V. 33: No. 11-12 November-December 2005 #390-391
Editorial, p. 1
"The Making of India," Aijaz Ahmad, p. 3
"British Paramountcy: Reaction and Response by the Nineteenth century Poets of Rajasthan," Madhu Sethia, p. 14
"A Constitutive and Distributive Economy of Discourse Left Movement in Kerala and the Commencement of a Literary Moment," Selvyn Jussy, p. 29
"Autonomy and the Commercialization of Higher Education," Madhu Prasad, p. 43
"Debates on Science and Technology in India," Sambit Mallick, E. Haribabu and S. G. Kulkarni, p. 49
"A Landmark Study of Mauryan India," S. C. Mishra, p. 76
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Aijaz Ahmad's paper which is the lead article of the current number of Social Scientist, while providing an impressive sweep of India's history, ends by calling for a "second instalment of our incomplete national liberation movement". India's anti-colonial struggle was not just a political struggle for ending British rule. It was a comprehensive and inclusive movement for national awakening which sought to unite the country on the basis of a secular and egalitarian agenda. This agenda was predicated on a clear rejection, in principle at any rate, of the centuries-old legacy of caste oppression, patriarchy and cruelty to marginalized groups. The anti-colonial political struggle in short was premised upon an implicit social contract, of which Hindutva is as much a violation as the current acquiescence of the ruling classes in the imperialist re-colonization of the economy, a process that is euphemistically called "globalization". Aijaz Ahmad's call for a second instalment of the freedom struggle therefore is extremely apposite at this juncture.
But there can be little doubt that this second instalment cannot be a mere replication of the first, that the dramatis personae of this second act would be very different from those of the first. The re-colonizing agency for a start is different: it is not the capital, or the finance capital, of a particular imperialist country that is seeking to assert hegemony, but international finance capital, an entity that has become prominent of late. Its international nature is revealed inter alia by the fact that the bourgeoisie of our country, like other third world bourgeoisie, is closely enmeshed with it. The bourgeoisie therefore cannot possibly provide the leadership to this second phase of the freedom struggle. That role must fall to the working class which has to ally itself with the peasantry and other sections of petty producers and small capitalists. Even though sections of the bourgeoisie may detach themselves at some future date from the hegemony of finance capital, and become part of the new freedom struggle, they would still be intrinsically incapable of leading such a struggle, since the' historical potentials of bourgeois-led anti-imperialist struggles are over, and no segment of the bourgeoisie has anything new to offer to the people other than what it had already offered and betrayed. And if the new struggle is to be led by the working class then it would be necessarily informed by a perspective that transcends capitalism.
Social Scientist, p. 2
There is of course a view, assiduously promoted by imperialism, that we have reached "the end of history", that the "utopian" idea of transcending capitalism is passé and that capitalism is the final mode of production which is not only ever-durable but which also promises mankind immense progress. This view however is the very opposite of the truth. The stability of capitalism requires for its sustenance the social support of petty property, which takes any attack on capitalist property as a precursor of an attack on private property in general, and gets frightened by it. It is this support that underlay the collapse of the Paris Commune, and it is the absence of this support, in situations where the bourgeoisie allied itself with large landed property, that created the "weakest links" in the chain for the proletariat to assert its hegemony. What the process of "globalization" entails is a squeeze on petty production and even small capitalist production, as is manifest even in our own country, which far from signalling the end of history, presages a whole new era of struggles, Lenin's prognostication of imperialism being the last stage of capitalism may well reassert its relevance after the interregnum of a few post-war decades of the so-called "Golden Age of Capitalism".
The current number of Social Scientist is marked apparently by a thematic diversity. Nonetheless, whether it is Madhu Sethia's discussion of 19th century Rajasthan poetry, or Selvyn Jussy's discussion of the Literary movement and the growth of the Left in Kerala, or Madhu Prasad's disquisition on the commercialization of higher education, or the Mallick-Haribabu-Kulkarni paper on the inter-war debates on science and technology in India, underlying all these papers is an implicit engagement with the present and hence an implicit link with the larger issue thrown up by Aijaz Ahmad.
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