Thursday, February 19, 2015

AAM AADMI PARTY: All That Glitters Is Not Gold by Ajay - Part 1

In 2015 Delhi Election, Aam Aadmi Party stormed BJP.
Can fascism be resisted through ballot?
(This article was written before AAP came into power in Delhi in the recent Delhi assembly election and has been published in the February'15 issue of TOWARDS A NEW DAWN the printed version of the magazine.

During the 16th Lok Sabha election, Aam Aadmi Party with its slogan of “corruption free developed India” claimed for power amidst election jingles of Congress's “Bhavya Bharat Nirman”, Modi's “Gujarat Development Model” and BSP's “Social Engineering”. Aam Aadmi Party took the electoral plunge under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal with the catchy slogans like “Nikalo Bahar Makano Se, Jang Laro Beyimaano se”, “Badlegi Rajnneti, kyonki shuruyat ki hai AAP ne”, and “Iss baar chalegi Jhaaru Bharat”.

AAP, which has come into limelight at the all India level after victory in Delhi assembly election with 28 out of 70 seats, was able to attract the attention of many people because of its decision to form a government through referendum. However, their many decisions and actions led their 49 days- run government into controversies also.

1.  Ups And Down During AAP Reign In Delhi State:

During their reign in Delhi, Kejriwal and his government refused to accept any security covers along with the red beacons on their vehicles claiming themselves “Aam Aadmi” and staunch warrior against VIP culture. It tried not only to fulfil the electoral promise of supplying 20 kilolitres of free water to the Delhiites, but also ordered an enquiry to expose the corruption of the water board and electrical companies during the previous government in Delhi. Kejriwal government took some 'left' looking measures like banning the foreign direct investment in multi- retails, launching a helpline number to nab the corrupt officials by conducting the sting operations. On that number people could directly register their complaints but only 1200 complaints of corruption were considered fit for action out of lakhs of complaints registered by the people. It also embarked upon a plan to convert the abandoned buses and Parta Cabins as night shelters for the homeless. During his short tenure, he also held a controversial “Janta Darbar” to listen to the grievances of the common people which lost to mismanagement. The Law minister of Kejriwal government misbehaved with an African woman in his self-style method of controlling prostitution in a locality undermining all democratic and civil rights and the Chief Minister, instead of taking action against his self styled Law minister, staged a 33 hour dharna to bring Delhi police under the control of the Delhi government. The voice of dissatisfaction also rose inside the newly formed party after getting into power. Newly elected MLA Vinod Kumar Binny accused the party leadership for autocratic behaviour after failing to get any ministry under Kejriwal led Government.

Finally Kejriwal resigned from the post on the pretext that their government had failed to pass the Jan Lokpal bill in the Delhi assembly. After that AAP rolled up sleeves for the next Lok Sabha elections. While making preparation for 16th Lokshabha election, AAP raised issues like raising of the price of LPGgas by congress led central government only to give the benefits to the Ambanis, and concessions by Modi led Gujarat government to the Adanis in land allotment and taxes and Kejriwal euphorically declared, “We have come not for electoral politics but have entered the politics to change the system.” He proclaimed to change the system with the slogans of 'grass-root democracy', 'participatory democracy', 'sustainable development', 'inclusive development', 'survival strategy', 'fight against crony capitalism', and 'governability democratic transitions'.

Many liberal-democratic intellectuals, parliamentary leftists and leaders of socialist leanings, and anti-displacement movements have joined the Aam Aadmi Party inspired by the statements and claims of Kejriwal with the hope that AAP would not only liberate the country from the corruption and plunder of Congress-BJP but also can fight a fascist like Modi. Only within one and half year of its formation it became capable to field more than 400 candidates in the 16th Lok Sabha election.

Due to above mentioned proclamations of Kejriwal, BJP slammed Arvind Kejriwal as an “Urban Maoist”, whereas Jai Ram Ramesh of Congress preached to the Indian Maoists, saying: “Kejriwal is unhappy with the system but has decided to contest elections which are the only democratic way. The Maoists should enter the system if they want to change it, why take up guns?” [1]

Therefore, It has become important to investigate the leanings of AAP amidst its claims to change the political system of the country through parliamentary ways as similar claims were made by CPM, CPI, CPI (ML) also, which eventually lost their edge. CPM even transformed into social fascist force. This investigation is also necessary to devise a correct method to fight fascism and bring a radical change in the system. The following essay is written from this perspective with the aim to contribute to the ongoing debate.

2.  The World View Of Aam Aadmi Party – Only A Superficial Action Is Enough

No sooner did Arvind Kejriwal impose a ban on the foreign direct investment in multi-retail in Delhi, corporate media then started slamming AAP as “Left of the Leftists”. The senior policy maker and strategist of the party Yogendra Yadav immediately made a statement by clearing their stance:

“AAP neither endorsed socialist nor capitalist ideology. We are a pragmatic and problem solving party.”[2]

With the claims of being pragmatic in Economy and politics, these politicians declared that a work which is prone to give immediate results is good. In other words, there is no need to look into the roots to solve any problem; there is no need to understand the underlying phenomena. They believe that it is sufficient to take immediate actions at the surface level in order to bring about immediate change in the system.

A. Pragmatism: American Born Subjective-idealist Philosophy

As a philosophy, pragmatism was formulated in America in 1870. It was proposed by the American philosopher, mathematician and physicist Charles Sanders Peirce who saw its traces in the pragmatic belief of Immanuel Kant and tried to give it a form. William James and John Dewey developed it further in the beginning of the 20th century. Pragmatism, according to William Jones, is not a set of principles but a method:

“The pragmatic method is primarily a method of settling metaphysical disputes that otherwise might be interminable. Is the world one or many?-fated or free?-material or spiritual?-here are notions either of which may or may not hold good of the world; and disputes over such notions are unending. The pragmatic method in such cases is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences. What difference would it practically make to any one if this notion rather than that notion were true? If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically the same thing, and all dispute is idle.”[3]

Analysing pragmatism in 1906, Lenin said:

"Perhaps the 'latest fashion' in the latest American philosophy is 'pragmatism' (from the Greek word 'pragma'-action; that is, a philosophy of action). The philosophical journals speak perhaps more of pragmatism than of anything else. Pragmatism ridicules the metaphysics both of materialism and idealism, acclaims experience and only experience, recognizes practice as the only criterion, refers to the positivist movement in general, especially turns for support to Ostwald, Mach, Pearson, Poincare and Duhem, for the belief that science is not an 'absolute copy of reality' and.. And successfully deduces from all this God for practical purposes, and only for practical purposes, without any metaphysics, and without transcending the bounds of experience (cf. William James, Pragmatism. A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, New York and London, 1907, pp. 57 and 106 especially). From the standpoint of materialism the difference between Machism and pragmatism is as insignificant and unimportant as the difference between empirio-criticism and empirio-monism.”[3]

This philosophical vision which considers practice/experience as the only criteria also reckons that truth is also an idea. It can be tested only when it is put in practice. According to this philosophy, there is no material existence of reality. Its existence beyond the idea in the physical world is unacceptable to this philosophy. Hence, there is no need of any philosophical idea, ideological pattern or category to understand reality, or the internal motion of the things, or to interpret things in their totality. To be useful on the mere basis of practice is the truth. Therefore, it is impossible to interpret the world or to grasp reality at the level of thought.  William James writes

“True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. That is the practical difference it makes for us to have true ideas. . . . Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events." [3]

It means that there is no such thing as truth until it is proved. Further, James writes

"You can say of it then either that 'it is useful because it is true' or that 'it is true because it is useful'. Both these phrases mean exactly the same thing, namely that there is an idea that gets fulfilled and can be verified. . . .When a moment in our experience, of any kind whatever, inspires us with a thought that is true, that means that sooner or later we dip by that thought's guidance into the particulars of experience again and make advantageous connection with them. . . . 'The true', to put it very briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as 'the right' is only the expedient in the way of our behaving. Expedient in almost any fashion; and expedient in the long run and on the whole of course. .” [3]

So for pragmatism, all the things are examined in practice. Here this approach seems similar to Marxist philosophy. But this approach at its basic understanding is not only different from Marxism but also anti-Marxist. For Marxism, Any idea or belief is not considered to be truth only because it is useful. On the contrary, a thing is useful because it is truth. Truth does not mean 'usefulness.' Rather the truth means that the ideas are in accordance with reality and only dialectic materialism provides telescope and microscope to understand reality in its totality. By this, we understand the objective reality along with the rules of its internal motion and accordingly also devise ways to change that reality. It is through practice that we understand exactly how we have managed to succeed in understanding reality so that we can come close to objective reality and the rules of internal motion by enriching it. Marxism also considers practice primary but for it social practice is the scale to measure the truth. It does not mean that it is truth in itself. In fact truth/ reality have independent existence from an idea. Lenin explains it

"Knowledge can be useful . . . in human practice... only when it reflects objective truth, truth which is independent of man. For the materialist the 'success' of human practice proves the correspondence between our ideas and the objective nature of the things we perceive.”

Ideas born into practice and develops further in the process of matching theory and practice. If that process is accomplished through a scientific method, if the ideas reflect the reality in more holistic way, it is from here the rules that run the material world can be understood. Though, the contents of these rules, the discovery and grasp on them are not always final and absolute; rather they are examined in practice and continue to grow at much higher levels of reality through the dialectic method. Thus the true ideas are born and examined in practice. So unlike pragmatism, according to the scientific approach, practice is the discovery of the rules of internal motion of reality and hence its usage.

B. Action On The Basis Of Pragmatic Understanding – Promoting The Values In The Interest Of Ruling Classes

The politics of AAP does not need to go into deep analysis to know the truth because their objective is only to garner votes through the populist slogans rather than solving any problems. Therefore, the leaders of party claiming faith in pragmatism perhaps forget that the attempt to solve problems without looking into their roots, without relating these to internal rules and wider social processes not only fails but also turns into anti-people. The inclination of AAP is merely taking action at the surface level adopting the pragmatic philosophy rather than eliminating the problem at its grass root level.

When a party does not look at the roots of the political problems, their solution obviously seems farfetched. It has delimited itself to carry out certain actions considering the immediate belief of the majority of the masses. They believe that it is sufficient to tame the canter mafia to solve the problem of availability of water. They look for the solution of rape crimes in capital punishment. It is enough to take police action to fight the evil of prostitution. They seem to find the solution of sexual harassment in formation of the separate wings of the retired soldiers. There is neither a need to fight against the patriarchal values nor the custodians of these values in the ruling class to eliminate these problems. In order to tackle these problems, the racist and national- chauvinist thinking prevailing among the people has become the departure point of AAP's action. The result of this kind of approach is evident in the misbehavior of Somnath Bharti with the Ugandan women.

Since the patriarchal, national-chauvinistic, racist, sectarian, and casteist ideologies feeding the ruling classes still dominate the country; this kind of action ultimately turns into the “tyranny of the majority”. The decision to support Afzal Guru's hanging, retreating from the idea of referendum in Kashmir or declaring Kashmir as indefinite part of India only reflect  their pragmatic vision. But AAP perceives a small step to challenge the current exploitative structure as creating feelings of “unnecessary heartburn and sense of injustice”. About the their decision to oppose reservation in promotion, AAP writes :

“This creates unnecessary heartburn and a sense of injustice, which is not in keeping with the sprit of the system of reservations…..Instead of focusing on limited issues like promotion policy, that concern a tiny elite from disadvantaged groups, proponents of social justice should focus their energy on the bigger question of equitable access to high quality school and higher education.” [4]

The use of this kind of language favours the upholding of the present caste system which is reflected in “Youth for quality”. AAP seems more concerned of the potential 'dissidence and injustice' of some higher castes than the atrocities and injustices perpetrated on the disadvantaged sections for last hundreds of years.

So, AAP promotes only those values that favour the ruling classes. By following this pragmatic political approach, AAP is only giving a protective shield to the ruling classes that hides the terrible truth and the handiworks of the exploiters under the guise of their fight against corruption. This way, AAP is only constructing a “false consciousness” by pushing the exploitation and oppression by the ruling classes under the carpet.

The party that favours the upper castes and takes decisions on basis on patriarchal arguments and nationalist thinking also seems to be eager to adopt other conservative ideas in the future that will not only transform it into the “tyranny of majority” but also go to the extent of supporting the Hindutva sectarian approach and even the casteist activities. This will ultimately lead only to the fascism and autocracy. The pragmatic thought process is most likely to produce these consequences. The father of Fascism in Italy, Mussolini says

“The pragmatism of William James was of great use to me in my political career. James taught me that an action should be judged by its results rather than by its doctrinary basis. I learnt of James that faith in action, that ardent will to live and fight, to which Fascism owes a great part of its success."

3.  Swaraj Of Aam Aadmi Party – Agenda Of World Bank

AAP advocates for giving more power to the Gram Sabha and Mohalla Sabha in their manifesto under the title 'Swaraj'. It approves that the Gram Sabha and Mohalla Sabha should have the right to decide about their development according to their needs and preferences. They should have the authority to take decisions, devise policies, power to maintain the government schools and the primary health centres along with the authority to issue certificates. Many intellectuals also looked at their decision of conducting referendum to become a chief minister as a step towards shifting the power in the hands of people. But it is an issue of inquiry whether the decentralization as declared by AAP is part of the process of democratization or only a medium to strengthen the feudal class and implement the agenda of World Bank.

A. Swaraj In The Current System: A Weapon To Strengthen The Reactionaries

In India, the Gram Sabhas or Mohallas Sabha are run by the influential people of the dominant castes and all the decisions are also virtually taken by them. The common man in most of the meetings would either have a passive role or allowed to articulate their views on certain issues but the final decision is always taken by the dominant caste and class. The relationship between the influential class and the common people is not of equality but based on the traditional patron-client relation in which social position, religion and property play a major role. Unless the sources of this power do not change, there will not be any action or program to break this caste based pyramid structure. Until the laborers and farmers do not have power in their villages and areas, this decision to authorize Gram Sabhas and local council will only strengthen the feudal forces by making certain authoritarian people of the upper caste more powerful. They will use this power to extract extra surplus, to control female sexuality and to control the labor by intensifying the caste based exploitation and oppression in the villages. While rejecting Gandhi's concept of Village Concil in the 1949 debate of the Constitutional Assembly, Ambedkar had said

“It is said that the new Constitution should have been drafted on the ancient Hindu model of a State and that, instead of incorporating western theories, the new Constitution should have been raised and built up on village panchayats and district panchayats. … They just want India to contain so many village governments. The love of the intellectual Indian for the village community is of course infinite if not pathetic"… I hold that these village republics have been the ruination of India. I am therefore surprised that those who condemn Provincialism and communalism should come forward as champions of the village. What is the village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism?" [5]

The massacre of Muslims in Muzaffarnagar of Uttar Pradesh, Goplagarh of Rajasthan, killing of Dalits in Dulina, Jhajjar (Haryana) in the name of saving cows, murders of Dalits in Dharampuri(Tamilnadu), Khairlanji(Maharastra), and Mirchpur (Haryana), social boycott of Dalits in Punjab's village Padri Kalan, honor killings, the gang rape of a woman on order of panchayat in West Bengal on the pretext of giving her punishment – all these incidents clearly prove that the condition of villages in India still remain basically same.

Since the General Sectary of CPI (Marxist) Prakash Karat has claimed that the agendas of social justice, democratization and decentralization of power mentioned in the manifesto of AAP has been part of the programmes of their party for a long time. Therefore, the experiences of CPI (Marxist)  led government are important in this context where the decentralization through Panchyati Raj only gave birth to the new landlords in which the traditional system still not only remained intact but eventually changed into social fascism. The decision of AAP to recognize Khaps as social organization involved in solving disputes just before the elections reflects that this party stands in favour of that Khap [6] which has remained the major weapon to continue the feudal power in the villages.

The genuine decentralization of power is only possible with the establishment of the power of workers and peasants including dalits and women by breaking all the oppressive and exploitative social structures in the villages which is possible if the land is seized from the landlords and redistributed among the landless and the poor peasants which leads toward establishment of collective farming, small scale industries at the same time ideologically struggling against Brahmanical, casteist and patriarchal ideologies by fighting all type of caste oppression and exploitation.

All plans to decentralize, while maintaining the current social structure, will only lead to further increase in autocracy, exploitation and oppression that may shift towards fascism at any time.

B. Participatory Democracy- An Attempt To Implement The Dierctions Of The World Bank

Even if the peasants and labourers of any Gram sabhas and Mohalla Sabha take control of power in their areas, it would be impossible to register growth by depending on the government because as per manifesto of AAP, the decision to allocate annual funds for the development activities of Gram Sabha and Mohalla Sabha would remain intact in the hands of central government.[4] This also means that these Sabhas will have to generate all resources of income to manage the government schools and primary health education on its own because AAP has also declared in its manifesto that the water-forest-land and other natural resources, that sustain the economic and material needs of the villages and are the major sources of their income, will be under the control of the state. While controlling the sources of income of the village, Government will have the right to allocate all funds for development. It shows that ultimate power would lie in the hand of Government instead of Gram Sabha and Mohalla Sabha. So envisioned by AAP would only be a fallacy. Such type of decentralization is called as 'participatory democracy' by World Bank.

It is important to note that in both books that include “Moditva” by Sidhartha Mazumdar which was released by the top leadership of BJP and Arvind Kejriwal's  “Swaraj”, there is emphasis on the promotion of participatory democracy by terming the participatory budget system of Brazil as the best. Brazilian President Mr. Lula De Silva, who came to power in 2003 through mass movements, implemented such participatory democracy under that name of Participatory Budget System. In this, an assembly would be held of associations representing various sections of society — including trade unions, NGOs, and employers' associations. First, from the funds available, the amount required for the province's contribution towards servicing the foreign debt would be subtracted. Then discussion would begin on how to spend the remainder, with each association allowed time to speak to ask for funds for its concern, and a vote at the end on all the proposals. None of the priorities may be funded, if there are not sufficient funds for them. Clearly such a procedure has nothing to do with opposing 'globalisation'. What it does is to set various exploited social sections against one another and dissipate resentment for Bank-Fund austerity measures. Indeed the IMF publication Finance and Development, edited by the World Bank's Chief Economist, praises the PT's "participatory budget" as helping to "reduce the administrative and social constraints on economic activity and social mobility. Actually this system has nothing to do with the democratization or decentralization of system. This system only works to create rifts among different exploited sections and then works to suppress the discontent arising from the disinclination of the government to work for the welfare of the people because only 17% of total budget of the municipality was placed in front of the members of the representative organizations for allocation.[7]

Actually AAP's policy of decentralization suits to the agenda of the World Bank to implement neoliberal reforms in which main thrust remains on reduction of Government expenditures. In Haryana and Punjab, Government has already handed over the management of schools and water to Panchayats, for which the Panchayats are to generate its own resources to carry out their development plan. Such decentralization of power has become a way to follow the directives of World Bank by cutting the government expenditure owing to which it is pulling its hand from all welfare schemes and policies. Parties of all colours including AAP and CPI(Marxist) have the same policy to strengthen the feudal forces while giving way to enhance the infiltration of the imperialist powers so that the 'political stability' favouring the ruling classes may continue.

4. Aam Aadmi Party : Follower Of The Imperialist Developmental Model

In its manifesto, AAP has advocated the “balanced model of development” for India, while aiming to provide home, food, education, health, electricity, water, toilets to every citizen, to protect the livelihood of the farmers, and to provide fair employment to the youth. But at the same time, while speaking at the CII, Arvind Kejriwal has made it clear in strong words that government has no business to be in business. He pronounced that their party is not against capitalism, but only against crony capitalism. He also declared that their party would end the inspector rule and promote the inclusive growth and honest businessmen would be encouraged. 8 It is crystal clear from this statement that AAP is in favour of upholding the liberalized free market and privatization of government industries.

A. Crony Capitalism: A Jargon To Veil The Capitalist System Responsible For Economic Crisis

The division between the honest and dishonest businessmen is misleading. It only implies that the plundering of the country by the capitalists using legal means can be justified. By this logic, the exploitation of India by the East India Company who ruled our country through legal means can also be justified. By such argument, AAP tried to justify the stance of Maruti Suzuki Company that ruthlessly exploited the workers at the same time tampering with their lives.

In this system of “might is right”, the parliament and law are nothing more than puppets in the hands of the rich. It is, therefore, meaningless to differentiate between the honest and dishonest bourgeois and only justifies the imperialist plunder of the country and its people. It such a meaningless term that even the architect of free market economy Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister of India under UPA regime (understood to be by far the most corrupt Government in India) has also opposed the crony capitalism in the country. In fact, it is the integral part of the capitalist system to get impermissible benefits by conniving with the politicians. Noam Chomsky writes

“…what's capitalism supposed to be? Yeah, it's crony capitalism. That's capitalism, you do things for your friends, your associates, they do things for you, and you try to influence the political system, obviously. You can read about this in Adam Smith. If people read Adam Smith instead of just worshipping him, they could learn a lot about how economies work. So, for example, he's concerned mostly with England, and he pointed out that in England, and I'm virtually quoting, he said the merchants and manufacturers are the principal architects of government policy and they make sure their own interests are well cared for, however grievous the effects on others, including the people of England. Yes, it's their business. What else should they do? It's like when people talk about greedy capitalists, that's redundant. You have to be a greedy capitalist or you're out of business. In fact, it's a legal requirement that you be a greedy capitalist and that you don't pay attention to what happens to anyone else. You know, it's not just Ayn Rand, that's the law. So, these complaints don't make any sense.” [8]

So this slogan of 'oppose the crony capitalism' is also hollow like AAP's slogan of decentralization of power. Crony Capitalism is being used in India as an illusion so as to protect capitalism and the capitalist system from being exposed.

The term Crony Capitalism was used by 'mainstream' economist in the last decade of the 20th century to define the causes of East Asian currency and financial crisis only to shield the imperialist capitalist system. Today, when the people of India are suffering from impoverishment and poverty amidst the economic crisis, crony capitalism is again blamed by putting a veil on the actual causes i.e. imperialist-capitalist loot, exploitation which in reality is logical conclusion of the policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization. It is also claimed to set this right by controlling crony capitalism through 'good governance' and 'decentralization'.
In fact, Arvind Kejriwal's declaration to change the system does not mean to establish a true self reliant sovereign democracy by uprooting the imperialist-capitalist system, but it means only to provide good governance at the same time continuing this imperialist capitalist system. And good governance here implies – end to the inspector rule and completely end the interference of the government in the business. In other words, it aims to establish free markets without any government interference. This is saga of next phase of the economic reforms started by Mr. Manmohan Singh.


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