Guest post by SOUMITRA GHOSH
One of the biggest and most visible problems plaguing the anti-capitalist social movements of today is the statist framework which conditions, shapes and governs their thoughts and actions. Thus the political praxis which should ideally be moored in a post-capitalist (hence post-state) vision of society, is seldom reached, and the movements are stuck in the morass of extremely limited actions informed by their purely normative and emotive thoughts about how the present society should function. The war-cry of justice is aired, millions take to the street demanding it, yet this ‘justice’ is rarely explained in terms of the real and the grounded. It is taken for granted that the state will be transformed from its overtly pro-capital avatar to a more radical one by this means or another because the movements want it to change: what is forgotten is that history has seen hundreds of experiments with such ‘changed’ states—each one of which failed in the long run, and led to a more coercive rule of capital.
Also, today’s social movements are non-violent and democratic, which in reality means that they prefer working within the framework of parliamentary democracy, and where that is absent, fight for it. Once again, the history of the institution of parliamentary democracy is forgotten: willy-nilly, it’s ignored that historically—more so going by today’s neo-liberal situation—such democracy is intrinsically linked with capitalist production systems and the hegemony of capital in both our societies and polities. Continue reading Whither Social Movements? Exploring the Problematic and Action Strategy: Soumitra Ghosh
SOUMITRA GHOSH is with the National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers. This post came as a response to Rohini Hensman’s recent post Getting Indian Democracy Right
Is India a democracy? This question has to be seen in context of the complex and plural character of the present Indian state and several other state like formations(for instance the Maoist People’s Sarkar in the liberated zones, the parallel administration run by the Nagas, areas and times where and when the extreme hegemony of one or the other mainstream political party or the feudal landlords substitutes the process of law—and others). There is also the fallacy whether India is a nation-state in the way other nation-states(for instance, China, USA, England) are, and whether the concept of a monolithic Western-type at all democracy applies in the Indian context (and if so, how far?). However, the question Rohini tries to raise deals more perhaps with our ethical constructs of democratic values than the character of the Indian state. If it is the former we enter the realm of ethical a-priories, which I too share: democracy is something that as a political process tolerates pluralism and leaves some space for minority dissents against dominant majorities. To take the democracy debate further and to include the Indian state in it will mean a different discourse, in which I am not going for the time being.
Continue reading Response to Rohini Hensman: Soumitra Ghosh
SOUMITRA GHOSH is with the National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (NFFPFW). A guest post received via Dilip Simeon
Does the Outlook article [by Arundhati Roy] tell us anything new? The Maoists have built a dream world in Dandakaranya, and the gun has heralded that dream. The Green Hunt is meant to shatter this dream, period…Apart from good anecdotes, there’s no political analysis of the movement, and the problematique of the Maoist movement was cursorily mentioned.
It seems rationality is banished. You oppose Green Hunt means that you see in the Maoists an unending series of dreamers and visionaries, and the making of a new world order. She doesn’t even bother to be historical, the history is what her contacts tell her.
What is utterly unacceptable is this woolly-headed,mushy and journalistic portrayal of a political movement. The Maoist movement was never,and won’t be a ‘adivasi’ movement,in the sense we use the term to describe a range of social movements.
Continue reading A Believer’s Obeisance: Soumitra Ghosh