Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Further on the "andolan" aspect of LJA

A few more comments, part in response to the other posts and comments.

1. There is relatively greater clarity on what lokaidya is, its location, its relations with other knowledges, its history, its connection with Gandhi.
2. There is much less clarity and also some discomfort with the idea of a lokavidya andolan.
3. One source of discomfort is to do with the charge of elitism that may be leveled against university-educated folk who want to organize a lokavidya andolan. This is related to the issue brought up by Asokeji when he alludes to the contradiction between using cell phones and extolling adivasi lifestyles.
4. Here the response is simply that leadership and initiative of the LJA in fact cannot come from the university-educated. We are bringing the concept and issue into the public domain, not as leaders of a new agitation, but as interpreters and facilitators.
5. Several people have brought up the issue of the relation between LJA and Gandhi. There is one important difference between khadi and swadeshi etc on the one hand and LJA on the other hand. What is latent/implicit in khadi is overt/explicit in LJA, viz. the idea that this is a struggle over knowledge.
6. So the concrete struggles, be they against displacement, or for forest rights or whatever, don't suddenly change. But we see them differently. We see them as knowledge struggles.
7. The LJA can thus be the confluence of already existing andolans who see that it in in their advantage to cast their struggles also as knowledge struggles.
8. This is not only a matter of perspective. Class struggle derives a new potency from the theory of class exploitation. Gender struggles derive new strength when they become conscious of themselves as such. In both cases self-consciousness brings new allies also.
9. LJA is the people's movement that gains consciousness as a knowledge movement because it sees that without bringing knowledge into debate, the battle in only half fought.
10. The idea of gyan mukti, knowledge liberation, seems to be in tune with the times. The recent meeting of university activists called in Paris by Edu-Factory, has resulted in the formation of a group called the Knowledge Liberation Front.
10. Finally, we may also want to reflect on what the Arab revolts mean for us. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Bahrain show that civil disobedience and non-violent non-cooperation are not only 20th Century ideas. They carry potency today. Despite the dominant trend in the western media to interpret these as struggles for greater Western-style democracy, in fact the implications with regard to the new organization of society which may emerge, are not clear yet.

Amit Basole

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