"Communist" dispossession meets "reactionary" resistance

The ironies of the parliamentary Left in West Bengal

in Volume 2009 (2009): Issue 54 (Jun 2009): Accumulation by dispossession and Asia’s “modernizing” Left. Forum Editor: Luisa Steur

The reflections in this article were instigated by the repeated and brutal clashes since 2007 between peasants and the state government’s militias—both official and unofficial—over the issue of industrialization. A communist government engaging peasants violently in order to acquire and transfer their lands to big business houses to set up capitalist enterprises seemed dramatically ironic. De- spite the presence of many immediate causes for the conflict, subtle long-term change to the nature of communist politics in the state was also responsible for the present situation. This article identifies two trends that, though significant, are by themselves not enough to explain what is happening in West Bengal today. First, the growth of a culture of governance where the Communist Party actively seeks to manage rather than politicize social conflicts; second, the recasting of radical political subjectivity as a matter of identity rather than an instigation for critical self-reflection and self-transformation.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.