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Friday, April 6, 2012

Judeo-Christian notion of being “called” or “elected” to save the world

The CPI(M)’s ‘Draft Resolution on Some Ideological Issues’ prepared by the party for discussion and adoption at the party’s 20th Congress that began in Kozhikode today, is truly an ideological document in Althusser’s sense. It claims to move with the times and update the party thought apparatus but in reality, moves in order to stay where it is. It works to relentlessly re-present all the difficult questions of our times as if they were already known to the founders of something called ‘Marxism-Leninism’... Aditya Nigam PERMALINK April 5, 2012 5:57 PM
Rex, actually, he did not write anything significant after that. It is well-known of course, that Marx’s most widely circulated wiriting on India, for example, (Future Results of British Rule in India and another follow up piece) were written early in his career as a ‘Marxist’ in the 1850s when his information about India was actually quite sketchy. It was basically in the period after 1872 (till his death) that he undertook a serious study of non-Western societies (also non-capitalist in varying degrees) like Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Algeria and Latin America.
Already, by this time he he had revised the theory of history that came to be associated with his name and with the first edition of Das Kapital. He had already begun to feel that that unilinear view of history was unsustainable and that there were societies that really did not have the private property form (and also capitalist development) of the kind that Western Europe had. The entire episode of these nine years would have been lost to us, thanks to the Lenin-Stalin orthodoxy, had it not been for a Japanese scholar Haruki Wada, who unearthed it from archival materials in the 1960s. A book by Teodor Shanin in the early 1980s, brought some of this material together in a book called The Late Marx and the Russian Road.
Really, it is not his theory of communism that is at issue here but, at some level, the more important question of whether all societies must follow the same historical trajectory. The theory of communism is premised on the assumption that there is a universal history of human society that is ushered in by capitalism and socialism and communism only build on that. This is what is really at stake here.

Inasu/poet-writer/Paris PERMALINK April 5, 2012 11:06 PM Cher Aditya,
Excellent reflections on the evolution of Marx’s theorisations and their relevance or irrelevance in the Indian context. As for Althusser, the above phrases quoted from his posthumously published memoir shed enough light. It has been recently discovered that he strangled his wife(!) apparently during an uncontrollable rage. As for the “universality” of Marxism/Communism/Leninism/Stalinism, it is all derived from the Judeo-Christian notion of being “called” or “elected” to save the world.
Marx was no exception to this legacy nor Che Guevarra who toiled with missionary zeal to spread “communism” and to bring about “the kingdom”. Latin America being highly influenced by Catholicism turned out to be a rather fertile terrain for the experimentation with, as you rightly pointed out, the indigenous cultural ethos and valu orientation.
Regis Debray, in his almost autobiographic novel THE MASKS some 20 years back, mentions sadly that he could not understand his Latin A’can comrades as their reactions to issues and situations were entirely different from his, from Western Europe. Remember Althusser was his professor! In India, the Left politics should have taken up long ago the question of caste, religion, environment and invented a new definition of “progress”, “order” and “governance”, inspired by the age-old structures that existed already in our country. Post-Stalinist rhetoric of our Indian comrades is risible today the least.
Mr Pavan K Varma has something to say about the Indian sensibility to revolution or drastic change as it happened in France or in Russia. Of course, we can imagine other ways, other methods, other ideological combinations to bring about social changes. As you said Marx did not have the means (datawise, informationwise, etc) to fathom the complexity of Indian society and culture. Unfortunately, our Leftists, except very few, only parrotted what they concocted in the West and later on in China, reason why M.K. Gandhi was almost vilipended by the then communist party.! Kudos and courage!

Ram Sharma PERMALINK April 6, 2012 5:42 AM
In my opinion, probably the most thoughtful article in Kafila since I got interested in reading the postings. It may not affect those for whom Marxism is a religion, or those who do politics in its name while overlooking the objectives. But I wish even they read this article and introspect. A doctrine which is stagnant, is not scientifically examined for its relevance for a particular time and place, and not subjected to modification or even total rejection, if that is warranted by the experience and logic, then it can endanger the very people for whom it was originally advanced. Marxism has been preached, initially tuned and implemented in some form in many counties for decades. With some initial successes, it has mostly failed in its objectives. Some Comrades advocate revolution, some want to follow the path of Latin Americas, but for what gain? Does a poor in Latin Americas have better life than those in Capitalist Europe or in the US or even in India? Capitalism has been revised and reinvented several times and the same is required for Marxism for its survival as a practical ideology. Otherwise, it will become a subject of academic interest only on which a few people may be awarded a PhD degree. If I is practiced in its already experimented forms, it will be disastrous for India. Again, my compliments to you, Mr. Nigam.

Between Aid Conditionality and Identity Politics: The MSM-Transgender Divide and Normative Cartographies of Gender vs. Sexuality — Aniruddha Dutta from Kafila by Gautam Bhan Guest post by ANIRUDDHA DUTTA. [This continues a theme raised on Kafila by Rahul Rao.]
Proposing ‘female’ or ‘other’ as a unitary identity for all ‘transgenders’ might not solve but actually compound this problem, given that many community members already have ‘female’ or ‘male’ on different forms, and unless they change all forms of identification to achieve one consistent identity, they might still be denied services on account of not being ‘properly’ transgender, unambiguously ‘other’. The demand for unitary and consistent identity, associated with middle class civil society and citizenship, might therefore be detrimental to communities lower down societal and organizational rungs. A better strategy seems to be to dissociate essential governmental and health services from sex-gender unless it is medically relevant, and/or to promote and permit flexible identification on a personal and case-by-case basis – which is challenging on a logistical level, yet perhaps crucial for long-term change…  flexible friendships and/or sisterhood against patriarchy open to both more ‘masculine’ folks who are part of gender variant networks on one hand, and hijras and transsexuals on the other. Aniruddha Dutta is a PhD candidate in Feminist Studies and Development Studies at the University of Minnesota.

SA used different terminologies and different formulations in different texts, this doesn’t necessarily mean he abandoned one for the other. debbanerji Posted March 14, 2012 Permalink Finally, the siddhis and anandas spoken of in the Record are not addressed anywhere else but can clearly be seen in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s own functioning. Comment on The Seven Quartets of Becoming by Debashish Banerji by debbanerji from Comments for Posthuman Destinies by debbanerji Re: The Melodrama of Difference Debashish Thu 16 Jul 2009 09:03 AM PDT 
You speak of the comprehensibility of Sri Aurobindo's prose. But the fertility of this prose lies in the fact that it yields at any time only as much as the reader can comprehend but over time, continually reveals other depths of understanding in its seemingly prosaic language. Moreover, much in The Life Divine remains enigmatic and open to interpretation, while he himself makes a case for the evolution of language use based on the consciousness of its users. In this respect, he draws attention to the languaging of the Vedas and Upanishads as holding a power of revelation in their symbols and paradoxes which were flattened in the later more rational philosophies.
He commented somewhere that reading Homer in the original was literally to bring the gods down from Mount Olympus, to make them live. He did it. He reincarnated the whole pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses in this book called Ilion. It is amazing, it is extraordinary. It raises another question for me that is closely aligned with the later chapters of The Life Divine and our evolutionary exploration, where at one point Sri Aurobindo goes into a very elaborate and totally incomprehensible description of the planes of existence above the physical, the vital, and the mental. 11:40 AM Messages in this topic (1) AuroOne1 

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