Shit Historical Practical Jokes

They [the British Officers in 18th century India] had a clever way of enjoying practical jokes, and at the same time indulging their mercenary propensities. One of them would enter the premises of a Banya and pretend that he was shooting doves or sparrows. The horrified believer in metempsychosis would then come out, earnestly implore him to desist, and even offer him ” ready money.” He “drops in his hand a roupie or two to be gone,” says the narrator. There, reader, is a picture of the representatives of a high-minded nation drawn by one of themselves. Poor Civilians ! At least in your case necessity was the mother of invention.

So reading around the history of the British in early modern India I come across this.

In case you can’t parse it: As a funny joke and also a way to earn money British Officers would visit the houses of rich Indians and pretend to shoot birds outside and because Indians tend to believe in reincarnation they would pay the British to stop shooting their dead parents.

Hooray for imperialism!



If your goal is to accumulate a fan base and fire them up, then of course calling intellectual fouls on the other side is the way to go. However, I claim that if your goal is to contribute to a discussion in which fair-minded people will consider changing their minds, then calling the other side’s intellectual fouls does not get you very far.

I have to say I detest this particular view of politics. I’d like it to be true but it isn’t. At best it might be true of how you maintain and reproduce the status quo.

Politics is basically about violence, the Glorious Revolution might have been mostly bloodless, but it wasn’t successful because the Stuarts were convinced to leave. The Stuarts left because they were forced to.

So, if your hobby is changing people’s minds then you may want to adopt a gentler tone than Paul Krugman and that would be fine, as a hobby. If you care about politics then you have to act to rally people to your side or shift the overton window. Measured reasonableness doesn’t work, its just a recipe for impotence and objectively a position in favour of the status quo.