दिल्ली में बस्तियों को गिराने का आदेश और मज़दूरों के आवास का प्रश्न

देश कोरोना और आर्थिक संकट से गुज़र रहा है जिनका सबसे ज्यादा असर ग़रीबों पर हुआ है, और इसी दौरान सर्वोच्च न्यायालय की तीन सदस्यीय बेंच ने दिल्ली में रेलवे लाइनों के आस पास बसी करीब 48000 झुग्गियों को तोड़ने का आदेश दे दिया है।

कोर्ट ने संबंधित सरकारी विभाग को आदेश दिया है कि तीन महीने की समय सीमा के भीतर, सभी झुग्गी झोपड़ियां तोड़ दी जाएँ, और इसी आदेश में यह भी कहा गया है कि इस के विरोध में किसी भी तरीके की राजनीतिक दखल नहीं दी जा सकती।

इस फैसले से करीब 2 से 3 लाख लोगों के बेघर होने की संभावना व्यक्त की जा रही है। इन लोगों का क्या होगा, इस पर कोर्ट ने कोई भी बात नहीं की। मीडिया के लिये भी यह बात बहुत मायने नहीं रखती, क्योंकि आज वह सस्ते मनोरंजन और कानाफूसी का साधन बन गई है। असली मुद्दों से जनता का ध्यान बंटाना उसका मुख्य पेशा हो गया है।

वैसे भी देश के उच्च और मध्यम वर्गों की नज़र में चुँकि झुग्गी बस्तियाँ और वहां के लोग शहरों की आनबान को चोट पहुँचाते हैं, इन बस्तियों का जल्द से जल्द खत्म होना निहायत ज़रूरी है। झुग्गियों में रहने वाले लोग संभ्रांतों के लिये अमूमन अदृश्य रहते हैं, जब तक कि वहाँ से आए उनके कोठियों पर काम करने वाले मज़दूरों और मज़दूरनियों से पाला नहीं पड़ता।

इन झुग्गी झोपड़ियों को न केवल शहर पर बदनुमा दाग की तरह पेश किया जाता है, बल्कि उन्हें ज़बरदस्ती अतिक्रमणकारियों और असामाजिक तत्वों के गढ़ के रूप में भी प्रचारित किया जाता रहा है। ये “गंदी” बस्तियां जहाँ मज़दूर रहते हैं, वो महामारी के उद्गम स्थल हैं — बीमारियां उन गंदी बस्तियों से हो कर शहर के तथाकथित संभ्रांत स्वच्छ इलाकों में फैल जाती है। मौत की देवी ने अमीरों और गरीबों में अभी तक फर्क करना नहीं सीखा है। इसलिये भी भावुक और भलमनसाहत से ग्रस्त लोग उन जगहों को उजाड़ कर उनके बाशिन्दों को दूर बसा देना चाहते हैं।

उन गंदी बस्तियों में रहने वाले अधिकतर लोग न तो अपनी मर्ज़ी से रहते हैं न ही वे लोग गैर कानूनी धंधों में लिप्त रहते हैं, बल्कि उन झुग्गियों में रहने वाले अधिकतर वे हैं जो अपनी श्रमशक्ति बेच कर अपनी आजीविका का साधन जुटाते हैं। मज़दूरी और अन्य श्रमिक कार्यों में लिप्त वहां का रहने वाला मज़दूर इस व्यवस्था का शिकार है, जिसमें उसे रहने के लिए ढंग के आवास के बदले अस्थायी गंदगी के बीच बसे आश्रय को अपना घर मानने को मजबूर किया जाता है।

क्यों खड़ी हो जाती हैं झुग्गियां?

दुनिया के अन्य बड़े शहरों की तरह ही दिल्ली में अधिकतर झुग्गियां शहर के उन इलाकों में बसी, जहाँ उद्योग या रोज़गार के अन्य साधन विकसित हुए।

विकसित होते औद्योगिक शहर में ग्रामीण और आस पास के क्षेत्रों से श्रमिकों का बड़ा हुजूम खिंचा चला आता है। उनके आने से उद्योगों को सस्ते मज़दूर तो मिल जाते हैं, शहर का आधुनिकीकरण होने लगता है, पुरानी सड़कें चौड़ी होने लगती है, नयी रेल लाइन बिछायी जाती है, किंतु श्रमिकों के आवास थोक भाव से गिराये जाते हैं, और शहर में किराया तेजी से बढ़ जाता है।

श्रमिकों को मिलने वाला वेतन इतना नहीं होता कि वे पहले से बने मकानों में किरायेदार के रूप में रह सकें, नये मकान के मालिक की तो बात ही नहीं की जा सकती है। तब इन उद्योगों और उपक्रमों के आस पास ऐसी श्रमिक बस्तियों का उदय होता है, जो अधिकतर सार्वजनिक ज़मीन पर बस जाती है।

उन झुग्गियों को बसने बसाने में उद्योग का फायदा होता है। वहां रहने वाले कम मज़दूरी में काम करने को तैयार रहते हैं। गैर कानूनी तौर पर बनी ये बस्तियां मज़दूरों की ज़िंदगी को नियंत्रित करने में कई बार मददगार साबित हुई हैं। मज़दूरों को बेदखली का ख़ौफ़ दिखा कर उन्हें नियंत्रित किया जाता रहा है।

दिल्ली की अगर हम बात करें तो यहाँ कारखानों के आस पास झुग्गियों का बड़ा समूह बनता रहा है। रेलवे लाइन के आस पास की जगहों पर भी बड़ी तादाद में झुग्गियां बसीं। उन झुग्गियों में रहने वाले उन्हीं उद्योगों में या उन उद्योगों से जुड़े कार्यों में अस्थायी या अनौपचारिक रूप से काम करते हैं — कूली, रिक्शावाले, खोमचेवाले, चायवाले इत्यादि।

शहर जैसे-जैसे बड़ा होता गया फैक्टरी और उसके आस पास का वह क्षेत्र शहर के बीच हो गया। वे इलाके शहर के केंद्र में आते चले गये और उसके साथ ही उन इलाकों की ज़मीन के भाव भी बढ़ते गये।

रियल एस्टेट (मकान, दुकान बनाना , बेचना) उद्योग बन गया, जिसमें अकूत पूंजी निवेश हुआ। जिन जगहों पर झुग्गी बस्ती थी उन्हें साफ कर उन पर आलीशान अपार्टमेंट, मॉल या आफिस बनाये गये और उनकी ख़रीद बिक्री पर करोड़ों रुपये का मुनाफ़ा कमाया गया। कभी एक “विश्व स्तरीय शहर” बनाने के नाम पर, कभी सौन्दर्यीकरण के नाम पर, कभी सुरक्षा के नाम पर और कभी किसी अंतरराष्ट्रीय पर्यटन के विकास के नाम पर झुग्गियाँ तोड़ने का काम होता आया है।

दिल्ली में तो 1960 के बाद से ही मास्टर प्लान में झुग्गियों को लेकर काफी चर्चा की गयी है। उन्हें हटा कर उनमें रहने वालों को दूसरे जगहों पर बसाने की बात की गयी। अक्सर उन बस्तियों को तोड़ कर उनमें रहने वालों को शहर की सरहदों के आस पास बसा दिया गया। जैसे सन् 2000 के बाद निजामुद्दीन, रोहिणी इत्यादि जगहों पर बसी झुग्गियों को हटा उनमें रहने वाले बाशिन्दों को भलस्वा जैसी दूर और अविकसित जगहों पर 12 से 18 ग़ज़ ज़मीन आबंटित की गयी जहाँ न ही किसी प्रकार की आवाजाही की सुविधा उपलब्ध थी और न ही शहरी विकास विभाग ने वहां नागरिक सुविधाएं जैसे नाली, पीने का पानी इत्यादि की ही कोई व्यवस्था की। लेकिन लोगों को जानवरों की तरह हांक कर वहां पटक दिया।

अब पुराने मज़दूरों की ज़रूरत नहीं रह गयी

नवउदारवादी दौर में पारंपरिक उद्योगों की जगह नये उद्योग जैसे इन्फॉर्मेशन टेक्नोलॉजी, वित्त और अन्य उद्योग (जिन्हें ‘नयी अर्थव्यवस्था’ का नाम दिया गया) का केंद्र बन कर दिल्ली उभरी।

पुराने उद्योग सन् 2000 के बाद से ही दिल्ली से हटा दिये गये थे और इन नयी कॉरपोरेट कंपनियों और ऑफिसों में पुराने मज़दूरों के लिए कोई जगह नहीं है। पूँजीपतियों के लिये झुग्गी बस्तियों में रहने वालों की कोई उपयोगिता नहीं रही। जब उन मज़दूरों की ज़रूरत नहीं तो फिर इन्हें शहर में रहने की भी ज़रूरत नहीं है। हम देख सकते हैं कि किस तरह से सन् 2000 के बाद से ही राजधानी के विकास और सौंदर्यीकरण के नाम पर एक एक करके मज़दूरों को उजाड़ा जा रहा है। इसकी चपेट में न केवल अवैध रूप से बसी झुग्गी बस्तियों को खत्म किया जा रहा है, बल्कि कई वर्षों पहले बसी रिहायशी इलाके जैसे कठपुतली कॉलोनी को भी तोड़ कर उसकी जगह सुंदर अपार्टमेंट बनाने की सरकार ने इजाज़त दे दी।

इसलिये मुम्बई की धारावी मंज़ूर है लेकिन दिल्ली की शक़ूर बस्ती और मायापुरी नहीं। मुम्बई में आज भी मज़दूरों की बड़ी तादाद की ज़रूरत है, गोदी से लेकर मुम्बई के आस पास के उद्योगों के लिए धारावी सस्ते मज़दूर की सप्लाई करती है।

यह मज़दूरों की रिज़र्व सेना का कैम्प है, यह नहीं रहा तो मज़दूर या तो इलाक़ा छोड़ने पर मजबूर हो जायेंगे या फिर अपनी मज़दूरी बढ़ाने की मांग करने लगेंगे जिसे पूंजीपति कभी नहीं होने देंगे।

इसलिये इन मज़दूरों की रिज़र्व सेना को बर्दाश्त करना पूंजीपतियों की मजबूरी है। दिल्ली में भी यही हुआ, जब तक यहां पुराने उद्योग चलते रहे तब तक बस्तियों को बसे रहने दिया गया उनके पुनर्वास की बात होती रही। अब जब रेलवेज़ को स्मार्ट बनाया जा रहा है – निजीकरण, सौन्दर्यीकरण और कई तरह के श्रम प्रक्रियाओं का तकनीकीकरण हो रहा है, तो रेलवे लाइनों के पास की बस्तियों में रहने वाले लोग अतिरिक्त जनसंख्या की श्रेणी में आ गये हैं, जिनकी नियति पहले से ही लिख दी गयी है।

जब हम आज आवास की चर्चा करते हैं तो वह घरों में हो या राजनीतिक गलियारों में, इससे मज़दूर और गरीब गायब हो चुके हैं। आवास की समस्या की बात केवल मध्यम वर्ग और उच्च वर्ग की समस्या के रूप में की जाती है — गरीबों के लिये आवास की बात बस चुनावों में सुनने को मिलती है, इंदिरा आवास हो या मोदी सरकार की घोषित आवास योजना ये सब कागज़ी फूल की तरह दिखते हैं।

पुनर्वास और आवास : कानूनी नहीं राजनीतिक सवाल

दिल्ली में डी डी ए द्वारा ग़रीब तबक़ों के लिए बनायी गयी योजना भी लाखों रुपये से शुरू होती है। मतलब खुद को मध्यम वर्ग का कहने वाला भी बिना बैंक से लोन लिये इन घरों को नहीं ख़रीद सकता, बिना ढंग की नौकरी वाला क्या करेगा। आवास की समस्या को लेकर वाम आंदोलन ने भी कभी संजीदगी नहीं दिखायी और इसलिये उनका आंदोलन केवल प्रतीकात्मक हो कर रह जाता है।

आज की सरकारी योजनाओं में ग़रीब मेहनतकश पूरी तरह से गायब हो चुका है। सरकारी योजनाएँ भी निजी बिल्डरों के तर्ज पर उसी वर्ग की ओर निहारती हैं जिसके पास पैसा है या जो बैंक कर्ज़ आसानी से ले सकता है। झुग्गियों में रहने वाले इस स्कीम से पहले ही बाहर कर दिये गये हैं।

अवश्य ही सरकारें इन बस्तियों को उजाड़ने का निर्णय खुद नहीं लेना चाहतीं, और इसीलिए पिछले तीन दशकों से यही खेल चल रहा है — संभ्रांत तबकों के वकील याचिका दायर करते हैं, न्यायपालिकाएँ निर्णय सुनाती हैं और सरकारें अपने आप को मजबूर दिखा उन निर्णयों का बेधड़क और निर्मम तौर पर पालन करती हैं।

भारत में इन झुग्गियों को गिराने की प्रक्रिया को और शहरी विकास को हमें केवल विधि व्यवस्था के तौर पर न देख इसके राजनीतिक अर्थशास्त्र को समझना जरूरी है, तभी हम ऐसी तमाम समस्याओं का सही राजनीतिक अर्थ समझ सकेंगे और उनसे मुक्ति की लाइन ईजाद कर सकेंगे। दरअसल सवाल आवास का है, और यह एक सामाजिक सवाल है।

जब तक कि जिस सामाजिक परिवेश में इसका जन्म होता है उसमें मूल परिवर्तन नहीं किया जाता, यह प्रश्न भिन्न भिन्न रूप में सामने आता रहेगा। यह मुद्दा केवल किसी झुग्गी के टूटने के समय का नहीं है, जो ऐसा समझते हैं इस संजीदा मुद्दे को छोटा कर रहे हैं उसे तुच्छ बना कर पेश कर रहे हैं। मजदूरों के आवास की लड़ाई उस व्यवस्था के खिलाफ बगावत है जो मजदूरों के प्रति इस्तेमाल करो और फेंक दो की नीति अपनाती है, उन्हें शहर का हिस्सा नहीं मानती। यह शहर पर शहर बनाने वालों के अधिकार की लड़ाई है।

मज़दूर समन्वय केंद्र

ऑर्डनेन्स फैक्ट्रियों के मज़दूरों का संघर्ष उनका नहीं सबका है!

एक को चोट सभी को चोट है!

ऑर्डनेन्स फैक्ट्रियों के मज़दूरों का संघर्ष उनका नहीं सबका है!

तमाम सरकारें आज तक उदारीकरण अथवा बाज़ारीकरण की प्रक्रिया को लगातार परन्तु सहम-सहम कर चला रही थीं, दो कदम आगे, एक कदम पीछे कर रही थीं। उन सबों ने इतने वर्षों में सरकारी उद्योगों को बेहद कमजोर करने का काम किया था। परंतु इनकी अंत्येष्ठि करने के लिए किसी ठोस इरादे वाली सरकारी शक्ति की आवश्यकता थी, जिसकी पूर्ति मोदी सरकार कर रही है। यह सभी कार्य देशभक्ति और आत्मनिर्भरता के नाम पर हो रहे हैं।

रक्षा उद्योग का बाज़ारीकरण और भारत में सैन्य-औद्योगिक परिसर

मई के महीने में वित्त मंत्री निर्मला सीतारमण ने आत्मनिर्भर भारत योजना के तहत कई पैकेजों की घोषणा की थी। रक्षा उद्योग के मामले में भी सरकार ने कुछ महत्वपूर्ण फ़ैसले लिए हैं। ये फ़ैसले सरकार के अनुसार देशहित में हैं क्योंकि इनसे रक्षा उद्योग का विस्तार होगा, हथियारों के मामले में भारत की आत्मनिर्भरता बढ़ेगी और विश्वस्तर पर वह हथियारों का निर्यात करने वाला देश बन जाएगा। 

ध्यान देने योग्य है कि भारत हथियारों का अभी सबसे ज्यादा आयात करने वाले देशों में से एक है। निस्संदेह दक्षिण एशिया में वर्चस्वता के सवाल पर चीन से टक्कर एक प्रमुख वजह है। परन्तु साथ ही सैन्य तकनीकों और उपकरणों का प्रमुख इस्तेमाल देश में अंदरूनी व्यवस्था व्यावहारिक और भावनात्मक दोनों स्तरों पर बनाए रखने के लिए होता है। आर्थिक अनिश्चितताओं के कारण बढ़ती सामाजिक अस्तव्यस्तता देशी-विदेशी संपत्तिवानों की सुरक्षा और सामान्य नागरिक सर्विलेंस (निगरानी) के लिए तकनीकों और उपकरणों का उत्पादन रक्षा उद्योग की आज प्राथमिकता हो गई है। 

साथ में आज विश्व की कई सरकारें विश्व मंदी के दौर में घरेलू रक्षा उद्योग को अर्थतंत्र के प्रवर्तन के एक मजबूत आधार के रूप में देख रही हैं । इसी को सैन्य-औद्योगिक परिसर (मिलिट्री-इंडस्ट्रियल कॉम्प्लेक्स) का विकास कहते हैं — जिसकी आग़ाज़ भारत में काफ़ी साल पहले हो गई थी, परंतु मोदी सरकार ने इस दिशा में दृढ़ता से क़दम उठाए हैं। 2018 की बजट घोषणाओं में दो रक्षा औद्योगिक गलियारे की स्थापना की बात कही गई थी, जिन पर अभी काम चालू है — उत्तर प्रदेश और तमिलनाडु में। 

ऑर्ड्नन्स फ़ैक्ट्री बोर्ड का निगमीकरण 

वित्त मंत्री ने कोरोना महामारी को अवसर बनाते हुए मई के महीने में इस दिशा में तीन-सूत्री निर्णय सुनाया था। 

पहला, सरकार एक लिस्ट तैयार करेगी और उसको समय-समय पर बढ़ाती रहेगी जिसमें वे हथियार होंगे जिनका आयात नहीं किया जाएगा और जो भारतीय सरकारी और निजी उद्योगों से ही ख़रीदे जाएँगे। 

दूसरा, हालांकि 2001 में ही वाजपेयी सरकार ने रक्षा क्षेत्र में निजी पूंजी को खुली छूट दे दी थी, और 2018 के बाद विदेशी निवेश को भी खुली छूट मिल गई थी, परंतु अभी तक आटोमेटिक रूट से विदेशी पूंजी निवेश 49 प्रतिशत ही हो सकता था। इस साल सरकार इसको 74 प्रतिशत करने जा रही है।

तीसरा फैसला जो मज़दूरों की दृष्टि से और फौरी तौर पर सर्वाधिक महत्वपूर्ण है, वह है ऑर्डनन्स फैक्ट्री बोर्ड का निगमीकरण (कोर्पोरेटाइज़ेशन) यानी उसका सार्वजनिक क्षेत्रक उपक्रम (पीएसयू) में तब्दील किया जाना। निगमीकरण को निजीकरण के प्रारंभिक कदम के रूप में देखा जाता है। और यह बात सही भी है क्योंकि निगमीकरण के बाद निजीकरण करना आसान हो जाता है। 

वैसे भी पीएसयू बनने के बाद पूंजी निवेश के लिए उसके शेयर बेचे जा सकते हैं और जिस तरीके से बाक़ी पीएसयू के साथ सरकार सलूक करती रही है, उससे ओएफबी के पीएसयू बनने के बाद निजीकरण का खतरा अवश्य ही पैदा हो जाता है। तब भी जब तक वो पीएसयू है तब तक सरकार नियंत्रक शेयरहोल्डर होती है। 

निगमीकरण अथवा श्रम का खुला दोहन

हमारा मानना है कि स्वामित्व के सवाल पर इतना जोर निगमीकरण के खास गुणात्मक तत्वों को बहस से गायब कर देता है। फिर वह सरकारी क्षेत्र के बचाव का ही मुद्दा रह जाता है। और उन तत्वों के आधार पर मज़दूर आंदोलन के व्यापकीकरण की संभावना खो जाती है। आइए हम इनमें से कुछ पर चर्चा करें।

स्वायत्त प्रबंधन

किसी भी औद्योगिक निगम के प्रबंधन के तीन स्तम्भ होते हैं — स्वामित्व, बोर्ड ऑफ डाइरेक्टर्स और शेयरहोल्डर्स। पीएसयू में स्वामित्व सरकारी ही रहता है — उसके शेयर्स बाजार में बेचे जाएँगे तब भी मौलिक स्वामित्व बना रहेगा। निगमीकरण से औद्योगिक संस्थाओं की स्वायत्तता हो जाती है और वे अपना निर्णय खुद ले सकती हैं — खुद मतलब बोर्ड ऑफ डाइरेक्टर्स। इस बोर्ड के संघटन पर ही इन उद्योगों के प्रबंधन की दिशा तय होती है। इस बोर्ड में सरकारी नुमाइंदों के अलावे कई हितधारकों को शामिल किया जा सकता है — सैन्य बलों से और उद्योग से भी। 

बाजार पर निर्भरता 

निगमीकरण के पश्चात जो तथ्य महत्वपूर्ण रूप से बदलता है और जिसका सीधा असर मज़दूरों पर पड़ता है वह उत्पादन और प्रबंधनात्मक निर्णय का अब बाजार और निजी कंपनियों से प्रतिस्पर्धा पर निर्भर होना है। प्रबंधन की स्वायत्तता बाजार-आधारित निर्णयों को लेने में मदद करती है। स्वायत्तता की वजह से सरकार के ऊपर पड़ने वाले सार्वजनिक दबावों का प्रबंधन पर असर कम हो जाता है। 

ऐसी अवस्था में श्रमिकों की गतिविधियाँ, उनका संरक्षण और उनके भत्ते इन निर्णयों पर निर्भर होंगे — अंततोगत्वा उनका भविष्य बहुत हद तक बाजार के उतार चढ़ाव से जुड़ जाएगा। हो सकता है नियमित श्रमिकों की नौकरी पर फौरन कोई असर न हो — वैसे भी नियमित पोस्टों पर नई बहाली लगातार कम होती जा रही है और पुराने श्रमिकों के लिए ज़बरन वीआरएस की स्कीम बाज़ार में पहले से ही मौजूद है। लचीलेपन और दक्षता के नाम पर सस्ते कॉन्ट्रेक्ट और कैज़ुअल श्रमिकों की बहाली निरंतर बढ़ती जाएगी। और साथ में काम का बोझ, काम की अवधि, मशीनीकरण और काम से संबंधित अन्य निर्णयों पर श्रमिकों और उनके संगठनों का प्रभाव कम हो जाएगा। 

दो लाइनों के बीच संघर्ष: यूनियनों का तबकावादी बचाव बनाम वर्गीय एकता और संघर्ष 

सरकारी क्षेत्र के श्रमिकों के लिए यह अवश्य ही आर-पार की लड़ाई है। विडंबना यह है कि एक तरफ पूंजीपति वर्ग और उसकी राजसत्ता ने निगमीकरण और निजीकरण की प्रक्रियाओं को नीतिबद्ध तरीके से चलाया है, परंतु इनके खिलाफ स्थापित यूनियनों ने बचाव का गुहार लगाते हुए इन प्रक्रियाओं को केवल धीरे करने का काम किया है। उनके पास कोई वैकल्पिक योजना अथवा नीति नहीं रही है। 

इस रक्षात्मक तेवर के तहत संघर्ष की योजना के नाम पर केवल कराहते मज़दूरों की भीड़ इकट्ठा की गई है, ताकि सत्ता पक्ष उनकी बद्दुआओं से डर जाएँ। पहले की सरकारों पर थोड़ा तो इनका असर होता था, परंतु वर्तमान सरकार लोकतांत्रिक अनुष्ठानों की कायल नहीं है। पूंजीपति वर्ग की एकता, दृढ़ता और आवश्यकताओं का वह राजनीतिक स्वरूप है।

इसके खिलाफ केवल मज़दूरों की ठोस वर्गीय राजनीतिक एकता ही कारगर हो सकती है। परन्तु यह एकता आर्थिक और वैधानिक तंत्रों द्वारा किए गए मज़दूरों के विभाजन को ठुकरा कर ही कायम हो सकती है। और इसके लिए संघर्ष जितना बाहरी है यानी विभाजनकारी पूंजीवादी नीतियों के खिलाफ है, उससे अधिक अंदरूनी है जो हमारे बीच फैली प्रतिस्पर्धा और भेद के खिलाफ है। विभाजन पर आधारित सांगठनिक स्वरूपों और मांगों की राजनीति के खिलाफ आंतरिक संघर्ष की आवश्यकता है।

ऑर्डनन्स फैक्ट्रीज बोर्ड का निगमीकरण (कोर्परेटाइज़ेशन) उसके अंतर्गत आने वाली इकतालीस फैक्ट्रियों के लगभग 84,000 मज़दूरों का अपने भविष्य को लेकर चिंता करना स्वाभाविक है। पर वही क्यों? शायद 40-50,000 कॉन्ट्रैक्ट मज़दूरों को भी भविष्य की अनिश्चतता सता रही होगी, तभी तो पिछले साल इसी सवाल को लेकर जब तीन बड़े यूनियनों ने हड़ताल की घोषणा की थी तब ये मज़दूर भी उसमे शामिल थे। और फिर  एंसिलरी अथवा सहायक इकाइयों के अधिकांशतः कॉन्ट्रैक्ट/कैज़ुअल कई लाख मज़दूर भी तो हैं। हम उन्हें क्यों न गिने? शायद नेतृत्व को लगता है कि निगमीकरण से इनकी स्थिति में खास बदलाव नहीं आएगा, या फिर इन पर ध्यान देने से नियमित मज़दूरों (जिनको खोने के लिए ज्यादा कुछ है) के नेतृत्व को शायद अपने जनाधार खोने का डर लगता है। 

इस प्रवृत्ति ने (जिसका जन्म प्रबंधकीय और कानूनी नीतियों के तहत हुआ) आज मज़दूर आंदोलन को बेहद कमजोर कर दिया है और राजनीतिक सवालों पर (यानी औद्योगिक और रोज़गार संबंधी सवाल जो कि सभी मज़दूरों के लिए महत्वपूर्ण हैं) उनकी अक्षमता आज साफ दिखती है। यूनियनों के सांगठनिक रूप और नेतृत्व मज़दूरों की गतिविधियों और संबंधों के आधार पर नहीं तय होते, बल्कि राजसत्ता के कानून द्वारा तय होते हैं। इसीलिए उनकी क्षमता राजसत्ता द्वारा निर्धारित होती है, मज़दूरों द्वारा नहीं। यूनियनों की यह अक्षमता आज पूरी तरह से सामने आ गई है।

सही लाइन — मज़दूर नियंत्रण, सामाजीकरण और सैन्य-औद्योगिक परिसर के राजनीतिक सवाल 

हमारा मानना है मज़दूरों के अलग-अलग तबक़ों के मांगों को मांग-सूची में शामिल कर वर्गीय एकता कायम नहीं की जा सकती। इसके आधार पर केवल तात्कालिक राहतें पाई जा सकती हैं। जबतक व्यवस्था पर सवाल नहीं उठेगा, वर्गीय एकता के स्पिरिट अथवा आत्मा की पहचान ही नहीं हो सकती तो उसका निरूपण क्या होगा? इसका अर्थ यह है कि यह आत्मा मज़दूरों के तमाम संघर्षों में मौजूद रहती है परंतु तब तक इस आत्मा को पहचाना नहीं जा सकता जब तक व्यवस्थागत प्रश्नों पर चहलकदमी नहीं होती। 

हमें मज़दूर वर्गीय दृष्टिकोण से निगमीकरण को समझना होगा और उसका विरोध करना होगा, नाकि निजीकरण के भय से और देशहित के नाम पर। पहला तो अधूरा सत्य है और दूसरा आज कोई मायने नहीं रखता क्योंकि सरकार औद्योगिक विस्तार के नाम पर निगमीकरण और निजीकरण के पक्ष में हज़ारों तरह की राष्ट्रवादी दलीलें दे सकती है। कुछ सरकारी नुमाइंदों ने तो बीएसएनएल (BSNL) को ही राष्ट्रविरोधी घोषित कर दिया। राष्ट्रवाद आज मज़दूर संघर्ष की भाषा नहीं हो सकती। नियमित और अनियमित मज़दूरों का भेद बनाए रख कर मज़दूर हित की बात नहीं की जा सकती। फैक्ट्री से लेकर सामाजिक स्तर तक पूंजी की सत्ता को हमें चुनौती देनी होगी। निगमीकरण और निजीकरण के खिलाफ केवल सामाजीकरण (यानी संसाधनों और उद्योगों पर सामूहिक सामाजिक  नियंत्रण) ही विकल्प हो सकता है। विकल्प की बाक़ी सभी फ़रमाइशें पूँजीवादी सत्ता से लेन-देन पर आधारित हैं, जो मज़दूरों के विशेष तबक़ों के लिए कुछ फौरी राहतें पाना चाहती हैं। 

हमारा मानना है कि सामाजीकरण की इस लम्बी लड़ाई में पहला पड़ाव अपने अपने औद्योगिक इकाइयों में मजदूरों के नियंत्रण का है। इसके लिए मज़दूर संगठन की मूल परिभाषा को आज फिर से स्थापित करने की ज़रूरत है जो मज़दूरों से अलग मज़दूरों और पूँजी के बीच समझौता या केवल वार्तालाप का साधन न हो, बल्कि मज़दूरों की राजनीतिक और आर्थिक सत्ता का केंद्र बने। मज़दूरों की कार्यक्षेत्र में आपसी तालमेल का वह निरूपण हो और उसका सामाजिक स्तर पर विकास हो। इतिहास में इसी को फ़ैक्ट्री काउंसिल कहा गया है और सामाजिक स्तर पर इस सांगठनिक स्वरूप के सामान्यीकरण को मज़दूर काउंसिल या सोवियत का नाम दिया गया है। आज जब एक तरफ निगमीकरण और निजीकरण के खिलाफ सरकारी क्षेत्र के नियमित मज़दूर अनिश्चितता का सामना कर रहे हैं और दूसरी तरफ सरकारी, निजी, संगठित और असंगठित क्षेत्रों के दलदल में अनियमित और अर्ध-बेरोजगारों की विशाल आबादी खट रही है तो यह ज़रूरी हो गया है कि हमारे बीच फूट, प्रतिस्पर्धा और अनिश्चितता पर टिकी पूंजी की निश्चित सत्ता को चुनौती मिले। समय आ गया है जब इसके ख़िलाफ़ मज़दूर नियंत्रण की बात शुरू हो, मजदूरों के स्व-सांगठनिक प्रयासों को जगह मिले और मजदूरों के विभाजन पर सवाल उठे। 

ऑर्ड्नन्स फैक्ट्रियों के मज़दूरों की लड़ाई एक तरफ़ अगर फ़ैक्ट्री-स्तर पर उनके अपने हक़ की लड़ाई है, तो दूसरी तरफ़ समाज की प्राथमिकताओं की परिभाषा पर भी लड़ाई है। भारत में सैन्य-औद्योगिक परिसर का विकास यह दिखाता है कि भारत की राजसत्ता पूँजीवाद की वजह से देश में फैलती सामाजिक असुरक्षा का इस्तेमाल सैन्यवाद और मुनाफ़ाख़ोरी के हित में कर रही है। मौलिक सामाजिक आवश्यकताओं को पूरा करने के सवाल को दरकिनार कर, असुरक्षा फैला कर, सुरक्षा के व्यापार और उद्योग को बढ़ावा दे रही है। देशभक्ति, आम असुरक्षा और डर का यह औद्योगिकीकरण है। इसीलिए आज इस प्रक्रिया में किसी तरह की भी रुकावट को बहुत आसानी से चरमपंथी और देशद्रोही क़रार दिया जाता है। दंडविधि और रक्षा उद्योग का बहुत क़रीबी रिश्ता होता है। इसीलिए ऑर्ड्नन्स फ़ैक्ट्री मज़दूरों की लड़ाई केवल उनकी लड़ाई नहीं है, वह पूँजी की सत्ता के ख़िलाफ़ तमाम शोषित और उत्पीड़ित जनता की लड़ाई है जिनकी सामाजिक आवश्यकताएँ केवल सामाजिक तालमेल से पूर्ण हो सकती हैं, नाकि मुनाफ़ाख़ोरी, बाज़ारीकरण और आपसी प्रतिस्पर्धा से। इनकी आर्थिक लड़ाई में मज़दूर वर्ग की व्यापक राजनीति के बीज को हम देख सकते हैं।  

मज़दूरों की भीड़ नहीं वर्गीय एकता!

प्रेषक: श्रमिक संवाद, नागपुर, महाराष्ट्र

निजीकरण के खिलाफ कामगारों के नियंत्रण में सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र का विस्तार हो!

9 अगस्त 2020

चलिए अच्छा है, देर आए दुरुस्त आए! कम से कम संगठनों ने अपना मानसिक लौकडाउन तो तोड़ा। जब प्रवासी मज़दूर सड़कों पर सरकारी अमानवीयता के खिलाफ खुली बगावत कर घर वापस जाते दिख रहे थे, भूख, बदहाली और मौत से लड़ रहे थे, तब इन संगठनों का नेतृत्व बयानबाज़ी और तख्तियों पर नारे और माँगें लिख फ़ोटो खिंचवा इंटरनेट पर एक दूसरे को भेज रहा था। और अब जब सरकार ने लौकडाउन हटाया है तो इन्होंने भी पिछले एक महीने से अपनी गतिविधियाँ बढ़ाईं हैं। इससे इतना तो साफ है कि इन संगठनों की गतिविधियाँ सरकारी गतिविधियों के साथ ही जुगलबंदी करती हैं।

ऐसे भी व्यवस्था ने अपने कानूनी प्रावधानों की पोथियों से इनके हाथ-पाँव में बेड़ियां लगा दी है, और इनके संघर्षशील तेवर को कुंद कर दिया है। जब कोर्ट-कचहरी और मांग के दायरे में ही इनकी पूरी शक्ति चली जाती है, तो ये मज़दूरों के दैनिक संघर्षों पर क्या ध्यान दे पाएंगे। ये मज़दूरों की स्वायत्त ताकत को संगठित करने के बजाय, श्रम बाजार में मोल-तोल करने वाली एजेंसियों में तब्दील हो गए हैं। और यही इनके सोचने का दायरा भी हो गया है।

पिछले कई दशकों से देश और विश्वस्तरीय आर्थिक और औद्योगिक बदलाव की वजह से इन संगठनों की नींव ही खिसक रही है। निजीकरण और सरकारी व निजी उद्योगों में ज्यादा-से-ज्यादा कॉन्ट्रैक्ट-कैज़ुअल मज़दूरों की बहाली ने इन यूनियनों के अस्तित्व को ही खतरे में डाल दिया है। आज तक ये संगठन अस्थायी मज़दूरों को औद्योगिक आबादी के बाहरी के रूप में ही देखते रहे हैं —पहले हिकारत से देखते थे, अब वे जानते हैं कि इन मज़दूरों के सहयोग के बगैर वे कोई लड़ाई जीत क्या, लड़ भी नहीं सकते। 

आज ये संगठन इन मज़दूरों को जोड़ने को मजबूर हैं मगर सरकारी और कानूनी विभाजन — संगठित/ असंगठित, स्थायी/ अस्थायी इत्यादि —के आधार पर ही। अस्थायी मज़दूरों को बेचारों के ही रूप में देखा जाता है और उनके मुद्दे दान-पुण्य की भाषा मे ही व्यक्त होते हैं। जबकि यह बात सर्वविदित है कि मज़दूरों के पिछले एक दशक के सभी प्रमुख संघर्षों में अस्थायी मज़दूरों की नेतृत्वकारी भूमिका रही है। देशव्यापी आम औद्योगिक हड़तालों के दौरान भी उन्ही इलाकों में जुझारूपन दिखता है जहां अस्थायी मज़दूरों ने अपनी स्वायत्तता प्रदर्शित की है।

किस भारत को बचाना है?

अगस्त महीने में 1942 के “भारत छोड़ो” आंदोलन के तर्ज पर “भारत बचाओ” आंदोलन का जो ऐलान किया गया है, वह इन संगठनों की कमज़ोरी का नमूना है। ये नारा इनकी समझ, रणनीति और राजनीति तीनों को उजागर करता है। आइए इस पर हम थोड़ा ध्यान दें।

एक तरफ़ यह साफ है कि ये संगठन भारत में चल रही राष्ट्रवादी होड़ में ही मज़दूरों की लड़ाई को झोंक देने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं —वे अंधराष्ट्रवाद की भाषा के खिलाफ तथाकथित “सच्चे” राष्ट्रवाद के नाम पर संसदीय पक्ष-विपक्ष के आपसी मुठभेड़ में मज़दूरों को मोहरे बना रहे हैं, और संघर्ष के वर्गीय प्रकृति को कुंद कर रहे हैं।

दूसरी तरफ, ये नारा उस पूरे इतिहास को भुलाने की कोशिश है जिसका नतीजा आज की आर्थिक दशा, नीतियाँ और राजकीय तानाशाही के रूप में हमारे सामने है। भारत में आज तक जितनी सरकारें रहीं हैं उन्होंने पूँजी की सेवा की है। निजीकरण की प्रक्रिया और “मुक्त” श्रम बाजार कोई पांच-छह साल से मोदी सरकार द्वारा चलाई जा रही मुहिम नहीं हैं। 

तीसरे, “भारत बचाओ” का नारा किस चीज़ को बचाने की बात कर रहा है? एक देश सामाजिक संबंधों और उनके टकराव में लगातार बनता रहता है। नए भारत के निर्माण की बात न कर हम पुराने संस्थाओं को बचाने की बात कर रहे हैं। हम भूल जाते हैं कि जो आज भारत की दशा है वह उन्ही संस्थाओं और सामाजिक संबंधों की देन हैं। हम भूल जाते हैं किस प्रकार पुरानी संस्थाएँ और कानून अधिकांश मेहनतकश आबादी को बहिष्कृत रखने का जरिया हैं। यह रक्षात्मक तेवर और कुछ नहीं इन संगठनों का अपने खिसकते जनाधार को बचाने की कोशिश है —अधिकांश मज़दूरों के लिए जिन्हें न क़ानून की न संगठन की सुरक्षा उपलब्ध हैं उनके लिए खोने के लिए सचमुच कुछ नहीं है, परंतु लड़ कर जीतने के लिए सब कुछ है। उन्हें बचाव की घुट्टी पिलाना उनके दैनिक संघर्षों और कठिनाइयों में उनकी जागृत होती चेतना की तौहीन है। मज़दूर वर्ग के विशिष्ट तबक़ों की अपने विशेषाधिकारों को बचाने की कोशिश शायद ग़लत नहीं है, परंतु जब तक इन अधिकारों के सामान्यीकरण और विस्तार का नारा केंद्र में नहीं होगा, तब तक यह बचाव भी संभव नहीं है।

सरकारी क्षेत्र – मज़दूर शोषण का सरकारी तंत्र

निजीकरण के सवाल को उठाने का भी वर्गीय तरीक़ा होता है। नव-उदारवादी नीतियों का अहम हिस्सा है निजीकरण। कल्याणकारी राज्य-व्यवस्था के अंतर्गत संसाधनों और बहुत सारे उद्योगों का सरकारी प्रबंधन जो विकसित हुआ था, उन्हें निजी हाथों में सौंपना ही तो निजीकरण है। सरकारी उद्योगों की समस्याओं को केवल प्रबंधकीय और स्वामित्व की समस्या बता कर निजीकरण को जादुई समाधान के रूप में दिखाया जाता है। 

मगर हमारे नेतागण भी इस तरह के समाधान को उग्र मानकर दूसरे छोर को पकड़े रहते हैं, जबकि मज़दूरों के अधिकांश तबके सरकारीकरण में अपनी समस्याओं का हल नहीं देखते। उन्होंने सरकारी तंत्र में अंतर्निहित नौकरशाही, भ्रष्टाचार और अलगाव को पिछले कई दशकों से देखा है। आम जनता के इसी अलगाव का इस्तेमाल कर राजतंत्र निजीकरण के पक्ष में माहौल तैयार कर रहा है। मज़दूर वर्गीय दृष्टिकोण के तहत सरकारी बनाम निजी का द्वंद्व निरर्थक है, वे दोनों ही पूंजीवादी प्रबंधन हैं और मज़दूरों के श्रम के दोहन पर आधारित हैं।

पिछले तीन दशकों से तमाम सरकारों ने आर्थिक संकट से निकलने के नाम पर दो ही बातों पर ज़ोर दिया है। एक तरफ वे सार्वजनिक अथवा सरकारी अनुष्ठानों और उद्योगों के निजीकरण अथवा बिक्री को अपने सारे कष्टों का निवारण मानती रही हैं। दूसरी तरफ, औद्योगिक और सर्विस सेक्टरों में श्रम प्रक्रिया के अनौपचारीकरण को अर्थात्, साधारण शब्दों में, परमानेंट नौकरियों को रद्द कर असुरक्षित अनियमित कॉन्ट्रैक्ट-कैज़ुअल श्रमिकों की बहाली को वे बढ़ती बेरोज़गारी का इलाज समझती हैं। 

अगर इतिहास में जाएँ तो पता चलता है कि हिंदुस्तान में संसाधनों और बड़े उद्योगों पर सरकारी आधिपत्य यहाँ के बड़े पूँजीपतियों के सिफ़ारिशों पर हुआ था। यहाँ का पूँजीपति वर्ग जानता था कि देश में व्यवस्थित अर्थतंत्र स्थापित करने और औद्योगिकीकरण की प्रक्रिया सुदृढ़ करने के लिए सरकार को पहल करनी होगी, और धीरे-धीरे अर्थव्यवस्था खोलना होगा। आधुनिक उद्योगों और अर्थतंत्र के लिए जिस तरह की आधारिक संरचना और उत्पादक शक्तियों यानी प्राकृतिक, मानवीय और तकनीकी संसाधनों की ज़रूरत है उनका इंतज़ाम केवल सरकारी हस्तक्षेप के द्वारा हो सकता है।

इसी कारण एक तरफ़ हम सरकारी क्षेत्र में भारी, अत्यावश्यक और एकाधिकारी उद्योगों और उद्यमों को पनपता देखते हैं जिन्होंने देश की आधारिक और उत्पादक संरचनाओं को निर्मित किया। और दूसरी तरफ़, सरकारी नेतृत्व में शिक्षण, अशिक्षण और प्रशिक्षण की प्रणालियाँ स्थापित की गईं जिन्होंने पर्याप्त मात्रा में विभिन्न श्रेणियों के कुशल/अकुशल श्रम का अपार रिज़र्व पैदा किया —जो आज हर प्रकार के श्रम को सस्ते दाम में मुहैया कराता है।

पिछले चार दशकों से पूँजीपतियों की बाज़ार खोलने की माँग यह दिखाती है कि जिस काम के लिए उनकी नज़रों में सरकारी क्षेत्र का विकास हुआ था वह पूरा हो चुका है। इसके साथ साथ यह भी बात सही है कि सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र को भ्रष्ट और नष्ट करने की आतंरिक सरकारी प्रक्रिया और भी पहले शुरू हो चुकी थी। जैसे-जैसे विभिन्न स्तरों की दक्षता रखने वाले मज़दूरों की अधिकता होती गयी, सरकारी उद्यमों ने मज़दूरों को कॉन्ट्रैक्ट और कैज़ुअल के रूप में बहाल करना  शुरू कर दिया। जब न्यायालयों ने इस प्रथा पर प्रश्न उठाया तो सरकार ने अधिनियम लाकर कॉन्ट्रैक्ट मज़दूरों की बहाली करने पर  निर्णय लेने का अधिकार अपने ऊपर ले लिया।

बाद के दशकों में यह प्रथा इतनी बढ़ती चली गयी कि इसे विकास का लाज़िमी नतीजा मान लिया गया। यहाँ तक कि मज़दूरों के राष्ट्रीय संगठनों के नेतृत्व में बनी सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र की मान्यता प्राप्त यूनियनों ने आँखें मूंद कर केवल अपने पुराने जनाधार को बचाने की लड़ाई तक अपने आप को सीमित कर लिया, जबकि सरकारी क्षेत्र में अस्थायी मज़दूरों का शोषण बेतहाशा बढ़ता चला गया। आज भारत में श्रमिकों के शोषण का सबसे व्यापक व्यवस्थित नव-उदारवादी मॉडल सरकारी क्षेत्र है। ऐसे में यह स्वभाविक ही है कि आज जब निजीकरण की प्रक्रिया को रोकने की अंतिम लड़ाई चल रही है, तो दूर-दूर तक इसके लिए कोई व्यापक जन आंदोलन की तात्कालिक संभावना नहीं दिखती है।

निजीकरण के खिलाफ मजदूर नियंत्रण में सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र को व्यापक करो!

सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र का बचाव राष्ट्रवाद के आधार पर, विदेशियों और बड़े पूँजीपतियों का ख़तरा दिखा कर और सरकारी बनाम निजी के आधार पर नहीं किया जा सकता। अंध-राष्ट्रवाद के ज़माने में किसी भी तरह का राष्ट्रवाद उसके अंधे स्वरूप को ही बढ़ाएगा। देशी-विदेशी और बड़े-छोटे के झाँसे में मज़दूर को फँसाना ठीक नहीं है क्योंकि इसके नाम पर तमाम प्रागाधुनिक और निकृष्ट कोटि के श्रम-व्यवहारों का समर्थन किया जाता है। पूँजी का मौलिक चरित्र इन सब पहचानों से ऊपर सामाजिक और श्रम संबंधों में देखने की ज़रूरत है। इसीलिए वर्गीय आधार पर सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र का बचाव और निजीकरण का विरोध करने की ज़रूरत है। तमाम उद्योगों के मज़दूर नियंत्रण में सार्वजनीकरण के लिए संघर्ष में ही इस क्षेत्र का बचाव संभव है।

परंतु इसके लिए ज़रूरी है कि व्यवस्था ने जो कानून और राजनीतिक चश्मा हमें पहनाया है, जिसके कारण हमें मज़दूर वर्ग व्यक्तिकृत या अलग अलग तबक़ों में विभाजित दिखता है, उसे हमें उतार फेंकना होगा। मज़दूर वर्ग वह निषेधात्मक शक्ति है जो व्यक्तिकृत मज़दूरों में नहीं, उनके अलग-अलग तबक़ों में नहीं बल्कि उनके सामूहिक संबंध और सामंजस्य में और पूंजी के साथ उनके द्वंद्व में पैदा होता और दिखता है। इसलिए मुद्दों की गिनती और मांगपत्र में जोड़-घटाव से वर्गीय एकता नहीं स्थापित होती, बल्कि श्रमिकों के संघर्ष में वर्ग क्रन्तिकारी प्रवृत्ति के बतौर मौजूद रहता है। संघर्ष के सांगठनिक व्यवहार को उस प्रवृत्ति के अनुरूप होना होगा ताकि वह मूर्तिमान हो सके।

अब समय आ चुका है जब मज़दूर आंदोलन के अंदर से आर्थिक, सामाजिक और राजनीतिक विकल्प की बातचीत शुरू हो। जरूरत है मज़दूर वर्ग के नेतृत्व में समाजिकृत स्वामित्व और प्रबंधन की लड़ाई को सामने लाया जाए और दिखाया जाए कि इसी में आर्थिक, सामाजिक और राजनीतिक संकटों का स्थायी समाधान निहित है। आंदोलनों के चाहे कुछ भी तात्कालिक मुद्दे हों, उन्हें समाज परिवर्तन की लड़ाई से जोड़ना होगा, इसी परिवर्तनगामी दिशा में वर्गीय नेतृत्व पैदा हो सकता है। वर्गीय राजनीति संघर्ष और परिवर्तन में निहित है, न कि बने बनाए संस्थाओं और संगठनों के आपसी और अंदरूनी प्रतिस्पर्धात्मक प्रतिनिधित्व में। मज़दूरों के विभिन्न तबक़ों को बचाव और गुहार लगाने की राजनीति से आगे निकलना होगा, नहीं तो वर्गीय प्रवृत्ति को दक्षिणपंथ और पूँजी का राजतंत्र कुंद कर व्यक्तिकृत मज़दूरों की उत्कंठाओं को अपने आप को सशक्त करने के लिए संगठित करेगा। इसी वर्गीय प्रवृत्ति की पहचान और उसके आधार पर सांगठनिक और आन्दोलनकारी विन्यास शोषण और उत्पीड़न के खिलाफ श्रमिक और मानव मुक्ति का रास्ता प्रशस्त करेंगे।

प्रकाशक: श्रमिक संवाद, कामगार कालोनी, नागपुर, महाराष्ट्र

Reassert Class Politics! An appeal to all communist activists and sympathisers

ALL INDIA COORDINATION COMMITTEE OF COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARIES (AICCCR)
Released on 22nd April 2020

Printable versions: Hindi & English

Our society is in the middle of an unprecedented turmoil. The worst of this crisis is borne by the working class and labouring masses whose very life, livelihood and liberty are at peril. It is expected that the fall-out of the pandemic-cum-lockdown shall be felt for a much longer time to come. There are nevertheless specific immediate concerns of a grave nature. Whilst the working class and labouring masses are situated in heterogeneity of circumstances there is a similitude of experiences as well. The recent weeks have seen unprecedented suffering and hardship being borne by workers and the labouring masses. In turn, food riots, citizen–police conflicts, lightening protests, and assertions by migrant workers for their safe return to native villages are surfacing. The Central and State governments, who are current occupants of the politico-governance domain, have completely abdicated their responsibilities and are indulging merely in piecemeal relief measures. There is an institutional collapse of many organs of the state (sans the oppressive ones), and the working masses are restless.

The working class and labouring masses are reacting to the unfolding crisis of pandemic-cum-lockdown in no uncertain terms. There are several disjointed struggles erupting. Outstanding in their own right, these struggles however are falling short of becoming co-extensive with the territorial range of the supreme political power (the state), which labour must oppose for its survival and sustenance. While generations of revolutionaries have aspired for the revolution, in this time of unprecedented crisis they are finding themselves utterly unprepared to meet the challenges. From enacting the role of catalyst to coordinating the various disjointed struggles and setting the agenda for the ‘national-popular’ aspirations, there is a necessity for an organized power that can express the needs and general aspirations of the masses and represent the collective will of the multitude of oppressed and exploited. Here a missing link is clearly evident. Moreover, circumstances have proved time and again that a revolutionary situation by itself cannot spring up a revolution. Neither can a revolution be conjured up by raising far-fetched demands that overlook the immediate context of the working-class’ conditions and needs.

Concerted practices that are capable of advancing the capacity of the working class to resist and advance its position in relation to the state and upper classes require immediate attention. As the Yechuris, Rajas and Bhattacharyas of the Indian Left relinquish the battlefield, party cadres have been left to take initiatives in ways that they deem fit. In most cases this has meant coordinating donations and other forms of charity that merely reinforce the class hegemony of the rich, absolving them of critiquing the system. Such charity merely reproduces docility in workers rather than instilling a sense of entitlement in them. Moreover, philanthropy and charity continue to postpone the need for promotion of workers’ self-organization, organized collective action and mutual aid during a crisis that has treacherously gripped the working class and labouring masses.

Across parties and groups there is an inability to comprehend the current conjuncture in its entirety, and from the perspective of much-needed capacity building of the working class to resist the combined onslaught of capital and state. Leaders have become habituated to think within the ideological coordinates of dominant ideas of the day. They tend to reproduce assessments of real or manufactured crises using the hegemonic lens of the dominant classes. Our ways of knowing and understanding things are consequently curtailed by the dominant ideology. In today’s context, apart from failing to understand many other things, leaders have not been able to adequately expose the politics surrounding epidemics. Overlooking how class, region and other social dynamics influence ‘scientific’ research on disease, the organized Left has failed to expose the ways in which mainstream epidemiology continues to remain indifferent to several persistent and silent epidemics plaguing the working masses. There is an uncritical acceptance of ‘information’ disseminated by the disease surveillance system sponsored by governmental and global health agencies. Conversely, the adverse medical conditions prevalent among the labouring poor and poorer regions continue to be left unidentified by the lax disease surveillance system. Whilst some diseases are declared epidemics/pandemics by the scientific community, scores of infectious diseases and illnesses affecting largely the poor are brushed aside as ‘ordinary’. This is due to the selective, biased approach of scientific research that is driven by the profits of private pharmaceutical companies, and is the fallout of the lack of priority that governments assign to general healthcare and diseases of the poor. In this way, the specific cause (aetiology) behind numerous diseases and ailments fail to be identified and differentiated as the variations in sub-groups, strains, etc. in the pathogens are not captured by existing classificatory schemes. Many ailments are then simply clubbed together under catch-all-categories like ‘Respiratory Tract Infection’, ‘Urinary Tract Infection’, ‘Fever of Unknown Origin’, etc. These disease are often more contagious and fatal than those which gain prominence. However, given the incomplete diagnosis, it is at most symptomatic treatment which is made available to the common masses; leading to persistent spread of the disease and continuous heavy loss of life. Ironically, ignoring persistent, more fatal and infectious diseases, we have seen the organized Left merely replicate the paranoia of the elites about the contagious disease, Covid-19, which has gained singular prominence.

At the level of biology we are clearly fighting more than the real or perceived threat of the novel Coronavirus. There is an urgent need to recognize the issue of comorbidity, i.e. a cocktail of contagious, communicable diseases and the possible combination of preexisting medical complications with diseases that plague the majority of Indian people. Indeed, ours is a population that is falling prey to the sinister synergy between declared and undeclared epidemics and the vulnerabilities fostered by the overall functioning of our socio-economic system.

The loss of ideological autonomy has led to a situation where we are increasingly unable to understand the needs and galvanize the aspirations of the masses into concrete struggles. Activism in this revolutionary situation has been limited to ritualistic activities, sporadic media statements and routinized campaigns that are completely out of sync with how the labouring masses are reacting.

In the current turbulent conjuncture, it has become imperative on us to call forth all activists and sympathizers who may be separated by their varied organizational affiliations but are nonetheless united in their fidelity to revolutionary ideology. While we are not asking everyone to proclaim an identity separate from their existing parties and organizations, we must put our allegiance to the need for revolutionary transformation first. Such allegiance to revolutionary transformation compels us to form a cohort whilst continuing working in our respective organizations. This is not an attempt to provide an overall complete prognosis of the given conjuncture, which revolutionaries across the board must undertake in future. We must instead work towards addressing immediate concrete responsibilities at hand, and for this an initiative is urgently needed. Given that communist cadre of parties and organizations are spread across the country, their combined strength is still a formidable socio-political force. There is an urgent need for an initiative to galvanize them for reinvigorating and streamlining the struggles and campaigns of the masses. We must also unite with all the progressive and democratic sections of society who are genuinely concerned about the plight and predicament of the labouring masses and are committed to concerted struggles.

While we continue our protracted struggle against the system of oppression and exploitation, and formulate long-term strategies, we have very immediate and tangible tasks to accomplish. We put forward the following programmatic ‘10 points’ so that we reposition ourselves vis-à-vis unfolding events and processes of the pandemic-cum-lockdown, and can streamline our immediate struggles. How this basic common minimum 10 points program will materialize into concrete demands and struggles is contingent upon the preparedness of communist activists and sympathizers, as well as the ground realities.

1. Ensure Adequate Infrastructure and Proper Preparation for Medical Needs of the Masses: The current crisis has exposed the utter unpreparedness of the government, not only in terms of the lack of hospitals and health personnel, but lack of even the basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical practitioners and auxiliary staff. Further, there are many among the working masses who are battling various diseases but now have little access to major public hospitals in the wake of the lock-down. OPD services in public hospitals have been severely affected, and largely emergency cases are being entertained. The emergency ICUs, labour rooms, tuberculosis (TB) wards, etc. are not working at full capacity. In such circumstances we see an aggravation in the poor health conditions of many patients and exponential growth in fatality rates of other diseases. We must not allow the Government to ignore other diseases in the name of combatting Covid-19.

Moreover, in the wake of the spread of Covid-19, there is an urgent need to stop ignoring other diseases with which Covid-19 can easily combine to create conditions of comorbidity and thus much higher fatalities. In such circumstances, rather than curtailing the common people’s access to public healthcare, the Government must be pressurized to immediately enlarge the public healthcare infrastructure and the number of health personnel (doctors, nurses and auxiliary health workers). In order to tide over the present health emergency, the Government should be compelled to also procure the services of private hospitals and hotels as emergency wards and quarantine centres. We must remain vigilant to ensure that in hospitals and quarantine centres, patients are not treated in a high-handed manner.

2. Be Vigilant and Ensure Proper Functioning of Disease Surveillance Programs: Even before the Covid-19 being declared a pandemic, known/unknown silent epidemics were raging in our country, killing lakhs each year. Thus, there is already a persistent health crisis in our country, which in the event of the spread of Covid-19 will create devastating consequences. Government experts, pharmaceutical companies and international health institutions have been neglectful of these raging epidemics which affect mostly the vulnerable strata of society, specifically because these do not have a signalling effect for them. It is in this context that we should assess the ‘Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme’ being run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. This programme is supposed to identify diseases prevalent among the population and streamline research on them. There has been an overall failure in running the surveillance programme. In this context, we cannot simply rely on the so-called expertise of bourgeois system.

In this regard, there is an urgent need to form a task force or any other organizational forms that mobilize our cadres in students, youth, workers, peasants, women and other mass organizations for the monitoring of how poor patients are treated in healthcare institutions. Such organizational intervention shall work towards ensuring that the illnesses of the working masses are properly accounted as clinical cases, and that the required microbiological and cytological testing takes place. Through its vigilance and timely dissemination of information about diseases and illnesses that are widespread in the community, the task force of activists shall create the grounds on which campaigns and struggles can be launched. Only these campaigns and struggles can build constant pressure on the government agencies to take active cognizance of diseases and ailments that they have been neglectful of and for which adequate resources have not been channelized.

3. Ensure People’s Control over Public Health Institutions: There has been a criminal negligence of the government as far as the identification of diseases and their control is concerned. However, even known and treatable diseases such as Tuberculosis continue to wreak havoc in the lives of the labouring masses of the country. We must mobilize the common masses and form Public Health Monitoring Committees. These committees shall oversee the proper access of people to public healthcare institutions and ensure that they get timely and adequate medical attention. Campaigns and struggles must be led to ensure that the infrastructure needs of public healthcare institutions are fully met.

Such actions are necessary, considering the inequalities in accessibility to healthcare facilities. While the rich upper classes can afford large, expensive private hospitals in the country, as well as treatment abroad, the working class and labouring masses are dependent on public-funded hospitals. In the name of subsidized healthcare, the vast majority of people are meted out the most high-handed and apathetic treatment in public hospitals. Public healthcare institutions are reeling under the acute shortage of nurses and doctors. The examination and diagnosis of common patients’ medical conditions often reflect ad-hocism and neglect. Negligence is manifested most undeniably in the filthy condition of public hospitals and the regular violation of hygiene protocols that ironically make such healthcare institutions hotbeds of transmission of new infections rather than healing per se. There is hardly any functional monitoring of the conditions in public hospitals as Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and district health officers are embroiled in bureaucratic formalities and blinded by their class-backed apathy. Healthcare is also compromised by the nexus between pharmaceutical companies, medical representatives, and medical practitioners. This nexus facilitates ad-hoc experimentation with antibiotics and other medicines along the lines of symptomatic treatment. Often such practices do not actually cure the patients of their diseases but end up making them drug resistant. For some time the administration of certain medication helps the symptoms subside but the disease remains intact at the subterranean level. Many a times, the patient remains infectious and the disease easily bounces back, especially in conditions of low immunity, malnutrition, etc.

Hence, there is an urgent need for immediate campaigns and struggles that mobilize the masses in alliance with progressive doctors, nurses and public health workers. We need to also be in the forefront of genuine struggles of healthcare staff. These struggles shall pave the way for our raising of a range of intermediate demands – from ‘health for all’ to nationalization of private hospitals. Essentially, we should work towards wresting the control and management of all healthcare institutions from the clutches of medical bureaucracies, and asserting people’s control on them instead.

4. Ensure Safe Return of Migrant Workers and Provision of Basic Income for All Labouring Masses: Migrant workers have been stranded in various cities across the country during the lockdown. According to conservative estimates of the Ministry of Labour, Government of India, there are 10 crore inter-state and 10 crore inter-district migrant workers. It is this section of the working class that has been most severely affected by the pandemic-cum-lockdown. The uncertainty of survival and sustenance in alien, hostile cities compelled many migrant workers to try and return to their native places. However, no prior preparation was made for their transportation by the authorities. Threatened by the large-scale gathering of desperate workers in cities like Delhi, some hasty and inadequate transportation facilities were subsequently extended to a section of workers, while leaving many to fend for themselves in the bid to get home. Stories of workers dying of exhaustion and due to police brutalities are still trickling in. A large number of migrant workers have been prevented from crossing sealed state borders and have been shunted into overcrowded shelters with filthy toilets and grossly inadequate supply of food.

Likewise, for those workers who are still residing in rented tenements and shanties, there is a constant fear of getting infected. The average per capita space for an urban slum dweller in India is less than 42 sq. feet, which is way below even the 96 sq. feet recommended for a prisoner in jail! Moreover, there is a perpetual crowding for water, toilets and washrooms in places where workers reside. Thus, compelling migrant workers to resume work and remain in urban slums or congested shelters are measures far more dangerous than facilitating their return to native villages. In villages where there is a lower population density, migrant workers shall at least be living in less crowded conditions and will comparatively be more capable of maintaining physical distancing.

Considering all these points, we should wholeheartedly support workers’ struggles for their safe return to native villages. Further, we must undertake campaigns and struggles for the provision of minimum three-months Basic Income for all labouring poor so that they can tide over the immediate economic hardships. Moreover, there should be a moratorium of three months on the rent being paid by workers in cities. We must campaign and struggle to ensure that the Government provides additional fund to poor tenants to pay their rent and therefore prevent their harassment by landlords.

5. Expose Philanthrocapitalism and Piecemeal Charity and Escalate Struggles for Entitlement-based Redistribution of Wealth of the Country: In name of dealing with the unprecedented crisis created by the lockdown, the current Central and State governments have shamefully appealed to the elites and corporates of the country to contribute to relief funds. Middle ranking social entrepreneurs are also undertaking charitable works. These measures only serve to strengthen the misconceived notion that the labouring poor owe gratitude to the elites for helping them tide over the crisis. This notion should be strongly contested by urgently demanding heavy taxation on the corporate houses and business establishments. We must campaign and struggle to pressurize the Government to reintroduce wealth and inheritance tax on them.

The situation of the labouring masses is dire and their destitution and starvation have forced them to even launch food riots at various places across the country. Amidst the increase in food riots, the middle-class social entrepreneurs have continued to undertake charity work in top-down fashion. The need of the hour is not leaving the whole society to the mercy of philanthropy, but fulfilling the minimum entitlement of the labouring masses who with their labour are the real creators of wealth. The granaries and warehouses of Food Corporation of India (FCI) are overflowing, and local provision stores continue to be well-stocked even amid lockdown. However, under the condition of lockdown the labouring masses are unable to earn, making it difficult for them to purchase basic necessities of life.

In this context, we must undertake concerted mass campaigns and struggles demanding that the Government make provisions for rations and other basic necessities as a matter of people’s basic entitlement to the wealth of the country. Since the government has abdicated its responsibility of providing succour to the masses, we have seen food riot-like situations in many parts of the country. In such circumstances, the working masses must not be made to jostle with each other so as to grab a pittance in the form of charity that misguided activists and the guilt-ridden upper classes patronizingly extend. Such charity simply tends to evacuate the possibility of united action by the labouring masses. We must understand that such volatile situations and mass activities actually have tremendous capacity to force the Government to heed to the needs of the labouring masses.

6. Expose State’s Continued Protection of the Rich and Fight for the Liberty of Labouring Masses: The word ‘quarantine’, meaning 40 days of isolation, originated in Europe during Black Death epidemic in the 14th century. The word denoted the number of days that sailors, suspected to be infected with contagious diseases, were required to stay offshore. In a completely irresponsible manner, the Government despite knowing about the foreign-returned elites as the carriers of the Covid-19, allowed them to freely enter the country, thereby putting the life, livelihood and liberty of a multitude of the labouring poor in peril. However, in a dramatic relaxation of lockdown, while the upper and middle strata of society continue to ‘work’ from the comfort of their homes and continue to procure surplus created by the toils of the past and present labour, the workers are being made to work in insecure workplaces. We must strongly oppose this measure through concerted campaigns and struggles, considering the otherwise rampant non-compliance of workplaces with safety protocols, the lax monitoring by a severely trimmed and overburdened labour inspectorate, and given the essential fact that workers in the domain of workplaces are under the authoritarian dominance of employers. There is an urgent need to rally our forces against the Government’s connivance with private capital and its recent proclamation of not taking action against employers whose workers may contract the dreaded infection.

Clearly, all the worry of getting infected is reserved for the elites, while the lives of the labouring poor are treated as dispensable. Such double-standards of the Government in the name of easing lockdown should be rejected and exposed.

7. Reject Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) and other draconic measures: While the lockdown has been extended to 3rd May, 2020, on 19th April the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) was released by the Government, allowing the movement of migrant labourers to workplaces within states whilst banning any inter-state travel. As per the SOP, migrant workers housed in shelters/relief camps in cities are to be screened for any symptoms and “skill-mapped” to enable their employment. Again, this measure exposes the Government’s unwillingness to provide workers, in a situation of lockdown, their due share for contributing to the economy. Consequently, workers are being faced with the predicament of either working and thereby exposing themselves to danger, or, having their access to otherwise truncated relief being curtailed. This simply amounts to coercive bondage work.

The Government’s draconian measure of skill mapping and arbitrary allocation of work is directly in line with the ‘necessity’ and profit calculation of private capital. Ultimately, through the SOP the Government has shamelessly ended up playing the role of a jobber, leaving aside any pretension of being concerned about safeguarding workers’ basic rights. Eroding any semblance of choice for workers, the SOP provides for workers to be moved as per the needs of employers’ lobbies, but not for returning back to the security of their native place. To alleviate the ‘burden’ of making provisions for safe transportation of workers on a daily basis, it has even been advised that workers be made to reside within the premise of factories; thereby separating them from their kith and kin in the relief camps. We also see a slew of oppressive measures being adopted by different State governments. Using the emergency powers prescribed in the Factories Act and Industrial Disputes Act, various governments have enhanced the work-day to 12 hours, with the Gujarat Government even going to the extent of denying proper overtime wages. There is also the threat of the provisions of these Acts being invoked by State governments to declare establishments as a public utility; thus, criminalizing any act of workers’ resistance, which shall further enhance the private power of employers. Moreover, with no concrete measures being enforced on the ground, the Central and State governments continue to pay mere lip-service to labour rights by asking employers not to fire their employees or cut their wages.

While arrangements have been made for pilgrims and students of rich families to be returned home, migrant workers are being held captive. And this has nothing to do with the concern for the health of workers, as for the sake of production and to generate profit they will be made to move from one district to another by the state–capital combine. This amounts to suspension of all liberties of the workers. We must campaign and struggle to facilitate the immediate withdrawal of the SOP and other draconic measures, and pave the way for immediate and safe return of migrant workers to their homes. Further, we must ensure that workers who are willing to work during the ensuing lockdown are provided all the necessary protection and basic rights.

8. Reject the so-called Economic Relief Package and Demand a New Economic Policy: Even before the coupled up phenomena of Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, there was an unprecedented economic crisis in the country. The rate of unemployment has been at an all-time high in 45 years. With the lockdown, the miserable conditions of the labouring masses have become desperate.

However, even this pandemic has been used by the corporate houses to assert the dictum of ‘Profit First, Society Last’. The Government is totally apathetic to the misery of the masses, as the economic package which it has announced constitutes, to a significant extent, the mere re-packaging of earlier running schemes. This is especially shameful, as the package announced is dwarfed by the huge tax holiday given to the corporates in the current budget. We should reject the hoax economic package of the Government. Instead, we must campaign and struggle to force the Government to proclaim a New Economic Policy wherein health, livelihood and overall well-being of the people would not be compromised just to keep a minuscule number of elites and corporate houses contented. We must push for special provisions for the overexploited workers of the informal sector. We must ensure that special measures are taken to safeguard the interests of the labouring masses in agriculture and within the tribal, nomadic and socially marginalized sections of society.

9. Refuse to React to Right-wing Vitriol and Reassert Class Politics: The ground of current debates on the pandemic is actively being shaped by the Right-wing vitriol, which seeks to divert the focus away from the ill-effects of lockdown by communalizing the issue of the spread of Covid-19 in India. The agenda of politics of Left-liberals is to a large extent laid by the Right-wing forces, and so most of the time their politics is about endless reacting/responding to the Right-wing by resorting to abstract constitutional morality. We should refuse to slide into a pseudo-secular engagement with the Right-wing narrative and instead continue to push to the forefront the rich/poor divide – an axis of politics which has greater potential to galvanize people who have otherwise become the social base of Right-wing politics. We should force the Right-wing to respond to the issue of contrast between the contented lives of the upper and middle classes, and the starvation of labouring poor during lockdown. By sticking close to the fundamental class contradictions of our society, the Revolutionary Left would be able to wean away the social base of the Right-wing politics, thereby isolating the Right-wing camp, and leading to their ultimate defeat.

10. Intensify the Struggle against the Repression of Common People: The working masses have been denied the basic rights of survival and sustenance, and thus the right to life with dignity. Consequently, the citizen–police conflict has increased manifold during the lockdown. We have witnessed heightened brutalities being unleashed by the police and larger state machinery. In fact, the lockdown has been used as a pretext to suppress even the basic constitutional rights of the common people and criminalize different acts of resistance. There has been a witch-hunt targeting a spectrum of progressive intellectuals, journalists, Left-wing and civil rights activists. The twin crises of pandemic and lockdown have also intensified oppression along the fault-lines of age, gender, caste, region, sexuality and community. Correspondingly, we must remain in the forefront of struggles to safeguard the rights of children, poor students, women, the disabled, and other socially oppressed and marginalized communities. We must stand against the curbing of democratic rights, and strengthen our united struggle against the repression of the common people.

WE WILL NOT FORGET, WE WILL NOT FORGIVE!

INTENSIFY OUR STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, LIVELIHOOD AND LIBERTY OF WORKING CLASS AND LABOURING MASSES!!

Revolutionary Solidarity.
Sd/-
Sangram
For
AICCCR

Chorus of Errors by Gorakh Pandey

Everybody commits errors
So do we
He who does not derive lessons from errors
Commits them again
We do derive lessons
But still we commit errors
Why! For lessons
Errors are necessary
We could not ground ourselves
In the masses
We did not want to be grounded
We could never go forward
We did not want to lose our base
Trying to escape errors
We committed errors
Everybody commits errors

We are unable to make revolution
Because here
Circumstances are special
We will make revolution
Because some general laws are there
We especially
Committed general errors
We committed errors
Because every man of flesh and blood
Commits errors

We are not gods
We are realists
So we will commit errors
In order to commit more errors
In order to be human
And to derive lessons
Errors are necessary

Translated from Hindi

I was, I am, I shall be: Rosa Luxemburg


The crisis had a dual nature. The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:

I was, I am, I shall be!

On January 15, 1919 Rosa Luxemburg was murdered along with her comrade, Karl Liebknecht by the Friekorps. The following text is considered to be her last writing written a few hours before her arrest and murder.

ORDER PREVAILS IN BERLIN
January 14, 1919

“Order prevails in Warsaw!” declared Minister Sebastiani to the Paris Chamber of Deputies in 1831, when after having stormed the suburb of Praga, Paskevich’s marauding troops invaded the Polish capital to begin their butchery of the rebels.

“Order prevails in Berlin!” So proclaims the bourgeois press triumphantly, so proclaim Ebert and Noske, and the officers of the “victorious troops,” who are being cheered by the petty-bourgeois mob in Berlin waving handkerchiefs and shouting “Hurrah!” The glory and honor of German arms have been vindicated before world history. Those who were routed in Flanders and the Argonne have restored their reputation with a brilliant victory – over three hundred “Spartacists” in the Vorwärts building. The days when glorious German troops first crossed into Belgium, and the days of General von Emmich, the conqueror of Liege, pale before the exploits of Reinhardt and Co. in the streets of Berlin. The government’s rampaging troops massacred the mediators who had tried to negotiate the surrender of the Vorwärts building, using their rifle butts to beat them beyond recognition. Prisoners who were lined up against the wall and butchered so violently that skull and brain tissue splattered everywhere. In the sight of glorious deeds such as those, who would remember the ignominious defeat at the hands of the French, British, and Americans? Now “Spartacus” is the enemy, Berlin is the place where our officers can savor triumph, and Noske, “the worker,” is the general who can lead victories where Ludendorff failed.

Who is not reminded of that drunken celebration by the “law and order” mob in Paris, that Bacchanal of the bourgeoisie celebrated over the corpses of the Communards? That same bourgeoisie who had just shamefully capitulated to the Prussians and abandoned the capital to the invading enemy, taking to their heels like abject cowards. Oh, how the manly courage of those darling sons of the bourgeoisie, of the “golden youth,” and of the officer corps flared back to life against the poorly armed, starving Parisian proletariat and their defenseless women and children. How these courageous sons of Mars, who had buckled before the foreign enemy, raged with bestial cruelty against defenseless people, prisoners, and the fallen.

“Order prevails in Warsaw!” “Order prevails in Paris!” “Order prevails in Berlin!” Every half-century that is what the bulletins from the guardians of “order” proclaim from one center of the world-historic struggle to the next. And the jubilant “victors” fail to notice that any “order” that needs to be regularly maintained through bloody slaughter heads inexorably toward its historic destiny; its own demise.

What was this recent “Spartacus week” in Berlin? What has it brought? What does it teach us? While we are still in the midst of battle, while the counterrevolution is still howling about their victory, revolutionary proletarians must take stock of what happened and measure the events and their results against the great yardstick of history. The revolution has no time to lose, it continues to rush headlong over still-open graves, past “victories” and “defeats,” toward its great goal. The first duty of fighters for international socialism is to consciously follow the revolution’s principles and its path.

Was the ultimate victory of the revolutionary proletariat to be expected in this conflict? Could we have expected the overthrow Ebert-Scheidemann and the establishment of a socialist dictatorship? Certainly not, if we carefully consider all the variables that weigh upon the question. The weak link in the revolutionary cause is the political immaturity of the masses of soldiers, who still allow their officers to misuse them, against the people, for counterrevolutionary ends. This alone shows that no lasting revolutionary victory was possible at this juncture. On the other hand, the immaturity of the military is itself a symptom of the general immaturity of the German revolution.

The countryside, from which a large percentage of rank-and-file soldiers come, has hardly been touched by the revolution. So far, Berlin has remained virtually isolated from the rest of the country. The revolutionary centers in the provinces – the Rhineland, the northern coast, Brunswick, Saxony, Württemburg – have been heart and soul behind the Berlin workers, it is true. But for the time being they still do not march forward in lockstep with one another, there is still no unity of action, which would make the forward thrust and fighting will of the Berlin working class incomparably more effective. Furthermore, there is – and this is only the deeper cause of the political immaturity of the revolution – the economic struggle, the actual volcanic font that feeds the revolution, is only in its initial stage. And that is the underlying reason why the revolutionary class struggle, is in its infancy.

From all this that flows the fact a decisive, lasting victory could not be counted upon at this moment. Does that mean that the past week’s struggle was an “error”? The answer is yes if we were talking about a premeditated “raid” or “putsch.” But what triggered this week of combat? As in all previous cases, such as December 6 and December 24, it was a brutal provocation by the government. Like the bloodbath against defenseless demonstrators in Chausseestrasse, like the butchery of the sailors, this time the assault on the Berlin police headquarters was the cause of all the events that followed. The revolution does not develop evenly of its own volition, in a clear field of battle, according to a cunning plan devised by clever “strategists.”

The revolution’s enemies can also take the initiative, and indeed as a rule they exercise it more frequently than does the revolution. Faced with the brazen provocation by Ebert-Scheidemann, the revolutionary workers were forced to take up arms. Indeed, the honor of the revolution depended upon repelling the attack immediately, with full force in order to prevent the counter-revolution from being encouraged to press forward, and lest the revolutionary ranks of the proletariat and the moral credit of the German revolution in the International be shaken.

The immediate and spontaneous outpouring of resistance from the Berlin masses flowed with such energy and determination that in the first round the moral victory was won by the “streets.”

Now, it is one of the fundamental, inner laws of revolution that it never stands still, it never becomes passive or docile at any stage, once the first step has been taken. The best defense is a strong blow. This is the elementary rule of any fight but it is especially true at each and every stage of the revolution. It is a demonstration of the healthy instinct and fresh inner strength of the Berlin proletariat that it was not appeased by the reinstatement of Eichorn (which it had demanded), rather the proletariat spontaneously occupied the command posts of the counter-revolution: the bourgeois press, the semi-official press agency, the Vorwärts office. All these measures were a result of the masses’ instinctive realization that, for its part, the counter-revolution would not accept defeat but would carry on with a general demonstration of its strength.

Here again we stand before one of the great historical laws of the revolution against which are smashed to pieces all the sophistry and arrogance of the petty USPD variety “revolutionaries” who look for any pretext to retreat from struggle. As soon as the fundamental problem of the revolution has been clearly posed – and in this revolution it is the overthrow of the Ebert-Scheidemann government, the primary obstacle to the victory of socialism – then this basic problem will rise again and again in its entirety. With the inevitability of a natural law, every individual chapter in the struggle will unveil this problem to its full extent regardless of how unprepared the revolution is ready to solve it or how unripe the situation may be. “Down with Ebert-Scheidemann!” – this slogan springs forth inevitably in each revolutionary crisis as the only formula summing up all partial struggles. Thus automatically, by its own internal, objective logic, bringing each episode in the struggle to a boil, whether one wants it to or not.

Because of the contradiction in the early stages of the revolutionary process between the task being sharply posed and the absence of any preconditions to resolve it, individual battles of the revolution end in formal defeat. But revolution is the only form of “war” – and this is another peculiar law of history – in which the ultimate victory can be prepared only by a series of “defeats.”

What does the entire history of socialism and of all modern revolutions show us? The first spark of class struggle in Europe, the revolt of the silk weavers in Lyon in 1831, ended with a heavy defeat; the Chartist movement in Britain ended in defeat; the uprising of the Parisian proletariat in the June days of 1848 ended with a crushing defeat; and the Paris commune ended with a terrible defeat. The whole road of socialism – so far as revolutionary struggles are concerned – is paved with nothing but thunderous defeats. Yet, at the same time, history marches inexorably, step by step, toward final victory! Where would we be today without those “defeats,” from which we draw historical experience, understanding, power and idealism? Today, as we advance into the final battle of the proletarian class war, we stand on the foundation of those very defeats; and we can do without any of them, because each one contributes to our strength and understanding.

The revolutionary struggle is the very antithesis of the parliamentary struggle. In Germany, for four decades we had nothing but parliamentary “victories.” We practically walked from victory to victory. And when faced with the great historical test of August 4, 1914, the result was the devastating political and moral defeat, an outrageous debacle and rot without parallel. To date, revolutions have given us nothing but defeats. Yet these unavoidable defeats pile up guarantee upon guarantee of the future final victory.

There is but one condition. The question of why each defeat occurred must be answered. Did it occur because the forward-storming combative energy of the masses collided with the barrier of unripe historical conditions, or was it that indecision, vacillation, and internal frailty crippled the revolutionary impulse itself?

Classic examples of both cases are the February revolution in France on the one hand and the March revolution in Germany on the other. The courage of the Parisian proletariat in the year 1848 has become a fountain of energy for the class struggle of the entire international proletariat. The deplorable events of the German March revolution of the same year have weighed down the whole development of modern Germany like a ball and chain. In the particular history of official German Social Democracy, they have reverberated right up into the most recent developments in the German revolution and on into the dramatic crisis we have just experienced.

How does the defeat of “Spartacus week” appear in the light of the above historical question? Was it a case of raging, uncontrollable revolutionary energy colliding with an insufficiently ripe situation, or was it a case of weak and indecisive action?

Both! The crisis had a dual nature. The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:

I was, I am, I shall be!

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

Click on the cover page to read excerpts from the book. Contact Aakar Books to 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.