Need for a United Social Revolution

Harish S Wankhede, a member of the Left Collective, Delhi, teaches political science at University of Delhi. He can be reached at enarish[at] He underlines the importance of the initiative taken by the Sfi-JNU to bring together the Left and Democratic forces on a united platform.

Harish Wankhede

The initiative taken by the SFI-JNU to bring five Left political organizations on the same platform is an impressive one. For the renewal of the progressive and democratic movement, it is important that the forces working for social and political change work together closely. It is envisaged that this platform will remain committed to such unity and participate in united struggles for peoples’ livelihood, freedom from exploitation and oppression, dignity and social justice. 

The radical slogan of the French Revolution “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” is aptly relevant to our times. The need for a comprehensive and principled struggle against multiple forms of unjustified inequalities necessitated the need that struggling masses of different nomenclature should unite. Fraternity as the basic principle of revolutionary change gives an élan for a unity of the fighting masses towards achieving certain common revolutionary ideals. However, in India, the separate and independent democratization of the oppressed and the marginalized groups for their exclusive interests have blunted the revolutionary force to bring substantive changes within the current system. The possibilities that these groups can come together to launch a relentless struggle against the varied forms of oppression and exploitation is an unexplored idea.

The majority of our people in India today are facing the onslaught of the pro-rich policies of economic liberalization. The rampant corruption, growing unemployment, Inflation, price hikes and the open loot of our natural resources in the hands of corporate mafia has created a hopeless situation for the common man. The Dalits and the Tribals in addition suffered a double onslaught as they also face violent attacks, humiliation, and social oppression as unwanted people by the social elites and their political masters. Identically, the majority of the Muslims are also economically and educationally backward and simultaneously remain under the hegemonic threat of majoritarian communalism. The Right wing Hindutva politics has created an atmosphere of fear and antagonism against the Muslim minority. Further, the recent events have once again highlighted that that the social conditions of the women in India have degraded significantly and regressive patriarchal values continue to dominate society.  

The poor, the Dalits, the Tribals, the Muslims and the Women are the categories which can be identified as the worse off sections of our society. The ruling ideas of neo-liberal capitalist economy and the oppressive-brahmanical social ideology – in alliance – are responsible for their sufferings and inhuman living conditions. The oppressed communities are combating the exploitative social and economic order on the ground, but their struggles in most places are local, small and constrained by the exclusive political ethics of the given territorial space. The Dalit movements in Maharashtra and Tamilnadu, the Tribal struggles in Odisha and Chattisgarh, the fight against communalism by the Muslims in Gujarat and Mumbai, the struggle for women’s rights in Delhi, at their respective stages have showcased the apathy of the ruling classes over their issues and has also challenged the state. However, these varied agencies of social change has no centre where they can meet and form unified struggle to challenge the authorities for a comprehensive social and economic change. Therefore there is a need to combine all forms of Left, democratic, progressive struggles and movements for ushering in radical change and empowering the deprived masses. 

image: Arvind K Yadav

To visualize a possibility in which the varied democratic and progressive movements fighting for a just cause can build a common platform, is a revolutionary exercise. A united front of the fighting people with a constructive socio-political and economic agenda can radicalize the current depressing order. A principled agreement in between the oppressed sections over the possible organizational method, leadership and political demands to form such a united front, will not only bring the fighting people together but will also churn a new political ideology for a radical socio-economic change. 

However, in this churning the most important aspect is to build consensus over crucial principles on which the struggling masses must agree and be ready to struggle. In this respect, the initiative taken by the SFI-JNU to bring five Left political organizations on the same platform is an impressive one. For the renewal of the progressive and democratic movement, it is important that the forces working for social and political change work together closely. It is envisaged that this platform will remain committed to such unity and participate in united struggles for peoples’ livelihood, freedom from exploitation and oppression, dignity and social justice. 

These Left political organisations have identified five crucial political objectives over which the struggling people can build a consensus and forge a comprehensive unity. First, constitutional democracy in India needs to be restructured by making it more pro-people and welfarist in nature. The greater aim should be to build a substantive democracy and genuine federalism. The current regime has been hijacked by the rich and the corrupt. Out of the 543 elected MPs in the Loksabha today, 315 have personal wealth of over 1 crore rupees and 76 have serious criminal charges like murder, kidnapping and robbery pending against them. The situation is similar in state assemblies and even the local bodies. Also, the overarching power of the Union disrespects the federal character of the polity. To liberate the polity from the excessive control of the rich and the mafia and to ensure proper accountability of the legislature, the judiciary and the executive, radical electoral and administrative reforms must be sought. 

People must demand for more decentralised Institutions and greater autonomous participation by the the local and regional groups in decision making. The Institutions must also be structured in respect to the varied social and religious diversities to make it more participatory and representative in nature. Democracy with an agenda of substantive participation of deprived and oppressed groups as the mainstream force will ensure a radical departure from the current order. 

Second objective is to work for a transition from the current profit-centric neo-liberal economy dominated by big monopolies towards a socialist framework of welfare economy. The neoliberal economic regime based on reckless exploitation of labour and the loot of natural resources by foreign and domestic corporate capital must cease to operate. Instead struggles should be waged for people-centric planned economic development. Economic planning must ensure social equity, should secure the rights of workers and peasants and should be based on environmental sustainability. The fighting people must realize that the empowerment of the toiling masses can be ensured only within a socialist framework. 

image: Arvind K Yadav
image: Arvind K Yadav

Third, Secularism and Social Justice should be the principle directives of the movements. The concerns and the interests of the oppressed and deprived identities must find equal space in the programmatic arrangement of the envisaged platform. Our familial relations are marked by discrimination against women and patriarchal values. Caste oppression, atrocities and humiliation against Dalits and visible marginalization and exploitation of Tribals is the norm of our social system. Therefore, fighting for social justice, dignity and empowerment of these deprived groups should become a necessary parameter to judge the practice of transformative politics. It can be ensured by demanding effective affirmative action, including reservations, for all socially disadvantaged sections who have historically suffered from discrimination. Equally important is to safeguard the secular character of the Indian state and combating communalism. Religious minorities, especially Muslims are the worst sufferers of the communal-fascistic propaganda. The common platform of struggling people must ensure that while all religions enjoy equal freedom and respect, the affairs of the state must remain free from the interference of any religion. The state must also ensure protection of the rights of religious minorities against majoritarian politics. 

Finally, the unified movement of the struggling masses should not restrict to the sovereign national territory but must also expand its voices to protect and promote the interests of other fighting groups in other parts of the world. Hence, building solidarity with progressive and democratic forces across the world – especially the developing countries – against imperialism, militarism and neo-liberalism is the need of our times. The vision is to evolve a global platform of oppressed groups that struggles for global peace and a democratic world order, free of wars and nuclear weapons. 

A vibrant participative democracy, governance based on the ethical values of secularism and social justice and a socialist outlook towards economy and international relations are the three vital aspects for a just polity. These ideals promise the end of unjustified inequalities and envisage a world based on individual liberty, politico-economic equality and social harmony.  In today’s context, bringing these ideals together for a comprehensive struggle for justice is a revolutionary task. Equally important is to mobilize all the struggling and fighting people to achieve the unfinished agenda of social revolution.

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