The Materiality of Politics: Volume 1: The Technologies of Rule
Two volumes of The Materiality of Politics analyses how politics make their course in a colonial and developing country like India that is so diversified and intra-contrasting internally.
The ideal notion of politics, the collective process of deciding one problem and issue for themselves, is shunned on the ground making and deciding issues on hard realism and calculation.
Some parts of society act as a balancer or collective political actor to equalize and rectify some of their grievances and misperceptions against the political system of the country in which they operate. The state or government being in a preponderance of resources and power more or less tries to circumvent them if not trespass them altogether.
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In doing so ideals of democracy, constitution, and legalism venerated are cut down in one way or another in the name of national interests and integration. Thus, this is where realpolitik comes into the political structure of the country!
The first chapter of the book lays the momentum by introducing the materiality of politics, what the author prefers to call, the physicality of politics.
Chapter Two analyses the constitutional development in British India. The Britishers’ main focus in the Indian subcontinent was to hold and control both India and Indians for themselves. All the political, economic, and legal infrastructure they gave to their Colony was to strengthen their Empire and enthrall the Indians in some way.
The framing of terror in the Constitution was pegged to four points, one, to control any unlikely situation for them, two, any criticism or attack on the British government or the crown was unacceptable, third, intelligence gathering, and loyalty to the government would be basic of this law-making, and fourth would be to monitor and observe all humans for the safety and stability of Empire.
Hence, this material or physical politics of colonialism was a mixture of controlling, silencing, and fear of being tortured and questioned by the British authorities.
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The third chapter deals with the question of the territorial size of the land to be governed. The commonly applied technique in governing land is the constitutional infrastructure given by the government of the country backed with a lash of terror and force if anybody tries to violate it. But this may have more utility and applicability, if the government made by the majority of the country, focuses on the development and uplift of the racial and ethnic minorities of theirs.
The governance and rule without care and protection for the masses to be governed is rather hard and impossible. If the ruling and governance need some techniques and tactics, so like as there are some quintessential ways to develop a sense of belonging and association among the masses that the government is keenly seeking their develop and uplift regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or any other differences among them. Chapter four revolves around this topic, fundamental to any political system.
The fifth chapter deals with the stability of the colonized land and the controlling and reining of the colonized ones for the colonizers.
The growth of rights, whether political, economic, or social was the outgrowth of the given constitutional and political infrastructure of the colonial masters. Albeit, with varying degrees from the colonial mainland.
The first chapter of the second volume of this book elaborates how all the constitutional developments and arrangements of the colonial masters pin only on their desires and policies leaving no or very limited space for their subjugated ones. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Viceroy Lord Linlithgow made the August Offer to Indians promising them more space and political leverage than they had before. The only demand from them was to support the British Empire during the war.
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The second chapter, the Game of Justice, circles the death of an old, poor woman, Patu Mura, in the Purulia district of West Bengal who asked for food support but died of hunger due to the absence of her name in the list of poor. The title is an irony on the political, social and legal system of post-colonial India. Where elites and power centers struggle and conspire like in Game of Thrones.
The politics of a society is a combination of past and present. What German philosopher, Benjamin Walter, calls a tempest from paradise that pushes society forward? This heavenly tempest is a progression of society despite ups and downs, zig-zagging from its past relics. This daily friction in society always makes something new while rubbing and crushing some old ones along it.
The fourth chapter is concerned with the notion of autonomy in a society and a political set-up. Freedom in a society is the most important measuring stone to weigh its development and progress for its citizens. This autonomy or freedom is not limited to only a few spheres. It includes every aspect of human life. The elasticity of human nature and society makes them free and autonomous from old existing social structures but at the same movement, they bring up new ones along with them which then have another overbalance on them.
These two volumes are a heavy dose of information to read with learning and analysis.
Their subtitles, the technologies to rule, the subtitle of the first volume, and the subtitle of the Second Volume, subject position in politics, inform readers about the subject matter going to be handled in these volumes.
What technologies and devices were and still are used to control and manage the subjects in politics!!
Murtaza Kaleem an educator, freelance writer, movie-watcher, melodious music listener and an avid reader about International Relations and World Politics with a decade long experience of education and teaching to students of different sociological and economic backgrounds. My social links are;