Thursday, September 1, 2011

Observation of Karl Marx on India (contd-3)


Also to be noted is the dialectical understanding that Marx provides. Thus even while he notes that "England has broken down the entire framework of... Indian society, without any symptoms of reconstitution yet appearing. This loss of his world, with no gain of a new one, imparts a particular kind of melancholy to the present misery of the Indian, and separates India, ruled by Britain, from all its ancient traditions, and from the whole of its past history" (NYDT, June 25, 1853), Marx also remarks that British actions in India undertaken with the aim of benefiting British capitalists, would nevertheless lay the basis for far reaching changes.
Thus he says: "All that the English bourgeoisie may be forced to do will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people, depending not only on the development of the productive powers, but of their appropriation by the people. But what they will not fail to do is lay down the material premises for both. Has the bourgeoisie ever done more? Has it ever effected a progress without dragging individuals and people through blood and dirt, through misery and degradation?" (NYDT, August 8, 1853).
Completing his argument, Marx adds, "The Indians will not reap the fruits of the new elements of society scattered among them by the British bourgeoisie, till in Great Britain itself the now ruling classes shall have been supplanted by the industrial proletariat, or till the Indians themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke altogether."
Marx's perception

Habib in his essay `Marx's Perception of India' demonstrates both the perspicacity of Marx's analysis of British India and its contemporary relevance, and the fact that Marx was constantly, till the very end of his life, reading up on India, and enriching his views in the light of new knowledge. He also provides a stimulating critique of the notion of the Asiatic mode of production.
In his essay `The Other Marx', Prabhat Patnaik brings out the very important theoretical implications of Marx's articles on India in NYDT, especially for understanding the relationship between capitalism and pre-capitalist modes of production and resolving the debate over the necessity or otherwise of imperialism (in various forms) for sustaining capitalism as an economic system.
All in all, this is an exceptionally important book, well worth the time of the interested lay reader as well as the specialist.