Is the Maoist movement in India “pre-political”?

In a recent meeting our comrade, Saroj Giri called the recent Maoist upsurge “pre-political”, which makes both Maoists and those against them uncomfortable. Obviously, there can be an endless debate over the textual lineage and correctness of this usage, as some raised in the meeting, but that is not my concern. Before that in an article in EPW he said (more ironically):

“Today when the country is promoting itself as a modern global democracy, with technocratic, security-centric, good governance replacing populist, messy ways of governing the masses, the combination of Maoists, who are literally the adivasis (“old, obsolete ideology”) of left politics, with the adivasi masses, seems to give rise to not just an “undemocratic” force but something almost primordial, pre-political…”

I find this characterisation interesting. For me, the notion of “pre-political” as used for Maoist ‘politics’ has two definite connotations:

Firstly, it stresses on the organicity of this ‘politics’ – i.e., it is not something simply representative and thus external;

Secondly, this ‘politics’ is embedded in the subalternity of a particular section in the working class – which is subaltern in the sense, that it has not found its generalised political expression as that for the working class.

In this regard, one must remember that a political movement, in Marx’s understanding, is

“a movement of the class, with the object of achieving its interests in a general form, in a form possessing a general social force of compulsion.”

A ‘working-class’ movement is pre-political, if it is still jammed at an identitarian level, is sectional (“primordial”), i.e.,

“the working class is not yet far enough advanced in its organisation to undertake a decisive campaign against the collective power, i.e., the political power of the ruling classes”.

But these pre-political (“economic”) struggles are important because they train the various sections of the working class for that decisive campaign

“by continual agitation against and a hostile attitude towards the policy of the ruling classes”.


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