Guest post by MAYA JOHN
[This is the first part of a two-part series on ‘society at the time of Covid-19’]
‘An elephant was attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff in panic and dies.’ – Anonymous
‘The idea of the self-sufficient character of science (“science for science’s sake”) is naive: it confuses the subjective passions of the professional scientist, working in a system of profound division of labour, in conditions of a disjointed society, in which individual social functions are crystallised in a diversity of types, psychologies, passions …. The fetishising of science, as of other phenomena of social life, and the deification of the corresponding categories is a perverted ideological reflex of a society in which the division of labour has destroyed the visible connection between social function, separating them out in the consciousness of their agents as absolute and sovereign values.’ – Nikolai Bukharin, 1931
The specter of Covid-19 is haunting India and many other countries in the world. As the fear of the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) grips India, and draconian state measures unleash havoc on the poor, it is imperative to trace back the clock so as to fully comprehend the underlying thrust of the current paranoia. Who have been carriers of the disease into India and what was done to identify and contain them? Whose paranoia is determining state policy? And are we possibly witnessing an ‘over-reaction’ shaped by the anxiety of upper classes? These questions imply the need, in class terms, for a closer scrutiny of the reasons behind the declaration of the pandemic.
Continue reading Knowability and Unknowabiility of COVID-19 – Is There ‘Class’ in the Coronavirus Panic? Maya John
Guest Post by DHEERESH SAINI
“In India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present — in political, economic and class terms — for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule. No section of the ruling class is currently working for the overthrow of the bourgeois parliamentary system. What the ruling classes seek to do is to use forms of authoritarianism to serve their class interests,”
When CPI(M) was under the stewardship of now deceased, voluntarily or forcefully retired leaders, young leaders-workers would say that when young leaders (who were actually middle aged then) like Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury take over, the party would zoom on to its real revolutionary track. Karat was always considered more principled and genuine between the two. Yechury has now succeeded Karat as the topmost leader. Meanwhile, the situation of the party that prided itself in waging nationwide struggle against the fascist forces went from bad to worse in West Bengal considered as its fort. In the present scenario, any party considered as progressive or secular, would be bound to face such situation. But it is disappointing to see CPI(M) hog the headlines, in such tough times, on account of constant tussle between its two stars considered most resplendent. Continue reading On the Ongoing Debate in CPI(M): Dheeresh Saini
The editorial and the list of articles in the dissenting dialogues Issue No 2, February 2011 are posted below. The entire issue can be downloaded as a pdf file from the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum website.
As the second issue of dissenting dialogues goes to press, we join in worldwide celebrations of the ongoing democratic revolution in Egypt, itself sparked off by an uprising in Tunisia. The Egyptian uprising, which has tremendous regional and possibly global consequences, came against a background of simmering unrest directed at a dictator who presided over a brutal, authoritarian regime. This regime was distinguished by its incarceration and torture not only of its own dissidents but of prisoners “renditioned” to it by the CIA, the denial of basic democratic rights on the pretext of fighting Islamism, and rising youth unemployment and inflation.
Although the timing and form of Egypt’s popular revolt could not have been predicted, an examination of the recent history of Egypt contextualises the forces at work. For a start, we cannot avoid looking at the recent history of neoliberalism in Egypt, its relationship to the authoritarianism of President Hosni Mubarak’s government, and the regime’s relationship to imperialism. The post-war history of Egypt also charts and indeed defines the historical trajectory of Third World sovereignty. Egypt’s revolt has to be understood in the context of the progressive socialist, anti-colonial struggle for national self-determination of the Bandung era from the 1950s until the liberalisation of the economy in the 1970s, the International Monetary Fund’s “restructuring” in the early 1990s, and the recent capitulation to the accumulation strategy of global finance capital.
Continue reading “dissenting dialogues” on Egypt, Sri Lanka and other debates