V. 32: No. 11-12 November-December 2004 #378-379
Editorial, p. 1
"On China: 'Market Socialism', A Stage in the Long Socialist Transition or Shortcut to Capitalism?" Samir Amin, p. 3
Intelligence, Incompetence and Iraq Or, time to talk of democracy, demography and Israel," Sukumar Muralidharan, p. 21
"Elfriede Jelinek Nobel Prize 2004," Anil Bhatti, p. 81
"The Theme of Social and Political Consciousness as a Challenge for Indian Recorded Music," Pankaj Rag, p. 84
Book Review: "Globalisation and its Discontents Revisited," (Editited by Jomo K. S & Khoo Khay Min; Tulika and SEPHIS, New Delhi, pp. xvi + 232, Rs. 395), reviewed by T. P. Kunhi Kannan, p. 94
Obituary: "Jacques Derrida: the Impossible Possibility of Speaking on Death," Meghant Sudan, p. 98
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China, says Samir Amin in the lead article of the current issue of Social Scientist, is a poor country in which you do not see many poor people, while Brazil is a rich country in which you see only poor people. This contrast between China on the one hand, and not just Brazil but most third world countries on the other, is a legacy of the Chinese Revolution which not only brought modernity to Chinese society, but, through its recognition of the right to land for millions of peasants, blazed a new trail in approaching the most burning question of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the agrarian question.
In 1999 a Western commentator had written that instead of celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the victory of the Chinese Revolution, the Chinese should be celebrating the completion of twenty-five years of "economic reform". Whatever successes the "economic reforms" have had in China however cannot be understood, as Amin argues, except in the context of its overall revolutionary transformation. The question naturally arises, and this is what Amin's paper primarily addresses: what are the possible scenarios of development for China today?
Amin's paper has a grand canvas covering not only contemporary China but the whole of contemporary third world. One may not always share the specific nuances of his interpretation of the current Chinese policy-course (it is possible to argue for instance that the element of "nationalism" underlying current Chinese policy has not been adequately emphasized by him); one may also differ with him on his choice of certain concepts such as "ruling class" and "market socialism" (which he uses to mean something quite different from what was attempted in erstwhile Yugoslavia). What is striking about the paper however is his extremely original, novel and persuasive criterion for determining whether the battle of socialism is won or lost, namely whether the right to land for the peasants has been renounced or continues to be in place. And in China (and Vietnam) this right, a legacy of the Revolution, continues till today to be very much in place.
Sukumar Muralidharan in his well-researched piece, traces the history of U.S. imperialism's policies towards the middle-east, Iraq in particular, and shows its close links with the attitudes of the Israeli
Social Scientist, Nov-Dec 2004, p. 2
State. To see the Iraq war as merely a colonial-style quest for control over oil resources, he argues, would be grossly inadequate. The idea of replacing the Saddam Husain regime not only has a long lineage but is closely intertwined with the perceived interests of the US-Israel axis. The original plan was to use the Jordanian monarchy and Ahmad Chalabi to stage an internal revolt within Iraq and create conditions for a break-up of the country. It is the failure of that plan which persuaded the US authorities to invade Iraq. But the assumptions behind that invasion proved to be so hopelessly wrong that, far from US-Israeli interests getting promoted as a consequence of it, we now have the opposite spectacle of an Israel on the verge of economic collapse, and a U.S. confronting a collapsing dollar and a threat to its economic hegemony.
Pankaj Rag's piece on recorded Indian music makes the rather intriguing point that socio- political themes of class exploitation within Indian society, as opposed to patriotic themes, have not figured much either in recorded film music or in recorded non-film music in Hindi/Hindustani. No doubt there have been films like Pyasa and Phir Subah Hogi with powerful songs on the theme of social exploitation, but these have been exceptions rather than the rule.
Jacques Derrida who died recently was perhaps the last of the tribe of great post-war French philosophers, a tribe which included Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser among others. What characterized all of them was an engagement with Marxism, and Derrida was no exception. He had of course a highly problematical relationship with Marxism; but it was for him, as for many others, the point of intellectual departure. We publish on this occasion a very personal tribute by a young philosopher, Meghant Sudan, who was a student of Derrida.
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