Excerpts from Radical Notes 9: “In a Future April (A Novel)”

Click on the cover page to read excerpts from the forthcoming book in the Radical Notes series. Contact Aakar Books to pre-order.

Maruti Suzuki Manesar: The Last Rites of Exemplary Punishment

Faridabad Majdoor Samachar

On Sunday, March 12, there were discussions with some eight or ten friends and comrades from Kathmandu, Morena, Delhi and Gurgaon at Majdoor Library. The March 10 judgment in the Maruti Suzuki Manesar case was also discussed. There were some discussions on the same case on March 16 and 17 with temporary workers of the Honda Manesar and Maruti Gurgaon factories. We had more discussions with friends from Gurgaon, Delhi, Kolkata and America after the judge sentenced 13 workers to life imprisonment on March 18.

After June 2011, relations became increasingly close among apprentices, trainees, workers hired through contractor companies and permanent workers at the Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory. The company and the government also gave the workers one concession after another in order to re-establish control. Despite the concessions, on the evening of July 18, 2012, 4,000 of Shifts A and B attacked two symbols of the wage system — managers and factory buildings. This was not a sudden outburst of anger. The question was: Why should anyone be a wage worker? The luminosity produced by this rather hard knock given to wage work in order to end it reached all over the world. The possibility that such luminosity could spread through thousands of factories in the Industrial Model Town of Manesar and nearby industrial areas became distinct. But it did not come to pass.

In this scenario:

– The government, scared by the luminosity, immediately stationed 600 police commandos at IMT Manesar and arrested 147 workers. The police commandos continue to be stationed there even in 2017.

– The company was scared by the luminosity and the chairman called it class war. The management of the Manesar factory discharged 546 permanent workers and dismissed 3,000 apprentices, trainees, workers hired through contractor companies.

– Central trade unions, scared by the power of this luminosity, immediately constituted a committee of 16 union leaders to take matters out of the workers’ arena. The committee turned it into a matter of petitioning officers and ministers in Gurgaon with applications, memoranda, dharna, demonstrations, hunger strike and such like, making Gurgaon the arena for further action. The committee couldn’t entangle the temporary workers. But the 546 discharged permanent workers, their friends and comrades, and families of the 147 jailed workers became as if bonded to the committee of the 16 union leaders. They were like its captive audience. Within six months, the committee breathed its last. But those using aggressive language moved the demonstrations, hunger strikes, etc., 200 km away to the rural environs of Kaithal. By At the end of the year, on July 18, 2013, under the umbrella of 19-23 so-called revolutionary groups, with police permission, a charade was enacted in the form of a candle-light procession in daylight at the Leisure Valley park in Gurgaon, with grim faces, hoisting a picture of the dead HR manager, declared ‘pro-worker’, since he had gone (he was sent by the company) to Chandigarh for registration of the union.

– Activists and so-called revolutionary groups, scared by the luminosity, sought to deny the existence of something the workers had themselves produced. For them, workers are poor and helpless, and there is no such thing as acts by workers. According to such revolutionary groups and activists, workers need direction from others even to resolve daily problems. In their view, workers merely react. For such activists and ‘revolutionaries’, who are experts in reacting, governments, companies, capital act, and the people-workers react. And so, activists and the so-called revolutionary groups fabricated a story for July 18, 2012 too: it was a conspiracy of the Maruti Suzuki Company; 200 bouncers attacked workers; workers defended themselves in response, and the tragic accident resulted.

– Liberals are very scared of the luminosity. In order to maintain the prevalent hierarchies, liberals wish to do something for incapable workers, helpless peasants and the pitiable poor. Ever conscious of their own interests, the liberals further promote their self-interest even in the course of “doing something”. So, the stories fabricated by activists and the so-called revolutionary groups go well with the liberals. Liberal reporters and liberal lawyers readily lapped up the stories on Maruti Manesar fabricated by activists and so-called revolutionary groups in opposition to the fabrications of the company and government. And, courts and litigation became the next stop for the hypocrites after candles in the daylight and the farce of the pro-worker manager.

Managers in terror

Factory managers in Faridabad were scared of the luminosity produced by the workers at Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory on 18 July 2012. Every branch of the state in India was in agreement that the fear of this luminosity must be removed from the hearts and minds of the company higher-ups here, and the Chairmen/MDs/CEOs of corporations in Japan, America, Europe. Towards that end, concerted attempts were made, following a time-tested script, to spread terror among workers. This is why bail was denied to the 147 arrested workers by the district court, high court and the Supreme Court for three years. Armed commandos were, of course, around. And middlemen, well-versed in the protocol of controlling workers, continued playing their role of spreading terror among workers through their shenanigans, writings, speeches, pamphlets, posters, etc.

‘Punishment shall be exemplary’ — workers in Noida busted this notion in February 2013, and workers completely tore asunder this concept at Okhla industrial area on the following day. This series has gone on unbroken. It is spreading. At IMT Manesar, even with 600 commandos stationed there, the fearlessness of the men and women workers in the factories of Munjal Kiriyu, Auto Liv, JNS, Baxter, Napino Auto, ASTI Electronics, Jay Ushin, etc. has been fascinating. The same has more or less been true of the workers of Palwal district at the Prithla- Baghola industrial area, and the workers of Dhruv Global and Lakhani Vardhan group factories at Faridabad; managers and directors fled from factories terrorised by workers in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon in February 2015. The fearlessness of women workers in the tea estates of Munnar, Kerala, who chased away middlemen, is another example. Without any middlemen, the women workers of garment factories in Bangalore, Karnataka scared the central government into canceling the new PF rules. Honda Tapukara factory workers… workers of Bin Laden group in Saudi Arabia … garment workers of Bangladesh…. In December 2015, eight workers of Pricol factory in Tamil Nadu were sentenced to double life imprisonment and yet between January 4 and 10, 2016, 2,400 fearless workers (between 18 and 20 years old) of Lucas TVS factory put the management and the government in a spot.

Formalities-formalities-formalities

In such a time, the matter concerning the jailed Maruti Suzuki workers shifted from being in the purview of workers to a series of formalities, which has continued till date. In this period, when laws have become irrelevant, the scope of legislation-constitution-law is no more than a formality. Police investigation (farcical investigation), witnesses (farcical witnesses), evidence (farcical evidence), company lawyers, government lawyer, district judge, High Court judge, Supreme Court judge, defence lawyers, journalists sympathetic to either side, company officers, government officers, activists, so-called revolutionary groups, union leaders kept playing their formal roles. Punishment is also a formality as it has already been hollowed out. All these people involved in formal acts were essentially ‘going through the motions’.

Union leaders called for a lunch boycott in factory canteens for a couple of days when the judgment convicting workers was announced. An hour-long tool-down happened in the Maruti Suzuki group of factories after the sentence was pronounced. The government, assuaged now by Sunday struggles, allowed unions to hold a meeting at IMT Manesar on March 23. That meeting was organised by 40 unions from IMT and surrounding industrial areas at the end of the A shift in the factories, and was attended by 5,000-7,000 workers. Despite the large turnout, union leaders in speech after speech talked of moving the high court with an appeal. A comrade who attended the meeting called it a fundraising meeting. At present, 80-90% workers in factories are temporary while 90% at this meeting were permanent workers. According to the law, permanent workers alone can become members of factory unions. According to the law, temporary workers cannot become members of factory unions. Then, on April 4, country-wide protest demonstrations, events in other countries demanding the release of the workers and, at the same time, a memorandum asking the President of India to commute the sentence was handed by leaders in Gurgaon to the Deputy Collector of Gurgaon.

We can only give them our love

An eighty-year-old ‘revolutionary’ came from Kolkata to Gurgaon. In his view, solidarity of militant unions is essential to speed up the revolution. Maruti Suzuki Manesar union is, today, an example of a militant union. Two leaders of the Maruti Suzuki Manesar union came to meet the senior ‘revolutionary’. In the course of conversation, the senior ‘revolutionary’ kept devising strategies out of blind alleys, dead ends. The two young leaders, who had been present during the heady days of 2011-2012 at Maruti Manesar, repeatedly said that a lot had changed and now they could only give their love to the temporary workers.

Let’s take a look at this love. In the three-year management-union settlement signed in 2012, the wage of permanent workers at the Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory was hiked by Rs 18,800. Then, in the three-year settlement in September 2015, permanent workers wages were increased by Rs. 16,000. The wages of young permanent workers at the Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory is in the range of Rs 50,000-60,000. The Maruti management was so pleased with the settlement of September 2015 that it gave a gift of Rs 3,000 to every permanent worker. And on September 26, the day after the settlement was announced by leaders, 400 temporary workmen refused to enter the factory for the 6:30 am morning shift, in protest against the management-union settlement. (Temporary workmen, TW, are the workers hired directly by the company for seven months, a practice since July 2012, and are kept besides the workers hired through contractor companies.) Friends of the TW from B Shift also gathered at the factory gate. Immediately some men from the 14 villages adopted by the Maruti Suzuki Company, reached the factory in vehicles and clashed with the workers gathered there. Police intervention. Inside the factory, the ‘militant’ union cooperated with the management to keep production going. The company claimed normal production in the A shift but instead of 1,440 vehicles being assembled on the three assembly lines in the A shift, only 781 vehicles were assembled as the temporary workmen stayed away from work.

Translated by Anuradha from the April 2017 issue of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar. Email: majdoorsamachartalmel@gmail.com

Forthcoming: Paramita Ghosh’s IN A FUTURE APRIL – A Novel (Radical Notes 9, Aakar Books)

It is a year before Plebiscite and the two provinces of The Lambda – The City and The Frontier – separated from each other by a gate can talk of little else. Governed by the Fairlanders, Lambda may soon be free. The City is home to the old elite. The Frontier is a land denuded of trees, the pit of factories. The old elite are cobbled into a party, the Dongs. The Partisans urge fellow workers among school teachers, field hands, newspapermen to join the strike breaking out at the factories. At the meetings, it is also decided to rethink a new culture of politics and work, before deciding whether they are ready for freedom.

FINAL-FRONT-COVER

At a time when Mir, the leader of the Partisans, is still unsure about an alternative to an independent nation-state, the news that a Partisan contingent is meeting the Fairlanders raises questions among his supporters. Is Mir giving in or breaking new ground? What is the value of taking a pause during a struggle? Is their final bloody manoeuvre a failure, a success, or both; or can their resistance be seen in other terms? In a Future April is a political allegory that tries to grapple with the many meanings of love, freedom, friendship, camaraderie, commitment and betrayal in the undecidable time of the Revolution.

Paramita Ghosh is a Delhi-based journalist. She grew up in Calcutta and began her career with The Statesman. She writes on culture and politics for Hindustan Times.

FOREWORD

“An operation carried out in the written language” – Italo Calvino

This foreword is not an apologia. It is not an attempt to provide justifications for publishing a work of fiction in a series of booklets and books that belong to the essayistic genre of critical theory and/or political analysis. The readers can themselves determine whether or not this novel, or other creative works that we intend to publish in the near future, fit into the dynamic politics of this series. Nevertheless, the question remains whether these literary-creative engagements replicate what political essays do, whether they provide insights that these essays cannot even think through.

We are not formalists who study the specificities of forms in order to see them as their own justification. In fact, there is no such formal autonomy. If you find one, rest assured it is the poverty of form that the essence generates and productivises to generate illusions of such autonomy.

“Essence must appear or shine forth. The essence is thus not behind or beyond the appearance; instead, by virtue of the fact that it is the essence that exists concretely, concrete existence is appearance.” (Hegel:197) We consider the identification and study of the practice of form very crucial to access specific levels of reality – the structural dynamics that appear through this form.

A literary work accesses aspects of reality that only a literary form can reveal. Not very long ago, Italo Calvino approached a literary work “as an operation carried out in the written language.” Literature involves “several levels of reality” and it is the awareness of the distinction between these levels that makes a literary work possible. Calvino further elaborates: “In a work of literature, various levels of reality may meet while remaining distinct and separate, or else they may melt and mingle and knit together, achieving a harmony among their contradictions or else forming an explosive mixture.”(Calvino:101)

Hence, a literary work emerges as a methodological operation demythologising Reality into levels of reality. It is through this operation that we access these specific levels. As Spinoza’s “extension” and Marx’s “sensuous activity”, literary practice is intrinsic to those levels of reality of which it is an awareness. Calvino, however, cautions against the tendency to overgeneralise, to forget the form’s immanence to its own levels of reality – in the case of literature, these levels are part of the “written world”. Calvino while “distinguishing the various levels of reality within the work of art considered as a world of its own”, and, therefore, avoiding the sirens of historicism, is emphatic in considering “the work as a product, in its relation to the outside world in the age when it was created and the age when we received it”. In fact, this historicisation is what is termed as self-awareness – when literary works “turn around on themselves, look at themselves in the act of coming into being, and become aware of the materials they are made of”. (Calvino: 103)

Almost a century ago, Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs had expressed very eloquently the dialectical problematic of form and content in literature and its historicity. He understood a literary genre as intrinsic to an “age”. “The novel is the epic of an age in which the extensive totality of life is no longer directly given, in which the immanence of meaning in life has become a problem, yet which still thinks in terms of totality.” (Lukacs: 56) The novel is born in an epoch characterised by the separation of labour from labour-power. In such circumstances, the totality cannot be accessed in its immediacy because forms of labour are dualised: the concrete becomes discrete, and gets individuated and differentiated from its meaning in totality. In other words, the concrete is rendered an undifferentiated mass of particular appearances. Thus we need “the force of abstraction” to access and to reproduce the totality in thought.

The “form-giving intention” (or, what Marx in Grundrisse, of which Lukacs must have not been aware of at the time of writing this work, termed “living, form-giving, fire”) of a novelist reconstructs or systematises the totality abstractly. The totality is not immediately and organically accessed, rather it emerges in the creation of the novel through “abstract systematisation” that exposes and distances from the conventionality of “concrete life”, the “objective world”. It emerges in the process of a critique of this concrete, objective life and world, revealing “the interiority of the subjective” world, the “political unconscious”.

The living labour of a novelist creates totality in a “socially symbolic act”.(Jameson) It is a critical operation that in its Utopianism creates a crisis for subsumption – providing a glimpse of real totality beyond the swamps of false totality – of capital and state (the conventionality and its everydayness).

“To see the world in a grain of sand” – William Blake

Till recently a slice of reality was considered sufficient to grasp the truth of reality – to see the universe in a grain of sand. This Blakean radical vision originally was a reminder of metaphysical holism, that was losing its grip in the nineteenth century. It was restricted to those who saw the future as a doom or a dawn – the judgement day or a world revolution. You could make out the total sense of a particularity.

The processes of “infinite regression of quibbling and calculating” (Badiou: 40) – a continuous discretising and recombining, the so-called “creative destruction”, was effectuated by the generalised commodity economy and industrialism, which led to the perpetuation of analytics, analytical philosophies and positivism. Eventually, the Blakean vision was reduced “to see the world of a grain of sand,” so that the elements of these grains could be identified, discretised and recombined – isn’t this what production is all about?

But still you could imagine a universe of many universes – a meta was still there but as an aggregate of atomic individualities or as a forced universality. Hence, national revolutions, national socialisms, Socialism in one country, national development – however, the vision of national liberation still had an international tenor as it grasped liberation in terms of “liberation from”. The collective dream that politics embodied was condensed in the possibility to empower the dethroned subjectivity, bypass the developmental pains and still catch up or even divert.

But as the economy got more and more integrated, the humanity and sociality were further analysed and discretised – to be invested in the social factory. It is the digital recombining of anything and everything as mere numbers. As the world increasingly became a global village, we were transformed into villagers – “formed by simple accretion, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes.” (Marx) As we were increasingly reduced, and reduced to sameness, we militantly asserted our difference. The postmodern assertion of relativities was nothing but the other side of modernist absolutism. They mutually energised one another. We assert our differences, and in an instant they are equalised, accumulated and turned into gold – and we are reduced to “packets of time, separated from their interchangeable and occasional bearers.”(Bifo: 95)

In A Future April is a novel about revolutions in this age – but being of this age, it is truly a “monstrous abbreviation” of all times, even of those revolutionary periods which were inaugurated exactly a century ago. All revolutionaries of those times were aware of the elements of passive counter-revolution in these revolutions, but the passage to the decline was always considered a struggle. Revolution and its systemic subsumption could still be compositionally, spatially and temporally differentiated. But today in late-st capitalism they both are the same. If this is a novel about precariats and cognitarians as vanguards, it is also about vanguards as precariats and cognitarians. But was this not true for all revolutions? In A Future April narrates and operates the stories of revolutions to abbreviate them into the pregnant dialectic of hope and dismay.

Pratyush Chandra,
Radical Notes
November 23, 2016

References:

Alain Badiou (2005) “Philosophy and Desire.” Infinite Thought. Trans. and ed. Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens. New York: Continuum. 29-42

Franco “Bifo” Berardi (2009) The Soul at Work. Trans. Francesca Cadel and Giuseppina Mecchia. Semiotext(e). Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Italo Calvino (1997) “Levels of Reality in Literature.” The Literature Machine. Trans. Patrick Creagh. London: Vintage Books. 101-121.

GWF Hegel (2010) Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline Part I: Science of Logic. Trans. and ed. by Klaus Brinkmann and Daniel O. Dahlstrom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Georg Lukacs (1971) The Theory of the Novel. Trans. Anna Bostock. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Karl Marx ([1852] 2002) “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” (Trans. Terrell Carver) Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire: (Post)modern Interpretations. Ed. Mark Cowling and James Martin. London: Pluto Press. 19-109

Homecoming to Nostalgia: The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump

Cyrus Bina

“In a time of universal deceit,
Telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
– George Orwell

When the entire arsenal of impulsive and aggressive foreign policy is deployed in absolute desperation and without accomplishment by a declining power unaware of its imminent demise, first it resorts to self-aggrandisement and spectacle, and then suddenly and viciously turns on itself through self-flagellation and serious self-mutilation. This is a classic pretext that trumps the assorted reasons for the demise of Hilary Clinton and thus the bafflement of the US political establishment and its coattail in the established media. This should concisely spell out the meteoric rise of Donald Trump, his populism, and his success in leasing the plush real estate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. To be sure, “We make America great again” is the alter ego of America’s demise since the collapse of the Pax Americana (1945-1979). Recognition of this very transformation is in itself a radical act.

The moment of truth has finally arrived. The slogan of “Make America Great Again” is now at the centre stage. The members of the wrecking crew in Donald Trump’s proposed cabinet are now waiting for their Senate confirmation to get to work. Donald J. Trump is now the president of the United States. And all three branches of government are in the hands of one party – a party that since Reagan’s presidency has seemingly been reduced to an apologetic bunch in retrograde politics suspended in history. The party that once took pride in being the party of Lincoln is simply taken over by a known-unknown outsider; George Soros went on to call him an “imposter.” Trump’s message though has been consistently the same: “Make America Great Again.” This “Again,” at the same time, conveys an acknowledgement of the glorious past, not-so-glorious present, and the possibility time-travel presumably to the pre-Civil Rights’ period on the domestic side and hegemony, leadership and respect (i.e., the era of Pax Americana, 1945-1979) on the foreign policy side.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom and despite his rhetoric, Donald Trump’s presidency does not seem to correspond with American isolationism. Trump’s vision is rather more in tune with the reversal of time that supposedly transports America to the 1950s, an era in which a Junior Senator from Wisconsin’s witch hunts were in full swing. And a foreign policy that unilaterally engaged in coups after coups against democratically elected government abroad with little cost – known as America’s Golden Age – under the umbrella of the now defunct of Pax Americana (1945-1979). Under the Trump administration, some even are horrified – for a good reason – by an idea that he may take us all the way back to the pre-Civil War period in race, gender, and social relations. The irony here suggests parallels with George Orwell’s “1984” in 2017 America.

The other party is not so innocent either. Democrats did not only tolerate the notorious war crimes by the Bush-Cheney administration in Iraq and Afghanistan; they nonetheless come in full circle with their own bloody misadventures in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, to name a few, while they did some good with respect to Cuba and Iran. Overall, though, the Obama administration inherited and thus contributed to what the Bush-Cheney administration has wrought as a paranoiac state/surveillance state in America. On the foreign policy front, particularly in Libya (and the bloody overthrow of Col. Gaddafi), Hilary Clinton’s hand is bloody. On the toppling of the Libyan government and the murder of Gaddafi, Secretary Clinton bragged: “We came, we saw, he died.” The catch here is that the Obama administration had already promised the Russians at the UN Security Council that if they agreed to vote for the “no fly zone” in Libya (or abstain), it would refrain from overthrowing Gaddafi. With Clinton’s Julius Caesar-like enthusiasm, the Obama administration broke its promise. As is well known, President Obama also recently expressed his regrets for the involvement in Libya. As for the pointless involvement in the coup, against Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, the share of Secretary Clinton (via Victoria Nuland’s direct involvement) is not miniscule either.

Again, as is well documented, this initial step eventually led to the ouster of Yanukovych and the chaos that brought the ultra-right takeover of the government through the infamous referendum in Crimea, which then paved the way for the Russian invasion. Clinton Democrats utterly miscalculated the outcome of that election by betting on the wrong horse. The ignored the fact that the country (both the left and the right) is gasping for change by any means necessary. Clinton Democrats ignored the deep cleavage in income inequality combined with profound political polarisation. They arrogantly resorted to the habitual course of action by attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders – a seemingly viable candidate that might have defeated Donald Trump if he had not been subjected to unfair, immoral, and indeed illegal shenanigans in the primaries. Thanks to WikiLeaks for revealing these very true heart-wrenching stories perpetrated by the Clinton camp and the Democratic Party that is presently on the teeter of disintegration. That is why those who care about the truth – and cause-and-effect in this matter – believe that Democrats’ cruel pomposity and crude self-assurance tossed their viable candidate under the proverbial bus. In the end, the “basket of deplorables” statement by frustrated Hilary was the one that finally broke the camel’s back.

The inauguration of Donald J. Trump is over and he is officially the 45th president of the United States. The factors that have led to his seemingly successful campaign toward his presidency are numerous, varied, and multidimensional, and historians will debate them for year and decades to come. Nevertheless, it is clear that the spectre of change is in the air and that the sizeable majorities on the right and on the left are challenging the status quo. The Pax Americana had collapsed in the late1970s, but aftereffects of its fall are still around with respect to both domestic and foreign arenas. The fact is that there is no hint of American exceptionalism in all this. The changes that transpired in the last few decades have taken us beyond the Pax Americana and beyond American exceptionalism. The United States is now as ordinary as any other nation in the new global polity in the making.

On the foreign policy side, the United States is not what it used to be, yet the forces of regression, and reaction, are insisting on being “Great Again.” On the domestic side, the fissure of deep economic inequality, political polarisation, pernicious politics, blatant racism and “white supremacy,” bashing women, Islamophobia, and other social ailments are now overtly pronounced. This election has torn the veil of political correctness and peeled off nearly all opacities that are gingerly left underneath race relations in America. Donald Trump is the sui generis messenger and now, as president, the message of divided America. And in this manner, the whole nation is naked before our eyes. This nation (and by implication the US government) is not exceptional; it is not pre-ordained for hegemony; it is not predisposed for the leadership of global polity in the making. There is a limit to what the United States can or cannot do with respect to domestic as well as foreign policy.

Therefore, “making America great again” is inevitably subject to such boundaries. The United States is a declining power and the election of Donald Trump is a hint of such a decline in both domestic and foreign affairs. We are just beginning to grapple with the aftereffects of the loss of the American century and the painful consequence of the denial of the fall of the Pax Americana since the 1980s. On the foreign policy side, the setbacks have so far been unequivocal. It may take some time to digest the truth of the shrinkage of the middle class and the disguised class warfare in the form of overt racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other forms of prejudice and bigotry in the name of nationalism and patriotism. We need to fasten our proverbial seatbelts for a long, rough, turbulent, yet indefatigable ride on, in Robert Frost’s apt vision, “the road not taken” in these unflattering and uncertain times.

Cyrus Bina is Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota (Morris Campus). His latest book is A Prelude in the Foundation of Political Economy: Oil, War, and Global Polity (2013). An earlier version of this article was an address to a rally organised by students at the Morris campus of University of Minnesota during the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017.

Kashmir: ‘More things change, more they remain the same’

COORDINATION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ORGANISATION
Press Release 19th April,2016

Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation is alarmed at how a demand for justice results again in killing of civilians by a trigger happy Government force in Kashmir. The alleged molestation of a 16 year old girl on April 12th by a personnel of 21 RR posted in Handwara, and resultant protests saw abduction and illegal incarceration by Police of the girl, her aunt and father, the killing of five persons in three days of protests, including a woman working in her kitchen garden, followed by strict imposition of S 144 of RPC , and are a grim reminder that ‘more things change more they remain the same’ in Kashmir. Killings are a direct outcome of treating Kashmiris, as people devoid of any rights, including the Right to live in dignity and freedom.

CDRO wishes to remind the public that in Kashmir events follow a pattern: when allegations are leveled against the Armed Forces of the Union, the effort is to damn the aggrieved, for acting at behest of “separatists”, “jihadists” and “Pakistan’s ISI”, and/or to malign the Indian forces. When protests erupt to demand justice, forces open fire to shoot to kill by aiming fire on head and body. Doctors at Sher i Kashmir Institute of Medical Science, Srinagar where injured and the dead were brought, were aghast at the bullet being fired at vital parts; either head or stomach, and pellet injuries to the eyes. Deliberate use of guns to kill gets justified by claiming that it was done in self-defense as crowd was pelting stones. The disproportionate use of force on unarmed civilians, makes it abundantly clear that in Kashmir guns are preferred against civilians. Handwara was no different.

While three persons Muhammad Iqbal (24), Nayem Qadir Bhat (22) and Raja Begum (70) were killed on 12th April, Jahangir Ahmad Wani was killed at Drugmulla, Kupwara on 13th April and Arif Hassan Dar was shot dead on 14th April at Natnusa village of Kupwara. The fact that a case of molestation of a minor took a bloody turn resulting in killing of five persons and grievousinjuries to 40 othersis evidence of the oppressive conditions on the ground, where Armed Forces of the Union and the J&K Police are empowered to virtually take away lives, at will. The Police claim that 125 of their personnel suffered injuries, yet none of the injuries was severe enough for hospitalization, unlike the civilians who suffered grievously. In keeping with knee jerk reaction, the Central Government promptly announced dispatching 3600 more troops.

Standard Operations Procedure (SOPs) in Kashmir appears to be to kill first and explain it away later. Recently Indian authorities and corporate media were agog with simulated outrage over lathi charge on the non-local students at NIT Srinagar campus by the Police. However, when it came to killing of Kashmiris, the Government extended support to the Army and Police, claiming they had come under attack and reacted in “self-defense”. That heavily armed forces, confronting unarmed civilian protestors shouting slogans and at worse pelting stones, opened fire on them and killed and injured civilians was of less consequence than protecting the reputation of Government forces. What is also important to note is that disclosing the identity of the minor girl including exposing her face, while she was a captive of the Police, is a crime punishable under S 228(A) [Disclosure of Identity of the victim…], apart from the crime of holding a female minor in illegal “protective” captivity. Civil administration was nowhere in sight for five days. In Kashmir the Armed Forces and the Police are their own masters accountable to no one.

Equally alarming was the virtual curfew imposed across large parts of Kashmir. And with internet blocked, uncorroborated news had free play. Locals were coerced into remaining indoors. In Handwara lawyers representing the mother were prevented from meeting her, and for days the girl, her aunt and father were dis-allowed to get in touch with anyone. Media was barred entry. JK Coalition of Civil Society was physically prevented from holding a press conference. Elsewhere in different parts of Kashmir concertina wires, drop gates, check-posts and more troops made their presence felt. The abduction of a minor girl keeping her incommunicado raise not just questions about the arbitrary powers being exercised by the Police, but the killing shows how far Government Forces can go to protect their arbitrary rule. While we welcome the J&K High Court’s order asking the police to explain under which law they had kept the minor, her aunt and father in their “protective” captivity, and barred the disclosure of her statement to the media, which they directed that it be recorded before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Handwara. In violation of the High Court order the contents of the statement were again leaked to the media. The girl and her family have now been placed under virtual house arrest at a relative’s house and Police is refusing them to return home, instead coercing them to re-locate elsewhere. On 17th April the girl met her mother as well as her lawyers from JKCCS. A statement released by JKCCS on 18th April says the following:

In the limited meeting that was allowed to take place the following key points emerged from the minor girl and her family:

§ The minor girl has on two occasions – in the video recorded and circulated and in the Section 164- A CrPC statement before the judicial magistrate – been pressurized to testify in a manner as directed by the police. Neither of these statements were made voluntarily. § From 12 April to 14 April 2016 the minor girl and family were illegally detained at the Handwara Police Station. From 11 p.m. of 14 April to the morning of 16 April 2016 the minor girl and family were illegally detained at a police personnel’s private residence at Shehlal village who was a complete stranger to the family. On 16 April 2016, the minor girl’s statement under Section164-A Cr PC was recorded before the judicial magistrate at Handwara. Her father was not present in court during the recording of the statement. No lawyer was present in court accompanying her. In the courtroom, besides the judge, there were four other persons who the minor girl couldn’t identify. From the night of 16 April 2016 to this morning the family has stayed at Zachaldara under constant police surveillance and control.

The extraordinary lengths to which Police go to keep the girl and her family sequestered under police guard raises concerns over the safety of the family ,in particular the girl, but also the extent of illegal power that has come to be vested in Police or arrogated by them.

This incident comes at a time when there is no political resolution in sight over Kashmir dispute, and killing of civilians by Government forces remains a recurring phenomena. By remaining mute today, as was done in the past, we only acquiesce in the policy of military suppression and the continued demoralization of the people. The nightmare Kashmiris continue to face will end only when we in India mount a campaign for abolishing legal immunity provided to the armed forces of the union and push for democratically ascertaining the will of the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir. CDRO reiterates its demand for abolishing legal immunity provided to the Armed Force of the Union and the J&K Police, and urges that the long pending dispute be resolved democratically.

C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO). ————-

Constituent Organisations:Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR), Punjab; Association for Protection of Democratic Rights APDR), West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Morcha (BMC), West Bengal; Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Civil Liberties Committee (CLC), Andhra Pradesh; Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Mumbai; Coordination for Human Rights (COHR), Manipur; Human Rights Forum (HRF), Andhra Pradesh; Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR), Jharkhand; Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS), Assam; Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR), Andhra Pradesh; Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR), Jammu and Kashmir; Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF), Karnataka; Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi; Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR), Haryana, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR),Tamilnadu.

International Academicians and Activists Call for Resignation of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) VC

Over 500 academicians, activists, artists and writers including eminent Professors Noam Chomsky, Gayatri Spivak, Barbara Hariss-White, Michael Davis among others condemn the ongoing state violence and unlawful detention of faculty and student protesters of the University of Hyderabad. Please send your endorsements to justiceforhcu@gmail.com

We, academicians, activists, artists and writers, condemn the ongoing brutal attacks on and unlawful detention of peacefully protesting faculty and students at the University of Hyderabad by the University administration and the police. We also condemn the restriction of access to basic necessities such as water and food on campus.

The students and faculty members of the University of Hyderabad were protesting the reinstatement of Dr. Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor despite the ongoing judicial enquiry against him related to  the circumstances leading to the death of the dalit student Rohith Vemula on January 17th, 2016. Students and faculty members of the university community are concerned that this may provide him the opportunity to tamper with evidence and to influence witnesses. Suicides by dalit students have been recurring in the University of Hyderabad and other campuses across the country.  The issue spiraled into a nationwide students’ protest with the death of the dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. The protests have pushed into the foreground public discussion and debate on the persistence of caste-based discrimination in educational institutions, and surveillance and suppression of dissent and intellectual debate in university spaces.

Since the morning of March 22 when Dr. Appa Rao returned to campus, the students and staff have been in a siege-like situation.  The peacefully protesting staff and students were brutally lathi-charged by the police, and 27 people were taken into custody. The 27 detainees were untraceable for 48 hours, brutally tortured, and denied legal access. In short, all legal procedures of detention have been suspended. After the incident, the university has been locked down with no access to food, water, electricity, and Internet connectivity.   Students were brutally assaulted when they opened community kitchens.  Lawyers and members of human rights organization as well the ordinary citizens of the city were denied access to students. University of Hyderabad is one of India’s biggest public universities.

We have followed, with deep concern, similar violent attacks and undemocratic crackdown on students on the campuses of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Film and Television Institute of India, the University of Allahabad, Jadavpur University, Burdwan University, and others across the country. That the highest administrative authorities in the university have allowed the silencing of debate and dissent is unfortunate. We are disturbed by the pattern of growing nexus between student vigilante groups, youth wing of the ruling party, state and university authorities in colleges and university campuses across the country in order to mobilize the state machinery against vulnerable students. This has created a climate of fear and oppression in the country, and continually violates fundamental human and Constitutional rights of students.

We stand in support of the protesting students, staff and faculty of the University of Hyderabad and demand the following:  

  1. Immediate withdrawal of police from the campus.
  2. Immediate release of, and withdrawal of all cases against, all arrested students and faculty.
  3. Suspension of the Vice-Chancellor P. Appa Rao.
  4. Judicial enquiry into the role of the HRD Ministry, the HRD Minister and Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya in inciting violence against Dalits on campus.
  5. Independent enquiry into the incidents of violence on the campus including the role of the ABVP in vandalising the Vice-Chancellor’s office.
  6. Action against police personnel named by students in their complaints.
  7. Passage of the “Rohith Act” against caste discrimination in education.

Signatories

  1. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), MIT
  2. Lawrence Cohen, Director, Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  3. Navtej K Purewal Deputy Director, South Asia Institute SOAS University of London
  4. Akhil Gupta, Director, Center for India and South Asia (CISA), UCLA
  5. Michael Davis, Professor Emeritus, Department of Creative Writing, University of California Riverside
  6. Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, The Oakland Institute
  7. Barbara Harriss-White, Oxford University
  8. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA
  9. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
  10. G. Arunima, Professor and Chair, Centre for Women’s Studies, School of Social Sciences, JNU
  11. Sandeep Pandey, former Visiting Faculty, IIT, BHU, Varanasi
  12. Michael D. Yates, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, United States
  13. Abha Sur, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  14. Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
  15. Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Chair, Department of International Development Studies, Trent University, Canada
  16. Henry Reichman, First Vice-President, American Association of University Professors
  17. Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College, US
  18. Apoorvanand, University of Delhi
  19. Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor of Political Science and Chair of Women’s Studies Department, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  20. Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  21. Sumanta Banerjee, Writer,  Journalist
  22. Surinder S. Jodhka, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  23. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University
  24. Sangeeta Kamat, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  25. Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, JNU
  26. Dr. Shailaja Paik, University of Cincinnati
  27. Kevin B. Anderson, Professor of Sociology, University of California  Santa Barbara
  28. Tithi Bhattacharya, Professor of History, Purdue University
  29. Pranav Jani, The Ohio State University
  30. Vinay Gidwani, University of Minnesota
  31. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  32. Alpa Shah, London School of Economics
  33. Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  34. Srirupa Roy, University of Göttingen, Germany
  35. Angana P. Chatterji
  36. Achin Vanaik, Retd. Professor of International Relations, Univ. of Delhi
  37. Rahul Varman, IIT Kanpur
  38. Dr. Pushkar Raj, CSR Global Peace Project Coordinator, Australian Centre for Education & Training, National General Secy., PUCL, India (Ex.)
  39. Ashwini Tambe, University of Maryland, College Park
  40. Jens Lerche, SOAS, University of London
  41. Gillian Hart, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  42. Adrian Wilson,  Social Anthropology, London School of Economics
  43. Ayesha Kidwai, Professor ,Jawaharlal Nehru University
  44. Subhashini Ali, Vice-President All India Democratic Womens Association, (AIDWA)
  45. Anand Patwardhan
  46. Meher Engineer
  47. Admiral and Mrs. Lalita Ramdas, CNDP
  48. Suhasini Mulay
  49. Aishwary Kumar, School of Humanities & Sciences, Stanford University
  50. Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
  51. Jyoti Puri, Chair and Professor of Sociology, Simmons College
  52. Abdul JanMohamed, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  53. Dr. Nathaniel Roberts, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Goettingen, Germany
  54. Paula Chakravartty, New York University
  55. Mahendra Kumar, President, Ambedkar International Center (AIC)
  56. Atul Sood, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  57. Prof. Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal  Nehru University
  58. Yasmin Saikia, Professor of History, Arizona State University
  59. Nandini Chandra, Delhi University
  60. Elisabeth Weber, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
  61. C. P. Chandrasekhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  62. Prof. Rupa Viswanath, University of Goettingen, Germany
  63. Rama Baru, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  64. Svati Shah, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  65. Immanuel Ness, Professor, City University of New York
  66. Mahi Pal Singh, Editor, The Radical Humanist, Former National Secretary, PUCL
  67. Balmurli Natrajan, William Paterson University
  68. Veena Hariharan, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  69. Rajat Datta, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  70. Geraldine Forbes, Professor, State University of New York, Oswego
  71. Joya Misra, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  72. Richard Seymour, London School of Economics
  73. Susan Visvanathan, Professor of Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  74. Dr. Pérez de Mendiola, Richard Armour Professor of Modern Languages, Chair, Dept. of Latin American, Caribbean and Spanish Literatures and Cultures & Humanities, Scripps College
  75. Peter Spiegler, Asst. Prof.,  Dept. of Economics, UMass, Amherst
  76. Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  77. Atreyi Dasgupta, Baylor College of Medicine
  78. Kuver Sinha, Syracuse University
  79. Sirisha Naidu, Wright State University
  80. Siddhartha Mitra, Programmer, Rockefeller University
  81. Samantha Agarwal, PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University
  82. Anup Gampa, PhD Candidate, University of Virginia
  83. Anu Mandavilli, Friends of South Asia
  84. Deepankar Basu, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  85. Nandini Dhar, Assistant Professor, Florida International University
  86. Michael Levien, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University
  87. Devika Dutt, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  88. Smita Ramnarain, Assistant Professor of Economics, Siena College
  89. Taki Manolakos, Wright State University
  90. Valentina Dallona, Johns Hopkins University
  91. Iveta Jusova, Carleton College, USA
  92. Aditi Chandra, University of California, Merced
  93. Hee-Young Shin, Wright State University
  94. Anjali Arondekar, UC Santa Cruz
  95. Jinee Lokaneeta, Drew University
  96. Ajay Chandra, University of Warwick
  97. Xiao Yu, Peking University
  98. Bettina Apthekar, UC Santa Cruz
  99. Anirban Karak, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  100. Natasha S K, Syracuse University
  101. Mitul Barua, Syracuse University
  102. Simmy Makhijani, San Francisco State University
  103. Sofia Gavtadze, Solidarity Network, Georgi
  104. Avishek Konar, Alumnus, The Ohio State University
  105. Robert Carley, Wright State University
  106. Dia Da Costa, Associate Professor, University of Alberta
  107. Ann Smock, University of California, Berkeley
  108. Liz Mount, Syracuse University
  109. Terese V Gagnon, Syracuse University
  110. Giorgi Kobakhidze, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
  111. Levin Ahmed, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  112. Christos Mais, Universiteit Leiden
  113. Taveeshi Singh, Syracuse University
  114. Aniruddha Das, Columbia University
  115. Safar Safqat, St Mary’s College of Maryland
  116. Ramaa Vasudevan, Colorado State University
  117. Osman Keshawarz, doctoral student, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  118. Narendra Subramaniam, McGill University
  119. Ammel Sharon, University of Pennsylvania
  120. Gventa Gventsadze
  121. Borisi Cirekidze
  122. Minakshi Menon, Max Planck Institute, Berlin
  123. Dmitri Khuskivadze
  124. Salo Kaladze
  125. Judith Rodenbeck, UC Riverside
  126. Ashok Prasad, Colorado State University
  127. Priyanka Srivastava, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  128. Arani Roy, Brandeis University
  129. Dag Erik Berg, University of Gottingen, Germany
  130. Rahul Nair, Antioch College, USA
  131. Gajendran Ayyathurai, Goettingen University, Germany
  132. Balaji Narasimhan, William Paterson University, United States
  133. Ember Skye Kanelee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  134. Jungyeon Suh, Independent Researcher, United States
  135. Kannan Srinivasan
  136. Roli Verma, University of New Mexico
  137. Lalit Batra, University of Minnesota
  138. Avanti Mukherjee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  139. Tyler Hansen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  140. Subho Basu, McGill University, Canada
  141. Laurie Nisonoff, Hampshire College, United States
  142. Satya Mohapatra, MIT
  143. Julia Corwin, University of Minnesota
  144. Parama Roy, UC Davis
  145. Krishna Melnattur, Washington University School of Medicine
  146. Rupal Oza, Hunter College, City University of New York
  147. Noeleen McIlvenna, Wright State University
  148. Daniel Thompson, Johns Hopkins University
  149. Jesse Knutson, University of Hawaii, Manoa
  150. Prashant Keshavmurthy, McGill University, Canada
  151. Anasuya Sengupta, Berkeley, USA
  152. Uditi Sen, Hampshire College
  153. Zarrina Juraqulova, Denison University, USA
  154. Kiran Asher, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  155. Prakash Kashwan, University of Connecticut, Storrs
  156. Hamid Rezai, Pitzer College, USA
  157. Anindya Dey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  158. Lara Deeb, Scripps College, USA
  159. Richa Nagar, University of Minnesota
  160. Vatsal Naresh, Columbia University
  161. Niharika Yadav, Princeton University
  162. Bedatri Datta Choudhury, NYU
  163. Sanjiv Gupta, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  164. Suvadip Sinha, University of Minnesota
  165. Ipsita Mandal, Perimeter Institute, Canada
  166. Poulomi Pal, Fulbright scholar
  167. Asmita Rangari, Activist, New Delhi
  168. Shipra Nigam, Activist, New Delhi
  169. Srinivas Lankala, Independent media scholar, Hyderabad
  170. Carolyn Elliott, University of Vermont
  171. Aviroop Sengupta, Columbia University
  172. Madhura Lohokare, Syracuse University
  173. Arijit Sen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  174. Suyapa Portillo Villeda, Pitzer College, USA
  175. Oishik Sircar, University of Melbourne
  176. Arjun Bagchi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  177. Greg Anderson, Ohio State University
  178. Prarit Agarwal, Seoul National University, Korea
  179. Sayori Ghoshal, Columbia University
  180. Uponita Mukherjee, Columbia University
  181. Suyapa Portillo Villeda, Pitzer College
  182. Patricia Morton, University of California, Riverside
  183. Sofia Checa, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  184. Arpan Roy, John Hopkins University
  185. Cynthia Correa, The University of Texas at Austin
  186. Parvathy Binoy, Syracuse University, Syracuse
  187. Jonathon Hurd, RN, Seattle
  188. Varuni Bhatia, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  189. Erin McElroy, UCSC, Director, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
  190. Geert Dhondt, John Jay College, The City University of New York
  191. Mithun Bhowmick, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  192. Alladi Sitaram, Retired Professor, Indian Statistical Institute
  193. Dr Kasturi Ray, San Francisco State University
  194. Alicia Giron, National University of Mexico
  195. Probal Dasgupta, Indian Statistical Institute
  196. Larry Halpern, Wittenberg University
  197. Suchitra Mathur, Faculty, IIT Kanpur, India
  198. Aditi Saraf, Johns Hopkins University
  199. Ketaki Jaywant, University of Minnesota
  200. Nagesh Rao, Colgate University
  201. Irfan Ahmad, ACU Melbourne, Australia
  202. Suvrat Raju, TIFR
  203. Saikat Ghosh, IIT Kanpur
  204. Samyak Ghosh, Columbia University
  205. Catherine Liu, UC Irvine
  206. Francis Cody, University of Toronto
  207. Bhavani Raman, University of Toronto
  208. Erika Suderburg, University of California Riverside
  209. Saptarshi Mandal, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat
  210. Anannya Bohidar, Graduate Student, South Asia Studies, UPenn
  211. Rahul Pandey, visiting faculty, IIM Lucknow
  212. Tania Bhattacharyya, Columbia University
  213. Aditi Sarkar, Architect, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  214. Shakti Sathish Nambiar, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
  215. Maroona Murmu, Assistant Professor, Jadavpur University
  216. Gayatri Chatterjee, Symbiosis School of Liberal Art
  217. Sipra Mukherjee, Professor, West Bengal State University
  218. Raja Swamy, Asst. Prof., Dept. of Anthropology, University of Tennessee
  219. Anandavardhanan, Department of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  220. Priyanka Bhattacharya, The Doon School, Dehradun
  221. Anuradha Roy, Jadavpur University
  222. Ramesh Sreekantan, Statistics and Mathematics Unit Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore.
  223. Srinath Jagannathan, Indian Institute of Management Indore
  224. Tanima Sharma, PhD student, University of Chicago
  225. Meena Alexander, City University of New York
  226. Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT Bombay
  227. Venkatesh K Subramanian, IIT Kanpur
  228. Food Sovereignty Alliance, India
  229. The Ghadar Alliance, US
  230. Nandita Narain, St.Stephen’s College, Delhi University
  231. Deepa Kurup, University of Oxford
  232. Ramesh Bairy, IIT Bombay
  233. Papori Bora, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  234. Ritwik Balo
  235. Ranjani Mazumdar, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  236. PK Vijayan
  237. Dr. Papia Sengupta, CPS/SSS
  238. Krishna V V, CSSP/SSS
  239. A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  240. Arunima S Mukherjee
  241. George Chkhaidze
  242. Elizabeth Abel
  243. Dr. Kochurani Abraham, Kerala
  244. Saumyajit Bhattacharya
  245. Pradip Datta, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  246. Rohit Azad, Center for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  247. Deepak K Mishra, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  248. Tulay Atay–Avsar, Mustafa Kemal University, Turkey
  249. Dr. Vikas Bajpai, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  250. Saradindu Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi and ISS, The Hague
  251. Dr Erica Wald, Goldsmiths, University of London
  252. Navaneetha Mokkil
  253. Manidipa Sen, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  254. Ameet Parameswaran, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  255. K. B. Usha, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  256. Gopinath Ravindran
  257. Avinash Kumar, CISLS, SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  258. Puja Rani, University of Delhi
  259. Ritoo Jerath, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  260. Hannah Carlan, Department of Anthropology, UCLA
  261. Ganga Bhavani Manthini
  262. Sucharita Sen, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  263. Dr. Mallarika Sinha Roy, Centre for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  264. Archana Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  265. Dinesh Abrol, Institute for Studies in Industrial Development.
  266. Vikas Rawal, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  267. Sanjaya Kumar Bohidar, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University
  268. Simona Sawhney, IIT Delhi
  269. Dr. Debjani Sengupta, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi
  270. Anirban Gupta-Nigam, University of California, Irvine
  271. Nandita Badami, University of California, Irvine
  272. Sneha Gaddam, PhD Candidate, University of Leicester
  273. Prabhu Mohapatra Department of History Univ of Delhi
  274. Farida Khan, Univ. of Wisconsin Parkside
  275. Pankaj Mehta, Dept. of Physics, Boston University
  276. Tista Bagchi, University of Delhi
  277. Ra Ravishankar, Bangalore
  278. Sambuddha Chaudhuri, University of Pennsylvania
  279. Ani Maitra, Colgate University
  280. Ethel Brooks, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology, Rutgers University
  281. Abha Dev Habib, Miranda House, University of Delhi
  282. Surajit Mazumdar, Center for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  283. Sonajharia Minz, Professor, School of Computer & Systems Sciences, JNU
  284. Vinay Kumar Ambedkar
  285. Naveen Gaur, Associate Professor, Dyal Singh College, University of Delhi
  286. Margot Weiss, Wesleyan University
  287. Vivekananda Mukherjee, Professor, Dept. of Economics, Jadavpur University
  288. Dr Shakira Hussein, National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne
  289. Udaya Kumar, Professor, CES, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, JNU
  290. Kriti Budhiraja, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
  291. Radhika Balakrishnan, Rutgers University
  292. Seema Saha Poddar
  293. Poulomi Saha, Assistant Professor of English, UC Berkeley
  294. Swapnil Deshmukh, Mumbai University
  295. Dr. Lata Singh, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  296. Tyler Feaver, Wright State University
  297. Pavithra Vasudevan, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  298. Santosh Rohit Yerrabolu, Buffalo, NY
  299. Professor V V Krishna, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, SSS, JNU
  300. Ian Duncan, Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley
  301. Bir singh, Asstt. Professor, Dept. of Economics, University of Delhi
  302. Amit Singh, Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University
  303. Poonam Srivastava, University of Chicago, Postdoc Researcher
  304. Omnia El Shakry, University of California, Davis
  305. Jhuma Sen, O.P. Jindal Global University, India
  306. Corey Payne and Chase Alston, Co-Presidents of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Johns Hopkins University
  307. Sankaran Krishna, Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  308. Mytheli Sreenivas, Professor, Ohio State University
  309. Preeti Shekar, Asian College of Journalism
  310. Susan Himmelweit, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, UK
  311. Kalyani Monteiro Jayasankar, Graduate Student, Princeton University
  312. Nicolau Dols, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain
  313. Kartik Misra, Graduate Student, Dept. of Economics, UMass, Amherst
  314. Dolly Daftary, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  315. Kunal Chattopadhyay, Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
  316. Soma Marik, Associate Professor of History, RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhavan
  317. Aditya Nigam, CSDS, Delhi
  318. Pratiksha Baxi, Assoc. Prof., Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Johns Hopkins University
  319. Arun Karthik B., Graduate Student, IIT-Kanpur
  320. Manisha Sethi, Jamia Millia Islamia
  321. Debaditya Bhattacharya, Asst. Prof., Nivedita College, University of Calcutta
  322. Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Millia Islamia, ​New Delhi
  323. Michael Ash, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, UMass, Amherst
  324. Ramya M. Vijaya Assoc. Professor of Economics, Stockton University, New Jersey
  325. Sheila Walker, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Scripps College and Chair, Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies, The Claremont Colleges
  326. Debarshi Das, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India
  327. Tarun Bhargava, Mtech Computer Science, IIT Kanpur
  328. Rajita Menon, PhD candidate, Boston University
  329. Kasturi Basu, People’s Film Collective, Kolkata
  330. Daniel Pasciuti, Assistant Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University
  331. Aaron Barlow, Associate Professor of English New York City College of Technology (CUNY)
  332. Rahul Thube, Ferguson College
  333. Sugata Ray, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science
  334. Nimisha Patel, Wright State University
  335. Mehrene Larudee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  336. Jayadev Athreya, Director, Washington Experimental Mathematics Lab, University of Washington
  337. Sunitha Gorty, alumni of HCU, MCA 93-96
  338. Devika Narayan, University of Minnesota
  339. Aravind Muthusamy, IIT Kanpur
  340. Shruti Mukherjee, SUNY, New York
  341. Marty Kich, Wright State University
  342. Geetha Nambissan, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  343. Ajay Bhardwaj, Ph.D. Student and Documentary Filmmaker, Asian Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  344. Amy E. Alterman, Graduate Student, University of California Los Angeles
  345. Baki Tezcan, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Davis
  346. M Ghazi Shahnawaz, Jamia Millia Islamia, India
  347. Jasbeer Musthafa, PhD Candidate, Western Sydney University, Australia
  348. Eric Hoyt, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  349. Alka Acharya, School of International Studies, JNU
  350. Urmimala Sarkar , Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  351. Margo Okazawa-Rey, Elihu Root Peace Fund Chair in Women’s Studies, Hamilton College
  352. Sunaina Maira, Professor, University of California-Davis, USA
  353. Snigdha Kumar, Delhi University
  354. Diksha Dhar, Fulbright Nehru Doctoral Scholar, University of Pennsylvania
  355. Dan Clawson, Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  356. Sanghamitra Misra, Assistant Prof, Department of History, University of Delhi
  357. Rahul Govind, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi
  358. Sefika Kumral, Ph.D. Candidate, Johns Hopkins University
  359. Priyanka Borpujari, Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence, Nazareth College, USA
  360. Sharvari Sastry, University of Chicago.
  361. Anita Cherian, University of Delhi
  362. Shivarama Padikkal, Professor, University of Hyderabad
  363. Dr Sushrut Jadhav, University College London
  364. Dr. Manoj Kumar Jha, Professor and Head, Department of Social Work (Delhi School of Social Work), University of Delhi
  365. Ghanshyam Shah (retired Professor), JNU
  366. Joseph Mattam
  367. Dhruva Narayan, Janam Foundation
  368. Rohit Shukla, Prof. (retired) Economics, President, “Save Education” (Gujarat Chapter)
  369. Sharit ​Bhowmik, National Fellow (Sociology), ICSSR, Chairperson, Labour Education and Research Network (LEARN)
  370. Karuna Dietrich Wielenga, Newton International Fellow, Oxford
  371. Shashank Kela, Writer
  372. Sumi Krishna, Independent Scholar, Bengaluru
  373. Ignacio López-Calvo, University of California, Merced
  374. B. Karthik Navayan, Project Manager (Programmes) Business and Human Rights, Amnesty International India
  375. Chandan Singh Dalawat, Professor, Harish-Chandra Institute
  376. Prem Verma, Convenor, Jarkhand Nagrik Prayas, Jarkhand Alternative Development Forum
  377. Shourjya Deb, PhD Candidate, Rutgers University
  378. Ajit Menon, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai
  379. Milan Dharel, Executive Secretary, Swatantrata Abhiyan Nepal
  380. Manasi Pingle, Filmmaker
  381. Shambhavi Prakash, JNU
  382. Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
  383. Lyn Ossome, Makerere University
  384. Kirity Roy, MASUM
  385. Pujita Guha, JNU
  386. Sudipto Basu, Jadavpur University
  387. Aurobindo Ghosh, Peoples’ Rights Organization
  388. Uday Prakash, Poet, Writer, Journalist and Filmmaker
  389. Dipa Sinha, Ambedkar University
  390. Shah Alam Khan, Professor, Department of Orthopaedics, AIIMS
  391. Sudhir Katiyar, Majdur Adhikar Manch, Gujarat
  392. Rajesh Chandra Kumar, TISS Mumbai
  393. Abhishek Jha, IIT Roorkee
  394. Ania Loomba, Catherine Bryson Professor of English, Univ of Pennsylvania
  395. Veena Hariharan, JNU
  396. Hussain Indorewala, Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture
  397. Carlo Buldrini, Deputy Director, Italian Cultural Center, New Delhi
  398. Hadiya Jasbeer, Macquarie University
  399. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human Rights Activist, Mumbai
  400. Ravi Kumar, Chairperson, Dept. of Sociology, South Asian Univ., Delhi
  401. Pragya Singh, Teacher
  402. Vishal Pratap Singh Deo, Univ. of Delhi
  403. Suad Joseph, Distinguished Professor, UC Davis
  404. Suroopa Mukherjee, Hindu College, Delhi University
  405. Gautam Gupta, Prof., Dept. of Economics, Jadavpur University
  406. Abani K. Bhuyan, University of Hyderabad
  407. Vikram Vyas, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University
  408. Hemangi Kadlak, TISS Mumbai
  409. Aparajita Sarcar, Queen’s University, Canada
  410. Vinod Kumar, Assoc. Prof. of Law, National Law Univ., Delhi
  411. Hugo Gorringe, Univ. of Edinburgh
  412. Mihir Pandey, Ramjas College, Univ. of Delhi
  413. Farha Noor, JNU
  414. Ushmayo Dutta, Jadavpur University
  415. Sanghita Sen, Univ. of St. Andrews, Scotland
  416. Promona Sengupta, JNU
  417. Padmini Swaminathan, Prof. , TISS Mumbai
  418. Evy Mehzabeen, JNU
  419. Sumi Madhok, London School of Economics
  420. Dr Sunil Kumar ‘Suman’, Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University
  421. Vineet Tiwari, Poet, General Secretary, M. P. Progressive Writers’ Association
  422. Dr. Jaya Mehta, Economist and Theatre Activist, Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies
  423. Marieme Helie Lucas, Former Faculty Algiers University (Algeria), Coordinator SIAWI ( Secularism Is A Women’s Issue)
  424. Anand Teltumbde, Professor, IIT, Kharagpur
  425. Manoj Mitta
  426. Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics and Political Science
  427. G Wankhede, Former Professor and Chairperson Center for Higher Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Deonar
  428. Harmony Siganporia, Assistant Professor, Communications Area, MICA-India
  429. Professor Shiv Ganesh, Head of School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University
  430. Professor Shereen Ratnagar, Independent Researcher
  431. Srilata Sircar, Lund University, Sweden
  432. Sridipta Ghatak
  433. Chinnaiah Jangam, Carleton University, Canada
  434. Snehlata, DSG
  435. Neela Bhagwat
  436. Ish Mishra, Delhi University
  437. Jyoti Sinha, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  438. Manishita Dass, Royal Holloway, University of London
  439. Ania Loomba, University of Pennsylvania
  440. Prachinkumar Ghodajkar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  441. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  442. Krishna Menon, Lady Shri Ram College
  443. Vidhu Verma, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  444. Milind Bhawar
  445. Amlan Das Gupta, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi
  446. Jagdeep Chhokar, Professor (Retd), Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
  447. Ovais Sultan Khan
  448. Divas Vats
  449. Ashish Kothari, Pune
  450. Anirban, Visiting Doctoral Candidate, Freie University, Berlin
  451. Neera Singh, University of Toronto, Canada
  452. Rita Kothari, Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
  453. Fatima Shahzad, SOAS, University of London
  454. Nicole Wolf, Goldsmiths, University London
  455. Christi A Merrill, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan
  456. Gagana N.V., NUJS, Kolkata
  457. Tultul Biswas, MP Mahila Manch, Bhopal, MP
  458. Emma Meyer, PhD candidate, Emory University
  459. Priti Gulati Cox, Independent Artist, Kansas
  460. Neela Bhagwat, Classical singer of Gwalior gharana
  461. Geeta Patel, University of Virginia
  462. Ashwini Deshpande, Prof., Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics
  463. Indraneel Dasgupta, Prof., Economic Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute
  464. Soumava Basu, Student, University of Utah
  465. Nandini Dutta, Associate Professor, Economics, Miranda House, Delhi University
  466. Arjun Mukerji, Asst. Prof., Dept. of Planning and Architecture, NIT Rourkela
  467. Keya Ganguly, Professor, Dept. of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, Univ. of Minnesota
  468. Dr. N.Bhattacharya, Retired Teacher, DU and ex-student, JNU
  469. Megha Anwer, Purdue University
  470. Dr. Sriparna Pathak
  471. Archisman Ghosh, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences
  472. Claudio Fogu, University of California Santa Barbara
  473. M. Madhava Prasad, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
  474. Prof. Amit Bhattacharyya, Jadavpur University
  475. Harry Cleaver, University of Texas at Austin
  476. Alok Mukherjee, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ryerson University
  477. Christopher Forster-Smith, Johns Hopkins University
  478. Benita Parry, Emeritus Professor, Univ of Warwick
  479. Debashree Mukherjee, Columbia University
  480. Allan Stewart-Oaten, Professor (Emeritus), University of California Santa Barbara
  481. Jai Sen
  482. Teresa Hubel, Professor and Chair, Huron University College
  483. Uttama Ray, Rammohan College, Kolkata
  484. Snehal Shingavi, UT Austin
  485. Colleen Lye, UC Berkeley
  486. Arun P. Mukherjee, York University, Canada
  487. V. Sujatha, Professor and Chairperson, CSSS, JNU
  488. Ismail Poonawala, Prof. of Arabic and Islamic Studies, UCLA
  489. Sangeeta Chatterji, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  490. Amrita Basu, Amherst College
  491. Anne Bellows, Prof. and Grad. Prog. Director, Food Studies, Syracuse Univ.
  492. Dhananjay Ravat, Prof. of Geophysics, Univ. of Kentucky
  493. Abhijit Gupta, Prof. of English, Jadavpur University
  494. Sajni Mukherji, Retired Professor, Jadavpur University
  495. Robert Zussman, Professor Emeritus, U Mass Amherst
  496. Mrinalini Chakravorty, Assoc. Prof., Univ. of Virginia
  497. Amrita Ghatak, Assoc. Prof., Gujarat Inst. of Development Research
  498. Supriya Shukla, Freie University, Berlin, Germany
  499. Divya Anand, Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research
  500. Nilima Sheikh
  501. Indira Unninayar, Advocate, Supreme Court and Delhi High Court
  502. Rachana Johri, Ambedkar University Delhi
  503. Dhiman Chatterjee, Faculty Member,  IIT, Madras
  504. Alok, McMaster University, Canada
  505. Sanjam Ahluwalia, Dept. of History, Northern Arizona University
  506. Sharmila Purkayastha, Miranda House
  507. Gary Michael Tartakov, Iowa State University
  508. Zahra Nikpour, Univ. of Padova, Italy
  509. Amit Basole University of Massachusetts Boston
  510. K.Gopal Iyer. Professor Emeritus. Punjab University, Chandigarh
  511. Dr.Laxmi Berwa, M.D, F.A.C.P, Fort Belvoir, U.S.A
  512. Annette Hunt, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  513. Shilpi Suneja, Writer
  514. Peter Halewood, Professor of Law, Albany Law School
  515. Bina Fernandez, University of Melbourne
  516. Jenny Sharpe, Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Gender Studies, Department of English, University of California
  517. Sanjay Joshi, Professor of History, Northern Arizona University
  518. Colin Barker, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
  519. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi
  520. Syed Asad Raza, Executive, MPA, Syracuse University
  521. Rakesh Nanjappa, PhD Candidate, SUNY College of Optometry
  522. Sadanand Menon, Media Professional & Teacher, Chennai
  523. Sana Das, PhD Scholar, IIT Delhi
  524. Maya Krishna Rao, Shiv Nadar University
  525. William Halewood, Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Toronto
  526. Anupama Potluri, University of Hyderabad
  527. Virendra Kamalvanshi, Inst. of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University
  528. Sunalini Kumar, Lady Shriram College, Delhi University
  529. Gautambala Gautam
  530. Bronwyn Winter, University of Sydney
  531. Abhijit Roy, Jadavpur University
  532. Narayanan Menon, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  533. Rita Manchanda, South Asia Forum for Human Rights

Lucas Plan Documentary, 1978

This film, “The Story of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Alternative Corporate Plan” was made in 1978 for the Open University. It documents an unusual episode in British corporate history. Shop stewards from Lucas Aerospace, facing massive redundancies, developed their own plan to safeguard their jobs by moving the business into alternative technologies that would meet social needs, as well as new methods of production.

The Deed of Words by Pothik Ghosh

  
What, if any, is the relation between literature and politics? This book seeks to demonstrate, from the standpoint of a political militant, that radical aesthetics and radical politics can only be thought in terms of compossibility, not relationality. It contends that literature should be thought, not in terms of the use of art for politics, but in terms of politics in art as its use. In the first instance, use is meant to connote instrumentalism, while in the second case use signifies Marx’s use-value as the determinate negation of the structure of exchange-relations by virtue of being the determinate excess of the means/ends duality.      

Written in a rigorous style, this work not only sheds new light on two major literary voices of the Subcontinent but also offers a singular articulation of the relationship of literature and politics by rethinking ontology itself. This is an excellent book. – Aniruddha Chowdhury, author of Post-deconstructive Subjectivity and History: Phenomenology, Critical Theory, and Postcolonial Thought (Brill, 2013)

Pothik Ghosh is one of the most dynamic thinkers on the left in India today. Drawing on a deep knowledge of literature in Hindi and Bengali, as well as an equally profound engagement with western Marxist theory, this book offers a model of rigorous and self-conscious thinking through verbal art to reveal its commensurability with the problems of political struggle. Jesse Ross Knutson, Assistant Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali, Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures, University of Hawai’I at Manoa

 

Student-as-worker is no petty-bourgeois infantilism

Pothik Ghosh

1. Is one being ignorant of the history of university if one calls on students to politically organise themselves as workers in order to burn down the university-factory?

Of course, we all know the Enlightenment as a project of self-legislation is a dialectic between the practical-materialist subjectivity of struggle (the overcoming of historical determination in its own moment) and the contemplative-‘materialist’ human subject (or the self). What that means is the latter (the human subject as the Enlightenment) is an interruption of the former (the practical-materialist subjectivity of struggle as enlightenment) because of the reification of the limit that gets imposed on the subjectivity of struggle on account of its determinateness. In such circumstances, the only way to ensure the line does not shift to render this dialectic of enlightenment symmetrical and idealist, so that it sustains itself as an asymmetrical and materialist dialectic, is to brush the Enlightenment against its grain.

Now, in that context, if we were to historicise the modern university, and thereby grasp it as an embodiment of the Enlightenment as a credo of self-legislation, we would grasp the university as an embodiment of the dialectic of enlightenment. That would mean grasping the institutionality of the university as precisely the interruption of the practical-materialist subjectivity of struggle, which in being interrupted thus, due to the fetishisation of the limit imposed on it by its historically particular condition of determinateness, yielded the institutionality of the university. Seen in this fashion, the history of modern university as an embodiment of enlightenment is not a history of merely the university as institutionality, but the actuality of the asymmetrical dialectic between the practical-materialist subjectivity of struggle and the institutionality of the university, which is an interruption and hypostasis of that struggle.

In such circumstances, the modern university – from the vantage-point of critique of political economy, and a militant subjectivity underpinned by the mode of such critique – is a cell-form of capital in being an internally divided terrain of antagonism between the instrumentalising institutionality of the university, and the subjectivity of practical materialism that militates against the former from within it. But that is not all. The practical-materialist subjectivity, in militating against the institutionality of the university from within it, and thereby being constitutive of the modern university as an internally divided terrain, must also envisage itself as a determinate moment of actuality of the strategy of uninterrupted unraveling of capital as a moving contradiction. It is this kind of awareness of the history of university that arguably informs and marks the call to burn down the university-factory. That this is a call for determinate negation of capital is properly clarified when one asks students, as part of such a call, to engage in struggles within the university in a manner that the ground is set for the destruction of the interlinked and interdependent oppressions of which the university-factory is only one manifestation.

2. Does calling on students to politically organise themselves as workers serve to bolster the petty-bourgeois consciousness among students? Does such a call amount to a substitutionist move of making students into workers, thus not requiring them to actually organise in the working class?

In fact, just the opposite is the case. Calling on students to frame their politics in terms of their objective social condition of being workers, is to emphasise the situation of students within the overall socio-technical division of labour so that students envisage their oppositional politics, with regard to the specificity of their terrain, primarily in terms of a struggle against the overall segmentation of the working class. For, it is precisely in the segmentation of the working class (manifest in, as and through the overall socio-technical division or composition of labour), and the relations of exchange among many of those segments, that capital as the logic of value-relations is respectively operationalised and realised.

Here we would do well to dwell on two interrelated conceptual problems of what constitutes the objectivity from which the revolutionary subjectivity of the working class can stem. Many tend to argue, pace Marx, that the working-class leadership of a proletarian-revolutionary transformation of capitalist society can, and must, only come from those segments and sections of social labour that are productive – that is, those segments and sections of social labour that create value, and from which surplus value is concomitantly extracted to be realised as profit. It is in this context that we ought to pose the two interrelated conceptual problems more specifically. One, is academic work, in an overall sense, productive? And two, is the particular activity performed by students – (whether in classrooms or as research scholars), in the process of participating in this academic work, productive too?

In order to address these two interrelated problems somewhat adequately, we would do well to begin with Marx’s conceptions of productive and unproductive labour. While critically engaging with Adam Smith’s conceptions of the same in Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Marx writes: “Only labour which produces capital is productive labour. Commodities or money become capital, however, through being exchanged directly for labour-power, and exchanged only in order to be replaced by more labour than they themselves contain. For the use-value of labour-power to the capitalist as a capitalist does not consist in its actual use-value, in the usefulness of this particular concrete labour – that it is spinning labour, weaving labour, and so on. He is as little concerned with this as with the use-value of the product of this labour as such, since for the capitalist the product is a commodity (even before its first metamorphosis), not an article of consumption. What interests him in the commodity is that it has more exchange-value than he paid for it; and therefore the use-value of the labour is, for him, that he gets back a greater quantity of labour-time than he has paid out in the form of wages.”

Marx then goes on to further explicate his conceptions of productive and unproductive labour through his continued critical assimilation of Smith: “…this distinction between productive and unproductive labour has nothing to do either with the particular specialty of the labour or with the particular use-value in which this special labour is incorporated. In the one case, the labour is exchanged with capital, in the other with revenue. In the one case the labour is transformed into capital, and creates a profit for the capitalist; in the other case it is an expenditure, one of the articles in which revenue is consumed.”

With this Marxian distinction between productive and unproductive labour in mind let us now approach the problem of academic activity that goes on in institutions of post-secondary and higher education, and try and work out the character of the labour at stake in such activity.

The network of academic institutions – especially, at the post-secondary level – is constitutive of mutual competition among its constituent institutions in the market of academic training so that the demand for some outstrips the demand for others. This demand is basically of students-as-consumers for the commodity of academic knowledge, which they need to (re)produce their labour-power and/or enhance its particular mode of expenditure vis-à-vis the productive labour market. And this competition among academic institutions – particularly, in the sphere of higher education – is determined by the so-called quality of teaching and/or research services provided by those institutions relative to one another. Such quality is, therefore, determined by measuring the average degree of success of their pass-outsin the market for productive labour. In such circumstances, the criteria of evaluation of academic institutions in play are those of so-called quality of teaching, and other allied services that academic institutions (or shops) provide the student-as-consumer. This, first and foremost, depends on the quality of the academic staff and facilities that such an institution is able to provide its student-consumer. And the ascertainable measure of such quality is the number of patents producedand/or research papers published in prestigious academic journals by the faculty and research scholars of a particular institution. The so-called prestige of such patents, and research papers and other publications, is nothing but a euphemism for capitalist productivity.

And this productivity, as far as the production of such research work is concerned, is on two counts. First; a particular academic research product directly feeds into other branches of commodity-producing industry to enhance capital accumulation by increasing the extraction of (relative) surplus-value in those industrial branches. Or, second; products of particular kinds of academic research that, unlike in the first instance, do not feed directly into other branches of commodity-producing industry and are yet commodities measurable in terms of their productivity because their use-value components satisfy some or the other social want that, in this particular case, springs, pace Marx of Capital, Volume I, “from fancy”. A good example of the latter would be certain sorts of academic knowledge in the disciplines of humanities and other social sciences. Such academic commodities satisfy intellectual needs – social wants that spring from the mind – of its consumers but in doing that they socially reproduce those consumers as repositories of labour-power.

Such social (re)production of labour-power is not just about the (re)production of labour-power in its bare form, but also involves developing it through its (re)production so that it can be expended in modes other than that in which it is already expended so that its value expressed in price is enhanced. This, needless to say, renders the individuals embodying such (re)produced labour-power more competitive and thus more upwardly mobile in the overall socio-technical division, or composition, of labour. And the more such academic commodities – which do not feed directly into other branches of commodity-producing industry to enhance their productivity – are able to enhance the productivity of labour-power while reproducing it, the more productive they themselves are.

Marx quite clearly indicates that the work of teachers – which is an integral part of what we are here calling academic work – consists of the performing of productive labour because it participates in the (re)production of the vendible commodity of labour-power. He writes in Theories of Surplus Value, Part I: “The whole world of “commodities” can be divided into two great parts. First, labour-power, second, commodities as distinct from labour-power itself. As to the purchase of such services as those which train labour-power, maintain or modify it, etc., in a word, give it a specialised form or even only maintain it – thus for example the schoolmaster’s service, in so far as it is ‘industrially necessary’ or useful; the doctor’s service, in so far as he maintains health and so conserves the source of all values, labour-power itself – these are services which yield in return ‘a vendible commodity…’, namely labour-power itself, into whose costs of production or reproduction these services enter.”

So, insofar as the market of academic commodities is concerned, the productivity of academic research production on the two counts described above are both equally important. The first is important because by being directly productive (or not) with regard to other commodity markets it fetches more revenue (or not), and thus more profit (or not), from the industries of those other commodity-markets by exchanging academic research commodities (mostly intangible scientific and technical, and/or administrative and management know-how) for revenue in monetary terms. Consequently, the academic factories that produce such productive (or not) intangible research commodities for other industries are also productive (or not) on the second count with regard to the market for productive labour-power. That is because the more productive its research commodity is for other branches of commodity-producing industry, the more is the demand likely to be for such an academic factory among students-as-consumers looking to develop their labour-power in the process of reproducing it by consuming the commodity of academic knowledge produced there. That is because an academic institution, when it produces the intangible commodity of know-how for other branches of commodity-producing industry, does so only in the process of producing the commodity of academic knowledge for its student-consumers to consume it in order to socially reproduce themselves as repositories of productive labour-power. What this, therefore, means is that the production of the intangible commodity of know-how in academic institutions enhances the productivity of the labour-power of its students-consumers while socially reproducing them as the repositories of such labour-power.

As for the second type, its productivity as a commodity (or the lack of it thereof) is ascertainable directly in terms of the productivity of labour-power its consumption produces. Therefore, if one were to deal with the market of academic commodities strictly with regard to it satisfying the social wants of students-as-consumers, one ought to ascertain the productivity of such commodities in terms of the productivity of labour-power that is (re)produced in and through their consumption. For, the more productive the labour-power (re)produced in and through the consumption of the commodities of academic knowledge, the more shall be the demand among student-consumers for the academic institutions (read factories) that produce such commodities. Therefore, those academic institutions or factories that are, on this count, more in demand will fetch relatively more revenue and thus more profit, than those that are not. But such demand, as we have seen, is a direct function of academic productivity (in terms of both the quantity and quality of research produced, and the quality of teaching imparted). And this, in turn, implies increased extraction of surplus labour time by academic institutions from academic workers engaged in the production of academic knowledge (and/or the production of the academic commodity of know-how for other branches of the modern industry) – principally through intensification of academic work (relative extraction of surplus labour time), but also through an increase in the total labour time expended in such academic production.

Clearly, the profit earned by an academic shop by exchanging the commodity of academic knowledge it produces for a certain proportion of the revenue of the consuming public – even if one were to leave aside the profit it earns (or not) by exchanging the academic commodity of intangible know-how with other branches of modern industry for a part of the latter’s constant capital – is realisation of the surplus value (surplus labour time) extracted from its academic workers during the production of academic knowledge. That is so because the proportion of the revenue of the consuming public this academic factory is able to claim as its earning is a function of its demand among that public. And this demand is, in turn, a function of the productivity of its academic workers in the production of the commodity of academic knowledge. Clearly, academic institutions are not just shops in the academic market but are, before all else, factories in the academic industry. In fact, they are shops precisely because they are factories.

But can academic knowledge, strictly speaking, be considered a commodity? We would do well here to attend to what Marx has to say in Theories of Surplus Value, Part I: “…a part of the services in the strict sense which assume no objective form – which do not receive an existence as things separate from those performing the services, do not enter into a commodity as a component part of its value – may be bought with capital (by the immediate purchaser of the labour), may replace their own wages and yield a profit for him. In short, the production of these services can be in part subsumed under capital, just as a part of the labour which embodies itself in useful things in bought directly by revenue and is not subsumed under capitalist production.”

Therefore, academic work – to say nothing of the various kinds of non-academic work – occurring in institutions of post-secondary and higher education is productive and so is the labour employed in it. Clearly, members of the teaching faculty – fulfilling their function as classroom instructors and/or supervisors of academic research programmes – in every such academic institution (or factory) are academic workers whose labour is productive. And what Marx says in Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, with regard to a writer being a productive labourer would equally apply to an academic worker: “A writer is a productive labourer not in so far as he produces ideas, but in so far as he enriches the publisher who publishes his works, or if he is a wage-labourer for a capitalist.” All we need to do here is substitute the writer-publisher relationship with the relationship between the academic worker and the university or college he/she works for.

The question that stems from this, however, is the following: are students, who are an integral part of the activity that produces commodities of academic knowledge and/or know-how for other branches of modern industry, and which involves the performing of productive labour by teachers, also to be counted as productive academic workers? There is absolutely no doubt the activity of students – whether as pupils in the classroom or as research-scholars pursuing their doctoral degrees – is work. What a student does in participating as a student in the academic activity of teaching and research is work because such activity, first and foremost, is consumption-as-production, or, “consumptive production”, as Marx terms it in the ‘Introduction’ to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that is part of the appendices to the text in question. The activity a student engages in, in the process of consuming academic knowledge, is work because this activity of consumption is integral to his/her social reproduction and thus the (re)production of the vendible commodity of labour-power, which resides in him/her, for the market of productive labour. And insofar as it is an activity that produces not just use-value for the immediate satisfaction of the student’s social want of knowledge that springs from his/her mind, but produces the vendible commodity of labour-power, such activity, following the portions of Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, cited above, amounts to the performing of productive labour.

Of course, large masses of educated unemployed in our modern society show that not every individual who undergoes this period of studentship is able to successfully vend his/her commodity of labour-power in the productive-labour market. One could, as a result, infer the activity of consuming academic knowledge during studentship is not performing of productive labour for most as they will end up as educated unemployed or underemployed and their labour-power will not, in such circumstances, be productively employed. Such an inference would, however, be erroneous. The labour performed by productively unemployed labour-power to reproduce itself as that unemployed labour-power is only apparently unproductive and is systemically and thus essentially productive. That is so because the unemployed and the underemployed in reproducing themselves as the “relative surplus- population” or the “industrial reserve army” (Marx, in Capital, Volume I) work to regiment the productively employed labour-power and increase the latter’s productivity, thereby leading to a concomitant increase in the extraction of surplus value and capital accumulation. This is what renders the apparently unproductive labour of the unemployed and underemployed reproducing themselves essentially and systemically productive.

For that, however, we must grasp the labour that is unproductive in an immediate sense in terms of how that unproductive functionality is productively articulated by the structured totality of social labour within which it is constitutively situated. That is precisely what Marx does while explicating his concept of the “industrial reserve army” in Capital, Volume I. He writes: “If the means of production, as they increase in extent and effective power, become to a less extent means of employment of labourers, this state of things is again modified by the fact that in proportion as the productiveness of labour increases, capital increases its supply of labour more quickly than its demand for labourers. The over-work of the employed part of the working-class swells the ranks of the reserve, whilst conversely the greater pressure that the latter by its competition exerts on the former, forces these to submit to over-work and to subjugation under the dictates of capital. The condemnation of one part of the working-class to enforced idleness by the over-work of the other part, and the converse, becomes a means of enriching the individual capitalists, and accelerates at the same time the production of the industrial reserve army on a scale corresponding with the advance of social accumulation.”

Let us, however, set aside the issue of (re)production of labour-power as productive labour and try and see how the participation of students in academic activity is, even in its immediate specificity, work; and performing of productive labour to boot. In his/her activity of consuming the commodity of academic knowledge – whether as a pupil in the classroom, or as a researcher pursuing his/her doctoral degree – a student interacts with the teacher. And what he/she does as a student as part of such interaction is, even in its immediate sense, work. It is work because his/her activity of consuming the commodity of academic knowledge is for the teacher, with whom he/she interacts in the process, a use-value. The student’s activity of consuming the commodity of academic knowledge in interaction with his/her teacher is a use-value for the latter because such activity of the student is, in turn, immediately consumed by the teacher in question to socially reproduce himself/herself as the individual teacher he/she is. That, following Marx, is capital as the dialectic of “consumptive production” and “productive consumption” in its bare abstraction.

But that is not all. The commodity of academic knowledge – whose productivity underpins the level of demand for the academic factory that produces it among its potential student-consumers and which, therefore, enables it to earn more revenue and thus profit than its other competitors in the academic market – is produced in the process of such teacher-student interaction. The same also holds true for the academic production of the commodity of know-how for other branches of modern industry, as and when it happens. Thus, whether or not the contribution made by the activity of research students in their interaction with their teacher-supervisors to the production of those academic commodities is openly acknowledged, militants committed to radical working-class politics cannot afford to overlook their indispensable productive role in the production of those commodities. That is something clearly there for all to see, provided they are willing to make the effort to look through, and beyond, the ideological smokescreen created by the valorisation of individuated claims to academic research products. The productive labour of students in academic work is, however, not merely restricted to research scholars pursuing doctoral degrees. Even students, in and through their interaction with teachers as classroom pupils enable teachers not only to expand their pedagogic horizons as classroom instructors but also often push their overall academic thinking that may then enhance the productivity of their contribution to research productions. Does that then not render the labour of consumptive production performed by students, even in classrooms, doubly productive?

Hence, teachers alone are not academic workers performing productive labour in various academic factories, just because they are formally waged. Even students, in their unwaged – and, worse, fee-paying – condition perform productive labour by way of their participation in what goes on under the name of academic activity. In such circumstances, the hierarchy of the teacher-student relationship in those institutions is nothing but the differential relationship between two segments of social labour in the academic factory. This hierarchical relationship between students and teachers is, in other words, the instantiation of the overall capitalist sociality of socio-technical division of labour in the specific realm of academic production.

Therefore, calling on students to frame their politics in terms of their objective condition of being workers – which is to call on students to grasp the specificity of their social existence as students in terms of a moment in the operation of the chain of social labour (or what Marx described as “collective worker”) – is to imply that the correct strategic logic of radical antagonism vis-à-vis capital is as much about struggles against segmentation within the unity of the working class as it’s about the unity of diverse segments of the working class in its struggle against the institutional congealments of capitalist class power that apparently lie outside the class in its unity. More pertinently, calling on students to base their particular politics on the worker-condition of their social being is to clearly imply that different segments of the working class can come together to actually emerge as an antagonistic working-class subjectivity only through a process of struggle in unity against the segmentations that lie at the heart of this phenomenon of working-class unity.

Therefore, to call on students to politically organise themselves as workers is to call on them to envisage their terrain-specific struggles in a way that those struggles begin constellating with the specific struggles of other (identitarianised) segments of the working class – segments that are systemically identified as various types and kinds of workers that in their situation within the system stand differentiated from the identity of students as a community. [Given our neoliberal conjuncture, wherein the division between the cognitive and the manual (or the immaterial and the material) stands heavily precarised at different levels of its segmental operations, calling on students to base their politics on their objective condition of being workers is especially crucial.]

And if this call is not an instance of requiring students to actually organise in the working class, then one doesn’t know what else is? For, if this is not what is meant by students organising themselves in the working class, then the only other way one can think of is for students to seek and strive to go to the working class, as if it is something that lies outside them, in order to organise it. Now that, as far as one can see, would not be a case of students organising themselves in the working class but one of students organising the working class after coming to it from some absolute outside or Archimedean point. It is, therefore, the latter, not the former, that amounts to the deployment of the strategic conception of the vanguard in a classical substitutionist manner.

Of course, the constellating mode of having students organise in the working class would, without doubt, require the formation of a militant subjectivity that seeks to intervene in an embodied form in the objective terrains of labour-capital conflict not necessarily organic to the specificity of the concrete situation of its own embodied formation. That said, such embodied militant subjectivity – while making its radicalising interventions in objective terrains of labour-capital conflict different from the one where it was formed – must always reflexively demonstrate in its practice the organic specificity of its own formation as an embodied militant subjectivity.

In other words, the embodied militant subjectivity should inhabit the working class in the diversity of its segmental struggles while demonstrating to those respective class segments the limit imposed on the capital-unravelling impulse of their struggles by the historical particularities of their determinate condition so that those different segments of the class constellate their respective struggles/self-activities with one another and emerge, through such self-organising, into a subject and force of radical working-class politics. Now, is that not a modality of thinking and envisioning the militant subjectivity that is fundamentally distinct from the classical substitutionist modality in which it is usually envisaged? For, is not the substitutionist modality of envisaging the militant subjectivity all about aggregatively bringing together different segments of the working class into an organisation that is already given as a form – which is nothing but the embodiment of the so-called militant subjectivity? Is not substitutionism all about having this embodied form of subjectivity of the working class act on behalf of the class while the class itself supposedly legitimises this operation of its embodied subjectivity by passively following it?

Radical Notes 8: Notes from Tomorrow by Werner Bonefeld (April 2015)