I am interested in ‘Marxism’ as a field or a force-field in the sense in which we think of electromagnetic or gravitational fields, where objects and bodies impact on other bodies and objects, and have effects, without necessarily coming into contact.
Ever since the 2008 financial crisis and the beginning of the end of the neoliberal order, when sales of Marx’s writings, of Capital in particular, went up dramatically, there have been prognostications of the ‘return of Marx’. Indeed, there has also been an attempt, for a much longer time now, especially after the collapse of Soviet-bloc socialism, of a ‘return to Marx’. Both the millennial expectation of Marx’s Second Coming and that of a ‘return to’, display a distinct theological orientation – insisting on a return to the pristine source, uncontaminated by the ‘deviations’ wrought by Leninist or Maoist-inspired practice in the underdeveloped regions of the world.
Earlier this month, I travelled to Gambella in South West Ethiopia to visit the 100,000 ha farm managed by Karuturi Global Ltd ; an Bangalore-based company that hopes to use its farm in Ethiopia to become one of the largest food producers in the world. Karuturi has become the most visible symbol of what activists have termed “land grab” in Africa; a term that is as contentious as the process itself. At various times, Kafila has also carried pieces on the subject. Some the material put out by groups like Human Rights Watch has been hard to verify, but the process itself is worth following. Appended below, my Sunday story for The Hindu.
Gambella (Ethiopia): Last August, Ojulu sat smoking a cigarette outside his thatch-roofed hut in Pino village when a rising tide of water seeped through the reed fence. “The water came in the morning,” Ojulu said, “And stayed for a month.”
As Ojulu and his neighbours scrambled to higher ground the Baro river swirled through the village, gathering in force until it breached a series of dykes, built by Bangalore-based Karuturi Global, and swamped the company’s vast 100,000-hectare farm. “Karuturi blocked the natural route of the water [with the dyke], so the water came into our village,” Ojulu said. “Karuturi was the cause of the flood.” Read the rest of the story here
One of my friends in a discussion group in Colombo on ‘Democratising State and Society’ put forward the following challenge couple weeks ago. He said, a year after the end of the war, many of us who had been following the situation of the displaced people in the North, including the lack of freedom of movement and the militarization of the North have done little to engage the oppressive economic conditions of those affected by the war and now being resettled. That challenge was in the back of my mind as I visited Jaffna for ten days over the last two weeks. I tried to grasp what one could on a short visit. The following are very preliminary notes on the Jaffna economy, with a particular emphasis on agriculture and fisheries which ¬- despite technocratic and diasporic dreams of an information economy – continue to determine the economic life of the larger Jaffna population. These tentative notes I hope will stimulate some interest towards much needed research on the economy of the Jaffna District and the war affected Northern and Eastern Provinces. Continue reading Notes on the Jaffna Economy→