Ahistory, Part 2

You will recall my quote of Spengler in my article on ahistory, where he asserts that India had no history, and I clarify that it instead had a resistance network of stories which prevented the creation of history. I think this was a good thing with regards to Indian society. Now I have learned that there was a very interesting person who thought it was a bad thing:

Now, sickening as it must be to human feeling to witness those myriads of industrious patriarchal and inoffensive social organizations disorganized and dissolved into their units, thrown into a sea of woes, and their individual members losing at the same time their ancient form of civilization, and their hereditary means of subsistence, we must not forget that these idyllic village-communities, inoffensive though they may appear, had always been the solid foundation of Oriental despotism, that they restrained the human mind within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting tool of superstition, enslaving it beneath traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and historical energies.

Indian society has no history at all, at least no known history. What we call its history, is but the history of the successive intruders who founded their empires on the passive basis of that unresisting and unchanging society. …¬†England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia.

Karl Marx, 1853.

What “grandeur” did Marx see in a potential India? What are the “historical energies” that he believed needed to be loosed on the country? Well, I guess I can answer that question from what I read of Marx. Still, it certainly points the political compass of the ahistorian in a new direction.

Posted: October 2nd, 2010 | Postcolonialism 1 Comment »


One Comment on “Ahistory, Part 2”

  1. 1 Avery said at 6:41 am on October 3rd, 2010:

    A few more thoughts on this subject. Dialectical historians put each generation in opposition to the last, i.e. postmodernism against modernism, children rebelling against their parents. This is ultimately a Nietzschean “hatred of the strong” solidified into a cyclical, unending process. It is silly to think that the human mind will inevitably work this way, but by reading this message out of the zeitgeist, historians also inject it in. Thus India now develops a history out of its ahistorical state.