Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Alternate Politics - The Search & Need

Alternate Politics - The Search & Need
By Goldy M. George
www.countercurrents.org 17 November, 2003
Human history has remained the chronology of struggles between master and servant, have and have nots, between capitalists and proletariats, exploiter and exploited. The irony of the world history turns everything upside down. How to evaluate this historical process? It is quite a difficult task, but when we try to understand from the people's viewpoint, the picture is clearer. How to explain such theoretical sterility and sclerosis of praxis in spite of much unquestioned commitment to the cause of a classless and just society? Any search for an answer must begin with a critical appraisal of the historical practice of Indian politics over the past many years along with the ancient system of local governance.
One of the outstanding developments in Indian politics was the participation of the common man in the freedom struggle. Congress, initially was a forum of the common man, rather a platform which took up the brunt to emancipate Indians from the clutches of British imperialism. Although the bourgeois funded Congress, it had a set of agendas for these struggles. Subsequently in the post-independence period, the Congress turned to be a bunch of bourgeoisie. Gandhi's dream of "Gram-Swaraj" went into oblivion. Eventually the kind of independence that the people got was only a transfer of power from a cluster of exploiters to another.
Another significant role was of the Communist movement in India. Organising the working class was their major program, through trade union. Indeed, many of the early leaders were committed to the cause of the proletarian class. Particularly, from late 30s till early 60s it could be derived as the era of mass left movements apart from the freedom struggle. Hundreds of struggles were initiated during this period, especially by the working sector. These proletarian struggles were mainly centred in Kerala, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh, in some parts of Bihar and in the North-Eastern states. This range from participating in the parliamentary politics to the extreme end of armed guerrilla warfare. The experiment of land reforms among the communist Governments seemed to be successful, which turned as a debacle at the end of the day.
But slowly, in the course of time the proletarian agenda of the communist parties is also diffusing rapidly. Their structure has moreover shifted to capital orientedness than people's power. Also the democratic process was terribly demoralised. As a part of this they candidly invite the multinational corporation, whose one and only agenda is to exploit every thing on earth to the maximum extend. Although the isolated armed struggles headed by the marxist-leninist groups had gained very little, they still continue with the hope of prosperity in future.
Sangh Parivar with the ideology of violent nationalism had attained the utmost support from the middle class elite. Hindutva catalogue had widely gained a space due to the sentimental loyalty towards Hinduism. Subsequently the definition and identity of nationalism was also given a renewed shape. Also this had substantially led to the emergence of consumerism.
However the most significant political development of the last one and half century is the growth of a socio-political consciousness among the Dalits and of course among the Adivasis. This has brought in a new dynamics to the overall political process, particularly with the struggle of Dalits for their Dignity. Dalits are the lowest strata of people according to the Hindu social structure, who were once slaves to the upper caste people known as Shudras and Atishudras. They are one of the long persecuted humanities anywhere in the world.
Tides Tturned:
What has happened in the last few decades is a gradual, sensible and rationale growth in the level of awareness among the Dalits. Various questions relating to caste issue has been challenged that intimidates the very existence of the upper caste segment, which is also the ruling class, despite the insignificance of party affiliation. Strengthening of upper caste is a felt need to the Hindutva catalogue since casteism is the corner stone of Hinduism itself. Without casteism or strengthening of the upper caste there is no existence of Hinduism as such. Ambekdarite movement has checked this to greater extend. However this continues as the root of all social dilemmas in India.
So far the rustic poor are concerned, one thing that is very vivid from this is that all the present political factions have turned to be a bunch of caste elite having seldom interest in the masses and any sort of change. In some parts of India, the oppressed sector had expressed their opposition to the power holders in many different ways, some through peaceful means and other through violent ways. Many others are yet to realise the exploitative trend.
In the past, many of the violent movements, basically enrolled by the working class were born as a part of the ongoing invasion of imperialistic forces on their basic rights. To them it is the only way to express their wrath and thus they considered the ruling class as their birth foe. Apparently, the growth of people's organisations in different parts is an indicator of people's rise. Verily there is the genesis of the search for alternatives to the present politics.
Currently there is hardly any role of the common man in this process than casting votes. Another tragic scene of this trend is the systematic and strategic alienation of the common man from this process. This purely explains the ignoble surrender before the multinational onslaught in the name of globalisation and liberalisation without even a whimper, nay, with dubious declarations of glorious exploits.
Turning back to the people the concept of decentralisation of power is the only way for a redemption - rather the one and only alternative. But before that a wave of cultural change has to be brought into, turning from capital oriented social political and economic structures to a more socialist and egalitarian one based on equality and dignity.
Gram Swaraj can be one possible way in this approach. But the concept of Gram Swaraj, which I mean, is not the current craved advertisement by the Congress. Even the ancient Indian Gram Sabhas were entirely the monopoly of a few feudal upper caste landlords or the local rich. This cannot be the true spirit of decentralisation of power. The dalits, women and other deprived sectors had no say in such panchayats. Such a system will be an absurd than an asset fabricating more problems to the poor strata. Essentially the need of the hour is the balance between the casteless and classless society.
Rustic revolt particularly of the poor and working sector will definitely storm the existing citadels of power, thus emerging the new era of power, a cohesive outburst of people's struggles.
This is from where one has to initiate a serious debate on search of alternatives - people's power. It is not the spontaneous emergence of masses, but a slow and steady evolution that transfers the complete power - social, political, and economic from the clutches of a few to the hands of the battered strata, which is also the need of the hour.
Today when Congress stands at the crossroad, BJP stands with its Hindutava agenda, Communists had diluted its working class agenda, and Socialists striving to find space among the people; can we rewrite our future, and emancipate people from the vulgar clutches of party politics?
Goldy M. George is a Dalit-Adivasi activist in Chhattisgarh. He is currently the convener of Dalit Study Circle.Goldy M. George Convener, Dalit Study Circle