By J. Wilson

Delivering a big new interpretation of the transformation of political concept and perform in colonial India, The Domination of Strangers strains the origins of recent rules in regards to the nation and Indian civil society to the sensible interplay among the British and their south Asian topics.

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75 Such a view intersected with Smith’s scepticism about the powers of abstract reason in guiding the actions of politicians and legislators, which will be considered in a little more detail in the next chapter. Like Burke, Smith saw the state as something that was synonymous with political society: it was a complex organism, a network governed by the continual movement of individuals connected by sentiment and affect. It was not an abstract entity that could successfully impose its will or its governmental logic on the rest of the society.

Perhaps these might be seen as the fictional elements necessary for the successful exercise of the historian’s craft. But rather than abandoning such a useful tool of historical explanation, its author believes it is better to accept the limitations of one’s craft, and see history as a form of analysis that needs to exist alongside other forms of social and political analysis and action. 2 Comparing Eighteenth-Century Polities In a lecture delivered in 1917, the Bengali historian and sociologist Benoy Kumar Sarkar argued that modernity was a late arrival to Europe.

The character of the statesman mattered as much as the policies they were supposed to implement. 62 None of these actions could be comprehended by the kind of ‘general system’ that Hegel proposed. Hegel would have criticised such an approach as inconsistent and arbitrary. But, as the anti-slavery campaigner, geologist and clergyman Thomas Gisborne explained in 1794, even the most virtuous form of political action involved a degree of inconsistency. When considering whether to support a man or not, the ‘private gentleman’ should not allow ‘mistaken ideas of consistency to lead him to countenance the same person at a subsequent period, if the sentiments, which he then entertains of men and measures, make it his duty to throw his weight into the adverse side’.

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