How Colonialism Actually Worked

by Ramachandra Guha

The Wire | December 02, 2018

How Colonialism Actually Worked

Representative image of Indian peasants

In recent years, our understanding of what the British did (or did not do) in this country has been shaped by ideologues rather than scholars. Born-again patriots produce the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Bengal famine as final and conclusive proof that colonialism damaged and deeply degraded India. Latter-day nostalgists answer by holding up the railways as Exhibit A, and the universities as Exhibit B, of how the ruler from afar elevated and educated India. Both sides assemble their arguments mostly from scraps of evidence available online; neither seeks to nuance or complicate their black or white picture with any sort of original research.Read More »


‘India after Naxalbari’

by Harsh Thakor

Frontier | Vol. 51, No.22, Dec 2 – 8, 2018

The book ‘India after  Naxalbari, unfinished History’ written by Bernard D’Mellow and published by Aakar Books [28E Pocket IV, Maryu Vihar Phase I, Delhi-110091, Price : Rs 995] is a classic.

The book is divided into 10 chapters like an epic novel with each chapter a logical sequel to the previous one. Chapter—1 on ‘Naxalite Spring Thunder phase’ where he recounts the history of the naxalbari uprising. In Chapter—2 ‘1968 India as history’ he recounts the brutal state repression unleashed. Chapter 3—’Unequal Development and evolution of the ruling bloc’ describes the principal undeveloped capitalism highlighting the state-corporate nexus. Chapter 4—’Naxalite Spring thunder phase narrating the events from 1978-2003 and describing the mass movements of the Maoists in light of worker-peasant alliance and women liberation. Chapter—5 ‘India 1989’ which sums up the financial autocracy and phenomenal disparity prevailing in total contrast to progressive capitalism. Chapter—6 ‘The far and near’—India’s rotten liberal democracy narrates how fundamental rights are violated and how it is an integral part of the bourgeois Indian state and how parliamentary democracy only protected the vested interests. Chapter—7 ‘Maoist Spring Thunder phase 3’ studies the movement after the formation of the CPI (Maoist) throwing light on the guerrilla army. Chapter—8 ‘Rotten at the heart-Secular state’ vividly describes how essentially the state violates the rights of minorities being responsible for some of the bloodiest communal riots ever perpetrating violence on Sikhs and Muslims. Chapter 9—’Little man, What now’ sums up the semi-fascist nature of the Modi regime and the aspect of sub-imperialism. Here he draws an analogy of the Nazi regime of 1930’s with the Hindu fascist agenda. Chapter—10 In ‘History memory and dreams’ he elaborates the concept of New Democracy in term of it’s workability.Read More »

Book Review: The Futility of War, the Power of Art in ‘All the Lives We Never Lived’

by Fathima M

The Wire | October 30, 2018

The Futility of War, the Power of Art in 'All the Lives We Never Lived'

In contemporary times, there is nothing revolutionary about a woman vacationing alone in the Maldives, living on her own in London, backpacking in Thailand or walking out of a loveless marriage. But things were different in India of the past century, when the country was reeling under poverty, colonial subjugation and chaos. Women were tethered to the small world of domesticity, expected to desire nothing more than a home, a husband and children. What else would a woman need and why? Gayatri, the protagonist in Anuradha Roy’s fourth novel, All the Lives We Never Lived, asks herself this question, albeit differently: “Why am I not happy with my home, husband and child”? Gayatri’s question, in the wake of World War II and the Indian freedom movement is revolutionary and subversive at many levels.

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Book Review: A Marxist History of Capitalism


Climate and Capitalism | October 16, 2018

Henry Heller
Routledge, 2018

Since the 1970s, Marxist discussion of how and when capitalism was born has been dominated by two competing academic currents. World-System Theory, first enunciated by Immanuel Wallerstein, locates the origin of capitalism in the expansion of world trade and the plunder of the new world in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Political Marxism, developed by Robert Brenner, says the transition took place somewhat earlier, and only in rural England, where feudal lords converted themselves into capitalist landlords.Read More »

Review: Land Reforms in Bengal

by Anirban Biswas

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.49, June 10 – 16, 2018

The *Book under review provides a fairly detailed discussion of the process of land reforms in West Bengal during the period of Left Front rule. The merit of the book is that it has dealt not only with the subject of seizure of ceiling surplus lands and their redistribution, but with related issues like operation barga, sharecropping arrangements, minimum wages, the functioning of panchayets etc. Certainly there is no point in saying that there was no land reform work worth the name in West Bengal during the period of Left Front rule. But the question is how far the official claim in this respect was correct and what could be done to follow up the initial work so as to raise it to a higher level. The author has not subscribed to the official claim, which he considers exaggerated. He has also dealt with the various problems that grew up during the implementation of the operation barga and other agrarian programmes.Read More »

‘‘Telling An Ugly Tale’’ ‘Bankocracy’ by Eric Toussaint

by Avishek Konar

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.49, June 10 – 16, 2018

The Great Recession, from the middle of 2007 onwards, has rocked the global economy. This has led to at least a couple of things. The legitimacy of neo-liberalism in the west–qua ‘there is no other alternative’—has been shattered, and vast majority of people are now looking for other political alternatives which partly explains the rise of the popularity of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. This has also laid bare the inability of mainstream economics to explain, let alone predict or foresee, any of these crises. In November of 2011, 70 students walked out of N Gregory Mankiw’s (who has authored the most widely used undergraduate textbook of economics) in protest that alternative theories are not taught in the curriculum. It is clear that neoclassical economics has very little to offer to explain the current crisis. Nobel laureate Robert Lucas, who had declared in 2003 that “central problem of depression-prevention has been solved”, in 2008 said that
“I am skeptical about the argument that the sub prime mortgage problem will contaminate the whole mortgage market, that housing construction will come to a halt, and that the economy will slip into a recession. Every step in this chain is questionable and none has been quantified. If we have learned anything from the past 20 years it is that there is a lot of stability built into the real economy”.Read More »

Seven Comics With Vital Things to Say About Humanity

Why this art form is more than just biff, bang and pow.

By Golnar Nabizadeh

The Conversation | 20 May, 2018


When the Palestinian literary critic and thinker Edward Said read the comic book Palestine (1997)by Joe Sacco, he called it a work of “extraordinary originality” – and one of the best attempts to capture the country’s turmoil. Originally published as a serial, Palestine was one of the first examples of journalism as graphic art. Sacco uses it to present the Palestinians in a more sympathetic light, telling the story of his travels in the country and the people he met there.Read More »