How does the critique of modernity (as it is found in some of the alternative radical strains in the Enlightenment ranging from seventeenth century dissenters against the newly emerging orthodox elements of modernity to Gandhi in our own country's emerging modernity) square with the ideals of economic and social justice in the broad Leftist tradition owing chiefly to Marx? Pragoti presents a selection of articles from a seminar in Hyderabad in January 2009 on 'Radical Enlightenment and the Socialist Alternative'.
In the various strands of the Radical Enlightenment the principle theme is the question of the crisis: we have the crises of the sciences, of reason, of modernity, etc. But, of course, Murzban Jal points out that in these renderings there is no crisis of capitalism. So it follows for the alternative Enlightenment, since something is indeed rotten in the state of the Enlightenment, the subject of history cannot be a class subject. The theme of the crisis of the sciences is now expressed in the crisis of Marxism. The proletariat cannot be the subject of history. And yet there has to be the subject. The tragic hero of Romanticism comes marching in. What Romanticism wants is not the negation of capitalism, but negation of all reality. The Romantics cannot be the revolutionaries, but only the tragic heros, who like Goethe’s Faust, are dragged to hell. There they take residence like Adorno, waiting for the missing messiah to come.
The Marxist historian friend of the peoples of the world.
We present the full text of the article on DD Kosambi by Prabhat Patnaik which has been published in the latest issue of The Marxist.
A review of Peter Custers' book: Questioning Globalized Militarism: Nuclear and Military Production and Critical Economic Theory, Tulika, New Delhi, 2007
The rhetoric of the market has been a fundamental and central component of ideological struggle - the struggle for the legitimation or delegitimation of left discourse. The surrender to the various forms of market ideology - on the left, not to speak of everybody else, - has been imperceptible but alarmingly universal. This is the second shoe of the destiny of that older piece of discourse, 'nationalization' - which it follows some twenty years later, just as in general full postmodernism (particularly in the political field) has turned out to be sequel, continuation and fulfillment of the old 50s 'end of ideology' episode. 'The market is in human nature': this is the proposition that cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. That is, the most crucial terrain of ideological struggle in our time, Fredric Jameson had argued in 1990 in the Socialist Register.
Pragoti reproduces this seminal article where Jameson holds that nothing is served by substituting for one inert institutional structure (bureaucratic planning) another inert institutional structure, namely the market itself.
Pragoti has regularly brought to its readers articles which expand the understanding of our contemporary world using Marxist methods. In the present article, Canadian academic and Marxist David Bedford, explores the reasons why Aboriginal politics has not allied itself with Marxist politics in Canada. He sees global parallels in this hesitation to ally with Marxist politics on the part of people who are variously termed aboriginal, tribal and primitive. It also addresses the issue of how Marxist political practice could deal with issues relating to culture in this context.
This interview with Louis Althusser, first published four decades ago in the height of the radical movements in Europe and beyond, has had a lasting influence on Marxist writers, thinkers and communist parties. Positions have been taken for and against the ideas which Althusser expressed here and in his other writings. Pragoti republishes this seminal interview of Althusser to rekindle some of the debates within Marxism with regard to science and ideology, the relation of theory to practice and the very definition of Marxism as a science or ideology.
The role of the mass media (MM) in influencing mass and class behavior has been a central concern among critical writers, especially since the turn of the Twentieth century. Debates and studies on the MM have focused on its political bias, ownership and links to big business, relationships and ties to the state, relative openness and diversity, promotion of wars and corporate interests among other major issues affecting the relations of power, wealth and empire. Of particular interest to writers opposing and supporting the role of the MM is the impact of the MM in influencing mass outlook, opinions and behaviors. Essays, monographs and empirical studies have been published as to the extent of MM influence, the time frame in which it retains control, the ‘depth’ of loyalty to MM inculcated opinions, and the ‘place’ in which MM messages have the greatest influence in inducing mass opinion in conformity with ruling class interests.
An understanding of the role and power of the MM in contemporary capitalist society requires us to organize the debate according to three major schools – conservative, liberal and Marxist – before proceeding to a critical analysis and finally presenting notes towards setting alternatives to elite-controlled communications networks.
“There is no Alternative but Socialism”: Samir Amin
[Prof. Samir Amin, eminent Marxist scholar and Director, Third World Network was in New Delhi on 17th November 2008, to address a Symposium on the Global Economic Crisis. He spoke about the current crisis and the way forward for the progressive forces, to Prasenjit Bose and Senthil Babu from the CPI (M)]. Interview courtesy India News Network.