ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Sanjeeb Mukherjee

Civil Society in the East, and the Prospects of Political Society

The western idea of civil society and Partha Chatterjee's concept of political society need to be critiqued and in doing so a case has to be made for rethinking civil society to understand the non-west. Historically, Indian society has enjoyed considerable autonomy of the state, which itself shows the possibility of an Indian imaginary of civil society. The postcolonial experience of a liberal constitution, rights and democracy has made possible the emergence of a modern, but non-bourgeois civil society within our castes and communities. Thus, if political theory goes beyond describing the present to imagining and justifying more radical futures, the idea of political society seems to come in the way.

The Use and Abuse of Democracy in West Bengal

This article examines the left's engagement with democracy in West Bengal. Before 1967, the left built a deliberative democratic tradition in Bengal. The United Front governments and the Naxalite movement led to a radicalisation of politics, which was followed by a fratricidal conflict culminating in a counter attack on the entire left by the state. This defeat paved the way for a historic compromise of the parliamentary left. In 1977 this defeated left came to power, but it was a veritable political revolution as a middle class-led intermediate regime came to acquire social and political power. The central claim to legitimacy of this new regime was its contention of representing the people. Hence, disciplining them as well as securing their consent through the organisation and ideology of the communist party is central to their continuation in power. This new ruling class lives off the social surplus creating a fiscal crisis for the state. To get out of this crisis it ultimately has to surrender to capital, shift to a neoliberal growth model and increasingly attack democracy.