Lives Matter and other organizations that are in the forefront of this socio-political movement. Arguing that this movement is a religion with the Elect as the a Synod whose members are blessed with the great wisdom of sniffing out systemic racism wherever that ugly beast resides. American Universities, particularly the soft disciplines like the Social Sciences have already embraced the woke ideology without much critical discussion.  There can be no discussion as the Commissars of the New Left have already decreed that anyone questioning their statements or opinions is a racist and will face the consequences of his/her actions in the digital public square when the Twitter mob will be incited to "tar and feather" the offending person. 

The New cult of Wokeism has created a new crime Thought Crime. We had heard of Thought Crimes only in the dystopia of Orwell's 1984. No. Thought crimes are here and have consequences. The author has discussed a few instances in which journalists and writers, even teachers in schools and universities have faced serious punishment for expressing opinions or dissent against the ruling orthodoxy of the New Left. One unfortunate soul tweeted that All Lives Matter and that was enough to bring the enlightened ones out in all their fiendish hunger. The tweet wad disrespectful to George Floyd was the alleged reason for the collective howl of protest. And like in Orwell's 1984, a new language is slowly being fashioned to condition thought and police the boundaries of the thinkable. In the social practice of Wokeism, accusation is followed by condemnation and cancellation and no one wants to face that. USA is going through a nightmare of guilt and there is no hope of redemption in the Church of Wokedom, as the author repeatedly points. Being white marks you out for eternal damnation. The sins of Slavery rest on the shoulders of the whites as they have inherited country built on "systemic racism". 

The over politicisation of American society along racial lines is already eroding civil and constitutional liberties and rights. Though the writer does not discuss it, I would like to point out that the recent threat of the Department of Justice to investigate parents who show dissent about Critical Race Theory will be investigated as "domestic terrorists" under the Patriots Act. A chilling threat but one that the corporate media is quite comfortable with. During the Nazi era in Germany, neighbours were encouraged to spy on each other and we have the American Establishment openly aligning itself with those who want to use state apparatus to stamp down parental concern for a good education for their children.

Critical Race Theory as a pedagogic tool is unfit for a school curriculum as it is based on fake history and false science. Project 1619 which wants to project USA as being tainted by slavery from the very inception tries to argue that the American War of Independence was fought to preserve Slavery. Nothing is further form the truth. As a Historian, I can concede that by winning the war a new lease of life was given to Slavery but the purpose was not to protect the peculiar institution. As the author points out, it is futile to condemn Washington and Jefferson today as "slaveholders" as that was the moral standard of the day. This argument is not quite correct. There were quite a few eighteenth century philosophers and I can name Edmund Burke who had condemned the Atlantic Slave Trade. So the explanation for the institutionalization of Slavery has to be sought in the colonies themselves. 

This work is a sensible critique of a growing movement and it seems that the push back against woke thought has begun.