V.28: No.11-12 November December 2000 #330-331

Editorial Note, p. 1

"Anti-Imperialist Armed Struggle: An Assessment," Amit Gupta, p. 3

"Secularism and Time," Raghuramaraju, p. 20

"A Conspectus of Tamil Caste Systems in Sri Lanka: Away from a Parataxis," M.M.M. Mahroof, p. 40

"The Transformation of Fisher King to Robber Baron," Frances Hutchinson and Brian Burkitt, p. 60

REVIEW ARTICLE, p. 70. The Feudalism Debate, Vishwa Maohan Jha's review of Harbans Mukhia, ed., The Feudalism Debate, Manohar, New Delhi, 1999. Pp. 344, Rs 600

BOOK REVIEW, p. 90. Writing to the moment,, Ashley Tellis' review of Kumkum Sangari, Politics of the Possible, Essays on Gender, History, Narratives, Colonial English, Tulika, pp. 503, Rs. 650

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Editorial Note

     The armed-struggle tradition within the anti-imperialist upsurge has been a neglected area of study. No doubt this tradition itself was a diverse one; and none of the tendencies within this tradition managed even temporarily to acquire hegemony over the upsurge. Nonetheless the attention devoted to this tradition is way below what it deserves. We publish as the lead article of this issue of Social Scientist an assessment piece by Amit Gupta who has been working on this tradition for quite some time. The piece draws attention, interestingly, to certain striking similarities between the strategic perspective of the "terrorists" during the First World War and that of Subhash Bose during the Second; and it raises the question: why did this tradition, especially the Communists, not succeed in acquiring hegemony over the anti-imperialist struggle? He underscores their inability to combine the anti-imperialist struggle with the anti-feudal one, but this still begs the question. The paper does suggest a "subjective failure" on the part of the Communists but the matter clearly deserves further examination.

     The anti-imperialist struggle in India is far from over. What is often seen as the end of that struggle is but the end of only one phase of it. The question of hegemony over this struggle therefore is not a settled issue. Given the big bourgeoisie's recent proclivity to acquiesce in imperialist designs for recolonising the third world, a whole new era of opportunities for carrying forward the anti-imperialist struggle may be opening up once again before the Communist tradition. To be equal to the task however it is important to learn from past mistakes. For this, asking questions such as those raised in this paper is essential.

     The theoretical structure which Javeed Alam has been erecting in recent years continues to be a focus of debate. In a recent issue of Social Scientist we had carried a detailed critique of his book. In the current issue we have a critique of his article "Indispensability of


Secularism" which had appeared in one of our earlier issues. Against Alam's argument that secularism is the only interlocutor that can coordinate and negotiate the new social phenomena unleashed by the process of "individuation", which has involved the detachment of a mass of people from their earlier bonds, Raghuramaraju argues that the process of "individuation" is necessarily incomplete. Indeed the raw material for communalism comes precisely from those who have left their communities, migrated to the urban centres, and are caught in the psychological trap of both imbibing and rejecting individualism. Anchoring the case for secularism in the process of "individuation", the author contends, amounts to making a poor case for it.

     M.M.M.Mahroof's paper looks at the caste-system among the Sri Lankan Tamils, which differs between the different Tamil groups. The focus in the paper is on the Tamils of the North, principally of the Jaffna district, among whom the Vellalas, or the farmer caste, constitute the dominant caste exercising power and influence over the depressed castes.

     Thorstein Veblen inspired a stream of writing, by Douglas, Orage and others, which belongs broadly to the tradition of guild socialism. These authors advocated decentralisation of control over communal resources and the operations of industrial plants and processes, and were highly sensitive to environmental issues as well. This alternative socialist tradition is explored in the article by Hutchinson and Burkitt.

     Finally, we carry a review article by Vishwa Mohan Jha on the book edited by Harbans Mukhia on the "Feudalism Debate", a theme which has, appositely, occupied a very important place in the Indian Marxist discourse.

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