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

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Does the Left Need to Introspect?

Even in states like West Bengal, which have a long heritage of left politics, the new generation has become apathetic to such politics. Left activists of all shades, from mainstream to radical, need to introspect on the ways in which the left approaches state power. It tends to conform to the capitalist world order instead of using power to provide or seek alternatives. Is the old-generation left prepared for such an introspection?

This article is part of a book project supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Eastern Region.

The legacy of the left movement seems still strong, particularly among the older generation, in states like West Bengal that have a long heritage of left movements and left politics. In stark contrast, the newer generation, which was born and brought up during the long stint of the Left Front in West Bengal, and to whom “left” means the parliamentary left in general and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)(CPI–M) in particular, are quite apathetic to anything related to the left, be it politics, culture, or ideology. Interestingly, in the mid-1960s the rebellion of the then new generation against the system paved the way for the resurgence of left politics in this state.

During the larger part of last century the world-altering revolutions and liberation movements in a number of countries, and the emergence of a socialist bloc encompassing one-third of the world population, had shaped the leftist ideological leanings of the then new generation. Today, the same countries have seen a great reversal. This combined with the predominantly negative experience of left rule in their home state has created a kind of abhorrence towards left politics among today’s new generation.

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