7 nov 2013

Indian Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism - 5 : the consequence of Hinduism as superstructure on ancient India's infrastructure

Submitted by Anonyme (non vérifié)

The triumph of Hinduism over Buddhism took centuries. Even after the reorganization of Brahmanism into its new “Hinduist” form, Buddhism initially kept its positions in ancient India, and 3000 preachers were even sent to China, where Buddhism soon became the state religion.

Nevertheless, Buddhism's last positions show its weakness: if the Pala dynasty ruled over most of ancient India for a long period (750–1174 AD), it was in fact based in Bengal and Buddhism was already the ideology of this highly developed area, as opposed to the historical Aryan zones and their ideologies (see the history of Bengal and Bangladesh).

And during the Muslim conquests, from the 11th to the 16th century, Buddhism was already very weakened, and what is more, the invaders maintained the social order that Hinduism had built.

There were was therefore no space for the development of urban centers and capitalism, not to speak of a unified empire.

Hinduism was the ideology of the upper castes, who needed a static society at their service. The “cycles” of Hinduism reflect the static existence of the small villages, marked as in China by the unity of small agriculture and domestic industry.

Hinduism was the ideology of the caste system which controlled the small communities, and its different interpretations depended on local history, so that the local rulers could have a broad ideological basis in the masses, who were of course extremely diverse in terms of language, tradition, culture, etc.

Instead of the urban culture of Buddhism and its morality based on universal citizenship, Hinduism found its base in large cities (for the central state and the pilgrimages) on one side, and in villages on the other side.

The superstructure blocked any change and helped tp reproduce this mode of production. Brahmanism was the product of the social situation, but then Hinduism was a new ideology designed to reiterate this social situation, and to struggle to defend the ancient against the new.

In a letter to Engels (14 June 1853), Marx writes about the contemporary situation of India, as related to ancient India:

“The stationary nature of this part of Asia, despite all the aimless activity on the political surface, can be completely explained by two mutually supporting circumstances: 1. The public works system of the central government and, 2. Alongside this, the entire Empire which, apart from a few large cities, is an agglomeration of villages, each with its own distinct organisation and each forming its own small world (…).

In some of these communities the lands of the village [are] cultivated in common, in most of them each occupant tills his own field. Within the same, slavery and the caste system. Waste lands for common pasture. Home-weaving and spinning by wives and daughters.

These idyllic republics, of which only the village boundaries are jealously guarded against neighbouring villages, continue to exist in well-nigh perfect form in the North Western parts of India only recently occupied by the English.

No more solid basis for Asiatic despotism and stagnation is, I think, conceivable.

And however much the English may have Irelandised the country, the breaking up of the archetypal forms was the conditio sine qua non for Europeanisation.

The Tax-gatherer alone could not have brought this about. Another essential factor was the destruction of the ancient industries, which robbed these villages of their self-supporting character.”

Hinduism was the new form taken by Asiatic despotism built by the Aryans conquerors, an Asiatic despotism directly taken as it is by the following Islamic conquerors.

Let's look at these communities and at Asiatic despotism. Here is what Karl Marx says about ancient India in The Capital, explaining its economy:

“Those small and extremely ancient Indian communities, some of which have continued down to this day, are based on possession in common of the land, on the blending of agriculture and handicrafts, and on an unalterable division of labour, which serves, whenever a new community is started, as a plan and scheme ready cut and dried.

Occupying areas of from 100 up to several thousand acres, each forms a compact whole producing all it requires.

The chief part of the products is destined for direct use by the community itself, and does not take the form of a commodity. Hence, production here is independent of that division of labour brought about, in Indian society as a whole, by means of the exchange of commodities.

It is the surplus alone that becomes a commodity, and a portion of even that, not until it has reached the hands of the State, into whose hands from time immemorial a certain quantity of these products has found its way in the shape of rent in kind.

The constitution of these communities varies in different parts of India.

In those of the simplest form, the land is tilled in common, and the produce divided among the members. At the same time, spinning and weaving are carried on in each family as subsidiary industries.

Side by side with the masses thus occupied with one and the same work, we find the "chief inhabitant," who is judge, police, and tax-gatherer in one; the bookkeeper, who keeps the accounts of the tillage and registers everything relating thereto; another official, who prosecutes criminals, protects strangers travelling through and escorts them to the next village; the boundary man, who guards the boundaries against neighbouring communities; the water-overseer, who distributes the water from the common tanks for irrigation; the Brahmin, who conducts the religious services; the schoolmaster, who on the sand teaches the children reading and writing; the calendar-Brahmin, or astrologer, who makes known the lucky or unlucky days for seed-time and harvest, and for every other kind of agricultural work; a smith and a carpenter, who make and repair all the agricultural implements; the potter, who makes all the pottery of the village; the barber, the washerman, who washes clothes, the silversmith, here and there the poet, who in some communities replaces the silversmith, in others the schoolmaster.

This dozen of individuals is maintained at the expense of the whole community.

If the population increases, a new community is founded, on the pattern of the old one, on unoccupied land.

The whole mechanism discloses a systematic division of labour; but a division like that in manufactures is impossible, since the smith and the carpenter, etc., find an unchanging market, and at the most there occur, according to the sizes of the villages, two or three of each, instead of one.

The law that regulates the division of labour in the community acts with the irresistible authority of a law of Nature, at the same time that each individual artificer, the smith, the carpenter, and so on, conducts in his workshop all the operations of his handicraft in the traditional way, but independently, and without recognizing any authority over him.

The simplicity of the organization for production in these self-sufficing communities that constantly reproduce themselves in the same form, and when accidentally destroyed, spring up again on the spot and with the same name—this simplicity supplies the key to the secret of the unchangeableness of Asiatic societies, an unchangeableness in such striking contrast with the constant dissolution and refounding of Asiatic States, and the never-ceasing changes of dynasty.

The structure of the economical elements of society remains untouched by the storm-clouds of the political sky.”

Now, lets take a look at the nature of the state above those villages. Here is what Karl Marx writes in an article for the New York Daily Tribune, called “The British Rule in India”, published on the 10th of June 1853:

“There have been in Asia, generally, from immemorial times, but three departments of Government; that of Finance, or the plunder of the interior; that of War, or the plunder of the exterior; and, finally, the department of Public Works. Climate and territorial conditions, especially the vast tracts of desert, extending from the Sahara, through Arabia, Persia, India, and Tartary, to the most elevated Asiatic highlands, constituted artificial irrigation by canals and water-works the basis of Oriental agriculture.

As in Egypt and India, inundations are used for fertilizing the soil in Mesopotamia, Persia, &c.; advantage is taken of a high level for feeding irrigative canals. This prime necessity of an economical and common use of water, which, in the Occident, drove private enterprise to voluntary association, as in Flanders and Italy, necessitated, in the Orient where civilization was too low and the territorial extent too vast to call into life voluntary association, the interference of the centralizing power of Government.

Hence an economical function devolved upon all Asiatic Governments, the function of providing public works.

This artificial fertilization of the soil, dependent on a Central Government, and immediately decaying with the neglect of irrigation and drainage, explains the otherwise strange fact that we now find whole territories barren and desert that were once brilliantly cultivated, as Palmyra, Petra, the ruins in Yemen, and large provinces of Egypt, Persia, and Hindostan; it also explains how a single war of devastation has been able to depopulate a country for centuries, and to strip it of all its civilization.”

In the same article, Karl Marx tries to characterize the situation of the masses. Here is what he writes:

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

We must not forget the barbarian egotism which, concentrating on some miserable patch of land, had quietly witnessed the ruin of empires, the perpetration of unspeakable cruelties, the massacre of the population of large towns, with no other consideration bestowed upon them than on natural events, itself the helpless prey of any aggressor who deigned to notice it at all.

We must not forget that this undignified, stagnatory, and vegetative life, that this passive sort of existence evoked on the other part, in contradistinction, wild, aimless, unbounded forces of destruction and rendered murder itself a religious rite in Hindostan.

We must not forget that these little communities were contaminated by distinctions of caste and by slavery, that they subjugated man to external circumstances instead of elevating man the sovereign of circumstances, that they transformed a self-developing social state into never changing natural destiny, and thus brought about a brutalizing worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that man, the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Kanuman [in fact, Hanuman], the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow.”

Thes last words show that Karl Marx didn't know Buddhism and Jainism (besides he never spoke about them); he didn't know that the worship of nature was performed outside Brahmanism and against it, that Hinduism had to integrate this worship against its own will in order to reach the masses.

And of course, in 2013 we also understand more thoroughly the contradiction between town and country.

So, let's take a look at both those aspects through the ideological motor of Hinduism: the fusion of each individual ego with God's superego, through the destruction of the illusory “self”.