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The Marxist Critique of Postmodernism

Fascinating account of Samir Amin's political life. With interesting people it is always nice to see events and theories through their eyes. I also had no idea he was half French, and his memoir reminded me a lot of transnational experiences.

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Above all, his immense knowledge of African society and politics distinguishes him from a lot of other Egyptian scholars. Inna rated it it was amazing Mar 27, Michael marked it as to-read May 08, Justin Hegstad marked it as to-read Apr 28, Waad Ahmed marked it as to-read Jun 15, Salvador Allende marked it as to-read Mar 07, Bryant Crowe added it Jan 22, Colin marked it as to-read Mar 06, S marked it as to-read May 09, Amruta marked it as to-read Jul 27, BookDB marked it as to-read Sep 17, Ala' marked it as to-read Mar 09, Deved marked it as to-read Nov 21, I marked it as to-read Jan 29, Tariq marked it as to-read Apr 01, Caro Carl Janse van Rensburg marked it as to-read Aug 29, Melanie marked it as to-read Sep 08, Linus Vieira marked it as to-read Nov 24, Brandon Prince marked it as to-read May 23, Andrew marked it as to-read Oct 12, Siddartha added it Jan 19, Paul marked it as to-read Aug 13, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

About Samir Amin. Samir Amin. He currently lives in Dakar, Senegal. Books by Samir Amin. Agency is articulated in the very construction of the self Butler , and needs to be seen as tied up to the process of subject formation in relation to power Foucault []. The construction of self through writing occurs within discourses of power while attempting to subvert them, and is hence reflective of non-sovereign agency.

Karl Marx: Biographical memoirs

Even this resisting agency is shaped by the very structures that it challenges, sometimes even reinforcing them, hence it is conceptualized as non-sovereign agency. Women from the middle class as well as peasant and tribal communities were drawn into this radical left movement, despite the lack of a formal space for women in the CPI M-L and the absence of gender in the Naxalite class analysis Sinha Roy As I will show later, while women Naxalites had understood their involvement in the movement as empowering, they soon realised the patriarchal workings of the party and its leaders Ajitha , Bandyopadhyay , Sinha Roy , Roy This also ties up with the ways in which communist masculinity has been constructed within left parties in India.

Rajarshi Dasgupta argues that the communist definition of masculinity in Bengal emphasized upon bhadralok ideals of modesty, humility, sober reasoning, genuine social concern and self-reflection. In the Naxalite movement, this masculinity was manifested through a tolerance of women in the movement but it nevertheless relegated them to supportive roles. There was an effort to romanticize women as mothers, wives and widows of revolutionary men.

Further, sexual ascetism came to be recognised as one of the qualities of an ideal communist. The communist attitudes towards sexuality had a bearing on their perceptions of women within the movement. Henrike Donner talks about how certain kinds of relationships between men in a specific environment of patriarchy produced the subjectivities of male Naxal activists in the s and shaped their participation in the movement.

In fact, it could be argued that the bhadralok character of the Naxalite movement was one of the reasons for the Naxalite unwillingness to engage with questions of gender and sexuality. The Indian Maoist movement, 1 too, in its contemporary phase, engages much more with the woman question in its official ideology. For instance, in Bastar, a senior Maoist leader, Comrade Narmada cited in Pandita 96 , recalled how it took time to make the male comrades realise that women were not meant only to cook and perform other domestic chores in the squad.

She also talks about how another senior woman comrade, called Nirmala, pushed for women guerrillas to wear a shirt and trousers like their male counterparts, instead of saris.

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These and similar critiques reveal that the party itself is not free from patriarchal biases—several leaders admit to the prevalent patriarchal biases within the party structure and are willing to address the problem Pandita Such detailed engagement was absent in the first phase, when Ajitha and Bandyopadhyay participated in the movement. It is obvious that she had no outwardly declared feminist aim. Bandyopadhyay, on the other hand, says that she is trying to explain why middle class women like her joined the movement Bandyopadhyay So, they differ in the purpose of writing their memoirs and this comes across in the narratives too.

Both Ajitha and Bandyopadhyay belonged to middle class backgrounds. Bandyopadhyay, on the other hand, had to leave home to involve herself in radical politics. She describes how she was angered and saddened at the discrimination she faced at home while growing up. She writes:. Since my childhood I have seen several festivals being observed and celebrated in our house. Even later in life I would cringe at the discrimination in every aspect of life—be it eating habits, education, freedom of movement.

I always thought that something needed to be done about this Bandyopadhyay Other than this, Ajitha does not mention instances where she was discriminated as a girl. However, she does mention that she had been thinking for a long time whether she should get involved in radical politics or not. But she describes how she and other middle class women were assigned small roles by the party. And we had one more responsibility. This was to undergo training as nurses, so that we could tend to our injured male comrades and nurse them back to health Bandyopadhyay Bandyopadhyay started to feel as marginalized and discriminated against as she had felt in her family home.

This made her question her decision. It seemed to her that she had moved from one patriarchal set-up to another. Ajitha, too, had wanted to go and work in the villages like other male comrades, but had to initially face disappointment. I was raring to go in the field of action. When would my time come to meet these comrades brimming with revolutionary fervour, to see those villagers and to urge them on about the truth that I believed in?

But the comrades wanted me to wait for some more time. I felt depressed and disappointed that I was pulled back because I was a woman. I was fully aware of what tales people would tell about girls who freely moved around with men.

A Life Looking Forward

I hated this inequity and was determined to fight it Ajitha She later talks about how she went to the village Pulpally with her mother to be a part of the armed revolt that had been planned. Bandyopadhyay and other women from the party would also hold meeting and political discussions with women in the village. Following Mao, it had been advocated that bourgeois intellectuals from the middle-class should go and live in the villages in order to awaken the revolutionary consciousness of the peasantry. Through this, they would also integrate themselves with these people and de-class themselves.

So, women obviously had a problem if they were left out of this very important component of the revolution. Since Ajitha and Bandyopadhyay were sent to the villages, they saw themselves as capable of making a significant contribution. Bandyopadhyay writes:. I was noticing that the women also had begun to trust me. They were sharing their joys and sorrows with me.


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Internally, I felt extremely happy. Dron had gone away from the village on some party work. Bandyopadhyay says that she was always opposed to the idea of annihilation but could not voice it when she became a part of the movement. A year-old girl brimming with love received a massive jolt on that day. There was no option but to shed tears of shame and hurt.

I was never comfortable with the idea of such annihilation action.

Article excerpt

She does not conform to the idea that women are inherently peace loving. Ajitha, on the other hand, does that to some extent. She looks at violence as necessary for the revolution, but as a woman, it was hard for her to come to terms with this. On the contrary, I despise violence. I love to lead a peaceful life. But the world around me, and my life experiences taught me that no one can distance oneself from violence. It prevails in every realm of human life, in one form or the other. Even as one tries to avoid it, it makes itself felt like an omnipresent power.

I realized that it could only be dealt with in the same coin. Being a woman, it would not be easy for me.


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But I refuse to give up Ajitha Through instances like these, it is evident that while Ajitha resists traditional gender roles in general, her views sometimes also reinforce certain patriarchal stereotypes and norms. She even cites from some books to convey the point that this ideology had done good things for women in China. Bandyopadhyay states that she does not want to examine the theory and practice of the movement and so does not celebrate the ideology, even though she accepts that her involvement in Naxalite politics shaped what she is today and she does not regret the past Bandyopadhyay Bandyopadhyay joined the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist in , a year after it was formed.

Ajitha, on the other hand, participated in the armed revolt in Kerala in , before the party had been formed. Although these activities were acknowledged and appreciated by both Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal, the founders of the CPI ML , Ajitha and her comrades later started having differences with the practices of those who were the representatives of CPI M-L in Kerala, criticizing their opportunism. She says :. So if a woman, even while taking shelter with a peasant or a worker, was forced to keep awake night after night by his lecherous behaviour, one could not complain.

This is from my personal experience. It will demonstrate very clearly what an extremely mechanical response there was from the comrades in the face of a heartrending experience Bandyopadhyay Ajitha, too, writes about her comrades as supportive and helpful towards her Ajitha Mallarika Sinha Roy suggests that there were two kinds of love that are said to have motivated women to participate in the movement. One was love for the person, whereby women joined the movement only because the man they loved was involved. The second kind of love is the love for people or humanity in general.

One of the reasons why Ajitha and Bandyopadhyay joined the movement was this second kind of love, but in the course of the movement they fell in love with a person. Naxalites usually tried to sexually restrain themselves. It was felt that love, marriage and sexuality distract from the path of revolution.

Ajitha says that her father discouraged her from getting married since that would have meant harm to the movement. Varghese was captured and killed by the police. After her release from jail, the party started looking for a life partner for Ajitha. But she says:. I was against arranged marriages whether arranged by families or the party. Then one day I asked Yakoob another comrade if he would marry me.