[Marxism] GurgaonWorkersNews #60
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Fri Nov 1 07:28:58 MDT 2013
GurgaonWorkersNews no.60 - November 2013
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The cycle of struggle 1973 to 1979 in India
In this newsletter we reconsider the history of the so-called 'Bihar movement' in India in 1974, given that the questions which emerged from this period are still relevant today:
a) what is the relation between 'capitalist crisis' and 'protests against the impact of crisis as protests against corruption'? and
b) what is a 'popular movement' in (working) class terms and in terms of political trajectory and limitations?
The crisis blow of the 1973 'oil-crisis' fuelled inflation and pushed up the unemployment rate in India. A year later students in Gujarat protested against the rise in canteen prices. The police attacked them, sparking violent protests throughout the state. Main target of the anger was the 'corrupted government' and its repressive forces. The state government had to resign. Some months later a similar movement started in Bihar. Apart from engaging in demonstrations, warehouses with hoarded essential goods were raided and prices of commodities reduced. In June 1975 the movement became the official reason for the declaration of a state of emergency, which lasted for two years. After the lifting of the state of emergency violent workers struggles broke out. These struggles were repressed by the new 'democratic government', which had emerged out of the 'popular movement' prior to the Emergency.
Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, 2013
After the chimera of the 'neoliberal boom for everyone' crashed in 2008, the question of corruption re-entered the political stage. New 'popular' movements emerged: they took over city squares in Spain in 2011, they removed Mubarak's 'neo-liberal dictatorship' in Egypt and we witnessed short outbursts of popular anger in the streets of cities in Turkey and Brazil in summer 2013. Again, police repression against a seemingly minoritarian action triggered a wave of violent protests 'by the people' against the corrupted government. Particularly in Egypt we were able to see how out of the popular unrest a new state government came to power, which quickly turned against the continuing proletarian struggle.
In this newsletter we want to re-consider the Bihar movement of 1974 briefly and then focus on the working class unrest between 1977 and 1979 with focus on the industrial area of Faridabad. We think this is necessary because in 1974 the step from a) the 'total revolution' called for by the later leader of the Bihar movement, JP Narayan, addressing 'the common people' to b) the institutionalisation of the movement in the form of the Janata Party, which came to power in 1977 and immediately turned against the upsurge of working class struggles, was a very short one. The various revolts today are not free from that danger of degeneration, even if they express a goal of 'true democracy' and egalitarianism as common citizens. We conclude the historical documentation with general thoughts about what has structurally changed between 1974 and 2013 and thereby radically limited the scope for social reform and 'popular movements'.
List of Content
*** The background: Developmental crunch since the mid-1960s and crisis blow 1973
*** The background: Bihar in the early 1970s
*** The composition and political organisations of the Bihar movement, 1974
*** The chronology of the Bihar movement
*** The State of Emergency, 1975
*** The Janata Party government and the working class unrest 1977 - 1979
*** Conclusions and historical comparison
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