Documents of the Communist movement in India Vol.12 by Jyoti Basu, chief ed. ....

By Jyoti Basu, chief ed. ....

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Some of his guards are positively helpful toward the prisoners. Holwell’s tract is actually pedagogical, not accusatory. He was writing to establish what may be called elevated principles of moral discipline as self-governance for his own people. What the Indians had seen of Europeans that night in Fort William had destroyed every claim of the civilizational superiority of white Christian nations. The task was, Holwell seemed to be claiming, 26 • Chapter One the moral education of the British people to make them worthy of ruling over Moors and Gentoos steeped in tyranny and depravity.

Perhaps it is only now, at this juncture at the beginning of the twenty-first century when all three entities—capitalism, the nation-state, and empire—can be subjected to systematic historical critique, that we can see this clearly. It is easier today to argue that we should not expect to read intentions of empire directly out of Clive’s letters, the council’s proceedings at Fort St. George, or the resolutions of the East India Company directors in London. They must be sought in the complex formations of discourse that shaped, through rules and precedents, precepts and advices, traditions and innovations, the conditions of practice for the strategic move toward conquest and territorial empire.

Armed with his superiors’ permission “to attack Hughly or any other Moors’ town, or to make reprisals in the river upon Moors’ vessells . . 97 The pillage of Hugli by the British forces was massive, and when Khwaja Wajid, the local Armenian merchant, complained about the huge losses that he had suffered, Clive explained: “I do assure you what was done there was not meant against you, but against the city of Hughley in revenge for the ruin of Calcutta. ”98 During the next few days, even as there were overtures and exchanges of pleasantries between Clive and Siraj, the latter moved his troops to the neighborhood of Calcutta.

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