The Supreme Court verdict on Singur land acquisition that eventually signaled the beginning of the end of CPI(M)-led Left Front’s 34 year long rule in West Bengal, has come as a breath of fresh air. It is especially so, because the advent of the Modi government at the Centre had succeeded in reinstating the logic of corporate development, brushing aside all concerns regarding environmental clearances to land acquisition, despite its attempts to undo the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 2013 (LARR 2013), being effectively rebuffed. The implications of the Singur judgement go far beyond West Bengal, for the argument made by Justices V. Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra underlines one thing starkly: the “brunt of development” should not be borne by the “weakest sections of the society, more so, poor agricultural workers who have no means of raising a voice against the action of the mighty State government.” While the 204 page still waits to be read more closely, it is clear that the break that the Singur-Nandigram moment had already initiated in the neoliberal consensus among the political and state elite in 2006-7, continues to acquire legitimacy. Even the 2013 Act was a consequence of that break. The SC verdict recognizes that ‘growth’ and industrialization’ do not come without costs and who pays for those costs remains a key question at the end of the day.
Continue reading The Singur Judgement, End of Neoliberalism and the CPI(M) Comedy Show
Guest post by SUNIL
[Sunil is the national vice-president of Samajwadi Jan Parishad. This article was written for a special issue of Janata weekly. The essay is an important statement from one of the leading activist-theorists of the socialist movement (i.e. non-Marxist socialism) which does not simply disavow the marxist legacy but engages with that experience as an essential component of socialist practice. AN]
The tussle between capitalism and socialism as alternative visions of human society is not yet over. It is like the old fable of the race between a hare and a tortoise. At times one seems to be the winner. At other times the other seems to be leading. Capitalism is like the hare of the story. It looks fast, impressive and dynamic but after some time it is tired and resting with its own contradictions. In the end, we know it is the tortoise of socialism which will prevail. But that end is yet to be arrived at.
Capitalism looked supreme and unchallengeable in the later decades of the past century. With the disintegration of USSR, reverting of China, Vietnam and many other communist countries to the path of capitalism, and downfall of social democracy in Europe, there was no challenge to capitalism. Thus ‘end of history’ was arrogantly announced. Market fundamentalism of Reagan and Thatcher varieties started ruling over the world. But soon many crises arrived. Ecological crisis with the dangers of climate change and global warming on the one hand, and the global financial crisis with the worst recession since the thirties on the other, shook the faith in the supremacy and immortality of capitalist civilization. Added to these were the growing crises of hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, violence and war. The number of hungry people in the world kept growing and crossed the figure of 100 cores in the first decade of the twenty first century i.e. every sixth person on the earth today remains underfed and starved. This is perhaps the biggest and the most glaring failure of capitalism. Even after more than two centuries of the industrial revolution and miraculous progress of science and technology, it is unable to fulfill even the most basic need of the humankind.
Continue reading Socialism of the New Century: Sunil
Believe it or not, experts at the World Bank and the IMF are disovering the virtues of something we at Kafila have been, off and on, debating: the so-called ‘underground economy’, the ‘informal sector’ or what has also been called the sphere of ‘noncorporate capital’.
“Economists have long thought the underground economy — the vast, unregulated market encompassing everything from street vendors to unlicensed cab drivers — was bad news for the world economy. Now it’s taking on a new role as one of the last safe havens in a darkening financial climate, forcing analysts to rethink their views”, states a recent Wall Street Journal report from Ahmedabad. Continue reading The Rise of the Underground – A New Discovery?