ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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From the Editor’s Desk

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It is indeed a great honour for me to be associated with Economic & Political Weekly (EPW), as editor, and a privilege to do so at a stage when its reputation as a serious journal is completely secured. This is also due to the EPW team in particular for its judicious hard work, commitment and care, and the EPW community at large which through its labour of love has supported the journal in sustaining this unique position. The formal association with EPW as its editor, therefore, comes with a huge responsibility to invest in its space that offers not only to host but also to mobilise diverse and dissenting ideas; ideas that are so critical in understanding both the local and global contexts in the complex relationship between multiple political expressions and economic transformations. It has been EPW’s unique tradition to mobilise and filter ideas that flow towards it from different sites of critical thinking and radical practices of people.

It will be a reasonable exaggeration if one looks at the journal as an open university. Understandably, EPW does not impose its particular view but respects different standpoints that seek to converge on the common need to assign equal human value to every living being. Spaces in EPW thus are argumentative in their essence and critical in their articulation. These spaces house debates that are focused on many crucial issues of national and international importance.

The role of EPW, particularly at the present juncture, acquires seminal importance in the context of the changing nature of both—economics and politics. The contemporary domain of politics has become vacuous inasmuch as the political expression that claims to be dominant however, appears to be fake. The counter-political expression has become fragmented. The dominant political expression seems to be filled with glibness, and hence the capacity of a prominent leader to be fluent in repeating empty promises has become urgent to create an illusion. For the dominant political forces, this serves two ends: to remain in formal political power and also to use such power to perpetuate their social dominance.

The counter-expressions of those who fight against the ruling political expression are not only internally fragmented but also externally face the constant danger of being compressed on Twitter, blogs, WhatsApp, etc. Contemporary compression of thinking involves the urge to instantly satisfy oneself or the radical self in terms of being politically correct. On the other side of the spectrum, particularly in regard to the regressive self, it provides provocation that is readily available as a vicarious sensation. However, such compressed thinking representing right-wing politics has vicious and fake content which is mediated through blogs or Twitter.

Such “two-minute Maggi” kind of thinking seeks to replace transformative thinking with quick thinking. Such a shortcut to serious thinking is a symptom rather than the source of a deeper crisis. The latter seems to have gripped in its constraining logic people’s freedom to think autonomously. The desire and perhaps the socially obligatory need to remain on the “right side” constitute the “progressive self,” who is driven more by the need for being politically correct rather than to become politically conscious. Ironically, the need to become politically correct thus provides the ground to participate in the “game of empty words” or a language game with the adversaries.

Apart from this, the crisis in transformative thinking, thus, gets compounded with what could be termed as rituals of the language game. In contemporary times, those who represent dominant political expression and those who produce counter-expression, participate in a kind of exchange that reduces the interaction to a mere ritual. For example, the government, in order to hide its own failure, uses stock phrases such as “anti-nationalist” or “pseudo secularist.” But those who produce counter-political expression ironically use the same stock vocabulary in order to refute the stock vocabulary of the state. Inversion of such vocabulary becomes the usual response by the radical.

EPW is an open book and not an elite enclave of a few radicals who group themselves with the identical purpose of speaking for various embattled groups, and thus prove their political correctness. To put it differently, the self-identical collectives, such as intellectual elite enclaves, groups of scholars, activists and social workers, seek to represent those who agree with each other and who write for each other in a language that appears (to them) quite excellent, and the content of such writing is considered to be the only ideal. The expression among the enclave of radicals can best be summarised in the following commonly heard expression: “As we all know.” The politics of emancipation in such cases ceases to be a public project.

As an open book and not a closely guarded blog, EPW believes that critical insights can emerge from various standpoints depending on the location of those who are holding on to these standpoints. It further believes that critical insights have no fixed address and come to EPW from all sites of emancipatory struggles. The journal, indeed, is uniquely positioned to democratise the critical and hence transformative power of ideas. This is evident both from the content and the egalitarian intention to democratise serious thinking by building bridges among different groups. The digital version of EPW and the translation project have been playing a crucial role in terms of offering a forum to mobilise transformative ideas across the board.

I earnestly appeal to each and everyone to participate in EPW’s endeavour to make human emancipation a public project.

Gopal Guru

Mumbai

Updated On : 7th Aug, 2018

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