58 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
communicating within a civil society of 'good' citizens with increasing trust in each other (social capital). In this perspective, moreover, the current dynamic growth of third world late capitalism and, with it, increasingly independent and astute citizens, will undermine the old kind of class contradictions that, many say, generate 'threats against democracy and development' in terms of 'overpoliticisation', authoritarian and huge states, and 'top-down5 traditional leftist parties and unions.
If the thesis had been correct in the context of Kerala, this would have implied, first, that Kerala's underdeveloped economy should not, as it were, have produced a democratic polity in the first place. Furthermore, in accordance with the thesis, the long and outstanding importance of Leftist politics would have diminished after the land reform and further democratisation would primarily have come about in the southern areas where market and middle class civil society driven modernisation was most important. However, as we know, the results from one of the World's most impressive campaigns for democratic decentralisation, alternative popular planning and development work from below, the People's Planning Campaign indicate that generally speaking Left politics is alive and renewed while the campaign has done least well (in terms of democratic development projects) in the areas with most of the market- and middle class civil society driven modernisation that the conventional argument instead relates to democratisation.
TENTATIVE ALTERNATIVE THESES
In contrast to the mainstream perspectives - and aside from the fact that most democracies have actually come about much 'thanks' to 'enlightened' top-down leaders, war, and other catastrophes - the inital hypothesis in my own programme was, that even though it is true that third world late capitalism differs a lot from the European and American paths, it may generate instead other characteristics that might actually spur both a renewed Left and a radical democracy.
Why would that be? First, no matter what we think of third world capitalism, it is no longer held back (as under colonialism) in countries like India. So the basic rationale for the old communist argument about the need for authoritarian shortcuts to progress is no more. While the old Left would thus diminish, radical movements would instead become more interested in gradual and democratic pathways from below and abandon enlightened authoritarianism. Similarly, second, there would also be less fertile ground for the old third world