Social Scientist. v 14, no. 159-60 (Aug-Sept 1986) p. 152.


Graphics file for this page
Book Review

Indian Business and Nationalist Politics 1931-39

CLAUDE MAKROWITZ : The Indigenous Capitalist Class and the Rise of the Congress Party, Cambridge University Press (1986). pp. 230,

THIS VOLUME very clearly represents a trend that tends both to misrepresent the Marxist approach to history and its positions regarding the charcter of various classes at different stages of social development and at the same time tries to use narrow empiricism and positivism, leading both to a self-contradictory analysis and to conclusions that are almost a priori, as a result.

Markowitz starts with the object of shjwing the world how the character of the Indian business class "runs contrary to Maixist or pseudo-Marxist assumptions about the industrialists forming an anti-imperialist 'national baurgeoisie' while traders, espesially importers, being basically compradores, are expected to oppose nationalism/51 Firstly, this sort of approach is utterly out of keeping with the Marxist understanding where the character of a class is seen as essentially depending on its relation to the means of production and varying within this framework according to the stage of development of a particular mode of production and to the correlation of classes at definite periods of the concrete development of socio-economic formations in particular. There is nothing eternal about it or about classes themselves.

As regards the role of the bourgeoisie of colonial states, the most comprehensive statement is that of the theses adopted by the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, placed by M.N. Roy with substantial additions and corrections by V.I. Lenin, in 1922. The Second Thesis, phrased in as general terms as possible, and the distilled essence of the experience of National Liberation Movements the world over, is quite different from what Markowitz puts out as the Marxist position.

It merely states: "The Communist International supports all national revolutionary movements against imperialism. At the same time it does not lose sight of the fact that only a consistent revolutionary line of policy based on the active support of the masses, and the unreserved break with all advocates of imperialism in the interests of maintaining class domination can lead the oppressed masses to victory. The connection between the native bourgeoisie and the feudal reactionaary elements enables the imperialists to make full use of feudal anarchy, the rivalry between various leaders and tribes the antagonism between town and country, the struggle between the caster and national religious sects etc, for the purposes of disorganising the popular



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page