[INDOLOGY] Hitler and MLBD

Jonathan Silk kauzeya at gmail.com
Wed May 21 06:02:44 UTC 2014

I speak for no one other than myself here, but:
1. I think this topic may be getting a bit off focus, which is/should be
the behavior of one of the major Indological publishers (I know I am not
the first to voice this).

And less importantly, but still worth saying:
2. There is nothing remotely 'alleged' about the Nazism of some of those in
Ukraine. They are on video as saying (I wish I were making this up) "We do
not agree with *everything* Hitler did," meaning unfortunately not that
they disagree with everything, but that there are some things they do not
agree with.....

Indeed there can be nazis everywhere, but we as Indologists do not have to
put up with this anywhere, and reacting to the unacceptable actions of an
organization against which we might have some weight seems a good use of
our collective authority. The fact, to me, that the owners are Jains I find
frankly to move this all nearly beyond comprehension.


On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 8:36 PM, Dipak Bhattacharya
<dipak.d2004 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Is there debate about the existence of neo-Nazism in, say, the UK?
> Neo-Nazism has been alleged even among the nationalist fighters of eastern
> Ukraine. Franco had been propped up by the West till his death. Salazar
> too. Why should one be country specific?
>  The disease exists in many countries.
> DB
> On Wed, May 21, 2014 at 2:11 AM, Jesse Knutson <jknutson at hawaii.edu>wrote:
>> There is no debate about the appeal of fascist forms of politics in India
>> today--this is not a controversial point, and certainly not a matter of
>> 'opinion'. Vastly popular organizations like the RSS, Sangh Parivar, etc.
>> take their inspiration from Mussolini and Hitler. Savarkar directly
>> modelled his organization on Mussolini. You might be aware that a PM has
>> just been elected with intense connections to these organizations.
>> On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 10:31 AM, Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi <
>> c.ram-prasad at lancaster.ac.uk> wrote:
>>>  Despite the seriousness of the question at stake (and as someone who
>>> has, after consideration, signed the petition), it has been illuminating to
>>> see the effort put into arguments on either side.
>>> In this context, it is just not helpful to make sweeping statements
>>> about ‘the very strong appeal of fascist ideology in India today’, as if it
>>> were some self-evident thing. My main concern is that it does not seem to
>>> be relevant (who the heck are you going to certify as a people for whom
>>> fascism has no appeal? Would publishing this book be ok for them?). But
>>> also it simply doesn’t seem to be that simple a fact about the complex
>>> dynamics of Indian democracy today. I feel fairly certain that many,
>>> including me, who want to pursue the issue of why MLBD thought it right
>>> (for all that they do describe the book in a uniformly critical way) to
>>> publish it, would baulk at the implication that we would share your
>>> attitude to what ideology does and not does not appeal and to what extent,
>>> in India.
>>>  Ram-Prasad
>>>  ------------------------------
>>> *From:* INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] on behalf of
>>> Jesse Knutson [jknutson at hawaii.edu]
>>> *Sent:* Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:18 PM
>>> *To:* Robert Zydenbos
>>> *Cc:* Indology
>>> *Subject:* Re: [INDOLOGY] Hitler and MLBD
>>>   Dear Friends, For me the issue is not that someone publishes Mein
>>> Kampf, it is that MLBD should publish it. I do agree that the text should
>>> not be pulped--it should be available for historical education and
>>> research, but it is questionable when it is being marketed because of its
>>> potential popularity and commercial viability. This is the important point
>>> and what is slightly chilling about the whole thing, particularly in view
>>> of the very strong appeal of fascist ideology in India today, if not Nazism
>>> in particular. I think it is worthwhile that we as scholars ask MLBD to try
>>> to maintain its dignity and integrity as at least a halfway serious
>>> publisher, by not pandering to what is most vile in Indian society. I don't
>>> think we should go as far as to ask that Hitler's writings be universally
>>> pulped, we should only demand that they not form a part of the marketing
>>> agenda of a press with which we have been historically associated and
>>> continue to associate ourselves. So we are certainly right in demanding
>>> that MLBD not publish Hitler, and I think we can use this opportunity to
>>> ask that MLBD not make other stupid decisions about what it peddles. It is
>>> o.k. for the press to try to be somewhat commercially viable, but not at
>>> the expense of all dignity. It has some responsibility as a bastion of
>>> Indological and historical publishing. If they publish Hitler without
>>> getting some flack from us, then next it will be Savarkar and other
>>> Hindutva sludge.
>>>  Thus I think we should broaden our criticisms of MLBD. I have
>>> personally been sending Mr. Jain angry letters for years, not only about
>>> the titles, but about the miserable condition of their bookshops, and the
>>> incompetence and rudeness of staff who are obviously nepotism-spawned
>>> stooges. His responses have been without exception very disappointing
>>> exercises in fatuous self-congratulation.
>>>  There has been a general decline in Indological titles at MLBD for
>>> some time, in favor of really bad, unscientific new age stuff. It is o.k.
>>> if they publish some slightly new agey stuff, but they have thrown all
>>> standards out the window for some time now, and I think they really lack
>>> competent, educated, and discerning staff. This at a time when there is no
>>> shortage of highly educated and yet jobless Indians. I know that publishers
>>> have to find a way to survive, but I feel so sad that the very publisher
>>> that has provided me so much access to Sanskrit texts and other matter for
>>> decades, should disgrace itself like this.
>>>  Let's keep up the heat, but focus it not on Hitler and Nazism per se,
>>> but on MLBD and its responsibility both to us and itself.
>>> On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 3:50 AM, Robert Zydenbos <
>>> zydenbos at uni-muenchen.de> wrote:
>>>> A view on this not really Indological matter from an Indologist in
>>>> Munich, Bavaria (the historical starting place, which is why I regularly
>>>> deal with such questions; again in class, last Monday).
>>>> (Situation in Germany:) It is not true that the Government of Bavaria
>>>> “refuses to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany” (sorry,
>>>> Dominik, but the statement in your open letter is not quite accurate). In
>>>> fact, the Bavarian government has subsidized a new, historically critical
>>>> edition of the book by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte with an amount of
>>>> half a million euros. In spite of support from many German Jews for this
>>>> idea (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/12/german-jews-
>>>> want-mein-kam_n_257937.html), the present chief minister of Bavaria
>>>> suddenly announced, a few months ago, the stopping of a further
>>>> subsidizing, apparently because of protests from certain other Jewish
>>>> groups (which I consider foolish: both the protests as well as the
>>>> interruption of the subsidy, and this stop has been criticized by
>>>> oppositional left-wing political parties in the Bavarian parliament), but
>>>> the editing work continues. For the latest details, see
>>>> http://www.br.de/nachrichten/mein-kampf-hitler-100.html
>>>> (Prohibition through exercise of copyright:) The Bavarian government
>>>> has been quite selective in exercising its copyright to prohibit new
>>>> editions of the book elsewhere. E.g., nothing has been undertaken against
>>>> several editions in Israel (see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/
>>>> Mein_Kampf#Aktuelle_Rechtslage).
>>>> (Availability and how to deal with it:) “Mein Kampf” is freely
>>>> available anyway, as has already been amply pointed out in this thread. The
>>>> critical edition (see above; also an edition for schools is planned) is
>>>> meant to counterbalance the surge of new editions that unavoidably will
>>>> appear from 2015 onwards (http://www.deutschlandfunk.
>>>> de/der-kampf-um-mein-kampf.724.de.html?dram:article_id=99882). If MLBD
>>>> brings out an integral edition of the book (not historically critical, but
>>>> at least complete; does it have an explanatory preface? Has anybody seen
>>>> it?), then readers can judge for themselves just how dull and crazy it is.
>>>> (How many of the prudishly politically correct critics in this thread have
>>>> actually read it? I stopped reading it – precisely because most of it is
>>>> dull, and the rest is crazy in a not entertaining way.) This craziness may
>>>> not be so visible if, in an uncontrolled manner, mere excerpts are
>>>> published, which is not what MLBD has / had in mind. Furthermore, MLBD
>>>> explicitly speaks / spoke of the author on its website as “evil”, thus
>>>> explicitly not endorsing the contents of the book (did anybody here see
>>>> that? Or were we too busy being outraged?).
>>>> (Commercialism:) MLBD is a commercial publisher and evidently has
>>>> stopped being a purely academically Indological publisher at least for some
>>>> time now (if ever they have been one). Already for years they have been
>>>> bringing out books on all sorts of topics, many of which, in my view, are
>>>> rather trashy. Is it really fair to be intercontinentally critical of them
>>>> while their commercial competitors, like Jaico, are making money with it?
>>>> Like Amazon and Barnes and Noble sell it? (https://en.wikipedia.org/
>>>> wiki/Mein_Kampf#Online_availability)
>>>> (Consistency:) If the overseas academic community cries out against the
>>>> banning of books in India (Doniger, Ramanujan) in the name of freedom of
>>>> expression, it looks odd that such people demand a ban on this old book for
>>>> reasons which hardly any Indian understands (cf. for an illustration
>>>> Veeranarayana Pandurangi’s characteristic post in this thread, last Sunday).
>>>> (Effectiveness of protest:) Hitler’s book has already been popular in
>>>> India for a long time, apparently esp. among Hindu nationalists (see
>>>> “Hitler als «Management-Guru» in Indien” - http://www.20min.ch/ausland/
>>>> news/story/29880511). It seems that India demands the right to make
>>>> every mistake the West has made, from environmental destruction, turbo
>>>> capitalism, nuclear armaments, to reading warped books. A mere loud
>>>> condemnation of (just another) edition of Hitler’s book coming from the
>>>> West is likely to be seen as yet another bit of neo-colonial
>>>> holier-than-thou moralizing. What effectively is being said is ‘Americans
>>>> and Israelis should read the book, but it is too dangerous for you foolish
>>>> Indians to have it’, and I do not think that any Indian wants to hear that.
>>>> Banning a book has never stopped the spread of nefarious ideas anyway (only
>>>> better books, open discussion and explanation do that), and if we make a
>>>> fuss, it may only mean additional publicity for something that we do not
>>>> want to see popularized.
>>>> (Superfluousness:) For whatever reason, MLBD has apparently already
>>>> taken down the offer from its website www.mlbd.com as of today (May
>>>> 20, 2014). This may mean that this entire discussion, the open letter etc.
>>>> are superfluous. (Or it may mean that only the online advertising has
>>>> stopped, but not the production and sale. I do not know.)
>>>> Because I believe protests to MLBD in this matter are unfair,
>>>> discriminatory, ideologically ineffective, not Indological, at worst
>>>> publicitywise counter-productive, and perhaps superfluous anyway, I will
>>>> not sign the public petition.
>>>> Robert Zydenbos
>>>> --
>>>> Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
>>>> Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
>>>> Department für Asienstudien
>>>> Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>>>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>>>> http://listinfo.indology.info
>>>  --
>>> Jesse Ross Knutson PhD
>>> Assistant Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali, Department of Indo-Pacific
>>> Languages and Literatures
>>> University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
>>>  452A Spalding
>> --
>> Jesse Ross Knutson PhD
>> Assistant Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali, Department of Indo-Pacific
>> Languages and Literatures
>> University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
>> 452A Spalding
>> _______________________________________________
>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>> http://listinfo.indology.info
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> http://listinfo.indology.info

J. Silk
Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
Johan Huizinga Building, Room 1.37
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
The Netherlands

copies of my publications may be found at

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20140520/80c2a648/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list