As the collapse of the Soviet Union has emboldened bourgeois ideologues to proclaim the everlasting victory of capitalism, one recalls Rosa Luxemburg's -words the day before she was murdered: Tomorrow already the revolution will arise again in shining armour and will frighten you with her trumpet call: I was, I am, I shall be!' The 'defeat' culminating in Rosa Luxemburg's murder was a phase, which was followed, as she had visualised, by even greater triumphs of socialism. The current setback too is a phase which would inevitably be followed by even more remarkable triumphs of socialism in mankind's arduous march from unfreedom to freedom.
Indeed Prabhat Patnaik in his Ved Gupta Memorial Lecture, which we carry in the current number of Social Scientist, believes that the conditions for the revival of the onward march of socialism are already emerging. In its moment of apparent triumph, capitalism has already, ironically, passed the meridian of its ascendancy. A whole range of related phenomena, namely the re-emergence of the hegemony of finance capital, though in a shape somewhat different from what it had assumed in Lenin's time, the acute distress that the transition to capitalism has unleashed in the former Soviet Union, the massive unemployment that characterises the advanced capitalist world, including its most 'competitive' economies like Germany, and the almost overnight transformation of the newly industrialising 'Asian Tigers' to the status of mendicants: all these presage yet another epoch of renewed socialist upsurge. It is important however that lessons are learned from the mistakes of the past and that the socialist forces confront the new situation with a theoretical perspective that is richer and fresher through an analysis of the past.
The eminent film director Mrinal Sen delivered the P.C. Joshi Memorial Lecture for 1997, the text of which we also carry, as is our usual practice, in the current number. The lecture is remarkable not only for its intensely personal style, but also because of Sen's forthright rejection of the tendency to apotheosise the 'perception of the masses' which, though completely foreign to Marxism, is so current in radical circles. Sen distinguishes between 'physical perception' and 'intellectual perception' and argues that what is often considered comprehension by the unlettered and the untrained represents only physical rather than intellectual perception. There is a journey from one to the other, which has to be undertaken. It is this journey