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The Agrarian Myth, the New Populism and the New Right

and the 'New' Right Tom Brass It is argued here that the 'new' populism and the 'new' right, both of which emerged after the 1960s and consolidated during the 1990s, are structured discursively by the agrarian myth, and with it the reaffirmation of peasant essentialism. Whereas the earlier variants of the 'new' populism associated with the views of Marcuse and Fanon, expressed fears about alienation involving the estrangement from an 'authentic' peasant selfhood, in the third-worldist discourse which the more recent and postmodern variants of the 'new' populism share with 'new' right, this innate 'peasant-ness' is represented ideologically as the recuperation of a cultural 'otherness'/ 'difference' that can now be celebrated. Alienation thus metamorphoses into its 'other', ' peasant-ness'-as- empowerment.

Misinterpreting Unfree Labour in Contemporary Haryana

Misinterpreting Unfree Labour in Contemporary Haryana Tom Brass IN his latest, and it has to be said more strident, contribution to a series of exchanges with me about unfree labour in Haryana, Jodhka (1996) introduces no new information or ideas. Since the points raised by him in his previous contributions [Jodhka 1994, 1995] have been answered by me in Brass (1995, 1996), there would normally be no need for me to respond to his latest one.1 However, apart from fairly innocuous points, such as attributing to me an old view (about worker agency) and a new one (the 4two class model'), neither of which I hold, questioning my point about landholder bias and making symptomatically unsustainable claims about the decline of landholder power, Jodhka's latest contribution also contains two rather obnoxious points: a baseless innuendo about intellectual appropriation, and the invocation of a nationalist discourse, the object of which is intellectually and politically exclusionary. Since these cannot be permitted to pass unchallenged, I will deal with all of these points briefly-2 Complaining once again that I attribute "no agency to workers at all", Jodhka (1996:1286) repeats what by now even he must surely know to be an untrue assertion: that my view corresponds to one of "an absolutist power structure where labourers have no space to bargain and contest". About this continuing (mis)representation of my views two things can be said. First, and as I have pointed out ad nauseam it is precisely because workers exhibit agency in the form of a growing consciousness of class that landholders in Haryana increasingly resort to the debt mechanism as a method of waging class struggle 'from above7. That the latter is effective is clear, not just from what the labourers themselves have to say on this subject but also from what Jodhka states in his thesis.1 And second, what he forgets or perhaps does not know is that even chattel slaves were able to pursue specific kinds of agency, the exercise of which did not obviate the unfree nature of their relation.4 Jodhka fails to comprehend that an important difference exists between a free labour market (a direct exchange between worker and employer) and a free market in labour (an indirect exchange involving only employers or the latter and contractors). To regard the presence of labour-power in both transactions simply as evidence of free labour, and thus worker agency, is palpably nonsensical.

Yet More on Agrarian Change and Unfree Labour

Yet More on Agrarian Change and Unfree Labour Tom Brass IT is good to see that Jodhaka (1995) acknowledges that his own views about labour attachment in Haryana emerged as a consequence of an engagement with mine on the same subject [Brag)) 990a].1 Similarly welcome is the belated admission that he accepts my view of attached labour as unfree, although as I shall indicate below this has by no means eliminated the theoretical difficulty he has with the concept. The extent of the gulf that remains, however, is clear, although the reasons for this are less so. In an attempt at clarification, therefore, it is necessary to examine why Jodhaka thinks that in Haryana unfreedom is declining in the case of permanent attached labour and is non-existent in the case of non-permanent agricultural workers.

Unfree Labour and Agrarian Change-A Different View

Unfree Labour and Agrarian Change A Different View Tom Brass IN a recent article in the EPW about attached labour and agrarian change in Haryana, S S Jodhaka (1994) attempts to refute an earlier argument made by me [Brass 1990] - that agricultural workers are being deproletarianised-by claiming that workers reject attachment which has itself changed and is now on the decline. Not the least of the many difficulties I have with his case is the extremely misleading way in which the differences between us are presented: many of the processes and changes occurring in Haryana referred to by him are also referred to by me, impressions to the contrary notwithstanding.' In fact, with the exception of the theoretical frame work and conclusions, much of what Jodhaka says about Haryana to a large degree coincides with the situation as I described it.2 The difference in interpretation which exists is in my view due to his confusion about the nature of unfree labour, as a consequence of which Jodhaka underestimates both its role in the class struggle and more generally the importance of the latter for the structure of agrarian transformation.3 This emerges particularly with regard to the way in which he characterises labour attachment, and the connection between on the one hand the element of conflict that clearly pervades the villages he studied, and on the other phenomena such, as workforce recomposition, restructuring and deproletarianisation.

A-Way with Their Wor(l)d-Rural Labourers through the Postmodern Prism

A-Way with Their Wor(l)d Rural Labourers through the Postmodern Prism WHAT originally started out as a review of two recently published collections about south Asian history and society [Haynes and Prakash 1991 and Prakash 1992] offers a timely opportunity to comment on the impact and implications of what purports to be an entirely new approach to the study of agrarian change, and the role in this of peasants and workers in general and unfree rural labour in particular.1 At times during the immediate past it has seemed as though development theory about agricultural labour has imploded, a consequence of on the one hand economists (for example, Srinivasan 1989) who reduce it to an epiphenomenon of mathematics, and on the other non-economists who question the very existence/possibility of development itself.2 Into the latter category falls postmodernism, which propounds something akin to a form of Cultural individualism', or the politico-ideological equivalent of bourgeois economic individualism, and which
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