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

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Of Idealist Questions and Marxist Answers

Of Idealist Questions and Marxist Answers U Vindhya THE following comments do not aim to directly respond either to Balagopal's (BG) Democracy and the Fight against Communalism' (EPW, January 7, 1995) or to Arun Patnaik's (AP) rejoinder to BG's piece, 'Burden of Marx and Morals' (EPW, May 20, 1995). Rather, my purpose is to raise some questions in the light of BG's article and, more important, in the context of the furore the slightly different Telugu version of BG's article published in the September 1993 issue of Aruna Tara, the official organ of the Revolutionary Writers' Association, has created in the political and literary circles of Andhra Pradesh. AP makes an oblique reference to this stormy controversy when he speculates on the possible motive of BG's recent, what he thinks is anti-materialist, anti-Marxist volte- face: "the intemperate language of liberation" and the intolerance of one another shown by the various people's organisations in Andhra, be it peasant, women, or dalit which has pushed people like BG to retreat to the safer and quieter haven of 'pacifism'. While 1 do not wish to comment on this clue to BG's turn-around', I do want to mention a related aspect: the thrust of most of the rejoinders to BG's Telugu article that have appeared in Aruna Tara to date has been on BG, the man, whose Sneaking liberalism' and traits of "cowardice and weak will" in the face of severe state repression which had been ostensibly lying dormant till now have surfaced and propelled BG to denounce the official Marxism and stray into the foggy world of psychic, fraught as it is with "metaphysical pitfalls, abstract ahistoricism 'and perplexing paradox". Be that as it may, what is of concern here is that, given the political and cultural climate in Andhra, serious questions like the one raised by BG often tend to get hopelessly bogged down in the welter of calumny and personal slander, undermining the status and quality of the debate. Perhaps I would venture to say that the sharply critical and often virulent responses to BG's article stem from the wish to have one, complete, right statement of social reality, an overarching and compelling theory. The point, however, is whether all these responses enhance or sharpen our understanding of society and practice of democratic organisations.

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