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Enlisting the Rudolphs to Chart the Path From Maha

Jose Marti’s Immanent Critique of American Imperialism by Joshua Simon | January 27, 2022

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The talk will draw on the scholarship of Lloyd and Suzanne Rudolph on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to understand Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s affective appeals. Comparing Modi, one of India’s most powerful post-Independence leaders, and Gandhi, India’s most powerful pre-Independence leader, enables us to explore the temporal influences on charismatic leaders. As the Rudolphs argue, Gandhi’s leadership of the freedom struggle resulted in part from the social and psychological costs of colonialism. Modi gives expression to deep seated resentments at elites who possess wealth, education, and social connections. Modi’s ascent reflects both the success of democracy in generating aspirations for a more level playing field and popular disenchantment with the failures of democracy to dismantle hereditary social and political power. However, as the Rudolphs recognize, it is vital to recognize the agency of political leaders in fashioning a response to the conditions of the times. This is especially significant in contrasting the views of Gandhi and Modi on nationalism.


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