Left of Centre...

In a country where even the center leans towards the left with socialism as a pillar of the constitution, it isn’t hard to imagine how slanted the Leftist parties would be to the left of center. Leftist movements and parties took birth thanks to the widespread prevalence of feudalism and exploitation of labour by the lords of the land.

Karl Marx, in his epoch making treatise “Das capital, outlines the ills of capital and why the labouring classes should unite. Marx, in his magnum opus, focuses on structural contradictions than class contradictions but strangely, does not propose a theory of revolution. He merely suggests that due to the peculiar circumstances (exploitation of labour by capital); capitalists by themselves create a situation of the working classes working against the capitalists. And then Marx assumes that while efficiency of capital will lead to increasing wealth, concentration of wealth will happen, thus creating class wars.

I believe that all economic theories are the products of their times – Keynesian (depression), Malthusian (industrial revolution) and Marxian. The propounders of these theories have all based their theories on the economic situations that prevailed during their lives. Karl Marx and Marxism are also products of its period. The mismatch happens when we continue to hold on to the same set of rules without considering the change in time frame.

Modern Day Relevance:
While, Marxism as a theory has long lost its relevance, due largely to the fact that capital no more treats labour the way Karl Marx envisages it. Countries like USSR and China have long ago given up the Marxism in its traditional form. Today’s contemporary Leftists are capital friendly and understand the basic fact that capital is required to correct the ills of the socio economic differences in the society. India during the independence days, looked upon USSR as an ideal state and adopted socialism as one of its cardinal pillars of the Indian constitution.

China, now known as the strongest growing economy in the world is using its leftist leanings more for absolute power than for the sake of keeping Marxism alive. In the modern world, Marxism has come down to being just another ism; an ism that is used to bind and blind a set of people together.

Indian communists have either not taken notice of what’s happening in other communist countries or have deliberately decided to not look the other side. Like Das Capital once held relevance, communism in India has also played its role in this nation. A dangerous concoction of feudalism and an overbearing caste system that embroiled the Indian societal landscape had helped sow the seeds of communism in the country. To millions of working class people, communism came in as a god-sent unifying factor, an ideology that saw no difference between people irrespective of caste, creed or colour.

So why has the left lost out in the current socio-economic scenario? India is a growing economy with a bludgeoning population to take care of. Forty years of independence and forty years of socialistic five-year plans did not deliver the goods. Empirically, the period from 1947 to 1980, achieved an average GDP growth rate of just about 3.5%, now known as the Hindu Growth rate, a term coined by economist Raj Krishna and popularized by Robert McNamara. This sluggish growth can be attributed to the Fabian socialist ideas of Jawaharlal Nehru and his over emphasis on protectionism and public sector push.

Forty years of snail paced growth is what socialism has contributed and this is not something we can either write about or be proud of.

The advent of relaxation of company rules, taxation and the liberalization regime followed by successive governments after Narasimha Rao /Manmohan Singh team in 1991 led to an upsurge in economic activity. Overnight, India became the world’s biggest market. The rest is history.

The left has held steadfast to its ideologies the tendency to blame everything that has even remotely a connection to the US. Thanks to America being the symbolical representation of everything wrong in capitalism. This sure does not restrict the leaders and followers of Left movements to enjoy the benefits of capitalism.

Power & Ideology
No political party has ever been able to sustain a mass base of loyal party workers without ever coming to power. Promise parties power and they will throw to wind even the core basis of their ideological existence. A maxim that applies to the left also. The left with its miniscule imprint in Indian soil has had to forge alliances with a whole host of like-minded and non like-minded parties to get into power. What cannot be understood though is their steadfast refusal to accept anything progressive without making a fuss of it. Post 80’s, successive congress and other governments have all championed the cause of free trade and liberalization- so why did the left have to support a congress led government this time around? Nothing but the need for power.

Economic Progress & Militant Trade unionism:
Indian communists have revolution as the core of their ideology. The core kept in place with the help of instruments like strikes, harthals, bandhs and militant trade unionism. Leftist political movements have kept the economies of entire states like Kerala and west Bengal to ransom with the militant activism. Companies and establishments have been shut down so often that the economy has been crippled. The best example of this is Kerala and the now infamous ‘Kerala Model of growth’. The Kerala model of growth is unique in that the social indicators show a great growth, but fiscal and GDP growth does not show much of a change. In short Kerala has achieved developed country standards in social indicators, without any real progress in industrial production. The left sure should receive applauds for their role in redistribution of resources in the state, but nothing more!

Militant trade unionism has crippled the Kerala industry. The TATA’s Birlas and the likes have not even touched Kerala with a long pole due to the inherent fear of frequent shut downs, labour unrest led disruptions and lockouts. This has definitely not helped either the cause of the labourer or that of the capitalist. So where is the left heading??

Evolving with Times:
The left has now become a whirlpool of intellectual diarrhoea. Discussions and debates on ideology and stance has become the stay wire of the party. Being ideology dictated, dissenters are quickly dispersed off and intra party group strives are common. Typical case again being Kerala, where factionalism is now rampant. From an ideology led organisation, the communists are now becoming a personality led organisation.

The first thing the left has to undertake is to redefine the word “labour”. Today’s labour can in no way be compared to the feudalistic era. Today’s labour is well looked after and has a respectable degree of living standards by any comparison. So why is it that the left are so worried about the terms productivity and accountability of labour? If a white color employee is subject to these terms, so should “labour” be.

The current imbroglio:
As in the other umpteen times the left has stood in the way of progress, its opposition to the nuclear deal has been noted. But then let us hope that it is just noted and nothing more than that. Hats off to Manmohan Singh to have asked the left to go take a dive and for being steadfast in believing that the nuclear deal is for our good.
.....To be continued


Scrawler said…
A topic..that is to be discussed and debated..in the present day context..You have hit the nail on the head by highlighting the mismatch and time frame.True,Marxism has lost its relevance.

Indian Communists.. are more ‘concerned’ about distribution of wealth. Do they ever think about wealth generation?..they are unaware of the truth(pretend to be blind)..wealth distribution is possible..only through generation of wealth.India would have been different..perhaps.. wonderfully progressed at all levels,if our leaders had adopted the vsison envisaged(economic philosophy) by C.Rajagopalachari in the matter of free enterprise.Embracing socialism..and the resulting failures.. were clear during the period between 1950 and 1990.

.What we are witnessingin kerala is just Communalism..in the name of leftism..Possibly the most venomous of all’isms’!

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