Sunday, 17 September 2017

On Bullet Train and Sardar Sarovar Dam

- Rajesh Tyagi/18.9.2017

Last week was witness to two major events in India, that would give a facelift to its capitalist development - one, inauguration of a project of bullet train, the rapid rail transport, connecting the cities of Bombay and Ahmedabad and the other start of Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada.

The two projects are critical to historically belated and subsequently retarded capitalist development in India.

Like the British were forced by the course of development of history and against their free will to industrialize India including introduction of trains in it, the Indian capitalist rulers, despite their far limited resources, are forced to take it further, even at greater pace.

Taking power in 1947 as clients of world Imperialism, Indian bourgeoisie had little to their coffers. The roadmap they fantasized about for an independent capitalistic development did not fruition under the strangulation of world imperialism. The Nehruvian model, based on the program of an independent capitalistic development, a mix of state monopoly and private enterprise, started to crumble even before its take-off, in the face of neo-liberal offensive of world capitalism.

In early 1990s there was conscious attempt to reject the old model, that implied sealing off the national from the international, of the part from the whole and adaption to neo-liberal path of development, i.e. the swift removal of all of the barriers that separated the national from the international development, opening the national economy to the international capitalism and finally integrating the part with the whole.

Obviously, this was the course imposed upon the Indian bourgeoisie rulers by the course of development of world capitalism forcing them to come out of their national cocoon. The farce of ‘independent development’ that they could maintain for some time was due to a peculiar scenario that had emerged in the wake of the conditions that prevailed immediately after WWII. Chief among these conditions was the division of the world between two rival camps- one led by the US and the other by Soviet bureaucracy. Bourgeois rulers of the countries like India, maneuvered between the two to enjoy limited independence from both.

Further developments in world economy and world politics however soon destabilized the old balance. Significant among them was the decay of Soviet bureaucratic state that was complete by the start of 1990. With crumbling of the Stalinist camp, Indian bourgeoisie found itself inside the dragnet of capitalist imperialism, again with subordination to and dependence upon the international capital, returning back.

China, next door geo-political rival to Indian bourgeoisie, by the time grew into the largest hub of industrial production in the world, far surpassing the tempo of growth in Indian economy at snail’s pace. The strides forward in Chinese economy were the direct offshoot of centralized control and planning and intensive exploitation of its human resources under the bureaucratic apparatus. The trailing Indian bourgeois far behind its Chinese counterparts and looking at the rapid economic development in China with obvious envy for decades, was finally forced to catch up with it at any cost whatsoever, for its survival.

As political divisions in the new world, set up India and China more and more against each other, in two rival camps, forcing them in all out fight for survival and domination in Asian region, the impulse for this ‘catch-up’ grew irresistible in India. The yawning, lethargic and unwilling Indian bourgeoisie was thus dragged into the whirlpool of unbridled competition with its rival by the blind forces of market.

Fortunately, the course of development of history leaves little to the free will of the man. Had it been otherwise, there would have been inert status-quo!

Indian bourgeoisie, having little capital accumulation and almost no technology at its disposal for such mega projects like Bullet Trains, Dams and Nuclear Plants, is forced again to borrow it from abroad, subjugating itself more and more to foreign capital and immensely burdening its very limited financial resources.

Amazingly, the extreme backwardness of Indian capitalism, still an agrarian economy, mired into an ocean of villages and archaic forms of agriculture therein- the bullock carts and wooden ploughs- gets combined in a peculiar way, with the last words in capitalist development- the bullet trains, modern dams, nuclear plants!

The country that is home to extreme poverty, one among the lowest per capita income, illiteracy, diseases etc, is forced to bear this luxury, costs of which are to be recovered through more and more intensive exploitation of its already squeezed resources, both natural and human.

The consequences will be devastating!

Like the bourgeoisie was forced to march forward to ‘catch-up’ with the course of historic development, the dozing mass of its workers and toilers would also be coerced to rise up and march forward, to fight for their survival!

Disoriented and afraid, as they always are, of all progress in history, the timid and coward representatives of the petty-bourgeois seek thousand pretexts to oppose this development. Likes of petty-bourgeois crusaders, Medha Patekar and behind them a whole army of pseudo-lefts, chiefly Stalinists, oppose this forward march of productive forces from most conservative standpoint that favours total inertia or even a sliding back in history. This only delays the end of capitalism giving it more breath.

This reactionary petty-bourgeois perspective, draws its perfect parallel in the backslide to rudimentary consciousness of the workers that prevailed two century before when the workers looked at the machines, as their foes, instead of the liberating tools of history, for that these machines apparently caused unemployment among them. Workers, started with smashing the machines, before rising to the class consciousness that not the machines but the capitalism has to be smashed for liberation. Not in the machines, that liberate the workers and toilers from back-breaking labour, but inside of their capitalist control, rests the wicked enemy that needs be smashed. In their opposition to conquests of modern science- bullet trains and dams- the pseudo-lefts are proposing a detour to the dawn of industrial civilization more than two centuries back.

Revolutionary Marxists on the contrary, welcome all development in science, technique and technology that serves to revolutionize the environs, setting stage for the collapse of old production relations of capitalism. Far from opposing the development, Marxists call for overthrow of the capitalist control over this development that deprives majority of the people from access to its benefits and rather burdens them under its weight.

Marxists recognize that the development under capitalism, a real pain and agony for the working and toiling people and a yoke upon their back, represents a distorted application of an otherwise progressive tendency of upward march of productive forces. Only this upswing would ensure that the old, decaying shell of production relations gets exploded sooner than later.

Mass of the workers and toilers in their desperation would legitimately and justifiably oppose the development that apparently displaces them, snatches away their livelihood etc. But the task of the Marxists is not to assist in perpetuation of this spontaneous mass consciousness based on opposition to growth of capitalism, but to this opposition to the conscious revolt against capitalism.

The task before the working class is thus not to oppose the march of productive forces and the achievements of science, but to fight for overturn of capitalism through it. Every progress in science and technique is a 
death knell for capitalism and foundation stone to socialism, and its each application drags capitalism a step forward to its grave. It is this development that is destined to overrun capitalism. 

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