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

Articles by Sumanta BanerjeeSubscribe to Sumanta Banerjee

Revolutionary Movements in a Post-Marxian Era

The key to revolutionary change in today's world lies beyond the traditional Marxist conceptual framework or the leadership of Marxist political parties. In India, four broad areas of protests constitute the major components of a new revolutionary strategy in the post-Marxian era - (i) movements by forest dwellers against both the state machinery and predatory commercial forces; (ii) protests by villagers against the establishment of industrial estates, big dams and nuclear plants that threaten to oust them from their lands and homes, and endanger the environment; (iii) civil society campaigns against corruption and crime; and (iv) secessionist struggles on the issue of self-determination in the north-east and Kashmir. How will a new generation of post-Marxian revolutionary theoreticians and practitioners invigorate these movements with a progressive ideological core and a comprehensive coordinated programme of socialist change?

Post-Election Blues in West Bengal

The Trinamool Congress government's policies in West Bengal are leading to suicides of small farmers, a reign of terror in the Jangalmahal area and a curbing of academic and trade union rights. Its student activists beat up students and teachers who do not profess loyalty to the party. Will the CPI(M) which led the previous Left Front government for 34 years and paid the price for its insolence and corruption be able to go back to building a mass base among the poor?

From Parliamentary to Paramilitary Democracy

India's atrocious record with regard to the human rights of its citizens suggests that, with parliamentary complicity, it is degenerating to the status of a paramilitary democracy.

Pakistan-India Conundrum: Shades of the Past

Pakistan may appear to be a petty power in global politics today. But it can always wave its precious possession - nuclear weaponry - as the sword of Damocles over the US whenever the latter bullies it. As they frequently appear to reach the brink in this game of one-upmanship, the options are shrinking fast for both.

From Metropolitan to Megalopolitan Riots

The recent riots in London show that the politics of changing the structure that exploded into violent confrontations between the state and the people in the past is giving way to the predominance of inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions on the one hand, and acquisitive individualism on the other. The riots have to be located against the backdrop of the socio-economic changes that London has undergone during the last few decades. The metropolis has turned into a megalopolis - a globalised urban system that has expanded through the territorial appropriation of suburbs into the megastructure, based on flows of multinational goods and services, investments and information technology, and immigration of human resources.

Anna Hazare, Civil Society and the State

The Jan Lokpal Bill epitomises the ultimate faith of the ordinary citizens, born out of utter despair, in an omnipotent authority - the Lokpal. But mere legislation cannot bring about reforms, without accompanying mass struggles to get them implemented by the executive agencies and grass roots movements to change social habits. The forces of corruption which are deeply embedded in our society will not give up easily, and are powerful enough to frustrate and resist the provisions of any Lokpal Bill. At the end, the fight against corruption has to be situated in the wider strategy of changing both the economic model of development and the social culture, which carry the seeds of corruption.

Rabindranath - A Liberal Humanist Fallen among Bigoted Bhadraloks

The 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore this year is an occasion for reviewing the poet's estimation of his Bengali audience and the latter's attitude towards him. The relationship can be situated within the wider framework of an unstable structure (the Bengali bhadralok society in this case) and a multifaceted agency (the individual Rabindranath who inhabited that society), and the complementary role of the two in responding to and affecting on each other. Over a span of almost a century, Rabindranath played a twin role - one, as a creative artist, and the other, what we today define as a "public intellectual". During this period, he was pulled apart by bhadralok denigrators and hagiographers, and the reactions ranged from scorn to deification. This history of the contradictory reconstruction of Rabindranath's image by the Bengali bhadralok society reflects the social conflicts, intellectual debates and political pulls and pressures that had churned up and transformed that society during the last century - traversing great historical events like the anti-colonial national movement in India and the two world wars.

West Bengal's Next Quinquennium, and the Future of the Indian Left

In the aftermath of the defeat of the CPI(M)-led Left Front in West Bengal, the popular mood hovers between hope and fear about the new Trinamool Congress-led government. The new government will not live up to the aspirations for poribarton (change), for it is closely bound to the neo-liberal order. As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, Singur and Nandigram were the last straw on the camel's back that provided the trigger for the popular explosion of anger and frustration that had been gathering steam over the years. What does all this mean for the future of the party and the Indian Left?

The Mysterious Alien: Indian Street Jugglers in Victorian London

During the urbanisation process of London, the imported Asian and African underclass who were brought to London as sailors, servants and nannies among others had become the surplus products, who were born out of the British capitalists' perpetual search for profit. Once their utility was over, they were dismissed by their employers and left stranded in a foreign country. This article examines this tension-ridden interaction between the contemporary English society and certain sections of the Indian immigrant underclass in England in the 19th century. The latter, often by working upon the credulity of their clientele, and sometimes surely by their professional skills in entertainments like jugglery, and in the more serious area of medical treatment, succeeded in occupying an important space in the urban landscape of 19th century England.

Breeding 'Black Sheep'

Whenever accusations of corruption are made and found to be true, members of the fraternity of the accused rush to defend them by saying that these are a few of the "black sheep". What is forgotten is that the black sheep have become powerful enough to take over important institutional structures and make them serve the private interests of an oligarchy of privileged members of political parties, bureaucracy, financial institutions, judiciary, and powerful industrial magnates.

End of a Phase: Time for Reinventing the Left

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the CPI(Maoist) have, in their respective journeys, reached a blind alley. The impasse is not peculiar to the Indian situation. It reflects the worldwide crisis of Marxism, and is rooted to the historical experience of the international communist movement, in general, over the last century or so. It will take a long time to restore the bruised moral values which are based on respect and struggle for the freedom of the individual - values that are inherent in Marxist humanism.

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