Guest Post by RAJARSHI DASGUPTA
[ This post by Rajarshi Dasgupta continues the debate with Ranabir Samaddar’s piece on the character of the students’ movement that has begun in Jadavpur University which was published recently in DNA, also critiqued in a recent post in Kafila by Uditi Sen ]
Nobody knows why social science routinely condemns the lack of radicalism in society when social scientists with radical pasts so easily dismiss new radicalisms as harmful and shallow. I was attending a meeting on students’ politics in the campus I work on the other night, when some colleagues, who have long been part of progressive politics since their student life, voiced such sentiments. I was struck by the arguments they made against what they saw as merely fancy and passing fashion. They were rather similar to a set of arguments made by an older generation of teachers about my colleagues when they were young and radical students. I think these arguments are worth a little discussion since they show something like a pattern that is predictable to some extent, and which may reveal a more uneasy relationship between social science scholarship and social transformation than we usually care to admit. They also have a deep affinity with the criticisms aired about the recent students’ unrest in Jadavpur university, by Ranabir Samaddar among others. Unlike some who have written in support of the students, there are senior scholars like Samaddar who have expressed profound and serious misgivings that must be tackled head on. I will argue in the following that such misgivings result from a muddle of liberal and leftist understanding of the student’s place and the academy’s role in society. A more clear understanding becomes possible, incidentally, in this case, if one returns to a basic capitalist framing of the university.