Pre-History and History of the DMK
MARGUERITE Ross BARNETT, THE POLITICS OF CULTURAL NATIONALISM IN SOUTH INDIA, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA, 1976, pp 368.
'This study, based on a voluminous quantity of research and investigative reporting by a black American political scientist, merits detailed review in this journal on grounds of theme, data-base and theoretical significance.
It takes up as its theme the national question in Tamil Nadu, a subject of outstanding, ongoing relevance to the historical and political development of India, a subject inadequately researched even by those practically concerned with changing political development in the interests of the working class and the toiling people.
Its data-base, very thin in parts, is of uneven quality throughout. Nevertheless Barnett's research does provide a part of the raw material, the incipient perceptions, the background that is necessary for initiating a programme of scientific study of the political development of Tamil Nadu. It does make contact, even if only in a hazy and theoretically unrelated way, with a few aspects of the historical and class reality of Tamil Nadu in the twentieth century.
Its theoretical significance seems to us, however, to be of significance by negative example. Barnett's study enables us to focus attention in a concrete way on the results of the application of the stand, viewpoint and method of Western bourgeois political science to a situation where the wood is simply asking to be missed for the trees. The study provides a starting-point, an opportunity, a frame of reference and of polemic for a critical discussion of certain key issues and controversies before the Indian working class and democratic movement.
As an example of empirical political science research into backward societies, Barnett's study of ^the development of a nationalist