nationality

In the backdrop of globalisation, liberalisation, increasing privatisation, and the role of multinationals, transnationals, WB, IMF and WTO etc. particularly in the Neo-colonial phase of imperialism the nationality question has assumed significant and very interesting dimensions.

Nationality question came to the fore as a politico-economic movement with the emergence of bourgeois democratic revolution in Europe. Thus the nationality question was resolved with the formation of nation-states. Ex. Germany, Italy etc.

During the colonial period various emerging nations and nationalities who were colonised resolved their nationality question (national oppression) by fighting against colonialism and striving for political independence/ secession from the colonial powers. Ex. Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In the above two phases of capitalism, national movement was in essence either towards development and consolidation of national industry or a movement for protecting the national industry from colonialism.

Under neo-colonial phase of imperialism, national industry needs to be redefined considering the pernicious character of the Neo-colonial plunder.

The essential features of Neo-colonialism could be briefly summed up as follows via-a-vis the old colonialism:

Neo-colonialism is not just just an indirect men’s of plunder by the imperialists. The means and ways of Neo-colonialism is not only pernicious but intrinsically different from the old colonialism. At times it is the very opposite ! It acts very subtly and has intruded the entire gamut of our life controlling the content, thought and action of lives.

Colonialism established its control by strangulation the growth of native industry, while Neo-colonialism rules by developing the native industry ! Feudalism was the social basis for colonialism. Whereas, this social basis is restructured under neo-colonialism so as to nurture comprador capital as its social basis. Centralisation is the key thrust under neo-colonialism.

The development of science and technology under the early capitalism and colonialism helped to democratise the society, whereas the Modern Science and Technology under neo-colonialism, which has pitted man against nature is responsible for the increasing fascisization of the society.

While export of capital was the hallmark of capitalism the export of Modern Science and Technology as a means to control and plunder is the basis of neo-colonialism.

In short, “Destroy to control and plunder” was the key slogan of the old colonialists. “Develop to control and plunder” is the key theme of neo-imperialism. Thus development not only destroys our social/ cultural fabric but destroys our very life sustenance. Hence it is much more pernicious and catastrophic.

Moreover under neo-colonialism and neo-colonies, ordinarily, do not have a particular imperialist to be reckoned with. Hence for this reason the neo-colonies need to liberate themselves from the imperialist SYSTEM and not just from one or the other imperialist political power(s).

In the light of the above, the resolution of nationality question today has to address the very liberation of the oppressed people from the clutches of imperialism as a system. Thus today, it is an all encompassing liberation which is the essence of national question, unlike the simple formation of national states or secession. In this context, national movements, which do not visualise displacement of imperialist system in its agenda, would not only perpetuate the slavery in a different garb but it would in essence become counter-productive. In other words, secessions which do not aspire for social reconstruction are permitted by the imperialist powers in the interest of perpetuating the system.

Notwithstanding the above, pursuing the national liberation struggle with anti-imperialist content, has become the key factor in resolving the nationality question in the neo colonial countries.

On the other hand, the neo-colonial countries, which are prisons of nations, have to necessarily address the nationality question if they have to liberate themselves from the Neo-imperialist system.

Hence seizing the political power would become relevant and meaningful only if the political movement mobilises itself with a vision of displacing the imperialist system with the alternative indigenous peoples system. The case of former Soviet Union is a pointer, where the socialist objectives were strived to be achieved through non-socialist means in vital sectors. The means distorted the objectives and only helped to reproduce and strengthen the very system which they were trying to eliminate.

Anti-imperialist struggle, in a country like India, would become a meaningful movement only if it cultivates itself as an indigenous peoples movement, embracing the entire gamut of people’s life. Thus resolution of Nationality question or pursuing the national liberation struggle along with the movement of various nationalities would become strategically essential for developing an anti-imperialist movement.

In other words, national formations become the basis of one very social analysts and social construction.

Centralisation per se is by and large anti-people. Centralisation of power, Centralisation of resources and Centralisation of knowledge ultimately marginalise the masses.

Demands by the States for a greater autonomy and sharing of resources revenues between the centre and states are a manifestation of the growing national consciousness against centralisation.

Demands by various oppressed nationalities for nationhood in the form of a separate state or autonomous regions are indications of the movements against increasing centralisation of political power, exGorkhaland, Bodoland, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha etc.

If these movements, which are against centralisation, have to become meaningful, the decentralisation process us to perlocate to the level of a village or a hamlet, appreciating and recognising the diversity and plurity of the socio-cultural identities within the nation or nationality.

Forceful homogenisation of our society is yet another extension of centralisation. The thrust of the Hindutva ideology and the call for the “Akanda Bharat” is only a manifestation of this forceful homogenisation. The imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi speaking people is yet another attempt to homogenise the society as a Hindu-Hindi nation. Given the plurality and diversity of social, cultural, linguistic fabric, such forceful homogenisation would inevitably entail in violent assertion of one’s own identity.

When neo-colonialism in an international system, national liberation movements cannot exist in isolation. National democratic movements which assert the political, cultural, social and land rights of the indigenous peoples, have to develop an alliance among various other peoples movements for sharing their experiences and to have a feasible working arrangements against the common enemy. Thus the scene in the Indian sub-continent would emerge not only as an ensemble of various national democratic movements but also a movement in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The degeneration of certain national movements into chauvinist and fascist forces needs closer scrutiny. This has occurred mainly because of the lack of proper understanding about the very nationality question under neo-colonial conditions and the failure of the left in appreciating the question and reluctance to take the required initiative to lead these movements owing to their classical prejudices. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that the class bias of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements who spearhead these movements carry with them the chauvinist traits which go against the very spirit of the movement. Increasing participation and and initiative by women, Dalits and indigenous peoples in these movements is the only way to keep the democratic vision and fervour of these movements.

It is necessary to mention here that the environmental movements, ecological movements, anti-nuclear movements, women’s movements, and the movement of the Religious and national minorities have made us to look beyond the paradigm of wage-labour and capital and have contributed significantly for the evolution of a perspective required for an alternative system. Nevertheless, unless these movements integrate themselves into an organic whole with the political agenda of national liberation of the indigenous people against imperialism, with a national content and form towards self-reliance, the very movements, willy nilly, would go astray and degenerate as a force against the very people to whom it is intended for.

Under neo-colonial conditions, nationality question cannot be resolved unless the national liberation movement emerges as an anti-imperialist force. At the same time any anti-imperialist movement will not become a material force unless it cultivates itself as a force with a self-reliant national form and content to displace imperialism as a system.

Nationalisation, the slogan of the left has become a cliche today. Neo-colonialism has made a mockery of the slogan. The slogan of swadeshi sans Self-reliance is also a farce.

When green revolution is destroying the very life sustenance the question of whether a chemical fertiliser factory is owned by a native or an alien is meaningless. The technology which perpetuates increasing commercialisation of agriculture is bound to alienate the people from their own land and environment. The loss of self-reliance in terms of utilisation of land and the consequence of destroying one’s own self-confidence would ultimately destroy us internally and externally.

The public sector units which are facing extinction in the light of the NEP cannot defend themselves by raising the slogan of nationalisation. In fact the very spirit of nationalisation could be protected only if the people concerned pursue the process of socialisation (meaning the production and distribution of the goods are carried for the sustained benefit of the society at large). This has to be necessarily with the thrust on self-reliance, instead of simply prattling about swadeshi.

Pon. Chandran is a social activist


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