Nobel to Abhijit Banerjee: who celebrates and why


The Nobel prize to Abhijit Banerjee seems to have given a fresh lease of life to the embattled identities of JNUites and Bengali intellectuals, even for many leftists who are caught up in dystopic existentialism, and hence are unable to see beyond immediacies. The general secretary of the biggest communist party in India said:

He again twits:

Another erudite general secretary of a radical communist party twitted:

However, Banerjee himself is busy dissociating himself from any political tag quite vocally and finds himself to be a mere surgeon who will cut into anything that comes on his table (or a mere plumber who will make this table!)- it is not about right and left. In fact, he has been working with all sorts of governments. Just because he was a JNUite or he criticised the Modi government’s particular policies, he is being celebrated by the anti-Modi forces, whether rightist, leftist or centrist. Of course, the Modi ministers themselves are becoming jittery at the wake of the deepening economic crisis, and are losing sanity by disowning people like Manmohan Singh, Banerjee & co (a point made by none other than Parakala Prabhakar, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s husband). And leftists too caught up in the cycle of reaction along with official rightists have lost all tactfulness.

Politically, the awarding of the Nobel prize in economics this year is a recognition by bourgeois (finance capital) internationalism and its agencies that rightist neoliberal etatist minimalism that has emerged globally, if left to itself, will not be able to contain and sublimate the growing discontentment in societies towards serving the bourgeois interests. As a result, the states might collapse or will start going beyond policing usurping the domain of the economic. The global corporate social responsibility (CSR) institutions must take over the task through the networks of NGOs throughout the globe and palliate the soaring social injuries, while productivising them for the benefit of capitalist expansion.

Abhijit Banerjee and his colleagues have been at the forefront of creating a model of treating poverty as a disease. They have been involved with states and corporate institutions in this regard for a very long time. And, we know, a disease is not just itself, it is a great industrial opportunity too (the booming hospital and pharmaceutical industries are clear examples). The Nobel laureates of this year have shown through randomized controlled trials how to dynamically customise strategies to recognise symptoms and provide palliatives or incentives to integrate the poor in the mainstream network of commodity market and finance. This capitalist inclusiveness is what Negri called differential inclusion. It is undoubtedly an effective tactic to encourage capitalist accumulation from below within a post-fordist neoliberal frame that allows heterogeneity in entrepreneurial forms (by including pakodawallahs, chaiwallahs etc), while networking them through finance.

Whether we recognise it or not, demonetisation and GST in India have at least created the digitised infrastructure to put such an effort in place. As Marxists we know, this will never be able to save capitalism from crisis, but it may have the impact of deferring the collapse.

So, comrades, is this a cause enough to celebrate?

Charlie Hebdo: Religion is opium, it’s heart of the heartless world too


True, religion is opium of the masses. And the struggle to abolish the situation that makes such opium necessary in the first place will have to include criticism, even criticism with weapons, of not only the purveyors of such opium but even a section of the opiated masses that refuses to kick the habit. And yet, the bearded chap who discovered the opiate that is religion also saw it as the heart of the heartless world, the soul of the soulless condition and the sigh of the oppressed. So all those Hindu and Muslim liberals and leftists, who can well afford their liberalism and leftism, would now do well to wonder what will come of attempts to take such hearts and souls away even as the heartless world and the soulless condition are left intact, and the oppressed continue to be where they are but only with their sighs suppressed? Those liberals and leftists would, in such circumstances, also do well to consider what good their outraged expressions of solidarity with those who seek to suppress the sighs of the oppressed by taking away from them such hearts and souls is doing. Especially, since those expressions of solidarity are, as far as one can see, contributing in no concerted way to abolish the heartless world and the soulless condition that has made the opium of religion(s) necessary in the first place. Or, is all this sheer grandstanding that has less to do with actually changing the world and more to do with cementing their identities as radicals, secularists, atheists, whatever.

Perhaps it will be more productive, particularly at this juncture, to see religion as a dialecticised and dynamic terrain of politics always internally divided between materiality and mystification. The duality that is integral to the identification and designation of religion in terms of the personal and the organised — or the religion(s) of the majorities and religion(s) of the minorities for that matter — must be grasped as no more than an appearance that in the immediateness of such duality is meant to mediate ones access to religion as that internal dialectic of the material and the mystificatory.