Social Scientist. v 26, no. 300-301 (May-June 1998) p. 3.


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IRFANHABIB*

The Left and the National Movement**

The theme of this lecture has become increasingly important with our country passing under a regime that significes the negation of the basic ideals of our National Movement. The time has come to remind ourselves that the Left fully shares with other sections of our people the great ideological legacy of the National Movement. I cannot claim as a professional historian that what I shall be discussing now belongs to my 'field'; I felt, however, that possibly some clarification of the larger issues relating to the position of the Left in the National Movement, maybe obtained if one looks back from the vantage point of 1998. It is this very modest endeavour that I shall attempt. If it is found inadequate, I would still have the excuse that I am attempting the telling of a story in which Comrade Sundarayya was one of the heroic figures, and which, therefore, is not irrelevant to the occasion.

MARX AND INDIAN LIBERATION

What has come to be defined as the "Left" in the historiography of the national movement and current political discourse is essentially the assemblage of all elements as owed allegiance to the socialist world-outlook. It is an area in which Marxism exercised the dominant influence. While it is true that, as a standard-bearer of the working-class in the struggle against capitalism, Marx' s main theoretical writings were concerned with the working of capitalism and the exploitation of labour, it is important to remember that his commitment to the cause of India' s national liberation predated any recognizable beginnings of our own National Movement. In 1853 he wrote in an American newspaper, the New York Daily Tribune:

The Indian will not reap the fruits of the new elements of society

""Formerly Professor of History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh ** Based on Sundarayya Memorial Lecture, Hyderabad, May 1998

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 5 - 6, May- June 1998



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