Social Scientist. v 2, no. 14 (Sept 1973) p. 62.

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the worst fascistic terror perpetrated by the Congress Government headed by Indira Gandhi could not shake.


1 People's Democracy, July 1969, Calcutta.

2 Ibid., November 23, 1969.

Role of the Marxist Intellectuals in India Today

IN his communication "Role of the Marxist Intellectuals in India Today" Professor Irfan Habib,1 while accusing Mathew Kurian (Social Scientist, August 1972) of inconsistency in his definition of the term 'Marxist intellectual9, and overlooking the category of 'practising revolutionaries9, himself, we fear, indulged in some un-Marxian neo-logism and confused the concept of'practising revolutionaries5 to be a collateral of the concept of 'Marxist intellectual5. It transpires, as he argued in his paper, that Marxist intellectual as a class consists of two components, namely, 'practising revolutionaries9 and 'Marxist academics9. That it is never so is the point which we would like to make out here.

Who is a Marxist intellectual ? Is he an ideologue or one who has got a faint knowledge of Marxian dialectics, but devotes his time in organisational work among the proletariat ? It is perhaps too old a quarrel to need recapitulating. But, since Habib has referred to it and craved the reader's indulgence, we think it would be worthwhile to mention the dispute in the League of Communists during the second half of 1850. It was obviously on the precise role of the intellectuals in the proletarian revolution that the disagreement did, in fact, take place. Scapper, in the meeting of the Central Authority of the League held in London 1850, accused Marx and his disciples of'hesitant intellectualism9. He did not of course give up the charges at that. In a circular dated October 8, 1850, he again raked up the issue and argued that Marx and Engels were 'intellectuals and so-called writers who cannot stand men of action in their company9.2

Marx obviously offered answer to all these charges, and what he wrote by way of explaining the role of intellectuals and the 'predicaments' of the proletariat are of great theoretical significance. The task of a 'revolutionary intellectual5, he wrote, was to furnish critical and analytical faculties, understanding of the historical process and comprehension of the actual economic and social conditions with a view to timing accurately the ultimate coup de grace with precision and finality. The main function of a revolutionary intellectual is, according to him., to

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