Meanwhile, in India …

… there’s something happening that might even be bigger than Project Idaho.

With two weeks left to go before electoral results are in, the world’s largest democracy seems set to veer hard right, to an extent unprecedented in its modern history. There’s a leftish but informative briefing on the ideological stakes at Quartz.

NRx has nothing to teach me about hats.

NRx has nothing to teach me about hats.

NRx tends to be quite insular, often out of semi-articulate principle, so nobody (other than enemies) seems to have paid much attention to this yet. That’s odd, upon reflection, because the Modi BJP seems to be juggling Trichotomy issues of a familiar kind within its Hindutva platform, which glues together a quasi-stable raft of religious, ethno-nationalist, and capitalistic elements into an explicitly reactionary-modernizing coalition. When the 21st century is allotted to Asia, it’s for a reason. The West’s vague premonitions are urgent practicalities there.

Should NRx be waving the Modi banner with enthusiasm? There are some obvious reasons for caution (beside dim parochialism). Most centrally, the role of democracy in the BJP wave is strongly analogous to that afflicting the 20th century European far right, and the record of reactionary demotism scores a straight ‘F‘. Democratic pressures suck the right into an ideological black-hole, since the only parts of its agenda that hit the tingle-spot with the masses are its crudest appeals to atavistic sentiment. Cognitive regression is the inevitable price of popularity.

It follows, then, that Indian developments are more likely to provide another lesson in political tragedy than a torch of inspiration. Unless an incoming Modi regime moves quickly to begin dismantling the structure of Indian democracy (sadly, an unimaginable prospect), its modernizing competence will eventually fall prey to mob impulses, as the people — once again — get the government they deserve.

For NRx, I suspect, the essential lesson will be a deepened understanding of the toxicity of populism, even if it seems — momentarily — to be flowing in the right direction. Still, dogmatism has no respectable place in such matters. If something more positive, and complex, comes out of this, Outside in will be among the first to applaud it.

ADDED: Panic!

ADDED: Jason Burke on Modi and us: … among huge numbers of people … globalisation is a conversation from which, metaphorically and practically, they are excluded. That conversation takes place in English and it is worth noting that Modi will be the first leader of such prominence and power in India who, like the vast majority of his compatriots, is uncomfortable in what has become the world’s language. […] On the political track, our diplomats and politicians inevitably favour those who resemble them most closely. That usually means anglophone moderates or, as they are often termed locally, “liberals”. There is also an inherent and inevitable journalistic bias towards those who share reporters’, viewers’ and readers’ language and cultural references, however superficial.

May 4, 2014admin 22 Comments »
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22 Responses to this entry

  • Max Says:

    Fascinating. Will be watching this closely in the week to come.

    In other news, have you heard that UKIP is leading in the polls?

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 5:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • AWC Says:

    Given the average IQ of India is 82, the fact that India ranks as a very low-trust country, and the fact of all the deep animosity in India among various groups, I wouldn’t place much hope in India. Whether left or right drift, I wouldn’t be surprised to see self-destruction in India.

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    Kgaard Reply:

    Well … I am more hopeful. Phenotypical IQs are SOARING in the Indian subcontinent (nearly 1 point a year in Pakistan) as cell phones, computers and motorbikes proliferate. Modi has done a great job in Gujarat. Seems to me all India has to do is get things a LITTLE more right than in the past and it will find itself with a nice tailwind. Many of the changes that are needed (particularly in administrative blocking and tackling) are things that technology will be hugely helpful with. It’s sort of like how tech has helped the airline industry become much more customer friendly by making all the individual steps of flying out of the hands of individuals and putting them in the hands of computers. It shouldn’t be rocket science for India to get to a somewhat more workable system.

    By the way, investment-wise, India is now one of the most interesting markets in the world. Stocks are cheap and nominal GDP should be pretty strong.

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    admin Reply:

    The optimate side of the Indian elite is excellent, but its left-Brahmin side is radically repulsive — perhaps the only group in the world who can give lessons in sanctimony to Harvard witch-hunters. Also, the bottom 60% of the population is probably beyond salvage (maybe competent for menial labor, if stripped of the right to vote the country into accelerating collapse).

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    spandrell Reply:

    SOARING my ass. Sources on that?

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    Kgaard Reply:

    It’s pretty much inevitable. The literacy rate is 56% for the entire population of Pakistan. But for those under 24 it’s 70%. That means the overall literacy rate is probably going rise 14 points (at least) over the next generation or two. Meanwhile family sizes are falling, nutrition is improving and kids are exposed to way more intellectual stimuli from computers and cellphones. The Flynn Effect is worth about 0.5 points/year in garden-variety emerging markets, so it could be more than that in Pakistan.

    There’s something else I’ve been thinking about: In societies where smart women are still compelled to have nearly as many babies as dumb ones (as is the case in much of the muslim world), in theory there should be less erosion in genotypic IQ. Seems to me that factor could be at work in Pakistan too but I don’t want to push that concept too hard as I may be wrong.

    Anyway, by my calcs, Pakistan’s phenotypic IQ rose from 70 in 1980 to about 92 today (taking 2002 as the benchmark year and not re-basing).

    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 5:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ademonos Says:

    Are you sure that you put down those liberal-democratic emotional lenses when you examined Italian Fascism? Obviously we agree that its populist tendencies were disagreeable, but I think you are being too harsh. It wasn’t all that bad or extensive, at least not if you make some comparisons…

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    MW Reply:

    AngloCons need to salvage the Empire’s most Pyrrhic victory.

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    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 5:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bryce Laliberte Says:

    I happened to have the opportunity to discuss Modi briefly with an Indian Brahmnin (the literal and Moldbuggian kind), and her support of him makes me deeply suspicious. But we shall wait and see, I suppose.

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    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 7:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • Blake Says:

    re qtz article: funny how many die hard adopted-country-progs go hard-right when it comes down to the motherland.

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    Big Bill Reply:

    True. The Jews fought their first struggle over this issue when the Balfour Declaration was being drafted and passed around among all the interested Jewish parties. Eventually they revised the Balfour Declaration to say that Jews have a right to rule Israel, but they also have a right to live wherever else they want without interference. Rich diaspora Jews never intended to make aliyah. They liked having their sacred hide-hole, while living as a protected species i the West.

    The Indians have not given a good deal of thought to this problem. The author of the Quartz article, however, suggests what the Hindu escape clause may be: “holy lands” that should be ruled by their “holy people”: Hindus rule India, Jews/Christians rule Jerusalem, and Muslim rule Mecca. Since America is only “holy” to the Indians (feather, not dot) everyone else should be equal and therefore white Americans have no right to discriminate against Indians (dot, not feather).

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    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 7:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • E.Antony Gray (RiverC) Says:

    The demotic aspect is troubling, but it is possible for reactionary ideas to become popular inasmuch as they have a hierarchical character, i.e. ideas for the helot, ideas for the vaisya, ideas for the brahmin, ideas for the optimate. It’s like Shakespeare: a ‘whole’ conceptualization is not either high or low itself but contains things which appeal to all levels of experience. It is neither populist or elitist; the closest thing it is for Shakespeare is – it’s English.

    Since it does not eschew elite ideas and hierarchy, populists view it as elitist. Since it does not disdain the working man, elitists disdain it as populist. In art, I’ve seen this where if an artist in any way is trying to ‘make what people like’ some artists will pile on them for being ‘sellouts’ and likewise there are some who will attack things that are esoteric or difficult to understand as being obscurantist – or whatever accusation best fits. Total art by definition must encompass all levels, something some elites have trouble swallowing.

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    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 10:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    For NRx, I suspect, the essential lesson will be a deepened understanding of the toxicity of populism

    You’ve been very quiet on issues such as Scottish independence… but I’m struggling to see any way out. All secession leads to is nationalism (in guises) – is that a stage to pass through? It will certainly reinforce it. There’s still no obvious answer to how a non-populist; non-slap most people in the face type state can ever come into being. Patchwork is wonderful, but even with a full meltdown I struggle to see how it would come about..?

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    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 10:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Name (required) Says:

    India also has a large (and still growing) Maoist insurgency. An insurgency that is supported not only by China, but also by various left wingers in Western countries (the amount of left wing Canadian students that support it is ridiculous).

    If Ernst Nolte’s hypothesis is correct (domestic fascist movements cannot arise without domestic marxist groups), then I would suspect that this far right swing has a chance of turning into fascism. This in turn would fuel the Maoist insurgency. In either case, India’s future is a pile of skulls.

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    Posted on May 4th, 2014 at 10:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alfred Says:

    Expect the worst and hope for the best, I guess.

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    Posted on May 5th, 2014 at 12:22 am Reply | Quote
  • sobl Says:

    How much of Modi’s support is simply due to his stance on the gold import ban? Ending it has massive popular support.

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    admin Reply:

    A fascinating angle on the topic, certainly.

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    Blogospheroid Reply:

    It’s not banned. There is a weird import certificate like regulation going on where you have to export a certain amount of jewelery to import a certain amount of bullion.

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    Posted on May 5th, 2014 at 12:59 am Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    India is, in a way, a society overoptimized for the agricultural era. The rigid caste system is a way to allocate labour when things are not really changing at all, technology wise or population wise. And India did pretty well till the industrial revolution.

    The population explosion and the industrial revolution that occurred in the last two centuries have radically changed the shape of society in a way that the leaders have not really confronted properly. It’s not like the economic viewpoint is alien to indians. The arthashastra by kautilya is quite decent on many aspects of political economy, and it was written at the time of Alexander. The RSS and other hindutva orgs formally do not recognise the caste system. But they’re in no hurry to marry off their relatives to people from other castes. Another place where formailism might actually be of some benefit.

    The independence movement was too much tainted by socialist ideas and that essentially led to the 65 year stagnation of current independent india. Rajagopalachari and Gandhi had suggested an apprenticeship/worksmanship program combined with basic primary education as a way to educate the masses. This was rejected soundly because it stank of perpetuation of the caste system and India went in for an english liberal university system. Aah.. the pain of counterfactuals..

    The really huge issues for India, today are the allocation of a vast number of unskilled workers away from agriculture and managing the sex ratio. Many have prophesised that the caste system will die soon due to lack of marriageable girls from certain castes. We’ll see. I don’t think Modi is going to affect the big picture much, though he may start acknowledging the real problems, which is a step up for India.

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    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Acknowleding the real problems would be step up for almost every country today.

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    Posted on May 5th, 2014 at 5:53 am Reply | Quote
  • Contemplationist Says:

    Let’s clear a few misconceptions first.
    Modi is, economically speaking, just an honest technocrat who you could place
    as a true believer in Roosevelt’s cabinet (who would perhaps resign later due to the dishonesty of the
    FDR regime). His lexicon does not contain ‘privatization’ and ‘deregulation.’ In Gujarat, he
    has advanced modernization by sheer force of will and the political genius of his handymen
    in bending the bureaucrats to his will with few (if any) legislative repeals.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 6th, 2014 at 4:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Modified Says:

    […] Outside in preemptive disillusionment with Indian reaction in power is already on record. Nevertheless, this is going to be big. Over half a billion people went to the polls to make it […]

    Posted on May 16th, 2014 at 5:55 pm Reply | Quote

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