v. 40: No. 1-2 January-February 2012 #464-465
Editorial Note, p. 1
"Capitalism and the Production of Poverty," Utsa Patnaik, p. 3
"Left Cultural Movement in Andhra Pradesh," V. Ramakrishna, p. 21
"Creativity and the Left Cultural Movement in Orissa," Biswamoy Pati, p. 31
"A 'Share' in the 'World Empire,'" Christopher Chekuri, p. 41
"Rethinking Knowledge as Ideology," Sudeep Basu, p. 69
Review Article, p. 81-90
Book Review, p. 91-95
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There is widespread belief that even though capitalism in its initial phase may bring much misery to the people through unleashing a process of primitive accumulation of capital that leads to dispossession and pauperization of petty producers, it makes up for it over time as the dispossessed get absorbed into the proletariat, and that too at wages that increase over time to levels far higher than what they earned prior to their dispossession. The example of today's advanced capitalist countries is cited in this context: they were characterized in the early years of capitalism by significant immiseriza-tion of their working population, but subsequently witnessed dramatic improvements in the material living conditions of the people. The same story, it is claimed, will be repeated elsewhere as well.
As the lead article by Utsa Patnaik in the current number of Social Scientist argues, nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact that today's advanced capitalist countries could overcome absolute immiserization of their working population was due to two crucial factors. First, they could 'export' unemployment to their colonies and semi-colonies by inflicting de-industrialization there - i.e. by selling goods, into the production of which their domestic unemployed could be absorbed, in colonial and semi-colonial markets where local craft producers were thrown out of employment. Secondly, they arranged for a massive emigration of their populations to temperate regions of settlement where the local inhabitants could be driven off their land, of which the immigrants took possession. In either of these cases, absolute immiserization in the domestic economies of the metropolis was overcome through inflicting immiserization on people in outlying regions, vindicating Marx's proposition about capitalism producing increasing wealth at one pole and increasing poverty at another, not at the domestic level but internationally.
Neither of these avenues is open today to third world economies like India, which, additionally, have inherited mass poverty precisely as a consequence of the processes described above. The dispossession that capitalist development in the third world is bringing to its petty producers can be mitigated neither through emigration abroad nor through the creation of a bloated reserve army elsewhere in some far-off colony. And this capitalist development, palpably associated with 'jobless growth', can never absorb the huge labour reserves of these economies, consisting of both what has been inherited and what is being newly created through primitive accumulation
Social Scientist, p. 2
of capital. Capitalist development in the world economy, it follows, even as it is getting diffused to the third world in a pronounced manner, is accompanied by an increase in absolute immiserization; but a real effort is on to camouflage this, as had been the case in colonial times, through disingenuous statistical exercises.
In an earlier issue of this journal we had published several papers presented at the Sahmat-Sodfl/ Scientist seminar on the Progressive Cultural Movement in India. In the current number we publish two more papers presented at that seminar which document the early years of this movement in two separate regions of the country. V. Ramakrishna's paper focuses on Andhra Pradesh and covers both the progressive literary and theatre movements, while Biswamoy Pati's paper covers the progressive literary movement in Orissa and analyses a number of specific writings. Both papers underscore the vigour of the cultural movement of that period, and the fact that it marked not only a new political awakening but also a breakthrough in cultural practice. These and several other papers presented at the seminar suggest that this vigour derived from its being linked with a political movement which had an anti-feudal, anti-colonial and anti-fascist character whose expression was a united front strategy; the moment the conjuncture changed and an attempt was made at the political level to go beyond the united front towards a more radical Left strategy, the progressive cultural movement lost its momentum. This raises the question: was that movement by its very nature a historically transitory one, a product of that specific conjuncture, or could it have survived the change in conjuncture through better politics?
Christopher Chekuri's paper on the nayamkara tenure, of revenue sharing between the ray a and the nay okas in the Vijayanagara empire, argues that the system should be seen as a broader arrangement of shared sovereignty. While it had features in common with the iqta system that prevailed in the neighbouring Bahmani territories, which itself was not identical with the iqta system under the Sultanate, there were noteworthy differences. Chekuri is loath to use the term 'feudalism' to describe the nayamkara system.
Sudeep Basu's paper discussing certain theoretical positions in the sphere of sociology of knowledge, gives a panoramic view of a range of important European thinkers from Marcuse to Lukacs to Mannheim to Adorno and Horkheimer.
Finally, we have a review article by Heinrich Bortis on Amiya Bagchi's monumental study of capitalism, Perilous Passage.
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