Class and politics in the ‘global south’
Ravi Raman: From Victimhood to Agency: Social Democratic Regimes in India / Seongjin Jeong: Korean Progressives’ Debates on Alternatives to Neoliberalism / Noaman Ali: Imperialism, Class and Class Struggle in Mozambique: 1975-2008
From Victimhood to Agency: Social Democratic Regimes in Indiaby Ravi Raman
Though it has been known as the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the parliamentary left and its state artefacts in India, have always been social democratic in nature. It has changed character from a classical social democracy to new social democracy, with an associated accentuation of the process of globalisation, often in parallel with other social democratic parties of the West. This process, however, is not something that could be attributed to an externally imposed globalisation alone, as is conventionally believed, rather, it is simultaneously articulated by the internal social structures of accumulation. As this trajectory extracts a huge cost from its original constituents - the workers and peasants - its new benefits accrue largely to pan Indian and global capital. This shift has passed through varying phases, a shift that I would prefer to call a passage from victimhood to agency, and by exploring this transformation, I endeavour to engage with three major theoretical traditions: the Marxist notion of agency, the Foucauldian concept of governmentality and the Habermasian premises of ‘colonisation’ and ‘cultural impoverishment’.
Korean Progressives’ Debates on Alternatives to Neoliberalismby Seongjin Jeong
Recently, discourses on the alternatives available to the Korean economy were pouring out from the progressive as well as conservative camps. It was mainly because the Korean economy, trapped in a decade-long period of reduced growth and deepening social polarization, is urgently seeking alternatives to the neoliberal policy framework that has been enforced since 1997. This paper aims to evaluate the progressive discourses on the alternatives from a Marxist standpoint. First, it criticizes the progressives’ commonly shared thesis that the neoliberalism has succeeded to establish so-called ‘finance-led accumulation regime’ in Korea after the 1997 crisis. Instead, it argues that neoliberalism has only led to deepening the low growth trajectory of the economy, increasing socioeconomic polarization and furthering denationalization. In addition, it argues that the economic policy of the current Lee Myung-bak government is nothing but the combination of an outdated version of Park Chung-Hee’s model of state capitalism, with the neoliberal big bang. It is also shown that the two representative progressive alternatives, i.e., Ha-Joon Chang’s ‘Democratic Welfare State Model’ and Keynesian ‘Strategy for Social Solidarity’, are opposite variants of the national reformism, far from anti-capitalist. It concludes by confirming the relevance of Marxian socialist alternatives in Korea.
Imperialism, Class and Class Struggle in Mozambique: 1975-2008by Noaman Ali
After several centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, Mozambique achieved independence in 1975 after a decade of people’s war led by FRELIMO - the Front of Liberation of Mozambique. In 1977, Frelimo formally adopted Marxism-Leninism as its political ideology and intensified its project of socialist transition. Internal contradictions and over a decade of war with dissidents backed by racist apartheid regimes in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa led to the adoption of neoliberalism and the abandonment of Marxism-Leninism in the late 1980s. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world with high levels of corruption, Mozambique is one of the IMF and World Bank’s few ‘success stories’ in sub-Saharan Africa due to high economic growth and timely general elections. The link between international domination and local impoverishment is the ruling class of Mozambique’ - the comprador and national economic elites tied deeply to Frelimo. What factors are involved in the production and reproduction of an expanded economic elite? How has a Marxist-Leninist party of workers and peasants become a neoliberal party of this economic elite? This paper examines how and why categories of class, forms of class struggle, and discourses on class have shifted over the past thirty-five years in Mozambique.