New Login   

Making and Remaking the World

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Edited by Lloyd I. Rudolph and John Kurt Jacobsen
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 382, Rs. 675.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 10 October 2006

The anarchist Prodhoun once famously denounced the state in the following terms: “To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked ridiculed outraged and dishonored. That is government; that is its justice, that is its morality.”   In a way, Proudhon captured the aspirations of the state as well as any body, particularly the way it first, epistemically classifies them and then subjects them to its own fancies. Experiencing The State is too bland a title for this interesting and passionate collection of essays. “Experience” is a complicated term. It suggests a volume that delineates what various people feel about the state, the way in which it impinges upon our life worlds and sense of identity, the way it impresses upon us. Many of the essays, with some exceptions, focus on these themes, but mostly from a particular angle. The essays do not collectively amount to an account of how the state is experienced in all its complexity. They rather describe in vivid detail the way in which what are known as high modernist states literally seeks to make and remake the world in its own image. This is the state that above all believes in control, subjecting citizens to its own disciplinary requirements, subordinating their existing life worlds to its own future utopias, and arranging and rearranging people according to its designs. Of course much of this control is as much an aspiration as a reality; the state’s own designs often subvert themselves. But even when the state is unsuccessful by its own lights, its impact is always powerful. It is indeed the great Leviathan. But its main aim is not protecting but displacing citizens, not the source of order but purveyor of a fantasy of order, not an instrument for the pacification of violence but the true source of violence, not a guarantor of rights but its biggest violator, not an agency for the delivery of public ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.