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They [the paranoid], too, cannot regard anything in other people as indifferent, and they, too, take up minute indications with which these other, unknown, people present them, and use them in their 'delusions of reference'. The meaning of their delusions of reference is that they expect from all strangers something like love. But these people show them nothing of the kind; they laugh to themselves, flourish their sticks, even spit on the ground as they go by - and one really does not do such things while a person in whom one takes a friendly interest is near. One does them only when one feels quite indifferent to the passer-by, when one can treat him like air; and, considering, too, the fundamental kinship of the concepts of ,stranger' and 'enemy', the paranoic is not so far wrong in regarding this indifference as hate, in contrast to his claim for love.
Freud, 'Some neurotic mechanisms in jealousy, paranoia and homosexuality'
If the spirit of the Western nation has been symbolized in epic and anthem, voked by a 'unanimous people assembled in the self-presence of its speech' then the sign of colonial government is cast in a lower key, caught in the irredeemable act of writing. Who better to bear witness to this hypothesis than that representative figure of the mid-nineteenth century J. S. Mill, who divided his life between addressing the colonial sphere as an examiner of correspondence for the East India Company, and preaching the principles of postutilitarian liberalism to the English nation.
'The whole government of India is carried out in writing,' Mill testified to a Select Committee of the House of Lords in 1852.
All the orders given and all the acts of executive officers are reported in writing.... [There] is no single act done in India, the whole of the reasons for which are not placed on record. This appears to me a greater security for good government than exists in almost any other government in the world, because no other has a system of recordation so complete.
Mill's dream of a perfect system of recordation was underwritten by the practice of utilitarian reforms: the union of judicial and executive powers in the tax collector, the codification of the law, the ryotwar system of land settlement, and an accurate survey and record of landed rights. But nowhere was this faith in a government of recordation made more problematic than in the dependence of his central concept of 'public discussion' on the fundamental principle of speech as the guarantee of good government. Nobody who has witnessed Mill's vision of the value of individual independence can be blind to that passionate principle of speech that makes it so - 'a vivid conception and a strong belief', not learned by rote or written but, as he says, articulated with a direct 'living feeling power which spreads from the words spoken to the things signified and forces the mind to take them in and make them conform to the formula'. Nobody who has read Mill's metaphors of authority can fail to see that for him the sign of civility is not so much the Lockean consent to Property, nor the Hobbesian assent to Law, but the spirited sound of the vox populi, engaged as an individual in public discussion, that 'steady communal habit of correcting his own opinion and collating it with those of others'
Nobody who grasps that for Mill the boundaries of the national culture are open so long as the voices of dissent remain individual and closed when that culture is threatened by collective dissension, can fail to hear him propounding the nationalist ideology of unisonances as Benedict Anderson describes it, a contemporaneous cultural cohesion connecting its national subjects through the undifferentiated simultaneity of an 'aural' imaginary. And once this nationalist, authoritarian tone is caught in speech, it is possible to see in writing, how Mill echoes Cicero's forensic principle 'that individuals must throw themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them' only to use it ambivalently; both as the principle that preserves the liberty of the Western individualist 'public sphere' as well as a strategy for policing the culturally and racially differentiated colonial space: 'Where you have not the advantage given by representative government of discussion [my emphasis] by persons of all partialities, prepossessions and interests,' Mill continues in his testimony before the Lords, 'you cannot have a perfect substitute for this, still some substitute [such as recordation] is better than none.'
The political moment of cultural difference emerges within the problematic of colonial governmentality, and eclipses the transparency between legibility and legitimate rule. Mill's 'recordation' now embodies the practice of writing as a strategy of colonialist regulation, and the mimetic adequacy of draft and dispatch is somewhat in doubt.
To know that the embryonic ideas of Mill's essays 'On Liberty' and 'Representative Government' were originally formulated in a draft dispatch on Indian education, written in response to Macaulay's infamous 'Minute' of 1835, is to realize - in that fine intertextual irony - both the limitations of liberty and the problems of establishing a mode of governmental discourse that requires a colonial substitute for democratic /public discussion'. Such a process of substitution is precisely Mill's system of recordation: events experienced and inscribed in India are to be read otherwise, transformed into the acts of governments and the discourse of authority in another place, at another time. Such a syntax of deferral must not merely be recognized as a theoretical object, the deferral of the space of writing - the sign under erasure - but acknowledged as a specific colonial temporality and textuality of that space between enunciation and address. As G. D. Bearce has written, the transaction on paper to take effect at the other side of the globe was not, according to Mill, 'of itself calculated to give much practical knowledge of life'." Between the Western sign and its colonial signification there emerges a map of misreading that embarrasses the righteousness of recordation and its certainty of good government. It opens up a space of interpretation and misappropriation that inscribes an ambivalence at the very origins of colonial authority, indeed, within the originary documents of British colonial history itself. 'It is probable that writing 15,000 miles from the place where their orders were to be carried into effect', writes Macaulay in his essay on Warren Hastings, the Directors of the East India Company
never perceived the gross inconsistency of which they were guilty... Whoever examines their letters written at that time, will find there many just and humane sentiments ... an admirable code of political ethics.... Now these instructions, being interpreted, mean simply, 'Be the father and the oppressor of the people; be just and unjust, moderate and rapacious. (My emphasis)
To describe these texts as 'despatches of hypocrisy' as Macaulay has done, is to moralize both the intention of writing and the object of government. To talk of duplicity is to fail to read the specific discursive doubleness that Macaulay insists exists only between the fines; to fail to see that form of multiple and contradictory belief that emerges as an effect of the ambivalent, deferred address of colonialist governance. Such a split in enunciation can no longer be contained with the 'unisonance' of civil discourse - although it must be spoken by it - nor written in what Walter Benjamin calls the 'homogeneous empty time' of the Western nationalist discourse which normalizes its own history of colonial expansion and exploitation by inscribing the history of the other in a fixed hierarchy of civil progress. What is articulated in the doubleness of colonial discourse is not simply the violence of one powerful nation writing out the history of another. 'Be the father and the oppressor ... just and unjust' is a mode of contradictory utterance that ambivalently reinscribes, across differential power relations, both colonizer and colonized. For it reveals an agonistic uncertainty contained in the incompatibility of empire and nation; it puts on trial the very discourse of civility within which representative government claims its liberty and empire its ethics. Those substitutive objects of colonialist governmentality - be they systems of recordation, or 'intermediate bodies' of political and administrative control - are strategies of surveillance that cannot maintain their civil authority once the colonial supplementarity, or excess of their address is revealed.
Recordation is faced, 'between-the-lines', with its double existence in the discursive practice of a board of directors or a colonial civil service. This produces a strange irony of reference. For if the primary impulse and address of government emanates not from the democratic representatives of a people, but from the members of a service, or as Mill describes it, a system that must be calculated to form its agents of government, then, in asserting the natural rights of empire, Mill's proposal implicitly erases all that is taken as 'second nature' within Western civility. It separates the customary association of a territory with a people; not least, it breaks with any assumption of a natural link between democracy and discussion. The representative nineteenth-century discourse of liberal individualism loses both its power of speech and its politics of individual choice when it is confronted with an aporia. In a figure of repetition, there emerges the uncanny double of democracy itself: 'to govern one country under responsibility to the people of another ... is despotism,' Mill writes.The only choice the case admits is a choice of despotisms.... There are, as we have already seen, conditions of society in which a vigorous despotism is in itself the best mode of government for training the people in what is specifically wanting to render them capable of a higher civilization.
To be the father and the oppressor; just and unjust; moderate and rapacious; vigorous and despotic: these instances of contradictory belief, doubly inscribed in the deferred address of colonial discourse, raise questions about the symbolic space of colonial authority. What is the image of authority if it is civility's supplement and democracy's despotic double? How is it exercised if, as Macaulay suggests, it must be read between the lines, within the interdictory borders of civility itself? Why does the spectre of eighteenth-century despotism - that regime of primordial fixity, repetition, historylessness, and social death - haunt these vigorous nineteenth-century colonial practices of muscular Christianity and the civilizing mission? Can despotism, however vigorous, inspire a colony of individuals when the dread letter of despotic law can only instil the spirit of servitude?
To ask these questions is to see that the subject of colonial discourse - splitting, doubling, turning into its opposite, projecting - is a subject of such affective ambivalence and discursive disturbance, that the narrative of English history can only ever beg the 'colonial' question. Deprived of its customary 'civil' reference, even the most traditional historical narrative accedes to the language of fantasy and desire. The modern colonizing imagination conceives of its dependencies as a territory, never as a people, wrote Sir Herman Merivale in 1839 in his influential Oxford lectures on colonization which led to his appointment as Under Secretary of State for India. The effect of this distinction, he concludes, is that colonies are not conducive to disinterested control. Too often, their governance is overwhelmed by a feeling of national pride expressed in an exciting pleasure, an imaginary sense of power in extensive possessions which might turn into a Cyclopean policy. If such passion be political, then I suggest that we should pose the question of the ambivalence of colonialist authority in the language of the vicissitudes of the narcissistic demand for colonial objects, which intervenes so powerfully in the nationalist fantasy of boundless, extensive possessions.
What threatens the authority of colonial command is the ambivalence of its address - father and oppressor or, alternatively, the ruled and reviled - which will not be resolved in a dialectical play of power. For these doubly inscribed figures face two ways without being two-faced. Western imperialist discourse continually puts under erasure the civil state, as the colonial text emerges uncertainly within its narrative of progress. Between the civil address and its colonial signification - each axis displaying a problem of recognition and repetition - shuttles the signifier of authority in search of a strategy of surveillance, subjection, and inscription. Here there can be no dialectic of the master-slave for where discourse is so disseminated can there ever be the passage from trauma to transcendence? From alienation to authority? Both colonizer and colonized are in a process of miscognition where each point of identification is always a partial and double repetition of the otherness of the self - democrat and despot, individual and servant, native and child.
It is around the 'and' - that conjunction of infinite repetition - that the ambivalence of civil authority circulates as a 'colonial' signifier that is less than one and double. The position of authority is alienated at the point of civil enunciation - less than liberty, in Mill's case - and doubles at the point of colonialist address - just and unjust or the doubling of democracy as vigorous despotism. Such is the devious strategy of Montesquieu's idea of despotism which authoritatively shaped the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries' image of Mughal and Brahmin India. For Montesquieu, it is in the difference between monarchy and absolute monarchy (that is, sovereignty without honour) that despotism emerges as a textualization of the Turk and faces Versailles and the Court with its uncanny horrifying double.18 Alexander Dow's History of Hindustan (1768), Sir Charles Grant's influential 'Observations, (1794), James Mills's monumental History of India (1816), Macaulay's 'Minute on Indian education' (1835), Duff's authoritative India and India Missions (1839): in all these, the strategic splitting of the colonial discourse - less than one and double - is contained by addressing the other as despot. For despite its connotations of death, repetition and servitude, the despotic configuration is a monocausal system that relates all differences and discourses to the absolute, undivided, boundless body of the despot. It is this image of India as a primordial fixity - as a narcissistic inverted other - that satisfies the self-fulfilling prophecy of Western progress and stills, for a while, the supplementary signifier of colonial discourse.
But what of the other 'native' scene of colonialist intervention where the ambivalence of authority - be it moderate and rapacious - is required, Macaulay suggests, as a strategy of surveillance and exploitation? If the idea of despotism homogenizes India's past, the colonialist present requires a strategy of calculation in relation to its native subjects. This need is addressed in a vigorous demand for narrative, embodied in the utilitarian or evolutionary ideologies of reason and progress; a demand which is, nonetheless, in Derrida's words, a matter for the police:an inquisitorial insistence, an order, a petition.... To demand the narrative of the other, to extort it from him like a secretless secret, something that they call the truth about what has taken place, 'Tell us exactly what happened.'
The narratorial voice articulates the narcissistic, colonialist demand that it should be addressed directly, that the Other should authorize the self, recognize its priority, fulfil its outlines, replete, indeed repeat, its references and still its fractured gaze.
From the journals of the missionary C. T. E. Rhenius, 1818:Rhenius: What do you want?And this from a sermon by Archdeacon Potts in 1818:
Indian Pilgrim: Whatever you give I take.
R: What then do you want?
IP: I have already enough of everything.
R: Do you know God?
IP: I know he is in me. When you put rice into a mortar and stamp it with a pestle, the rice gets clean. So, God is known to me [the comparisons of the Heathen are often incomprehensible to a European]
IP: But tell me in what shape do you like to see him?
R: In the shape of the Almighty, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent, the Eternal, the Unchangeable, the Holy One, the Righteous, the Truth, the Wisdom and the Love.
IP: I shall show him to you: but first you must learn all that I have learned - then you will see God.If you urge them with their gross and unworthy misconceptions of the nature and the will of God, or the monstrous follies of their fabulous theology, they will turn it off with a sly civility perhaps, or with a popular and careless proverb. You may be told that 'heaven is a wide place, and has a thousand gates'; and that their religion is one by which they hope to enter. Thus, together with their fixed persuasions, they have their sceptical conceits. By such evasions they can dismiss the merits of the case from all consideration; and encourage men to think that the vilest superstition may serve to every salutary purpose, and be accepted in the sight of God as well as truth and righteousness.
In the native refusal to satisfy the colonizer's narrative demand, we hear the echoes of Freud's sabre-rattling strangers, with whom I began this chapter. The natives' resistance represents a frustration of that nineteenth-century strategy of surveillance, the confession, which seeks to dominate the 'calculable' individual by positing the truth that the subject has but does not know. The incalculable native produces a problem for civil representation in the discourses of literature and legality. This uncertainty impressed itself on Nathanael Halhed whose A Code of Gentoo Laws (1776) was the canonical colonialist codification of Indian 'native' law, but he was only able to read this resistance to calculation and testimony as native 'folly' or 'temporary frenzy ... something like the madness so inimitably delineated in the hero of Cervantes'. The native answers display the continual slippage between civil inscription and colonial address. The uncertainty generated by such resistance changes the narratorial demand itself. What was spoken within the orders of civility now accedes to the colonial signifier. The question is no longer Derrida's 'Tell us exactly what happened.' From the point of view of the colonizer, passionate for unbounded, unpeopled possession, the problem of truth turns into the troubled political and psychic question of boundary and territory: Tell us why you, the native, are there. Etymologically unsettled, 'territory' derives from both terra (earth) and terr&emacron;re (to frighten) whence territorium, 'a place from which people are frightened off. The colonialist demand for narrative carries, within it, its threatening reversal: Tell us why we are here. It is this echo that reveals that the other side of narcissistic authority may be the paranoia of power; a desire for 'authorization' in the face of a process of cultural differentiation which makes it problematic to fix the native objects of colonial power as the moralized 'others' of truth.
The native refusal to unify the authoritarian, colonialist address within the terms of civil engagement gives the subject of colonial authority - father and oppressor - another turn. This ambivalent 'and', always less than one and double, traces the times and spaces between civil address and colonial articulation. The authoritarian demand can now only be justified if it is contained in the language of paranoia. The refusal to return and restore the image of authority to the eye of power has to be reinscribed as implacable aggression, assertively coming from without: He hates me. Such justification follows the familiar conjugation of persecutory paranoia. The frustrated wish 'I want him to love me,' turns into its opposite 'I hate him' and thence through projection and the exclusion of the first person, 'He hates me.'
Projection is never a self-fulfilling prophecy; never a simple 'scapegoat' fantasy. The other's aggressivity from without, that justifies the subject of authority, makes that very subject a frontier station of joint occupation, as the psychoanalyst Robert Waelder has written. Projection may compel the native to address the master, but it can never produce those effects of 'love' or 'truth' that would centre the confessional demand. If, through projection, the native is partially aligned or reformed in discourse, the fixed hate which refuses to circulate or reconjugate, produces the repeated fantasy of the native as in-between legality and illegality endangering the boundaries of truth itself.
The litigious, lying native became a central object of nineteenth-century colonial, legal regulation. Each winter an Indian magistrate was dispatched to the Caribbean to adjudicate over the incalculable indentured Indian coolies. That the process of colonial intervention, its institutionalization and normalization, may itself be an Entstellung, a displacement, is the symbolic reality that must be disavowed. It is this ambivalence that ensues within paranoia as a play between eternal vigilance and blindness, and estranges the image of authority in its strategy of justification. For, excluded as the first-person subject and addressed by an aggressivity prior to itself, the figure of authority must always be belated; after and outside the event if it wants to be virtuous, and yet master of the situation, if it wants to be victorious:The English in India are part of a belligerent civilisation ... they are the representatives of peace compelled by force. No country in the world is more orderly, more quiet or more peaceful than British India as it is, but if the vigour of the government should ever be relaxed, if it should lose its essential unity of purpose ... chaos would come again like a flood.'
Delusions of 'the end of the world' - as Judge Schreber confessed to Freud - are the common tropes of paranoia, and it is with that in mind that we should reread Fitzjames Stephen's famous apocalyptic formulation that I've quoted above. In the oscillation between apocalypse and chaos, we see the emergence of an anxiety associated with the narcissistic vision and its two-dimensional space. It is an anxiety which will not abate because the empty third space, the other space of symbolic representation, at once bar and bearer of difference, is closed to the paranoid position of power. In the colonial discourse, that space of the other is always occupied by an idée fixe: despot, heathen, barbarian, chaos, violence. If these symbols are always the same, their ambivalent repetition makes them the signs of a much deeper crisis of authority that emerges in the lawless writing of the colonial sense. There, the hybrid tongues of the colonial space make even the repetition of the name of God uncanny: 'every native term which the Christian missionary can employ to communicate the Divine truth is already appropriated as the chosen symbol of some counterpart deadly error' writes Alexander Duff, the most celebrated of nineteenth-century Indian missionaries, with trepidation.You vary your language and tell [the natives that] there must be a second birth. Now it so happens that this and all similar phraseology is preoccupied.
The communication of the Gayatri, or the most sacred verse in the Vedas ... constitutes religiously and metaphorically the natives' second birth.... Your improved language might only convey that all must become famous Brahmans ere they can see God. (My emphasis)
From The Location of Culture, © 1994, Routledge.
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