Analyzing the nature of the military labor market during the Mughal empire and its significance with special reference to the mercenary composition in the labor market.
The Mughal empire was one of the greatest and one of the most influential empires that ever existed. The Mughal empire lasted for more than 300 years and covered much of the Indian subcontinent. Acquiring and maintaining such an empire for so long is often credited towards the administration prevalent during the Mughal period. In this essay, however, I will bring into focus the active military labor market that was present during the Mughal period and how that played an important role for not only the Mughals themselves but also their enemies in acquiring territories. The role of mercenaries in the military labor market and their ethnic composition will also be discussed in this paper. In this essay, we will see what kind of military labor market existed during the Delhi Sultanate, the changes that occurred in it with the oncoming of the Mughals, and its significance in determining the relationship between the nobles and the peasants. The Mughals being referred to in this essay are only the first six of the Mughal rulers from Babur to Aurangzeb. The main objective of this essay is to analyze the ethnic composition of the military labor market. There is no original data collected for this essay and I will be analyzing the texts of different historians. Before the emergence of the Mughal empire in the 16th century, the Delhi Sultanate was the dominant empire in the Indian subcontinent. They had their own military labor market. We know this as Kaushik Roy informs us that, “Until the fourteenth century, the dominant mode of military recruitment in India was the Mamluk system.” ( page 1, from mamluks etc) The soldiers comprising the mamluk system were mainly slave soldiers that were brought from the Muslim countries in the Middle-east such as Turkestan, Persia, and Transoxiana. Due to the political fluctuations caused by Mongol invasions, the Delhi Sultanate had to resort to hiring free-flowing mercenaries from Hindustan itself. Also, “One way to maintain and expand the size of the army was to hire indigenous mercenaries as well as to utilize the forces of the defeated chiefs. The free-floating mercenaries had their own horses, armor, and equipment. They were paid in cash and they also had a right to the loot taken from the defeated enemies.”( page 89, Mamluks) Thus we can see how the military labor market shifted from accquiring slave soldiers from the Middle East to hiring mercenaries from the Indian subcontinent itself. Due to the invasion from Timur during the 14th and the 15th century, the Delhi Sultanate weakened, which provided the perfect opportunity for other Central Asian rulers such as Babur to invade India. Babur is credited to be the founder of the Mughal Empire. We can see some similarities and some differences in the military labor that was adopted by Babur when compared to the Delhi Sultanate. Unlike the Delhi Sultanate, Babur preferred to have a household standing army, which comprised of soldiers that joined Babur’s army due to family and clan connections. Unlike the mercenaries, these soldiers did not break on the battlefield and were used by Babur to perform daredevil manoeuvrers of the battlefield. But just like the Delhi Sultanate, even Babur had decided to include mercenaries into his army. According to Kaushik Roy, many mercenaries that joined Babur were from Mongol descent, as he says “Babur mentions that the Mongol settlers in Central Asia were organized in various tribes. Many Mongol tribes who had no blood relation to Babur joined him. Each Mongol tribe at that time comprised 3,000-4,000 families.” ( page 90, Mamluks) It is important to know that Babur himself is from Mongol descent. Thus from this, we can see that the Mongol mercenaries joining Babur could be categorized as an ethnic mercenary sort of military employment in which mercenaries join a ruler because they have the same ethnic background. Babur’s ancestors were Timur and Chengiz Khan, who were famous rulers of the Timurid and the Mongol dynasties, which occupied much of Central Asia. When Babur came to India, he decided to adopt the military tactics used in Central Asia and he used them to defeat the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. At the battle of Panipat, “ He protected his right by resting it on the city of Panipat, and on the left, dug a ditch with branches of felled trees so that the cavalry could not cross it. In front, he put together 700 carts, some from his baggage train, and some procured locally. These carts were joined together by ropes of rawhide, and between every two carts, short breastworks were put up behind which matchlockmen could stand and fire. Babur called this method of stringing carts the Ottoman ( Rumi) devise because along with cannons it had been used by the Ottoman Sultan in the famous battle with Shah Ismail of Iran at Chaldiran in 1514. But Babur added a new feature. At a bow shot apart, gaps were left, wide enough for fifty or hundred horses to charge abreast” ( page 29, Satish Chandra) Babur is also credited with introducing guns and gunpowder to India. Thus he had also incorporated two Ottoman mercenaries, Ustad Ali and Mustafa, who were master gunners. Babur also claimed that these two mercenaries were invaluable on the battlefield and also went as far as appointing Ustad Ali as the master of the ordinance. Thus we can see that Babur kept hiring mercenaries from mostly Central Asia as he was using the tactics that were being used in that area and thus the mercenaries would already be accustomed to such military tactics and thus would prove most effective. The Mughals were not the only ones who were hiring mercenaries. The military labor market was open to all those who could afford mercenaries, which included the rivals of the Mughals. In fact, “Babur’s opponent at the First Battle of Panipat, Sultan Ibrahim Lodi (r. 1517-1526) depended on the indigenous mercenaries. Ibrahim Lodi, being an Afghan, preferred Afghan soldiers.” ( page 91, Mamluk) Many times the defeated chieftains were forced to join the rival army if they were defeated in battle. The previous claim is supported by the following quote which is- “After being victorious at First Panipat, many Afghan chieftains in India (who were either semi-autonomous or in Lodi service) joined Babur as tributaries with their retainers (some of the bands numbering up to 3,000- 4,000 men each).54 In many cases, they were forced to join Babur after being defeated in battle.” ( page 91 Mamluk) Even after Humayun came into power, mercenaries were still being used to oppose the Mughal rule. For example, Bahadur Shah of Gujrat hired African mercenaries commonly known as Abbysinians and also hired tribal mercenaries. In fact, “ Bahadur Shah provided 20 crores of Gujarati coins to one of his nobles, Tatar Khan, who with this money hired 40,000 Afghan mercenary cavalries. Some Muslims of Gujarat also joined his artillery branch as mercenaries.” ( page 92). After Humayun defeated Bahadur Shah and some other Afghan chieftains, they were forced to join Humayun’s army with their retainers. However, similar to the mercenaries, they proved disloyal towards Humayun and deserted him and instead joined his enemy Sher Shah, who was an afghan. Another example of mercenary disloyalty and desertion is the case of Rumi Khan, who was initially under the employment of Bahadur Shah of Gujrat. Rumi, Khan, “, the commandant of the Gujarat Sultanate’s artillery department, deserted Sultan Bahadur Shah and joined Humayun in 1533. Rumi Khan was a military engineer and was considered an expert in siege warfare. In 1537, he advised Humayun in conducting the siege of Chunar Fort held by Sher Shah.” ( page 99, mollusks) From this, we can conclude that there were some stark similarities between mercenaries and the chieftains and their retainers who were defeated in battle. Even though the former was voluntary and the latter was involuntary, desertion was common and they also did not have any loyalty towards their employees or captives and thus abandoned them if any political fluctuations occurred in that demographic area. Many mercenaries from Central Asia became attracted by the wealth that India had to offer and the prospect of looting it made them join Humayun’s cause on a mostly seasonal contract. Mercenaries hired on a seasonal contract were less likely to desert as compared to those who were hired for a longer contract. There were also cases where the children of mercenaries would follow in their parent's footsteps and serve the ruler of the same dynasty. such was the case with the son of Ustad Ali Quli Khan’s son, M.K Rumi, who fought beside Humayun and was in charge Mogul guns and carriages at the battle of Kanauj. Just like Babur, Sher Shah also utilized the military labor market and incorporated soldiers from his ethnic background. We know this as “ Sher recruited Afghans from Bihar, and many Rajput chieftains with their clansmen also joined his banner. While the Rajputs in his army were mercenaries, the Afghans were mobilized through tribal/clan networks. Sher called the Afghan qaum (community) to mobilize against the alien Moguls.” ( page 92-93) Thus we can say that it was an instance of ethnic conscription for the Afghans in Sher Shah’s army. Things took a drastic turn when Akbar came into power. After his victory in the second battle of Panipat, he established a stronghold in Northern India. Thus the base for Mughal operations was no longer Afghanistan, as it was with Babur and Humayun, but instead, it was now northern India. This was a setback in terms of military recruitment. This is because now Akbar would not be able to tap up the Turkish and the other central Asian tribes and include them in his army as he was now established in India. Due to this, he had to come up with a new military recruitment system. The system which he introduced was the mansabdari system, which changed the military labor market for the Mughals for the coming decades. The mansabdari system comprised of nobles who held ranks called mansabs and they were called mansabdars and each of them held jagirs. The way in which it transformed the military labor market was that “The mansabdari system was also partly a case of the tributary form of military employment. After being defeated, the chieftains belonging to different principalities were encouraged and at times coerced to serve in the Mogul army and in return were rewarded with jagirs. When Akbar established himself at Agra, a large number of principalities were under the control of autonomous and semi-autonomous hereditary chieftains. The latter was known as rajas, ranas, rawats, or rais. They were also known as Rajputs, and the Mogul chroniclers called them zamindars.” ( page 96) They were different from traditional mercenaries as mansabars were usually given lifelong employment, unlike the mercenaries who were usually given a season-long contract. Also, the commitment of the mansabdars to the emperor was absolute and thus they were not given much freedom in leaving the service. As previously mentioned, foreign mercenaries played a very important role in determining battles. One of the main reasons for this was their knowledge of guns and gunpowder. As the use of cannons and the muskets were widespread throughout the West, European mercenaries always had a special place in the military labor market and their services were used by both the Mughals and their rivals alike. In fact, European mercenaries were so in demand that “from the second half of the seventeenth century, the Mogul artillery was manned by Portuguese, British, Dutch, German, and French mercenaries. These foreigners were deserters from European ships and entered Mogul dominion through Goa for higher pay” ( page 100). Even mercenaries from Africa found employment in India. One of the most common of these were the Abbysinians. We are informed that “. In the Ahmadnagar Sultanate in western Deccan, Abyssinian military slaves and Abyssinian mercenaries played an important role. The Abyssinians (also known as Habshis in India) were African Muslims from Ethiopia who either came to India as free-born adventurers or were imported as slaves.” ( page 101). As we have seen, the military labor market in Mughal India comprised of a vast number of soldiers from different ethnic backgrounds. While they may have their advantages, there are a few historians who claim that the dependency of the rulers on the military labor market had led them to not maintain a proper standing army. We get to know that “since supply exceeded demand, there was no point in maintaining a big standing army year after year. Rather, during emergencies, infantry and cavalry were raised at short notice and sent to the trouble spots.” ( page 103) . Thus the Mughals lacked a disciplined and properly drilled standing army that could be used to win battles decisively. Instead “treachery, diplomacy, bribery, and a show of force resulted in the absorption and assimilation of enemies” ( page 84). This claim can be used to justify the disintegration of the Mughal empire, as, after Aurangzeb, the entire administration and the military structure had begun to fall apart. This was due to mainly both internal and external conflicts, which with the use of a proper standing army, could have been controlled. As we have seen throughout this essay, the military labor market throughout the Mughal empire always comprised of soldiers-cum- mercenaries of different ethnic backgrounds. As the Mughals mostly depended on them for military recruitment, we can sense that there was some heterogeneity in the army in terms of religion, culture, and nationality. This is one of the ways in which we get to know about the liberal nature of the Mughals when concerned with the army. It is important to know that all of the emperors from Babur to Aurangzeb deemed it necessary to employ foreign mercenaries into their armies, especially European mercenaries. The reason behind this could be due to the advancement of cannons and muskets in Europe during the 16th and the 17th century and thus hiring mercenaries with the knowledge of these advancements would certainly be beneficial to the Mughals. Thus we say that their expansion in the Indian subcontinent was due to the ethnic diversities of the soldiers that comprised the Mughal armies and the different skills and the ability that they brought with them. During the 18th century, the power of the Mughal empire lowly diminished, mainly due to the emergence of the East India company. The British established their rule in India after the battle of Plassey in 1757. This led to the extinction of the existent mansabdari system. Since then, the entire military labor market was operated by the British Raj. The main breeding grounds of military recruitment for the British were Bengal, Madras, and Bombay. The ethnic composition of the British army mainly comprised of Indian soldiers called as ‘sepoys’ and only a minority were white British soldiers. In his book The Garrison State: Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab, 1849-1947, Tan Tai Yong analyzes the dynamics of the military labour market in Punjab from the revolt of 1857 to 1947 and talks about how after the revolt of 1857, Punjab became a militarized bureaucracy and became a supply ground of men and weapons for the British. Thus we can see through this paper on how with the emergence of a new political power in India, it led to the extinction of a pre-existent military labor market. To put this into context, the Mamluk system during the time of the Delhi Sultanate became extinct with the emergence of the Mughals. Similarly, the mansabdari system vanished after the establishment of the imperial raj. Through all this, we can safely conclude that the military labor market in India was never rigid or constrained, but was instead not bound by anything and extremely free-flowing. BIBLIOGRAPHY- Roy. Kaushik. 2013. “From the mamluks to the mansabdars:A social history of military service in South Asia, c. 1500 to c. 1650”. Fighting for a Living Book Subtitle: A Comparative Study of Military Labour 1500-2000. 81-114 Chandra. Satish. 2005. Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals Part 2. New Delhi. Publications Pvt. Ltd.
Discuss the social and political context of the Bhakti movement with special reference to Kabir.
The Bhakti movement was a religious movement that started a theistic devotional trend that emerged in the 8th century in the southern part of India. It was started by the Alvars and the Nayanars, who were the followers of Vishnu and Shiva respectively, so it developed around Vaishnavism and Shaivism. This movement can be considered as an influential reformation against orthodox Hinduism as it worked with the recontextualisation of ancient Vedic traditions. Thus, it gave the people an alternative path to devotion which was not caste specific and did not require any sort of rituals and it preferred doing praying through songs and poems. It is because of this that it was an invocation of the public and it was this movement that brought mass identities into the frame. Also, this movement should not be considered to be a monolithic or a homogeneous movement. The Bhakti movement had an important part to play in the social context at the time. According to Rekha Pande, “ The Bhakti movement of the medival period was an idealistic manifestation of the socio-economic realities of the time.” ( The social context of the Bhakti movement- A study in Kabir, Rekha Pande 1985. p. 230) The social front at the time was characterized by brahminical oppression. With orthodox Hinduism being prevalent at the time, it was the caste system that affected the poor people. According to the Brahmins, those who did not fit into their rigid caste system, should be excluded from the society. Thus, those who did not fit into the traditional Varna system, were termed as chandals and outcastes. As previously mentioned, the Bhakti movement was against orthodox Hinduism and the rituals that were done by the Brahmans and thus “ in doing away with rituals it was fighting the brahminical domination and the injustices of the caste system”.( The social context of the Bhakti movement- A study in Kabir, Rekha Pande 1985. p. 232). This way it was trying to establish a direct relation between the devotee and God. The majority of the bhakti saints were from the lowest strata of the society, who were despised and downgraded by the upper castes. As these saints had done away with rituals, the common people found another way of praying as “the bhakti movement was a sublimation of terrible worldly suffering, pain and misery that found natural outlet in spontaneous, sweet-sad and poignant devotional songs.”( Gohain 1987, p.1970) Many followers of this movement also decided to abandon Sanskrit altogether, as it was considered to be the language of the Vedas and thus had a sense of purity about it, and instead preffered to sing in the local language that was spoken by the common people. More and more people from the lower castes and professions such as village artisans were also accommodated within the Bhakti movement. Due to this, the artisans found their place in the existing social structure and began to cater a wider clientele. Money transactions also replaced the existing barter system. The increase in productivity and the flow of commodities also led to the expansion and the creation of new cities and towns. The Bhakti movement also had a major impact in the political sphere at that time. The movement was widespread during the rule of the Mughal empire and thus was in many ways influenced by Islam. The heterodox bhaktas “owed a lot to Muslim sufis, who mixed with the down-trodden, illiterate masses without pretence and presumption, and practised the fellow-feeling for the creatures of god that they preached” ( Gohain 1987, p.1971). Even the Mughal rulers were influenced by the Bhakti movement. As previously mentioned, there were significant changes that had taken place in the economic section due to the Bhakti movement which had led to an increase in circulation of commodities. According to some reports made by Abdul Fazl, “Akbar the Great took special care to fix the prices of essential commodities throughout his realm on the basis of periodic studies of the market, and taxes on the people including the artisans had also been similarly fixed” ( Gohain 1987, p. 1971). Thus we can say that Akbar’s concern showed a relatively progressive role of the state in his time. The emergence of Sufism, which had also influenced the bhakti movement, also influenced Akbar to abandon Muslim orthodoxy through its new spiritual and intellectual currents. Akbar’s great grandson, Aurangzeb, on the other hand, had the opposite view. Due to the huge demands of the state on their earnings, the working class people were barely left with anything to live upon. Also, “ The alienation of the court and the feudal ruling orders from the people from his time onwards is thus suggested by such trend” ( Gohain 1987, p.1971-72) He also persecuted some of the new sects and the sufi saints. Aurangzeb’s views also influenced others as Hindu princes at the time also persecuted such new liberal trends in favour of the more rigid caste system. The Bhakti movement has also been compared to the Protestant movement of the west as even in that movement, the common people were against orthodox Christianity. One of the most famous Bhakti saints was Kabir. Even though he grew up in a family of Muslim weavers, he renounced both orthodox brahminism and orthodox Islam. According to him, aestheticism, fasting and giving alms to the poor were useless unless they were accompanied by worship. He was also unbiased towards both Hindus and Muslims and imparted his beliefs to both of them. Also, “ By criticizing the practices and rituals of both the hindus and the muslims, he showed that their differences were only at a very superficial level.” ( The social context of the Bhakti movement- A study in Kabir, Rekha Pande 1985. pp. 233-234) he also refused to acknowledge the caste system and also refused to recognize the six major schools of philosophy. Thus he was going against the domination of the Brahmins and thus we can say that for him, it was a revolt lower caste against another upper caste. Through this he rallied the masses that were the most oppressed under the brahminical dominion. In conclusion, the Bhakti movement included both Hindus and Muslims especially from the lower strata of the society and with the help of Sufism, influenced people to express their devotion to God through songs and poem and not through rituals. REFERENCES 1. Gohain, Hiren. 1987. The Labyrinth of Bhakti: On Some Questions of Medieval Indian History. ‘Economic and Political Weekly’. 22: pp. 1970-1972 2. Pande, Rekha. 1985. The Social Context of the Bhakti Movement : a study of Kabir. University of Hyderabad: pp. 230-235.
Discuss the challenges faced by the early Mughal rulers in the establishment of the Mughal empire in India.
Babur’s invasion of India marked the start of a dynasty which would rule India for centuries to come. Ibrahim Lodi’s defeat to Babur in the battle of Panipat in1526 ended the rule of the Delhi Sultanate and started the rule of the Mughal empire. The early Mughal rulers faced many challenges while they were attempting to consolidate their position in India. In this essay, we will see what kind of challenges were faced my Babur and his successor Humayun. One of the first challenges faced by Babur came from his own men. His men thought that as the conquest was over, they had no reason to stay in India and wanted to go back. This above statement is supported by Satish Chandra who informs us that, “Many of his begs and armymen thought that their struggles had been amply rewarded and it was time to return home! As it was, they found little in India to attract them”( Chandra 2007. p. 31). There was also a lot of discontent between the local population and Babur’s men. Babur’s begs found India as a foreign country in every way as they were not used to the hot climate and “ Neither ( baked) bread, nor the hamams ( public baths), or social intercourse of the type they were accustomed to were available in India” ( Chandra 2007, p.32). Babur dealt with this challenge by calling a council meeting and informing his men that he would refuse to leave India. However, he told his nobles that if they wanted to go back they could. Fortunately for him, only one of his nobles went away. He also faced challenges from his own brothers and the Timurid princes as they had wanted to follow the Timurid tradition of partioning the empire. Babur also faced external challenges during his time in India, from Rana Sangha and from the Afghans that had occupied the eastern part of India. It is important to know that it was Rana Sangha who had initially invited Babur to invade India as he thought that Babur would come to India, defeat the Afghans, loot their cities and go back home, just like his predecessors had done. Rana’s strategy took a major blow went he found out that Babur had decided to stay in India and establish an empire. He saw this as a bigger threat than the Afghan and thus , “ After the battle of Panipat, Sangha began to make efforts to gather around a grand coalition which would either compel Babur to leave India, or confine him to Punjab” ( Chandra 2007, p. 33) Even though Rana Sangha formed a Rajput-Afghan alliance, he suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of Babur in the battle of Khanua on 16 March 1527. He dies in 1528 when he was poisoned by his own sardars as Rana Sangha wanted to restart his conflict with Babur and they thought that this plan was suicidal. Babur also defeated the Afghans who were led by Biban and Shaikh Bayazid in the battle of Ghagra on 5 May 1529, and thus gave a complete victory to the Mughals. After Babur’s death, his son Humayun faced an uphill task in trying to continue his fathers' legacy. One of the major concerns was the administration of the empire. Babur’s system of administration “ implied leaving the task of day to day administration largely in the hands of his begs who were given large tracts in the assignment ( wajh).” ( Chandra 2007, p. 47). Humayun wanted to centralize the administration. Humayun was very conquest-oriented and thus paid most of his attention towards expanding his empire and paid little focus towards the administration. Like Babur, even Humayun had internal conflicts during his reign. After his brother Kamran captured Punjab, it amounted to a de facto partition of the empire. This showed weakness in Humayun and because of that many expected his two older brothers, Askari and Hindal, to also stake their claims. During his reign, Babur had also harbored some Timurids who had fled from the Uzbeks. After Babur’s death, even these Timurids wanted to take advantage of Humayun and pressed to have a dominion of their own. There was more as “ Along with these internal difficulties the most serious external problem Humayun faced was that of the Afghans of the east U.P and Bihar, and that of Bahadur Shah of Gujrat”( Chandra 2007, p. 50) Bahadur Shah was a serious threat to Humayun’s reign. He was the ruler of Gujrat and he carefully monitored Humayun. There were also a lot of Afghan and Timurid refugees who had taken shelter under him and they also taught him the Ottoman's offensive and defensive strategy that had been so successful for Babur. Humayun dealt with this situation fairly well and when both their armies met at Mandsor, he cut off all the food supplies to Bahadur Shah’s camp which led to a severe food shortage and eventually led to him abandoning his camp. Thus, Bahadur Shah’s strategy was turned against himself. Bahadur Shah was on the run from then on and was eventually killed in a fracas with the Portuguese. The Gujrat campaign had a lot of positives as “ This campaign not only showed Humayun as a vigorous leader and intrepid commander, but destroyed the threat to the Mughals from the side of Bahadur Shah” ( Chandra 2007, p. 61). The same cannot be said for the Bengal campaign. Humayun was against a Sher Khan, who was a better general and a more skillful tactician than the former. For all of Sher Khan’s achievements, Humayun grossly underestimated him and did not see him as a real threat. He could not be more wrong as he was promptly defeated by Sher Khan at the battle of Chausa (26 June 1539) which severely weakened him and demoralized his army. The battle of Kannauj ( 17 May 1940) proved to be the decisive blow for Humayun as his forces were routed and thus Sher Khan was in the pole position of expelling the Mughals from India. After an unsuccessful attempt to find allies in India, Humayun fled to Iran where he was sheltered by Shah Tahmasp. He did eventually return to capture Delhi in 1555 but died in 1556. It was also harder for Humayun as administering the empire is much harder than just occupying it. Thus, both Babur and Humayun found it extremely hard to establish an empire in India. BIBLIOGRAPHY:- Chandra, Satish. 2007. Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals Part Two ( 1526-1748). New Delhi: Har Anand Publications
Discuss the impact of communal politics on Mughal historiography.
The Mughal period is a very important part of the rich history of India. Looking at such a period objectively is the only way we can truly learn about the Mughal empire. This is not always the case as there are times when an individual has pre-conceived notions due to their religious beliefs and that affects their judgment as they are no longer unbiased. My argument is supported the by Nurul Hassan who says that “ Only too often there is a tendency to look at the history this period through the colored glasses of communalism” ( p.25, Religion, State, and Society in Medieval India, Nurul Hassan). An example of this instance is how numerous western historians have tried to study Mughal Historiography. Due to the fact that Indian history has been riddled with conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, including the partition of 1947, many westerners may use that as a foundation when going through Muslim historiography. The previous is supported once again by Nurul Hassan as he so rightly mentions that “ It was hoped that with the end of British rule in India, the imperialist attempt to present medieval Indian history as a story of an unending struggle between different communities would also end ( p.27, Religion, State, and Society in Medieval India, Nurul Hassan). Thus, we can say that a communal outlook mixed with pre-conceived notions is a very dangerous combination. The Mughal Empire was one of the grandest empires in its day and thus it was common for foreign travelers to visit the country. The written works of these travelers are also very important for us to learn more about the Mughal Empire. But what happens when even these travelers are biased in their opinion? This was also a very real problem as “ it is not always easy to judge how far their statements have been colored by their political, religious or social prejudices, or their sources of reliable information (p.34, Religion, State, and Society in Medieval India, Nurul Hassan). It is also very hard to distinguish whether what the statements that the travelers wrote were of their own personal opinion or that they were facts. Thus a lot of material has been lost due to the beliefs of individuals. All of the above claims can also be supported by the fact that some of the Mughal rulers actually strived towards making a multi-cultured environment in their courts. An example of this is Akbar’s relationship with the nobility and how “ Akbar had succeeded in removing the dependence of the sovereign on the Muslim nobility alone” ( p. 64, Mughal India, M. Athar Ali). Also, Akbar’s marriage to the Rajput princess Jodha was a religious and a political move as it would have helped in the unification of the two religions and it also would have reduced communal violence. Through the written record of the time, we have also come to have known of the Mughal policy of ‘ Sulal Kul’, which meant for the peaceful coexistence of communities and it has often been credited for being a key factor of the vitality of the Mughal empire.
Is the writing of history necessarily political?
In the words of Sir John Seeley, a 19th century British historian: 'History is past politics; and politics, present history'. History, at its barest essential, is a compilation of facts – a record of important people, decisions, wars and events which have moulded and influenced society over time. Any historian worth his salt cannot just enumerate such facts blandly. As E.H. Carr says -“History means interpretation”. A historian looks back in time and examines past events in light of his knowledge of the present. He shifts through archaeological evidence, written and oral records and then selects material he considers relevant and weaves them into a narrative that his readers can appreciate. During this process, he cannot but be influenced by the present environment and the social milieu he is a part of. Again, in the words of Carr, “we can view the past, and achieve our understanding of the past, only through the eyes of the present…..the very words he uses – words like democracy, empire, war, revolution – have current connotations…..” (Carr 1961, p.13). Politics is one factor that is an intrinsic part of every social environment. The influence of politics is prevalent throughout different time periods and nations. The views of the leaders of the State, the policies they formulate, the agitations they initiate, the institutions they create for governance – all shape and influence the character and course of a nation. However much a historian may try, he cannot but be a conduit through which these major influences of the past are conveyed to the present reader. It is not possible for a historian to write about past events in a vacuum; he must necessarily build the backdrop against which such events occur, as well as provide a character study of the chief players of the plot. Unless this is done, he will lose grip on the narrative flow of his tale as well as the attention of his reader. Since political leaders and their influence dominate the making of historically relevant events, historical writing per force has to give due importance to politics in its narrative. At the most, different historians from different schools of historiography may present a particular point of view but their narrative has to have its basis in the political events of the period they are writing about. For instance, different historians have diametrically differing views while writing on India’s history, especially the National Movement for Freedom. While the major milestones of the freedom struggle as they unfolded are common knowledge, but they have been given dramatically different interpretations depending on the political affiliations of the historians concerned. When we look at older historical writing in India, treatises like Rajtarangani and Akbarnama, for instance, extolled the virtues and magnanimity of the emperors concerned, primarily because their writers enjoyed royal patronage and were obligated to present a positive and laudatory picture of the time. During modern times as well, we have historians with loyalties towards the British, justifying colonialism and the British rule in India. MrityunjayaVidyalankar, a Brahman scholar in the employment of the East India Company in Calcutta in the early 19th century, wrote of history as that of gods and kings where dynasties were founded by divine grace and kingdoms retained so long as the ruler was true to dharma. His position was that of the 'praja', the ordinary subject. His 'Rajabali' was written in 1808 in Bengali for the instruction of company officials in the history of India. Utilitarians like James Mill believed in enlightened despotism to uplift backward Indian society. His 'History of British India' published in 1828 divided ancient and medieval periods of Indian history into Hindu and Muslim and modern as British. The same periodization was followed by other British historians as well. The idea of centuries of despotic rule of maharajas and sultans with absolute power and an autocratic bureaucracy ruling over ignorant and stagnant masses was propagated. Historians of the Imperialistic school of historiography justified colonialism. "The outline of the present situation in India is that we have been disseminating ideas of abstract political right, and the germs of representative institutions, among a people that had for centuries been governed autocratically, and in a country where local liberties and habits of self-government had been long obliterated or had never existed"(Chirol 1910, p.viii). Cambridge historians like Anil Seal, John Broomfield and Gordon Johnson gave new interpretations to colonial rule. According to them, political organisation was based along caste and religious lines. The national movement was an elitist movement where one group fought against another to find favour with the British. They felt the national leaders were power hungry and motivated by their own selfish interests. Like the Imperialists, they tried to justify colonial rule. There were also 'administrative historians' like V.A. Smith and Macaulay who based their writing mainly on official reports and documents and so presented a one-sided view of history. "Nationalist sentiments grew easily among the people because India was unified and welded into a nation during the 19th and 20th centuries. "(Bipan Chandra, 'History of Modern India', p. 202). Nationalist writing in India started as a reaction to the above grossly distorted depiction by British historians. "It is, needless to say, a primary sign of the nationalist consciousness that it will not find its own voice in histories written by foreign rulers and that it will set out to write for itself the account of its own past."(Partha Chatterjee, page 77). Only after Western education during British rule, did such historical writing start when newly educated Indians studied colonial writings and countered with their own version of events. "It was, in fact, in the course of writing the history of British rule in India that English educated Bengalis abandoned the criteria of divine intervention, religious value, and the norms of right conduct in judging the rise and fall of kingdoms."( Partha Chatterjee, page 90). Recent history of Bengal, especially after the revolt of 1857 and the atrocities committed, demonstrated that acts of immorality could also win kingdoms. "History was no longer the play of divine will or the fight of right against wrong; it had become merely the struggle for power."(Partha Chatterjee, page 96 ) Many text book authors in Bengal, like Mrityunjay earlier mentioned, considered themselves as ordinary subjects. But later educated middle class Bengali writers learnt to play the role of mediator between the elite rulers and their subjects. As Partha Chatterjee puts it, they "had acquired a consciousness in which they were already exercising the art of politics and stagecraft."(Partha Chatterjee, page 92) Nationalist writers like J.N.Sarkar, Lala Lajpath Rai, C.F.Andrews and H.C. Roychoudhary tried to promote political integration and arouse patriotism. This kind of writing inspired national pride and became part of and strengthened the national movement. During the Swadeshi movement, patriotic journalism, prose and poetry reached a high. Patriotic songs written by Rabindra Nath Tagore and Rajani Kant Sen have become historical icons and are sung even today. These writings have also influenced historians while writing about that period. Bipan Chandra points out that on the one hand, "British officials and writers of the time constantly advanced the thesis that Indians had never been able to rule themselves in the past, that Hindus and Muslims had always fought one another, that Indians were destined to be ruled by foreigners, that their religion and social life were degraded and uncivilised making them unfit for democracy or even self-government. Many of the nationalist leaders tried to arouse the self-confidence and self-respect of the people by countering this propaganda" ( Bipan Chandra, page 204-205) Thus they pointed to the cultural heritage of India with pride and referred to the political achievements of rulers like Ashoka, Chandragupta Vikramaditya and Akbar. Some, on the other hand, went the other extreme and by glorifying ancient India and ignoring the achievements of the medieval period, encouraged communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims- "The struggle between Pratap and Akbar, or Shivaji and Aurangzeb had to be viewed as a political struggle in its particular historical setting. To declare Akbar or Aurangzeb a 'foreigner' and Pratap or Shivaji a 'national' hero was to project into past history the communal outlook of 20th century India. This was not only bad history; it was also a blow to national unity."(Bipan Chandra, page 265) It is also important to note that historians made use of press publications, records of meetings of provincial and local associations, Indian National Congress conferences and nationalist newspapers as source material. One such example would be of ‘Kesari' newspaper which Tilak started to edit from 1839 and preached nationalism in its columns. Use of all this source material also caused a political slant to enter the historians' writing. Marxist writers like M.N.Roy in 'India in Transition'(published 1922) and R. Palme Dutt in 'India Today' (published 1940) focused more on the economic exploitation by the British and put more emphasis on social and economic organisations and their effect on historical events. Some like Jyotibhai Phule postulated that Sanskrit speaking Brahmans descended from the alien Aryans while the indigenous people were considered lower caste. He demarcated between the dominant upper caste and oppressed lower caste and used caste confrontation to justify political movements. In the 1960s, historians like Sumit Sarkar, E.P.Thompson and Partha Chatterjee wrote history from the point of view of the subjugated, the poor, workers and women. Ranajit Guha, in 'Subaltern Studies 1' states, "The historiography of Indian nationalism has for a long time been dominated by elitism-colonial elitism and bourgeois-nationalist elitism."(Guha, page 1)"What is clearly left out of this unhistorical (elitist) historiography is the politics of the people."(Guha, page 4) Even though these historians focussed their attention on the problems of the masses, the downtrodden and on class inequalities, they could not separate this from the politics of the day as it is that which determines all other aspects of society. Even today, the major political parties of the country use the press and social media for tom-toming their achievements and denigrating the opposition. Whether Gandhi or Sardar Patel, all past political luminaries are fair game in this race. The public records of these bombastic claims and counterclaims are going to be the source material for future historians when they research and write about this period of Indian history- "every journalist knows today that the most effective way to influence opinion is by the selection and arrangement of the appropriate facts...The facts speak only when the historian calls on them, it is he who decides to which facts to give the door, and in what order or context."( Carr 1961, p.5) Depending on which ideology the historian favours, whether Hindutva or Communist or Dalit etc, his writing is bound to be biased. Politics is so firmly entrenched in our society that it is impossible to be totally objective. No matter which branch of history he may be a scholar of- social, economic, anthropological or cultural- no historian can avoid the overreaching dominance of politics from influencing his work. Lastly, another important point to be considered is the financial aspect of being a historian. A historian needs financial support for carrying out his research and study. He depends on scholarship grants, stipends and royalties from published works, and unpalatable it may be, but the truth is that politics sells. The twists and turns of political battles, the rise and fall from power of political parties, the rise in favour or fall from grace of party leaders. All these are of immense interest for the common man as they affect his life in myriad ways. Such dramatic political ups and downs also dominate media headlines and television debates. All this provides plenty of grist for the historian's mill. He knows that an informed account and in-depth analysis of all such developments will be of value for present and future students of history and politics. So, it makes sound economic sense to focus on such political matters in his historical writings. Thus, after considering the points discussed in this paper, I think it is right to say that the writing of history is necessarily political. BIBLIOGRAPHY- Chirol, Valentine. 1910. Indian Unrest. London: Macmillan and co., Limited. Carr, E.H. 1961. What is History? Cambridge University Press Bipan Chandra. 2001. History of Modern India. ( Chapter 10 and 11) Chaterjee, Partha. 1993. “ The Nation and Its Fragments”. USA: Princeton University Press Guha, Ranajit.2009. The Small Voice of History. India: Permanent Black
In which ways do you think these different schools of Indian historiography could be faulted for ‘common elitism’?
There are various approaches that comprise Indian historiography. Some of these approaches are the nationalist, imperialist, communalist, the Marxist, and the Cambridge school of thought. The ways in which these diverse schools share a ‘common elitist approach’ is due to the fact that historians of these schools consisted of the middle class that was educated by the British. This statement is supported by Sumit Sarkar, who says that “ The basic pattern was of an English-educated ‘ middle-class’ reared by British rule, engaging in various renaissance activities, and eventually turning against their masters and so giving birth to modern nationalism- out of frustrated selfish ambitions, ideals of patriotism, and democracy derived from Western culture, or natural revulsion against foreign rule, the imputed motive in each case depending on the viewpoint of the scholar” ( Sarkar, p. 4). As we will see in this essay, another way in which these schools share a common elitist approach is because all of them are targeting the common masses of the Indian population. We will be looking at the approach of the Cambridge school of thought through the works of Anil Seal. He emphasized the notion that there were competition and collaboration among the Indian elite at the time. They were in competition amongst themselves as they all jockeyed for a higher position of authority, while at the same time they collaborated with the British in an effort to make that happen, thus creating vertical alliances rather than horizontal alliances. We get to know this as Anil Seal informs us that “What seems to have decided political choices in the localities was the race for influence, status, and resources. In the pursuit of these aims, patrons regimented their clients into factions which jockeyed for position. Rather than partnerships between fellows, these were usually associations of bigwigs and followers. In other words, they were vertical alliances, not horizontal alliances.” ( Seal 1973, p. 323) What Anil Seal is emphasizing when talking about vertical alliances over horizontal alliances is that alliances were not formed amongst the same class, such as landlord with the landlord, or educated with educated, but were instead formed across classes such as Brahmin with non-Brahmin, and educated with not educated. The Cambridge school also laid focus on the idea that the main motive behind the leader of the nationalist movement was not patriotism but were instead thoughts that were selfish and concerned only the elite themselves and not the masses. Sumit Sarkar clearly states that- “ The further assumption that patriotism was no more than a rationalization of extremely narrow and selfish motives like job frustration created a picture not to different really from that drawn by…..”( Sarkar, p. 5) and “ The leaders of the movement, that is to say the people who created it require a careful analysis, for in their ambitions must lie its causes.” ( Sarkar, p.7) Valentine Chirol was a historian who wrote about Indian nationalism through the imperial perspective. According to him, imperialism in India brought about a transition in an attempt to shift the society from a traditional society to a more modern one. He also mentions that the already educated class will readily accept that so that they could not fall back into their barbaric society. We get to know this as Chirol says “ European science and literature flourished in the great cities of the East, where the educated classes willingly accepted and supported foreign rulership as their barrier against a relapse into barbarism” ( Chirol 1910, p.V11) Chirol also talks about how the imperial Raj found ‘its own principles perverted against its efforts’ in an attempt the show the betrayal of the English- educated middle class who turned against them and used their new found education and knowledge to influence the masses into turning against the British. The imperialists also had a very negative view of the Indian National Congress who, according to them, represented only one class- the western educated middle, and not the entire Indian population which they claimed to represent. Also, they could not even be called national in the western democratic sense as there were millions of Indians whom they regarded as untouchables and thus there could not have been popular representation in India as long as the caste system still existed. The imperialists were also supportive of the depressed castes as, according to Chirol, “the depressed castes will probably find, as in the past, their truest friends and best qualified representatives among the European members of Council, who, just because they are aliens, are free from all the influences, whether of interest or of prejudice, which tend to divide Hindu society into so many water-tight compartments” ( Chirol 1910, p.177). Christian missionaries were also brought so that they couldn’t convert these people to Christianity. By doing so, it would have resulted in the benefit of both the sections. It would give the ‘untouchables’ a proper status and would find representation which they previously could not under the Indian National Congress. It would also benefit the British as converting millions into Christianity would give them an advantage over their Indian counterparts. Indian Marxists historians have placed the blame for India’s backward economy during the 19th century on the British. The establishment of the East India company has been credited with the start of an era of mercantilism. The term mercantilism has been used here due to the exploitative nature of the British on the Indian handicraft industry. They developed a market for Indian goods and thus brought Indian handicrafts at throwaway prices and sold them at higher prices in order to spend their own capital interests. With the industrial revolution happening in the west, and with the introduction of the mill, this could also be interpreted as a way to introduce capitalism to India. This process is also known as ‘The Drain of Wealth’. Historians such as R.P Dutt and Ramesh Chandra Dutt realized this and thus popularized this notion of the Drain of Wealth to the educated circle. Thus the educated class and the already exploited artisans became more motivated and joined the nationalist movement. Thus the Indian Marxist historians took up a stance not so different from the nationalists. One of the weaknesses of the nationalist movements was that it failed to attract the masses. This was because many of the Indian elites thought that every Indian thought of the British Raj as alien and thus wanted them gone. Even though the imperial Raj was exploitative, the local landlord and the regional elites were also quite exploitative of the lower strata of society. Thus the lower sections of the society were not only against the British but were also against the local landlords. Also, in the early 20th century, the colored glass of communalism began to show its true colors. After noticing the communal divide between Hindus and Muslims, the British adopted the ‘ Divide and Rule’ policy and sought to deepen the already existing wound. Thus even they started supporting the minority Muslims. Thus, what all these schools of modern historiography have in common and what the term ‘common elitism’ denotes is that all these schools comprised of influential and educated middle-class Indians who viewed the nationalistic movement and its historiography as ‘History from above’ more ‘History from below’. REFERENCES Sumit, Sarkar. Modern India: 1885-1947. Pearson Seal, Anil. 1973. Imperialism and Nationalsim in India: Modern Asain Studies. 7: pp.321-347 Chirol, Valentine. 1910. Indian Unrest. London: MacMillan and Co., Limited
Write an essay on the idea of history and its significance in colonial culture.
The British wanted to establish colonial historiography in an attempt to establish their rule. One of the ways they did this was by denying and degrading the already present histories of India on the grounds that it did not conform to their already existing European view of how history should be. Then there were also British historians such as James Mill, who in his book History of British India claimed that the “backwardness can be remedied through appropriate legislation, which could be used by the British to change the stagnant nature of Indian society that had prevented its progress.”( Thapar 2002, p. 6). Irrespective of the fact that James Mill had not even visited India, his book became a trendsetter which influenced the westerners in their notion of India. There were also other theories such as Oriental Despotism and the Marxist notion of the Asiatic mode of production which portrayed India as having a single despotic ruler and also the lack of individual property. The British also thought of India a Hindu and Sanskrit civilization and thus did not consider other religions in terms of constructing Indian civilization. The British had also started to give colonial education to Bengali literati and were taught Indian history from the standpoint of the British. All this was done to create a loyal but submissive section of people. This portrayal of history provoked a serious reaction from the Indians who in turn reacted with the formation of a nationalistic approach to history and historiography. One of the reasons for this was to restore national pride and they also used this to spread anti-imperialist notions in an attempt for political integration. While James Mill’s book was ‘ the hegemonic textbook of Indian history’, “ for the first nationalist historians of India it represented precisely what they had to fight against”( Chatterjee 1994, p. 31). The first war of independence in 1857 also played a very important role as the nationalist history also brought forth the idea of a ‘glorified past’, in an attempt to unify the nation against the British. Due to the fact that the British mainly recognized the Hindu religion when taking India into account and barely even consider other religions, the nationalist history did not only have to deal with imperial misinterpretation in historiography, but also with communal bias in history. Even the Bengali literati who were educated by the colonials had rejected the history of India that was written by the British historians. One of the ways in which Indian history was portrayed was when “A dichotomy in values was maintained, Indian values being described as 'spiritual' and European values as 'materialistic', with little attempt to juxtapose these values with the reality of Indian society” ( Thapar 2002, p. 5). There is a clear fault on this from the British side, but the entire blame cannot be placed upon them that is because “ The first three books of narrative prose in Bengali commissioned by the Fort William College in Calcutta for use by young officials of the company learning the local vernacular were books of history.”( Chatterjee 1994, p. 5) and one of those books was Rajabali by Mrityunjay Vidyalankar. His book contains an account of the Rajas or the kings that had occupied the throne of Bengal and Delhi. According to Mrityunjay, all the rulers on earth were chosen by divine will and they will remain in that position as long as they acquire and retain the powers of dharma. As his book was being studied by British officials, their perception of India as being ‘ spiritual’ can be well founded. This could also have influenced many other historians to accommodate this view in their histories. Mitryunjay was writing down an account which at that time was in circulation among the Bahman literati. So we can say that his book Rajabali, is “ a good example of the historical memory of elite Bengali society as exemplified in contemporary scholarship” ( Chatterjee 1994, p.5). Through this example, we can see the complex relationship between the nationalist historiography and the histories that were produced by the British historians. As previously mentioned, the nationalists were using their ‘glorious past’ as a means of forming a national movement against the British. Due to some of the theories of the western perspective of India such as James Mill’s book History of British India, the notion of India as a backward, stagnant and unchaotic nation emerged which, as previously discussed, was widely used as a foundation for the perception of India by the west. This was not true as according to the nationalist historian Tarinicharan, “ although Europeans today treat Indians with contempt because of their degraded condition, Indians were not always like this, because even Europeans admit that the arts and sciences of ancient India were of the highest standard.” ( Chatterjee 1994, p. 29). All of these discoveries were of 19th-century Orientalists and thus this was very important for the construction of the nationalist history. There was another reason why the ‘glorious past’ was important. James Mill had periodized India as Hindu, Muslim, and British, in relation to Ancient, Medieval and Modern. The Medieval age was also the Dark Ages for the Europeans. Even though Indians were against the periodization, they had accepted that the concept of ancient India. Thus “ancient India had to become the classical source of Indian modernity, while the ‘Muslim period’ would become the night of medieval darkness. Contributing to that description would be all the prejudices of the European Enlightenment about Islam” ( Chatterjee 1994, p. 34) thus if the nationalist want to accept ancient India as glorious, they would have to accept the Muslim invasion as the main cause for the decline of their glorious past which could lead to the clash of different communities. There were some problems with the nationalist approach as it mostly focused on the glorified events and cultures of the Indian past but failed to recognize and also ignored the contributions of all people in the nationalist movement. This is because the educated Bengali literati now considered themselves as no different from the European bourgeois or the ‘middle class’. Thus they tried to act as a mediator between the elite class and the poor and the oppressed class. This is where the subaltern studies approach is important. This approach was important as it showed light in the lower sections of the society such as tribes, oppressed women and peasants that have been neglected in the history of a society. Thus he focused more on the common people instead of conforming to the imperialist approach or the nationalist approach, both of them who could be considered as prejudiced elites because the protagonist of a national history should be the people and not gods and kings. Thus the 19th century can be regarded as a very important period in which was very important in nationalist historiography writing as it was at this time when the British made distorted interpretations of history and it was the nationalist goal to refute them all these combined with the revolt of 1857 played a very important role in the construction of nationalist historiography. BIBLIOGRAPHY:- Chatterjee, Partha. 1994. Subaltern Studies. New Delhi: Oxford University Press Thapar, Romila. 2002. The Penguin History of Early India. New Delhi: Penguin Books
Analyzing the ideas and the beliefs that emerged out of The French Revolution
A Revolution can be defined as a radical movement that has begun in order to bring change. This change mostly occurs when the main aim of a revolution is the eradication of an old or rigid regime, in favour of a new or modified system. When discussing revolutions, one name that always seems to have a permanent presence is the French Revolution. It can be said that the French Revolution is such a well known movement, that it almost has a hegemonic presence. One possible reason behind this could be that the French Revolution was ecumenical. This in itself makes this revolution stand apart from many of the other revolutions. For example - The American Revolution, while considered as one of the most important revolutions ever to take place, did not influence any other nations other than America itself and the nations it had direct relations with - which were France and Britain. The French Revolution, on the other hand, even though limited in a geographical sense, managed to influence much of Europe from 1780- 1840. Although that time period is known to be the home of the emergence of two major revolutions- The French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution ( often known as the dual revolution) , this paper will only focus on the French Revolution. As the revolution, in its totality, was a broad movement covering many aspects, here the focus will be only on the major ideas and beliefs that emerged out of the revolution. Some examples from the contemporary world will also be given, in order to explain the influence the ideas have had on the world. As previously mentioned, the ideas that emerged out of the French Revolution were extremely influential. According to Eric Hobsbawm, “ If the economy of the nineteenth century world was formed mainly under the influence of the British Industrial Revolution, its politics and ideology were formed mainly by the French.” ( Hobsbawm 1996, p.53) One of the major ideas that were predominant during the revolution was the tripartite motto- ‘ Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’. As these three terms set the basic foundation of the French Revolution, we will start by analzying these terms individually. The first idea to be analyzed is Liberty. It should be noted that each historical event needs to be studied within its historical context. Thus, it is important to know the background of the French Revolution before we start to interpret the ideas. France, at that time, was in deep economic crisis, and a series of bad harvests further worsened the situation. There was extreme malnutrition among the common folk. France’s international policy at the time should also be taken into consideration, as it had just been fiscally drained due to their participation in the American Revolution. A series of bad decisions on the behalf of the monarch, such as its involvement in someone else's revolution, turned the common people against the monarch. Thus, we can identify that the first step towards the revolution was through the idea of liberty from oppression from the nobles and the monarch. Although in normal circumstances, the most common way in which the general public approach such an idea is through looting and banditry. But this was a special scenario. Due to an unforeseen convulsion that happened in France at the time, the people found their voice to be heard through politics. Due to this paroxysm of propaganda and elections, the people could now express their opinions on a political stage. Due to the introduction of this new dimension, the people could now go against the nobles, with a certain civility being maintained, at the political stage. To say that the notion of liberty was never heard of before would be an overstatement. As previously mentioned, each historical event must be studied within its context. Keeping this in mind, one business that was quite common at the time was slavery. Thus, the interpretation can be made that the notion of liberty at the time was only used in contrast to that of slavery, and that it was only during the French Revolution, that the term was added to include a legal dimension. So, it can be said that the French were drowned in the revolutionary rhetoric of liberty. The second idea out of the famous tripartite is Equality. This term, in modern society, is something that we often take as a given, without fully understanding the relevance of it and how it came to be. As previously mentioned, the common people found a new way to counter the nobles by going against them through politics. One major idea that was formed during the revolution was the idea of a middle-class, or the bourgeoisie class. The creation of the fictional structure - The Third Estate, was one of the first steps towards gaining equality. The creation of the third estate was implemented to counter the existing first and second estates, which consisted of the clergy and the nobility respectively. The attempt of the third estate to dismiss the old feudal way of assigning votes per section (estate in this instance), instead of assigning a single votes to each individual, shows the determination and the want for equality. The first major breakthrough that the bourgeoisie attained was through laying down the Declaration of the Rights of Man And Citizen in the year 1789. The reason why this can be considered as a step towards equality is because in this manifesto, “Men are born and live free and equal under the laws, said its first article” (Hobsbawm 1996, p. 59) although when further analyzed it can be said that this particular manifesto did not offer what the lower classes wanted, which was a more egalitarian society. Thus, even though it may not mean equality in a utopian way, it was certainly an upgrade on the current situation of the public Equal representation in politics also implied that a change from the existing absolute monarchy was needed. It was then decided that the implementation of a constitutional monarchy would be undertaken. If studied within the context of the time, such a solution would be the most appropriate one. The reason why that is so, is because such a radical transition had rarely been accomplished successfully ever before. Thus, implementing a constitutional monarchy, where the powers of the monarch would be limited within a particular framework, would seem as the most rational and appropriate solution for such a major transitionv- “a constitutional monarchy based on propertied oligarchy expressing itself through a representative assembly was more congenial to most bourgeois liberals than the democratic republic which might have seemed a more logical expression of their theoretical aspirations” ( Hobsbawm 1996, p. 59) The above quote supports the previous argument. The relevance of equality in the contemporary world is widespread. There is still the question whether these words that were uttered then have the same meaning today as they did during that time. There are many instances from the modern world which shows signs of equality, especially in France. For example, the acceptance of immigrants in France can be one of the signs of equality for all. It should also be noted that France has the highest Muslim population in the western world. A sizeable number of the French population is also of African descent. Thus we can see equality in both race and religion. The last of the iconic tripartite motto to be analyzed will be the idea of Fraternity. Fraternity in itself means brotherhood. The term brotherhood can be used to denote a group of people who are together because of a common aim or goal. The idea of Fraternity is what fueled the common people, thus resulting in the mass social movement that we know the French Revolution to be. This sense of brotherhood can best be exemplified by the storming of the Bastille, which occurred on the 14th of July, 1789. The Bastille was a state prison. The bourgeoisie and the common people knew that they could not attack the nobles themselves as they were still relatively powerful. What is important to note is that, “ in times of revolution, nothing is more powerful than the fall of symbols.” ( Hobsbawm 1996, p.61) The same can be said for the Bastille as well. The Bastille, although it held only seven prisoners, symbolized everything that the common masses were against, which were hierarchal, despotism and oppression from the nobles and the monarch. Thus the seige of the Bastille, which was one of the largest organized movements within the French Revolution, was one of the key moments in the revolution which signified the eradication of enlightened despotism in France. The term Fraternity has gone through some changes, but it is still a very important concept today. The most common use of the term fraternity is used in universities to categorize certain clubs with their own beliefs. The term has been used in relation to describing a secret sect or a group of people. For example- the most well known of the afore mentioned sects are Freemasons and the Oddfellows, who have members all over the world. This is another instance of where an idea, gaining its popularity during the French Revolution, has its influence all over the world. Another major area where the French influenced the world was through their indirect influence on various world political system. As previously mentioned, the ideas of the French revolution were ecumenical. And such is the case that many of these ideas were later adopted into many of the political systems in the contemporary world. One such instance is that of Communism and Socialism. According to its theoretical doctrine, communism means that the entire society should be owned by the community and that all the resources should be allocated according to the abilities of an individual, and not their status in the society. We can identify such a pattern emerging in the French revolution. Communism calls for the overthrowing of capitalism, the same way the common people called for the eradication of the rigid and the old fashioned feudal laws. Through this itself we can see the emergence of the middle class or the bourgeoisie class. It can also be said that there is a certain hegemonic presence that is attached to it. It is also due to this superior presence that allowed them to allocate the resources according to their perspective. The relevance of communism in the modern world is truly extraordinary. The main aim of the Bolshevik revolution was to overthrow the Tzar authority and thus they implemented a communist society. The Cold War, which was a war between Communism and Capitalism, which influenced the world politics of the eastern world, can also be noted to be one of the major indirect outcomes of the French revolution. China, which is a communist country, is a perfect example of the influence of communism in today’s world. The last instance we will be analzying in this paper is how the sense and the belief of nationalism found a new voice during the French Revolution. There were many influential people whose voice influenced the common masses. The most famous of them was undoubtedly Napoleon Bonaparte. His military conquests done by him was not only to gain new territory, but to also spread the ideas that had emerged out of the French revolution. The effects of this were felt not only in Europe, but world-wide. For example- “ Ram Mohan Roy was inspired by it to found the first Hindu reform movement and the ancestor of modern Indian nationalism.” ( Hobsbawm 1996, pp. 54-55) In concluding remarks, it can be stated that the French Revolution was one of the most important revolutions in the history of the world. This was not only because it shaped the history of France, which at the time was one of the most powerful countries in the world, but also because that the ideas and the beliefs that emerged out of it were ecumenical and helped set the foundation for much of Europe and the contemporary world. REFFERENCES- Hogsbawm, Eric. 1996. The Age of Revolution. Vintage Books: New York
Do ideas inaugurate world history
When exploring the question, ‘if ideas inaugurate world history’, we have to assume that this certain ‘idea’ belongs to a larger congregation of people with the same ideology. If there is a large assemblage of people who share the same motive to bring change to a particular systemin an attempt to overthrow it, we can say that this could be regarded as a revolution. Although this does not answer the aforementioned question, we can say that the emergence of ideas from revolutions inaugurate world history. In this essay, we will attempt to examine the above statement while taking examples of the Industrial Revolution and the French revolution. A revolution can be regarded as a mass social or political movement with the intention to overthrow or modify a previous regime with a new one. In the case of both the French and the Industrial Revolution, the common masses were actively involved. The mass struggle of the common people and the peasants against the aristocratic and elite classes in a revolution can be associated as a classic eschatological struggle between right and wrong, or good and evil. A revolution is mostly limited in a particular geographical location. What set the French and the industrial revolution apart was that the outcome of these revolutions brought upon a new world order. If we take the instance of the French revolution, the ideas and the politics that arose out of that period have been incorporated by the majority of the world. One of the ideas that emerged out of this revolution was that of liberty. During the latter years of the 18th century, there was material discontent and impoverishment in France. The worst affected were the common people. The result of this socio-economic crisis, in ordinary circumstances, would have been rioting but only for a short period of time. But, due to a large-scale convulsion that took place during France at that time, combined with propaganda and elections, a new political dimension was added to the people’s voices. On a political stage, with the backing of the masses, the idea of liberty became an expectation. The thought of liberty from hierarchal despotism was unheard of anywhere in the world at that time. Eric Hobsbawm puts it best when he says “They introduced a tremendous and earth-shaking idea of liberation from gentry and oppression“(Hobsbawm 1996, p. 61). Thus, we can say that the common people were drowned in the revolutionary rhetoric of liberty. It should also be noted that when we mean the notion of liberty was never unheard of before, it was meant in terms of slavery. Up until then, liberty was only used to describe in contradiction to slavery. Thus the common people gained a more legal interpretation of the term liberty during the revolution. Another political decree that has been adopted by many governments around the worldis that of popularsovereignty. As the common people have elected representatives to run their government, they are answerable to the people and that the government is sustained by the people. This decree was a major paradigm- shift in the political sphere. This is because,before the revolution, many kings claimed to have been chosen by God itself to rule, thus giving them a sense of divine power that cannot be challenged by anyone. This shift from ruling due to the backing of God to ruling due to the backing of the people was first seen during the French revolution. Hobsbawm informs us that “A constitutional monarchy based on a propertied oligarchy expressing itself through a representative assembly was more congenial to most bourgeois liberals than the democratic republic which might have seemed a more logical expression of their theoretical aspirations; though there were some who did not hesitate to advocate this also.( Hobsbawm , 1996, p.59) He also says that- No doubt the French nation, and its subsequent imitators, did not initially conceive of its interests clashing with those of other peoples, but on the contrary, saw itself as inaugurating, or taking part in, a movement of the general liberation of peoples from tyranny.( Hobsbawm 1996, p. 59) The prospect of overthrowing the king and establishing a constitutional monarchy was seen by many as the first step to establish a democratic or even an egalitarian society. The rise and fall of Maximilien Robespierreand the Jacobin club are examples of political sovereignty as the government was overthrown even after it was elected by the people. There are many other ways in which france influenced the world. Oen such instance is that of anti-clericalism. The separation of the state from the church was previously never experinecd before and thus due to this, many lands and holding that were in the power of the church were given back to the people. The church were also excempted from paying the tax when they occupied the lands, so this in fact made some more cash inflow for the common people. Another major area where the French influenced the world was through their indirect influence on various world political system. As previously mentioned, the ideaas of the French revolution were ecumenical. And such is the case that many of these ideas were later adopted into many of the political systems in the contemporary world. One such instance is that of communism. According to its theoretical doctrine, communism mans that the entire society should be owned by the community and the all the resources should eballocated according to the abilities of an individual, and not their status in the society. We can identify such a pettern emerging in the French revolution. Communsin calls for the overthrowing of capitalism, the same way the common people called for the eradication of the rigid and the old fashioned feudal laws. The emergence of the middle class also helped them allocate resources accordingly. The relevance of communism in the modern world is truly extraordinary. The main aim of the Bolshevik revolution was to overthrow the tzar authority and thus they implemented a communist society. The cold war, which was a war between communism and capitalism, which influenced the world politics of the eastern world, can also be noted to be one of the major indirect outcomes of the French revolution. China, which is a communist party, is a perfect example of the influence of communism in today’s world. If France influenced the rest of the world with its ideas and politics, then Britain influenced the world with its new economic structure and social framework. The industrial revolution was seen as a major breakthrough, both in the social and economic spheres. According to Hobsbawm- For the first time in human history, the shackles were taken off the productive power of human societies, which henceforth became capable of the constant, rapid and up to the present limitless multiplication of men, goods,and services. This is now technically known to the economists as the 'take-off into self-sustained growth'. No previous society had been able to break through the ceiling which a pre-industrial social structure, defective science and technology, and consequently periodic breakdown, famine,and death, imposed on production.( Hobsbawm 1996, p. 28) The industrial revolution brought upon a shift from the existent agrarian and feudal society to an industrial society. .As industries would require a lot of investment, in terms of both time and material, only the very rich were able to maintain industries. This new economic method, which involved private ownership of land and of the production with the sole motive of making a profit, would be known as capitalism. This method would go on to be adopted by much of Europe during the 20th century. The profit gained from a rapidly expanding economy would only increase through the process of mercantilism. The prospect of connecting Britain with the world market led to one of the most important inventions to come out of the revolution, which was the introduction of railways. This new railway system transformed the entire capital goods industries. Its ability to transport tons of goods and materials over a relatively short period of time was nothing short of remarkable. In fact- “No innovation of the Industrial Revolution has fired the imagination as much as the railway, as witness the fact that it is the only product of nineteenth-century industrialization which has been fully absorbed into the imagery of popular and literate poetry. Hardly had they been proved technically feasible and profitable in England (c. 1825-30), before plans to build them were made over most of the Western world, though their execution was generally delayed.”( Hogsbawm 1996, p. 44) “The reason was doubtless that no other invention revealed the power and speed of the new age to the layman as dramatically; a revelation made all the more striking by the remarkable technical maturity of even the very earliest railways.”( Hogsbawm 1996, p. 44) Not only did transportation become much more efficient, but the railways also opened Britain to foreign trade and investment. Although the expansion of the railway system to the rest of Europe happened much later on, it unquestionably opened the world to a new era of globalization. As we can see from this essay, the revolutions that occurred in France and Britain in the latter stages of the 18th century and the 19th century respectively played a key role in developing ideas that have made the modern world as it is now. We can also see how the enlightenment period that happened in Europe during that time helped to develop new political ideas. Thus, we can conclude by stating that even though a revolution might be restricted to a particular geographical location, the logic that was involved and the ideas that developed out of it do not fall under the same restriction. REFFERENCES- Hogsbawm, Eric. 1996. The Age of Revolution. Vintage Books: New York
Give an account of the theories that explain the transition to capitalism. To what extent was capitalistic development a global phenomenon?
The theory of capitalism emerged during Europe during the 16th-18th centuries. This concept of capitalism can be used as a framework to work with in order to understand the economic changes that occurred in countries such as England and France and eventually the rest of Europe during that period. The oncoming of capitalism can be identified as a shift from feudalism, which can be considered as the predominant economic structure existing during Europe at the time. Although the process of transition has been of great interest to historians alike, there is no one particular theory that can explain the course of the development of capitalism. For the sake of brevity, three theories will be explained that showcase the transition to capitalism. The theories in question were put forward by Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Max Webber respectively. There are also many theorists who have branched out, using those three theories as a foundation. Some of those theories will also be mentioned in this essay. This essay will also delve into the impact that capitalism has had on the world. As this transition had occurred while other major developments were taking place in Europe at the time, events such as the Industrial Revolution have also been taken into consideration when analyzing the impact of capitalism on the global world. Adam Smith attempts to explain the transition from feudalism to capitalism by focusing on the individualistic tendency for self-improvement and the self-betterment of their conditions in the society they live in. According to Smith, this tendency can be expressed by the willingness “to truck, barter, and exchange” ( Holton 1985, p. 35) The phrase ‘ trucking propensity’ can also be used to describe this tendency. He claims that the emergence and the development of the ‘commercial society’ can be credited to an increase in the division of labor and an increase in capital. This increase in resources would be a result of the frugal nature and of individuals. According to R.J Holton, “Smith argued that the development of the division of labor and 'commercial society' should be regarded as unintended consequences of such behavior.” ( Holton 1985, p. 35) thus we can say that Smith regarded the transition to capitalism as an incidental event Smith also emphasized the importance of ‘moral sentiments’, such as justice and ethics, as according to him, without these principles, the society would enter into economic dystopia or chaos. Thus, Smith’s theory does not only focus on the economic factors such as capital and division of labor but also attempts to accentuate the relevance of social factors in the development of the ‘commercial society’. The Marxist perspective on the transition to capitalism lays its foundation in the capitalist mode of production. This theory bases its focal point on the importance of wage-labor in a society. The relationship between a wage-laborer and a capitalist can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, the society in the process of transition must have a legal framework which allows a worker to sell his labor in exchange for either money or some other good or commodity. Secondly, the capitalist individual who is purchasing the manual labor from the worker must be able to make a profit on the goods produced, in comparison to the money spent in acquiring the manual labor in the first place. Thus, “The extraction of this 'surplus value' from wage-laborers under conditions of competition between capitalists, is what constitutes the fundamental dynamic of the capitalist system” ( Holton 1985, p. 65). In Marxist theories, the transition can be identified as starting from the 16th century.. A factor that needs to be considered is that during that time period, the notion of mercantilism was emerging, which would result in the expansion of trade and would also result in the growth of towns. Yet, Marx was critical of the inclusion of mercantilism in the transition to capitalism. One reason behind this critique could be because the entire concept of mercantilism lay outside the process of production and thus was not included in wage-labor, which is central to the Marxist theories. Also, through trade and commerce would only involve the labor making commodities, “Yet for capitalism to emerge he saw it as necessary not simply for products to assume a commodity-form, but also for labor itself to take on the nature of the commodity, i.e. to become saleable as labor-power” ( Holton 1985, p. 71). While examining Adam Smith’s theory with that of Karl Marx, a few differences can be identified. Unlike Smith, who centralized the importance of individuals working together in a society, Marx prioritizes that the individuals act as “free 'producers' unfettered by natural or social limits.” ( Holton 1985, p. 70). Smith also emphasizes on the importance of exchange of commodities, while on the other hand, Marx is extremely critical of the same. Many historians have also branched out on Marx's theory on the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Some of these are- (a) the 'exchange relations' perspective-reflected in the work of Sweezy and Wallerstein; (b) the 'property relations' perspective - associated with Dobb, Hilton, and Brenner; (c) 'Marxist eclecticism'- associated with Perry Anderson. ( Holton 1985, p. 74) Max Webber focuses his theory on the ‘modern capitalist spirit’ rather than capitalism itself. It is important to note that the ‘spirit’ that Webber focuses on, should not be interpreted in a metaphysical context, as it is instead used to describe a certain set of values. This is evident as “this 'spirit' is defined as a type of social action involving the rational calculative pursuit of profit-maximization. This mentality is associated with values such as thrift, diligence, and asceticism in 'worldly' economic affairs.” ( Holton 1985, p.104) Thus, according to Webber, this major paradigm shifts away from the orthodox catholic church which would result in individuals engaging in trade and business in a more secular society. This could have resulted in the unintentional historical development of capitalism Another important aspect of Webber's theory was that he rejects the notion of a ‘prime mover’, which we could interpret to mean that according to him, there was no one particular course of transition and that it could have taken many routes instead of just one. Therefore, this theory is not limited to just one factor, such as technology, politics, etc, but can be a blend of two or more factors. Due to this reason, Webber's theory detaches itself from the rest of the theories mentioned in this essay as all the other theories offer only one route that explains the transition from feudalism to capitalism. As previously mentioned at the start of the essay, the notion of capitalism emerged during Europe around 16th-18th centuries. Although it was mainly confined to only a few countries, such as England and France, it quickly became the dominant economic model that it is today. The political, social and economic events that unfolded during that time period have played a very important role in the expanding of capitalism from a few countries in Europe to a global phenomenon. We will now analyze two of the events in an attempt to understand them in relation to the exposure of capitalism. The industrial revolution, which took place in England during the 19th century, can certainly be considered as one of the most important revolutions that ever took place. One of the main elements that emerged out of this revolution was the rise and the development of a capitalist society. This is evident as “It is only in the 1830s that literature and the arts began to be overtly haunted by that rise of the capitalist society, that world in which all social bonds crumbled except the implacable gold and paper ones of the cash nexus (the phrase comes from Carlyle).” ( Hobsbawm 1996, p. 27) although the revolution in itself was limited to England in a geographical sense, its ideas and notions spread across the world. Also a colonial power, its relations with its conquered states in Africa and Asia also helped in the exposure of capitalism. An example can be India itself, as they follow a mixed economic model, which is a fusion of both a capitalist economy and a social economy. The economic policy of mercantilism, which emerged during the 16th century during Europe, may also have played a key role in capital development across the world. Driven by profit- maximization, barter exchange, and colonial expansion, the balance of trade grew as the modernized European nations established contact with other nations, and thus spread their superior ideas and notions such as capitalism. In conclusion, the transition from feudalism to capitalism can be considered ambiguous progress which has invited many historians to present their views. This essay examined the views of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Max Webber in order to get a better understanding of the transition itself and also to delve into some of the canonical texts of this particular discourse. The position of capitalism as an economic model in a global context was also explored. REFERENCES- Holton, R.J. 1985. The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism. Macmillan Education : New York Hobsbawm, Eric. 1996. The Age of Revolution. Vintage Books: London