A debate on 21st century socialism hosted on Pragoti featuring articles by Rohit & Srinivasan Ramani, a riposte by Arjun Sengupta and a response by Rohit & Srinivasan Ramani again.
There has been a major transformation in India over the last two decades – economic, political, social and cultural. Some of this has been a result of the liberalisation of the economy, a significant part of which has been the opening up to global capital. The Left in India, across organisations and ideologies, has viewed globalisation as a disaster for India. However, even a cursory glance at the actual history of globalisation in India will show that it has been as much about India reaching out to the world as the world coming to India.
In the recent period, alongwith a number of critical discussions on the electoral set-back suffered by the CPI (M) and the Left in last Lok Sabha elections, there have been some questions raised about the practice of democratic centralism as the organizational principle of the Communist Party. Such critiques have come from persons who are intellectuals associated with the Left or the CPI (M).
Prabir Purkayastha's article on the Left, 2009 Elections and beyond. Originally published in the Centre for Policy Analysis' journal.
The quest for human freedom requires a transcendence of capitalism. What is important, however, is the overall vision that we have of the socialism that will emerge, one which accords centrality to human freedom, which remains continuously “open” and untainted by ossification in any form, and which constitutes an unleashing of democracy and a perennial engagement of the people with politics.
The article, originally published in the Economic and Political Weekly is attached along with this post.
Democratic centralism has generally been accepted as the principle for building communist organisations, whereas it was only meant to address the organisational demands of a particular historical context in Tsarist Russia. By institutionalising centralism and leaving democracy undefined, this organisational form has fostered authoritarian tendencies and undermined the growth of new ideas in the working class movement. This is seen in India where the engagement of the communist parties with democracy has remained ad hoc and untheorised.
Is the practice and principle of "Democratic Centralism" to organise a communist party, relevant anymore to today's times? What does the practice entail? Is it necessary to modify the principle and practice? Or as some claim, to do away with it? Or indeed to persist with it?
Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) answers critiques of the principle, written as part of various articles on broad issues by eminent thinkers - Javeed Alam, Prabir Purkayastha and Prabhat Patnaik. All the articles are posted here.
An article towards understanding the political-ideological roots of the GM controversy in Indian agriculture with special reference to Marxist theory and practice, is attached with this post (in PDF format). The essay begins with setting the context of the currently raging debate on BT-Brinjal and reviewing a select set of empirical assessments of BT-Cotton in India on relevant parameters. It then moves to critically examine the role of ideology in how competing political forces comprehend the food and nutrition crisis in India.
“Sen, a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and a Lamont Professor of Economics and Moral Philosophy at Harvard University took an intelligent and pragmatic approach by pondering over the idea of ‘enhancement of justice’ by ‘removal of injustice’ instead of imagining an a priori perfect just society, or ‘identifying perfectly just social arrangements’ or ‘just institutions’ in his book. However, the book has several deficiencies, and in this article, we would try to point out those ontological, methodological and epistemological limits/problems of Sen’s idea of justice.”
Prof.Prabhat Patnaik lucidly explains the dialectical relationship between 'Socialism' and Welfarism' and argues for the necessity of 'political intervention' of the left in welfare measures for the transformation of people from 'Objects' to 'Subjects'.