for building a democratic labour movement in India
Timothy Kerswell and Surendra Pratap
The left is currently facing an overall downturn and a multidimensional crisis in India. The decisive changes that occurred in India’s society, economy and politics that emerged in the phase of globalization are understood to be the root cause of this crisis. On the contrary, we have argued that the real nature of crisis is ideological and is rooted in the movement well before the impacts of globalization occurred. Globalization certainly aggravated this crisis and led to a downturn in the movement.
This ideological crisis is most powerfully reflected in the fact that the left movement has not been able to develop the Marxist theory of social change to address the ground level complexities in India. As a result, the left has been unable to evolve an effective strategy of revolution with Indian characteristics. This crisis is also reflected in differences among left groups on nature of capitalist development and imperialist domination in India in post-colonial era.
The dominant understanding within Marxist theory appears to be the stage theory of social change that further aggravates this basic ideological crisis. The basic task of the left movement is challenging and fighting against the domination of capital in all spheres of life and projecting and attempting to create socialist alternatives. However, there appears no great focus on addressing this task either at the grass-root level or in broader political struggles. There are some specificities of the crisis of various shades of left movement but this general ideological crisis is commonly reflected in the whole left movement. To date there have been no attempts either by the left movement or by academics to comprehensively study and understand various aspects of the crisis of the left. Some serious discussions started on this after the defeat of the left in West Bengal, however these are still confined to the ‘mistakes’ and ‘deviations’ of the parliamentary left. There are no attempts to explore various ideological aspects of the crisis in general, which we have argued is the most pressing need for the left movement in India.
DOWNLOAD PAPER: Some Reflections on Crisis of the Left in India
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Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,”
Social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity - of opportunity in the social, political and individual life.
In the new global politico-economic regime with new international division of labour, informalization of labour, free mobility of capital, alarming expansion of reserve army of labour and creation of global reserve army of labour for capital, and a system of regulating at international level and deregulating at national level, the pre-globalization strategies of organizing and collective bargaining have largely become ineffective and irrelevant. Therefore the labour movements and the social, political movements in general need to develop and implement new strategies of organizing and collective bargaining effective in new global politico-economic regime.
Divide, isolate and rule is the most important aspect of the capitalism to control the labour by not letting the working class emerge as a unified force. Dividing the working class in different sectional interests, and intensifying social conflicts (caste, gender, religion, regionality and nationality conflicts etc) are important strategies of capitalism. On the other hand, by its various institutions and propaganda machinery, the capitalism blurs the link between various sectional problems and their linkage with the capitalist system and therefore the movements appear detached from each other and focused on their sectional issues rather than challenging the capitalist system that produces and reproduces these problems.
The fate of social, political movements in India depends on their attitude towards learning and building unity in diversity at various levels to defeat the capital’s attempts to divide, isolate and rule. The revival of the working class movement also depends on this factor.