Tag: Socialism

September 27, 2017 /

This year is the fiftieth death anniversary of the firebrand socialist Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and it is an apt occasion to remember his militant legacy. He died at the relatively young age of fifty seven in 1967. I too am fifty seven now and despite having trod the same path of mass politics as him, am still alive and have done precious little in comparison!! Lohia needs to be remembered today because he fought relentlessly against the corrupt dominance of the Indian National Congress and his mobilisation strategies are extremely valid today. 

September 22, 2017 /

Ali Shariati was throughout his life a deeply committed Muslim but his Shi‘ism was of a radical, revolutionary type, thoroughly anti-clerical in its opposition to what he called ‘Safavid Shi‘ism’ (as opposed to his own ‘Red Shi‘ism’), the kind of Islam that disarmed the masses through its passive complicity with the ruling classes. Given that in modern Iran the clergy depended on the financial support of the richer merchants (bazaaris), Shariati’s ‘visceral contempt for the bourgeoisie’ extended to the ulama as well. His lectures and writings enraged the clerics, especially the influential group that saw in Khomeini the true face of the ‘revolutionary’ movement against Muhammad Reza Shah, and led to repeated fatwas condemning him after the revolution.

August 3, 2017 /

The occasion for these reflections is provided by two books placed before me for review, both effectively dealing with the beginnings and ends of the Left Front in West Bengal. One is straightforwardly and directly personal: Debraj Bhattacharya’s Exploring Marxist Bengal, a good-humoured if at times self-indulgent memoir that narrates a progressive disillusionment with the CPI(M), the ‘left’, and with claims to ‘progressive’ politics among his generation… The second, NO FREE LEFT, by the prolific communist aristocrat Vijay Prashad, promises no less than a narrative and analysis of ‘the past of Indian Communism and an assessment of its future’, which again cannot be written, as he proudly tells us, invoking Antonio Gramsci, ‘without writing a “general history of a country”’. Prashad’s account comprises a series of banalities written in prophetic tone, the latter attributable to his taking upon himself the role of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, a role apparently acquired backwards via Hegel and Schlegel – and he is keen on asserting his right to write as a philosopher who is not a mushroom…

June 11, 2017 /

We are The Christian Left. We’re all around you. We’re among the people. Take a look. We’re part of the Body of Christ. We’re Christians. We’re Leftists. We make no apologies. In fact Jesus ways are “Leftist.” That’s why He was killed. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the conservatives of their time.

January 8, 2017 /

A Church that concerns itself with the poor must raise the question of why they are poor in the first place. The comfortable and the cosseted insist that this question not be asked. Or, failing that, insist that it be dismissed as ludicrous. From their increasingly hyperventilating resistance comes a surprising reminder of the revolutionary power of the gospel.

December 25, 2016 /

In the face of the rampant commercialism that engulfs us at this time of year, it’s common to hear religious figures telling us that it’s time to revive the “real spirit of Christmas.” If that means reviving the radical egalitarianism of the early Christians, whom Frederick Engels called “a dangerous party of revolt,” then socialists are in favor of it.

August 2, 2016 /

The Sanders campaign is itself proof that true progressivism is no longer a “fringe” politics. After all, its self-declared “democratic socialist” standard-bearer ran a very strong second in the Democratic primary – this on the back of over 13m votes and with next to no corporate backing. Progressive values are also getting more popular, particularly among the younger generation.