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Indian Marxists have joined the global debate on Pope Francis’s observations on capitalism.

Published: December 11, 2013 12:47:28 am

Indian Marxists have joined the global debate on Pope Francis’s observations on capitalism in his recent apostolic exhortation,“The Joy of the Gospel”. In an article in the CPM’s People’s Democracy,Prabhat Patnaik says: “The Pope is not a socialist,but his starting point and ours coincide.” He says the 84-page document written by Pope Francis was a “severe indictment of the current unjust economic system that prevails in the world.”

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life,today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,no solution will be found for the world’s problems or,for that matter,to any problems,” Patnaik quotes from the Pope’s exhortation.

The Pope’s observations are a major departure for the Catholic Church given the fact that his predecessor,Benedict XVI,had denounced Marxism as a scourge of modern times. “Not surprisingly the pamphlet has caused consternation in Europe and America and the American press is full of speculation on whether the new Pope is a ‘closet Marxist’,” according to Patnaik.

“It is not difficult,though uncommon,to come across concern over poverty from such unlikely quarters,but such concern usually ends up advising governments to do something about it,the presumption being that if only the governments were attentive to the issue,and overcame the sloth and ‘corruption’ in which they are usually steeped,then they could make poverty disappear.

“The Pope’s comments go beyond this. In criticising free markets and financial speculation,he sees the necessity for the state not just to ‘wake up’ to the reality of poverty but to effect a change in the economic regime,” Patnaik says.

Birds of a feather

The CPI believes not much should be expected from the winter session of Parliament. “The winter session will have just 12 working days and the government is not clear as to what business it wants to transact in this short duration. Under [the Congress,the duration of Parliament sessions has been continuously reduced and it does not meet even for 70 days in one whole year. In these 12 working days,there will be disruptions of proceedings and resultant adjournments as there are several issues that agitate the minds of people,” an editorial in the CPI’s New Age says.

The editorial,however,observes that the government is in talks with the BJP on certain bills to reach a bilateral agreement. “Most of the bills on which the two parties are negotiating agreement relate to pushing forward the agenda of completing the process of so-called ‘economic reforms’. Both parties are wedded to policies of neo-liberalism,” it says.

Defective effect

Analysing the assembly election results,the CPI(ML)’s ML Update argues that the highlight of these elections is the transformation in Delhi — a conventional bipolar bastion that has turned tripolar. Although the overall results seem like a vindication of Narendra Modi’s aggressive call for a Congress-free India,the party argues that the unchallenged domination of the BJP is not clear.

“Even in Madhya Pradesh where the party got a two-thirds majority,several ministers were roundly defeated. In Chhattisgarh it was a close battle till the end. And in Delhi,the BJP just marginally managed to stay ahead of the debutant AAP and fell five short of the majority mark. The BJP may well attribute its victories to Narendra Modi,but the jury is still out on how much of an electrifying effect Modi really had in the polls,” it says.

It also asserts that the AAP’s spectacular emergence tells a larger story about the ongoing churning in India. “What we see here is a political reflection of India’s changing urban demography and the popular quest for an answer to the growing systemic rot,” it says.

Compiled by Manoj C.G.

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