[Marxism] Commentary: A Battle for the Soul of India | The National Interest

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Sep 6 07:15:53 MDT 2013

A Battle for the Soul of India
by David Rieff
September 4, 2013

At first glance, there did not seem to be anything unique, or, voyeurism 
aside, even all that interesting about this past summer’s public quarrel 
between Indian economist and political philosopher Amartya Sen, a Nobel 
laureate who now teaches at Harvard, and his former Cambridge University 
classmate Jagdish Bhagwati, a Columbia University economist and law 
professor who has long been one of the most eloquent champions of 
globalization based largely on free trade as the surest, if not indeed 
the only sure, way for poor countries to become prosperous. As Henry 
Kissinger is said to have remarked, academic politics are so vicious 
because the stakes are so low. Those who like their sarcasm gift-wrapped 
in erudition may enjoy reading about slagging matches between scholars, 
whether of the ‘witty fury’ type exemplified by the decades-long quarrel 
between the British historians A. J. P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper, or 
of the ‘titanic clash of narcissisms’ type that Edward Said and Bernard 
Lewis illustrated so indefatigably in their exchanges over Said’s 
‘Orientalism.’ It is true that these and other such rivalries were 
partly grounded in political and even moral differences of real 
substance. But their effect on the politics and public policy of their 
time is usually pretty trivial, even if the disputants don’t usually see 
it that way.


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