RSS Feed

More on Assam Question

Posted by স্বাভিমান

Arup Baisya

NRC question has opened up the Pandora’s Box of diverse political discourses which were hitherto selectively surfaced as a weapon of the ruling class. It’s not confined to the question of liberal or conservative version of citizen’s rights, not even to humanitarian or utilitarian viewpoints. The social pressure is mounting on all the political formations and public intellectuals to clear their position and reveal their class character. The some of the left-practitioners who have become braggadocious and internalized the art of doublespeak to keep their linguistically and spatio-temporally segregated support-base in good humour is now under challenge. The changing social dynamics and polarization has blurred the old fault-lines, and the emerging new dimensions of social contradictions gives rise to transitory situation of flux. The points and counter-points that are reverberating in and out of all political discourses must settle somewhere within the garb of social movements. The roadmap is not yet clear. But one thing is clear that the chauvinist road of sub-national aspirations will lead to doom. This article is a limited attempt to dwell on the history of Assam and on the genesis of chauvinism and its ramification on the fate of the people of Assam.     .      
When the Ahom kingdom passed into British hands in 1826, it was the first time in history that the Assamese heartland became politically incorporated into a pan-Indian imperial formation. However the history of Ahom kingdom is not synonymous with the history of the area that came to be referred to as Assam. Among the large pre-colonial political formation in the region was the Koch kingdom. At its height in sixteenth century, the Koch kingdom encompassed eastern Assam and significant parts of Northern Bengal that now form the part of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. In 1581 the kingdom was split into Koch Bihar, which included district of Koch Bihar and parts of Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Rangpur (in present-day West Bengal and Bangladesh); and Kamrup or Koch Hajo, which included nearly all of western Assam and much of central Assam, including contemporary districts such as Barpeta, Kamrup, Nalbari, Darrang and parts of Sonitpur. Within the period 1609 to 1613, the entire Koch kingdom was annexed by the Mughals. But by the Mughal’s emporer Firman on August 12, 1765, the district of Goalpara (now divided into four districts) including the Garo Hills region (now in the state of Meghalaya), which was part of the Mughal province of Bengal came under the control of East India company. Assam, as a colonial province, was formed in 1874. The new province initially included the undivided districts of Goalpara, Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgang, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, parts of Naga Hills, and the district of cachar and Garo Hills including the adjacent eastern Duars – which was under Bhutanese influence in the early nineteenth century and was annexed by the British in 1866. On September 12, 1874 the East Bengal district of Sylhet – historically unconnected to Assam – was included in Assam. The primary goal of making Assam a new administrative entity was to find an inexpensive and effective way to administer the area; considerations of historical continuity or cultural continuity were not in the minds of colonial officials. (Sanjib Baruah : 2001).
When colonial administrators decided to combine Assam and Eastern Bengal into a single province, they came close to removing the word Assam from the name of the new province. The name initially proposed was North Eastern Province. The main opposition to the change of name from Assam did not come from the Assamese, but from the mostly British Tea Industry because of brand name of Assam Tea in the international market. Sanjib Baruah argues that the colonial political geography was part of what has been called Orientalism that evolved as a tool of colonial domination. The British segregated the Hills from the plains by drawing inner lines along the foothills and thus broke the historical contact and the ties between plains and hills people, especially between the Assamese and the Nagas, during Ahom kingdom. The British also saw Assam as an extension of Bengal from their administrative point of view and the notion of political geography. Early colonial administrators regarded the Assamese language as an offshoot of Bengali. From 1837 to 1873, Bengali was the language of the courts and government schools of Assam. The demand that Assamese be made the language of education and of the courts in Assam produced a major political controversy in the 1860s. Assamese intellectuals, in alliance with Baptist missionaries, who at that time were writing grammars and dictionaries of Assamese for their own reasons, managed to convince British colonial officials of their case, and Assamese became recognized as the language of Assam.
Sylhet was part of Assam through the entire period from 1874 to 1947. Shillong as the capital of Assam – which continued till 1971 – had to do with Sylhet being part of Assam. Bengali constituted 45.8 percent of the population of Assam in 1911 and that was more than double the number of Assamese speaker. Having been part of Bengal – British India’s most dynamic province - Sylhet had substantially more experience with colonial rule, and there was an English-educated class who could immediately take advantage of the opportunities opened up in the new frontier. In 1926, when the Assam council debated the separation of Sylhet, Muslim leader Saadullah and a representative from Sylhet, Dewan Wasil Choudhury, opposed the proposal. The opinion polarized on Hindu-Muslim line, Muslims opposed separation of Sylhet from Assam. But in the backdrop of politics of partition of India on the basis of two-nation theory, when a referendum was held in June 1947, the Bengali Muslims voters opted for Pakistan. Sylhet was partitioned by which Patherkandi, ratabari, Badarpur and part of Karimganj remained with Assam and the rest of Sylhet became part of Pakistan. Thus the advantage of the Bengali people of Sylhet in colonial province of Assam was scuttled through a communal line. But the question of immigration after the British conquest of Assam later became the source of ethno-political conflict. The discovery of tea and the natural resources like oil, coal etc attracted investors in Assam in 1830s and 1840s. Thus what Assam saw in the nineteenth century was nothing short of an economic revolution accompanied by massive ecological destruction. British saw the early nineteenth century Assam as a land with vast expanses of uninhibited land for productive expansion and revenue collection. As a result of the British conquest, Sanjib Barua rightly asserts, Assam became a land frontier attracting large-scale immigration, especially the tea-labourers from erstwhile Bengal-Bihar-Madhya Pradesh and Bengali Muslim immigrants from adjoining areas of Bengal Province in Lower Assam. Sanjib Barua writes, “the primary factor that transformed Assam into a land frontier was political conquest. For as long as Assam was not part of British India – aided further by the inaccessible forests and lack of roads – Assam was nobody’s land frontier. It is only the British conquest of Assam that turned it into what came to be seen a “natural” land frontier – a sparsely populated region located next to a densely populated region of the Indian subcontinent.” “Assam has been the fastest growing area in the subcontinent for the past seventy years” wrote Myron weimer in 1978.
Assam’s decennial population growth rate since 1951 was higher than the previous growth rate. As per census report, the population growth rate during 1951-61, 1961-71 were respectively 34.98% and 34.95%. For this period from 1951-71, we can safely rely on Prof. Susanta K. Das who delineated three factors viz. an increase in the natural rate of increase, the influx of Hindu refugee, and immigration from the rest of India as the three main factors for increase in population growth rate. From 1911 to 1951, the decennial growth rate was around 20%. During the period 1905-11 when Dacca was the capital of Assam, the population growth rate was 16.99%. The Assam’s population growth rate was always higher than all India average, but the variation was highest during 1911-21 (20.78%) and then 13.34% in 1951-61, 10.15% in 1961-71. It seems that migration due to political reasons was one of the prime factors in the increase in growth rate during this period. There was no census in 1981. In twenty years span of time from 1971-1991, the growth rate was 52.44% and it was not much higher than pre-1951 period. So the large-scale migration from Bangladesh cannot be considered as the contributing factor for the population growth rate during this period. The communal polarization that was set in motion on the question of separation of Sylhet and India’s partition has its grave ramification on Assam’s politics. Those Muslim peasant masses who returned to their original abode in Assam villages post-independence in pursuance of Nehru-Liyakat Pact faced intimidation and administrative harassment. To establish the overwhelming power of the Assamese Bourgeois-Landlord class and to paint Assam as a unilingual state, Majoritarian politics of suppressing the religio-linguistic identity of the Bengali Muslim peasantry was played out. Assam witnessed a large-scale state-sponsored persecution and intimidation of Muslim masses before and after every census to compel them to identify themselves as Assamese speaking people.   
In the case of exodus of Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam during 1971-72, we had the refugee camp registers to find from there the total number of refugees. Wild rumours about fictitious figures got circulated among the indigenous inhabitants. They constantly haunted their mind like ominous dreams and actuated them to react violently. A legacy of frenzied popular outbursts can be traced from 1960 when they turned furious and their organized outbursts took sectarian form. A local militia called Lachit Sena also surfaced at that time. This compelled a good number of Bengali Hindu immigrants clandestinely living in Assam to enter into the state of West Bengal and settle there permanently. The natives also reacted in 1961, 1963 and in 1970. These entire popular outbursts, after lasting for some week subsided. But in 1972 there were desperate ethnic outburst which turned into a major north-eastern issue. It lasted for some weeks and then discontinued due to intervention of West Bengal and Assam leaders. By 1975 numerous reports started appearing in Indian newspapers about illegal Bangladeshi emigrants in Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Tripura and other border states in India. The External affairs Minister reported to the Parliament that the number of illegal migrants in India from Bangladesh between April to December 1974 was 15,278; in 1975 it was 38,445 and in 1976 it stood at 7,014. According to an estimate, about ten million or one crore Bengali refugees had officially returned from India to Bangladesh in accordance with Indira-Mujib Pact by 25 March 1972 when the refugee camps were officially closed. The government of India’s official records indicates that during the period of the War of Liberation as many as 9,899,305 Bangladeshi nationals crossed the Indo-Bangladesh border without travel documents and sought shelter on humanitarian grounds in the Indian territories. The number of the arrival of such persons in West Bengal was 7,493,474; 1,416,491 in Tripura; 667,986 in Meghalaya; 312,713 in Assam and 8,641 in Bihar. West Bengal and Tripura Government shifted 292,400 persons from there to the newly opened camps in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The number of government refugee camps was 492 in West Bengal; 276 in Tripura; 28 in Assam; 17 in Meghalaya; 8 in Bihar; 3 in Madhya Pradesh and 1 in Uttar Pradesh.
The colonial claim of ‘land abundance’ was often accepted by the Assamese intelligentsia. According to the Census of 1911, the population density in the cultivated land of Assam per square mile was higher than the all -India average. Another set of statistics indicates that during 1894-1919, the proportion of the uncultivated area to the net area was higher than the all-India average. One of the uncultivated tracts known as Chapori, the flood plains of Brahmaputra Rivers, was exposed to many layers of hazards. As there was no scope for permanent agricultural activity and the Assamese peasants were not familiar with the production of commercial crops like Jute, the Bengali Muslims peasants were later settled to reclaim the land with their expertise and hard labour. During the British period, Assamese peasant society was primarily constituted of landlord, peasant proprietor, sharecropper, and agricultural labourer. By 1860s, the Raiyatwari system of land tenure was firmly in place except the districts like undivided Goalpara, Karimganj where Bengal’s permanent settlement was in place. During the entire period of British rule, Assam’s rural landscape was agog with the conflict between the interests of tenants and the landlords. In the 1940s, the presence of communist organizations gave an orientation in the political consciousness of the Assamese peasant society. A branch of communist league or the Revolutionary communist party (RCPI) was formed in October 1939 and several Assamese students from prestigious cotton college joined the party and the student wing under the influence of  Saumendranath Tagore (1901-74), a grand-nephew of Rabindranath Tagore and a Trotskyite in political orientation. RCPI formed the Krishak Banua Panchayat (KBP) as its peasant wing in May 1940. RCPI and much later, the CPI in months before independence were advocating radical land reform and sided with the class interest of the poor and middle peasants, and agricultural labourers. RCPI’s mouthpiece Biplabi Khetiak highlighted the dependence of Indian middle class on agriculture, criticised Congress for their understanding of landlords as benevolent and advocated peasant movement on communist line. RCPI was also in favour of armed struggle and formation of soviet-styled rural commune. During Quit India movement, the communist organizations made deep inroads within the peasantry and RCPI organized several conferences in 1945 where large number of poor Assamese peasants participated. But both communist organizations had underestimated and even overlooked the design of the Assamese feudal class to shift the desire of the land ownerships of the tenants, the poor and mid-peasants, against the culturally alien Muslim peasantries. The peasant having certain form of the ownership of means of production has petty-bourgeois character and vulnerable to fall prey to the exclusionary appeal of ruling class. The communists did not have any political programme to combat the retaliation of landlord-bourgeois class in the form of Assamese chauvinist nationalism to dismantle the unity of the peasantry on the one end and to blunt the appeal of the land-reform slogan through partial land-reform and changing class dynamics in the post-independence period. The Assamese leadership of the communist movement misinterpreted the chauvinist content as the genuine aspiration of the oppressed sub-nationality. The shrinking base of the communist organizations opened the space for chauvinist politics and the resultant anti-minority pogroms. The rise of CPI(M) through mass-struggle on people’s issues has not also eradicated the ambiguity in the people’s mind on the communist project on nationality question. The Naxalbari peasant upsurge had also its reverberation in Assam’s society. The CPI(ML) could made significant inroads within the rural masses. The significant and meaningful attempt was made by PCC CPI(ML) to develop a revolutionary programme addressing caste-cass and nationality question and to build resistance movement against chauvinism. But it faced chauvinist onslaught at its premature stage. It could not sustain and expand its revolutionary activities beyond a cycle of expansion and contraction primarily due to the changing class dynamics of Assam’s landscape through proletarianisation and precariatisation, but it could retain its revolutionary character without making any compromise with chauvinism or bourgeois nationalism. CPI(M) was popularly perceived as a left-of-centre version of ruling class parties. They opposed Assam movement; their cadres were murdered due to their opposition, but never launched an alternative communist programme to fight chauvinism tooth and nail. In this light, the role of the Assamese left-liberal public intellectuals like Dr. Hiren Gohain needs to be assessed. Suneet Chopra writes in the journal Social Scientist in 1982, “Moreover, it is curious that Gohain does not include the Muslim minority in Assam as also native, which they undoubtedly are. In fact, Islam had been introduced to Kamrup in 1205 A. D. by the invasion of Bakhtiar Khilji, a few years previous to the Ahom arrival in 1228 A. D. The guide of the first invasion was himself an Assamese convert, Ali Mech. A colony of Muslims has existed in Hajo from 1498 A. D. The same holds largely for Muslim populations in Goalpara, Darrang and Nowgong. This does not mean immigrants have not been coming in, but it should be noted that the vast majority of Assamese Muslims, whatever their date of origin, are being assimilated into Assamese society.”
Suneet Chopra also wrote, diversionary movements have always proved slippery ground for intellectuals. The organised intervention of the ruling classes among the masses has a particularly terrifying effect on those intellectuals who are not a part of the organised working class movement. They are often tempted to rationalise their sentiments and eventually in the name of tactics begin to churn out apologies on behalf of the very movements they concede are basically against the interests of the very people embroiled in them. Hiren Gohain's latest paper "Once More on the Assam Movement" is the case in point.”
Lenin too, in dealing with the national question, has made it perfectly clear that "the development of nationality in general is the principle of bourgeois nationalism; hence the exclusiveness of bourgeois nationalism, hence the endless national bickering. The proletariat, however, far from undertaking to uphold the national development of every nation, on the contrary, warns the masses against such illusions, stands for the fullest freedom of capitalist intercourse and welcomes every kind of assimilation of nations that which is founded on force or privilege.”
Assam is once again at its crossroad to decide its future on citizenship and nationality question which can be visualized from a revolutionary perspective of working class politics or a communal-chauvinist sub-nationalism of establishing political hegemony over the toiling masses. One road leads to prosperity, another to collective doom. Assam urgently needs a revolutionary programme which, of course, needs to be evolved through popular interactions within the working class and social movements.

References : 

India against itself : Assam and Politics of Nationality : Sanjib Baruah : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Illegal Migrations and the North-East : A Study of Migrants from Bangladesh : Sibopada De : Anamika Pub and Distributors, 2005
A Century of Protests : Peasant Politics in Assam since 1900 : Arupjyoti Saikia : Routledge, 2014.
The Assam Movement and the Left: A Reply to Hiren Gohain Author(s): Suneet Chopra Source: Social Scientist, Vol. 10, No. 11 (Nov., 1982), pp. 63-70

 Click Here : http://www.frontierweekly.com/views/sep-18/29-9-18-More%20on%20Assam%20Question.html
    

  

Assam situation : A revolutionary perspective

Posted by স্বাভিমান Labels: , , ,

Arup Baisya

Misconstrued notion galore

   
       Marxist do not judge chauvinism primarily by its ideology but rather what is their position in a concrete situation of given relations and struggles between the classes. In Assam, it’s a common perception that the defeat of chauvinism is the precondition for the rise of radical workers-peasants movement. But there are moments in history when both get intertwined in certain space-time in a relation of simultaneity and these moments are revolutionary moments. In absence of a revolutionary force, these moments are also moments of crisis, moments of social paralysis when social activism is hamstrung by intellectual bankruptcy in myriads of ideas. The ideas revolve around broad institutional rationality or irrational illusion. In Assam, barring a few, the intellectual opinion digs into historical anecdote in a stereotypical manner. The discourse on the history of the Assam’s past in popular political parlance gets constantly constructed and reconstructed with a vision to the future. This is bound to happen because the history of the Assam’s past, like the socio-historical past of mankind, is not fixed, one-dimensional and completely knowable for all. Facts are not judged in a social context; the static representation of the past in the Hindutva-vadi discourse is not contested with a future project that does not invent the past, but articulates it. The moments of history is lost by hovering around the decadent and static ideas. The static ideas of rationality seek solace in stalemate and in status quo under the garb of peace and tranquility, be it inhuman beneath the surface, the surface that is not penetrated. These ideas address the citizenship question in Assam in a statist format. The decadent irrationality digs up the past to romanticize the irrational as rational. This irrationality even eulogizes the extreme chauvinist experiment of ULFA.  From a statist viewpoint, the Indian Maoists extended their support to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). But judging from the people’s point of view, it would not have been difficult to see that the ULFA’s secessionist struggle has a structural pull towards converting the struggle for Assamese self determinism into aggressive chauvinism. So long as the leadership of sub-nationalism is in the hands of middle class both in content and form, it will never be a successful assertion of the oppressed community. Rather, it will channelize the collective energy of sub-national suppressed angst and ego into a psychological warfare against a imaginary other, the other which is more oppressed and vulnerable under the hegemony of suppressed sub-nationalism. This continuous psychological warfare in the mundane quotidian affairs sometime burst into aggression against the imaginary ‘other’ to eliminate and annihilate the other’s mere physical existence. This aggression happens in a particular moment of change of dynamics in the relation between the sub-nationalism and their real and imaginary enemy. This is what happened during Assam Movement, during ULFA movement and in present phase revolving around citizenship question. To visualise the Assam movement as the assertion of oppressed nationality is a defocus aberration. The position of CPI(ML), liberation, during Assam movement to treat Assam movement which resulted into the mass killings of thousands of toiling masses as progressive revealed such aberration from Marxists premise of social relation and class struggle. Assam being a multi-identity state has diverse identity aspirations and assertions with inherent contradictions developed from multitudinous interests overlapping each other. However, under the circumstantial pull, a consensus is emerging within the left radicals.

Status Quo contrived

           Every phase of aggressive chauvinism in Assam has its own social context and national and international perspective. We must delve into these aspects to articulate the moments of history. The revolutionary tradition of articulating such moment of history needs to be detoured and decoded for appreciation of such moment of history. In an article on the tasks of the Revolution in India, Trotsky compared the conditions for the revolutionary struggle with those in Russia in 1917. He concluded that the central difference is the lack of a Bolshevik party. In addition to the lack of a Bolshevik Party as mentioned by Trotsky in assessing the pre-independence Indian situation, my proposition here is to delineate the fact that the present moment in Assam is a moment of simultaneity of the defeat of chauvinism and rise of radical worker-peasant movement in the vacuum created by the absence of grass-root organizations of the workers and peasants.
          The chauvinism in this phase in Assam is revolving around the question of citizenship. The twist and turn, the diverse interpretations, the division of camp-followers, the different shades of compromise with communal-chauvinism, the wishful thinking of democratic resolution by only hammering on ideological front and on the conscience of enlightened middle class are emanating from a status quoist approach without dwelling on the changing social milieu.

Global capital personified

         The fanning of communal and chauvinist passions on the question of citizenship has its national and international ramifications. Nationally, the communal fascists force is in the helm of affairs. The state-finance nexus for accumulation of capital through dispossession is most glaring under the present dispensation. One of the myriad kinds of dispossession is the dispossession of vulnerable communities from land. Disfranchisement makes the communities especially the dalits and muslims vulnerable to fall prey to such accumulation through dispossession without resistance. They become cheap labour as migrant workers in ongoing construction work under look-act policy and become prone to inhuman intimidation. The recent incidents of inhuman intimidation of internally migrated workers substantiate the proposition of creating cheap vulnerable labour through disenfranchisement. The future politics of Indian North-East and Bangladesh must also be judged from the changing dynamics of US-China relation vis-à-vis India’s position. However, this dimension is out of the purview of this article.
         The global capitalists, the capital personified, have a task to divide the working class to dismantle the social power of the workers. In the global market, the textile sector and the garment industry of Bangladesh is an important work-site for the profit of the global capitalist players. The workers of the garment industry of Bangladesh have been continuing their valiant struggle against their inhuman exploitation since long. The unity of these struggling workers with the rest of workers in diverse sectors in Bangladesh and the support of the workers of the neighbouring countries like India is the precondition for the transformation of their movement into higher level, even to achieve some form of limited success. In the backdrop of the rising anti-imperialist sentiment in Bangladesh, the collapse of a factory in the Rana Plaza complex, the middle class disenchantment as revealed in the Sahbagh movement, the bogey of Hindu persecution in Bangladesh and the resultant large-scale migration has been played and the Bengali Hindu sentiment in India in the states like Assam and West Bengal has been given a momentous push through meticulous well-orchestrated campaign by the Sangh Parivar. This has in turn oiled the chauvinist machine in Assam.

Chauvinist project rejected

          The mainstream left in Assam, without having any vision for the future, has jumped the gun and become the catalyst to cement the fissures within the chauvinist and communal forces.  But despite all these hullaballoo and media renderings, mass-hysteria and large-scale mass-mobilisation of the Assamese masses has not been visible. The Assamese middle class has lost their mass appeal and become weakened due to internal class-community dynamics. The Koch-Rajbongshis and Jhrakhandi-Adibasi which constitute the formidable section of Assam’s population have already launched a vibrant movement to assert their community rights. The Koch-Rajbongshis who are considered as an important part of the core of Assamese sub-nationality is showing the sign of breaking away from this core by asserting their own linguistic right. The large section of new generation from middle class families has been transformed into either educated skilled labour serving the private capital or job-seekers as skilled labour and they have their own priorities. In the job-market, Bengalis are no longer their competitor, even in the central Government sector. The erstwhile semi-independent contractors and suppliers at the district and state level have already entered into the global chain of finance and lost their relative freedom to maneuver the policy decision and the contract system, and they don’t find their Bengali sub-contractors at bay. The population in the idyllic rural landscape engrossed in peasant economy no longer prevails to become the continuum of chauvinist ideology and does not find the middle class story suitable for evening gossip. The rural landscape has changed so much that the majority has become wage-earners who have their own class issues to internalize and it has its ramification when socially channelized. The passive mass-wisdom generated from the collective learning from the long history of successive failure of chauvinist experiments has blunted the efficacy of mass-appeal from chauvinist camp. All these factors created the moment of defeat of chauvinism as a social force.

Chauvinist project arrogated

         But on the flip side of it, the state has directly arrogated the role of chauvinism and communalism and thus establishing their ideological and economic hegemony more and more by means of coercion instead of consent. The brazen display of armed and coercive might of the state during each and every phase of the implementation of NRC process reveals the real story. This story simultaneously delineate the moment of radical movement of workers and peasants. In every work-space especially in the urban landscape, large-scale mixed group of workers cutting across communities are visible and they are showing their precariat character of sporadic outbursts on their own class issues. This has created an objectivity of unity of workers of diverse identities, the objectivity of fragile and unconscious unity that needs to be cemented further through left radical class politics and democratic nationalism. The display of the might of the state has paralysed the social life through psychological war against the masses and this has been possible due to the absence of workers-peasants organizations, the own organizations of the toiling masses, inefficacy of the institutions of the state to build consent due to neo-liberal policy persuasion and the failure of the middle class project which has already been arrogated by the state due to the undemocratic and institutionalized social discourse of civil society.

Conclusion

            The radical ideas must find its own institutions to reach to the masses and as such building of workers-peasants organizations must be the primary task to channelize the radical ideas to the masses. The present Assam is a fit case to extend the modified logic of Trotsky in the context of pre-independence Indian situation to delineate the social milieu of Assam as the revolutionary moment of simultaneity of defeating the chauvinism and radicalizing the working class movement. In that sense, the project to fulfill Assamese linguistic aspiration must be a revolutionary one. We must stand up for the cause of Assam as a revolutionary project ensuring the defeat of chauvinism. In a different context, one can draw a similarity with the stand of Marx and Engels on Poland. In 1875, a meeting took place to commemorate the polish uprising of 22 January 1863. Among many communist leaders of German Party, Marx and Engels spoke on the occasion. To justify their participation, Engels said, “We have spoken here, of the reasons why the revolutionaries of all countries are bound to sympathize with and stand up for the cause of Poland. Only one point has been forgotten and it is this: the political situation into which Poland has been brought is a thoroughly revolutionary one, and it leaves Poland with no other choice but to be revolutionary or perish.

  

The struggle for an equitable and peaceful society

Posted by স্বাভিমান


The struggle for an equitable and peaceful society

Arup Baisya
(Not to be published)

Social order
The drive of Neo-liberal economy and the rise of fascist forces worldwide are systematically embedded twin evils that need to be combated for a new equitable and peaceful society. Unlike the rise of Nazi Germany following Hitler’s Warmacht or ‘war machine industrialization, the rise of fascism in India in its present phase is in the backdrop of a ruling neoliberal ideology by which the Government has assigned to themselves the role of a promoter, an agent of private corporations, not one of regulating mediator between big business and poor people. In the name of high growth, industrialization works ruthlessly against the poor majority, denying them the real political options within the orbit of our existing parliamentary democracy. The simmering discontent and popular anger within the toiling masses have now become visible. The militant resistance movement of the peasant masses against the large scale eviction or the capitalist accumulation through displacement especially in the state like Chattishgarh vis-a-vis central India, the peasant movement for MSP and for implementation of Swaminathan Commission report is visible in large part of the country. The curtailment of labour rights, the Dalit oppression, oppression of the Tribal population, gender degradation, ecological degradation, curtailment of minority rights, discrimination based on languages and nationality bring forth passionate protests. But these movements are revolving around the idea of reformism, not the overcoming of imperialism or the ushering of socialism. The idea of laissez-faire capitalism is no longer valid; the global capitalism can survive all its inherent contradictions in a dystopian world through genocide and enslavement of populations. The attempt to go back to old form of nation-state with certain control over economy is destined to fail in the face of global movement of capital and neoliberal restructuring of capitalist production and reproduction. Such social order can only exist on the basis of fascistic mind control and the continuous exercise of daily police surveillance and violence.

Nationalist struggle
The Experience of world-wide nationalist struggle under the leadership of middle class in this neo-liberal phase teaches us that such nationalism is destined to doom or degenerate into intra-nationalists bickering. The revolutionary intellectuals in Gramscian sense of the term will of course play a pedagogic role in instilling nationalist world view which is directed against the hegemony of finance capital post 1970s. The combined and uneven development is ingrained in capitalism and as such nationalist struggle will prevail even if the drive for homogenization of working class worldwide (Metropolis and Neo-colonies) is visible due to structural adjustment of capitalist production (Combined Development). Leninist principle which was formulated more than hundred years back post-1905 teaches us that nationalism becomes reactionary if it is not led by working class or from a working class perspective. This principle is more relevant in today’s world where capitalist centers like America are facing the brunt of capitalist restructuring. In colonial time, both capital and labour were confined to national geographical space-time. Now industrial capital has fled from place like Detroit and Pansylvania province to the destination of cheap labour, and finance capital is flying with meteoric speed from one end of the world to the other. The labour of capitalist metropolis is facing pressure of decline of wages and the increasing reserve army of labour world-wide. But as the movement of labour is somewhat restricted within the bounds of national geographical space-time, the question of democratic struggle of nationalities (Communities in general) is still the part of people’s movement. But this struggle must be addressed from a working class and humanitarian perspective.

Workers’ status and struggle
When reserve army of labour crosses a threshold, it creates downward pressure on wage and increases surplus which may not be converted into profit due to realization problem arises out of limited scope for capitalist expansion. It may be the fact that the reserve army of labour has not yet crossed the threshold in US, but due to globalization of capital, unlike colonial period, the US labour is facing the pressure of global reserve army of labour. Globalisation of capital means globalization of technology and that means globalization of skill of labour which is required for production and reproduction of labour.  
Every country is now witnessing the phenomenal growth of the service sector along with the growing number of the service sector workers. This holds good for India too. “The expansion of capitalist service sector which typifies late capitalism thus in its own way sums up all the principal contradictions of the capitalist mode of production. It reflects the enormous expansion of socio-technical and scientific forces of production and the corresponding growth in the cultural and civilizing needs of the produces, just as it reflects the antagonistic form in which this expansion is realized under capitalism : for it is accompanied by increasing over-capitalisation (difficulties of valorization of capital), growing difficulties of realization, increasing wastage of material values, and growing alienation and deformation of workers in their productive activity and their sphere of consumption.” (Working Class of India : New Situation – Problems and Prospects : Sukomal Sen : P.547)
Whether this structural change of the working class into the field of service connotes capitalist mode of production? Quoting Marx and Braverman, Sukomol Sen in his book Working Class of India wrote, “A service is nothing more than the useful effect of a use value, be it a commodity, or be it labour. But the worker who is employed for producing goods renders a service to the capitalist. And because of this service a tangible and vendible object takes shape as commodity. But when the useful effects of labour do not result in a vendible object then it creates a different situation. Braverman’s explanation of these circumstances appears quite logical. He states, ‘when this does not offer the labour directly to the user of its effects, but instead sells it to capitalist, who re-sells it on the commodity market, then we have the capitalist form of production in the field of service.”   
The resistance against the dismantling of organized work force has failed. The drastic reduction of organized workforce in the entire production centre is visible in all the Indian industrial landscapes. The working class is fragmented spatially and temporally in terms of work-status and social-status. The emergence of new class of workforce in service sector is also characterized with fragmentation in terms of their immediate demands of wage hike and social security. The disjointed struggle of one section of workers or another are defeated with the shifting of capital from one workplace to another and by nullifying the struggle through the rapid centralization of capital. But the transformation of these new kinds of industrial and informal working class and the transcendence of their consciousness from fragmented one to class-in-itself to class-for-itself can only be guaranteed through a united front of union struggle and the struggling unity of worker-peasant movements.
An alienating consumerism is needed to solve the dilemma of a sagging effective demand produced by wage repression and technologically induced unemployment for the mass of the worker. After the initial phase of neo-liberalism, the small section of upwardly mobile middle class is alienated and subsumed into crass consumerism through high-technology-dependent lifestyle. The rest of the large section of them is degraded into sub-human status with long-hour monotonous jobs with below value earnings. Their need and desire for a better life are modulated by the market values. The struggle with an alternative vision from a working class perspective can only release their suppressed ego and make this section a repository of revolutionary values for the entire working class. But this section of the working class constitutes a small part of the entire working class. The rest of the entire working class consists of SC-ST-OBC-MINORITI AND WOMEN. The working class in India is divided in terms of social status and differential wage and diverse working condition. But all are exploited and expropriated and are crushed by the burden of crisis affecting the entire capitalist system of the economy. This entire section of working class has the potential to be transformed into revolutionary class provided the trade union movement strike the right chord for the unity of fragmented working class and become part of the politics of revolutionary transformation. The demand for increased wage and the end of differential wage is an important demand for the working class unity in the third world country like India. But David Harvey in his book Seventeen Contradictions And The End of Capitalism rightly explained why wage demand, in fact, do not undermine the rationality of the economic system. He wrote, “Rational consumption – rational, that is, in relation to perpetual capital accumulation – becomes an absolute necessity for the survival of capital. Demands bearing on working hours, the intensity of work, its organization and nature, are, on the other hand, pregnant with subversive radicalism; they cannot be satisfied by money, they strike at economic rationality in its substance, and through it at the power of capital. The “market-based order” is fundamentally challenged when people find out that not all values are quantifiable, that money cannot buy everything and that what it cannot buy is something essential, or is even the essential thing.” (Page. 274). Trade union movement in India should also incorporate this logic of going beyond capital at least in certain long-hour monotonous jobs while simultaneously fighting for wage hike, minimum wage and wage parity.
 The Indian state, to some extent, maintained its welfare character under pressure from unionized organized labour especially of large sectors like Railways etc. These Railway workers have played vital role in rejuvenating the left and anti-emergency movement in the 1970s. This organized labour has already been dismantled in the neoliberal state of the economy. The project to unite all the sections of ‘new proletariat’ or ‘precariat’ along with all the diverse social movements may give rise to an effective force to transform the state or for transcendence of capitalism. But this project does not catch the imagination of many for whom this is a stupendous and long drawn out task, and the ruling class has the ample space to play divisive game with fragmented workers. But one single key sector of working class which holds the lifeline of the neo-liberal economy, if organized for a democratic project, has the capacity to compel the state to act in favour of the toiling masses, and this sector is the transport sector. The transport workers travelling extensively and interacting with diverse people imbibes somewhat secular values and develops necessary intelligence to become bad or good, lumpen or rebel. Recent all India strikes of transport workers had created ripple effect on the techno-managerial surface of the state.

Caste-community and development
After a prolong phase of neo-liberal policy drive and the shedding of welfare character of the state, the Dalit and identity movements are resurfacing with a new dimension under the coercive pressure from present NDA regime. More the working class of diverse oppressed castes and communities is becoming assertive, more the section of organic intellectuals are compelled to address the caste-community rights from a working class perspective. The grass root pressure from below and the pressure from the fascist concentration of power from above are giving rise to new alignment and realignment of forces. The unity of SP and BSP in UP not only indicates the electoral arithmetic, but also reveals the transformation of feudal class division of labour between OBCs and SCs into the emergence of homogenous working class across the caste groups. The more the caste-community and class get woven seamlessly together, then the faster the fuse for revolution to burn. The emergence of this new reality brings forth new issues for mass struggle. The identity issue has primarily become intermingled with violation of human and citizen rights issues. The resistance movement needs to be built against state repression and caste-religious persecutions. The support to the identity movement needs to be extended on the basis of the principle of equal rights and dignity and right to self-determination. To develop the struggle for the direct provisions through addition of use value in the area of housing, health, education, food security instead of profit-maximising market driven exchange value must be the revolutionary agenda against neo-liberal capitalism. In addition to the worker’s-peasants issues of wage hike, social security and state support for agricultural development, the resistance movement against land acquisition and privatization and the movement for public and cooperative ownership based production need to be the part of revolutionary agenda.
Amit Bhaduri in his book The Face You Were Afraid To See cited some alternative desirable goal against growth-only neo-liberal policy. He wrote “First, easy as it might sound, unemployment and poverty can be eliminated within the foreseeable future. Second, by putting purchasing power in the hands of hitherto destitute, the domestic market for industrial products and basic needs can be developed, creating a fresh source of healthy growth for industry and the macroeconomy. Third, through public works programmes that the rural poor will execute, infrastructure (like roads, irrigation etc) can be strengthened and expanded. Fourth, priority environmental projects (such as watershed development, afforestation, groundwater recharge and soil conservation) can be undertaken to stem and reverse the worsening ecological crisis the country will face in the imminent future. Finally, by generating employment in the countryside, the policy will reverse the flow of distress migrants to the cities (saddled as they already are with burdened infrastructure)” (Page. 174). This goal as public policy sounds illuminating. This is somewhat a reversal of policy drive from neo-liberal to welfare. But without severing the tie with global capitalist economy, reversing to welfare state is not possible in this phase of neo-liberal economy when the state is compelled to ensure the free movement of capital for annihilation of space with time within the framework of combined and uneven development. Thus the severing of tie with global capitalism necessitates the rise of working class to the status of ruling class. So the rise of a revolutionary class with democratic agenda and socialist development model can only ensure a paradigm shift from neoliberal economy.

Fascism
This neo-liberal economic policy has already set the stage for the rise of fascist forces. A constitutional democratic state cannot survive when state takes the role of a promoter of finance capital. The rise of fascism and the fascist takeover of the state are dependent on the success of Hindutwa agenda of Sangh Parivar grasping the masses and the electoral success of BJP in the forthcoming national hustings. The immediate task to defeat fascism is to defeat BJP in electoral battle and for which broad-based electoral unity of parliamentary parties is required. But fascism of Sangh variety of Hindutwa has had a long gestation period; it emerges as anti-liberal bourgeois mass-movement. So to defeat fascism in its entirety, revolutionary unity and the unity of all democratic forces to build a mass struggle on an alternative agenda of development beyond the growth oriented neo-liberal development model and a people’s state with participatory democracy is urgently needed.

Fascist ideology and patriarchy
The ideological struggle against rise of fascism in India is basically a struggle against Hindutwa. This Hindutwa is a transcendental variant of Hindu religion and as such it promotes patriarchy. As the basic institutional unit that holds the value of Patriarchy is the family, the transformation of family structure is an important aspect that hinders the family to be repository of religious fascist values. This transformation of family structure squarely depends on the nature of women’s domestic labour. The term patriarchy was introduced by the feminist movement in 1970s. Socialist feminists do not deny that the oppression of women is part of a system, but they think the determinants of this system are to be found in capitalism. They think that the system which oppresses women is at the base same as the one which oppresses male workers. With the rise of fascist onslaught, the women’s assertions are becoming more and more visible against patriarchal values. But it is still confined in the ideological front and within the realm of enlightened educated section of women. That this struggle against patriarchy has not yet percolated down to the toiling masses is because of lack of materialist understanding of the women’s movement and the all-pervasive misconception within the left. Christine Delphy delved into this misconception in her book Close to Home : A materialist Analysis Of Women’s Oppression, and she wrote, “For a long time they refused any legitimacy to women’s struggle in the name of the supreme and absolute pre-eminence of the economic over the super-structural, it being taken for granted that the oppression of women belonged in the latter sphere and in no way to the first, which was privately owned by the ‘working class’. It seems that they have radically changed their battleground. Because women have invaded the economic sphere, not in traditional Leninist fashion by becoming employed more in the waged sector or by stressing their super-exploitation as ‘workers’, but, on the contrary, by refusing any longer to accept that certain kinds of labour and certain production – by a strange coincidence, theirs – are neither labour nor producing. They have redefined the economic in such a way as to include their exploitation. They say in the same breadth that they work and that their work is exploited. The ‘discovery’ of housework cannot be dissociated from the denunciation of its being unpaid. It could not be discovered first as work and then as unpaid work. It had to be seen simultaneously as work and unpaid work, i.e. exploitation…. Leftists can no longer pretend to restrict women’s oppression to the super-structural, to ‘backward thinking’.”

Anti-imperialist struggle and ecology
A united protest movement of all revolutionary and democratic forces against every form of imperialist aggression and in support of anti-imperialist people’s struggles for self-determination like Palestine needs to be built nation-wide. While opposing and building resistance movement against ecologically destructive and anti-people development through mass-displacement, we must build worldwide solidarity movement to create pressure on developed nations to adhere to the spirit of Kyoto protocol. We have only few short years to dramatically lower our emissions to save our planet from climate change, global warming and resultant all-out devastation. The global climate movement must up the ante of their only rational demand – “polluter must pay”. The fossil fuel companies which are some of the most profitable corporations in history, with the top five oil companies pulling in $900 billion in profits from 2001 to 2010, are rich simply because they have dumped the cost of cleaning up their mess onto regular people around the world. The climate movement needs to be spearheaded against those oligopolists to stop their misdeeds for making super-profit. The revolutionary pedagogic task to enlighten the working class to stand for diverse anti-neoliberal social movements and to build united action with all such social forces needs to be undertaken.


Conclusion
For the left radicals, politics must be the art of making the impossible possible and we have to overcome the old and deep rooted error attempting to build political force without building the social force, because this form of conceiving politics ignores the people and their struggles. The debate on all strategic issues related to the radical change of social relation of production should not be confined to small revolutionary group(s), rather it should be made open to the public for wide participation.
The left radicals must have a vision for transcending capitalism. But emphasizing Rosa Luxemburg’s vision for the future, Martha Harnecker wrote in her book A World To Build, “Rosa Luxemberg never tired of repeating that the path to socialism was not laid down in advance, since the “modern proletarian class does not conduct its struggle according to any blueprint reproduced in a book or a theory; the modern workers’ struggle is a part of history, a part of evolution, and we learn how we should fight in the midst of history, in the midst of evolution, in the midst of struggle” (Page. 177)  

Reference :
(1)  Harvey David : 2014 : Seventeen Contradictions And The End of Capitalism :Profile Books.
(2)  Patnaik Prabhat : 2012 : Re-Envisioning Socialism : Tulika Books.
(3)  Sen Sukomol : 1997 : Working Class of India, History of Emergence And Movement 1830-1990 (With an overview upto 1995) : K.P.Bagchi & Company, Calcutta.
(4)  Bhaduri Amit : 2009 : The Face You Were Afraid To See, Essays on Indian Economy : Penguin Books
(5)  Delphy Christine : 2016 : Close to Home, A Materialist Analysis of Women’s Oppression : Verso Books.
(6)  Klein Naomi : 2015 : This Changes Everything : Penguin Books.
(7)  Harnecker Marta : 2015 : A World To Build, New Paths toward Twenty-First Century Socialism, Monthly Review Press.             

নাগরিকত্ব ও গণতন্ত্র বিষয়ে ২৮শে জুলাই গুয়াহাটিতে নাগরিক সভা সফল করবার আহ্বান

Posted by সুশান্ত কর Labels: , , ,





ণতান্ত্রিক পরিধিতে নাগরিকত্ব, এনআরসি ইত্যাদি বিষয় নিয়ে মতের বিভিন্নতা রয়েছে। বিভিন্ন মতের মধ্যে সরাসরি ভাবের আদান প্রদান গণতান্ত্রিক বিতর্ককে শক্তিশালী করে এবং সামাজিক সুস্থিরতা তৈরিতে সহায়ক ভূমিকা পালন করে। সুস্থ গণতান্ত্রিক জাতীয়তাবাদ আঞ্চলিক উন্নয়নের প্রশ্নকে সামনে রেখেই এগোতে পারে। এই উন্নয়নের লক্ষ্য মেহনতি মানুষ তথা আম-নাগরিকের সামাজিক তথা জীবনধারণের মানোন্নয়ন। এই লক্ষ্য ত্থেকে বিচ্যুতি জাতীয়তাবাদকে বিপথে পরিচালিত করে। উন্নয়নের যে প্রধান বাধা আর্থিক-রাজনৈতিক কেন্দ্রীভবন তাকে যে জাতীয়তাবাদ আড়াল করে সেই জাতীয়তাবাদ গণবিরোধী। এই জাতীয়তাবাদ ভাষিক-সাংস্কৃতিক বৈচিত্র্যকে অস্বীকার করে, বৈচিত্র্যের অভ্যন্তরে সংঘাতকে মূল বিষয় করে নেয়। এই সংঘাত মেহনতি মানুষের ঐক্যকে বিঘ্নিত করে, সাধারণ মানুষের মানবিক-নাগরিক অধিকারকে অস্বীকার করে।
বহুভাষিক চরিত্রকে স্বীকার করেই ভাষাভিত্তিক রাজ্য গঠিত হয়। এই ভাষাচেতনার উন্মেষ ঘটে স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামের গর্ভে। এই ফেডারেল স্পিরিটকে শুধু রক্ষা করাই নয়, একে বিকশিত করা জরুরি। নয়া-আর্থিক নীতি তথা কর্পোরেট শোষণ ও বঞ্চনাকে বিরোধিতা না করে এই গণতান্ত্রিক জাতীয়তাবাদের প্রকল্পের বিকাশ সম্ভব নয়। এই বিরোধিতার প্রধান শক্তি ব্যাপক অথচ বহুধাবিভক্ত শ্রমজীবী মানুষ। আমাদেরকে এই শ্রমজীবী মানুষের ঐক্যের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি থেকে জাতীয়তাবাদের প্রশ্নকে দেখতে হবে, নাগরিকত্ব সমস্যার সমাধান খুঁজতে হবে। তার জন্য প্রয়োজন বহুবিধ মত ও পথের মধ্যে মত বিনিময় ও একে অপরের বিরুদ্ধে আক্রমণাত্মক অবস্থান ছেড়ে এক গণতান্ত্রিক পরিবেশ গড়ে তোলা।
          এই লক্ষ্যে আমরা নিম্নলিখিত সংগঠনের উদ্যোগে আগামী ২ জুলাই বেলা ১১ টায় গুয়াহাটি লতাশীলের বিষ্ণুনির্মলা ভবনে এক আলোচনাসভা তথা মত-বিনিময়ের আয়োজন করা হয়েছে। আপনাদের সবার উপস্থিতি কাম্য।

                                                              ইতি
                                             বিনীত
                         ফোরাম ফর স্যোসিয়েল হারমনি,দেশপ্রেম 
                                    এবং  বসুন্ধরা—দ্য ন্যু ডেজ
                                         ********






সাম্প্রতিক অসমত নাগৰিকত্ব, এন,আৰ,চি আদি বিষয়বোৰক লৈ মতামতৰ ভিন্নতা দেখা গৈছেবিভিন্ন মতৰ মাজত প্রত্যক্ষ  ভাৱৰ আদান প্রদানে গণতান্ত্রিক বিতর্কক এক সুস্থ মাত্রা প্রদান  কৰে আৰু সামাজিক সুস্থিৰতা ৰক্ষাত গুৰুত্বপূর্ণ ভূমিকা পালন কৰে। সুস্থ গণতান্ত্রিক জাতীয়তাবাদ কেৱলমাত্র আঞ্চলিক উন্নয়নৰ প্রশ্নক আগত ৰাখিয়েই আগুৱাব পাৰে।  এনে উন্নয়নৰ লক্ষ্য শ্রমজীৱী মানুহ তথা সাধাৰণ-নাগৰিকৰ সামাজিক জীবনধাৰণৰ মানোন্নয়ন। এই লক্ষ্যৰ পৰা  বিচ্যুতিয়ে জাতীয়তাবাদকো বিপথে পৰিচালিত কৰে। উন্নয়নৰ যি  প্রধান বাধা ‘আর্থিক-ৰাজনৈতিক কেন্দ্রীভৱন’ তাক যি  জাতীয়তাবাদে আওকাণ কৰে সেই জাতীয়তাবাদ অগণতান্ত্রিকএই জাতীয়তাবাদ ভাষিক-সাংস্কৃতিক বৈচিত্র্যক অস্বীকাৰ কৰে, বৈচিত্র্যৰ ভিতৰৰ সংঘাতকে ই মূল বিষয় কৰি লয়। এই সংঘাতে শ্রমজীৱী মানুহৰ ঐক্যক বিঘ্নিত কৰে, আৰু সাধাৰণ মানুহৰ মানবিক-নাগৰিক অধিকাৰক অস্বীকাৰ কৰে।
বহুভাষিক চরিত্রক স্বীকাৰ কৰিয়েই ভাষাভিত্তিক ৰাজ্য গঠিত হয়। এই ভাষাচেতনাৰ উন্মেষ  স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামৰ গর্ভতে ঘটে। এই ফেদাৰেল স্পিৰিটক  ৰক্ষা কৰাই কেৱল নহয়, ইয়াক বিকশিত কৰাও সমানে জৰুৰীনয়া-আর্থিক নীতি তথা কর্পোৰেট শোষণ আৰু বঞ্চনাক বিৰোধিতা নকৰাকৈ এনে গণতান্ত্রিক জাতীয়তাবাদী প্রকল্পৰ বিকাশ সম্ভৱ নহয়এই বিৰোধিতাৰ প্রধান শক্তি ব্যাপক তথা বহু ধাৰাত বিভক্ত শ্রমজীৱী ৰাইজ।  এই শ্রমজীৱী ৰাইজৰ ঐক্যৰ দৃষ্টিভঙ্গীৰ পৰা জাতীয়তাবাদৰ প্রশ্নক চাব লাগিব, নাগৰিকত্ব সমস্যাৰ সমাধান বিচাৰিব লাগিব। তাৰ বাবে দৰকাৰ বহুবিধ মত আৰু পথৰ মাজত  মত বিনিময় আৰু এক পক্ষই আন পক্ষৰ বিৰুদ্ধে আক্রমণাত্মক অৱস্থান এৰি এক গণতান্ত্রিক পৰিৱেশ গঢ়ি তোলা
এই লক্ষ্য আগত ৰাখি  নিম্নলিখিত সংগঠনৰ উদ্যোগত অহা ২৮ জুলাই,  ২০১৮, শনিবাৰে দিনৰ ১১ বজাত  বিষ্ণু নির্মলা ভৱনত এক আলোচনাসভা তথা মত-বিনিময়ৰ অনুষ্ঠানৰ আয়োজন কৰা হৈছে। আপনালোকৰ সকলোৰে তাতে উপস্থিতি কামনা কৰিছো।

ইতি
ফোৰাম ফৰ চোচিয়েল হাৰমনি, দেশপ্রেম
আৰু
বসুন্ধৰা—ফৰ ন্যু দেজ

SIX POINTS CHARTER FOR UNITY OF REVOLUTIONARY FORCES

Posted by স্বাভিমান


SIX POINTS CHARTER FOR UNITY OF REVOLUTIONARY FORCES

(Not to be published, this is for an open debate)

Unlike the rise of Nazi Germany following Hitler’s Warmacht or ‘war machine industrialisation, the rise of fascism in India in its present phase is in the backdrop of a ruling neoliberal ideology by which the Government has assigned to themselves the role of a promoter, an agent of private corporations, not one of regulating mediator between big business and poor people. In the name of high growth, industrialization works ruthlessly against the poor majority, denying them the real political options within the orbit of our existing parliamentary democracy. The simmering discontent and popular anger within the toiling masses has now become visible. The militant resistance movement of the peasant masses against the large scale eviction or the capitalist accumulation through displacement especially in the state like Chattishgarh vis-a-vis central India, the peasant movement for MSP and for implementation of Swaminathan Commission report is visible in large part of the country. The curtailment of labour rights, the Dalit oppression, oppression of the Tribal population, gender degradation, ecological degradation, curtailment of minority rights, discrimination based on languages and nationality bring forth passionate protests. But these movements are revolving around the idea of reformism, not the overcoming of imperialism or the ushering of socialism. The imminent task of the revolutionary forces is to intervene and lead these movements for revolutionary neo-democratic transformation and to be informed by socialism, not by reformism. The idea of laissez-faire capitalism is doomed; the global capitalism can survive all its inherent contradictions in a dystopian world through genocide and enslavement of populations. The attempt to go back to old form of nation-state with certain control over economy is destined to fail in the face of global movement of capital and neoliberal restructuring of capitalist production and reproduction. Such social order can only exist on the basis of fascistic mind control and the continuous exercise of daily police surveillance and violence.
(1)  The resistance against the dismantling of organized work force has failed. The drastic reduction of organized workforce in the entire production centre is visible in all the Indian industrial landscapes. The working class is fragmented spatially and temporally in terms of work-status and social-status. The emergence of new class of workforce in service sector is also characterized with fragmentation in terms of their immediate demands of wage hike and social security. The disjointed struggle of one section of workers or another are defeated with the shifting of capital from one workplace to another and by nullifying the struggle through the rapid centralization of capital. But the transformation of these new kinds of industrial and informal working class and the transcendence of their consciousness from fragmented one to class-in-itself to class-for-itself can only be guaranteed through a united front of union struggle and the struggling unity of worker-peasant movements.
(2)  An alienating consumerism is needed to solve the dilemma of a sagging effective demand produced by wage repression and technologically induced unemployment for the mass of the worker. After the initial phase of neo-liberalism, the small section of upwardly mobile middle class is alienated and subsumed into crass consumerism through high-technology-dependent lifestyle. The rest of the large section of them is degraded into sub-human status with long-hour monotonous jobs with below value earnings. Their need and desire for a better life are modulated by the market values. The struggle with an alternative vision from a working class perspective can only release their suppressed ego and make this section a repository of revolutionary values for the entire working class. But this section of the working class constitutes a small part of the entire working class. The rest of the entire working class consists of SC-ST-OBC-MINORITI AND WOMEN.
                
(3)  After a prolong phase of neo-liberal policy drive and the shedding of welfare character of the state, the Dalit and identity movements are resurfacing with a new dimension under the coercive pressure from present NDA regime. More the working class of diverse oppressed castes and communities is becoming assertive, more the section of organic intellectuals are compelled to address the caste-community rights from a working class perspective. The grass root pressure from below and the pressure from the fascist concentration of power from above are giving rise to new alignment and realignment of forces. The unity of SP and BSP in UP not only indicates the electoral arithmetic, but also reveals the transformation of feudal class division of labour between OBCs and SCs into the emergence of homogenous working class across the caste groups. The more the caste-community and class get woven seamlessly together, then the faster the fuse for revolution to burn. The emergence of this new reality brings forth new issues for mass struggle. The identity issue has primarily become intermingled with violation of human and citizen rights issues. The resistance movement needs to be built against state repression and caste-religious persecutions. The support to the identity movement needs to be extended on the basis of the principle of equal rights and dignity and right to self-determination. To develop the struggle for the direct provisions through addition of use value in the area of housing, health, education, food security instead of profit-maximising market driven exchange value must be the revolutionary agenda against neo-liberal capitalism. In addition to the worker’s-peasants issues of wage hike, social security and state support for agricultural development, the resistance movement against land acquisition and privatization and the movement for public and cooperative ownership based production need to be the part of revolutionary agenda.
(4)  The rise of fascism and the fascist takeover of the state is dependent on the success of Hindutwa agenda of Sangh Parivar grasping the masses and the electoral success of BJP in the forthcoming national hustings. The immediate task to defeat fascism is to defeat BJP in electoral battle and for which broad-based electoral unity of parliamentary parties is required. But fascism of Sangh variety of Hindutwa has had a long gestation period; it emerges as anti-liberal bourgeois mass-movement. So to defeat fascism in its entirety, revolutionary unity and the unity of all democratic forces to build a mass struggle on an alternative agenda of development beyond the growth oriented neo-liberal development model and a people’s state with participatory democracy is urgently needed.
(5)  A united protest movement of all revolutionary forces against every form of imperialist aggression and in support of anti-imperialist people’s struggles for self-determination like Palestine needs to be built nation-wide. While opposing and building resistance movement against ecologically destructive and anti-people development through mass-displacement, we must build worldwide solidarity movement to create pressure on developed nations to adhere to the spirit of Kyoto protocol. The revolutionary pedagogic task to enlighten the working class to stand for diverse anti-neoliberal social movements and to build united action with all such social forces needs to be undertaken.

(6)  For the left radicals, politics must be the art of making the impossible possible and we have to overcome the old and deep rooted error attempting to build political force without building the social force, because this form of conceiving politics ignores the people and their struggles. The debate on all strategic issues related to the radical change of social relation of production should not be confined to small revolutionary group(s), rather it should be made open to the public for wide participation.                  

Assam imbroglio and democratic politics

Posted by স্বাভিমান


Assam imbroglio and democratic politics : Arup Baisya
 (Not to be published without consent of the author)

The citizenship Question

The political discourse in Assam is revolving around for and against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016. This binary is not antithetical to the ruling class idea of hegemony, and the ruling class has the entire wherewithal to accommodate both sides in stabilizing their hegemonic position. But unfortunately, the Assamese speaking official left forces in Assam are getting trapped in this binary by addressing the issue only through negation of the bill and thus allowing the masses to be camp followers on communal and chauvinist lines. While opposing the bill, they are not spelling out any positive programme for the masses who are apprehensive of losing their citizenship rights. It is also strange to note that the left intellectuals like Hiren Gohain is parroting the claim of large scale Bengali Hindu influx from Bangladesh since 1974, the claim initially propagated by Hindutwa forces on the basis of inadequate factual data to fan communal passion in the sub-continent and thus, they are giving legitimacy to the Hindutwa theory of large scale (more than a crore) migration from Bangladesh due to religious persecution. A small section of opinion builders who are opposing the bill on the ground of unconstitutionality and religious overtones is demanding the inclusion of the names of 2014 voter list in NRC. In their opinion, 2014 voter list was prepared after thorough scrutiny of 1997 voter list in the spirit of Assam Accord, and many were designated as doubtful (D) voters during the process of document verification. The D-voters are those whose documents could not be verified at that point of time and they are now undergoing judicial scrutiny. The voting rights of the D-voters were curtailed on the ground that their citizenship is yet to be ascertained. This small group of people is arguing that these voters of 2014 voter list have passed the test of citizenship and they have given legitimacy to the power-that-be.

The nationality Question

During Assam Movement, the left camp was intellectually represented by the astute social scientist Amalendu Guha and Assamese intellectual stalwart Hiren Gohain. Hiren Gohain in his article ‘Cudgel of Chauvinism’ (EPW Vol XV, No.8, February 23, 1980) wrote, “… it is obvious that they (leaders of the movement : this author’s interpretation) represent a kind of ‘rotten compromise’ between the all India ruling class and the Assamese ruling elite, involving connivance at monstrous barbarities and breathtaking mendacity.” But at a later stage, he became critical about the shortcomings of left’s role. Social movements do not take place in vacuum, and their definite concrete consequences may not be shrugged off merely with an abstract commitment to leftist ideology. Gohain emphasized that the Assam movement has not been seen as a mark of crisis in the Centre’s relation to the north-east. But he was categorical about identifying the movement as not directed against the big bourgeoisie. He asked why mobilising support for economic development programmes and advocating constitutional safeguards for Assamese identity and welfare could not be raised. He asserted that hegemonic notions like the ‘unilingual state of Assam’ ought to be combated, but genuine national demands deserve a stout defence.
He further added in his article “Fall-out of underdevelopment” (EPW, Vol XV, No 12, March 22, 1980) “has migration had no other effect than ‘swamping Assamese Identity’ – as claimed by the Assamese opinion builders? Who built the roads and bridges that brought the different localities in Assam within reach of one another? …Paradoxically enough, it was only the coming of skilled people from outside that indirectly laid the foundation of the Assamese ‘National Identity’ which is bandied so freely by the Assamese leaders of the movement”.
He criticized the left for underestimating emotional force of nationalism in a backward environment with an emergent capitalist class. But he discarded Sanjib Baruah’s rationalisation of the Assamese middle-class aspirations and anxieties as a chimerical guide to action. Criticism of the left was more aggressive for the failure of the left to advocate a development programme that would benefit the Assamese middle class as much as the working people. Sanjib Barua used the term Assamese Sub-Nationalism which, in his opinion, not substantially different from Guha’s notion of little nationalism. When Sanjib Barua termed the Assam movement as nationality upsurge of an unprecedented scale, Guha in his elaborate argument established the fact the Assam movement was an assertion of little nationalism turned chauvinism against the minorities. That the Hindutwa forces was the mastermind and played a vital role in anti-minority pogrom during the movement does not in any way contradict the characterization of the movement as little nationalists turned chauvinist.
Amalendu Guha set the tune of left politics by terming the movement as little nationalism turned chauvinism. The national political leaderships representing the big bourgeoisie also tried to co-opt the Assamese ‘little nationalism’. The Assam movement, according to Amalendu Guha, was a programme led by the Assamese middle class at a conjunctural crisis. According to him, hard pressed by big capital from above and the rising labour and peasant movement from below, the Assamese upper classes are terribly agitated about the economic stagnation. Incapable of competing with big capital, they aspired to monopolise the small industries, petty trade and the profession and services. This diversion of the movement from targeting the big capital by raising issue of development, devolution and democratisation of power to anti-Bengali anit-foreigner’s movement gave the Assamese middle class the required space to collaborate with the national big bourgeoisie. Hiren Gohain (EPW Vol XVI, No.9, February 28, 1991) asserted that the movement was seen as a mark of crisis in Centre’s relation to the north east, the relation which he described as the Centre’s delegation of the gendarme role to the largely caste-Hindu Assamese elite in the north-east. But he was categorical in stating that the movement was not really directed against the big bourgeoisie.

The reality check

However, the present day ground reality compel us to believe that Guha had overemphasized the process of assimilation of Maymansingh Muslims in lower Assam and the tea-garden people in Upper Assam with Assamese nationality. Adoption of Assamese language in education and in daily mundane vocabulary was not much influenced by the pull of Market (Bazaar), it was predominantly due to political reason. But it can be safely predicted that the process of assimilation would have been accelerated, had the Assamese sub-nationalism treaded the path of democratic accommodation instead of chauvinistic coercion which is snowballing into resistance and apathy of the minorities towards Assamese language and culture. During the late 1970s and 80s, the Bengali people preferred to speak in Assamese language in public places especially in cities of Brahmaputra valley. The fear psychosis kept their voices in mother-tongue used in private places and within the family muted in public places. But the loud underclass vocabulary in clear Bengali Maymansingh dialect will not skip the attention of any observer in any work or public place of present day Guwahati city, where the presence of Maymanshing workers has increased many-fold. This is a clear sign of spontaneous assertion of the identity of workers who are predominantly rural agricultural surplus labour of lower Assam. The recent mobilization of tea-garden Adivasi community in tens of thousands in many places of Upper Assam in protest against the claim of ‘Khilonjia (Aboriginals) Manch’ headed by erstwhile ULFA leaders for exclusion of tea-garden from Khilonjia (aboriginal) category, is also the clear sign of identity assertion. The complex grid line of synchronization or assimilation gets tripped by the chauvinist politics of Assamese little or sub-nationalism. The weakness of class leadership of a motley group of Middle Class who were spearheading the movement turned the genuine aspirations of the Assamese sub-nationalism into hostility towards their other fellow neighbours. As the class character of the small and middle peasant is petit-bourgeois in nature, they could be easily mobilised by triggering the ethnic fault-lines and inciting artificial appetite for grabbing the land of other communities. That the land question was not the major issue became amply clear when the plain tribes who were mobilized during the movement for violent action resorted for the movement of political rights soon after Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the political formations emerged from Assam movement, was installed in state-power post-Assam Accord. The politics of ethnic cleansing and exclusion in Bodoland was led against all non-Bodo people including the Assamese mainly to prove the majority of Bodo people in the domain of Bodoland. After almost fifty years of Assam movement, under the changed socio-economic polity, this middle class has lost their ability to play any leading progressive role and they are completely dependent on the state apparatuses to fulfill their chauvinist plan of action of disenfranchisement of the minority communities.

The socio-economic changes

The Assamese ruling elites as described by Hiren Gohain are much more entangled with big bourgeoisie and foreign capital than at the time of Assam movement. So we must delve into the emerging socio-economic scenario to find the answer to the question of how the democratic movement can be rejuvenated to address all the vexed issues within the garb of the here and the now. The left forces of Assam who are lurching in wilderness needs to see the light of the day beyond their narrow horizon. A large section of left minded people have surrendered to the occasion and waiting for a tryst with destiny.
What we presently observe in the rural landscape of Assam is to a great extent similar to the Myron Weiner’s pregnant observations of West Bengal in his survey done in 1959. The left-based occupational organizations such as unions and peasant organizations are missing in both urban and rural Assam. The political hegemony on the masses is established and controlled by various socio-political, economic and ideological institutions. But these institutions are rapidly losing their credibility under pressure from neo-liberal policy drive. Large scale proletarianisation and/or precariatisation has occurred both in rural and urban sector. The space for regional bourgeoisie to maneuver has shrunk and they are becoming the appendages of foreign capital and comprador bourgeoisie. Whatever may be the amount of investment in development work till 1990s, all the works were parceled in various small trenches and implemented through a decentralized administrative set-up to facilitate the local investors to participate and grab the contracts, and these norms had acted in favour of encouraging small scale investment in production of supply materials, albeit in a limited scope. But going by the logic of neo-liberal policy drive, all the trenches for work and supply are now amalgamated in common centralized pool for funding by the foreign multinational banks and to facilitate global tenders and contracts for foreign companies. These foreign companies engage the local small bourgeoisie as sub-contractors, and the chain of sub-contractors terminate at the rural and urban work sites. The large section of officers and employees also get entrenched in this chain through the mediation and intervention of political class who serves the interest of these foreign investors. This typical chain of social-relations that emerged in backward region like Assam through the involvement of finance capital in neo-liberal phase of economy has already eaten up the vital of the middle classes to fight for regional autonomy. The profit and the corrupt money are amassed through over-exploitation of toiling masses which constitute predominantly of the minority communities and the flight of capital as profit arrests the industrial development of the state. That is why; the progressive organizations and citizens get lukewarm response from these middle classes when issues like privatization of oil sectors, withdrawal of special status category of the state etc are opposed.

The working class and the democratic movement
   
It is pertinent here to quote the remark of Ajoy Ghosh, the then General Secretary of CPI, on the resolution adopted by the party congress in 1953. He said, “We should note that the demand for Linguistic States is a demand which unites all classes inside a nationality, including the feudal classes. We do not reject such a unity, but we consider the unity of the toiling masses of different nationalities as the most precious thing which must not be violated at any cost.” He further affirmed, “….while struggling for Linguistic States we have always to bear in mind that the overriding consideration in all cases must be the unity of the toiling masses and not the unity with the bourgeoisie inside each nationality. The unity of the toiling masses is the biggest asset of the communist party which must never be lost” (Modak : 2006 :125). The CPI was advocating this line in the early 1950s when the feudal relation of production was predominant in agriculture, and the feudal forces had a strong influence in the power-that-be. The CPI in practice had long drifted away from this position in Assam, and it seems the marginalised CPI(M) leadership are now busy in burning the mid-night oil to draw a strategy to accommodate chauvinist content and to pander chauvinist forces. But this is the opportune moment when the left can rely on the toiling masses to build the democratic struggle anew and to defeat the reactionary politics of communalism and chauvinism once for all. This becomes relevant when the social relation of production is rapidly changing, and the productive forces and the socio-political institutions are failing to accommodate the emerging social relations. But the resurgence of left-democratic movement cannot become a reality until the left ideology does not become the motive force. From a working class perspective, the programme for sustainable development generating job opportunities and preserving vast eco-diversity and for addressing class and nationality aspirations of Assam needs to be formulated. This programme needs to be taken to the masses by building class organizations in rural and urban sectors, and through the united efforts of disparate forces who are committed to fight the twin menace of communalism and chauvinism.

The resolution of conflict

With the changing social relations of production, class-caste-nationality dimensions are undergoing a change. Caste is a class in feudal relations of production where both economic and political institutions are not segregated in time-space and are dominated by upper castes. But the economics and politics are visibly getting segregated under the influence of imperialist-capitalist model of combined and uneven development. This process of segregation has accelerated in the neo-liberal phase of development and under the spell of capitalist market forces. All the data indicate that in the vast expanse of Indian nation, a homogenous working class is emerging cutting across caste-nationally boundaries and this is also visible in this backward state of Assam too. Without organizing and depending on this newly emerged working class, final push for democratization of society and politics cannot be achieved. The conflict between the idea of nation conceptualised by hindutwa brand of politics from above and the multi-cultural multi-lingual idea of Indian nation can be settled in favour of the latter only under class leadership of newly emerged toiling masses. 

References :

(1)  Ahmed, Abu Nasar Saied (2006): Nationality Question in Assam, The EPW 1980-81 Debate : Akansha Pulishing House.
(2)  Baisya, Arup (January 2018) : Citizenship Question and Assam Politics : Article published in frontier Weekly. (http://www.frontierweekly.com/views/jan-18)
 (3) Desai, A.R. (1998) : Recent Trend in Indian Nationalism : Popular Prakashan Private Limited.
 (4) Moday, Debnarayan (2006) : Dynamics of National Question in India, The Communist Approach (1942-64) : Progressive Publishers.

স্বাভিমান:SWABHIMAN Headline Animator

^ Back to Top-উপরে ফিরে আসুন