Forget Corruption, fight bourgeois class rule

Satyabrata

Can “corruption” be seen as a homogeneous practice? Is the corruption of a government evident, say, in the signing of an MoU, and that of a clerk taking bribes the same? The answer is obviously no! A society where money constitutes the primary means by which people satisfy their needs, with needs increasing and relative wages declining, striking a moral stance on corruption amounts to submitting to the ruling hegemony. But to inquire, on the other hand, into the causes of corruption is to take the first step in launching a concerted attack on that hegemony. The power of the system rests, in large measure, on its capacity to prevent people from engaging in the process of critical thinking; to convert them into passive recipients of Ideology. The “Hazare movement” is one such example where hegemony subsumes dissent, and distorts it.

Therefore, a politico-strategic exposition of the Jan Lokpal Bill, which has brought large masses of students, youth, industrialists and politicians out on to the streets, is a necessary condition for engaging with what might be called the “Hazare movement”. In an ideal sense, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a legislative attempt to check corruption. It demands the setting up of a central Lokpal, and state-level Lokayuktas, that will be independent of governments. Members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities, and not by politicians, through a completely ‘transparent’ and ‘participatory’ process. Its tasks shall include inquiry into cases of delayed delivery of public services and imposition of penalty on officials found guilty.

Here it becomes necessary to understand the role of representative institutions in a representative democracy as another representative institution is probably about to be set up. Representative bodies are institutions through which political power is wielded. In that sense they are not very different from “management” of industries, especially as far as their task of control over masses is concerned. The difference is they are elected (directly or indirectly) by the people. The cry of the people today against corruption on the streets is the participation of “people” to undo something that hampers their lives. Of course such desire is refracted through shards of ideology but that certainly does not negate its impulse to grapple with the system in order to rid it of its warts. The trouble, however, is the anti-corruption movement is about to be institutionalised by the state, which is seeking to bring it within the realm of its operation. That, in itself, appears to be a welfarist act. That is, if one doesn’t go deeper to understand the logic of the State.

The widespread hue and cry over the Hazare movement is evidence that the ideological apparatuses of the state are at work to include dissent and the idea of mass participation it poses into a re-presentative body. That would, among other things, lead to the institutional inclusion of participatory democracy – an idea posed by the politics of dissent – even as such participation is exteriorised by the masses. It is indicative of the necessity of the existence of the state and civil society as two separate bodies embodying alienation and dissent respectively. The Hazare movement is politico-ideologically bankrupt to grasp how the state is an institution to wield political power. And is not such a movement, therefore, condemned to express impulses of capitalist ‘de-statisation’ which, at the level of political logic, have much in common with the current politico-economic consensus to increasingly privatise the public sphere, delivering significant aspects of life and livelihood into the hands of private players? No state can survive without the support of its people and this has been proved time and time again. But the “powerful state” learns and doesn’t allow its people to learn, if only to exist and exist better. An anti-corruption movement that bases itself merely on the outburst of people’s spontaneous dissent with regard to the system is bound to squander its potential revolutionary impulse because its institutionalisation by liberal politics is its inescapable fate.

Comments

  1. the thesis presented in this article is quite logical.the act of agitation in hazarian style and the overwhelming response of the masses leading to finally government accepting the people’s demands should n”t be regarded as a ‘great win’,rather it is just proving to be a badly needed safety valve to release the pressure from the government and the neo-liberal forces behind it.in other words the dissent is being converted in to an aggrement about which the majority of the masses are unaware.

  2. Actually Anna did a fast for a very specific demand – one, two, three … five… period. It was met and thats it. The fervour created by media and fan followers, comparing it to New Independence, India’s Tahrir Square, today’s gandhi etc. was probably unexpected for the organizers too.

    The images of the dharna were telling – Anna Rocks said a poster, some people were doing a havan, there were Baba Ramdev fans as well as more sophisticated Shri Shri Ravi Shankars fans too. It would be foolish to look for ideology behind the event.

    Nevertheless the question is that it excited many many people from rickshaw pullers to corporates, young and old. Somewhere it touched a chord. And this we should not fail to see. Why with all our correct analysis we are not able to get this reaction from the masses ? Why we are not able to generate this heat. We too have to get out there sometime.

    When ? How? Waiting…

    Maybe someone should try to turn the mood towards a more meaningful struggle.

  3. Abhisek Bisoy says:

    If you prefer to change the constitution of India in a day you will need a lot of firepower and people’s support. But people in India prefer to fight the Gandhian way, its in their blood. To achieve something in India you will have to go in a step by step process. Anna’s demands were specific because it’s just the first step. Anna himself said “this is only the beginning”. There is more to come from Anna and the Civil Society. But analysis like these are also necessary for the future of our country.

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