Social Scientist. v 12, no. 128 (Jan 1984) p. 1.

Graphics file for this page
Editorial Note

THE NATIONALITY QUESTION in India, which has all along been our important practical question, is once again coming to the forefront. A clear Marxist perspective on this question in our concrete context is urgently required, and to this end Social Scientist proposes to initiate in its pages a discussion on this question. For a start we publish as the lead article of the current number a piece by Suneet Chopra which seeks to outline the Marxist approach to this question. Since Marxism opposes any national oppression, on the one hand, as well as any "consecration, of nationalism5', on the other, central to its approach is the drawing of a "boundary line", as Lenin put it. Chopra traces this "boundary line" through the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin and argues that this "boundary line" too does not remain immutable in the context of changing historial circumstances. Marxism approaches the national question not in terms of abstract formulae or simple canons of moral rectitude, but from the concrete perspective of the proletarian class struggle. And with the changing conditions of class struggle, the "boundary line" too must change.

This perspective of class struggle however has increasingly been relegated to the background in the recent upsurge of debate on Marxism, especially in the West. As Marxism has become de rigueur after years of cold war neglect, the plethora of literature which has emerged, devoid of any anchorage in the concrete issues of class struggle, has settled increasingly into an esoteric and scholastic Marxology. Raghavendra Rao, in his article, asks the pertinent question: Where does one find the Marx of proletarian praxis in this burgeoning literature? Basing himself on the introduction to the Grundrisse, he attempts to recreate the relation between the theory, the method and what he calls the "metaphysics" of Marx. He uses the term "metaphysics" in a sense different from its common Marxist usage to denote a priori perception which informs any theory about reality; in this sense, according to him, every theory has a "metaphysic" underlying it. Whether one accepts his position or not, the issues raised in his paper concern the fundamentals of Marxist epistemo]ogy and deserve careful study and discussion.

Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page