[WSMDiscuss] Imagining India for Contemporary Politics: What Should the Left Do?• Ravi Sinha

mayur chetia mayurchetia at gmail.com
Fri Jul 17 08:39:10 CEST 2020

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On Fri, 17 Jul 2020 at 03:44, Subhash Gatade via WSM-Discuss <
wsm-discuss at lists.openspaceforum.net> wrote:

> *Invite for a Webinar - Sunday, 19 th July, 5 pm - New Socialist
> Initiative     *
> *Imagining India for Contemporary Politics: What Should the Left Do?*
> *• Ravi Sinha*
> Shakespeare said, what is past is prologue. A simple-minded rationalist
> may be contented to assume that past is fixed as it has already gone into
> the making of the present. Nothing can be done to change it. The truth
> however is that past is being ‘remade’ every day. Imaginations of ancient
> glories or of humiliating defeats in the distant past are being deployed in
> contemporary politics all across the world. This phenomenon has been a key
> element behind the resurgence of rightwing in many countries. Contemporary
> India is a calamitous example where a perverse variant of mass-democratic
> politics has been fashioned through the political ideology of *Hindutva*
> resulting in serious damage to democracy and to people’s welfare.
> Contemporary politics is driven more pressingly to such ideological
> re-imaginings in the conditions of vigorously competitive electoral
> democracies. The phenomenon is far more pronounced in countries with a
> significant minority (religious, racial, linguistic-cultural etc.) that can
> be portrayed as a historical villain. The majority can, then, be mobilized
> through the political process of polarisation in which some
> historical-civilizational-social tectonic plate is deployed in the service
> of electoral-political objectives. India is a pre-eminent example of this
> tragic phenomenon.
> Invariably, left and progressive forces find themselves handicapped in
> these circumstances. Attempts to prove that such polarising strategies
> based on re-imagining the past are malignant turn out to be politically
> ineffective. A typical response from such forces has been to counter the
> *emotive* with the *economic* and to challenge *cultural nationalism*
> with *anti-colonial, anti-imperialist* nationalism. These strategies have
> failed miserably. Other social and resistance movements too have attempted
> partial re-imagining of India’s past from the standpoint of traditionally
> oppressed communities (Dalit, feminist, native-ist, etc.). While offering
> some resources to the respective movements, these efforts have failed
> equally miserably in challenging the *Hindutva’s cultural nationalism*.
> The efforts of some of the liberal bourgeois forces, on the other hand, to
> gain ground by partly imitating the *Hindutva* forces (variants of *soft
> hindutva*) have been no more than a laughing stock.
> In this presentation and conversation we will try to grapple with this
> challenge from the standpoint of left and progressive forces. Do we refrain
> from dragging the past into contemporary politics? Or do we lay claim to an
> alternative re-imagining of India which would be acceptable to and in the
> interest of all modernist-egalitarian forces including all traditionally
> oppressed communities? In addition to the political strategies based on
> class, equality, rights and justice, what other cultural-civilizational
> strategies can be fashioned that can defeat *Hindutva* and other
> religion-based fascistic ideologies? What will be the place of such
> relatively immediate strategies in the long-term and more fundamental
> struggle against capitalism and in the epochal project of building a
> successful model of future socialism?
> We hope to initiate a fruitful discussion on this challenge and on such
> questions.
> [image: image.png]
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