Social Scientist. v 3, no. 33 (April 1975) p. 20.


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20 SOCIAL SCIENTIST

scientific) were in certain respects equal, if not superior, to those of medieval Europe. Its weakness consisted in the fact that, in the new epoch of human history, when European society overthrew feudalism and established capitalism, the rising force of the new epoch, capitalism, could not develop within it; and in the fact that when the representatives of the new, capitalist social order went forth from their original European homes to India (and to other Asian countries) the new techniques and relations of production brought by them could not be accommodated within the existing Indian society.

The role played by capitalism in the revolutionary transformation of human society was assessed by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Commnnist Party as follows:

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?8

Regeneration v. Revivalism

The class which brought about such revolutionary transformations in human history having come to India (as of course to other Asian countries having similar social organizations as of India) was dealing with a society which had never had any serious political convulsion or comprehensive revolution. The new relations of production which were slowly but steadily being forged could not be accommodated within a centuries-old social order. The very process of trade which brought the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English into India undermined the basis of the 'unique type of society5 whose formation at the dawn of history had made India different from other countries. To quote Marx once again:

Arabs, Turks, Tartars, Moguls, who had successively overrun India, soon became Hinduized, the barbarian conquerors being, by an eternal law ©f history, conquered themselves by the superior civilization of their subjects. The British were the first conquerors superior, and, therefore, inaccessible to Hindu civilization. They destroyed it by breaking up the native communities, by uprooting the native industry and by levelling all that was great and elevated in the native society. The historic pages of their rule in India report hardly any»i thing beyond that destruction. The work of regeneration hardly transpires through a heap of ruins. Nevertheless it has begun.7

The essence of the work of regeneration referred to by Marx is the origin and growth of new classes—the bourgeoisie and the proletarians— and the role they played in the building of the new society. The



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