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Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Antithesis of Caste and Class - An Orthodox Marxist Hypothesis


By Vinod Mishra

[From Liberation, April 1994.]

The Debate

India has been witness to a great social turmoil in recent years where the twin entities of caste and religion have played a major catalytic role. It all came to the fore after VP Singh-led Janata Dal government decided to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations on reservation of jobs to Other Backward Classes in 1990. Although Janata Dal came to power on a plank of anti-Congressism with a tacit support from BJP, the alliance soon ran into rough weather. And interestingly, the two became protagonists of two major socio-political movements in contemporary history of India. Pitted against each other, the movements were popularly known as Mandal and Mandir movements. Janata Dal, in the beginning, enjoyed a much larger support base in its crusade against corruption (Bofors). Its championing of Mandal to the exclusion of everything else, however, vastly eroded its support base and led to a whole chain of political crisis which eventually reduced it to a marginal force in Indian politics.

Mandal, if one were to believe the rhetoric of VP Singh and his cohorts, would usher in an unparalleled social revolution in India against the forces of statusquoism and obscurantism, the forces who were politically represented by Congress(I) and BJP.

In an ironic twist of history, Mandal recommendations were implemented by Congress(I) government taking, in the process, much wind out of the Janata Dal sails.

The crusader in VP Singh dies hard and now it is reduced to the ridiculous demand of a dalit President or a backward Prime Minister, irrespective of his/her ideological-political predilection. Then there is the gimmick of staying away from Delhi till a backward gets employment on the basis of reservation quota. The revolution thus has degenerated into cosmetic reforms and the movement into tokenism.

As regards reservation proper Janata Dal is now left with the options of opposing the creamy layer verdict and to pressurise for 10 per cent reservation quota for upper castes on economic criterion � a promise that V P Singh made to diffuse the anti-Mandal agitation. Neither of the options, however, can be pursued with any zeal for obvious reasons.

Political eclipse of Mr.VP Singh and his Janata Dal signalled the rise of Mulayam Singh and Kanshi Ram. Mulayam Singh claims himself to be the natural representative of backwards as compared to VP Singh, the outsider, and invoking Lohia he has couched his politics in a socialist phraseology with a greater force of inheritance and sincerity of purpose. Kanshi Ram, the rising star of dalit politics, on the other hand, invokes the legacy of Ambedkar. Armed with a radical dalit posture and anti-communist phobia he seems to be desperate to outsmart Ambedkar himself.

These dramatic events have exerted tremendous impact on Indian left and communist movement. While Mandal greatly eroded the communist base among backward peasantry in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, BSP virtually swept away the traditional dalit support of left parties in Uttar Pradesh. Under the circumstances a polemics has surfaced within the left and communist circles that calls for a new approach to the caste phenomenon in Indian society and, particularly in the backdrop of soviet debacle, to redefine the "orthodox" concept of class. Recent desertion of first-ranking leaders of CPI to Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, PWG Naxalites swelling the ranks of BSP in Andhra Pradesh and defection of some IPF MLAs to Janata Dal in Bihar bring out the gravity and the complexity of the situation.

Here I have before me a book titled Caste and Class Dynamics � Radical Ambedkarite Praxis written by one Dr. Thomas Matthew. The author makes interesting observations about the interrelations between caste and class. I shall try to unravel the puzzle of caste and class relationship in course of my critical analysis of the ideas presented in this book.

The author�s avowed aim is to achieve a synthesis of Marxism and Ambedkarism, which according to the author is "the only hope of the teeming millions of India". He takes up this stupendous job in a situation when "Marxian practice, at least the major versions, ended up in historic debacles at the world level" but "Ambedkarite praxis seems to move past its teething troubles in India". Still the synthesis is explained as "absorbing Ambedkarism in the Marxian framework" and not the opposite as one would have normally suspected from the above-mentioned contextual reference. The author�s Marxist antecedents are revealed in his acknowledgement of gratitude to Mr.K. Venu "without whose pioneering leadership in attacking Marxist fundamentalism and the concept of �revolutionary authority� of leadership, it would not have been possible for me to question many Marxist dogmas". More of it later.

Ambedkar Re-examined

To proceed. The first part of the book deals with Ambedkar�s struggle against Gandhi and Gandhism. This struggle of great historical importance is narrated in Ambedkar�s book Congress, Gandhi and the Untouchables, an old copy of whose original edition the author could manage from a Delhi library. This fact is important as the author claims that there have been attempts at modifying and diluting its contents in subsequent editions.

The author claims that Dr. Ambedkar�s analysis and formulations on the ruling classes, Congress and Gandhism were quite different from the official Ambedkarite perceptions. Moreover, "his evaluation about the western parliamentary system and approving references to the Paris Commune and the soviet system exploded all theories that Ambedkar was anti-communist".

As it comes out, Gandhian approach was basically to undertake some reforms within Hinduism through what is called "constructive work" to secure the support of untouchables behind the savarna leadership of Congress in the freedom struggle. Ambedkar, on the other hand, strove for a radical restructuring of Hinduism to do away with caste system itself and to provide a political platform to the rising dalit aspirations. These two contradictory approaches of Gandhi and Ambedkar defined their relationship with each other, with other communities like Muslims and with the British Government.

Commenting on Gandhi�s economic philosophy Ambedkar wrote, "there was nothing new in the Gandhian analysis of economic ills as attributable to machinery and the civilisation built upon it. These were old and worn out arguments, a repetition of Rousseau, Pushkin and Tolstoy. His economics was hopelessly fallacious because the evils produced by the mechanised production system and civilisation are not due to machinery as such... They are due to the wrong social organisation which has made private property and pursuit of personal gain a matter of absolute sanctity... The remedy therefore is not to condemn machinery and civilisation but to alter the organisation of society so that the benefits will not be usurped by the few but accrue to all."

In his conflict with Gandhi, Ambedkar undoubtedly emerges as the foremost exponent of a radical socio-economic programme in the freedom struggle.

From Harijans to dalits � there lies the whole course of transformation in the self-perception of untouchables and none but Ambedkar had been the moving spirit behind this transformation. He was perhaps the first dalit leader, who combined with a fair degree of success the social awakening of dalits with their political assertion.

Ambedkar�s other major contribution was drafting the Constitution of independent India. He shared Nehru�s vision of a modern India and in a certain sense exhibited a greater insight than Nehru. In contrast to Nehru�s emphasis on discovery of India, he declared, "In believing that we are a nation we are chasing a great delusion. We can only attempt to become a nation-in the-making."

He opted for a constitutional state socialism, stood for a strong centre, and advocated an economic programme comprising nationalisation of land and its distribution among peasants for collective cultivation and nationalisation of key industries. He believed that such an economic programme backed by state welfare measures positively discriminated in favour of depressed classes will lead to the �annihilation of caste�, his ultimate goal.

His crusade for social liberation of dalits remained central to him and he parted company with Nehru when Nehru gave in to the conservative pressure on Hindu Code Bill! This further convinced Ambedkar that casteism was basic to Hinduism and dalits have no option but to break out of its fold.

And thus he embraced Buddhism which he interpreted in a modernistic sense hoping to herald a new socio-cultural awakening among dalits. In the realm of political action he envisaged the formation of the Republican Party as an independent democratic party of the oppressed classes.

Thus, Ambedkar�s crusade reached its crescendo. Unfortunately for him only his community of Mahars joined him in conversion to Buddhism and after his death his political movement represented by the Republican Party of India got splintered and appropriated by the Congress.

In class terms Ambedkar represented the petty bourgeois stratum of dalits that included the small-medium peasantry. Their particular socio-economic conditions were the basic roots of Ambedkar�s radicalism and also the source of his limitations. In given conditions he could only strive for a full-scale development of capitalism and a strong capitalist welfare state which shall be instrumental in breaking the age-old social immobility and inertia. His approving references to some aspects of communist practice and invoking socialist jargons only reveal his radical bourgeois democratic essence. This is not an indictment of Ambedkar. On the contrary, it places him high above many historical figures of his times who stood for a conservative path of capitalist development preserving the "Brahminical-Bania alliances" to use Ambedkar�s own phrase.

Ambedkar�s vacillations, compromises and ultimate recourse to a religious praxis too emanate from the same socio-economic conditions of his existence. The inherent limitations of a dalit petty bourgeois to chart out an alternative strategy of freedom movement forced him sometimes to enter into compromises with Gandhi and Congress and at other times to pin hopes on British. The alternative strategy could have been chalked out only by communists who represented the Indian urban and rural proletariat � a good majority of whom came from dalits. A close political alliance with radical bourgeois democrats of all hues must have been an inalienable part of the alternative strategy. Communist Party of India failed to undertake this responsibility. But that is another story.

Coming back to our author, he is found slipping into the quagmire of idealism while explaining the roots of Ambedkar�s vacillations and compromises. Listen to him: "It was the sincerity of purpose, the human weakness and �forget and forgive� characteristic of the dalits, the oppressed, as opposed to the cunning and calculating nature of the Brahminical classes" that made Ambedkar adjust with Congress over and over again.

The author laments that "Ambedkarism remained within the confines of bourgeois democratic consciousness" for �it could not transcend the limit set by its peasant roots".

To transcend the limits which Ambedkar failed to do our distinguished author embarks on an adventurous theoretical journey. He starts with a queer analysis.

"Ambedkarism was not rooted in a class with total upward mobility permitting complete merger of the class or even individuals and small groups within the bourgeois system. It represented a peasant society in the process of partial proletarianisation and partial dispossession with an upper crust eagerness for upward mobility being frustrated. It was this phenomenon which destroyed all the efforts at alignment between the untouchables and the ruling bourgeoisie. This was why Dr. Ambedkar was repulsed from the ruling classes after each and every encounter with them. It provides the great potential of Ambedkarism to grow out of limits of bourgeois society."

Having thus established the potential, the author then takes at face value Ambedkar�s certain approving references on Marx, Paris Commune and Soviet system. Combined with Ambedkar�s denunciation of twin enemies of Brahminism and capitalism and his advocacy of "Socialist programme", all this is taken to symbolise Ambedkar�s journey towards communism. Even conversion to Buddhism is interpreted as an answer to the problems raised by Marxism in general and by its concrete application in India in particular. His religio-political praxis becomes a precursor to the Cultural Revolution and democratic resurgence within Marxist ideology and movement. "In some sense Ambedkar�s Buddhist resurrection presaged Mao�s Cultural Revolution". This is how our author lays the foundation of synthesis of Marxism and Ambedkarism and in later chapters accomplishes this feat with a great finesse.

In Search of A Pan-Dalit Unity

The author finds to his dismay that "immediately after Ambedkar�s exit the five-year plans were launched and �socialism� was adopted by the Congress. The Kaka Kalelkar Commission was set up on reservation for the backward classes. Around the same time, Nehru�s Government organised the 2500th of Mahaparinirvana of Buddha at Delhi... Cooperation with Soviet Union also increased." A strange explanation is added thereafter: "Indian ruling classes dispensed with Ambedkar after making up with Stalin."

While analysing the post-Ambedkar scenario, the author rightly observes the process of upward mobility of various backward communities.

"In Kerala a numerically strong shudra community has been upgraded as a savarna group, particularly because the Brahmin-Kayastha-Bania population is very insignificant. The Nair community, which was considered a pollutant by the �gods�, is almost the �God on Earth� now... Another untouchable community, Ezhawas, has made much headway in socio-economic and political terms."

What is true for Kerala is also true for other parts of India in varying degrees. Land reforms and various other measures of socio-economic upliftment coupled with different varieties of anti-Brahminical mass movements led to this upward mobility of several major backward communities. In Hindi belt, the credit goes chiefly to the Lohiaite socialist movement.

Every major socio-political upheaval in society is invariably accompanied by broadbasing of the social composition of the ruling classes. Post-British India could not have persisted with the old social alliance of British rule and hence the upward mobility of certain backward communities and appropriation of its privileged members within the ruling classes was an inevitable process. Apart from sharpening backward-forward polarisation in certain states, the process brought in its wake growing class-caste differentiation among and within hitherto backward communities. A notable development was the accentuation of conflict between dalits who were mostly agrarian labourers and intermediate castes of well-to-do peasantry who benefited most from the policies of agrarian development.

The author, however, ascribes the whole phenomenon of assimillation certain dalit castes, groups and individuals within the ruling system to the "manipulative" skills of cunning Brahminical ruling classes. By dalit castes the author implies the whole spectrum of untouchables and shudra castes � in official parlance Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes � and engages himself in search of a theoretical praxis that encompasses a pan-dalit unity. He finds it in Bahujan Samaj Party.

"The republican movement foundered on the question of a united front. The party was conceived as a movement of the Deprived Classes to become the ruling class, the political aim of Dr. Ambedkar. But this would not have been possible without alliance with the political forces representing the oppressed sections. Dr. Ambedkar could not give this direction and the party also could not evolve the strategy. If at all they aligned with others it was with the Brahminical ruling class parties. The alternative strategy was to visualise the party framework itself as a coalition of all the oppressed and exploited classes and communities. This, the Bahujan Samaj Party has done. The BSP thus becomes a major theoretical advance in Ambedkarite praxis. The BSP vision is a broader platform covering the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward communities and the minorities. It is the most powerful theoretical answer to the Indian ruling class politics of divide and rule."

Well, how far BSP can build and sustain this pan-dalit unity of author�s choice in the face of growing social differentiation is yet to be seen; but to present a pragmatic hotchpotch as a major theoretical advance over Ambedkar is the height of theoretical absurdity. By accusing Ambedkar of failing to give the direction of alliance with the political forces of oppressed sections and rather clinging with the Brahminical ruling class parties, the author is both guilty of ahistorical analysis of Ambedkar as well as distortion of facts.

The author who had just eulogised BSP with the "most powerful theoretical answer etc." in a perfect theoretical acrobatics immediately switches over to Janata Dal crediting it with the adoption of "same (BSP) platform" while putting forward "Mandal-Masjid plank". More so, the Janata offensive that came from above created much more furore than the Kanshi Ram crusade at grassroots. Moreover, "BSP�s partisanism hardly had any friends outside the dalit fraternity (emphasis added). It was a spectacular political feat that the Janata leadership was made to adopt specific and definite social justice plank that represented the common interests of all the oppressed communities. It was the militant socialist tradition of the North Indian belt which spearheaded this ideological coup de grace."

Mandal Mania

Almost assuming the role of Janata Dal�s spokesperson the author lists various achievements of Janata Dal�s social justice plank. Awarding Bharat Ratna to Ambedkar; organising his birth centenary celebrations; proportional plan allocation for rural areas, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; considerable relief to bonded labour, contract labour and agricultural workers; (proposed) relief for organised sector workers; (proposed) right to work as a fundamental right; major relief to peasants; (proposed) massive literacy programme, some breathing space to oppressed nationalities; determined offensive against communal forces on Babri Masjid issue, etc. Bihar Government of Janata Dal comes in for a particular praise because of its extending reservations to judiciary and implementing the principle of proportional allocation of plan funds to Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes. According to the author, "The Mandal agenda came on the heels of all these measures. The political slogans and the orientation became a real threat to the forces of status quo. "And hence the conspiracy by the ruling classes to dethrone and destroy the Janata Dal". Now the question whether the Mandal agenda came on the heels of aforesaid measures or at the cost of a radical socio-economic programme � particularly to sidetrack the promised right to work as fundamental right remains far from settled. Whether these political slogans and orientations were a real threat to the forces of status quo or a device to strike a balance in the power structure corresponding to the growing socio-economic and political clout of certain backward castes � this question too remains open to scrutiny. Adoption of Mandal recommendation by Congress Government only goes to substantiate the latter postulate. Janata Dal is only distinguished by its opposition to the creamy layer concept, exposing in the process its real essence.

Our author, however, regards Mandal as the central theme that polarised not only the Indian society but the communist movement as well.

"All these (Naxalite) movements rooted among dalits have supported Mandal reservation as a democratic measure whereas all the traditional communists rooted in the urban working class have opposed Mandal". "The traditional communist parties wavered and the CPI(M) leadership and even the Indian People�s Front, a Naxalite organisation, veered round to the �economic criterion� principle of the Congress and the BJP."

This is a clear case of twisting the facts to suit one�s theoretical framework. CPI went whole hog with Janata Dal on Mandal issue and even went on record opposing the creamy layer verdict and the so-called economic criterion. CPI(M) never opposed Mandal recommendations and the economic criterion it talked of was in relation to stratification within backward communities and thus it welcomed the creamy layer verdict. Indian People�s Front never veered round to the so-called economic criterion. On the contrary, it took VP Singh to task for his advocacy of 10 per cent reservation for economically backwards among upper castes. It firmly held that social and educational backwardness alone can be the criterion for reservation.

Our Party did welcome the creamy layer verdict because any measure that articulates class differentiation among powerful backward communities can only be supported by Marxists. We know that conditions had matured for the restructuring of power structure and VP Singh only played a catalytic role in that. Thus we refused to endorse Mandal as a harbinger of any social revolution and went on exposing the hypocrisy of Janata Dal, a bourgeois-landlord formation, and zealously guarded our Party�s ideological-political and organisational independence.

Our Party stuck to its position despite a powerful backlash of backwardism, despite Janata Dal�s concentrated onslaught against us in Bihar and despite the price we had to pay in the form of defection of some MLAs to Janata Dal. With the Mandal euphoria over our Party is back to the course of rapid advance in Bihar while CPI which had tied itself to Janata Dal�s apron strings faces virtual decimation of its traditional mass base, the threat of disintegration and total loss of orientation.

The author is full of praise for PWG "which called for an Andhra Bandh to protest against the judiciary�s highhandedness in the matter... and Janata Dal leaders addressed public meetings supported by the PWG on the Mandal issue." The other Naxalite group that received compliments from the author is of course MCC which is credited with leading the "dalit resistance against upper caste tyranny in Bihar". We also find the mention of Satyashodhak Communist Party which, with Marx-Phule-Ambedkar as its philosophical guide, supposedly offers "an ideological challenge to the parliamentary communist movement".

The author thus reaches the final stage of his project synthesis and there he seems to have lost all the balance. Look at this gem: "While dalit songs of revolt reverberated in the heavens, the fire and fury of the (Dalit) Panthers, Naxalites and Militants (Khalistanis and Kashmiris) got a theoretical outline. It was this emerging unity of theory and practice that Ram Vilas Paswan tried to capture through Dalit Sena and Ambedkar Centenary Celebrations."

From Ambedkar to Kanshi Ram to Ram Vilas Paswan! It�s really a fantastic journey!

Caste-Class Antithesis

The author presents certain novel ideas about caste. "While Marx saw caste as the decisive impediment to India�s power and progress, they (Indian Marxists) took caste as a matter of superstructure... Caste being a production relation does not belong to the superstructure, but to the socio-economic base. The biggest theoretical failure of Indian Marxists has been their refusal to recognise caste as part of the substructure of the society." Now, in Marxist discourse, one has definitely heard of an economic base over which all superstructure lies but never of a socio-economic base. The author himself seems perplexed over relating caste to the social as well as economic base. The dichotomy is explained in the following way:

"Here one has to distinguish between caste as an institution of permanent division of means of production and profession and caste as an attitude of untouchability and discrimination. Caste contains both these aspects, the former belonging to the base and the latter to the superstructure."

In fact, egalitarian societies got split into class societies with the rise of economic surplus and since then history of all existing societies has been the history of class struggle. In pre-capitalist societies, however, inequalities generated by the surplus were adjusted through a social stratification known as social estates. Internal cohesion among existing clans blocked the class formation in a classical sense, and moreover, socio-political formations based on extra-economic coercion perpetuated the system of social estates. In India the stratification did assume a greater permanence owing to the divine sanction accorded to the caste system and more importantly due to the coexistence of a despotic central power with the self-sufficient village communities.

Classes are rooted in the mode of production and their respective economic conditions of existence put them in hostile conflict with each other and this accelerates the process of class differentiation in society. Social estates or castes, however, regulate the mode of distribution and thus block the formation of classes as a �pure� category. Class struggle permeates each and every social and political movement and thus assumes a variety of complicated forms.

Modern capitalist society accelerates this process of class differentiation and for the first time conditions are created for the self-perception of classes and open class battles. In India too the advent of capitalism and large-scale manufacturing for the first time brought a breach between caste and occupation and there arose a new class of industrial proletariat. The first generation of the proletariat despatched to plantations, mining, textile, jute etc. overwhelmingly belonged to the untouchable and shudra castes and was later joined by the members of upper castes too.

Factories were thus also the social factories which carried the potential for annihilation of caste. The conservative path of development of Indian capitalism did slowdown this process of class differentiation. The parliamentary democracy gave a new lease of life to caste stabilisation as new dominant social classes fought their battles for share in political power by invoking caste equations. And the economism and parliamentarism practised by social democrats corrupted the vision of working class as the class-for-itself. Still, in comparison to the intelligentsia which remained overwhelmingly composed of upper castes, working class is the cauldron of melting caste identities. The new era of globalisation and liberalisation has started disorganising the organised sector of workers and it is once again rising from slumber to resume its historical mission.

So, class is the basic category. In certain historical situations it may express itself in the form of castes, in other situations the two may be interwoven, overlapping and at the same time criss-crossing each other, and in yet another situation castes are disintegrated to crystallise as classes. This is how the antithesis between two proceeds, until the caste as the regulator of mode of distribution stands annihilated.

Our distinguished author, however, feels otherwise. He condemns Indian communists for mechanically applying the European categories in the Indian conditions and questions the very search of industrial proletariat in India. "Indian industrial working class, which they (Marxists) took to represent the proletarian, is not in fact proletarian. It was also a class born with a silver spoon. It largely belonged to the upper echelons of caste hierarchy. It not only had landed property in the villages and towns, but also inherited intellectual property which the masses lacked. They were not the dispossessed proletarians who had nothing to lose but chains. They were a class whose militancy and radicalism was linked with the rich peasant consciousness and ended with the Kulakisation in Rural India."

The author makes a curious distinction between Indian and Western intellectuals. "Western intellectual has nothing other than his mental labour power. In India, knowledge transcends its domain of religion and philosophy and enters the phase of material production and society. Science, knowledge and skill get separated from physical labour and assume dominance in the production... Hence declassing of Indian intellectual becomes a very difficult task." Make a head or tail of all this meaningless talk if you can. Such an unabashed praise of western intellectual, however, does signify the �declassing� of Mr.Author. Western intellectuals, the possessors of so-called mental labour-power(!), have been essentially bourgeois and petty bourgeois intellectuals engaged in the service of bourgeois society. Open class battles of working class brought a split among them and a section associated itself with the working class. Marx, Lenin and countless others represent that section. Proletarian revolutions, however, encountered, and continue to encounter, a tough resistance from their overwhelming majority.

In contrast, petty-bourgeois intelligentsia in India despite its vacillations and upper caste bias joined progressive democratic and left movements in far greater numbers. The Naxalite movement in particular effected the integration of a large number of petty bourgeois youth with the dalit landless labour.

The author is greatly concerned about educated dalits gravitating towards Brahminism and turning into dalit aristocracy fostered by the bribes and privileges from the state. In explaining this phenomenon he brings in the comparison of Indian dalit vis-a-vis the western proletariat! "While the proletariat fought to regain their mastery over the tools and products of labour which they possessed in the immediate past, the dalits had been dispossessed for generations. The pride, glory and honour were fresh in the memory of the revolutionary proletariat; but the dalit battle was to regain the human personality, which was lost over generations of slavery, untouchability and thralldom. The class was vulnerable enough to fall prey to ruling class stratagems of ideological subversion and cooption." A strange logic! Everything western is good, everything Indian is bad. How come then a whole stratum of labour aristocracy the social base of social democracy arose in the west? How come a dalits in revolutionary struggles played a consistent heroic role in India? A section of labouring people always get co-opted with the system and there is nothing East-West about that. In author�s analysis, the whole class of dalits, being "vulnerable enough to fall prey to ruling class stratagems", stands condemned. Ironically, it is to this class that the author accords the leadership to what he prefers to call "Dalit Democratic Revolution".

Dalit Democratic Revolution

For the author, �dalit� represents all the castes and strata discriminated against by the Brahminical ruling classes. Thus, he emphasises a Dalit Democratic Revolution. Organised sector workers, intelligentsia, professionals belonging to upper castes can only be the wavering and undependable ally.

National bourgeoisie, however, constituting the emerging bourgeois elements of the backward classes and oppressed minority nationalities can of course be consistent ally, more so in the context of increasing globalisation and the growing grip of the Brahminical ruling classes over the centralised state.

Rural proletariat as well as proletarian sections in the unorganised and informal sectors belonging to dalit castes will be the leader. And of course, poor peasants or semi-proletarians as well as peasantry at large coming from dalit and shudra castes will be staunch ally.

The whole revolution has thus been turned upside down. Working class being the undependable ally whereas national bourgeoisie being the consistent ally. This revolution author claims will destroy the Brahminical social order and chart the path of genuine democracy. But the author here clearly evades the mention of social order � capitalist or socialist � that the revolution will establish.

The author thus arrives at the united front of all the backward classes and communities as against "class reductionism" and "working class centrism". This he proclaims, as the biggest breakthrough in the Marxist dogma. Biggest breaking through Marxism indeed!

Coming to the specific economic programme of Dalit Democratic Revolution, the author rejects Ambedkar�s programme of land nationalisation and its distribution to cultivators including the landless untouchables with special state assistance. The author argues that "dalits have realised that emancipation lies in ownership of land which means �power� in rural India" and also "the Ambedkarite prescription of distribution of nationalised land by the state misses the essential element, people�s consciousness, that becomes a dynamic material force through direct dalit action for land". He advocates "agrarian revolution through land distribution at the instance of (!) landless and land-poor. Land should be distributed to the agricultural communities on the basis of their proportion in the population. The mode of organisation of production could be left to the democratic decision of the respective communities."

The author opposes the Ambedkar�s programme of nationalisation of key industries under the pretext that the state sector is always used in the interest of the ruling classes. He advocates rather privatisation of public sector by distributing public shares equally to the people.

The author fails to understand that it is only the industrial working class through its control over big industries which can undertake any radical agrarian transformation and also control and transform the national bourgeoisie and thus effect the transition from a democratic to socialist revolution. Leadership of working class is thus inbuilt in a new democratic revolution, new only because it shall pass over to socialism and doesn�t stop at capitalism. Rural and unorganised proletariat � attached as they are with the lower stage of mode of production can never effect this transition on their own. Their limitations are accepted by the author himself when he talks of land distribution only at the instance of landless and leaves the entire organisation of production to peasant communities themselves. It is just a programme of status quoism in the countryside to keep higher rungs of backward caste peasantry � staunch ally of Dalit Democratic Revolution in good humour.

State sector does serve the ruling classes no doubt, but it also raises the solidarity of working class at the national level and educates them in socialist consciousness in the sense that capitalist owner can be dispensed with and industries can be run by a paid management under working class control. That is why Lenin said that socialism is just a step ahead of state capitalism.

The broad united front, if at all it materialises, will inevitably transfer the leadership to the national bourgeoisie and shall only ensure the domination of kulaks of backward castes over the rural poor. The programme of Dalit Democratic Revolution is actually the maximum limit of the most radical of Janata Dal men and our author has not been able to transcend that limit.

Taking his cue from Ambedkar, the author had embarked upon building a model of revolution "on the grammar of caste society with the dynamics of class struggle". He only succeeded in building a model of reform at the full stop of class struggle with the statics of caste society.

Synthesis Par Excellence

The ambitious project synthesis was based on the one hand on rejection of economism, parliamentarism and the dogma of leadership of the industrial working class in Marxist theory and practice, and on the other on the rise of Ambedkarism from petty bourgeois peasant politics to the consciousness of liberation. In the process, first casualty was Marxism and then the radical economic vision of Ambedkarism on which alone Ambedkar, to a great extent, had based his hopes of dalit liberation.

The end product of the strenuous exercise of his mental labour power spread over 140 pages and priced at Rs. 150 has been the hybrid of K Venu and Ram Vilas Paswan at the level of theory and of Janata Dal and PWG-MCC at the level of practical politics. Many many kudos to the author for laying bare this unholy alliance which we had been hinting at for long.

 

Monday, 14 February 2022

The Last Tyrant: A poem

 

The tyrant gazes at his subjects
who have grown rebellious
and defy his unjust rule.
The people are united in oppression
meted out to them by the Court.

The King sets to work his cronies
who do his lip service among the masses
but the people know better
than to hear their false words.

They see these cronies for what they are;
bigots, sycophants and intellectual thieves
who rob the people
of their hard-earned consciousness
of the will to freedom.

The King then sets his Armies to work
in the rebellious provinces where the armies
pillage, ransack and loot,
slaughter children and rape women.
Such a havoc does a king unleash
upon his own people;
all for power.

The masses then take a call to arms
against the tyrant monarch
and from the village to the cities
the people unite against crass injustice

Bugles of civil war sound all around
as the militia, in hordes charge the Army
with pitchforks, muskets, axes and bludgeons
overwhelming the king's men.

The King's empire, now, is about to crumble
and the King beheaded
Fearing for his life, the King flees
living his loyal subjects to die.

And each who ever sided with the King
is taken to the city avenue
where these traitors are displayed to the masses
and the blade of the guillotine
strokes their their necks clean off.

And people's rule comes at last
and subjects are subjects no more
They are masters of their own life
and servile only to virtues.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

India Demands Resignation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi: A Rebellious Refrain

  

Two weeks ago, the govt of India had put a ban on posts that trended with #ResignModi which was put down by Twitter and Facebook as a measure to curb the wave of discontent. The BJP government has been criticized on the streets and in front of the hospitals where people are dying in thousands due to the failure caused by government policies on healthcare services and infrastructure. Far from being a basic right of every common citizen, it has become a privilege which only a few can afford while several others lose their lives. The lack of oxygen, beds and ventilators to name a few basic necessities to cope with the viral infections that could save lives has not been addressed by the PM or the Home Minister in any manner. The critical section of the media has raised numerous concerns over the incumbent attitude of the central government. The deaths due to COVID are not just a failure of system or the government, but as Arundhati Roy has expressed in her article, it's a "crime against humanity" and "How beautifully we have trained ourselves to meditate, to turn inward, to exorcise our fury as well as justify our inability to be egalitarian. How meekly we embrace our humiliation."


A petition filed on change.org has already received 3 lakh signatories and counting demanding for the resignation of PM Modi. The petition demanding resignation of Modi from the post of Prime Minister was written by Mrunal Mathuria and signed as a "concerned youth". The petition addresses a lot of grounds for resignation from the scam of PM Cares fund, to the unbridled public gatherings in Kumbh Mela, the inability of government to address job loss, blaming minorities for the outbreak, arresting questioning journalists and continuing to organize election rallies and super-spreader public events. The citizens on the internet or Netizens have used this petition on change.org to vent out their bold and fearless stand against the powerful position of Prime Minister as the people on ground have called out leaders like Yogi Adityanath to jail them for demanding oxygen for their survival in videos made by frontline journalists. The petition even lays the groud for a transfer of power and invites the opposition in the process by stating:


"BJP Government had one year to be better prepared for the situation and yet when the crises was at the door Prime Minister was busy campaigning in Bengal while totally ignoring the situation. But demanding resignation without a solution to address the current situation might create a situation of complete anarchy. It is of utmost importance today that all the opposition parties come together and constitute a committee of public policy experts plan about setting up a provisional committee to handle the current situation along with proposing a provisional non BJP Prime Minister and non BJP Cabinet Ministers. This is the time we should leave our differences aside, come together and firmly demand resignation from our Prime Minster to save India from current and future mishaps."


 This petition was circulated over YouTube from Ramit Verma's channel "Official PeeingHuman" which produces short content from edited footage of traditional news channels to expose their biased yellow journalism in fanatic support for the BJP and it's radical Hindu ideology. This channel shared the petition on it's Twitter and Instagram along with several other people, and among the notables is Richa Chadha. The section of news on social media or the individuals telling the truth with ground reports, or whistleblowing over the internet have been trolled and intimidated. Signing a petition anonymously has been another way in which people have openly voiced their dissent and discontent of the present measures taken by "COVIDidoit government" to quote another traditional media channel. Change.org is not a non-profit organisation but claims to rollover all profits back into their work. Although the petition has amassed more sponsors and therefore acquired more data to sell, than the ones at the top of their website, they have not yet addressed it on their social media platforms.


Madhuri Janaki Zutshi, the campaign strategist for change.org has also been in a Twitter silence about this petition which directly holds the supreme leader of the government accountable while Tweeting about other equally important but less threatening demands on a global stage. She has already led a campaign for a Labrador being beaten by its owner, the success of which culminated in an assurance of strictness on animal laws by BJP's Giriraj Singh. In the working mode of the organisation, after a considerable number of signs, the petition is discussed by the stakeholders, which in this case, is the PMO on the one side and the common people with the opposition on another. It would be interesting to see how this petition can take shape from a campaign to a movement, if a US based corporation takes interest in pursuing this campaign.  For Ben Rattray, the CEO of the organisation, it is quite a challenge as the Indian public seem to have outsourced their problematic government to act upon this petition to provide, what in his words is "a solution that turns people-power from a force that is episodically realized to one that is deeply embedded in our political and social lives — something that makes people-power pervasive and sustained."

The organisation has already been helpful in garnering transnational supply to repeal the farm laws with over 2 lakh signatures so far. 


The news of this petition has also been shared by Siasat online and another indie online journal. Simply signing the petition demanding Modi's resignation, and pining for a utopian reunion of the political stakeholders in opposition for "a dawn of new era in Indian politics" could not be the terms and condition pitched by change.org if they are ever let to work on a project like this, and that is a big 'if'. It rests upon fearlessness of the public, forthrightness of the youth and humanitarianism of those who are willing to subsume everything to get the country out of this viral apocalyptic crisis, to organize a change from within the masses. A simple petition can only go this far, but new creative ways need to be taken to grasp the helm of leadership from the hands of those pirates who only steer the country towards their personal profit at the cost of people's lives. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Mob-Mindedness, Minority Exclusion and Institutional Communalism in the School of Arts and Aesthetics

PART I

The present situation in the country is on the verge of total collapse into conflict between opposing sections of society and different warring communities. In the midst of the communal name-changing of places and mob-lynching of Muslims, women and Dalits, BAPSA raises the clarion call for unity of the oppressed, by which is meant the co-optation of the oppressed sections of society as masses ready to transform society! What a huge task that is set upon the shoulders of people who everyday live a life and death struggle with humiliation and fear and an organization like BAPSA only claims unity with certain reserve representatives who can be characterized as the lumpen elements of the populace like OBC forum and Muslim Students Front well known for their anti-student stances on education policies at the larger level, with no intent of political education. Why and how would they take up the task of political education when they do not have a political program! While the Left in JNU is raised and fought on issues both within and outside campus such as the water problem and the lack of availability of hostels, DTC workers strike, and the movement of manual scavenging of the sewage workers, BAPSA has only paid lip service and has put zero efforts to mobilize students on these pressing issues. In SAA, where we are blessed with the presence of Sanjay Kumar, a councilor from BAPSA, you can look around, inside and outside the department and not find a single statement or poster on these issues. These factors do not bother the students of SAA anymore.

Why? Because of the unity of the oppressed? Who are the oppressed? These are the people who “feel” oppressed. These are students from well-to-do families guilt-ridden in a department where no empathy is to be found or experienced from the lot of the oppressed coming from villages and studying in JNU. For the students of SAA, the students coming to study in JNU from the countryside in departments like SL,L&CS are the mob. With this characterization of the mob that supports the Left-unity because organizations like AISA have fought for their essential rights as a student like RGNF, MANF and MCM scholarships which students in SAA seldom avail, the students of SAA characterize themselves as the torchbearers of the struggle against oppression. How do they struggle against oppression? By means of personal slandering of professors and students who are against them and their agenda of identity politics and targeting those who refuse to reduce people based on their immediate identity and choose to look at what the individual has to offer as a social being. They would dare not target a professor like Y. S Alone and Naman Ahuja, the former because he is believed to be a Buddhist and the latter because his academic standards are much greater than so-called scholars like Kancha Iliyah. Also because of the fact that these professors have not been as actively participating in the struggle against the draconian JNU administration as the Dean Kavita Singh who was replaced by Mazhar Asif because of her stance against mandatory attendance and its vociferous critique in public spaces and Ranjani Majumar who has been fighting the battle in the court and is vital to the legal team of JNU students and teachers against the administration.  You must not make the distinction that the former are good and the latter are bad, for then you will make the mistakes like the politically bankrupt BAPSA and DSU. DSU is a marginal presence in the campus, along with BASO who claim to be Leftists, Marxists, communists and so on and so forth but no student in the campus would validate these false claims, except the students of SAA. This is not to say that is a critique of the students of SAA and their ideological field of thought. No, the students of SAA are brilliant and smartest. So smart apparently that the issues of the world and the global rise of the right would be discussed in their classrooms and they would still have no political line to offer outside of that space.


Whose fault is it? It is the fault of the students of SAA and their problem of not being able to correctly handle the antagonisms created in society that permeates into the campus and raises problems between the different sections of students and between students and teachers due to the fascist authoritarianism of the administration which is a cog of the start machinery as an instrument of the semi-feudal semi-colonial ruling class which creates conflicts where there is peace so that the disruption leads to dispossession which can be at some point seized by the ruling class. This the ruling class does by furthering their personal interests into the field of politics, like the kangaroo court of the students who impeached the teachers and demanded responses for baseless claims. None of the people in BAPSA or individually can substantiate these claims in front of the students, let alone the teachers if there was any iota of concrete consideration given to the students to think about what they were doing. This is how ideology functions. They do not know it but they are doing it, and by doing it they are pursuing their own ruin which is evident in Prof. Majumdar’s decision of no longer teaching MA students. What or more pertinently who has driven her to take this radical action in her professional career? The answer is: the so-called “radical” politics of SAA, which is simply opportunism under the guise of radicalism. The minimum requirements of any SAA student are that s/he has a laptop, a luxury that many students in JNU still cannot afford. The other requirement is the proficiency of the English language. Other than these two basic requirements, the rest is upon the student, as to how many movies the person has seen or how many books s/he has read. Political correctness and an informed stance on political situations is neither required nor encouraged.

This was explicit in the school GB M where students like Ajay Pateer, whose films are as bad as his sense of humor and political correctness and Naman whose ideology goes only so far as the logic of scoring weed from Subhash Nagar and drinking in Kaveri. This is not to pass moral or personal judgments on individuals like those passed regularly in school GBMs and the recent debacle of an all-students and faculty meeting. The purpose of this piece is to make people think as people and not as a mob. This is applicable to those like Apeksha and Devika who have seen the political situation for long and have done nothing more than sharing content on the department WhatsApp. What is to be expected of a department where the former councilor Sourodeep could not even produce a written document for the analysis of the work he had done under his ‘reign’ when the movement against mandatory attendance led to the lockdown and Sourodeep was present in the capacity of BAPSA. One person is the capacity of BAPSA! And so it is that in SAA, what is practiced in the name of politics is the bare minimum. What else would you expect from a centre where students only talk about websites, memes and what is going wrong in their measly lives! The students of SAA are not a force of movement as they had proven with the downfall of the lockdown, to which BAPSA again only paid lip service and DSU was nowhere to be found!The students of SAA are a mob, and that is the reason they care so much about the minority question because they are guilty. They are a force that effects actions like mob-lynching and exclusion of marginal identities. The radical politics of the students should be directed more and more outwards but here we regretfully see the opposite happening. DSU and BASO as a marginal presence is tolerated by BAPSA in SAA so long as they are monkeys rubbing each other’s backs. Here they find no stratagems of conflict, because both DSU and BAPSA are opportunists whose politics will only benefit the ruling class. In the name of minority exclusion in SAA, these forces, or wisps of air are actually propagating communal politics by antagonizing the student community and the teaching community as two communities with opposing interests. The notion that a Dalit or a Muslim student is more exploited in the campus is baseless so long as nothing is done to empower them, and BAPSA has done nothing on this front, other than using this notion to create a mob of blind followers of agendas that ultimately serve the interests of the administration as it would be easier for the admin to put pressure on students and teachers separately. It cannot be denied that minority representation in SAA is abominable, and that is why communally speaking we have seen a lineage of Hindu councilors, savarna until BASPA came to the rescue, and Prof. Soumyabrata and Prof. Alone came to BAPSA’s rescue, as much as they could in their own personal terms. Because remember, “personal is political” is the ultimate motto of politics in SAA. There is no such thing as social. But what has BAPSA rescued the students from? From the social? Perhaps but… NO! The answer: their consciousness and reason. 
The real question then has to be posed: who needs mobs? Who needs to be in mobs? People who cannot fight for themselves and people who can make use of this uselessness; in a nutshell, cowards. The students of SAA in particular are afraid of what the students in JNU in general are afraid of and there is little need to mention it here because as has been stated before, the students are SAA are the smartest. They are not foolish but cowards, or at least motivated by cowardice. Why would they not be cowards? They are part of an institution, an institution much like the prison and the courts, an apparatus of the state. A civil service aspirant is not very different from a SAA student who spends his evenings and nights cooped up in reading spaces making their own labor a point of universal crisis to achieve resolution or redemption in the success of achieving an opportunity on passing the exams. So students of SAA are also opportunists and see situations, gravely politically incorrect ones like the signing of the letter, as an opportunity of having done a political task and brushing their hands off this dirty work, getting back to their ivory tower, i.e. in the reading space of the library. The opportunist rend in the students is what mobilizes them towards BAPSA and their political activities. An activist in AISA for instance, will have to paste posters, meet and discuss issues with students at the dhabas, got to each room of the hostel to notify them of any events happening and in this way build a political presence in the campus. The affiliates of BAPSA, and it is no error if it is written as BASPA in places (for two reasons, one is the that both of them practice identity politics along caste and religious lines using feudal consciousness and the other is the affiliation of leaders they uphold like Mayawati and Kashinath), formulate their politics in negation to the political work of the organized left, much like DSU/BASO (once they were one :() and their criticism is only limited in words.
 As soon as they are transformed into deeds, they create divisions within students through their hollow rhetoric which suits the hollow existence of SAA students and/as intellectuals, and someone or the other ends up being excluded. It is a paradox in politics that those fighting against exclusion exclude people from their struggles violently and deliberately, at least as violently as the left-leaning campus would allow. Now let us get a glimpse of what has happened structurally in the institution with the presence of these forces and the possibilities of what will happen. After successfully sidelining the actual champions of struggle because of who the students don’t even have to see the attendance registers, they have put students in a position that they are resentful, but still arrogant enough to believe the signature upholds a valid critique. The students of SAA are hopeless and helpless. Gone are the days when there was a move to constitute a grievance redressal cell between students and teachers, at least according to BAPSA, much like the demand Keerthana raised about having a regular gender sensitization cell, which culminated in one event and raised nothing out of it. Like Prof. Majumdar, Prof. Ira Bhaskar is also not taking any more classes for MA. If we apply the supply and demand logic of Sourodeep, , there is a demand of new professors, which is filled by Prof. Soumyabrata by calling his students to take classes, albeit unpaid but this would not be the case for very long. In light of the new national policies in education, there would be drastic rise in ad-hoc faculty which was never the case in JNU because of its indispensable academic excellence. This has paved way for the opportunist students and the opportunist BAPSA and the opportunist section of students to take the “risk” of signing the letter that impeaches the professors and make way for their own career as intellectuals in JNU, because the new intake of SAA students would see this step as heroic for the sheer violence in it. Sometimes, cowards are more prone to violence because of the fear that makes them show courage through cruel behavior, and heroism is not always bravery, but a historical feature of bourgeois individualism. It is the service of this bourgeois individualism that the students of in MA struggle with the professors as a class and mistake it for ‘class struggle’, when in actuality they are only fighting for themselves. For raising the issue of a Muslim student who was not admitted into the university, students like Debjyoti reduce the person to his immediate identity and fight for the absent presence of minority students in campus. This is the motto of SAA, to which the MA students follow Debjyoti quite heroically while paying no heed to the actual presence of minority students in SAA and their actual marginalized status. On the other hand, they further marginalize the minority so much so that they are forced to reduce every aspect of their social interaction along ethnic lines. In all of this certain things are clear as crystal, no struggle will achieve anything if it is undertaken by the students of SAA in this manner. This is a brand of politics serving the guilt-ridding mechanism of the students who have everything need in life, except a proper understanding of the world because they believe that they are the world and nothing is beyond them. This claim of self-righteousness in signing the letters to address discrimination is just co-optation into identity politics on moral grounds. There are two problems that arise out of it. One is that it denies any specific circumstantial considerations of the event and its validity form the side of the students more than the side of the teachers. The other is that as soon as the students of SAA believe they are right, they become right-wing in their firmness and lose all sense of self-criticism because they mistakenly believe themselves to be morally infallible in their position with respect to the issue of minority rights, and this is without any representation of the minority of that community among the signatories, if one is to borrow the logic of representation from BAPSA. The solution to the problem of discrimination does not lie with the students of SAA, because the students of SAA are discriminatory in nature, and this is not a personal judgment but the observation of people from other departments about SAA. In vain then, the foolish and coward students of SAA talk about justice in their department when their mobilization consists only in getting as much of their brethren as they can to lynch teachers.

The world of SAA students is communal, perhaps not as communal as BJP but most definitely similar to Congress, which pays lip service to the Muslims to increase their vote share and does nothing subsequently to improve their conditions. The students of SAA are soft-right in their radicalism if they are to be considered radical at all because in neoliberalism, these micro-political issues become rallying point for ethnic communities in their demise in ethnic conflicts, such as Suu Kyi in Myanmar and Putin in Russia. The hand with which Aakash and Debjyoti signed the poster near the canteen is the same hand which wields the machete to kill a Muslim for eating beef. The rise of micropolitics is the demise of a politics that is able to resolve differences, that is helpful in achieving certain goals in the course of social development. We need to address these issues of communalism and right-wing politics which is the weapon with which BAPSA has raised conflict upon the students and teachers and deliberately oppressed people in the name of the unity of the oppressed. The issues that must be brought to the GBM therefore must be the following:

Discrimination in the department and who is the authority to seek grievance

End to personal slandering and blaming students and teachers on moral grounds

Separate discussions forums for problems between students and problems between professors

Taking up the responsibility to ensure a more inclusive dialogue and not mobs, by the SFC

To state clearly the agenda of identity politics to besmirch the reputation of teachers

Ensure the professional integrity of students and teachers in the university

To lay aside all claims of anonymity and discuss things with the responsibility of an authority, even if it means becoming one

To address the question of false representation of minority is SAA by BAPSA

To repudiate the practice of mob-formation involving students without correct intent or clear consent.

End of Part I


Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Critique of Subjectivity Or Why and How to Resist Mandatory Attendance


The question of attendance as a system which imposes oppressive structures on the subject whose being and presence is in prison by the ‘dictatorial dictat’ of the VC is also a very real situation which has to be understood in its ideal as well as its actual course of development. The VC, even in JNU campus, is absolute authority, and so long as it does not have objective knowledge of its subjects (students), it has no power to exercise upon us. The power he enjoys comes from the repression of the students as subjects under the objective system of control by the institutional authority of the VC . But the structure might appear as something leading to objectivity of ‘lived experiences’ and perception as the ultimate reality. Does perception live out of lived experience? Lived reality dwells too much upon the idea of the subjective. The present world schematism is such that the subject loses its place in the objective reality. If we see the case of students, their lived experiences are more generally so diverse that there always would be an incorrect definition in relation to the contradiction between a social group and a class. You could argue of either of the two. Between the student and the student community, the contradiction takes shape. For the administration, students are objects with substance but not essence. The very purpose of education has become the reproduction of ideas divorced from practice, in a manner, that we do not mostly realize what we study if we do not practice and what we actually practice is majorly a negation of our theoretical education, if we try to clearly understand it, by understanding reason as a notion of reality. The subjective notion of reality mostly celebrates the differences of lives of students, one from the other, while the administration has quantitative as well as qualitative understanding of students which is more actual and factual. The memories of lived experiences as objective data  come into conflict with fundamental laws imposed upon the subject that leaves no room but to find reason in  the objectivity and immediate actuality of practice. In a university, for the students, the administration is not much more than a mechanism and for the administration the students are not much more than organisms that it can and has to  affect because the environment has definite social construction governed by fixed laws. The truth is in all our lived experiences we have a subjective notion of reality in behaviour. There is a theoretical need to define objectivity as a higher stage of unity, a stage of absolute where it is almost possible qualitatively, where it ceases to be a mere stage wherein or upon which objectivity is achieved but the course of development of the movement.. On the one hand, there is the fact that all students come from similar and different social groups and classes, the bone of contention is how their lives are governed by reason manifest as the theorization of an actual phenomena, a scientific law because on the other hand the assault upon the classes antagonistic to the interests of the ruling  class. Can such a scientific theory, one that is realistic enough to materialize a longstanding movement, a dialectical movement wherein we can negatively realize the totalitarian tyranny of the VC be possible and subsequently to  act upon it as one?

Let us consider the case of DU where attendance is not only compulsory, as a form of subversion of subjectivity, but also the conditions of necessities and well as conditions of possibilities.  When a student goes to the class, s/he finds it overcrowded, along with a major chunk of students who feel completely  and have different opinions because of the disconnection of day scholars from the extracurricular work in college that should necessarily be a possibity of their objective existence. Just as work and no play makes one dull, similarly trying to become political or the trend of expectation that we can continue to resist in our own ways will never result in any realistic action. To gauge student activity as collective and objective as a social group would reveal the fact that objectivity is inherent in the structure and the fundamental contradiction of a capitalist society is such that through propagating that ideology, they are alienating the individual from the collective. By collective, I mean the rank and file of our elected officials in the union and the so-called ‘class representatives’, and the alt-left student group with other students. We live in an age where reality is negative and possibilities are positive but not material, and the self is split. The necessity of attendance is so real a phenomenon in the lived experiences of students that few would take the freedom to craft their own course and study it separately under the guidance of the University (or not!). While that would not only be a subjective notion of study, it would be a self-serving notion of subjectivism. The students expect  too much from the student organizations, and not all the student organizations deliver, especially when it comes to politicizing the students upon social issues to raise consciousness, they fall in the trap that the students have set for them. They have become subjectivists. We need to understand that the students are being subjective in their demand, because they are living in a negation of the power they have as a united force, but the manner in which the struggle is taken forward has a very subjectivist attitude. In practical terms, networking, alliances are essential tactically but what is good for the students in the university is what is good for the development of productive forces in the societies, if the activity or the struggle of the students is both pragmatic and prognostic and in the larger struggle is also the kind of unity to fight fascist authoritarianism in the whole country. The body and the mind cannot be separated from each other and only a scientific diagnosis and solution to the questions raised on the struggle against the subjective and the objective situations at play and only the highest unity between the Student masses, between the body and mind of the subject can be achieved. The best ally, the best friend of the students and the most productive force for the students is the union. Well not because they are in power, but precisely because they are not, and if we as students, do not look out for the interest of our union ‘friends’ who are actually struggling and getting served notices but we who study as students think consciously against the system of attendance and do not have a definite objective course planned for it. What is important for us is to actually struggle, not as intellectuals, but as students, learning in society how to make friends. Some friends would stab you in the back. Why? It is in their interest; but why should the student look at anyone differently? The student does not live in a life-and-death struggle. For them, most things are symbolic, as to a large section of youth in our country who are willing and able to work but the state has no employment to give.. Similarly, certain organizations have hoodwinked the students into believing that the students did not do their part in the disappearance of Najeeb and also the larger discourse of how ‘traditional’ vanguards become like the institutional police. These things the BAPSA cannot and will not understand, because they decentre the politics from the subject when they talk about the marginal and its impact on identity and consciousness. Their activity is for students who sit and pontificate on matters of discrimination and marginalization while themselves never consequentially being the voice of the voiceless also not considering a party of the most opppressed which is the propertyless laborer and by that they essentially create the subject in absence. The absent subject cannot speak for itself, therefore becomes an object to be spoken about, not an objective notion that caters to the lived experience of students as political activity. Working class politics then loses all its historical terminology and in the hands of petty bourgeois intellectuals becomes a method of propagating subjectivism. We should understand that fundamentally things can be objects about which one can think of anything. We can think about the attendance issue as another issue that is an objective necessity of our student life that is as structural or systemic oppression, which would obviously be a subjectivist compromise which students in JNU have often been making when they compare JNU to IIT and demand for the same possibilities in JNU at the same price. This is a demand which does not even sound good in the hallowed walls(!) of JNU, haunting us with the ghost of Chandrashekhar on the one hand and Najeeb on the other, wondering whether under the union of the former, the latter would have been the case with a student. Such questions are anyway futile, because nostalgia for/with the history of JNU is a bad trait, and against the interests of the subjectivists.

Who are the subjectivists? Those who think that proclaiming “Insha Allah” is a form of freedom (of expression) and thinking that it is in the interests of the minority, and by addressing the minority, we can really address the difference between a theory of political practice, that is not only a lived experience such as the practice of Islam rather than transforming the objective reality of being born into a Muslim family. Life is essential for the human species, and to ensure the prolongation of life, it is imperative to understand the laws of nature in the objective development of human society, and how certain subjects became backward or forward, and unequal or different not just in cultural respects but also in terms of the institutions they are in. In DU, students had stayed the continuation of the FYUP because the objective conditions were affected by the development of the various forces, particularly AISA, associated as another form of saffron terror in JNU, with the development of the student masses participating in that movement. If its defeat was the implementation of CBCS later, its victory was being repealed and setting up a model for the scientific method of struggle. The students have to be real actors in this movement not from the point of view of the subjectivists, but from the side of the union. The union is not just a collection of popular people, nor it the ‘Marvel’s Avengers’ or DCs ‘Justice League’, but the very apparatus of the union must be first put into its full utility before we ourselves as students transform it, hopefully by boycotting the Lyngdoh when the student movement of the JNU students reaches that stage. If a situation is reached wherein the negation can itself stand for the justification, the question in place of the answer, that has happened, not in the name of political polemics (which is negligible) but as the political line which they take to the masses, would you find it absurd or natural? If the question is hard to figuratively think about and definitively answered, what basis is there for catering as students to the interest of the subjectivists whose interests is to serve their own interest, but not to objectively participate and create movements that have lasting impact upon the masses and the student community. What remained the most dominant and decisive factor in the FYUP movement was precisely this lasting impact, when an academic issue became a mass issue for the student community about which organization and the students have the same definitive opinion. AISA knew the part DUSU would play after the elections as an apparatus and how as a mass organization to put pressure along with a variety of different groups of student and teachers who only shared a temporary alliance with the union. Now in JNU, when no student organization can boast of winning the elections for the union single-handedly, and with subjectivists frustrated in equating red terror with saffron terror because they are stuck naturally in their own lack, or rather the contradiction of the state and subject, to which the only essentially scientific resolution would be to be more practical and accept the logic of oppression inherent in the system but still not lose the subject. That can only be ensured when the people who represent you will be responsible for your political action and should so hold you accountable for it. Communication is necessary but lines must separate interest and the students must see for themselves the differences in political lines as separations. Wherever such is the case, the differences between the political constitutions of the students must not be antagonistic to the union and to themselves. This much is clear about the situation of political resistance in JNU.

The communication should be official and factual and the union in this case, has the only objective data, and as for the political path of the movement against mandatory resistance, it is negation of negation, the ultimate struggle for a higher for of political freedom has that has always been under the danger of an attack because university is still an institution run by the ruling class with a fascist government as the objective authority.
In the end then, since the development of subjectivity in the consciousness cannot be under the sole subjective question of identity, because an assault on the participation of students in classroom is a normative practice that now the administration wants to see as an objective criterion for the recognition of identity. The political pursuit of identity in the sphere of socio-economic reality cannot be dealt in isolation from the functioning of consciousness and the reasons for which attendance is made mandatory for the students so the kind of subjectivism that capitalism has led to in order to cover its contradiction is very evident in the reality that has made itself manifest in the actual body count who quantitatively and qualitatively stand for the administration and against the interest of the students and also the existence of individual identity outside or in the margins of the capitalist system. The student is reduced to the subject whose existence is under question, at most outside the classroom and the reason behind this is the reason given by the administration and the resultant silence on the part of the objective factual realityof the students and their rational demands for a more liberal administration.

 What we should strive to achieve as students therefore is the right to be members of a society divided by hierarchies but still united in the pursuit of concrete knowledge and scientific theories representative of the real field of study we undertake ‘for a living’ and in that living to overcome the hierarchies and reduce divisions to their minimum function. In order to live productively, we dwindle between sometimes good or bad and sometimes more or less. Such is the uncertain fate of subjectivity which destroys the unity of the student masses, like the Ramjas incident in DU has capability of mobililize thousands when a united activity is practiced and observed conscientiously by the students and the masses are diligent and vigilant about the issue and the politics of the enemy. The course of the development of history is always objective and that is what differentiates it from memories and remembering. In remembering and reminding ourselves of goals that ought to be achieved, the most definite is to repudiate both the “mandatory” as well as the man who enslaves students like the Roman empire in Coliseums to battle with each other and the loins of competitive struggle for existence , without the hope the next VC will be the same as previous. The objective task of the students and the necessary course of action of the students is to not fight ourselves, tame the lion and unleash it upon the despot. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Bastar and the Revisionist Left- Humanist and Maoist

In a quite ceremonious and inescapably subversive manner, the situation at Bastar was discussed by writer activist Bela Bhatia chaired by advocate Sanjay Hegde in the third annual Shahid Azmi lecture. Shahid Azmi was a lawyer who fought cases for Muslim youth falsely accused under TADA and POTA then, which is UAPA now, and got them acquitted. The movie ‘Shahid’ starring Raj Kumar is falsely based on him. The topic of the lecture was ‘Democratic Rights and Political Responsibility in a Conflict Zone. Ganesh Hegde opened the session by giving a short account of Shahid Azmi, giving a brief glimpse into his past and laying down the principal ambit within which the matter of the talk was to rotate. The general line of the lecture was precisely that of affirmative action, but on a level that ought to engage the larger level of civil society. The words ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ were thrown around a lot of times during the entire lecture. The liberalism of the entire lecture could be gathered by the emphasis of both the speakers, each on their level, about the power, sanctimony and the supreme justice of the constitution. They decried the state, its corporate nexuses, the Maoist insurgency but they hailed the constitution. Lawyers and civil rights activists were termed as soldiers of a constitutional democracy and the written law was seen as the source and site of struggle.
The Ambedkarite belief in the battle for the enactment of constitutional provisions for the citizens against a colonial state which used historic laws like sedition to put innocent students behind bars was a resonant tone in the voice of both the speakers. Both the speakers attributed this shortage to the shortage of time in the venue which was a hall in the Indian Law Institute, not JNU mind you, and the mood of the audience was mellow and that is why there was no real engagement with the issue at hand, the democratic responsibility of Indian citizens in Bastar. The colonial terror and the subsequent rebellions in Bastar was historicied by ela Bhatia since the Bhumkal rebellions in 1910 and the bloody assassination of the tribal king Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo by the then Congress government in 1966. The war of the state against ‘the people of Bastar’ was rightly characterized as a fascist, authoritarian and a totalitarian one on the part of the state. The characterization of the CPI (ML) People’s War cadres coming to seek shelter among the tribal people for their operations in Andhra shed no pragmatic light into the program of the then underground party which later merged with other parties to form CPI(Maoist). She just mentioned that some development models were put into place by the dalams to ensure the sustenance, not even clarifying whether the methods put into place were revolutionary or a mere economist measure to secure revenues for the sustenance of the party at the cost of the native. The scope with which the present scenario was looked at in the lecture was unapologetically short-sighted. According to Bela Bhatia, the Bijapur movement by the insurgency fizzled out due to inner party strife. While this holds true, one has to also keep in mind the variance between the tendencies of the different outfits and organizations that came together to form the Maoist party also noting that the state always uses a whopping number of statistics to fool the public through media about Maoist surrenders. For this reason, Bela Bhatia chose to talk about organizations that are pitted against each others such as the Salva Judum movement, which pitted pro-Maoist adivasi groups against a united and state funded organized armed outfit of different adivasi groups. She also talked about the misrule of government especially in the way they handled and executed the counter-insurgency operations. Probably the strategic tact of the Indian executive machinery was heartache for Bhatia as she links a part of it to state violence upon the people and the other to the structural violence evident in any insurgency.
The situation of Bastar is no less than a state of war. Around ten thousand foots soldiers of the Indian state forces and private armies are deployed in the area to deal with the Maoists arousing people for a New Democratic Revolution which has led to effective eradication of the traditional means of livelihood and the provision of state support through public services and schemes. This really brings to question the intent of the Maoist cadres fighting in the jungles for a cause that is almost lost with a romantic fervor strong enough to influence intellectuals like Arundhati Roy and G.N Saibaba and students like Naveen Babu and Hem Mishra braving the inhuman torture and still standing tall for the emancipation of the adivasis. As it seems for ground reports and journalistic narratives, the people in Bastar or the people in any conflict zone for that matter are made to follow special form of citizenship, a citizenship where political allegiance is tantamount, and political reality becomes almost an existential reality, so much so that you can be abducted from the hamlets in Kumma and bus stops in Jagdalpur and killed for your political beliefs since any political belief system becomes a pragmatic and categorical social reality especially under the purview of the militarized surveillance state apparatus. Civil war in Bastar has claimed and wreaked havoc on such an extent that no amount of nationalist justification can render the actions of the state valid.
Tribals are beaten up when they demand justice the most primary information about their deceased and since 2015 social justice groups have tried and succeeded in bringing a large number of people for protest; however, due to their reformist and revisionist methods, an active investigation is never taken up by the state authorities. It should be noted that as long as the struggle of the adivasis in Bastar is alive, it will, as it should be, a struggle to seize state power and use the state machinery for the development of the toiling masses. It is quite obvious that the present state, a bourgeois parliamentary one, has closed its doors and denied the local people of Bastar their fair share of justice, according to the narratives furnished by Bela Bhaita. The scenario is so bad that even Devati Karma, the wife of Congress leader Mahendra Karma, could not fight for the rights of the people under the democratic ambit of court. If we look at the conflict from a class angle, we can see that it is the poor who are dying while the rich are making money from the mineral mining and other underground resources. The CRPF is in such a deplorable condition that if one serviceman is killed in the line of duty, another from the same family takes his or her place. On the one hand, social groups like Samajik Ekta Manvh are banned and on the other hand the saffron fascist regime is creating one vigilante group after another to mobilize the non-affected section of the population along the lines of their Hindutva ideology. These local vigilante groups enjoy direct as well as indirect support by state forces such as Koya Commandos and District Reserve Guards
With the appointment of a new IG in Bastar, things have taken a turn for the worst and democratic spaces have been drastically reduced; right-wing people can now openly talk of killing democratic political activists rather graphically and gruesomely. The language of violence has been embossed in the modes of communication between the people of different districts in Bastar in an attempt to diminish the space of dialogue and defame the activists in public.
She also went on to give a structural model conceptualizing the key players in the political process there. As we have seen earlier, there is the state with its corporate nexus n administration firstly and secondly the Maoist party with its party cadres, armed guerilla units, tribal militias and adivasi sympathizers. Thirdly, we have the groups in the interstices, the bourgeois parties not enjoying state power but desiring it to fill their pockets, opportunist shifters who may also be victims of Maoist program, and fourthly we have market apologists there to earn money through proper utilization of resources which can be acquired only through the dislocation of tribal communities and grabbing their lands, and the defectors from the Maoist cadres who surrender and are politically rehabilitated in the state apparatus through government jobs.
Then she began talking about the violence from the Maoist ends, starting with the brutal way in which they kill police informants and sometimes even their family members. To this point she was questioned by someone who claimed to had done investigative fact-finding works in the villages whether the narrative of the people about Maoist violence, or even state violence can be trusted because according to his political experience there, the people liked to tell the stories that these individuals associated with civil rights activist groups were primarily interested in, and many of these stories may be skewed or vague. Whatever may be the political case, we can see there is a deep and dangerous rift between the theoretical principles and the political praxis of mostly all the groups involved in the conflict which has left the common people dissatisfied and dismayed at the lack of a scientific progressive political alternative. It is also important to see the desertion of Umar Khalid and his clique from the revolutionary politics of DSU that students have begun to develop their own agenda to use educational institutions as a site of class struggle so much so that they even cease to understand the Leninist need for a revolutionary party for bringing about a revolution.
Bela Bhatia also stressed on how the Maoists have maintained a hard-line stance when it comes to questions of ideology and have defended their acts of crime and violence as imminent for a greater social transformation. “There is no room for dissent in Maoist polics”, according to her, and she is saying this though she is conscious of the fact that the CPI(Maoist) only managed to surface by uniting the fragmentary groups of the CPI(ML) and local militant groups such as the MCCI. She was very optimistic about the struggle waged by CPI and the triumph of their trade economist trade union movement against Tata Steel. She ended by calling for an open battle, an open form of struggle in which people can participate on a much bigger level.

While we understand the need for an open struggle, one has to also analyze the history of the transformation of theory and practice of what Charu Majumdar termed as ‘Mao-tse Tung thought’ to Maoism. The movement in Naxalbari  spread like forest fire in the different states of the country while the movement in Bastar is probably the last recourse for Maoists now. Instead of a people’s war, they now fight a contracted guerilla warfare where the state will have the upper hand in terms of both the technology and the manpower. The Mao Tse-tung thought of Charu which also lost its essential elements of people’s war when the mass base of the movement shifted from peasantry to adivasis. The guerilla tactics of the Maoists took an influence also from the focoism of Che Guevara to rely more on a band of armed romantic revolutionaries than the armed masses through mass raids as forms of social protest to seize ammunition. A broad unity of working class is needed at this time when fascism is at its peak and the fighting forces are slowly dying off. New villages with new insurgencies have to be liberated from where the struggle at Bastar can be made more strategic and beneficial for the people. It would also help developing cross-economy between villages. The fight for tribal rights in Bastar should lead to more peasant movements with participation from a larger section of society but it is only through an anti-state class struggle backed up by the armed peasantry can we truly ensure that the land belong to its rightful owner and all justice prevail. It is only when the party of the proletariat seize the means of production and state power that we can see India develop in its secular, socialist vision. Let humanists like Bela Bhatia be content with 'self-rule'. We say 'combat self interest, criticize and repudiate revisionism'.