Monday, March 30, 2009

Heinrich Von Stietencron, “Charisma and Canon: The Dynamics of Legitimization and Innovation in Indian Religions,”

Heinrich Von Stietencron, “Charisma and Canon: The Dynamics of Legitimization and Innovation in Indian Religions,” in Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent, ed. Vasudha Dalmia, Angelika Malinar, and Martin Christof. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), 14-38.

SUMMARY: Believes Indian religions have “charisma” and “canon” in the sense that it they are used in Christianity and by Weber. Gives history of “charisma” and “canon” (14-15), and offers a theory for the pattern in which the 2 interact (16). Looks at “charisma” of Kings in early Vedic religions (17-21), then how its use changed for Brahmins (21-24), and finally how it has been used for images of gods (26-27).

14-note # 1 (p 32): gives history of word “charisma”: “Derived from the Greek charis, meaning grace, favour; the charismata (pl. of charisma) mentioned in the Greek Bible were ‘gifts of grace’ or special power attributed to the agency of the Holy Spirit but operating in exceptional human beings. They included the gift of healing, prophecy, exorcism of evil spirits, working miracles, unusual knowledge, wisdom, faith or love, as well as glossalalia…the ability to interpret these utterances and unusual oratorical capacities in general (see, e.g., Paul in I. Cor. 12.1-14.40; Acts 2:1-12). These examples were derived from the life of Christ and his immediate disciples and were later expanded to include unbending heroism, fearless testimony in martyrdom, visions, and communication with superhuman beings. For important works on charisma prior to Max Weber, see Sohm (1892-1923) and Holl (1898) [Weber cites both]. Other cultures have basically similar notions, with additional emphasis on the special powers of the hero, the shaman, the yogi or the magician, etc. These are extensively listed in Parrinder (1987: 218-22).”
“Max Weber…defined it as ‘a certain quality of individual personal personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.’ (Weber 1964: 358).”

-note #2 (p 33) describes “canon”: “The Greek term kanon is a loan word derived from Semitic languages, signifying originally a reed, used as a straight measuring rod or standard of length. In its application in Greek, the term acquired the two basic meanings of ‘norm’, ‘formal basis for distinguishing truth from falsehood,’ and ‘complete enumeration’, ‘scientific list’. In early Christianity it was used for the binding norms of true Christian faith (the Latin counterpart being regula) and for authorized collections of sayings, decisions, or laws.”

14-canon is a “deliberate” collection of religious messages, “It transforms haphazard individual recollection into authoritative tradition or sacred scripture. As such, it itself becomes endowed with an aura of sacredness which derives both from the original seers, rsis, prophets or teachers who formulate the message, and from the eternal truth which is that to be encapsulated in the text of canonical scripture.”, note #3 adds that: “in ritual performance, [canons can] induce charismatic experience in a perceptive audience. Instances of this kind are the unveiling and unrolling of the Torah, and the unwrapping of the Qur’an or the Guru Granth Sahib.”; “Such a canon is one of the strongest possible forms of defining and securing a specific religious identity. [PROB: this is unselfconsciously (and to some, innocuously) Orientalist because it implies only text-based religions can have the ‘strongest’ form of identity making; even though he says canon could be orally-based, it only is “strongest” for him when there is a set standard of tradition—and this is more difficult to determine when it’s orally based; and his bias towards text is reinforced by him using texts for the vast majority of his examples] In its contrast with the doctrines of other creeds, the canon is a continuous source of self-awareness and self-definition. It provides meaning and direction to the community as a whole and to each individual member by representing both the ultimate truth and the means of attaining it.”; a (15) canon can “arrest time” by picking out essentials “eternally valid” [PROB: not really a prob—its similar to B. Anderson’s ideas about time]

15-charisma “takes precedence over the canon by bringing into convincing shape those innovative ideas, concepts, models of behavior and approaches to the divine that create a new religious movement.”

-“Thus, while canon stands for permanence, charisma stands for innovation. This leads us directly into the dialectics of timelessness versus time-governed life, of transcendence versus worldly existence, of permanence versus change. They are opposing yet interacting principles that are constitutive for all religions and, indeed, for all human effort at creating and implementing order in a cosmos that is materially and biologically constituted and, therefore, equally liable to chaotic growth and decay.” [PROB: implies that there is a distinction between supernatural/charisma from the worldly/material/biological things—this distinction is Orientalist; he is too reliant on Weber, what if charisma is not so rare (the ‘exception’’) in all religions? This dichotomy makes it easy to rewrite religions in a secular-sacred way]

16-says the “one major defect in every canon” is that it preserves the social and cultural context of its redactors; it’s a “defect” because as cultures and languages change people can’t understand as well “the original message”; it “inevitably leads to a continually growing gap between the canon and its addressees” [PROB: goes against many “religious” peoples’ ideas]; “As can be seen, this is a dilemma that all religions have to face, whether their sacred tradition is remembered or written down—most notably the so-called ‘high’ religion that refer to a transcendent reality and claim universal truth.” And that’s why commentary is so important and even sometimes becomes “scripture in its own right”

-and says that the changing of religions’ laws follows the pattern of charisma—law/canon—gap between it and public—new charisma—change in law/canon; his evidence that this happens in all religions is in note #9: “The formation of canonical scripture is fairly well documented in” all the major religions, including Indian Vedanta schools, and adds “The typology derivable from those as well as from Roman canonization of law render the myth of Vedavyasa’s one-man-achievement of collecting and arranging all the Vedic hymns rather unlikely.” [PROB: I don’t take it for granted that this is true for all “religions”—especially because “religion” is such a broad term, I don’t necessarily think everyone has a strict canon. So without citation, I can’t believe this is anything but an Orientalist imposition; good scholars, (imo Asad, Anderson, Gay, eg) meticulously cite everything—no doing so not only suggests intellectual laziness but that you are taking your ideas for granted, as if they are “truths” that all people (should) accept, which thereby creates stereotypes and generalizations which have potential to be harmful for the very reason that they have embodied in the certain assumptions that might be wrong and can have political implications, especially when printed by scholars whose words have an aura of legitimacy. That was Said’s whole point in Orientalism!]

17-looks at how “hindu religions provide their devotees with sufficiently frequent charismatic experiences to keep both their emotional engagement and their intellectual interest in religion alive”, looking primarily at religious texts [PROB: text-based]

18-points out a difference between Hindu religions and Abrahamic ones, especially Christianity, is that those people with charisma in Hinduism “appear only as recurrent sparks of light in and endless sequence of time cycles.”

-hindu religions use guruparampara, lines of authorized transmission of scripture and exegesis from fully trained teachers, as their exegesis charisma/legitimacy

-“In the Indian literary tradition, the notion of charisma is first and primarily linked to the king. It is a kind of radiation, power and unfailing fortune that distinguishes its bearer from other persons or entities. It can be directly experienced in the encounter with a charismatic person. Both in ancient Iranian and Indian tradition, charisma was conceived of as a kind of subtle, luminous substance that could be conferred on a deserving person by a God (19) or by ritual action. This concept goes back to the second millennium BC, when the Indian and Iranian Aryans had not yet separated.”
“The ancient Persians called this substance x’arenah [“related to Persan farnah: glory”], (the corresponding Sanskrit word is svarna or suvarna, with sri or tejas as alternative designations), and it described the faculty to know and achieve what others were unable to know and doi, as well as that golden radiance which can be perceived in a victor or in a powerful, successful king.”, and inVedic times there were tests for this (eg saying poetry, throwing dice, chariot races—all for which Indra was responsible for the outcome)—so this “directly corresponded to the fits of grace of the charisma of the Greek” [PROB: was this the view of religious practitioners?], sometimes other gods are seen as present in people with charisma too

19-the Sri did not belong to the sing, but to the position, and “could leave him abruptly if he failed to protect the dharma or misused his power for selfish ends.” And this brought disaster to the country; an idea also in ancient Iranian myths; this charismatic kingship is much less stable than in “institutionalized hereditary kingship” in which charisma and the rituals to prove it are very regulated and able to be passed on; (21) plus the Aryan version allowed for charismatic authority to come from the outside (ie outsiders could legitimately come in)

21-in Vedic times, Brahmins were also seen as having charisma—“divine inspiration”—and it was institutionalized, but due to social changes, in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE , there were religious reform movements against the Brahmins which took some Brahmins’ patrons and adopted image-worship instead of Vedic rituals, plus vedic religion had already been separating from popular religious practices

22-plus the Kusana empire (ruled early first millennium AD) brought the notion of divine kingship which they inherited from the Maurya Empire; Brahmins lost power with rise of bhakti (personal relation to a god), then kept their status by proving useful to rulers with their literacy and learning, then their “Dominance in religious affairs was regained only when they condescended to earn their living with temple worship, when they started appropriating the leadership of popular religious movements…and when they gave a theological form to the growing monotheistic religions.” [cf Stietencron “orthodox Attitudes Towards Temple Service…” Central Asiatic Journal v 21 n 2: 126-37; and note #20 says the monotheistic development was at least partially influenced by Hellenistic Seleucids (via Mauryans) and Zoroastrians], “It was at this stage that a new priesthood in a changed society could again claim to be entitled to the charisma of office.”—then they needed to theologically justify a transfer of charisma from king to priest, which was done with the myth of Parasuram [cf Gail 1977]

-this change began with identifying “Lakulisa, the famous Saiva teacher of the second century, with Siva himself” during the 4th century CE; and (23) an initiation ceremony for it, diksa, was started; (24) and the priest becomes for devotees “almost a substitute for God himself”

26-says images of gods receive charisma through rituals like charisma in people; there are 2 kinds of images (murti): household shrine and temple; in the house, god is cred for as a member of the family; in the temple, god is to be submitted to as a king who protects his people [image is seen as a “focus of identification” of the deity who is known to be , really, omnipresent], (27) and there are rituals to renew their charisma too

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ashis Nandy, “The Politics of Secularism and The Recovery of Religious Tolerance”

Ashis Nandy, “The Politics of Secularism and The Recovery of Religious Tolerance” in Secularism and Its Critics, ed. Rajeev Bhargava (Delhi: Oxford University Press: 1998), 321-344.

SUMMARY: His goal is to expose how the Western idea of religious tolerance and secularism used by Indian intellectuals and the middle class support their religious violence (321-322). He first describes 4 trends that have taken place in India since WWII. 1) The separation of faith and ideology in religions (322-323); 2) contrasting Indian religions to Western values (323-324); 3) secularism says that Indian religion and culture opposes religious tolerance and modernity (324); and 4) secularism imposes an idea of a singular (as opposed to plural) view of self, which is a Christian idea as well (324-325). Also, there have developed 2 meanings of the word secularism: one is separation of religion from other aspects of the state, one is accepting the good aspects of all religions and its involvement in the state (326-330). Gives 4 reasons why secularism has failed (331-334). Describes 3 responses to secularism in India (334-337). Criticizes moderns/secularism for “hijacking” old religiously tolerant leaders, and not being able to prevent religious violence (337-338). Says moderns have pathological psychologies (340). And whoever supports secularism or western concepts thus supports violence (342-343). His solution is to have a Gandhian view of religion (344).

321-in the “post-colonial structures of knowledge in the third world [there] is a peculiar form of imperialism of categories. Under such imperialism, a conceptual domain is sometimes hegemonized by concept produced and honed in the West, hegemonized so effectively that the original domain vanishes from our awareness. Intellect and intelligence become IQ, the oral cultures become the cultures of the non-liberate or the uneducated, the oppressed become the proletariat, social change becomes development. After a while, people begin to forget that IQ is only a crude measure of intelligence and someday someone else may think up another kind of index to assess the same thing: that social change did not begin with development dies a natural or unnatural death.”

THESIS:-“…I seek to provide a political preface to the recovery of a well-known domain of public concern in South Asia, ethnic and especially religious tolerance from the hegemonic language of secularism popularized by the Westernized intellectuals and middle classes to religious tolerance earlier, has increasingly become a cover for the complicity of the modern intellectuals and (322) the modernizing middle class of South Asia in the new forms of religious violence that have entered the Asian scene. These are the forms in which the state, the media, and the ideologies of national security, development, and modernity propagated by the modern intelligentsia and the middle classes play crucial roles.”, but first he describes “four trends that have become clearly visible in South Asia during this century but particularly after the Second World War.”

322-“The first and the most important of these trends is that each religion in our part of the world has been split into two: faith and ideology. Both are inappropriate terms but I give them in this article, specific private meanings to serve my purpose. By faith I mean religion as a way of life, a tradition that is definitionally non-monolithic and operationally plural. I say ‘definitionally’ because, unless a religion is geographically and culturally confined to a small area, religion as a way of life, linked by a common faith having some theological space for heterogeneity.”
“By ideology I mean religion as a subnational, national or cross-national identifier of populations contesting for or protecting non-religious, usually political or socio-economic interests. Such religions-as-ideologies usually get identified with one or more texts which, rather than the ways of life of the believers, then become the final identifiers of the pure forms of the religions. The texts help anchor the ideologies in something seemingly concrete and delimited and in effect provide a set of manageable operational definitions.”

-“These two categories are not mutually exclusive; they are like two axes on which could be plotted the state of contemporary religions. One way of explaining the difference between the two is to conceive of ideology as something that, for individuals and people who believe in it, needs to be constantly protected and faith as something that the faithful usually expect to protect them. For a faith always includes a theory of transcendence and usually sanctions the experience of transcendence and usually sanctions the experience of transcendence, whereas an ideology tends to bypass or fear theories and experiences of transcendence, except when they could be used for secular purposes.” [PROB: these cats are not self-evident and are very problematic—these ideas are not so clearly separated by people and ideologies existed by rulers before the West came, and better travel and communications technology could have just made it more visible now, plus Nandy doesn’t cite any sources for this]

-“The modern state always prefers to deal with religious ideologies rather than with faiths. It is wary of both forms of religion but it (323) finds the ways of life more inchoate and hence, unmanageable, even though it is faith rather than ideology that has traditionally shown more pliability and catholicity. It is religion-as-faith that prompted 200,000 Indians to declare themselves to be Mohammendan Hindus in the census of 1911; and it was the catholicity of faith that prompted Mole-Salam Girasia Rajput to traditionally have two names for every member of the community, one Hindu and one Muslim. [cf Lokhandwala “Indian Islam: Composite Culture and Interpretation” New Quest march-April 1985 (50) pp. 87-101] It is religion-as-ideology, on the other hand, that prompted a significant proportion of the Punjabi-speaking Hindus to declare Hindi as their mother tongue, thus underlining the differences between Sikhism and Hinduism and sowing the seeds for the creation of a new minority. Likewise, it is religion-as-ideology that has provided a potent tool to the Jamat e Islam: to disown the traditional, plural forms of Islam in the Indian subcontinent and disjunct official religion from everyday life, to produce a pre-packaged Islam for Muslims uprooted and decultured by the processes of engineered social change in the region.”

*323-2nd: “…during the last two centuries or so, there has grown a tendency to view the older faiths of the region through the eyes of post-medieval European Christianity and its various offshoots—such as the masculine Christianity associated with nineteenth century missionaries like Joshua Marshman and William Carey in South Asia or its mirror image in the orthodox modernism vended by the likes of Frederich Engels and Thomas Huxley. Because this particular Eurocentric way of looking at faiths gradually came to be associated with the dominant culture of the colonial states in the region, it subsumes under it a set of the colonial states in the region, it subsumes under it a set of clear polarities: centre versus periphery, true faith versus its distortions, civil versus primordial, and great traditions versus local cultures.”

*-“It is a part of the same story that in each of the dyads, the second category is set up to lose. It is also a part of the same story that, once the colonial concept of state was internalized by the societies of the region through the nationalist ideology, in turn heavily influenced b the Western theories of state and statecraft [cf Chatterjee Nationalist Thought…], the nascent nation-states of the region took upon themselves the same (324) civilizing mission that the colonial states had once taken upon themselves vis-à-vis the ancient faiths of the subcontinent.”

324-“Third, the idea of secularism, an import from nineteenth century Europe into South Asia, has acquired immense potency in the middle-class cultures and state sectors of South Asia, thanks to its connection with and response to religion-as-ideology. Secularism has little to say about cultures—it is definitionally ethnophobic and frequently ethnocidal, unless of course cultures and those living by cultures are willing to show total subservience to the modern nation-state and become ornaments or adjuncts to modern living—and the orthodox secularists have no clue to the way a religion can link up different faiths or ways of life according to its own configurative principles.”

-“To such secularists, religion is an ideology in opposition to the ideology of modern statecraft and, therefore, needs to be contained. They feel even more uncomfortable with religion-as-a faith claiming to have its own principles of tolerance and intolerance, for that claim denies the state and middle-class ideologies of the state the right to be the ultimate reservoir of sanity and the ultimate arbiter among different religions and communities. [note #3 says hes unsure about using the word tolerance “because it itself is a product of the secular world-view”] This denial is particularly galling to those who see the clash between two faiths merely as a clash of socioeconomic interests, not as a simultaneous clash between conflicting interests and a philosophical encounter between two metaphysics. The Westernized middle classes and literati of South Asia love to call such differences as liabilities and as sources of ethnic violence.”

-“Fourth, the imported idea of secularism has become increasingly incompatible and, as it were, uncomfortable with the somewhat fluid definitions of the self with which many (325) live. [cultural and psychological definitions, cf Roland “Psychoanalysis in India and Japan”] Such a self, which can be conceptually viewed as a configuration of selves, simultaneously shapes, invokes, and reflects the configurative principles of religions-as-faiths. It also happens to be a negation of the modern conception of selfhood acquired partly from the Enlightenment West and partly from a rediscovery of previously recessive elements in Indian traditions. [PROB: doesn’t idfy sources for this, and takes for granted an “Enlightenment” idea of self (kantian, Hegelian?)] Religion-as-ideology, working with the concept of well-bounded, mutually exclusive religious identities, on the other hand, is more compatible with and analogous to the definition of the self as a byproduct of secularization.” [cf Miller’s “theses on the question of religion in India”, a conference paper], and “secularism has no inkling of this distinct, though certainly no unique, form of self-definition…because secularism is, as T. N. Madan puts it, a gift of Christianity…” [PROB: he’s saying Protestant Xnty can’t accommodate multiple identities at once—and gives no support]

326-“I call myself an anti-secularist because I feel that the ideology and politics of secularism have more or less exhausted their possibilities.”; thee are 2 meanings of word “secularism” in India: a dictionary one and “a non-standard local meaning which, many like to believe, is typically and distinctively Indian or South Asian (as we shall see below, it also has a Western tail, but that tail is now increasingly vestigial).”; the first meaning “chalks out n area in public life where religion is not admitted…Implicit in the ideology is the belief that managing the public realm (327) is a science that is essentially universal, that religion, to the extent it is opposed to the Baconian world-image of science, is an open or potential threat to any modern polity.”; “In contrast, the non-Western meaning of secularism revolves around equal respect for all religions. This is the way it is usually put by public figure. Less crudely stated, it implies that while the public life may or not be kept free of religion, it must have space for a continuous dialogue among religious traditions and between the religious and the secular—that, in the ultimate analysis, each major faith in the region includes within it an in-house version, of other faiths both as an internal criticism and as a reminder of the diversity of the theory of transcendence.”

327-“Recently, Ali Akhtar Khan has drawn attention to the fact that George Jacob Hoyoake, who coined the word secularism in 1850, advocated a secularism accomadative of religion, a secularism that would moreover emphasize diversities and coexistence in the matter of faith. His contemporary, Joseph Bradlaugh, on the other hand, believed in a secularism that rejected religion and made science its deity. [cf Ahmed “Muslims and Boycott Call” The Times of Indian Society 14 jan 1987] Most non-modern Indians…pushed around by the political and cultural forces unleashed by colonialism still operating in Indian society, have unwittingly opted for the accommodative and pluralist meaning while India’s Westernized intellectuals have consciously opted for the abolition of religion from the public sphere.” [PROB: he’s comparing common people to a very small group—and are there some non-westernized intellectuals who support the second def—because he says politicisans do , so they prolly have intellectuals to support them]

-“…Gandhi obviously had this [second] adulterated meaning in mind on the few occasions when he seemed to plead for secularism. This is clear from his notorious claim that those who thought that religion and politics could be kept separate, understood neither religion nor politics.” And this is the idea that is “more compatible with the meaning a majority of Indians” have for secularism

-the first meaning “has dominated India’s middle-class public (328) consciousness, [but] the Indian people and, till recently most practicing Indian politicians, have depended on the accommodative meaning.” [PROB: what is his evidence for the mid classes view?]

328-“The danger is that the first meaning is supported by the accelerating process of modernization in India. As a consequence now, there is a clearer fit between the declared ideology of the modern Indian nation-state and the secularism that fears religions and ethnicities…Associated with this…is a hidden political hierarchy…[which] makes a fourfold classification of the political actors in the subcontinent.”; “At the top of the hierarchy are those who are believers neither in public nor in private”, eg literati and Nehru (though it was later revealed he believed in astrology and tantra); the second are those who don’t believe in public but do in private eg Indira Gandhi and (329) a “sizeable portion of the middle classes”; 3rd believe in public but not in private eg Muhammad Ali Jinnah and D. V. Savarkar, “Such persons can sometimes be dangerous because to them religion is a political tool and a means of fighting one’s own and one’s community’s sense of cultural inadequacy. Religion to them is not a matter of piety.”, “often these heroes invoke the classical versions of their faiths to underplay, marginalize, or even delegitimize the existing ways of life associated with their faiths.”, their goal “has always been to homogenize their cobelievers into proper political formations…” and resist religious diversity and dialogue; (330) 4th are public and private believers, eg Gandhi; the categories aren’t pure in reality and people can change

331- secularism hasn’t led to elimination of religion or greater tolerance in India or anywhere, even England; “…for some hundred and fifty years the Indian have been told that one of the reasons Britain dominated India and one of the reasons why the Indian were colonized was that they were not secular, whereas Britain was.”

*-secularism hasn’t worked because: 1) early political elite was small and so it was relatively easy to screen out people who weren’t secular, but as political representatives have increased in numbers, screening is more difficult; (332) 2) “it has become more and more obvious to a large number of people that modernity is now no longer the ideology of a small minority…These Indians now sense the ‘irreversibility’ of secularization…Much of the fanaticism and violence associated with religion comes today from this sense of defeat of the believers…”; (333) 3) the modern state “guarantees no protection to them against the sufferings inflicted by the state itself in the name of its ideology” and “the state frequently uses its ideology to silence its non-conforming citizens”—while appealing to the believers to keep the public sphere free of religion”; 4) “the proposition that the values derived from the secular ideology of the state would be a better guide to political action and to a less violent and richer political life (in comparison to the values derived from the religious faith) has become even more unconvincing to large parts of Indian society than it was a few decades ago…(334) the culture of the Indian state has very little moral authority left”

334-“every major religious community in the [post-colonial] region has produced three responses” to the idea that the “Western Man rules the world…because of his superior understanding of the relationship between religion and politics.”, “These responses have clear-cut relationship with the splitting of religions described at the beginning of this article; actually, they derive from the split.”

-first response: “to model oneself on the Western Man. Here something more than mimicry of ‘imitation’ is involved. The response consists in a desperate attempt to capture, within one’s own self and culture, traits seen as the reasons for the West’s success on the world state.”, popular response of modern India

335-2nd “is that of the zealot…[whose] sole goal is to somehow defeat the Western man at his own game, the way Japan, for instance has done in economic affairs…what passes as fundamentalism, fanaticism, or revivalism is often only another form of Westernization becoming popular among the psychologically uprooted middle classes in South Asia.”, says an example is in “Pak a Few Steps from Bomb” The Times of India 29 Jan 1987; eg the idea that one can “decontaminate Hinduism of its folk elements, turn it into a classical Vedantic faith, and then give it additional teeth with the aid of Western technology and secular statecraft, so that the Hindus can take on and ultimately defeat all their external and internal enemies, if necessary by liquidating all forms of ethnic plurality within the Hinduism and India, to equal the Western Man as a new Ubermenschen.”, eg justifying a religious text by saying it’s supported by modern science—“Such responses of the zealot are the ultimate admission of defeat. They constitute the cultural bed on which grows the revivalism of the defeated, the so-called fundamental movements in South Asia, based on the zealot’s instrumental concept of religion as an ideological principle for political mobilization and state formation. Modern scholarship sees zealotry as a retrogression into primitivism and as a pathology of traditions. At closer sight it proves to be a by-product and a pathology of modernity. For instance, whatever the revivalist Hindu may seek to revive, it is not Hinduism. The pathetically comic, martial uniform of khaki (336) shorts, which the RSS cadres have to wear, tell it all. Modeled on the uniform of the colonial police, the khaki shorts not only identify the RSS as an illegitimate child of Western colonialism but as a direct progeny of the semiticizing Hindu reform movements under colonialism, Orientalist concepts of ‘proper’ religion, and upon the modern Western concepts of the nation-state, nationality, and nationalism…One begins to judge the everyday life-style of the Hindus, their diversity and heterogeneity negatively, usually with a clear touch of hostility and contempt. Likewise, there is nothing fundamentally Islamic about the fundamentalist Muslims who have to constantly try to disenfranchise the ordinary Muslims as peripheral and delegitimize the religious practice of a huge majority of Muslims the world over as un-Islamic.” And also with Sikhism and sri Lankan Buddhism [PROB: same criticism as earlier: the harsh distinction doesn’t really work, especially given anderson’s ideas on nationalism—they aren’t purely “western” in the sense that all ideas associated with the west must be accepted; plus these groups borrow from their own religious histories which has elements of the things they are doing]

336-3rd “comes usually form the non-modern majority of a society, though to the globalized middle-class intellectuals it may look like the response of a minority. This response does not keep religion separate from politics, but it does say that the traditional ways of life over the centuries, developed internal principles of tolerance, and these principles must have a play in contemporary politics. This response affirms that religious communities in traditional societies have known how to live with one another.”, traditional India tolerated jews, Christians, Zoroastrians [PROB: there were several outside, non-religious factors for this, especially caste which many consider oppressive], religious violence was extremely rare in pre-modern India, but now is increasing to a lot [PROB: ignores oppression by medieval lords, and jews, xns, and zoroas have generally been too small to revolt and there were many fights between hindus, buds, and Muslims], he gives as evidence: “Even now, Indian villages an small towns can take credit for largely having avoided communal riots.” [PROB: I say that what has really changed is urbanization, communications tech, travel speed, and warfare technology], “Obviously, somewhere and somehow, religious violence (337) has something to do with the urban-industrial vision of life and with the political processes the vision lets loose.” [PROB: this is far from “obvious”]

337-“Let us not forget that the great symbols of religious tolerance in India over the last 2000 years have not been modern though the moderns have managed to hijack some of these symbols.”, “For example, when the modern Indians project the idea of secularism into the past, to say that Emperor Ashoka was ‘secular’, they ignore that Ashoka was not exactly a secular ruler; he was a practicing Buddhist even in his public life. He based his tolerance on Buddhism, not secularism. Likewise, the other symbol of interreligious amity in modern India, Emperor Akbar, derived his tolerance not from secularism but from Islam: he believed that tolerance was the message of Islam.”

-“the new forms of religious violence in this part of the world are becoming paradoxically, increasingly secular. The anti-Sikh riots that too place in Delhi in November 1984, the anti-Muslim riots in Ahmedabad in 1985 during the anti-reservation stir and the ‘anti-Hindu’ riots in Bangalore in 1986 they were all associated not so much with religious hatred as with political cost calculations and/or economic greed.”

338-“the Western concept of secularism has played a crucial role in South Asian societies; has worked as a check against some forms of ethnic intolerance and violence, and has contributed to humane governance at certain times and places.” But “Secularism cannot cope with many of the new fears and intolerance of religions and ethnicities, nor provide any protection against the new forms of violence that have come to be associated with such intolerance. Nor can secularism contain those who provide the major justifications for calculated pogroms and ethnocides in terms of the dominant ideology of the state.”

340-creates a table that explains the interaction of the 3 groups of people who react to secularism; table is based on social and psychological studies from the 1940s to 1970s; “The stereotyping, authoritarian submission, sado-masochism, and the heavy use of the ego defenses of projection, displacement and rationalization that, according to some of those studies, went with authorizationianism and dogmatism, have not become irrelevant, as Sudhir Kakar shows once again in a recent Paper. [cf “Some unconscious Aspects of Ethnic…” in Das, Mirrors of Violence] There are resolute demonologies that divide religious communities and endorse ethnic violence, but these have begun to ply a less and less central role in such violence. They have become increasingly one of the psychological markers of those participating in the mobs involved in rioting or in pogrom, not of those planning, initiating, or legitimizing mob-action.”, “This is another way of saying that the planners, instigators, and legitimizers of religious and ethnic violence can be now identified as secular users of non-secular forces or impulses in the society…In the lace of these factors have come a new set of personality traits and defense mechanisms, the most important of which are the more ‘primitive’ defense such as isolation and denial. These defenses ensure, paradoxically, the primacy of cognitive factors in violence over the affective and the conative.” [PROB: uses Western psychology on Asians]

-342-“state-linked internal colonialism uses legitimating core concepts like national security, development, modern science and technology. Any society, for that matter any aggregate, that gives unrestrained play or support to these concepts gets automatically linked to the colonial structure of the present-day world and is doomed to promote violence and expropriation, particularly of the kind directed against the smaller minorities such as the tribals…” [PROB: at what point do u determine someone is using enough western concepts to be considered complicit?]

343-“Secularism has become a handy adjunct to this set of legitimating core concepts.”, helping to legitimize elites’ role as leaders and have monopoly on religious and ethnic tolerance. “To accept the ideology of secularism is to accept the ideologies of progress and modernity as the new justifications of domination, and the use of violence to sustain these ideologies as the new opiates of the masses.”

344-Nandy promotes a Gandhian form of religious tolerance, the Gandhian idea of a sanatani, an “orthodox Hindu” who was also a Muslim, Sikh, and Christian based on this sanatan dharma; Hindu nationalists killed him; and other hindu and non-Hindu secularists dominate India using Gandhi as an example of tolerance, but they forget that you have to accept all faiths

Saturday, March 21, 2009

T. N. Madan, “Secularism in its Place”

T. N. Madan, “Secularism in its Place” in Secularism and its Critics ed. Rajeev Bhargava (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), 297-320.

SUMMARY: Article originally published in 1987, but also has a postscript from 1996. Madan gives a brief history of word “secularism” (297-298). He criticizes the imposition of secularization on India because he says it is an essentially Protestant idea (306-307) and in India’s religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism), secularism is “encompassed” as a subordinate aspect of the religious worldview (303-306)—and so “secularism” cannot be simply “translated” to India’s culture (307-309). Looks at Nehru’s views on the subject (310-311) and compares him to Lenin and Ataturk (312). In the Postscript he addresses critics of his original article (316-320).

297-says word “secularization” was first used in 1648 at end of 30 years war in Europe, referred to “the transfer of church properties to the exclusive control of princes.”, then “on 2 November, 1789, Talleyrand announced to the French National Assembly that all ecclesiastical goods were at the disposal of nation as indeed they should have been still later, when George Jacob Holyoake coined the term (298) ‘secularism’ in 1851 and led a rationalist movement of protest in England, secularization was built into the ideology of progress. Secularization, though nowhere more than a fragmentary and incomplete process, has ever since retained a positive connotation.”

298-“ ‘Secularization’ is nowadays generally employed to refer to, in the words of Peter Berger, ‘the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols’.” [direct quote from The Social Reality of Religion], and different areas are differently amenable to secularism (eg economic area is very amenable, and the political area less so)

THESIS-“I believe that in the prevailing circumstances secularism in South Asia as a generally shared credo of life is impossible, as a basis for state action impracticable, and as a blueprint for the foreseeable future impotent. It is impossible as a credo of life because the great majority of the people of South Asia are in their own eyes active adherents of some religious faith. It is impracticable as a basis for state action either because Buddhism and Islam have been declared state or state-protected religions or because the stance of religious neutrality or equidistance is difficult to maintain since religious minorities do not share the majority’s view of what this entails for the state. And it is impotent as a blueprint for the future because, by its very nature, it is incapable of countering religious fundamentalism and fanaticism.”

-“Secularism is the dream of a minority that wishes to shape the majority in its own image, that whishes to impose its will upon history but lacks the power to do so under a democratically organized polity. In an open society the state will reflect the character of that society. Secularism is therefore a social myth that draws a cover over the failure of this minority to separate politics from religion in the society in which its members live.” And for the minority to “stigmatize the majority as primordially oriented” is (299) “moral arrogance and worse…political folly.”

300-secularization marginalizes religious faith and makes fundamentalists: “There are no fundamentalists or revivalists in traditional society.”

-“The point to stress…is that…Secularism as a widely shared worldview has failed to make headway in India.”, the views in the popular pro-secular books (Smith’s India as a Secular State and Kothari’s Politics in India) “have been belied”

-Indian secularism has proven to be weak; (301) “It trivializes religious difference as well as the notion of the unity of religions, and really fails to provide guidance for viable political action, for it is not a rooted, full-blooded, and well though-out Weltanschauung, only a stratagem. It has been so self-confessedly for fundamentalist organizations such as the Muslim Jama’at-i-Islami. [cf Islam in Secular India] I would like to suggest that it was also so for Jawaharlal Nehru…”

301-Secularism’s failure “underscores the failure of the society and the state to bring under control the divisive forces that resulted in the partition of the subcontinent in 1947…tempers continue to rage, and occasionally…blood even flows in some places, as a result of mutual hostility” of different religions; “What produces this hostility? Surely not religious faith itself [though on p299 he says he won’t define religion], for even religious traditions which take an uncompromising view of ‘nonbelievers’…speak with multiple tongues and pregnant ambiguity…It was not religious difference as such but its exploitation by calculating politicians for the achievement of secular ends that produced the communal divide.”

*303-Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism all distinguish between “religious” and “secular” and “these religions have the same view of the relationship between the categories of the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’.” [Madan says: “I wish I had the time to elaborate on this theme…” which allows him to not provide more support for this bold statement]; “My studies convince me that in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism this relationship is hierarchical (in the sense in which Louis Dumont uses this term).”

-“Thus, though Buddhism may well be considered as the one South Asian religious tradition which, by denying supernatural beings any significant role in human life, has the most secularist potential, yet this would be an oversimplified view of it. What is important is not only what Emile Durkheim so clearly perceived, namely the central importance of the category of the ‘sacred’ in Buddhism, but also (and more significantly in the present context) the fact, so well documented for us by Stanley Tambiah that the bhikkhu, or the world renouncer, is superior to the chakkavatti, or the world conqueror, and that neither exists by himself.”

-“Similarly, in every Sikh gurudwara the sacred sword is placed for veneration at a lower level than the holy book, the Granth Sahab, which is the repository of the Word (shabad), despite the fact that, for the Sikhs, the sword too symbolizes the divinity or, more accurately, the inseparability of the spiritual and the religious functions.”

-“I would like to expand a little more on Hinduism and Islam. I would have preferred not to go all the way back to the Rig Veda of three thousand years ago, were it not for the fact that it presents explicitly, employing a fascinating simile, the hierarchical relationship and temporal power. It would seem that originally the two functions were differentiated, but they were later deliberately brought together, for the regnum (kshatra) could not subsist on its own without the sacerdotium (brahma) that provided its principle of legitimacy…(304) Let me move on to the Kautilya Arthashastra (? Fourth century BC/AD) which has been often enough said to present an amoral theory of political power. Such a reading is, however, contestable. What I find more acceptable is the view that the Arthashastra teaches that the rational pursuit of economic and political ends (artha) must be carried out in fulfillment and not violation of dharma.”; and in “traditional Brahmanical political thought, cultural pluralism within the State was accepted and the king was the protector of everybody’s dharma…Hence the idea of a state religion was not entertained…Some of these traditional ideas have reverberated in the practice of Hindu kings and their subjects all the way down the corridors of time into the twentieth century. [cf Mayer “Perceptions of Princely Rule”] Even today, these ideas are relevant in the context of the only surviving Hindu monarchy of the world, Nepal, where the king is considered an (305) incarnation of God and yet has to be consecrated by the Brahman royal priest.”
“In our own times, it was, of course, Mahatma Gandhi who restated the traditional point of view in the changed context of the twentieth century, emphasizing the inseparability of religion and politics and the superiority of the former over the latter.”, though the state was obliged to ensure religions can grow, while “no religion that depended on state support deserved to survive. In other words, the inseparability of religion and politics in the Indian context, and generally, was for Gandhi fundamentally a distinct issue from the separation of the state from the church in Christendom. When he did advocate that ‘religion and state should be separate’, he clarified that this was to limit the role of the state to ‘secular welfare’, and to allow it no admittance into the religious life of the people. Clearly, the hierarchical relationship is irreversible.”

305-“Traditionally Islam postulates a single chain of command in the political domain: God-Prophet-Caliph-King. God Almighty is the ever-active sovereign of His universe which is governed by His will. In his own life Prophet Muhammad symbolized the unity of faith (din) and the material world (dawle). His successors (khalifa) were the guardians on whose authority the kings ruled. They (the kings) were but the Shadow of God on earth, holding power as a trust and answerable to their maker on the Day of Judgment and like everybody else. In India, Ziyaud-Din Barni …(mid-fourteenth century) theologian (306) and political commentator, wrote of religion and temporal government, of prophets and kings, as twin brothers, but without leaving the reader in any doubt about whom he placed first.”
“In the twentieth century, Muhammad Iqbal occupies a very special place as an interpreter of Islam in South Asia. Rejecting the secularist programme of Turkish nationalists, he wrote: ‘In Islam the spiritual and the temporal are not two distinct domains, and the nature of an act, however secular in its import, is determined by the attitude of mind with which the agent does it…In Islam it is the same reality, which appears as Church looked at from one point of view and State from another.’ [direct quote from The Reconstruction of Religious Thought] Iqbal further explains: ‘The ultimate Reality, according to the Qur’an, is spiritual, and its life consists in its temporal activity. The spirit finds its opportunities in the natural, the material, the secular. All that is secular is therefore sacred in the roots of its being…There is no such thing as a profane world…All is holy ground’.”; then Madan quotes Fazlur Rahman as saying “Secularism destroys the sanctity and universality (transcendence) of all moral values” [direct quote from Islam and Modernity]

-[PROB: only looks at certain expressions of religions and makes reductionist claims]

306-“…the search for secular elements in the cultural traditions of this region is a futile exercise, for it is not these but an ideology of secularism that is absent and is resisted. What is important, therefore, is the relationship between the categories, and this is unmistakably hierarchical, the (307) religious encompassing the secular.”, says this view was even in Christianity until the Reformation—Madan takes the Weverian thesis, saying that secularization was connected to Protestantism, individualism, rationalization, and intellectualism [PROB: he ignore other ecoc and poll motives for secularization]; “The general secularization of life in the West after the Reformation is significantly, though only partly, an unintended consequence of this religious idea.—that the individual is responsible for his own salvation; Madan tries to make his view unreproachable by adding: “This is not the occasion to go into the details of the well-grounded idea that secularization is a gift of Christianity to mankind, but” we must recognize the at the privatization of religion is indeed a “gift of Christianity”

308-“…the idea of secularism, a gift of Christianity, has been built into western social theorists’ paradigms of modernization, and since these paradigms are believed to have universal applicability, the elements that converged historically—that is in a unique manner—to constitute modern life in Europe in the sixteenth and the following three centuries, have come to be presented as the requirements of modernization elsewhere, and this must be questioned. Paradoxically, the uniqueness of the history of modern Europe lies, we are asked to believe, in its generalizability.”
“In other words, secularism as an ideology has emerged from the dialectic of modern science and Protestantism, not from a simple repudiation of religion and the rise of rationalism. Even the Enlightenment—its English and German versions in particular—was not against religion as such but against revealed religion or a transcendental justification for religion…Models of modernization, however, prescribe the transfer of secularism to non-western societies without regard for the character of their religious traditions or for the gifts that these might have to offer.”

-and “translations are not easily achieved. As Bankim Chandra Chatterji (that towering late nineteenth-century Indian intellectual) put it, ‘You can translate a word by a word, but behind the word is an idea, the thing which the word denotes, and this idea you cannot translate, if it does not exist among the people in whose language you are translating’. [in Nationalist Though and the Colonial World] It is imperative, then, that a people must themselves render their historical experience meaningful: others may not do this for them. [PROB: not really a problem, but a line I very much agree with, though Madan doesn’t deal with the issue that even within societies there are competing groups and if an idea or term is picked up by one, that doesn’t necessarily mean all agree with it] Borrowed ideas, unless internalized do not have the power to bestow on us the gift and grace of living…(309) once a cultural definition of a phenomenon or of a relationship (say, between religion and politics, or society and the state) has been crystallized, it follows that subsequent formulations of it, whether endogenous or exogenous, can only be re-definitions.” And different traditions survive in different groups; “In short, the transferability of the idea of secularism to the countries of South Asia is beset with many difficulties and should not be taken for granted.”

309-“Secularism must be put in its place, which is not a question of rejecting it but of finding the proper means for its expression. In multireligious societies, such as those of South Asia, it should be realized that secularism may not be restricted to rationalism, that it is compatible with faith, and that rationalism (as understood in the West) is not the sole motive force of a modern state.” [PROB: assumes that rationalism is seen as the only cause of secularization—it may be a very popular modern idea, but is in no way uniform, even among common people who all have varying understandings of secularization’s history, largely depending on their religious leaning]

310-in India, there’s no wall of separation between church and state, but an idea that there is “neutrality or equidistance between the state and the religious identity of the people”, and “not only Nehru but all Indians who consider themselves patriotic and modern, nationalist and rationalist, subscribe to it. What makes it impotent is that it is a purely negative strategy and, in the history of mankind, nothing positive has even been built on denials or negations alone.”

-“An examination of Nehru’s writings and speeches brings out very clearly his conviction that religion is a hinderance to ‘the tendency to change and progress inherent in human society’ and that ‘the belief in supernatural agency which ordains everything has led to a certain irresponsibility on the social plane, and emotion and sentimentality have taken the place of reasoned though and inquiry’.” [direct quote in The Discovery of India]; Nehru contrasted religion to science, and believed communalism would vanish with modernization [cf Nehru’s An Autobiography] and (311) economic improvement; Nehru wrote in 1961: “It is perhaps not very easy even to find a good word in Hindi for ‘secular’. Some people think it means something opposed to religion. That obviously is not correct…It is a state which honours all faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities.” [from other writings]; and based on Nehru’s views and his political position, Madan says he can be compared to Lenin and Ataturk

312-Lenin “played n active and direct part in the formulation of the 1918 decree on ‘the separation of the church from the state and of the school from the church’. While every citizen was in principle free to profess any religion, or none at all, he could not actively propagate it; what is more, the educational function of the communist part ensured that ‘senseless ideas’ arising from a false consciousness would be countered.”

-“Similarly, Ataturk proceeded by one deliberate step after another, beginning with the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, of the religious orders in 1925, of Shari’a courts in 1926, and of Islam as the state religion in 1928. The process of secularization was continued thereafter, and the changes effected were strictly enforced with Kemal himself often setting the example in even minor points of detail.” [PROB: 1) these places weren’t colonized like India and 2) secularization was a process that did not start simply from the force of these leaders]

313-“Contrary to what may be presumed, it is not religious zealots alone who contribute to fundamentalism or fanaticism, which are a misunderstanding of religion, reducing it to mere political bickering [PROB: a very narrow def of these terms], but also the secularists who deny the very legitimacy of religion in human life and society and provide a reaction.”

314-“Maybe religion is not a fake as Marx asserted; maybe there is something eternal about it as Durkheim maintained.” [PROB: 1) durk essentially wrote off rel as a social feeling and 2) there have been many prominent theories of religion before and since durk that are less problematic in many respects]

-Madan has “no solutions to suggest”, though he’s “not advocating the establishment of a Hindu state in India—not at all. It simply will not work.”; “…the only way secularism in South Asia, understood as interreligious understanding, may succeed would be for us to take both religion and secularism seriously and not reject the former as superstition and reduce the latter to a mask for communalism or mere expediency. Secularism would have to imply that those who profess no religion have a place in society equal to that of others, not higher or lower.”

316-in a postscript written in 1996 he says at the time of writing the original article, “There were not many intellectuals then who either showed an awareness of the limitations of secularism as a world-view or expressed any great unease about the recrudescence of religious fanaticism in the form of communalized politics or fundamentalist movements.”, “only a few intellectual had dissented with” the hope for secularism, “Ashis Nandy being the most notable among them.” Cf Nandy “A Counter-Statement on Humanistic Temper” Mainstream 10 Oct 1981; and “An Anti-Secularist Manifesto” Seminar 314, 1985, pp 1-11

-he points out there have been several critics of the article: Bailey “Religion and Religiosity” Contributions to Indian Sociology 25, no. 2, 1991; Baxi “Secularism: Real and Pseudo” in M. M. Sankhdher (ed.) Secularism in India (1992); Beteille “Secularism and the Intellectuals” Economic and Political Weekly 29, no. 10 (1994)

317-“It is imperative that we distinguish between secularization (in Beteille’s (318) words, ‘a social process that unfolds itself on its own, as it were’) and secularism (‘an ideology that some members of society strive consciously to espouse and promote’)”

318-“Looking back, it seems that I did perhaps overemphasize the holistic character of traditional religions, particularly Hinduism” as critics of that article have pointed out; and (319) “It would obviously be a throwback to an untenable Durkheimian sociological extremism to envisage a society in which the secular is non-existent, and I did not mean to propose such a monistic thesis.”, his main point was that the secular is “encompassed by the religious”; plus he admits to religious diversity under the broad banner of “Hindu”, but says that overall Christianity makes a strong distinction between secular and sacred that other religions don’t—“This does not mean that Indians have first to be converted to Christianity before they may be expected to appreciate the virtues of secularism in the sense of its being the ideology of secularization. It only draws attention to the need for greater efforts on the part of Indian intellectuals to clarify the notion of secularism in a (320) context-sensitive manner, drawing upon India’s pluralist traditions.” And says “the masses of this country…[are] comfortable with religious pluralism, and indeed practice it in one form or another. The traditional elite, from whom the great majority of today’s intellectuals are descended, generally disapprove of such pluralism as the superstitious ways of the masses.”

320-secularism should be better related to Indian religious views, “but this should not mean the imposition of one particular meaning on it, and it has to be made into a national ethos. This will take doing and will take time.”, and the responsibility falls on the intellectuals’ shoulders

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Asad, Formations, ch 7 “Reconfigurations of law and ethics in colonial Egypt”

Asad, Formations, ch 7 “Reconfigurations of law and ethics in colonial Egypt”

SUMMARY: Chapter examines how secularism evolved in Egypt by looking at how it came to be used in the changing ideas of shari’a (Muslim law) in Egypt (outline and thesis, 208-209). Gives history of Arabic word for “secular” (206-208). Describes history of legal institution changes in Egypt (210-212) and possible reasons why they were done (212-219). He also goes in to the changing idea of itjihad (219-222), of “subjective interiority” and autonomy (222-226), and of “family”—especially as expressed by Abduh (228-235). He then goes on to analyze how the philosophy Western law (vs. morality) developed and came to be picked up by Egyptians (236-240), and then specifically how the shari’a was adapted philosophically (focusing his attention of Safwat’s understanding of it) (241-253). Asad ends by giving an overall evaluation of secularism in general (255-256).

205-looks at how secularism is treated in 19th and early 20th century Egypt

206-the word for secular appeared in the late 19th ce: almaniyy, derived from al-alam (“the world”); though note #2 says that for many years throughout the 20th century and today many still use the word ‘ilmaniyy (though it is seen as incorrect) which is derived from the word ilm (“knowledge” and “science” in contrast to “religion”); (207) the modern word for “to secularize” (almana) was created in the 19th century and had a similar meaning to the original meaning of saecularisatio, to transfer religious property to worldly purposes; at the same time, the word waqf which is typically understood as “religious endowment” really “was simply the sole form of inalienable property in the shari’a” and sometimes had non-religious (eg when used for agricultural lands) or both religious and non-religious purposes (eg when used for hospitals and schools)

208-in Europe, the words “secularism” and “laicisme” (both denoting that institutions have a non-religious character) dates from the mid 19th century; “laicisme” is a stronger form of secularism because of the Jacobin rebellion against religion—and that these European uses didn’t appear in Egypt at the same time indicates “that political discourse in Arabic did not need to deal directly with it as it has since then. In that sense, secularism did not exist in Egypt prior to modernity.”

Goal: “In this chapter I try to trace some changes in the concept of the law in colonial Egypt that helped to make secularism thinkable as a practical proposition. I focus on some of the ways that legal institutions, ethics, and religious authority became transformed, my purpose being to identify the emergence of social spaces within which ‘secularism’ could grow.”, (209) Asad is concerned “with exploring precisely what is involved when conceptual changes in a particular country make ‘secularism’ thinkable.”’ Asad looks at 2 late 19th century analyses of the event of the narrowing shari’a and increase of “secular” laws

Thesis: “I claim that the shift in these texts reflect reconfigurations of law, ethics, and religious authority in a particular Muslim society that have been ignored by both secularists and Islamists.”

210-Though officially part of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt “possessed a large measure of political autonomy” (cf Islamic Law in the Modern World and Peters “Islamic and Secular Criminal Law…”); throughout all the ottoman empire, “shari’a courts had primary jurisdiction over urban Muslims, rural tribes followed customary rules and procedures (‘urf), and milliya courts were regulated by and for the various sects of Christians and Jews…Indeed, the ruler had his own body of administrative law (qanun) that did not draw its authority from the shari’a. From the mid-nineteenth century on, a series of progressive legal reforms was carried out in the empire under the rubric of the tanzimat (the Commercial Code was issued in 1850, the Penal Code in 1858, the Commercial Procedure Code in 1861, and the Maritime Commerce Code in 1863) that involved the wholesale adoption of European codes. The first attempt in the Ottoman empire to codify the shari’a, known as the majalla, was published (211) over a period of seven years, from 1870 to 1877. Officially it had jurisdiction throughout the empire, but in fact it was never effective in Egypt. [cf Law in the Middle East; and note #12 says there were attempts to codify it in the 16th and 17th century] There the formal control of Egypt’s national budget by the European powers, to whom it had become heavily indebted, very quickly led (in 1876) to the introduction of a civil code for the Mixed Courts of Egypt—an autonomous institution administered by European judges by which European residents (over one percent of the population at the end of the nineteenth century) were legally governed in all matters including their interactions with Egyptians (thus disputes between natives and Europeans always fell under the jurisdiction of the Mixed Courts). A code for shari’a courts was promulgated in 1880 and substantially amended in 1887. In 1883, a year after the Britihs Occupation of Egypt, a modified version of the code used in the Mixed Courts was compiled. For the National (ahliyya) Courts, both codes being based mainly on the Napoleonic Code. On the other hand, courts administering shari’a law, often described by European historians as ‘religious courts,’ were deprived of jurisdiction over criminal and commercial cases and confined to administering family law and pious endowments (awqaf). The so-called ‘secular courts’ (both Mixed and National) had jurisdiction over the rest. The bureaucratization of the shari’a courts (that is, the introduction of an appellate system, a new emphasis on documentation in judicial procedure as well as the authorization of written codes) drew on Western principles and incorporated the shari’a into the modernizing state.” [note #14 says to cf Scott “Judicial Reform in Egypt,” Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation no. 2 July 1899, the author of this article “was charged by Lord Cromer, the British consul-general, with overseeing these reforms” and “repeats the colonial notion that ‘until recently there was no such thing as native justice’ (p. 240).”] ; (212) “In 1955, under Jamal Abdul Nasir, the dual structure of the courts was finally abolished.” [note #15 says this was done ostensibly because of the “unsatisfactory nature” of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim court judgments, but really for bureaucratic unification, cf Anderson “modern Trends in Islam”]

212-there is a dispute among historians over “why the reformers looked to European rather than build on preexisting shari’a traditions.”, some say it was the result of European coercion and Egyptian elites’ Europeanization, (213) though others have said European society was simply better, and others said European law wasn’t imported, but Egyptian law just changed its emphasis—(214) though Asad says this last view is not helpful in understanding secularization—and others think the changes were essentially Egyptian, but imitated European laws to resist “direct European penetration”—but Asad says motives were diverse “especially in different periods” (eg in early 19th century when Muhammad Ali did penal reforms to reflect the European system, he did this “to consolidate his own control over the country’s administration of justice”, in admiration of Europe’s ability in that skill), (215) though “The attempt at explaining major social changes in terms of motives is always a doubtful business.”; but in the end, no matter what the motives, “the result was to help create new spaces for Islamic religion and morality.”

216-Asad, therefore, criticizes the view that we should always see the colonized in terms of resistance to imperial power; (217) the new laws in Egypt were made out of resistance and also imitated Europeans

217-Even though Weber, through the influence of Snouck Hurgronje, saw the shari’a as “primitive because it lacked the criteria given to modern law by rational authority, Anglo-American jurists had no hesitation in regarding English common law modern even though it did not embody the Weberian criteria of legal rationality. In other words, there is no consensus on what the decisive criteria are (218) for regarding particular forms of law ‘modern’ in the West.”

218-there were new questions about how to apply Western reforms in state building in Egypt; and “colonial punishment”—police and prisons—“was central to the modernization and secularization of law in Egypt. [cf Policing Islam] And it gradually replaced previous forms of violence.”

-Secularization of Egypt’s law “has not only involved the circumscription and reform of the shari’a, it has been deeply entangled with nineteenth century reformulation of Islamic tradition generally.”

219-in “Mass Culture and Islamic Cultural…” (in Mass Culture, Popular Culture), Schulze says the reason why 19th ce Islam reformers used “the European interpretation of Islamic history as one of ‘civilizational decadence’” was because first, the change of economy and political legitimation beginning in the 18th century and the increased use of print—“books from and about Europe, as well as the Islamic ‘classics’ selected for printing by European orientalists and by Westernized Egyptians. That civilizational discourse could now be used, concludes Schulze, to legitimize the claim to equality and independence.”

-“Itjihad (a term used by earlier Muslim scholars to refer to independent legal reasoning on matters about which they were not in agreement was made to mean the general exercise of free reason, or independent opinion, directed against taqlid (the unreflective reproduction of tradition) and in the cause of progressive social reform.”; in Islam and Modernism in Egypt, Adams says itjihad “belonged only to the great masters of the early generations and has consequently not existed since the third century A.H. [9th c C.E.]” [direct quote from Adams]; But “there is no such thing as ‘real’ itjihad waiting to be authenticated by orientalist method; there is only itjihad practiced by particular persons who situate themselves in various ways within the tradition of fiqh.”, “Since itjihad comes into operation precisely when ijma (the consensus of scholars) has failed, the disagreement of [Muhammad] Abduh and [Rashid] Rida on this point [about whether itjihad uses a specific reasoning] with other Muslims, past and contemporary, (224) does not signify that their view is no longer ‘traditional.’ On the contrary, that disagreement or difference is what makes it part of the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence.”; and now more scholars disagree with the idea itjihad stopped and they argue that “change was always important to the shari’a, and its flexibility was retained through such technical devices as ‘urf (custom), maslaha (public interest), and daruna (necessity).”, cf Hallaq Law and Legal Theory, Gerber Islamic Law and Culture, Johansen Contingency in a Sacred Law

*222-Asad says Schulze’s reasons for Islamic shifts is “too instrumental” (ie done as a tool solely to claim indepence); “When major social changes occur people are often unclear about precisely what kind of event it is they are witnessing and uncertain about the practice that would be appropriate or possible in response to it. And it is not easy to shed attitudes, sensibilities, and memories as though they were so many garments inappropriate to a singular historical movement. New vocabularies (‘civilizational,’ ‘progress,’ ‘history,’ ‘agency,’ ‘liberty,’ and so on) are acquired and linked to older ones. Would-be reformers, as well as those who oppose them, imagine and inhabit multiple temporalities.”

224-the mural exclusivity of Sufism to “orthodox Islam” was taken up by Orientalists and early sociologists (including Evans-Pritchard, E. Gellner, and C. Geertz), but some people are now criticizing this dichotomy, eg Maldisi is Studies on Islam

225- there is a popular but “mistaken assumption…that modernity introduced subjective interiority into Islam, something that was previously absent. But subjective interiority has always been recognized in Islamic tradition—in ritual worship (‘ibadat) as well as in mysticism (tasawwuf[??]). What modernity does bring in is a new kind of subjectivity, one that is appropriate to ethical autonomy and aesthetic self-invention…”; and, following P. Berger, Skovgaard-Petersen believes choices for Muslims are expanding concerning lifestyles (cf Defining Islam for the Egyption…), though asad says this view (226) “obscures a complicated picture” because there are new restrictions (eg minimum age for marriage, laws on polygyny, etc)

226-However, Asad agrees with Skovgaard-Petersen that “The individual is now encouraged—in morality as well in law—to govern himself or herself, as befits the citizen of a secular, liberal society. But…this autonomy depends on conditions that are themselves subject to regulation by the law of the state and to the demands of a market economy…[and] the encouragement to become autonomous is primarily directed at the upper classes. The lower classes, constituted as the objects of social welfare and political control, are placed in a more ambiguous situation.”

-so we must look at “how the reordering of social life (a new moral landscape) presented certain priorities to Islamic discursive tradition—a reordering that included a new significance being given to the family, a new distinction being drawn between law and morality, and new subjects being formed.”

228-in 1899 Muhammad Abduh, the year he was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt, wrote about the use of shari’a courts, he realized that most of the lower classes, and much of the middle and upper classes had “abandoned kinship (229) and affinal sentiments” and ties were centered around the household—the modern “family”, which was an idea concurrently (230) growing in the West; all at the same time as the “idea of a society made up of equal citizens governing themselves individually (through conscience) and collectively (through the electorate)” was being deployed in the West through institutions developed for social sciences and social problems (which were often combined)—“families” were seen as an “object of administrative intervention, a part of the management of the modern nation-state”, “precisely when modern political economy, the principal source of government knowledge and the principle object of its management, begins to represent and manipulate the national population in terms not of ‘natural units’ but of statistical abstractions…”, and this ‘legal formation of the family gives the concept of individual morality its own ‘private’ locus that the shari’a can now be spoken of as ‘the law of personal status’”, (231) “In this way it becomes a secular formula, defining a place in which ‘religion’ is allowed to make its public appearance through state law.”

231-18th century Arabic dictionaries did not have the modern Arabic word for family, a’ila, showing how it was only picked up in the 19th century as the idea became common for Egypt’s rural population by (232) the mid 19th century because of “forced labor and military conscription, a general decline in the economic condition of handicraft workers and petty traders due to the penetration of European capitalism, as well as the reform of landholding and taxation system.”, the conscripted man was allowed to bring only his nuclear family with him when he was moved away from the village—the wives had to go with their husbands because without their husbands there, they wouldn’t get as much material support; the “family” only first appears in Egypt’s census in 1917; plus upper classes were adopting Western domestic styles and (233) “practiced a discourse of the ideal family—typically expressed in terms of ‘the problem of the status of muslim women’”

234-many saw “sentiments of love” to be essential for this family; note #67 gives a quote form P. Gay’s The Education of the Senses in which Gay points out that though intimate love is timeless, in the 19th century it becomes “more concentrated than ever”, “Potent ambivalent feelings between married couples, and between parents and children, the tug between love and hate deeply felt but rarely acknowledged, became subject to more severe censorship than before, to the kind of repression that makes for neurosis. The ideology of unreserved love within the family was attractive but exhausting. Father’s claims on daughters and mother’s claims on sons, assertions of authority or demands for devotion often masquerading as excessive affection, acquired new potency precisely as the legal foundations for authority began to crumble. Increasingly, family battles took place, as it were, not in the courtroom, but in the minds” [direct quote from Gay, pp. 444-45]

235-and the modern view is that morality is to be learned in the private family

**-“…the social and cultural changes taking place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries…created some of the basic preconditions for secular modernity. These involved the legal constitution of fundamental social spaces in which governance could be secured through (1) the political authority of the nation-state, (2) the freedom of market exchange, and (3) the moral authority of the family. Central to this schema is the distinction between law (which the state embodied, produced, and administered) and (236) morality (which is the concern ideally of the responsible person generated and sustained by the family), the two being mediated by the freedom of public exchange—a space that was restructured in Egypt by the penetration of European capital and the adoption of the European law of Contract, a space in which debates about Islamic reasoning and national progress, as well as about individual autonomy, could now take place publicly.”

236-Ahmad Safwat, a lawyer, made in 1917 probably the first work to argue “rigorously” the “secular distinction between law and morality” by applying the new version of itjihad; he says that marriage used to be (and still is for the low class), “an institution designed for sexual pleasure and procreation,” but now (237) it’s a “contract between equal parties”, and Safwat thinks his marriage reform suggestions “are not contrary to the fundamental principles of the shari’a, and proposes a reexamination of the basic sources of that law”—and the shari’a is not seen as “sacred” (see Chapter 1)—as well as the Qur’an, Sunna, ijma, qiyas (analogical reasoning)

238-“The distinction between law and ethics is itself made in jurisprudential terms that are traceable in European thought at least as far back as Grotius [cf The Invention of Autonomy and The Rights of War and Peace], a distinction expressing the idea that law is the domain of obedience to a civil sovereign and morality the domain of individual sovereignty in accordance with inner freedoms (conscience).”

239-“The idea of an inner, conscience-driven moral law is taken for granted by Safwat…where transgression is sanctioned only by punishment in the next world, there is (religious) morality…the distinction between ‘morality’ and ‘law’ can be defined in parallel ways as rules, and that their obligatory character is constituted by the punishment attached to them.”

*-“…even in the Western liberal scheme morality is connected to the law in complicated ways. The authority of legal judgments is dependent on the ways, justice, decency, reasonableness, and the like are culturally interpreted; the credibility of witnesses is linked to ways ‘good’ or ‘bad’ character are culturally recognized, assessed, and responded to. Furthermore, there is the general sense that the laws in force should be consistent with the prevailing morality.” [cf A History of the Criminal Law of Egypt and Common-Sense in Law]

*-since in Egypt codes introduced were mostly “European and secular while morality was largely rooted in Islamic tradition. (240) This leads to the question of how interpretive tendencies and assumptions of ‘secular’ law engage with sensibilities and predispositions articulating ‘religious’ morality. If traditionally embodied conceptions of justice and unconsciously assimilated experience are no longer relevant to the maintenance of law’s authority, then that authority will depend entirely on the force of the state expressed through its codes.”

240-“…it is the power to make a strategic separation between law and morality that defines the colonial situation, because it is this separation that enables the legal work of educating subjects into a new public morality.”

-note #79 quotes James Fitzjames Stephen, “one-time legal member of the viceroy’s council”, who explicitly wrote in 1883 that government in Egypt does not represent the will of the people and “The law, while not itself a moral system, is indispensable to the replacement of an inferior morality.”

241- shari’a has 3 classifications for rules: “ibadat (rules governing relations between God and the faithful), mu’amalat (rules governing proper behavior between the faithful), and hudud (rules defining limits to the behavior of the faithful through penalties).”; “modern secular law not only excludes the first as being beyond its purview. It also redraws the distinctions applicable to proper behavior and punishments in terms of ‘civil law’ and ‘criminal law.’ It does all this in accordance with different principles. Furthermore, Safwat’s division deliberately ignores the fivefold shari’a ranking of acts—required (wajib), recommended (mustahabb), indifferent (mubah), discouraged (makruh), and forbidden (haram).”

-and virtue is no longer based on following the acts of Muhammad, it is related to being in accordance with law

242-Snouck Hurgronje was “the first Western authority” on shari’a and “regarded fiqh as an incoherent mixture of religion, ethics, and politics—not as a functioning law but as a theory of the ideal Muslim society that had practical significance only in matters relating to ritual devotions, family relations, and endowments. This view, says Johansen [in Contingency in a Sacred Law], has had a profound effect on Western students of Islam who have tended to see fiqh as a deontology—a system of religious and moral duties—rather than as a law in the rational sense.”, but later Schacht (“perhaps the most important orientalist of the twentieth century to specialize in Islamic law”) “did see that fiqh was not simply a compendium of religious duties but a system of subjective rights, and so inaugurated a new, and more fruitful, approach because fiqh could (243) now be seen as a legal system that private individuals could use ‘for their individual strategies of claims and counter-claims.’ [direct quote form Johansens]”

245-Kant’s idea that each person has moral certainty “would surely be rejected by medieval Islamic theologians and jurists.”, (247) who would say that moral judgment (and therefore ethics, not law) are based on one’s learning from books and society

248-Safwat, however, appeals to reform of shari’a with a Kantian sense of morals, and the result is “a rearticulation of the concepts of law and morality”; though Abduh doesn’t use this appeal, (250) Abduh sees morality taught by (local) traditions and fiqh, and this is based off the 14th century jurist Ibn Taymiyya—(252) in other words, a dominant Muslim understanding of morality was based off of physical practices that have been passed down, so secularism changes the way Muslims think about their own bodies, an idea reinforced in Marcel Mauss’ “Techniques of the Body”

253-the implementation of Western laws, no matter however much Egyptians tried to adapt them to Islamic ones, was a “revolutionary change”

*255-religion “comes to be thought of in moral term” (eg Safwat), Kantian’s ethics (and it did not follow the Kierkegaardian view which saw religion as distinct from ethics); so now ethics presuppose “a specific political realm—representative democracy, citizenship, law and order, civil liberties, and so on. For only where there is this public realm can personal ethics become constituted as sovereign and be closely linked to a personally chosen style of life—that is, to an aesthetic.”

*-“A secular state is not one characterized by religious indifference, or rational ethics—or political toleration. It is a complex arrangement of legal reasoning, moral practice, and political authority. This arrangement is not the simple outcome of the struggle of secular reason against the despotism of religious authority.”, and legal judgment is (256) ultimately connected to punishment and pain because “it is always based on coercion”, “responds to different kinds of sensibility, and authorizes different patterns of pain and suffering”, all while redefining “the concept of the human.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

Asad Formations, chs 4-5

Asad, Formations Ch. 4 “Redeeming the ‘Human’ through Human Rights”

SUMMARY: Asad begins by exposing a paradox to modern ideas of human rights as expressed in the UDHR (128-29). He then goes on to discuss the development of the idea of liberty and rights (130-137), then how these ideas play into the UDHR (137-140). Malcolm X and others have used ideas of human rights to avoid having to appeal to the state (141-144), but using state-based ideology has been more productive for those in the Civil rights movement and the US government (144-147). Also, the defining of human rights ends up defining what it means to be human (150-157).

128-Western interventions in other countries can have devastating effects, even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 25 says “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the (129) right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

-IMF interventions, for example in the 1990s in Indonesia and Russia, have caused these problems though they have not been looked at as a violation of human rights because the responsibility is supposed to be with individual states, but in the case of Indonesia and Russia, their ability “to uphold certain rights was directly compromised by IMF and U.S. policies aimed at liberalizing national economies.”; responsibility is placed on individual nations, according to Article 25 and “Damage done to the economy of another country (as in the case of the deliberate interventions I have mentioned) does not constitute a violation of human rights even if it causes immense suffering because in the final analysis the responsibility for the damage is borne only by the governors of ‘national economy,’ and in any case it is considered a short-term cost of a long-term benefit.”

129-Asad says he’s not assigning blame but pointing out how responsibility is assigned in the secular system of “human rights”; “Nothing essential to a person’s human essence is violated if he or she suffers as a consequence of military action or of market manipulation from beyond his own state when that is permitted by international laws. In these cases, the suffering that the individual sustains as citizens—as the national of a particular state—is distinguished from the suffering he undergoes as a human being. Human rights are concerned with the individual only in the latter capacity, that inalienable rights define the human does not depend on the nation-state because the former relates to a state of nature, whereas the concept of citizen, including the rights a citizen holds, presupposes a state that Enlightenment theorists called political society…Yet the identification and application of human rights law has no meaning independent of the judicial institutions that belong to individual nation-states (or to several states bound together by treaty) and the remedies that these institutions supply—and therefore of the individual’s civil status as a political subject.”

130-in medieval times, jurists said “property rights” were “natural,” but they still said property rights depended on “reciprocal duty in accordance with objective (because divinely given) criteria”; in the later middle ages, the idea that property was natural for all men regardless emerge; then in the 16th century there was a debate over whether liberty was “owned” and therefore alienable like property, or (in the view of the Dominicans and other similarly-minded groups) that liberty was not property, but essential to human existence

131-“it was no accident” that modern rights theories began in Portugal and the Netherlands, “the main centers of the slave trade at that time”, and Molina and Grotius took the side that liberty was property and could be traded; though there were debates over whether the state or the individual had rights

-in the 17th century, John Selden, and English follower of Grotius, said that laws had obligations and punishment, so a person was aware of these aspects of rights, and this distinguished people from animals, “conversely, only subjects who possessed rights could be regarded as human”

-Hobbes “merged the idea of supernatural punishment with the idea that all punishment was in a crucial sense natural”, (132) in Leviathan he explains there is natural redemption—injustice gets violence, pride gets ruin, negligence with rebellion, cowardice with oppression, etc., and he thought rights were transferable (and they should be transferred to the state who would protect all); later Locke said there was “natural good and evil”, giving “natural” morality a “religious foundation”

132-radical objected to hobbes, saying rights weren’t transferable (eg Overton), (133) or Matthew Hale said there are natural laws men know without government

134-In Natural Rights Theories, Tuck points out that today liberal theory still has the contradiction: some principles are dependent on the fact that we live in society (therefore, based off consent); others are completely independent, a minimal morality

135”…it has been argued that because the massive growth of public debt in the seventeenth century increased the precariousness and volatility of property—especially the new financial forms of property, distinct from the older, landed, ‘real’ property—this development contributed to an intensified sense of the self’s contingency among the middle and upper classes.”, so “the essence of the human comes to be circumscribed by legal discourse: The human being is a sovereign, self-owning agent—essentially suspicious of others—and not merely a subject conscious of his or her own identity. It is on this basis that the secularist principle of the right to freedom of belief and expression was crafted.”

-“Whatever its early history may be, today only a strong, secular state can enforce natural rights and its successor as the law—whether that relates to the treatment of persons or of property.”, human rights depend on “national rights—that is, rights that constitute, protect, and punish one as the citizen of a nation-state. This also means that the state has the power to use human rights discourse to coerce its own citizens—just as colonial rulers had the power to use it against their own subjects. In defending its citizens’ human rights it is only the state that can legally threaten to punish violators.”, and (136) political theorists who deal with the emergence of rights in Euro-America don’t address this issue—(137) they don’t consider that these rights are used in colonies, rights are “sentimentalized as ‘the human family.’”

137-“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins by asserting ‘the inherent dignity’ and ‘the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,’ and then turns immediately to the state. In doing so it implicitly accepts the fact that the universal character of the rights-bearing person is made the responsibility of sovereign states, each of which has exclusive jurisdiction over a limited group within the human family. This limited population is—as Foucault noted [in Technologies of the Self]—at once the object of the state’s care and a means of securing its own power. In other words, although the individual does not have the right to decide his own fate, authorities of the state of which he is a citizen have the constitutional right to decide it for him.”

-“The Declaration states that unless human rights are ‘protected by the rule of law,’ subjects will be ‘compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression.’”, so “There is no explicit recognition that what is allowed by the law may be unjust and therefore intolerable; there is only the statement that nothing contravening human rights can be lawful (which is either a tautology or untrue)”—because “The Declaration seems to assume a direct convergence of ‘the rule of law’…with social justice…If that is the case, the rule called law in effect usurps the entire universe of moral discourse.”

-it also then “privileges the state’s norm-defining function…thereby encouraging the thought that the authority of norms corresponds to the political force that supports them as law.”

-it’s a revival of natural law that came from the “moral revulsions” of Nazi state actions; Nuremberg trials “introduced the notion of crimes against humanity into international law.”, though in note #22 Asad says “…the Nazis carried out their policy of extermination not because there was no universal human rights charter at the time, but because Hitler’s Germany had the organizational means and ruthlessness to do it, and because the Allies could not or would not intervene. In general The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been more useful for punishing criminals convicted of genocide than for preventing the crime.”

139-and though there are now multi-state regions that have charters for human rights, these are just “proto-states whose individual member-states retain considerable authority.”

-and today groups define human rights in different ways and these conflict with state views—and states then respond by redefining the norms and identity of rights and the groups (eg when it comes to religious rights, which are often in Western countries only given to beliefs, and practices are often limited—which changes a religion’s identity); (140) plus definitions of human rights vary from state to state

141-Asad quotes Malcolm X who called for leaving behind the struggle for civil rights (because the whole idea of it is controlled by the oppressors) and instead struggle for human rights, and (142) connected language of human rights with revolution (in Malcolm’s case, he wanted a revolution against the US) which has been done before: English Bill of Rights of 1699 came after the 17th century civil war, American Bill of Rights came after the War of Independence, French Revolution gave “Rights of Man and the Citizen,” (145)and UDWR of 1948 came after WWII

144-Malcolm’s failure was due to the fact other states (countries) couldn’t intervene to help

-The US has 2 prophetic narratives: Pilgrims get religious freedom, and colonies escape despotism; (145) both these only define human as a certain class of people and exclude blacks and native Americans; the stories are very important: “Americans have retold the story to authorize claims about rights, inequality, membership, history, and their meaning: [Direct quote from Shulman “American Political Culture”], these stories encourage “the identification fo social crises and the condemnation of social injustice, both by those who occupy the ideological center of American liberalism and those who stand outside it as its critics.”—eg civil rights movement used it

146-says reason why MLK mobilized more Americans than Malcolm is because he used this story

-the US government also uses that story for its International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, (147) in which it sets “up an office in the State Department to report annually on religious persecution in all foreign countries (that is, excluding the United States)”, and Section 2 (a) says it’s continuing in the spirit of the founding fathers who wanted religious freedom; it’s an attempt to globalize human rights because Americans see themselves as the Chosen People

150-in defining human rights, you are also defining what it means to be human (including what are essential aspects of one’s body) when you identify what obstacles are to human nature; at the same time, only a sovereign power has the power to define this, so even though some people (like Nussbaum in Women and Human Development) define human rights as arrived at by consensus, it’s really not

151-the West (especially the US) has this sovereignty because it controls culture, “vocabulary, concepts and meaning in many fields” [direct quote from Ramonet “The Control of Pleasure”]; (152) and the global economy—(154) political power, from no matter what culture, changes all other cultures by defining humanity (especially when “humanity” is seen as redeeming people from “traditional culture”

154-in fact, forces in general, not just sovereign cultures, shape culture; (155) eg the unstable job market in US has made it more difficult to have a “realization of ‘character’”(cf The Corrosion of Character); and as the separation between “public politics and private belief is seen to crumble, the new terrain is occupied by a discourse of human rights that can be taken as either sacred or profane.”

156-definitions of “human” have been affected by animal rights theories and (157) development of genetic engineering—and this is made more complex because the UDHR article 17 “provides a guarantee to entrepreneurial property throughout the world”—Guillebaud, in Le Principe d’humanite, argues property issues concerning genetic engineering will be used to legitimize slavery and racism

CH 5 “Muslims as a ‘Religious Minority’ in Europe”

SUMMARY: “Identity” has become more important for Europeans since the 1960s (161), and the idealized understanding of “Europe” selects different experiences, ignoring some (including Muslims) (161-168). This understanding is taken to be “Europe’s” essence (168), excluding others from the identity of “Europe,” and encouraging assimilation (170). This persists in the “world-wide society” today which is modeled and controlled by Europeans and Americans (172). Asad then looks at the development of ideas of political representation and minority (173-174), and he believes that minorities are always subjected to the power of the majority (175). He also examines alternatives to this system (177-180).

159-Thesis of the chapter: “Europe…is ideologically constructed in such a way that Muslim immigrants cannot be satisfactorily represented in it. I argue that they are included in and excluded from Europe at one and the same time in a special way, and that this has less to do with the ‘absolutist Faith’ of Muslims living in a secular environment and more with European notions of ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ and ‘the secular state,’ ‘majority’ and ‘minority.’”

-takes it “for granted that in Europe today Muslims are often misrepresented in the media and discriminated against by non-Muslims.”; the majority of Western Europeans fear that (160) Muslim values “are an affront to the modern secular state”

161-“The general preoccupation in the social sciences with the idea of identity dates from after the second World War. It marks a new sense of the word, highlighting the individual’s social locations and psychological crises in an increasingly uncertain world.”; note #4 says in the first edition of International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1930-35), there was no entry for “identity” and it didn’t appear until the 1968 edition (cf Gleason “Identifying Identity: A Semantic History”); “Previously the more common meaning of identity was ‘sameness,’ as in the statement that all Muslims do not have ‘identical interests’ and attributively, as in ‘identity card.’”’ “In Europe the newer twist in the sense of the word is almost certainly more recent than in America. Perhaps in both places the discourse of identity indicates not the rediscovery of ethnic loyalties so much as the undermining of old certainties. The site of that discourse is suppressed fear.”

-“The idea of a European identity, I say, is not merely a matter of how legal rights and obligations can be reformulated. Nor is it simply a matter of how a more inclusive name can be made to claim loyalties that are attached to national or local ones. It concerns exclusions and the desire that those excluded recognize what is included in the name one has chosen for oneself. The discourse of European identity is a symptom of anxieties about non-Europeans.”

-Asad looks at “some uses of the concept ‘Europe’—rather than in tracing its empirical spread.”; (162) A “myth of Europe” has been created and in it people selectively recall shared experiences and interpretations of violence—eg violence of Nazis is felt as a shared, and therefore unifying experience, as well as fighting against Muslim incursions, while violence against non-Europeans in European colonies is ignored and (163) Europe is also identified as Christian throughout its history, even after ideas of natural law started emerging in the 16th century

164-Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s were seen as “in Europe…not of it—and it is precisely for this reason that they should be accorded toleration”; and this (165) characterization is used by liberals and conservatives

166-Europe sees itself as a superior culture that is distinct from others—a “civilization” in multiple senses

167-While many of Europe’s ideas and techniques came from the outside, writers [many are implied, but Asad only cites Trevor-Roper] believe that “The things that belong to European civilization, therefore, are those that were taken up and creatively worked on by ‘Europe.’”, and Asad says includes Locke’s idea of rights to property, that it should be cultivated—so (168) “’European history’ thus becomes a history of continuously productive actions defining as well as defined by law…It is a story that can be narrated in terms of improvement and accumulation, in which the industrial revolution is merely one (albeit central) moment. According to this conception, ‘European civilization’ is simply the sum of properties, all those material and moral acts that define European identity.”

168-“It follows from this view of Europe that real Europeans acquire their individual identities from the character of their civilization. Without that civilizational essence, individuals living within Europe are unstable and ambiguous. That is why not all inhabitants of the European continent are ‘really’ or ‘fully’ European. Russians are clearly marginal. Until just after World War II, European Jews were marginal too…Completely external to ‘European history’ is medieval Spain.”

-“There is a problem for any historian constructing a categorical boundary for ‘European civilization’ because the populations designated by the label ‘Islam’ are, in great measure, the culture heirs of the Hellenic world—the very world in which ‘Europe’ claims to have its roots. ‘Islamic civilization’ must therefore be denied a vital link to the properties that define so much of what is essential to ‘Europe’ if a civilizational difference is to be postulated between them. There appears to be two moves by which this is done. First, by denying that it has an essence of its own, “Islam” can be represented (169) as a carrier civilization that helped to bring important elements into Europe from outside, material and intellectual elements that were only contingently connected to Islam. [cites Trevor-Roper The Rise of Christian Europe p. 141] Then, to this carrier civilization is attributed an essence: an ingrained hostility to all non-Muslims. That attribution constitutes Islam as Europe’s primary alter.”—“Islam” is given “a quasi-civilizational identity”

169-by saying Islam’s history is inessential, you can say Muslim “can be assimilated…into a global (‘European’) civilization once they have divested themselves of what many of them [Europeans] regard (mistakenly_ as essential to themselves.” [PROB: the term “essence” asad uses for saying what Europeans deny about Islam may be better said as Europeans just seeing Islam’s essence as weak, cuz they do think it has and essence—and this shows up in polemics about Islam]; (170) and this logic also suggests that assimilation is desirable; “It is not possible for Europe to be represented without evoking this history and the way in which its active power has continually constructed its own exclusive boundary—and transgressed it.”

172-Europe “made itself” through expanding its hegemony over the world—the world-wide society today is based on the European model and Europeans/Americans still regulate it

173-“The ideology of political representation in liberal democracies makes it difficult if not impossible to represent Muslims as Muslims. Why? Because in theory the citizens who constitute a democratic state belong to a class that is defined only by what is common to all its members and its members only. What is common is the abstract equality of individual citizens to one another, so that each counts as one.” And this inevitably leads to the idea that the majority is an approximate representation of the whole (a “majority rules” idea)—“It is no accident that the statistical representativeness emerged in close connection with the construction of the welfare state…and the centralization of national statistics,” and they are important in democratic politics, “demography, social security legislation, market research, and national election politics.”

174-plus the notion of “minority” is not just from statistics, it also comes from “the dissolution of the bond that was formed immediately after the Reformation between the established Chruch and the early modern state. This notion of minority sits uncomfortably with the secular Enlightenment concept of the abstract citizen.”; this doctrine said “it was the state’s business to secure religious uniformity within the polity—or at least to exclude Dissenters from important rights—[and] was crucial to the formation of the early modern state.” And the Enlightenment idea of political community contrasted this because it criticized the religious inequality and wanted all citizens equal (embodied in France’s “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen”)—though this theory was also criticized, “notably by Burke for the license it gave to destructive passions, and by Marx for disguising bourgeois self-interest. However, the decisive movements that helped to break the alliance of church and state seem to have been religious rather than secular-Tractarianism in England, and Ultramontanism in France and Europe generally. The arguments they deployed most effectively were strictly theological and were aimed at securing the freedom of Christ’s church from the constraints of an earthly power.” [cf Heim “The Demise of the Confessional State…” in Majorities and Minorities], and as a result minorities became both equal to all and unequal groups which required special protection

-including minorities means including people who have often conflicting historical narratives; (175) “’Minority rights’ are not derivable from general theories of citizenship; status is connected to membership in a specific historical group, not in the abstract class of citizens,” minotirities may be numerically smaller or larger than the body of equal citizens from which they are excluded “Because minorities are defined as minorities only in hierarchical structures of power.”

175-all groups have “narratives, and the practices they authorize, [which] help to define what is essential to each group”, but minority groups are forced to “shed the narratives and practices they take to be necessary [,in this context,] to their lives as Muslims.”

177-a solution to this is suggested by Connolly in “pluralism, multiculturalism and the nation0state” is to shift the idea of pluralism from a “majority narration presiding over numerous minorities in a democratic state” to “a continuous readiness to deconstruct historical narratives constituting identities and their boundaries (which, he argues, have a tendency to become sacralized and fundamentalized) in order to ‘open up space through which care is cultivated for the abundance of life.’” [direct quote from Connolly]; Asad says this is difficult to do , (178) but he hoeps that states can be composed of several minority groups instead of one major one, though this is also difficult to achieve—and focus should not be on identity but on “what it takes to live particular ways of life continuously, co-operatively, and unselfconsciously.”

179-Asad likes Milbank’s idea (cf “Agaisnt the Resignations of the Age” in Things old and new) that it’s impossible for groups’ actions not to affect one another and overlap—it happened in medieval times: “Christendom and Islam recognized a multiplicity of overlapping bonds and identities. People were not always expected to subject themselves to one sovereign authority, nor were they themselves sovereign moral subjects.”—calls this “complex space”

-this “complex space” should be combined with “complex time” (realizing similar things for time as you can with space) and this should reduce the scope for ‘national politics’—necessary in a globalized world (globalized economy, nationalities, etc); (180) but “decisive answers on this subject are too difficult to secure.”