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TheNeedforaNewSocialistVision PrabirPurkayastha Globally,thelefthassomecommonproblems.Itwouldbeapartialviewifwebelievethattheleft scenarioinanycountryislargelydrivenbyitsinternaldynamics.Intheageofglobalmediaand instantcommunication,thepoliticsoftheworldisintertwinedindifferentways.Avictoryforthe RightinEurope,anadvancefortheLeftinLatinAmericaandtheriseoffundamentalistforcesin differentpartsoftheworld,allhaveanimpactoneachcountryandtheleftforcesthere. Thedeclineoftheleftforcesintheworldcanindividuallybeattributedtothespecificsofthat country.Manyofthemwinafewlocalorregionalelectionsandthendeclineaftersometime.No doubt,theproximatecausesoftheirdeclinecanbeidentifiedwiththespecificitiesoftheirnational situation.

However, what we need to look at is the bigger picture. Is what is happening here exclusivetosomecountriesoraretheresimilartrendselsewhere?Iftheleftisnotstrongenoughto createarevolutionarysituation,whathappensifitwinsregionalandmunicipalelections?Whatis thepathofdevelopmentthatcountrieswouldneedtofollowwhichissignificantlydifferentfrom theneoliberalagendathatstilldominatestheworld?Whatistheleftvisionofanewsocialiststate, differentfromtheonethatfailedinSovietUnionandthatseemstobefailinginChina? Iwillbrieflydiscussthecontextwithinwhichwehavetolookattheseissuesandthenexamineina littlemoredetailthechangesinthesphereofproductionthatdistinguishesthe20thcenturyfromthe 21st.Iwillthentryandlocatethedebateonthenewsocialistvisionintermsofthesechangesde scaling and decentralising technology. Which makes today' vision different from the options availableinearly20thcenturySovietUnion.Thissocialistvisionshouldnotonlybeatemplatefora newsocialistsocietybutalsoprovideatrajectoryfortheleftmovementindifferentcountries. TheContextoftheLeftMovementToday Obviously,thedeclineofsocialistcountries,theirdisintegrationinRussiaandEasternEurope,the marketdrivensocialisminChinahavehadatraumaticeffectontheleftmovementacrossthe globe.IfwelookatthepostWorldWarIIscenario,socialismwasadvancingrapidly,themajor imperialistpowersexcepttheUSwereindecline.Liberationstrugglesbackedbythesocialistcamp werespreadingacrossAsiaandAfrica.Today,notonlyhasthesocialistcampdisintegrated,wehave aresurgentimperialism,whichundertheguiseofglobalisationissubjugatingtheeconomiesofthe ThirdWorld. Anumberofpeoplearguethatthesocialistforcesdeviatedfromacorrectsocialistpathsoonafter theOctoberrevolutionandtherewasnosocialistprojectworththenameafterthat.Forthem,the traumaisnotofrecentoriginbutdatesbackmuchfurther.Thesocialiststateswerenotinthis viewdistortionsofsocialismbutwerestatesrunbybureaucraticcapitalorstatecapital. TheproblemwiththisviewisthatitisveryWesterninitslocation.Therealityisthattheeven withallitsproblems,theSovietUnionprovidedahugeimpetustothenationalliberationstruggles inthecolonies.Itdidthisintwowaysoneisthedirectsupportitprovidedtoforcesofnational liberation. The second is providing an alternative post independence model to the colonised nations. Independence was for securing independence for their entire people (except the collaborating classes) and not just for their bourgeoisie. It was the socialist model as well the evidence that under socialism an underdeveloped economy can emerge quickly as a relatively developedonethatprovidedtheinspirationtomanyofthenationalliberationstruggles.Sincethe worldwaslargelyundercolonialyoke,theroleofasocialistSovietUnionhastobeunderstoodin thiscontext.Eventoday,thefallofSovietUnionhashadanenormousnegativeimpactontheability ofthirdworldcountriestochartarelativelyindependentcourse. Inmostcountriesintheworld,thelefthasweakenedconsiderably.Fromthepowerfulforcethatthe

CommunistParties(CP's)wereinmanycountries,theyhavebecomepaleshadowsofthemselves. ThenonCPleftformations hadbelievedthatwiththedisintegrationofthesocialistcamp,the Communist parties would alsodisintegrate, leaving the left space open for them. This has not happenedandifwelookattheleftspacetoday,forexampleinEurope,thedeclineoftheCPshas not lead to the emergence of new left formations to take their place. In Italy, it saw various formationscometogetherastheRifondazone,whichaftersomeinitialsuccess,hasagaingoneinto decline. TheLatinAmericanscenarioisprobablythemostinterestingfromagloballeftperspective.Latin Americawasthefirsttofallundertheneoliberalsway.PinochetsChilewasthelaboratorywhere itstoolswerefirstforged.Notsurprisingly,ithasbeenthefirsttoemergefromtheneoliberalthrall Brazil,Venezuela,Bolivia,Ecuador,Argentinaamongstothershaveseenmajoradvancesforthe left. InAsia,whiletheCPssurvivedinmanycountriesalongwithotherleftparties,themajorCPs outside the socialistcountriesthathavestillremainedas importantforceintheircountries are Nepal,India,PhilippinesandJapan.Inothercountries,theleftremainssplinteredandfragmented wieldingrelativelylessinfluence.InPalestine,theleftcouldbeasignificantforce,ifthePFLP,PPP andDFLPcometogetherinaunitedplatform. Africa,exceptforSouthAfrica,AngolaandMozambiqueagainremainsaplacewherethereareleft forcesbutnotorganisedleftparties.TheleftspaceisfilledinthesecountriesbychurchandNGOs, whoaretheonlyonesthatareallowedtooperateopenly. ThoughtheleftforcesworldoverisseentobeweakerthantheywerepostWorldWarII,itmustbe seen that the left in numbers today are still significant. The anti War struggle before the Iraq invasionsawhugenumbersmarchincountrieswherewemightthinktheleftisinsignificant.They marchedundertheleadershipoftheoldleftofvarioushues,butneverthelessclearlyidentifiableas left.Whatismissingtheretodayistheabilitytotranslatethesenumbersintosustainedpolitical interventions,andthisisprimarilyduetotheweakeningoforganisedpoliticalpartiesintheleft spectrum.Itisthisinabilitytotransformitsnumbersintopoliticalinterventionthatbringsoutthe importanceoforganisedpoliticalformationsnamelytheleftparties. The belief that the decline of organised political parties does not matter runs counter to the experienceindifferentcountries.Wherevertherearenoleftparties,thepolityisabletoshiftmuch moretowardstheright.Amorphousleftmasshasmuchlessstrikingcapacitythanorganisedleft parties. State/RegionalandMunicipalGovernmentsandtheLeftMovement Ihavealreadyarguedtheneedfororganisedpoliticalpartiesasthebasisofpoliticalinterventionin society.Whilestrugglesinallspheresistheobviousrouteanyorganisedleftpartywilltake,itwill stillhavetoaddressthevitalquestionofhowtocapturestatepower.Doesitstayoutofelectoral politicsandwaitforarevolutionarynational(orglobal)situationordoesitalsoregardelectionsas anarenaofstruggle?Ifitdoes,giventheunevendevelopmentthatisinevitableintheworld,what happensifitwinssuchelections? There are a number of places that the Left forces had gained control of provincial or state governments.Inmostofthese,afteraperiod,theleftforceswereunabletocontinuetheirhegemony andlosttootherforces.MostoftheseGovernmentshadanumberofinnovativemeasurestotheir creditbutsomewhereastrategicunderstandingoftheroleofthesestategovernmentsinbuildinga largerleftmovementismissingandamoredefensivemindsetofhowtocontinueinpowerbecame thedefactosinequanonoftheirpractice. InIndia,thelandreformsinBengalandthePeoplesPlaninKeralaaretwoimportantexamplesof

whatthelefthasdonewhichiscompletelydifferentfromotherpoliticalparties.Therecentreverses inboththesestatesshowthatitisnotpossibletocontinuethecurrentcourseindefinitely.InBrazils RioGrandedeSulprovinceandPorteAlegre,thetownmunicipality,againparticipativepeoples planningwasamongsttheinnovationsthattheleftintroduced.However,herealsotheleftlostinRio GrandedeSulaswellasinPorteAlegre. Thekeyissuehereishowdoweseethoseorgansofstatepower,winningofwhichdonotgivethe leftameanstomakeadecisiveshiftandyetgiveasaliencewithinthebourgeoisstate.Whenthe LeftcameintowhatwerecalledUnitedFrontGovernmentsin1967and1969inBengal,theywere stillaminoritywithintheUF.TheUFGovernmentwasseenasaninstrumentofstruggle.TheLeft withintheUFwasabletoadvancelandstrugglessignificantlyinthisperiod.Itwasthesharpening ofthelandstrugglesthatsawthesplitwithintheUFandthoughtheUFGovernmentsfellasa result,theleftforcesandthemassmovementsreallygrewthroughthisprocess. Afterthe1977victory,theLeftinBengalfacedanewscenario.Theynowhadadominantposition within the state Government and could craft its policies within the context of the centre state relationsin thecountry.ItwasnolongerpossibletoconfinetheGovernmentroleofbeing an instrumentofstrugglebutalsouseittoproviderelieftothepeople.Thelandreformsandland distributionbecamethefocalpointofitsimmediateprogramandthisiswhatbuiltfortheleftin Bengallongtermsupportbase.Itscontinuingelectoralsuccesswasinalargemeasureduetothe landreforms. Thequestionthattheleftfacedandwillfaceisthatprovidingrelieftothepeoplecannotbealong term task. It works if it is seen as a transitory phenomenon. With the stagnation of the left movementoutsideBengalandKerala,theproblemtheniswhatdoestheleftdoinsuchstates?Does itthenseeitsagendaasoneofprovidingsomerelieftothepeopleaswellasrunningabourgeois governmentakindofcapitalismwithahumanfaceordoesitstartthinkingaboutanalternate visionofdevelopment,whichittriesthentoimplement?Theleftdidnotsquarelyaddressthisissue and instead, the left agenda became a kind of ad hoc reaction of providing relief within the measuresthatthecentralgovernmentwasproposing.Asthecentreshiftedmoreandmoretothe rightandpublicinvestmentsdriedup,itmeantthateventheleftthestategovernments,inorderto industrialise,joinedtheracetoprovidemoreandmoreincentivestoprivatecapitaltocometotheir states. Beforewetaketheeasypathofbeingcriticaloftheleftinstategovernments,letusrecognisethat craftinganalternatevisionofdevelopmentwithinwhichtheregional/provincialgovernmentscan playsomeroleisnotaneasytask.Theeasyideologicalroadthatsomeoftheantiglobalisation forcestakeistheneoGandhianoneofremainingaagrarian,subsistenceeconomyonlysmall agroindustrieseschewingbigindustrialplants.Inthisview,thevillageeconomyshouldbethebasic economicunitandtransformedonlybyinfusionofmicrotechnologiestobemadeselfsustaining. Anyseriousexaminationofthiswillshowthatthiscannotaddresstheproblemsofthepeoplewe wouldneedurbanisationandindustriesifweweretomeettheneedsofthepeople.Thequestion thatweneedtoposeiswhetherthereisanalternatepathofindustrialisationinsteadofanalternate toindustrialisationandwhatcantheleftinthestategovernmentsdotopushsuchapath? ThisisnotonlyachallengetotheIndianleftbutalsoaglobalchallenge.Itisnotonlyaboutwhatto do within theboundariesofcapitaltodaybutalsoaboutthesocialistvisionofthefuture. The socialisteconomycannotarise denovo fromacapitalistoneitsgenesisanditsformsmustlie within the existing capitalist forms. The kind of organisation of production under socialism thereforeneedstobeenvisioned.Ifweareabletocreatethisblueprintofasocialisteconomy,then the task of theplacingtheregional governments atthe centreofthis struggleforanalternate trajectorycanbecomemeaningful.Ifnot,thentheleftinstategovernmentswillrunoutofsteam oncethereliefagendafinishes.Ifthemajortaskoftheleftistohelpcapitalistindustrialisation,the

bickering and the selfserving nature of a section within the left then becomes a natural consequence.Itisthelackofaunifyingvisionofthesocialisteconomybeyondtheownershipof themeansofproductionthattodayhampersthecreationofanalternatevisionofdevelopment. TheleftinregionalandotherlocalgovernmentsinIndiaandelsewhere,iftheyhavetogobeyond providingsomerelieftothepeople,mustthereforeaddressthelocalgovernmentsrolewithinthe contextofthisnewsocialistvision.Thisisnottoargueforakindofincrementalviewofreforming thecapitalistsystem.Itiscreatinghegemonyofthissocialistvisionoverthecapitalistonethe predatoryandneoliberalglobalisationthatunderliestodayscapitalistvision.Thepoliticalstruggle forsocialismneedstheinstrumentofregional/localgovernmentstopropagatethisalternatevision ofsociety. ObsolescenceofEconomiesofScaleanditsImplicationsfortheSocialistModeofProduction Thedebatewithinthelefthastouchedonmanyaspectsofthefailureofthesocialiststates.To many,itwasafailureofthepoliticalformationthatleadtothefailureofthesocialiststates.To others, it was their economies, which failed to stand up to competition from the more technologicallyadvancedcapitalistcountries.Thisarticleisnotaboutthewhythesocialiststates failed.WhatIamraisingiscanweattractpeopletotheleftwithoutaddressingthequestionofwhat kindofsocialismdowewanttobuild:whetherwewillbuildanewformofsocialismorwillwe recreatetheoldone?Withoutaddressingthiscentralquestion,weareunlikelytogoforward. Ihavealreadyunderlinedtheimportanceofanewsocialistvisioninthecontextoftheleftparties andlocalgovernments.Thistomeisthecentralquestionconfrontingtheleftanewvisionof socialismthatisdistinctfromtheoldone.Thisisnottoarguethattheoldsocialistvisionwas wrong. Itwaslimitedasallvisionsarebyitstimeanditsplace.Thetimewas the early twentiethcenturywhentechnologywaslargelyintheFordian iparadigmofeconomiesofscale.The placewasSovietUnion,largepartsofwhichwereemergingfromfeudalautocracy.Tocreatea socialist vision with the technology fix of early twentieth century is to miss the enormous possibilitiesofadecentralisationandflexibleformsofproductiontoday.Thisiswhatglobalcapital seekstoexploit,asitturnsmoreandmoreawayfromproductiveformsofcapital.Ifwelookat technology,thepossibilitiestodayofdescalingandthereforeacooperativemodelofproduction areimmense. Thisisnottoarguethatallproductionshouldorcouldbedecentralisedanddescaled.AllthatIam pointingoutisthatindustrialisationbasedonhuge,verticallyintegratedfactoriesarenolongervalid acrossaclassofcommodities.Itmaystillberequiredinsomespecificsectorssuchassteelplants, butnotinall. ThisvisionofadescalingtechnologyisquitedifferentfromtheneoGandhianparadigmofpetty commodityproductionwithlowlevelsofproductivity.Cuttingedgetechnologynolongerneeds largeeconomiesofscaleasearlytwentiethcenturydemandedandcandovetailadvancedformsof productionwithmuchsmallerunitsizes. The production systems today are changing rapidly from mass production of goods to mass customisation of goods. Mass production, starting with the industrial revolution to the Fordian paradigm,broughtdowncostwhileprovidinghighquality.Itachievedthisusingstandardisationof components and goods, economies of scale and quality control. However, it produced rigid centralisedproductionstructures,largeplantsandeliminatedlowerlevelinitiativeandcontrolover production. Italsoeliminateddiversityoftheproduct.AsHenryFordwasreportedtohavesaid, "Youcanhaveanycolourofcaraslongasit'sblack".Theenduserwaswillingtosacrificevariety forqualityandlowcost. ThesocialistsystemofproductionnotonlymodelledtheFordianformofproduction,butalsotook ittothenextlevel.Inthis,theentireeconomywastreatedasoneunitofproductionandthesystem

asawholeoptimised.Whilethishadanobviousimpactinreducingcostsandmakingtheeconomy more efficient, it also created the problem that any change in this system became difficult to introduce.Itbecameastaticoptimisationmodelandlostthecapabilityofintroducingtechnology changeintotheproductionsystem. Thechangedtechnologyregimetodayii,permitsanalternatewayofproduction,whichmaintains quality as wellas produces goods atlowcosts. Thisis thedirectionwearemovingtoday in manufacturingsystems.Theproductionprocessisbeingdescaledandbecomingmoreflexible. Thisallowsforamuchgreaterdiversityofproductsweenterwhatiscalledtheeraofmass customisationpeoplecanaskforwhattheywantwithoutintroducinghighcostsintothesystem. Withmasscustomisation,theeconomiesofscaleundergoaradicalshift.Withincreasingproduct differentiationandmasscustomisation,theconventionalargumentsinfavourofeconomiesofscale nolongerhold. Earlierplantsprocessormanufacturingwerebuiltonthebasiceconomiesofscale.Thus,the biggertheplant,lessthecostperunitofoutput,thiswasthebasisofmostplantsdesign.This resultedinhugeplantsthattookalongtimetocomeonstreamandhadveryhighcapitalcosts.If thetechnologyandmarketdemandheldstableinthisperiod,asalsotheinputandoutputcosts, increasingthesizeoftheplanttobringdownunitcostswasthewaytogo.However,ifanyofthese factorschanged,thentheplantscouldbeleftwithverylargeinvestmentsthatgenerateloworeven negativereturns. Inastabletechnologicalregime,technologychangesthatfundamentallyalteredcostswererare. However,thechangesin20thcenturyhavenotonlybeenexplosive,thegraphcontinuestoclimb. Thishasalteredthefundamentalequationbetweenplantsizeandeconomiesofscale.Iftechnology changesrapidly,thelargeplantsthathavebeenbuiltcannotcompeteintermsofcostswiththose built using the newer innovation. Therefore, under a regime of rapid technological change, economiesofscalewillnothold. Large plants either manufacturing or process plants tend to have rigid production structures. They are large fixed structure plants producing only a specific set of goods from a specific set of inputs. In a fixed structure plant the flow of the process is fixed and cannot be changed. This allows the economies of scale to be fully exercised. Instead of building large plants, a flexible production system that may have lower economies of scale but adapt better to new conditions. The flexible production systems of this kind require a variable plant structure that can be re-configured depending on the product mix. The re-configuring demands a versatile control and automation systems in order to maintain plant efficiencies and quality. With this, it is possible to de-scale the plants and operate at much lower break-even points as a variety of products can be made from the same basic plant. Fromflexiblemanufacturingtoflexibleprocessindustries,allproductionsystemsthatareplastic andcapableofreconfiguringoftheprocess.ThismeansreplacingtheFordianparadigmthathas ruledtheindustrialworldwearetodayintheageofdescalingplantswithagileflexiblesystems. Ifwelookathowearlierproductionsystemswerestructured,theywerestronglyhierarchic.Thisof coursemeldedverywillwiththeneedsofglobalcapital.Thecentralisationofcapitaldemanded also centralisation of production. However, with the potential of decentralised production as outlinedabove,wefindthatcapitalisactuallymovingawayfromsuchcentralisedstructuresof production.Theircontrolovertechnology(innovation),markets(brandname)andcapitaliswhat givesthemthecontroloverproduction.Thatexplainswhycapitalisquitehappytooutsourcethe actualproductionanywhereintheworldastheycanretaincontrolovertheabovethree.

HIERARCHIC Boss

PEER-TO-PEER Agent

Agent Dialog Tasks Assignments Agent

Workers

Worker

Worker

Agent

Agent

These systems do not function in a hierarchical environment due to the fact that too much informationwillhavetobeprocessedbyacentraldecisionmaker.Thereistheargumentthatsuch productionsystemsaremoreakintobiologicalsystems.Forexample,inthehumanbody,aTcell will attack bacteria independent of brain commands. The brain handles overall respiratory and motorfunctions,butleavesthemissioncriticaldetailstoholons. Thefigureaboveshowsthedifferencebetweenhierarchicalandholonicsystems.Inahierarchy,a "boss"orsupervisorassignstasksto"workers."Thoseworkershavelittleornodecisionmaking authority and cannot act independent of the boss. In a holonic system, an "agent" initiates "negotiations" with other agents who act independently, but cooperate with each other. More activitiestakeplaceatlowerlevelfunctions. Thequestionweneedtoaskiswhatistheimplicationsofthenewstructureofproductionforthe socialistproject?Theargumentadvancedhereisthatinanewsocialistvision,weneedtoseehow productionwillbestructured.Thisistomoveawayfromthequestionofownershipofthemeansof production as the central one in the socialist project and focus on the actual organisation of production. If production can be descaled and decentralised, the possibility that a body of producers couldcooperativelyworktomeettheneedsofthepeopleis thenfeasible.Amuch smaller unitofproductionalsoallowsforamuchgreaterautonomyattheleveloftheunit of production.Itallowsforplanstoemergenotascentralised,topdownplansofproductionforthe entireeconomybutplanstoemergeasbottomuppeoplesplans(orworkersplans). Thisisnotarguethateverybitoftheplanningprocessshouldbebottomup.Therecanbelarger societaloreconomicgoalssetbythesocietyoutsideofthisplanningprocess.However,actualising suchgoalsandworkingouthowtheyaremetcanbedonewithintheprocessoutlinedabove. Theaboveschemaofadifferentsystemofproductionisnotworkedinanabstractform.Itisbased onwhatisalreadyhappeningasapartofthecurrentcapitalistmodeofproduction.Aswehave discussedearlier,thenewformsofproductionhavealreadypresentinsomeembryonicformfora newsystemofproductiontobebuiltwithsuchforms. Suchaviewoftheproductionsystemalsoallowsthetransitionalleftgovernmentsregional,local ornationalalsotoarticulatetherequirementsofthenewformofproduction.Itprovidesaviewof productionwhichisdifferentfromthecurrentformofcapitalistproductionandalsoprovidesa trajectorytosuchaform.Thestruggleforhegemonycanthenbefoughtwithinthevariouslevelsof production. Theotherissueundersocialismthatneedstobeaddressedishowdoespeoples'ownershipofthe

meansofproductionexpressitself.Earlier,thismeantgovernmentownership.Isitpossibletothink ofownershipofthefactoriesbyworkersorthepeoplenotascentralisedgovernmentownershipbut expressthisinotherways?TheSovietsweretheearliestformofthisexpressionundersocialismand stillremainsanalternativetogovernmentownership. Howwouldweplanforsuchasocialisteconomy?Thesimplestplanningmodelistoconsiderthe entire economy as one large model and try and optimise this model. This was what socialist planningdidandcreatedthecommandeconomy.Afuturesocialisteconomycouldconceivably createplanswithdifferentunitsofproductionworkingtogethercollaborativelyaparticipative planningfrombelow.TheKerala/PortoAlegremodelofpeoplesplancouldthenbeapossibleway forsuchfuturesocialiststatestoplan. TechnologyandInnovationintheProductionProcess Itmaybearguedthatwhiletheabovemaybeapossiblewayforasocialistproductiontowork,how willitallowfortechnologyinnovationtochangetheproductionprocesses?Howdoweensurethat thesystemasawholewillnotossifyastheremaynotbeanincentivetointroduceinnovationwithin thesystem.Ifthereisaperiodofcompetitionbetweenthenewsocialiststatesandtheexisting capitalistones,willthesocialiststatessurvivecompetitionbetterthantheydidearlier? Interestingly enough, there is a parallel discourseiii taking place within the left on science, technology and democratising science. The purpose here is not to duplicate this discourse but merelybringoutsomeofitscentralconcerns. Someofthequestionsthathavebeenraisedare: Do we have new possibilities today for alternate structures of creating knowledge and innovation? Isitpossibletoexpandthenotionofcommonstohelpsuchprocessesdevelop? Howappropriatearethecurrentstructures ofsciencetomeettheneedsofsocietyand the people? Howcanwedemocratisesciencenotonlyforthescientificcommunitybutalsotogivethe peopletherighttocontrolthedirectionsofscientificenquiry

Fortechnologyandinnovationtotakeplace,wehavetofocusontheproductionofinnovationand notgetlimitedtolookingatcapitals'controloverinnovationbycontrollingreproduction(patents, copyright,etc.).Thekeyquestionforusishowcanproductionandreproductionofinnovation happeninasocialistsystem? Abottomupapproachofproductionautomaticallyremovesthebarriertotechnologicalchangethat existedwithinthecentralisedsystem.Butitwillnotalsoautomaticallygenerateinnovation.For innovationtohappen,theremustbestructuresthatpromoteinnovation.Ofcourse,theuniversityor publicscientificinstitutionsarethekeytosuchinnovationstructuresbeingavailabletosocietyfor innovationtotakeplace.However,wehavemovedforwardfromtheavailabilityofsuchstructuresto open,collaborativewaysthatscienceandtechnologyisbeingdonetoday. Today,theinformationtechnologysectorhasshownthatnewtechnologiesandmethodologiescan bedevelopedbycooperativecommunities.Itmaybearguedthatthissectorisuniqueinthatthe reproductioncostsoftheartefactsthesoftwarearerelativelylow.However,thequestion needstobeposedwhetheritispossibletodesignsuchapproachesforotherareassuchas,say,the lifesciences?Isitpossibletohavenewwaysofestablishingcreativecommons,inwhichnew technologiesandmethodologiesaredevelopedbycooperativecommunities?Increasingly,freeand open source movements arealreadyadvancingthecauseofknowledgeas commonsand this providesanaturaltrajectoryforfuturedevelopmentoftechnologyandscience.Thesocialisationof

intellectuallabourisvisiblethroughthiscommonsmovementandthisisthenewwayinnovationis alreadytakingplace. BacktotheFutre Theorganisationofproductionandcreationofknowledgearenotonlypartofalargersocialist visionbutalsotheterrainofstruggletoday.Iftheleftforcescanreorienttheirvisionawayfromthe 20thcenturyFordianparadigmtoanewwayoflookingatfutureproductionsystems,itwillprovide abasisofstruggletoday.Itwillhelptheleftlocalandregionalgovernmentstomeldtheirvisionof asocialistfuturewiththeexistingstrugglestoday.Thereimaginingthefuturethereforeliesnot onlyattheheartofthesocialistproject,butshouldalsoprovideatrajectorytowardsachievingit. Itisneithertheintentionherenortheclaimthatthisarticleprovidessuchavision.WhatIwantto underlineisthatwithouttheleftresolvingsomeoftheseissues,notonlywillitfailtogathernew forces,butwillalsofailtocontinueinitscurrenttrajectory.Thesetbacktotheleftwillcontinue unlessitaddressesthecentralissuesofanewsocialistvisionandhowitperceivesitstrajectory. ThisisnotonlyanissueconfrontingtheleftinIndiaalone,butalsoatrulyglobalchallenge. Thereisabeliefamongstsomesectionsthatthereisnoneedfororganisedleftpartiestodayanda diffusedglobalcivilsocietycanfightglobalcapital.Theproblemwiththispositionisthatdiffused movementscannotconstitutealternativesinanyrealsense,astheyhavetoconfrontfinallythewell organised,coerciveinstrumentsofthestate.Itisonlyorganisedpoliticalpartiesthatcanaddressthe questionofstatepower. Itisonlythroughorganisedmovementslocally,regionallyandnationallycanweconfrontthe state.Theorganisedmovementsherehavetoworkwithsimilarmovementselsewheretoprovide globalresistance.Globalcapitalcannotbefoughtonlylocally,ordefeatedlocally.Instead,aglobal vision,aglobalnetworkencompassinglocal,nationalandglobalresistancesisthewayforward. Thereisnoneedforanewinternationalbutthereisaneedforanetworkofgloballeftforces comingtogethertofightglobalcapital.Itisthislargerreorganisationthattheleftwillhaveto address. What the leftneeds todotodayistobelievethatitsnumbers aremuchlargerthanwithin its organisedfold.Itneedstobuildasetofcoalitionsthatwillgiveitmuchgreaterinterventioninthe policyissues,whilebuildingitsorganisationforthefuture.Itneedstoreworkitsbasicsocialist vision.Itneedstoseeitscurrentchallengeasanopportunitytoreexamineandreworkitscurrent agenda.Itisalongandarduouspath.Butwhyshouldwebelievemakinghistorywasevergoingto beeasy?Orwithoutitsupsanddowns?

AnumberofotherwritershaveidentifiedtheformsocialistproductionsystemasFordian.,thoughIhavenot footnotedthemhere.Myargument,asdistinctfromtheirs,isthatatthattime,thepossibilityofalternateformsof productiondidnotreallyexist. ii AmoredetailedaccountofthiscanbefoundinPrabirPurkayastha,Technology:BreakingtheCycle,IBSA Summit/AcademicSeminar,2006. iii Ainitiativewastakenin2009tomeetinBelembeforetheWorldSocialForum.ThiswastheScienceand Democracymeet.Theissueofknowledgeascommonsandnewwaysofdevelopingknowledgewasoneoftheissues infocushere.