The Rebel of the School (TREDITION CLASSICS)

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Rather than being criminals or delinquents, activist rebels are an organic outgrowth of the societies or micro-societies from which they spring. Activist rebellions are particularly likely to enjoy legitimacy which has the characteristics that Duyvesteyn analyzes in the introduction to this special issue. Firstly, because they recruit individuals locally based on shared norms, they can claim an overlap with pre-existing social and political rules in their locality.

Secondly, the beliefs by which these rules are viewed as legitimate are shared both by rebels and civilians. Thirdly, because they go to great lengths to strike and maintain cooperative bargains with civilians, these rules are likely to be reflected in practices demonstrating compliance. Democratic counterinsurgency finds such rebellions extremely difficult to deal with. FM 3 - 24 is somewhat schizophrenic on the subject of what ought to be done with them.

It is infrequent that counterinsurgents possess the understanding of the norms of a distant population which they would require to adapt their approach accordingly, especially given the urban bias of most incumbent governments. Even if they did possess this knowledge, they could be unable to overcome the fact that legitimacy is often based more on the identity of those providing governance rather than their actions.

Sectional, geographic and ethnic splits may prevent local populations from ever accepting the servants of the central state as legitimate rulers, while causing them to continue to support activist rebels who share their identity. Meanwhile, Western militaries intervening in support of an incumbent host government face these problems in magnified form. Their understanding of the basic features of the social, political and economic terrain of the country in which they are intervening is likely to be minimal, and what understanding they do develop is likely to reflect the urban bias of the host government.


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The tendency to view insurgents as apolitical bandits discourages an understanding of the way that a sharing of norms between them and local populations sustains insurgent legitimacy. Meanwhile, as foreigners who can become the target of nationalist mobilization, their identity is an even greater barrier to ever being identified as a legitimate partner of the host government in establishing its own legitimacy.

Authoritarian counterinsurgents likewise find activist rebellions who enjoy strong legitimacy difficult to deal with. As Valentino, Huth and Balch-Lindsay have argued, mass indiscriminate coercion is particularly likely to be employed against insurgencies which enjoy strong legitimacy and share an identity with civilians, thus making it harder to separate the insurgents from the population. This can undermine rebel legitimacy, especially if they are blamed for provoking the state into violent acts.

View all notes But recent research has suggested the limits of mass indiscriminate coercion as a tool in degrading rebel legitimacy. Despite the disruption to rebel governance, high-commitment rebels are likely to seek to evade the violence by temporarily relocating to more remote areas. Meanwhile, in a pattern famously observed by Scott, individuals or groups who view the state as legitimate are likewise to flee indiscriminate violence by heading to centers of state authority, such as towns or major communication routes.

Scott, The Art of not Being Governed , View all notes The result is a more polarized countryside in which rebels are able to increase their legitimacy among those civilians who remain by providing protection from indiscriminate violence and capitalizing on the symbolic pose of resistance. In situations of extremely effective or prolonged campaigns of coercion, rebels may eventually be forced to adopt a more instrumental and coercive stance towards the civilian population in order to extract the resources they need to continue functioning. Weinstein has noted that rebels who make this transition from being activists to opportunists rarely manage to transition back.

Weinstein, Inside Rebellion , 9— View all notes Yet even if rebels are forced to sacrifice some legitimacy in absolute terms in the face of mass indiscriminate coercion, this in no way guarantees that their legitimacy relative to the counterinsurgent also lessens. While such coercion might disrupt and degrade rebel legitimacy, the impact of violence and its tendency to depopulate the countryside of pro-government elements creates an inauspicious terrain for the government to erect a long-term political solution.

An example of this dynamic can be seen in the Vietnam War. The rural population and the National Liberation Front NLF suffered an enormous quantity of indiscriminate violence which depopulated the countryside and led the NLF to establish a more coercive relationship with the population. Yet even though their own legitimacy was degraded, the government never managed to supplant rebel governance with their own legitimate apparatus, or to reduce NLF legitimacy to the point where the organization was forced to cease functioning.

Each time the violence stopped, the NLF was able to reestablish the bare amount of legitimacy and ability to function to allow it to continue to harass the government. See Elliott, The Vietnamese War. Rather than attempting to degrade and supplant rebel legitimacy from the top down, counterinsurgents can attempt to build a patchwork of legitimacy from the ground up. This means attempting to coopt local rebel legitimacies through a bargain which allows state and local elites to reach a political settlement. Instead of pursuing the quixotic project of spreading one unified norm of legitimacy, this allows the regime to capitalize on pre-existing legitimacies enjoyed by rebels among the population.

Frustrated by their efforts to directly spread the reach and legitimacy of the Baghdad regime, the US instead reached out to Sunni rebel leaders themselves. By providing support and resources to one segment of the rebel elite, the US was able to capitalize on their local legitimacy to turn the tide against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Instead, it represented a retreat from this point and an acknowledgement that legitimacy often depends as much on who governs as how they govern. The legitimacy of Sunni rebels was based on their shared norms and identity with the local population, something the Shia government in Baghdad could not hope to supplant without coopting them.


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Yet this manner of dealing with rebel legitimacy brings problems of its own. Once again, research into rebel governance gives insight into how variation in the characteristics of insurgencies will affect the suitability of this approach. In particular, research on how the identity of rebel movements is instantiated in their approach to governance has revealed a wide divergence in their goals. A rebelocracy is a rebel government whose goals extend beyond the instrumental, establishing a broader relationship with society and delivering reforms to pre-existing local governance.

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As a result, attempts to coopt their legitimacy are problematic because this very legitimacy depends on the extent to which they oppose the order and legitimacy represented by the central state and its local allies. Furthermore, Kalyvas has found a strong link between the amount of territorial control enjoyed by a rebel movement and form of government it establishes, with strong control correlated with a more interventionist and ideological form of governance. Because conflicting legitimacies is precisely what is at issue in counterinsurgency, such arrangements are hence unlikely to be stable in the long term — exactly as the uneasy peace between Baghdad and its Sunni population eventually unraveled.

Research into rebel legitimacy poses a stark challenge to counterinsurgency discourse, and especially FM 3 - 24 and its derivatives. This article raises at least three critiques of counterinsurgency discourse. Firstly, the rational choice approach to civilian agency in warfare which underlines FM 3 - 24 and its derivatives needs revising.

Governance hence becomes something of an open market in which each actor attempts to provide the best product to civilians in exchange for the blessing of legitimacy. View all notes Yet — to continue the analogy — the market for governance is not at all free or open. The barriers to entry for outsiders into this market are extremely high, given their lack of information, association with an alien and often predatory outside state, and lack of shared norms or identity with the population they are trying to win over.

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By contrast, many rebels possess just the qualities needed to establish a monopoly. Secondly, theorists must recognize that all counterinsurgency is local. While doctrine-writers and theorists naturally seek to provide generalizations applicable to as wide a variety of local and micro-situations as possible, they still have to confront the problems caused by the fragmentation of space, governance, and legitimacy which invariably accompanies irregular warfare.

In such situations, the two basic options available to counterinsurgents attempting to replace rebel legitimacy with their own — either the cooption of local legitimacy from the ground up or its displacement from the bottom down — are likely to fail. Attempts to coopt local elites and their own legitimacy have proven unstable, while attempts to supplant them entirely from the top—down have failed. It expounds a secular, moral and practical attitude towards life. The twin epics, Silappadhikaram the story of the anklet , written by Ilango-Adigal, and Manimekalai the story of Manimekalai by Chattanar, were written sometimes in A.

These are valuable storehouses and epics of dignity and sublimity, laying stress on the cardinal virtues of life. In Manimekalai there is an elaborate exposition of the doctrines of Buddhism. If Tamil reveals a triumph of Brahmanic and Buddhist knowledge, Kannada shows Jain ascendency in its ancient phase. Malayalam absorbed a rich treasure contained in the Sanskrit language. Nannaya A. In ancient times, Tamil and Telugu spread to distant places.

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If one were to identify another striking feature of ancient Tamil literature, the obvious choice would be Vaishnava pertaining to Vishnu bhakti devotional literature. In Indian literature the effort has been to find out how a man can achieve divinity. The secret behind a tendency for hero worship is love and regard for humanity. In Vaishnava bhakti poetry, God descends on this earth as a human being, to share with us our suffereing and turmoil, our happiness and prosperity. Vaishanava bhakti literature was an all-India phenomenon, which started in the 6th-7th century A.

They revitalized Hinduism and checked the spread of Buddhism and Jainism, while absorbing some of their features. The religion of Alvar poets, which included a woman peot, Andal, was devotion to God through love bhakti , and in the ecstasy of such devotions they sang hundreds of songs which embodied both depth of feeling and felicity of expressions.

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Devotional songs in praise of the Hindu god Shiva the worship of Shiva and Vishnu forms the basis of the broad division of Hindus into Shaiva and Vaishnava sects were also written by Tamil saint poet Nayanar leader, master in the 6th-8th Century A. Besides its importance as poetry of emotional bhakti, it guides us into the world of classical Tamil civilization and explains to us the ethnic-national consciousness of the Tamils as a whole. The flowering of bhakti literature as a pan-Indian consciousness took place in almost all the Indian languages during medieval times.

Around A. These languages, conditioned by the regional, linguistic and ethnic environment, assumed different linguistic characteristics. Two tribal languages, Bodo and Santhali are also recognised by the Constitution.

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Out of these 22 languages, Tamil is the oldest modern Indian language maintaining its linguistic character with little change for about years. Urdu is the youngest of the modern Indian languages, taking its shape in the 14th century A. Persian and Hindi. Sanskrit, though the oldest classical language, is still very much in use, and hence is included in the list of modern Indian languages by the Constitution of India. The most powerful trend of medieval Indian literature between and A.

Bhakti literature is the most important development of the medieval period. It is love poetry. This love is depicted as love between husband and wife, or between lovers, or between servant and master, or between parents and child. This is personalisation of the godhood, which means a truthful perception of God residing in you, and also harmony in life which only love can bring.

Worldly love is Kama Eros and divine love is Prema mystic Eros.

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The dominating note in bhakti is ecstasy and total identity with God. It is a poetic approach to religion and an ascetic approach to poetry. It is poetry of connections — connecting the worldly with the divine, and as a result, the old form of secular love poetry began to have a new meaning in all languages. The rise of bhakti poetry gave rise to regional languages Bhasa. The conception of bhakti did away with the elite tradition of Sanskrit and accepted the more acceptable language of the common man. Kabir Hindi says that Sanskrit is like water of a well stagnant, Bhasa like flowing water.

A seventh century Shaiva Tamil writer Manikkarvachakar has something similar to say about in his book of poetry Thiruvachakam.

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