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

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Future Nostalgia and the Unicorn of Left Unity

Future Nostalgia and the Unicorn of Left Unity

Exploring Marxist Bengal c 1971–2011: Memory, History and Irony by Debraj Bhattacharya, Kolkata: K P Bagchi & Company, 2016, pp xii + 285, 995.

No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism by Vijay Prashad; New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015, pp 378, 395.

Once upon a time, there was a Left Front government in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. It was in power from 1977 to 2011, witnessing and surviving the slow decline of the Soviet Bloc and the transformation of the People’s Republic of China into a capitalist state with authoritarian characteristics. The survival of the Left Front, its continued relevance in Indian politics, its resilience in West Bengal and in the smaller state of Tripura, even as it oscillated from ruling coalition to opposition in its other “stronghold,” Kerala was the lifeblood of political discussion on the left for a long time, especially after the fall of the Soviet Bloc, and the alleged discrediting of communist or quasi-communist parties the world over.

In the 1990s, even as many academics of leftist persuasion leapfrogged their own shadowy former selves to recant their socialist views, the Left Front governments in India became something of a comfort to those who chose to remain on the “left” of the political order. Together with that experiment in socialism in one postal district that was Cuba, these survivals served as comfort to those who needed “really existing socialism” to continue to really exist somewhere or the other, so that their continued leftist imaginations could attach themselves to some institutional or state structure that would legitimate their continued optimism. The socialist cause, thus, lived on, both in its Indian regional variations and in its island paradise at the other end of the world.

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Updated On : 7th Jul, 2017

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