Seminar on Socialism For the Twenty First Century

New Socialist Initiative: a collective committed to the regeneration of revolutionary socialist politics invites you for a Seminar on Socialism For the Twenty First Century on Sunday 30th Nov at 4 P.M. Venue: Conference Hall, Rajendra Bhavan, 210 Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi – 110002

Humanity stands at the threshold of new crises and new possibilities. As global capitalism takes humanity through another round of economic crisis, increasing unemployment, and poverty, a simple and stark question raises its head. Is humanity condemned to live with exploitation, oppression, dehumanising working conditions, wars and a looming ecological catastrophe, or is it capable of building a society without class, caste, and gender injustices, a society where the path to growth is not paved with poverty, hunger and overworked human bodies, where competitive greed is not the most rewarded human emotion. Rulers of the world since times immemorial, form Egyptian Pharaohs to Greek slave owners to Chinese Emperors to the current capitalist breed have always believed that they rule over the best of the world. The question raised above would scare them. For the people on the other hand, this question offers a stark choice. Either they succumb to ruling class ideologies, their obfuscations, allurements and sedation, and remain blind to it. Or, they doubt, critique and ask questions; if humanity is to make a better world, how should it go about it? What lessons does history teach in this regard?

Ever since capitalism became the dominant social system, socialism has been integral to humanity’s endeavours to imagine and achieve a better social world. Against the private profit greed of capitalism, socialism pitted the ideal of collective well-being; against a discouraged and alienated mass of humans created by capitalist profit machines, socialism envisioned an active and organized humanity that is fully aware of historic capabilities and tasks; against the freedom to make profit by one that leads to the misery of many, socialism raised the banner of a society in which the ‘the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all.’ To imagine socialism will become irrelevant even while capitalist injustices continue, is to believe humanity to be a condemned species. On the other hand to imagine that specific answers to the above questions provided by socialist visionaries like Saint Simon, Fourier and Owen, or by Marx and Engels, who put socialist theory on a firm scientific basis, or by practitioners of socialism like Lenin and Mao, will be correct in every aspect in the context of current too will be incorrect. For, capitalism has changed. It has changed, through trial and errors while dealing with its own crises, and by its efforts to counter and deflect mass movements against its rule. The most significant changes have occurred in the political and ideological domain. Liberal bourgeois democracy has become the norm of state rule, not just in economically advanced countries, but in underdeveloped countries like India too. Feudal ideologies based on ideas of natural hierarchy and blind faith in the super natural have been replaced by individualism and consumerism of a mass society, which while freeing humans of hierarchical constraints also dis-empower them by obfuscating the social context of their life.

Revolutions of the twentieth century, the Russian, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, or the Cuban, managed to rid a segment of humanity from direct capitalism. History has shown that their success was only partial. While they succeeded in saving their societies from the crises they were in, they failed to put them irreversibly on the path to socialism. Our current context in the twenty first century demands a critical engagement with the history and legacy of these revolutions. Interestingly, it is also in the current context, at a stage of history already shaped by two centuries of capitalist rule and at a time when capitalism as a social system reigns unopposed for the first time globally, that one also hears renewed stirrings for socialism in settings as diverse as hills of Nepal in South Asia, and favelas of Venezuela in Latin America. What do experiences of these countries tell us about prospects of socialism?

We feel that it is time that we revisit these ongoing stirrings for socialism and also start the process of reenvisioning socialism for our times. To start a meaningful discussion New Socialist Initiative, which is a collective committed to the regeneration of revolutionary socialist politics has invited eminent journalist Anand Swaroop Verma, scholar-activist Achin Vanaik and thinker Ravi Sinha to share their ideas on the theme.

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