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Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar, 10-14 March, 2014, Allahabad
(Topic: Problems of Socialist Transition)

14 March 2014 - Fifth Day - Paper Presented on European Left and Discussion Continued on Issues Highlighted in the Seminar

Mithilesh presenting his paper

Mithilesh presenting his paper

Allahabad, 14 March. On the fifth and last day of the Arvind Memorial Seminar, a paper by Mithilesh Kumar ‘The Promise that Never Was: A Critique of the Post-1968 European “Autonomous” Left Movement’ was presented and discussion continued on issues highlighted during debate on different  papers presented during the past four days.

Mithilesh, a researcher in the Western Sidney University, Australia said in his paper that we are living through a phase in world-history where there is a tectonic shift in politics both at the global and the national level. This shift can be seen at the level of workers’ struggle as well as popular uprisings all over the world. But history has taught us in that when revolutionary politics and the forces that guide that politics commit errors and are not prepared, ideologically and politically, to take advantage of revolutionary, even radical, situations the price paid is heavy.

Several strands of left politics emerged in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, especially after the death of Stalin and the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of Soviet Union where Khrushchev spread his canard. Most of these strands were the subject of investigation and criticism in the papers presented in this seminar. This paper was focused on the Italian Operaist movement and its offshoots whose influence is spreading widely today. People like Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti, Bologna and Raniero Panzieri have gained a cult-like status in significant sections of workers movement.Even many of those who criticise them acknowledge their “originality”.The paper describedthe background in which operaism developedand showed how their “originality”is a result of their deviation from the methods and philosophy of Marxism.

(…Click here to read the full post)

13 March 2014 - Fourth day - Discussion on Post-Marxism and Bolivarian alternative

Shivani presenting her paper

Shivani presenting her paper

Allahabad, 13 March. Two important papers were presented on the fourth day of the Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar.

The first paper titled “The Communism of Post-Marxism: The Theory of Dissolving all Projects for Change on the Premise of Radical Change” was presented by Shivani and Baby from Delhi. The paper said that after the great debacle of “post” theories like postmodernism, postcolonialism etc. there has been an upsurge of motley group of post-Marxism in a bid to attack Marxism. In the name of resisting capital the target of these “thoughts” using pseudo Marxist vocabulary is to attack the fundamental principles of Marxism. The bourgeois cultural and intellectual apparatuses have put an all-out effort in support of these attacks so that the people could be misled in the period of deepening capitalist crisis. It is not incidental that capitalism through its hegemonic mechanism is producing all kinds of ‘radical’ intellectuals as a matter of course that are attacking the core principles of Marxism. It is important that these ideologies are critiqued because they are creating confusion within a section of communist movement as well as students, intellectuals, etc.

(…Click here to read the full post)

12 March 2014 - Cultural program on 50th Birth Anniversary of Comrade Arvind

Dastak cultural front, Punjab performing a song

Dastak cultural front, Punjab performing a song

Allahabad, 12 March. Today’s session came to an end after a cultural program commemorating the 50th Birth Anniversary of Comrade Arvind. Satyam, Anand, Abhinav, Yogesh and Rajvinder spoke intimately about the various facets of Comrade Arvind’s personality. They said that Comrade Arvind lived a mere 44 years of which 24 years he sacrificed for the liberation of the proletariat. In an era where the canard against communism was at its peak, Comrade Arvind like a true warrior stood his ground on the battlefield of class struggle till the end of his last breath. He was a simple, generous and unshakeable on the communist principles. He will always live in our memories and he will always inspire us to fulfill the dreams that we forged together. This was followed by various revolutionary songs and poems in Hindi, Punjabi and Spanish performed by Dastak Cultural Forum from Punjab and Vihaan Cultural Forum from Delhi. Also SangeetShrota from Nepal performed a song in the memory of Comrade Arvind.

(…Click here to read the full post)

12 March 2014 - Third day of seminar - Papers presented on Nepalese revolution, Great debate and Maoism

Nepali Poet Sangeet srota presenting his paper

Nepali Poet Sangeet srota presenting his paper

Allahabad, 12 March. The first session of the third day of the Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar on “Problems of Socialist Transition” was centered on the problems of Nepalese Revolution and its recent developments. There was an intense discussion and debate on the reasons behind the obstacles, reversal and disintegration of the Nepalese revolutionary movement. Four papers were presented today in the seminar. There were two papers on Nepal in the first session and two on the “Great Debate” and on question of Maoism in the second session. A cultural program was presented at the end of the session to commemorate the 50th Birth Anniversary of Comrade Arvind.

(…Click here to read the full post)

11 March 2014 - Second Day of Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar

Editor of the journal Pratibaddh, Sukhwinder, presenting his paper on the Chinese Revolution

Editor of the journal Pratibaddh, Sukhwinder, presenting his paper on the Chinese Revolution

Allahabad, 11 March. Three important papers were presented followed by a lively discussion at the ongoing second day of the Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar on “Problems of Socialist Revolution” at Vigyan Parishad auditorium here. In the first session of the day the editor of the Punjabi journal Pratibaddh, Sukhwinder , presented a paper titled “The Building of Socialism in China, Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution and Maoism.” The paper gave a stage-wise description of the experiments of building socialism in Mao’s China and delineated the world-historical contribution of the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution.

(…Click here to read the full post)

10 March 2014 - Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar on “Problems of Socialist Transition” begins in Allahabad

Comrade Meenakshy making a formal announcement of the beginning of the seminar

Comrade Meenakshy making a formal announcement of the beginning of the seminar

Allahabad, 10 March. Five-day fifth Arvind Memorial seminar on “Problems of Socialist Transition” began today at Vigyan Parishad, Maharshi Dayanand Marg. Apart from intellectuals and social activists from different parts of country , there will also be participation from the abroad.

While making a formal announcement of the beginning of the seminar, Meenakshy, managing trustee of Arvind Memorial Trust said in her welcome statement that the real tribute to a brilliant talented and spirited revolutionary like com. Arvind will be to continue the process of theoretical-practical experiments related to the goal of emancipation of the proletariat and Indian revolution to which he was committed till this his last breath. Arvind  Memorial Trust is committed to this very goal.

Famous poetess and social activist Katyayani who is associated with Arvind Memorial Trust, said while introducing the topic that even though the cacophony of capitalist triumphalism, “End of History”, “the coffin of Marxism being finally laid to rest” being played by the hirelings of bourgeoisie  after the collapse of Soviet Union. Numerous deviation of “freethinking”, spontaneity, non-party revolutionism and anarcho-syndicalism are surfacing from within the communist movement itself.

In such a situation it has become extremely important to enter into debate concerning all questions related to the myriad problems of socialist transition viz. the inter-relationship between proletarian class, its vanguard party and proletarian state, the contradiction between production relations and the forces of production in the socialist society, the form of class struggle and the gradual transition toward the advance stages of the transition in the light of the past experiences.

(…Click here to read the full post)

5 March 2014

Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar in Allahabad from 10 March

Scholars and Activists from India and Abroad will Participate in the Five-day Seminar on ‘Problems of Socialist Transition’

Allahabad, 10 March. Scholars, writers and activists from all over India and some from abroad will participate in intensive debate and discussions on problems of socialist transition during the five-day seminar on this topic starting from 10 March in Allahabad.

The seminar is being organised in Vigyan Parishad Auditorium, Maharshi Dayanand Marg by Arvind Memorial Trust, established in memory of Com. Arvind, a brilliant Marxist intellectual and activist. Managing trustee of the Trust, Ms. Meenakshi said the topic has become extremely important today in the backdrop of the deepening economic crisis of the capitalist world and the fact that people are looking at the socialist alternative with renewed interest. All over the world scholars and activists are thinking about the achievements and failures of the socialist experiments in several countries and examining various aspects of the ideology.

The main topics to be discussed in the seminar include : Historical development of thinking on problems of Socialist transition – From Marx-Engels to Mao Tse-tung. Significance of the Great Debate and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution; Critical appraisal of achievements and failures of the great Socialist experiments of the twentieth century; Experiments of Socialist transition in the Soviet Union and China and their problems. Capitalist restoration: Critical appraisal of different positions; Question of re-evaluation of Stalin and his era; Concept of Dictatorship of Proletariat and its practical forms. Relations between the vanguard party, class and state power during Socialist transition; Critical Appraisal of the experiments in Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, the “Bolivarian alternative”, the Syriza experiment in Greece and the experiments in Nepal; Critique of the positions of Trotskyists, various academic Marxists, Neo-Marxists and Post-Marxists on the Socialist transition.

Several important papers will be presented in the seminar on different aspects of the subject. Some of these include paper on Soviet experiments by Abhinav Sinha, Editor, Ahwan, On Chinese socialism and Cultural Revolution by Sukhwinder, Editor Punjabi journal Pratibadh, On Stalin and Soviet Socialism by Dr. Amritpal from Ludhiana, On communisms of post-Marxists by Shivani and Baby Kumari of Delhi University, On socialism in Cuba, Venezuela etc. by Sunny Singh and Arvind Rathee of DU and On Maoism and Mao Tse-tung Thought by Harsh Thakor, Mumbai.

Mithilesh Kumar of Western Sidney University, Australia will present a paper on Crisis of the European Left and a team of political activists from Nepal will present their paper on socialist transition and the question of Nepalese revolution. Besides a left revolutionary group from Greece and some political activists from US will make a presentation through internet link-up in the seminar.

Apart from this, representatives from several groups and mass organisations, writers, intellectuals and social activists from Punjab, UP, Bihar, Bengal, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Tamilnadu, Gujarat & Maharashtra will participate in the seminar.

In memory of Com. Arvind, the Arvind Memorial Trust organises a national seminar each year on an important aspect of the movement for social change. The first two seminars in Delhi and Gorakhpur were focused on different aspects of the labour movement while the third seminar was held in Lucknow on the democratic rights movement in India. The fourth seminar was centered on Caste Question and Marxism. This year a special cultural programme will be held on the evening of 12 March to commemorate the 50th Birth Anniversary of Com. Arvind.

Ms. Meenakshi said that Allahabad has been the intellectual capital of Uttar Pradesh and it is also associated with many important personalities and events of the left movement. This lends a new importance to this seminar being held here. She expressed her belief that social and political activists and intellectuals of Allahabad will participate in the seminar with an open mind and a new dimension will be added in Allahabad to the tradition of thought-provoking debate and discussion established in the previous four seminars. She said that the seminar will be held in two sessions each day from 10 AM to 8 PM. Accommodation for the guests is made at the Punjabi Bhavan, MG Marg.

— Meenakshy (Managing Trustee), Anand Singh (Secretary)

Arvind Memorial Trust

For more information, please contact:

Katyayani – 09936650658, Satyam – 9910462009,
Prasen (Allahabad) – 8115491369/8052036902

Papers presented in Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar needs to be translated from Hindi to English. We are trying our best to finish this task as soon as possible. Hindi papers can be seen here.

Topic: Problems of Socialist Transition

Friends and comrades!

The Arvind Memorial Trust, has till now organized four seminars in the past five years in memory of our beloved late Comrade Arvind. The topic of the first two seminars held in Delhi (2009) and Gorakhpur (2010) respectively was focused on the challenges of the working class movement and its new forms and strategies in the era of globalization. The third seminar held in Lucknow (2011) was focused on the challenges before the democratic and civil rights movement. In the fourth Seminar held in March 2013 in Chandigarh, an intense debate took place for five days on the topic ‘The Caste Question and Marxism’. Each time, we have organized debate and discussion on some living question of the revolutionary movement in India to which comrade Arvind was committed throughout his life. There was large scale participation of intellectuals, enlightened citizens and political activists active in revolutionary movements of working class, students, youth and women and anti-caste struggles and on every occasion constructive debate and discussion went past the fixed hours of the seminar.

The Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar will be in Allahabad, one of the main intellectual centres of Uttar Pradesh. On this occasion too, we aim to organize intensive discussion, contemplation and debate for full five days, from morning till night, on an extremely relevant question of today’s revolutionary movement. The topic of this seminar is ‘Problems of Socialist Transition’.

After the collapse of pseudo-socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1990, it was proclaimed that socialism and Marxism have been defeated throughout the world. A sense of defeat and pessimism prevailed in the working class movement and capitalist triumphalism was at its peak. At that time, this fact was pushed into background that after China taking the capitalist road and the collapse of pseudo-socialism of the Soviet Union followed by its disintegration, even the the capitalist world was ill-stricken. The slow recession, which had engulfed the capitalist world from as early as the 1970s, was exploding in the form of severe crises in between. By the end of 1990s, the capitalist world was once again caught in the cesspool of crisis and the severe crisis which began at that time continues till date with several ups and downs. By 1997, the cacophony of capitalist triumphalism and the end of history and ideology etc. had got silenced. In the 1960s and 1970s, several important debates took place within the left intellectual circle and amongst the communist revolutionaries throughout the world on the causes of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union. Such debates somewhat slowed down in the 1980s. The obvious reason was that the counter-revolutionary tide got a decisive edge over the revolutionary tide after the capitalist restoration in China. Before the death of Mao and particularly in the period of the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, a rich process of criticism of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and also of the capitalist roaders within the Chinese Party was carried out. By 1990, along with the fall of Berlin wall and the disintegration of the social imperialist Soviet Union, the final defeat of socialism and Marxism and the final victory of capitalism was proclaimed. For about a decade, there was indeed an influence of this capitalist hysteria of ‘the End’ even on some communist revolutionary groups and individuals and for some time many sincere people too got carried away in the wave of ideological and political skepticism in that period. Throughout this decade, the post-modernist ideological streams were established as the official ideology in the capitalist intellectual world and particularly the academic world. At that time, merely talking about the problems of socialist transition was enough to be labelled as a relic of the ideological archeological era. But this situation prevailed only till the end of the 1990s.(…Click here to read the full invitation)

Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar, 12-16 March 2013,Chandigarh
(Topic: Caste Question and Marxism)

The Caste question and its resolution: A Marxist perspective

The Caste question and its resolution: A Marxist perspective

— Research Team, Arvind Marxist Studies Institute

Keynote paper presented in the Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar on the topic ‘Caste Question and Marxism’(12-16 March 2013, Chandigarh)

No revolutionary project of making the Indian society exploitation-free can be made by excluding the caste question. There are enough grounds to reject outrightly the belief that first the caste-system should be eradicated at the socio-political plane through certain conscious attempts and only then the revolutionary mobilisation of various groups of people would be possible. Its opposite viewpoint is equally wrong that the revolutionary mobilisation of various groups and the process of revolution would by itself eliminate the caste-system and therefore this question by itself does not form an important issue. It is our clear conviction that the process of the preparation of the proletarian revolution cannot move forward without clearly targeting the numerous forms of caste-based oppressions and the institutions which play the role of its carrier and agent; without this the revolutionisation and mobilisation of the various classes of the toiling masses suffering from social segregation is simply not possible. At the same time, the vanguard of revolution will have to present a historical, scientific and rational project for the elimination of caste which despite being long-term (which quite obviously it will be) must have some concrete immediate tasks as well. This much is certain, though, that even after the establishment of proletarian state, a perpetual process of revolution would have to be carried out at the ideological and cultural plane along with the socialist transformation of the production-relations and the prolonged process of the gradual advancement of the socialist social-political-educational-cultural edifice, for the ultimate elimination of the caste-system.In this paper, we will discuss this proposition of ours in detail and we will also refute the prevalent propositions which are wrong, incomplete, vague and confusing in our view.

There are many questions that will confront us if we proceed towards the concrete implementation. Even though there exists a clash in the interests of the capitalists, big and medium traders, kulaks, farmers, people in the upper-middle class strata and other parasite communities—who constitute the ruling class— and its supporting classes, they stand united when it comes to the political policy decisions and actions against the toiling masses. On the other hand, besides other problems, a vital problem in the path of the unity of the proletariat and semi-proletariat of the the villages and cities, the lower-middle class and the lower middle peasants—who constitute the main strength of the revolution—is that they are divided along caste-lines and there exists numerous walls of social segregation at multiple layers. The moot question is whether the causes of the caste-based prejudices and the contradictions which are almost all-pervasive in the Indian society in one form or the other are only superstructural (the old values or in the words of some, the influence of the Brahamanic culture) or there are some economic factors as well which tend to give support and strength to the super-structural factors. Quite often it so happens that behind an incident of caste-clash and caste-based oppression, the main reason happens to be the clash of the economic interests of the classes in varying intensity. But the polarisation which takes place in the society in such cases is on the basis of caste only! The bourgeois parliamentary politics of vote-bank in India makes the caste polarisation as one of its tools. But is this the main cause behind the sharp caste-contradictions? If caste happens to be just a burden of the past, feudal remnant or the influence of the ”Brahminic” culture, then some radical social movements could overthrow it in due course. But it does not seem to be likely. The caste-system is not that static as it appears to be. It has a particular kind of internal dynamism due to which it has managed to register its effective presence even today after originating in the ancient India and crossing historical epoch of the medieval and colonial era. It was capable of adapting itself to every socio-economic formation and the ruling classes of the different historical era have managed to adapt it for serving their interests.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Historiography of Caste: Some Critical Observations and Some Methodological Interventions

Historiography of Caste: Some Critical Observations and Some Methodological Interventions

Paper presented in the fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar

● Abhinav Sinha

In almost all the cases, the entire gamut of writings, research papers and various other kinds of essays on the caste-system, begin with some sentences or phrases that have been so overused as to be rendered into cliché, and since even after getting thoroughly worn out these clichés present the reality to a certain extent, as such I would also use a few similar sentences to begin with.

Caste/Varna is one of the main realities of the Indian social life. No historian, sociologist, anthropologist, or even a political economist, can afford to ignore this reality. Certainly, the influence of casteist mentality over the Indian social psyche goes deep. However while emphasizing upon the caste system and casteist mentality, many a times common people and even the academicians and political activists have this tendency of declaring it to be the only and the single most important aspect of the Indian life and society. While doing so, in essence, they do not actually put the problem of caste and casteist mindset on the agenda of resolution, rather turn it into a meta-reality that cannot be transcended. In fact, what is inherent in such conclusions is an ahistorical view towards the caste system. Somehow caste-system is turned into a system that does not have any beginning or end, a system that is perpetual and eternal. Undoubtedly, this is not the motive of those giving such kind of statements. However, objectively, such utterances lead to such conclusions only. If we do not adopt a historical view on the caste-system, a sense of defeat sets in, which presents the caste-system as invincible. By rejecting all other struggles, “identities” and class-struggles, such an outlook makes the caste system as an integral part of Indian life and people, it converts it into its organic characteristic and thereby it is made as a touchstone for defining Indian psyche. Recently, due to existence of such primitive and totalitarian consciousness (!) some intellectuals have declared the Indian people themselves as a ‘totalitarian community’! According to them, as the project of modernity remains unfinished, there exists an undercurrent of all sorts of totalitarian trends in the society ‘from below’ (that is among the common people), which manifest themselves in the form of casteism, Khap Panchayats, communalism, etc. Therefore, these intellectuals consider that the first priority is to complete the unfinished project of modernity in India, and until this project of modernity is carried to a decisive stage, the task of bringing in a revolutionary change in the whole socio-economic structure should more or less be suspended! They are not the only ones who think this way, there are many more intellectuals expressing such and similar views. These statements are usually governed by a pre-conceived notion; the preconceived notion that it is for capitalism to complete the tasks concerning the project of democracy and modernity and in case it does not do so, it becomes the main task of the progressive forces to complete these tasks, and so long as bourgeois democracy and modernity are not fully realized, proletarian tasks may be suspended. Whereas on one hand it is true that in every struggle of making capitalism more and more democratic, a revolutionary will take part always without fail, however, on the other hand she/he would do it precisely to make the soil more fertile for proletarian class-struggle, she/he does not put on hold the pure and concrete proletarian tasks until this process gets accomplished.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Ambedkarism and Emancipation of Dalits

Ambedkarism and Emancipation of Dalits

Paper presented in the fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar

● Sukhvinder

Today almost all kinds of Ambedkarites present Ambedkar as a messiah of Dalits. They say that Ambedkarism remains the only theory for the emancipation of Dalits. Some say that Ambedkarism is necessary for ending caste and Marxism is necessary for ending class. But does Ambedkar suggest any practical and realistic path for the emancipation of Dalits from socio-political-economic exploitation-oppression of Dalits? Does Ambedkar present a scientific and historical analysis and solution to the Dalit question? Does Ambedkar’s thinking contain any comprehensive project for Dalit emancipation? Can the religious conversion ( which Ambedkar did in the last days of his life and asked his follower to do the same for freeing themselves from caste-based repression-oppression) be a solution to the caste problem? Was the criticism of Marxism with regard to the caste problem which was put forward by Ambedkar based on deep and serious study of Marxism? Several ‘Dalitist’ and “Marxists” intellectuals loudly advocate the amalgamation of Ambedkarism and Marxism. Is it possible to harmonise Marxism and Ambedkarism in any way? To know the answer of these questions we will have to examine Ambedkar’s world outlook, his politics, economics, sociology, his historical outlook and his criticisms of Marxism. The subject of this paper is the same. Surely this task involves a risk because it is difficult to tell Ambedkar’s stand on many questions. At one place he says one thing and at another he says exactly opposite thing. In a way Ambedkarism is a kind of ideological confusion only. Today in the left-wing movement there is a tendency of uncritical admiration of Ambedkar. Maybe they think that Dalits will be displeased with Ambedkar’s criticism. But this is nothing but political opportunism in the name of winning Dalit’s hearts. Dalit masses can be brought to the communist movement only by struggling against their ideological prejudices and not through appeasement.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Caste, Class and Identity Politics

Caste, Class and Identity Politics

Paper presented in the fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar

● Shivani

The beginning, on a large scale, of what is termed as identity politics can be traced back to the decade of 1980. As is clear from its name, the concept of identity is central to it. In sociological and socio-anthropological terms, ‘identity’ is a set of behavioural and individual characteristics which gives recognition to an individual as member of a group. This identity is determined by objective social categories such as caste, gender, religious community, race etc. and is generally considered as relatively stable, static and naturally given. It is this very definition of identity which is the point of departure for identity politics. However, as a collective phenomenon, it does not speak of any single identity; rather it emphasises on several fragmented identities. This fragmentation of identities not only takes place at the level of personality of an individual, but also at the plane of society as a whole. In a class society, a man\woman has multiple identities. Every individual has the identities of caste, language, region and nationality. The identity politics highlights these identities and essentialises them. One of the identities (which cannot be even termed as an identity in the true sense) which this politics does not even mention is the class identity. The class identity is not given naturally, racially, regionally or linguistically. The class identity is formed during society’s basic activity viz. the productive activity; the people who are engaged in these activities come to establish certain definite social relations which are independent of their will. However, the politics of identity never lays any emphasis on this identity. You will get to see innumerable NGOs which are founded on gender, caste, region or linguistic identity. However, you can hardly come across any workers’ NGO!.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Third Arvind Memorial Seminar, 22-24 July 2011,Lucknow
(Topic: Democratic Rights Movement in India)

Some Points to Ponder for the Organisers and Activists of the Democratic Rights Movement

Some Points to Ponder for the Organisers and Activists of the Democratic Rights Movement

Keynote paper presented in the Third Arvind Memorial Seminar

 

Katyayani

Looking from a quantitative perspective, an observer can express satisfaction that there are more than two dozen organisations throughout the country which raise their voice over the civil liberties and democratic rights related issues. It is also true that a substantial number of reports and articles get published and petitions are filed in the High Courts and Supreme Court regarding the incidents of the police repression and the oppression of the political prisoners , the role of Hindutva forces and the government machinery in the communal riots and genocide, caste and gender atrocities, bonded labour, child labour, incidents related to the laborers not getting their lawful rights and more than half century old semi-fascist kind of indirect military rule over the people of Kashmir and North Eastern India. However, going beyond numbers, when we examine the balance sheet as to what extent the democratic rights movement in the last 30-35 years has impacted the fabric of state, society and culture, to what extent it has made the masses aware and active for securing their democratic rights by uplifting their democratic consciousness and to what extent it has taken the form of a mass movement by preparing its broad social base, we feel a bit disappointed.(…Click here to read the full paper)

How Democratic is the Indian Constitution and Indian Democracy?

How Democratic is the Indian Constitution and Indian Democracy?

Paper Presented in the Third Arvind Memorial Seminar

• Anand Singh

Even the former president K.R. Narayanan once mentioned in a speech that it was not the constitution which has failed us but we who have failed the constitution. Mr. Narayanan said this in the backdrop of the formation of a commission to review the working of the constitution by the then government of National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Undoubtedly, NDA government’s decision was motivated by the communal politics of BJP. It was indeed an undemocratic step to confer the responsibility of doing the review of the working of the constitution to few constitutional experts and intellectuals and not to a body elected by people. There is no question of supporting such an undemocratic step under any circumstance. However, to treat the constitution as a sacred scripture and shield it from any inquiry is also an undemocratic approach. A democratic approach calls for an open debate not only about the decay in the various institutions of Indian democracy in the last six decades but also about how democratic the process of the making the constitution was and to what extent the Indian democracy guarantees the rights of citizens.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Socio-Cultural Tasks of the Democratic Rights Movement

Socio-Cultural Tasks of the Democratic Rights Movement

Paper Presented in the Third Arvind Memorial Seminar

• Jai Pushp

Carrying out struggle against the repression of the democratic rights by the state remains an important and immediate task of the democratic rights movement. As the spontaneous motion of neo-liberal economic policies makes the state more and more autocratic, repressive and totalitarian, the onslaughts on the civil liberties and the democratic rights of the people through various draconian laws are getting more intense and aggressive. The repression of the democratic rights by the state machinery and raising voice against is indeed our shared concern. However, there is another fundamental aspect towards which I wish to draw the attention of the democratic rights activists, intellectuals and esteemed citizens who have gathered here to deliberate upon the problems and challenges before the democratic rights movement in India.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Democratic Rights Movement and the Working Class

Democratic Rights Movement and the Working Class

Paper Presented in the Third Arvind Memorial Seminar

• Prasen Singh

We would like to briefly put forward some points as to what should be the general stand of the working class in a backward capitalist countries like India in the current era of imperialism with respect to the fight for democracy or the democratic rights even while preparing for a fresh struggle towards the goal of socialism.(…Click here to read the full paper)

The Third Arvind Memorial Seminar is being organized on 22-23-24 July 2011 in Lucknow, India. The topic for this year’s seminar is ‘Democratic Rights Movement in India: Orientation, Problems and Challenges.’ The focus will be on the condition, orientation, problems, challenges and prospects of the democratic rights and civil liberties movement in India.

We are inviting you to participate in this seminar.

Please send us your postal address to enable us to send you the printed folder for the seminar and the brochure about Arvind Memorial Trust and Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies.

Please feel free to contact us for any queries.

Sincere regards,
Meenakshy (Managing Trustee), Anand Singh (Secretary), Katyayani, Satyam (Members)
Arvind Memorial Trust

 

contact: info (at) arvindtrust (dot) org

Second Arvind Memorial Seminar, 26-28 July 2010, Gorakhpur
(Topic: Working Class Movement in the Twenty First Century)

New Forms and Strategies of the Working Class Movement and Resistance in the Era of Globalization

Keynote paper presented in 2nd Arvind Memorial Seminar in Gorakhpur

Abhinav Sinha

1. Introduction

Indian as well as the International working class movement is facing a grave crisis today. Now it is not a matter of contention that the power of capital has dominated the power of labour ever since the fall of the workers’ states in the Soviet Union in 1953 and China in 1976. Nevertheless, capitalism itself has not been able to overcome its own crisis since the 1970s. Right since the economic crisis of 1973, World Capitalism has not witnessed a single phase of significant boom. But owing to the policies of Globalization, the Information Technology and Communication Revolution and the ideological, political and cultural onslaughts on the working class, which was already scattered and somewhat demoralized; the capitalist system, despite its tattered state, has succeeded in preventing any meaningful resistance from the working class and also in keeping it from being organized. In this era of Globalization, the working class movement of India as well as of the world is in crisis today.

Here we would like to clarify a possible confusion at the very outset. When we talk of the crisis of the labour movement, we certainly do not mean that the ideology, science and the world outlook of the working class is in crisis. The attacks unleashed by the capitalist thinkers, ideologues and economists on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism right since the latter half of the 20th century cannot claim any kind of novelty. Most of these attacks had already been answered in the time of Marx and Engels themselves and the remaining were dashed by Lenin. The World Capitalism in its extremely moribund and decaying state has given birth to some new ideological trends since the decade of 1960s (which, it is worthy to note, was the period of the conclusion of the last boom of World Capitalism) which have been termed as Post-Modernism, Post-Colonial Theory, Post-Structuralism etc. The Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries from around the world as well as other Marxist intellectuals have already torn apart these theories and proved that there is nothing new in them. It is nothing but an ugliest possible mixture of the anti-humanitarianism of Nietzsche and Spengler, Anarchism, Kant’s Agnosticism, Russian Nihilism, the theories of post-industrial society and the anti-human absurdities of the computer age. Our purpose here is not to go into the critical examination of these theoretical tendencies. Moreover, it is a topic which calls for a separate dedicated discussion for itself.(…Click here to read the full paper)

The Working Class Movement and Communist Movement of India: Lessons from the Past; Possibilities and Challenges of the Present

The Working Class Movement and Communist Movement of India: Lessons from the Past; Possibilities and Challenges of the Present

paper presented in the second Arvind Memorial Seminar

-Sukhwinder

“History is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims.”

– Karl Marx, Holy family

Comrades present in the second Arvind Memorial Seminar,

When man makes an attempt towards achieving his aims, he commits many mistakes while advancing in the light of the lessons of the past experiments; sometimes he succeeds and fails at other times. And he leaves behind the positive and negative lessons of these attempts for the coming generations.

The history of the Communist Movement in India is around 90 years old. The Indian working class had already started its organized struggle against the capitalist exploitation around four decades before this. There can hardly be any doubt about the militancy of the struggles of working class or about the sacrifice, bravery and renunciation of the communists. But while dealing with the problems of organizing afresh the economic-political struggle of the proletariat population at large and of carrying out propaganda of their historical mission amongst them, when we re-evaluate the history, a lot of questions prop up regarding the work of the Communist Party among the workers.

It is a widely accepted fundamental proposition of Leninism that the working class movement which arises spontaneously against the wage slavery does not automatically, by its independent motion, become a struggle for socialism. Such a line of thinking was termed as economist, spontaneitist and syndicalist thinking by Lenin. It was his clear belief that: (i) The economic struggle does not become a political struggle by its spontaneous motion. (ii) The communists have to advance and extend the political struggle to a higher level than just economic struggle and at the same time have to run the activities of political education and propaganda among the working class. (That is to say, that the ideas of scientific socialism are not automatically born in the working class movement but have to be injected from outside). (iii) Trade unions are essential as an elementary school of the class struggle; however, the fundamental condition of moving towards the proletarian revolution is to bring the workers with advanced consciousness to the Marxist ideology through a political newspaper and by other means and accomplish the task of party building.

When we measure the work of the Communist Party in the working class movement of India against these parameters, we find serious mistakes continuously from 1920 to 1951 which could be termed as economist or trade-unionist deviation. We are not talking about the Communist Party after 1951 as it had become a completely revisionist party by then. While surveying the history, we will see that despite acquiring massive support of workers, the ideologically weak Communist Party having loose Bolshevik structure did not carry out any systematic political work among the workers at any point of time. Not surprisingly, under such circumstances the leadership of the National Movement could not come into the hands of the proletariat and the hegemony of the proletarian politics could not be established among the masses seeking emancipation. Between 1951 and 1967 the same could not be expected from the revisionist CPI and CPI (M). Afterwards the new wave arising after the Naxalbari uprising got entangled in the whirlwind of “left-wing” adventurism. The problems of the party work and mass work were never on its agenda. Most of those who got organized in different streams-sub-streams on the issue of mass line remained entangled in the fight for input cost- minimum support price for the rich peasantry due to the wrong understanding of the democratic revolution and even when they worked among the workers, it was not more than a militant economism. Today when we are deliberating on the challenges of organizing the working class afresh in the new conditions of globalization, it is very essential to think-ponder in the larger context of the relationship between the communist movement and working class movement in India and the one between the economic work and political work among the workers. In the same context we have tried to undertake a brief retrospection of history and made an attempt to draw important conclusions.(…Click here to read the full paper)

Changes in the Structure and modus-operandi of World Capitalism and the Working Class Movement of India: Challenges of a Revolutionary Resurgence

Changes in the Structure and modus-operandi of World Capitalism and the Working Class Movement of India: Challenges of a Revolutionary Resurgence

Paper presented in the second Arvind Memorial Seminar

Tapish Maindola

What is being termed as the globalization of capital today is basically a new phase of imperialism itself. The fundamental laws of motion of capital remain the same, but its modus operendi has undergone a number of important and fundamental changes. These very changes in the modus-operandi of capital have obliged us to seriously consider about the new strategy and new tactics of the working class movement.

In the era of laissez-faire capitalism itself, Marx had discussed in the ‘Communist Manifesto’ about the natural inherent tendency of capital to expand globally in the search of newer markets: “Owing to the need of the ever expanding market for its commodity, the bourgeois class explores every nook and corner of the world. It is forced to enter everywhere, consolidate everywhere and establish communication everywhere.” In the Manifesto itself Marx had made it clear that it is an intrinsic tendency of capital to create a world market across national borders by continuously searching for cheap labour power and new markets for the commodities produced. It was this ever-increasing speed of the international circulation of capital which led capitalism to the stage of imperialism which was the era of the creation of international market and the dominance of finance capital over it. Lenin formulated the characteristic features of this era as follows: (1) Export of capital along with the export of commodities and the former becoming more important. (2) Centralization of production and distribution in hands of large trusts and cartels.
(3) The merger of industrial and banking capital. (4) The division of the world by the capitalist powers into their respective spheres of influence. (5) After this division the inter-imperialist struggle for the re-division of the world market.

What is being termed as globalization today is not a new stage of capitalism following imperialism, but a new phase of imperialism itself. The fundamental characteristics and features of imperialism are present as it is. Notwithstanding, howsomuch bleak the present and future might look to those who view history from their empirical viewpoint, the scientific outlook tells us that we are still in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions. The prolonged and incurable structural crisis of capitalism is the biggest proof of the fact that capitalism is not immortal and neither is it the last stage of human history. The defeat of the proletarian revolutions of the 20th century also is not the last word of history. This is just the end of the first round of the proletarian revolutions, on the basis of whose sum-up, this historical march will move ahead in strides from the beginning to the victory of the new proletarian revolutions of the 21st century.

The proletarian revolutions of the twentieth century were the trend-setter revolutions of history. But the mistakes, flaws, incompleteness of the great trend-setter social experiments are quite understandable. Now it is the responsibility of generations of the vanguard, who are the bearers of the new proletarian revolutions of the twenty-first century, to analyse the revolutionary experiments of the twentieth century and take positive and negative lessons thereof. However, ironically, most of the people in the revolutionary left are prisoner of their dogmatic mulishness of blindly imitating the great revolutions of the past, in the name of learning from them. From the fact of continuation of the imperialist era, they deduce that the things are more-or-less the same as in the twentieth century and there is no need for any change in the policies and strategies of proletarian revolution. Whenever somebody talks of changing the policies, strategies and general tactics according to the changing circumstances, the victims of this dogmatism feel that it is a deviation from the ideology itself. It is difficult to move ahead without disentangling this knot of dogmatism.

A close look at the realities of life reveals that despite the fact that we are still in the era of imperialism, such fundamental changes have occurred in the modus-operandi of capital and the economic-political structure of world capitalist system has been so reorganized in such a way during the last two or three decades, that we can no longer suspend the task of rethinking about the policy-strategy and path of the proletarian revolution, and also, as a part of it, about the question of rebuilding the trade union movement.(…Click here to read the full paper)

New Orientation of the Working Class Movement: Prospects, Problems and Challenges

New Orientation of the Working Class Movement: Prospects, Problems and Challenges

paper presented in the second Arvind Memorial Seminar

-Ganesh Ram Chowdhury

History is witness to the fact that the working class movement anywhere in the world has succeeded in taking a big leap after breaking the stagnation and in scaling new heights only when it has waged a ruthless, uncompromising struggle against the alien tendencies and various non-proletarian lines. When there is a period of stagnation and when the deviations are the order of the day, only those can stand up against the dogmatism, intellectual opportunism, economism-parliamentarianism, spontaneitism and the colourful expressions of “left-wing” and right-wing deviations, who have the true Leninist courage of swimming against the tide without bothering about the blames-abuses-slandering.

We are ready for an open and long debate, but we find it indisputable that in the changed economic and political conditions of the world and of India, the revolutionary working class movement needs to be rebuilt on a new ground and according to a new roadmap. It goes without saying that the legacy of all the working class movements and proletarian revolutions of the nineteenth-twentieth century is our heritage, without which we could not stand where we are today and could not discuss and analyze the present and future. But a new future cannot be created by merely repeating the struggles of the past. Today the primacy of the aspect of change has been established over the aspect of tradition. There is a lot which needs to be taken and learnt from the tradition but the new strategy and new path for the working class movement needs to be evolved after understanding the changes in the structure of the world capitalism and processes of capitalist production and exchange through the methodology of scientific materialism. The deviations present in the working class movement are the biggest stumbling block in understanding the new circumstances and evolving a new path. The dogmatists remain adamant that the imperialist world in which we are living is exactly the same as was told by Lenin or by the Chinese party in 1963. On the other hand, we have the intellectual opportunists who while wantonly analyzing the current phase of imperialism or the socialist experiments of the past, turn into “free thinkers” and in the name of developing the theory, plunge into the trash of the anarcho-syndicalism.(…Click here to read the full paper)