New Politics of Our Times and Post-Capitalist Futures

An earlier version of this essay was published in Outlook magazine

“The young students are not interested in establishing that neoliberalism works – they’re trying to understand where markets fail and what to do about it, with an understanding that the failures are pervasive. That’s true of both micro and macroeconomics. I wouldn’t say it’s everywhere, but I’d say that it’s dominant.
“In policymaking circles I think it’s the same thing. Of course, there are people, say on the right in the United States who don’t recognise this. But even many of the people on the right would say markets don’t work very well, but their problem is governments are unable to correct it.”
Stiglitz went on to argue that one of the central tenets of the neoliberal ideology – the idea that markets function best when left alone and that an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth – has now been pretty much disproved. Read the full report by Will Martin here

One often hears over-zealous warriors of neoliberalism say of Leftists that they live in a time- warp; that the world has long changed and that the disappearance of state-socialism has finally proved that all their beliefs were little more than pipe-dreams. They talk as though history came to an end with the collapse of actually existing socialisms and the global ascendance of neoliberalism in the early 1990s. As though all thought came to an end; as if the distilled essence of everything that could ever be thought, or need be thought, was already encapsulated in the neoliberal dogma.

Continue reading “New Politics of Our Times and Post-Capitalist Futures”

Recalling ‘Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab’: Raj Kaithwar

Guest post by RAJ KAITHWAR

As I began to type this review, I struggled to begin with the beginning: how do I present this lively work on ‘talaab’ which does justice to its contents. It was not an easy task. Finally, I decided to begin with the end: the thoughts which clouded over me as I ended reading the book ‘Aaj Bhi Khare Hai Talaab’. How do we see a ‘talaab’ or do we even see it? Why are the modern ways of water conservation failing or are the modern ways even inclined at conserving? Who will protect the societies and ecologies from the rising dangers or is protection even a concern? As I describe some of the accounts from ‘Aaj Bhi Khaare Hai Talaab’ I hope it arouses a curiosity strong enough in the reader to pick up the book and scan through its pages. Continue reading “Recalling ‘Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab’: Raj Kaithwar”

Individuality and a Liberal Error – A Response to Pratap Mehta: Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi

Guest post by HUZAIFA OMAIR SIDDIQI

It has often been broadcast that we live in a post-truth age. In fact we live in an age better envisioned as one of post-certainty, where everything and every fact is liable to be pronounced uncertain and doubtful. The problem with the mainstream liberal discourse is its inability to catch up to the inevitable demise of certainty in the political sphere. What was most certain, according to Descartes, was the being of one’s own ego. In this age of post-certainty, this is the last certainty which the liberal discourse still seems to stick to, in the name of ‘individual rights’, without ever understanding the real essence of the question of individuality.

Muhammad Iqbal was the public intellectual of the last century who made this question of individuality his very own guiding question. This guiding question, how does individuation happen, was part of his desire to formulate his basic question, how does the community of individuals come into being? Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in his opinion piece in The Indian Express has sought to diagnose the tragedy of Iqbal as one which in its sacrifice of the rights of the individual, attempted to pursue the consolidation of the truly spiritual community. Mehta, one of India’s finest public intellectuals, cannot be questioned within this paradigm of liberal thinking.

Continue reading “Individuality and a Liberal Error – A Response to Pratap Mehta: Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi”

National Call to Join Three-Day Dharna in Jaipur to Demand Justice Regarding the Lynching of Pehlu Khan

In a unique instance of a united initiative, a number of organizations in Rajasthan have come together to protest the lynching of Pehlu Khan and to demand justice in the matter. A large demonstration was recently held in Jaipur, following which many organizations of different political persuasions have come together to call for a three-day national dharna outside the Rajasthan State Assembly from 24-26 April 2017. The organizations which have issued the appeal published below include: Rajasthan Nagrik Manch, PUCL, CPI (M), CPI, NFIW, AIDWA, WRG, Vividha, National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, BGVS, MKSS, Suchna Evam Rozgar Adhikar Manch, JIH, Dr. Ambedkar Vichar Manch, CDR, AIDMAM, Welfare Party of India, Jan Vichar Manch, Samajwadi Party, JD (U), SIO, SFI, Rajasthan Smagra Sewa Sangh, HRLN, Samta Gyan Vigyan Manch, All India Kisan Sabha, NAPM, WRG, Vividha, SDPI, RUWA, Zari Workers Union and others.

JAIPUR CHALO!! JAIPUR CHALO!!

NATIONAL CALL TO JOIN THE DHARNA IN JAIPUR, RAJASTHAN

DEMANDING JUSTICE IN THE MATTER OF LYNCHING OF PEHLU KHAN AT BEHROR, ALWAR

Friends,

As you are aware that 55 year old Pehlu Khan a dairy farmer from Nuh, Mewat district in Haryana was lynched by a group of so called Gaurakshaks on NH 8 at Behror, Rajasthan, when he was returning with four others, including his 2 sons, in 2 pick up trucks, after buying a few cows (along with the documents) from the fair in Hatwara, near Jaipur city. At about 6.30pm on the 1st of April, their vehicles were stopped and they were pulled out of their vehicles and beaten up brutally by a mob and later Pehlu Khan succumbed to his injuries on the 3rd of April at Kailash hospital in Behror. Azmat who was critically injured was harassed by the police in the name of investigations, that he too was not given proper treatment and even today he remains seriously sick and in a state of trauma.

Continue reading “National Call to Join Three-Day Dharna in Jaipur to Demand Justice Regarding the Lynching of Pehlu Khan”

Beyond Defeatism – Political Parties and the Fight Against Hindutva

The following, necessarily brief, reflections have been sparked off by two recent posts on Kafila – one by Biju Mathew published on 16 April, and the other by CP Geevan, published today. These reflections should not be seen as a response to the positions taken by Biju and/ or Geevan; they are, in fact, more in the way of addressing the central question raised by Biju Mathew’s piece – that of despondency and pessimism that has followed the UP elections and more importantly, the stealthy manner in which Adityanath was installed as the chief minister in the state. Stealthy, because after all, it was amply clear even to the decision makers in BJP, from the very beginning that if they had entered the election campaign with Adityanath as the chief ministerial face, it might have yielded very different results. It was too  big a risk to be undertaken.The real stroke of Modi-fascist genius lay precisely in keeping not just the electorate but also the organizational machinery in the dark and turning it into an advantage.

As it happens, despite the sharpness of Geevan’s comments, my sense, on reading the two pieces, is that there isn’t really as great a divergence on most issues as might appear at first sight.

Continue reading “Beyond Defeatism – Political Parties and the Fight Against Hindutva”

Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by CP GEEVAN

The following is a response to the piece by Biju Mathew on Kafila, underlining the need for single-minded focus and keep the feet firmly on political realities

Given the exuberant optimism that Biju Mathew evokes in these dark days, many of us afflicted by malignant pessimism should not have many reasons to complain or pick holes in this view of looking back and foreseeing the way forward. On the face of it, this article does gladden one’s heart and spirit! However, imagining larger than life attributes to struggles and spells of resistance can be very misleading. In a way, with a rather benevolent interpretation, one cannot quarrel with Biju’s contention that nobody needs to wait for some political party to lead the resistances against the far-right takeover or start the process of breaking the ‘wave’. There is no hesitation in agreeing with the proposition that instead of waiting, which carries the risk of waiting indefinitely, it is imperative that each individual who is appalled at the turn of events must contribute urgently to building ‘innovative and locally responsive actions’. Well, inaction is certainly not an option. Act we must – in the face of the frightening likelihood of the saffron brigade unleashing a horrific civil war and engineering mass killings. There are no quarrels as to the primary intent of the article – that it is a call to shed excessive pessimism, end despondency, and take steps towards politically meaningful actions. Nevertheless, it will be a big mistake to imply that the process of banishing the gloom need not extend to the political rivals of the Hindutva nationalist parties. Continue reading “Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan”

Stepping Back/Stepping Forward – Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP: Biju Mathew

Guest post by BIJU MATHEW

The BJP’s appointment of Adityanath to the post of UP CM once electoral victory was secured has left many angry, sad and frightened. Already the ominous signs of inhuman mass violence are accelerating across UP. A more brazen Sangh will pivot off UP to spread terror and hatred across the country.  And yet, we must guard against an excessive pessimism and guide the anger and the sadness in productive directions.  The 2014 Lok Sabha, 2015 Delhi and Bihar and 2017 UP elections together are indicative of an evolving structural logic in Indian politics and show telltale signs of irresolvable contradictions that the Sangh is faced with. Modi and the BJP are riding a wave that is not entirely of their own making – a wave that will necessarily crest, break and crash in the not too distant future. How soon this wave can be interrupted, and what happens after that, does not depend on them, but on the rest of us.

So here then is the puzzle: Why do so many people support what is both an absurd and an unrealizable ideology? Absurd, because poverty, caste discrimination, corruption and government failures are not due to “enemies” or “enemy communities”- Muslims or Leftists, LoveJihadis or Beef eaters; and unrealizable because with over 400 million minorities and oppressed castes who will not fit into Hindu Rashtra, the saffron brigade can only deliver a horrific civil war. Does UP mean that, despite all this absurdity, this ideology has nevertheless triumphed in the Indian mind? Continue reading “Stepping Back/Stepping Forward – Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP: Biju Mathew”