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Communal Violence in Kozhikode Village

We strongly condemn the unprecedented communal violence at the end of January 2015, in Tuneri, Vellur and Kodanjeri villages, Nadapuram in Kozhikode, Kerala, in which more than a hundred Muslim families and homes were singled out, attacked, and crores worth of property destroyed. We are utterly...

On a CPI (Maoist) Apology

In a statement of apparent self-criticism dated 1 September 2011 (EPW, 17 September 2011), the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has offered an apo logy for the posters threatening Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze, Gokul Vasant and Nandlal Singh and members of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan. But they have not tendered...

End of the Left in India?

In a minor replay of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Indian media have been gloating at the defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal especially and have repeatedly suggested that this signals the “end of the Left in India”. Even at the best of times our news channels tend to avoid serious...

Talks Only With Broader Sections

In the light of the recent demands raised by sections of the intelligentsia urging the government to heed the CPI(Maoist) “offer of talks”, we insist that “civil society” should rather put pressure on the government to initiate talks with representatives of all struggling popular and adivasi...

Metamorphoses of Agrarian Capitalism

Metamorphoses of Agrarian Capitalism Jairus Banaji Ecological and Agrarian Regions of South Asia circa 1930, edited by Daniel Thorner; Oxford University Press, Karachi,

Outline of an IR Theory of Industrial Conflict

Focusing on Bombay, locations around Bombay and more distant labour market areas in the state and on the basis of a sample of about 180 plants or other establishments controlled by 125 companies belonging largely to the private sector, this paper elaborates an industrial relations theory of industrial conflict Conflict is seen as part of a bargaining process and the notion that the strike experience of individual plants is determined fundamentally by the industry to which they belong is rejected. Conflict is seen as belonging not to the plant itself but to its experience and the space described is phenomenological and not objective. Consequently there is no determinism which can explicate a pattern of conflict and the diversity of available choices does not bind workers to set responses. Likewise even if management behaviour conforms to certain determinisms even managers have choices. The study concentrates on plants in manufacturing sectors which may be called 'modern', that is, whose evolution was a product of the industrial expansion of the 1950s.

Capitalist Domination and the Small Peasantry-Deccan Districts in the Late Nineteenth Century

Deccan Districts in the Late Nineteenth Century Jairus Banaji This paper argues that the positions of those who hold the view that the Indian countryside is still to a large extent dominated by 'precapitalist' relationships of a 'semi-feudal' variety rest on an erroneous conception of 'intervention in the process of production, on a failure to explore and understand properly Marx's view of the relationships in question and, finally, on a failure to analyse concretely the systems of production that actually prevailed in various parts of the country as early as the nineteenth century.

Chayanov, Kautsky, Lenin Considerations towards a Synthesis

There is an asymmetry in Margin's attitude. He accepts without questioning the neo-classical doctrine on the accounting price of labour; but in the matter of the so-called social price of capital, he prefers to lean on the consumption- investment nexus. Scarcely any thought is spared for solving the puzzle that while living labour is treated as dirt, dead labour is supposed to be worth its weight in diamonds; the SPECIAL ARTICLE MARXISTS have rarely accorded Chayanov's work a sympathetic treatment. To start with, there is his popular reputation, shaped by the attacks launched on him and many others when Stalin broke his alliance with the Buk- harinists and turned to the policy of forced collectivisation. According to this, Chayanov was the theoretical fountainhead of a revived Narodnism, a eulogist of the petit-bourgeois producer, who sought to provide a scientific facade for the viability of small-scale production units in agriculture. There is, secondly, the widespread notion that Chayanov's theory of a 'specific peasant economy was proposed, more or less consciously, as an alternative to classical Marxist positions on the peasantry argued in his own genera- social genesis of dead labour is conveniently left unmentioned. If, while living labour is surplus, capital or dead labour is scarce, it is not necessarily because capital per se is in short supply, but because it has not been made available: it has been monopolised, and labour has been denied the opportunity of gainful association with specific resources which are the result of its own past labour. This is true as tion by Lenin and several other Marxists. The popular prejudice can easily be exposed as a mixture of crude simplification and propagandist fantasy, a product of the Stalin school of falsification. The notion that Chayanov sought to present an alternative to Marxist conceptions of the peasantry is less easy to dispose of. It is, however, in essence, a conception no less erroneous than the other.

India and the Colonial Mode of Production-Comment

Comment A CRITIQUE of Hamza Mdvis article1 is rendered difficult by the fact 'that Alavi has written neither a historical analysis nor a theoretical essay, hut something between the two to the exclusion of both. Since for Marxists the validity of any historical analysis is a function of the concepts on which it is built, it is more important to concentrate, tobegin with, on what we regard as basic theoretical weaknesses in the article. These weaknesses spring from a profound confusion as to the meaning and nature of Marx's categories. Alavi is not exceptional in this respect, for a purely empiricist conception of the categories of historical materialism has become the hallmark of the current of modern 'Marxist' writing that rims from Andre Gunder Frank to Samir Amin and their epigones. The necessary result of this empiricist mediation of Marx's categories is a certain metaphysical scholasticism which builds its conceptions of historical development on a series of forced abstractions, EMPTINESS OF 'FEUDALISM' A discussion of the nature and tend- encies of colonial economy in India would not be the most appropriate place to bring up the question of feudalism as a 'mode of production' were it not for the unfortunate fact that whether we turn to the international fraternity of neo-populists (Frank, Amin, etc) or to our own theoreticians of 'semi-feudalism', we cannot escape this mode of production. It is the favourite forced abstraction of modern scholasticism, In the imaginary and perverse world of such abstractions it matters little that Europe did in fact- live through such an epoch of production for several centuries, that we pos- sess today a mass of detailed historical literature about the productive enterprises of this epoch, about the characteristic cycles and circuits of reproduction of feudal economy, about its specific accounting conceptions and the role of peasant labour within its process of production. Alavi's conception of the feudal mode of production can be summarised in his own words: "I would consider localised production and localised appropriation and simple reproduction to be crucial for a definition of the feudal mode of production" (p 1262); Thus; in place of a serious theo retical proposition about feudal economy, we are offered a pure banality. At the cost of stating what to many Marxists would appear aImost obvious, the reply can be brief. (1) If by localised production and so on Alavi means that under feudal economy production was not subject to and regulated by the laws of socialisation which flow from the internal motion of capitalist-commodity economy, then he is right; no such laws of socialisation were present in the feudal epoch, but for the simple reason that in all epochs of production before capitalism labour was directly social and did not acquire the property of being social through the process of its social equalisation in the specifically capitalist form of an equalisation of things {commodities).2 Thus in the localised character of its production, feudal economy shared a characteristic common to all forms of economy before capitalism. (2) Feudal economy was not an economy of 'simple reproduction' if Alavi means that it reproduced itself on the same scale of production

Farmers Response to Prices

Farmers' Response to Prices Jairus Banaji Farmers' Response to Agricultural Prices in India: A Study in Deci- sion-Making by D S Tyagi; Heritage Publishers, Delhi; 1974; Ks 40, grown which deals with the responsiveness of peasants to prices' Although the particular statistical techniques used in these studies have differed, certain common premises have been basic to all, or most, of them. These are: (1) that elasticities of supply of a given agricultural commodity are an adequate index of the degree of peasant price responsiveness with regard to that commodity, (b) that acreage sown under the commodity is an appropriate proxy for the planned level of supply, (c) that, although other variables

Nationalism and Socialism

Nationalism and Socialism EACH epoch fills the national question' with its own content, though the old forms persist and the national question always seems the same. The national question that faced Marx and Engels was shaped by the political framework of Europe at that time, by a balance of power which opposed the 'revolutionary democratic' nations of the west to the 'reactionary' nations of the east centred on czarism and the small- nation movements sponsored by it. Marx and Engels favoured Polish independence and the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the interests of european democracy, showing thereby that "the interests of the liberation of a number of big and very big nations in Europe rate higher than the interests of the movement for liberation of small nations". The national question that facsd Lenin was entirely different in content, based now on the 'system' of great powers, on the conversion of the 'revolutionary democratic' nations into imperialist oppressor nations, on the common front of czarism and European capital and on the struggle to divide up the world market on a new basis. Our national question is again different, or progressively becoming so; the emergence of international capital markets corrodes the role of the nation-state in the monetary sphere, sharpening competition in the world economy compels sections of big capital to form international blocs at the expense of smaller national capitals, and the intensified stagnation of the backward areas, as capital lends to move continuously to areas of capital-concentration, threatens to rupture the unity of the nation-state internally as the oppressed nationalities or semi-nationalities launch movements of separation.2Probably no question confuses Marxists more than this one, if we leave aside the more simple cases of national self- determination, and any attempt to go back to its roots in the Marxist tradition is therefore welcome.

Mode of Production in Indian Agriculture-A Comment

April 7, 1973 Mode of Production in Indian Agriculture A Comment Jairus Banaji THIS article attempts to take up some of the points raised by Paresh Chatto- padhyay in his reply to Utsa Vatnaik (Review of Agriculture, December 1972). Chattopadhyay's apparent preoccupation with clear definitions and his abundance of textual marxism conceal a real atrophy of theory. His thought, as Trotsky said of the historian Pokrovsky, is "gripped in the vice of rigid social categories which he puts in place of live historical forces*'.


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