Reading Contemporary India

Arup Kumar Sen

India is going through a rapid capitalist transformation in recent times, enacting anti-labour and anti-farmer laws, and following the path of ‘accumulation by dispossession’. This phase of capitalist transformation in India merges with aggressive anti-minority Hindu majoritarianism being preached by the State and non-State actors. The symbols and icons of classical Hinduism are being freely used in this rebirth of Hinduism.

What is happening in contemporary India is nothing new in history. In his classic text, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1851-52), Karl Marx unearthed such phenomenon in different periods of world history. To put it in the words of Marx:

“But unheroic though bourgeois society is, it nevertheless needed heroism, sacrifice, terror, civil war, and national wars to bring it into being. And in the austere classical traditions of the Roman Republic the bourgeois gladiators found their ideals and the art forms, the self-deceptions, that they needed to conceal from themselves the bourgeois-limited content of their struggles and to keep their passion on the high plane of great historic tragedy. Similarly, at another stage of development a century earlier, Cromwell and the English people had borrowed from the Old Testament the speech, emotions, and illusions for their bourgeois revolution”.

It is worth visiting the past to draw insights for understanding our own times.

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Dec 21, 2020

Arup Kumar Sen

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