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

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Towards Socialist Utopia

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The special article “A Manifesto for Socialist Development in the 21st Century” by Benjamin Selwyn (EPW, 8 September 2018) raises important questions about socialist development and transformation. In today’s highly unequal world, it is imperative that we understand closely the manifesto that the author envisions and the societal formations against which it stands. I could only savour the prospects of the future when I read, “Imagine that, in the near future, a labouring class movement, with support from a small farmer/peasant sector, conquers political and economic power in a poor country.”

Yet, there exist problems with the author’s formulation, some of which I would like to highlight here. First, although the author thinks that it is not appropriate that capitalist development understands labour merely as a resource, the same ontological mistake is repeated in the manifesto by taking the labouring class as the basic unit of analysis. The manifesto is, of course, based on socialist philosophy and hence labour is central to it, even if it is understood differently as compared to capitalist canons. But, with socialist ideology having the capacity for self-evaluation, improvement, and restructuring, what is the rationale for foregrounding the labouring class as the fundamental unit of social change? Is the labouring class a homogenised reified category? How will the manifesto address the layered and fractured undercurrents of the labouring class? What will it entail to imagine the multiplicity and stratified identities of the labouring class?

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Updated On : 28th Sep, 2018

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