21st Carnival of Socialism
[Updated: I knew I would forget something! How could I forget to include a post from Bhupinder?!]
Welcome everyone to the 21st Carnival of Socialism which focuses on South Asian politics as well as South Asian socialist and communist movements. I first want to give a big appreciation and thanks to my friends Bhupinder over at a reader’s words for suggesting some leftist and revolutionary blogs in South Asia and to Krish of Jagadguru for also trying to help me find some blogs as well. I also want to give a big thanks to all of the bloggers at Blogbharti, which was a very valued resource for me in trying to find South Asian bloggers who tackle the issues of South Asian politics. Not all of the blogs here today are from South Asia and not all are trully written by those who perscribe to socialism (as Bhupinder pointed out to me, there aren’t too many blogs like that being written in South Asia) but they do tackle subjects that deal very much with socialist issues; such as poverty, class, caste, and capitalism.
So now, onto the carnival with posts in (relatively) no particular order!
First, any talk about socialism wihtin South Asia immediatly brings up the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or, as there are known, the Naxals. In this blog post Madhukar blogs about the book Red Sun: Travels through the Naxalite Country:
Reading the book, brought back these memories of my “encounters” during last few months. During last couple of months, I had a chance of travelling across the interiors of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chattisgarh in connection to some assessment of NGOs… This was also an opportunity to cross-check the official line that the Maoists – described as “these thugs/ anti-national elements/ criminals” etc. – resist “development” (industrialisation, mining projects, large dams, investments, job-creation, building of infrastruction, etc.), because they feeds on poverty, misery and lack of development and so on.
Here are some snapshots from my “vicarious” experiences:
The Maoist movement in India is not confined to the backward areas. It’s a vast movement, and includes the “developed” areas. Maoists work both in the countryside and the cities. The government says that the Maoists are active in 15 out of 28 states. And these include the major states. The Union Home Ministry says that 167 districts out total 600 districts in the country are covered by Maoists. This is a little less than 1/3 of India.
The Maoists in India follow the New Democratic Revolutionary method proved successful in China under the leadership of Mao. This method follows that the revolutionary movement must put priority on working in the areas where the state is weak. The Maoists work in the backward regions to smash the local reactionaries’ power and establish people’s power. They build revolutionary mass bases in these backward areas. This doesn’t mean that they don’t also work in the cities. In fact, in the Congress of the CPI (Maoist) held in January/February 2007, they decided to increase their work in the urban areas. They have produced a new document concerning work in the urban areas that analyses the work done in the last thirty years. This document sets out a strategy for developing the work in the urban areas.
In countries such as Pakistan,unlike Western European societies there have been no bourgeois democratic revolutions (such as the French revolution etc). In our part of the world, capitalism was introduced
through colonization, by the British.
In our country therefore, the proletariat is faced with the dual task of participating in and completing the democratic revolution through an alliance of the poor peasantry and the proletariat (the demands of
the poor peasantry being bourgeois democratic), and the proletariat can only then enhance the sweep of the revolutionary movement to lead the socialist revolution.
Bringing us to Nepal, the blogger at Monkey Smashes Heaven has this to say about the recent death of Azad:
[Update: This post, for some reason, has been taken off the website. However, there is this post on the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Prachanda.]
Azad criticized Prachanda’s revisionism on a number of scores. Azad criticized Prachanda’s Kautsky-style reformism. Prachanda is criticized for abandoning Lenin’s theories of the state and dual power. Prachanda is criticized for opportunist obfuscation in the analysis of the class nature of the mainstream parties in Nepal. He is criticized for opportunistically confusing new democracy with parliamentarism alongside a semi-feudal, comprador mode of production. Azad criticizes Prachanda’s statements that prop up the Indian compradors and sabotaged people’s war in India. Prachanda is also criticized for not understanding the lessons of the Cultural Revolution.
Gyanendra assumed the throne in the midst of a burgeoning people’s war waged primarily by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or the CPN (M), with the twin political call to end the monarchy and liberate women. I confess that when I was first made aware of the latter, I nearly jumped out of my skin, having been engaged in debate for 20 years over class, gender and liberation.
This brief historical note has been occasioned by recent attempts to justify the championing of capitalism by a communist party – Communist Party of India (Marxist) – as the vehicle for its industrialization program in West Bengal, India. The justification, which argues for the necessity of capitalism by taking recourse to the distinction between the two stages of revolution, rests on an erroneous reading of international working class theory and practice. While it correctly posits the distinction between the two stages of social revolution, it does so mechanically, formally, and in a one-sided manner; the crucial and related question of the relationship between the two stages is not accorded the attention it deserves. That, in my opinion, is the primary source of error and leads to arguing for the necessity of “deepening and widening” capitalism as against initiating efforts to transcend it.
In this article (pdf) in the latest issue of EPW (alternate location), economists Arjun Sengupta et al contest the official levels of poverty and indicate that 75% of Indian population is poor, which is twice the official figure. This means a staggering 836 million as of 2004–05.…I do hope this stirs up debate around the jingle of ‘trickle down’ economics that one has heard over the last two decades and recognize the darkness in the noon of unprecedented growth rates
By becoming part of the government that is non-committal to any radical change unless forced, the Maoists perhaps became vulnerable to all the pitfalls of power politics in a competitive set-up. However the greatest strength or safeguard for them is their recognition and commitment to two-line struggle within their own ranks – between the tendencies of compromise and of uninterrupted transformation. They are aware that their radicalism lies in intensifying this struggle at every level. If we find today an apparent inconsistency between the Maoists in the government and those on the streets, it is the open realisation of this two-line struggle, which tempers one another not allowing the former to settle with status quoism. Recent statements by Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidya, where they stressed on the need for giving “top priority to the street struggle at this juncture”, reflect the Maoists’ resolution to remain as forces of democratisation, rather than a stability factor for a democracy of an elitist minority and the depoliticised majority.
Bhagat Singh started his political journey when new lines were emerging in the Indian polity. On one hand, the religious jargon was being introduced in the political rhetoric at a mass scale and seculars like Jinnah were getting sidelined. On the other hand, the revolutionary ideas of Lenin and Bolshevik Revolution were trickling into India. Bhagat Singh, like many others who were already disillusioned by Gandhi, was attracted towards experiment of workers and peasants of Russia.
In Pakistan, the plot of politics is often repeated and rehashed until the performance has become a fine tuned and much rehearsed drama on the ongoing tussle between democracy and the military. Dictators replace democrats, democrats negotiate and bargain with each other and the army, and the masses stand by much like the citizens of fair Verona caught in the crossfire of the fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets. And although the actors change on a seasonal basis, the transition is now almost seamless and perfect. Costume changes require minimal refitting as the Ayubs make way for the Zias and Musharrafs, and the MMA of today steps into the shoes of the Islamic Democratic Alliance of yesterday.
The bridging of knowledge from the macro level to the micro level through articles on women’s issues, the translation of papers/articles from English to Telegu on feminism or feminist theory, and making connections it to lived realities of women’s lives is key factor with potential for promoting gender equality. By providing an alternative discourse to understand and address women’s subordination, and generating discussion on a wide variety of issues, the seeds of questioning and challenging the ‘social given’ are germinated in the minds of women (and men). The issues addressed by Bhumika whether it is Globalisation or Agriculture or Handloom have a strong gender perspective – that both analyses and informs.
Finally, we end with Pardeep blogging about the exclusion of lower caste and Dalits from the history books by Indian upper caste elites:
Brahmin scholars have ignored all the Dalit- Bahujan revolutionaries like Ayyankali from Kerala who fought for the poor Dalits rights. Birsa Munda – Tribal leader from Bihar, Mahatma Joytiba Phule – father of social revolution, EVR Periyar – Great revolutionary from Tamil Nadu, but where all these stands in Indian history? None of these revolutionaries are history books, not much bother to write about all these. It seems Indians have forgotten the struggle of all the greatest revolutionaries. In same way, the women liberator, Savitribai Phule’s (1831-1897) B’day is not celebrated as Teacher’s day, who was the real liberator of poor section of society, 1st teacher who opened many schools for poor Dalits.