The New Socialist Initiative (NSI) is a collective committed to regeneration of revolutionary socialist politics. It is a platform in the making consisting of comrades from different streams of life and left politics. Some of us are engaged in trade unions for unorganized sector workers, some of us are active on women’s issues, with particular emphasis on bringing class in women politics, while many other among us are active in theater and university level discussion cum agitational groups as well as struggles for dalit emancipation and anti-communal struggle. Our members are active, though not always under the name of New Socialist Initiative, in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka. We engage in reading, discussing, understanding and formulating Marxist thought, visualizing socialist possibilities and figuring out new ways of looking at and understanding society. We work with different communities, groups, progressive political organisations, movements and people to pursue our revolutionary goals. Our central concern is with contemporary challenges to the vision and politics of the left, both globally and locally.
We believe that socialist revolution is the best possible way to ensure a world of freedom for all, towards which the “workers of the world” shall unite together and bring about an egalitarian society, wherein the collective producers will be the collective appropriators of the surplus generated. We understand that a vision for the 21st century socialist revolution has to be reimagined and rearticulated in the light of our new conjuncture. We understand that Capitalism cannot cure itself of the crises that it spreads, more so as we witness that the route taken by it cannot sustain either the Earth or humanity. At the same time we also understand that unlike socialist revolutions of the past era, the challenges before us today are far more complex. The colossal task of the 21st century revolutionary socialist politics is to explain and make it integral to working class consciousness that under socialism the society will move to a higher stage of productivity, prosperity, democracy and freedom than what capitalism offers to humanity today.
The challenge we face from a globalising neo-liberal capitalism of today is immense. The new revolutions are not going to take place in emergency situations as they did in the 20th century. Today, the crisis on the left cannot be explained only by contingent factors and subjective failures, important as they are. A tectonic shift has taken place. The vision of left needs to be re-articulated, its politics needs to be refashioned, its strategy redesigned. The first revolution of tomorrow, whenever and wherever it happens, will happen, for the first time ever, in a capitalist country and in a bourgeois-democratic polity.
Today we are all confronted by the complexities of defining and understanding the working class/workers, which no longer falls in line with the classical Marxist definition. Workers do all the work even today, but they do not all work and live in similar conditions, nor do all workers even appear as workers. Workers live and work as workers but not all consider themselves to be workers. Overall, the basis for the workers of the world to unite recedes from the surface and goes deeper into the subterranean levels of social reality. The variegated conditions of material life influence directly the structure of consciousness of different sections. These contradictions are the handiwork of capitalism which continues thriving parasitically on these exploitative mechanisms.
However, capitalism does not merely thrive on exploitating labour and allowing a few to appropriate all the surplus. Earlier social structures and systems have been conveniently exploited to its advantage. Gender and social identities like religion, caste, race, ethnicity and nationality, unlike labour, had never been “essential” for capitalism and its sustenance. Yet inequalities and oppression based on these identities have almost forever loomed large over the human society and capitalism has succeeded in exploiting these in order to advance itself and in the process has reinforced them in new forms, so much so that these now seem essential component of capitalism. The resolution of class contradictions will not automatically ensure the end of these inequalities, discriminations, exploitations and oppressions.
Any social being has multiple identities. The new revolutionary strategy should aspire to understand these multiple identities and move towards an emanicipatory ending of all inequalities, exploitation, oppression and discrimination. Workers from different identity groups must be brought together for the revolution. Similarly any class struggle cannot be successful without paying equal importance to questions of social and gender identities. The slogan demanding equality, justice, freedom and dignity of these sections must be part of the revolutionary socialist slogan.
A future free-world can be ensured only if we work towards sustenance and protection of the world that we live in today. Workers will win only if there is a world left to win. Capitalism has gone so far in its blind pursuit of profit that it has transgressed all limits of earth and environment. The resources of earth are limited but capitalism’s propensity to exploit the nature seems unlimited. It has detroyed, rebuilt only to exploit more and pretend that it can sustain Nature and the world. We cannot pretend that ecological disaster can be avoided without ending capitalism. We should not fear that ending capitalism means an end of development, innovation, science and technology; we are not moving back to a pre-modern world. In fact, the future that socialist revolution ensures will be more deeply imbued with innovative science. The technological choices of such a society will be determined by collective good. In every sense, a socialist society will be more advanced, just, progressive, happy and egalitarian than what capitalism can offer us today.