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.

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