ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Totems and Taboos of Left Mythology

Pranab Bardhan Ashok Rudra IT would be difficult to deny that in this 'country's political thinking the left-right distinction has increasingly become less a scientifically valid classi- ficatory tool of politico-historical analysis and more a matter of attaching labels, of branding persons or parties on considerations which are of the nature of dogmas. The idea of left and right, of progress and reaction, has a history of more than two hundred '.years and if one'were to apply criteria derived from the tradition of thought of "Scientific Socialism" to present-day "India, one would perhaps classify as leftist economic policies or political programmes (or persons or parties working for them) that aim at a reorganisation of the society so as to lessen the political power of and finally eliminate classes that are at present dominating the society and deriving maximum advantage from its present organisation and to increase the political power of the exploited toiling masses, of which the organised industrial and white-collar working classes no doubt constitute; an important segment but also consist predominantly of poor peasants and landless labourers. If one were thinking, each time one made the left-right distinction, of those two opposed class interest groups, keeping in full view the internal contradictions that unavoidably exist within the two groups, one would probably be making the distinction meaningfully. But much too often that is not how it is done.

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