Sunday, May 29, 2011

Communism and Kerala - V

The biggest drawback of communism is that when it helps working class people to become middle class it loses its ideological foundation. Or in an actual situation when feudal slaves become independent and start moving up the ladder, then the subsequent generations don't have any affiliations to the communist ideology. Realistically, the success of non-communist countries in the world as thriving, egalitarian nations with open societies make communism almost irrelevant. But this is the reality of communism as an economic model. How about the social model?

If we observe non-communist countries that became successful, they already had liberated serfs and opened the door of universal education centuries ago. Almost all of them were homogenous societies with respect to language and religion. Autocratic communist nations tried to promote a common language but for few feeble attempts never really tried to eliminate the religions.

 In Indian context, the communists didn't face linguistic divisions as they ruled linguistically homogenous Kerala and West Bengal. However, the divisions because of caste and religion were always there and never blurred and always remained mainstream.

Unlike poverty and discrimination, the effect of religion or caste is not perpetual for a big chunk of population. Even though, the caste system was responsible for perpetual misery to a great number of population,  those caste ideals have been made illegal. However, the remaining aspects of the caste system or all aspects of religion are perpetually repressing for individuals. But these individuals are never organized and in many cases (eg. women) are unsure of social security -that these organized groups offer- if they dessent. In the case of communities too the differences in identities would lead to catastrophe in the form of communal or caste violence. However, even these do not happen regularly, and don't touch the elite classes in most cases, thus a movement against religious or caste divisions is never possible.

With this background, I believe theoretically the communists of Kerala should disband themselves. Now their existence in Kerala society owe much to the communal and caste divisions than to their ideological positions. This is rather a disgraceful situation. Since they have already made efforts to bring market  economy to the state, it no longer makes sense that they should  remain in the politics as these could be also done by other parties. They don't have any differentiators now. Even though, their ideology has elements that can bring societal change, I don't think they will get any support from the castes or the religionists if they make that as a poll plank. Corruption becoming an agenda of a single party is dangerous to the country as it diminishes the scrutiny against other parties.


anilkurup said...

I comment as a Lay person, because of my lack of insight into the one of the greatest economic models of the past century.

I think communism is a disaster as far as it is seen as an economic model. Look at the former USSR, Cuba, the former East Europe, Vietnam , West Bengal and to an extent in Kerala., not to forget China. Your point is valid- communism becomes a sheen less philosophy when people move up the economic ladder..

The second matter is that it was an utter failure when seen as a political alternative. The mentioned States are examples.

As a social model I guess that it has been of benefit to Kerala, whereas it has been a pain in societies like China, Cuba etc. The Land reforms in Kerala and the social empowerment _ I mean it gave voice to the socially marginalized in Kerala during a certain period.

When it comes to corruption, I guess Karl Marx may not have foreseen the vile nature of man can stoop so low.
In the final analysis communism is a model that has become anachronistic and a failure because it did not respect the free thought in man. Shackling thought has been a reason for the fall of communism. Ironically, an economic and social philosophy that evolved out of free thought has itself denied that right to people.

7:33 AM

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manju said...

Communism mostly succeeded in feudal societies (Russia, China etc...). So I believe even those societies might have benefited from Communism just like Kerala.

It's probably true that even without communism change would have come to these societies because of the success of many western European countries without communism. But as some have argued, fear of communism drove these societies to move towards welfare society. I suppose, the success of western European countries owe to;

- Decline of feudal system and universal education that they inherited
- Fear of communism that drove them to adopt welfare system

Probably, we can argue communism hastened the first change in societies where ever it came to power, be it Russia, China or Kerala. We only have to look at some of our own states like Andhra Pradesh and Bihar that still struggle with great inequalities to appreciate its contribution.

Even when it comes to West Bengal, we need to keep in mind that the British generally appeased dominant castes and these castes were the biggest beneficiaries of modern education. So most likely industrial West Bengal prior to communism was a misleading understanding of the society. Probably, better comparison of West Bengal should be with Bihar.