INCULCATING a particular perception of history is often the first and the most insidious step towards enforcing ideological conformism in contemporary bourgeois societies. Thus, school children in conservative Britain are taught to regard 1688 as the "Glorious Revolution", and are taught to sympathise, through comics, and story books, not to mention text books on history, with the ''dashing young cavaliers", as opposed to the "boorish and cruel Roundheads". And where the revolutionary tradition is not actually distorted, it is altogether suppressed. It is important for Marxist historiography, therefore, not only to fight against ideological distortions of history, but also to undertake the task of recovering the revolutionary tradition of struggle which is systematically submerged in conservative historiography. Social Scientist accordingly has always kept its pages open for the publication of research work in history, that, however 'obliquely, aids in the furtherance of this project.
The current number of Social Scientist too is devoted largely to themes in the realm of historical research. Communal historiography in our country, which looks at Indian history in terms of the ascendancy of particular religious communities, usually portrays the medieval Indian state as if it constituted an Islamic theocracy committed entirely to the propagation of Islam and the establishment ofShariat. Iqtadar Alam Khan's article attacks this view and brings out the "secular" features of the medieval Indian state, not of course in the sense of entailing a separation of religion from politics, but in the sense of the state often playing the role of an arbiter between different religious groups, a phenomenon which anticipates, to an extent, the specific contours of modern Indian "secularism"; the ideological buttress for this "secularism" was provided by the development of a concept of sovereignty which enjoined upon the king the task of establishing "universal reconciliation" within his realm. Such a theory and practice of state craft, according to the author, was necessitated by the culturally fragmented nature of the ruling class, which incorporated both Muslim nobles as well as Hindu chieftains. Clashes within the ruling class, especially between the Hindu chiefs and the Muslim kings, which erupted with particular intensity in periods of contracting revenues, were often seen by contemporary, theologically-oriented