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

Caste and ClassSubscribe to Caste and Class

A set of four articles examines the rapidly changing categories of caste and class and their impact on movements and struggles.

Shifting Categories in the Discourse on Caste and Class

The categories of caste and class are undergoing radical change. Global capital has worked against the articulation of shared experiences of exploitation. This holds true for both caste and class. The left's historic failure in not comprehending the exploiting role of caste has militated against class solidarity. There are, however, incipient movements that try to overcome this traditional weakness of the left.

The Many Omissions of a Concept

Discussions on caste are caught in the binaries of Scheduled Castes and the "General Category." Such binaries see the lower caste as a monolith and leave little space for discussing discrimination among such castes. The nomenclature "Dalit," its revolutionary impulse notwithstanding, also does not help address the issue. The homogenising claims of the category Dalit have failed to address the issue of discrimination within Dalits. A major omission pertains to scavenging work.

Dichotomisation of Caste and Class

In the swirl of contradictions that tug and bind India, none may be as conflicting and as similar as histories of the Dalit and the communist movements. The cause of the dichotomy between caste and class struggle in India was the misunderstanding of Karl Marx's concept of the base and superstructure. Ambedkar, in fact, demonstrated over and over again that the struggle against caste could be organically unified with the class struggle.

Dalit Chronicles from the Telugu Country

The colonial experience in India, confronting the pre-existing caste system, did nothing more than create a peculiar order that was neither feudal nor capitalist in its manifestation. What this deformed system did, instead, was to assimilate the privileged castes into the ruling structure, while simultaneously unleashing multiple forms of oppression on marginalised sections of the population in India. This article attempts to narrate the lesser known stories of the unacknowledged Dalits who were inspired by the Marxist ideology of class struggle and used it to mobilise agricultural labourers and manual scavengers in the Telugu country.
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