Leela Gandhi’s Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship is a quintessentially Gandhian essay, and not simply because she is a Gandhi. It is Gandhian in its ethical surplus, in making a religion out of morality. The book traces the history of an alternative model of politics by looking at the affective ties cultivated by the utopian socialists and radicals of late Victorian England, the odd assortment of sexual dissidents, animal rights activists, zoophiles, suffragists, ‘post-humanist’ spiritualists, those practising a variety of religious heterodoxy and the anarchist socialists from the First International. However, the radical edge of its ethical/spiritual core derives from a cosmopolitanism and anarchic position that is far removed from that of her iconic forbearer. Gandhi’s cosmopolitanism, which is not simply hers and belongs to a larger bloc of cultural theorists at large in the international circuit, uses politics as a password to gain entry into the domain of legitimacy and cultural capital.
The need to come under the banner of a right (‘left’) politics becomes the most crucial agenda for these new-wave culturalists, whose cosmopolitanism needs to be marked off from the debilitating motions of a corporate globalization and imperialism.