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

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Alternative Path

You have hit the nail on the head in your editorial when you say that the CPI(M) has failed to present an alternative path (‘Bereft of an Alternative Path’, April 12). What is not clear, however, is whether this reflects a poverty of ideas or a failure to develop a strategic consensus on an alternative. Judging by the recent writings in EPW by leading Marxist intellectuals (Prabhat Patnaik and others), there is a convergence in terms of the key components of an alternative strategy. I list below some of these building blocks that show a great deal of internal consistency. In fairness to the authors, what is given below is not their exact statements. I am merely summarising what I learned from their writings. (1) Reduction of the role of the private corporate sector, especially multi nationals, that exacerbate inequality and weaken the working class. The state, rather than the neoliberal market system, will be the key engine and driver of growth and development. (2) Develop cooperatives, small-scale indus tries, agro-based local industries, etc, without dependence on the private sector. Revive closed industries and poorly performing public enterprises. (3) The state should play the lead role in achieving the above, and finance or underwrite the above (though this is not expli citly stated). Higher corporate taxes and other imposts could be used to finance these initiatives. (4) Implicit in the above is the pursuit of greater national self-sufficiency, and reduced reliance on trade and foreign investment that increases volatility and dependence on foreign financiers and imperialists.

The EPW writings on these subjects seldom examine the evidence from socialist countries or even our own past experience with regard to the above directions. But this is understandable as the authors may have a strong belief in certain doctrines and values, and are willing to stick to them even if past experience calls for learning lessons and responding to new contexts with changed strategies. When there is such strong commitment on a well-articulated alternative among influential intellectuals, why is CPI(M) reluctant to incorporate it into the “third alternative”? Has the party become more pragmatic or less sure of its ideology?

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