71 Days Of Farmers’ Movement: Crucial Second Phase

Shekhar //

Finally, farmers’ movement has entered its second phase with a bang. Government and Farmers are both equally poised at this stage in this confrontation which seems all set to intensify in coming months, however ‘way forward’ for both is neither easy nor clear. How to go ahead from here seems ‘not yet decided’, neither for the government, nor for the farmers. Hence this phase is very crucial. However, one thing is clear that the confrontation has reached a stage from where if both sides take their natural course and move undeviated and undeterred, it is bound to convert into a final showdown in its truest sense. The ‘state’ will embrace all the reactionary elements and forces under its wings and will have to prepare for complete and final overthrow of the remaining old bourgeois democratic set up in an attempt to win this confrontation, whereas the Farmers too will have to unite with all the progressive elements and forces including the advance sections of working class to score the final or at least a significant win in this battle. Both have to decide ‘something’ before they resort to their respective formidable means to make this battle victorious for them. Both are inching towards this end, but, still not very much clear about it. Farmers are determined though confused about the final goal and have to exercise their brain more about the ‘way forward’ given their mixed composition (from marginal to rich farmers). However, if this movement picks up some significant level of momentum in working class too, pitting them against capitalists-corporates on the issue of these new farm laws as well as on their own specific issues, then the question of its direction will be possibly discerned and determined more easily and clearly. But this is yet to happen. On the other hand, Government’s direction is clear from the day one and becoming clearer with every passing day. Government is with the corporates and stands for them. She will also stand for them in future. There is no question on her intent. The only thing that government has to decide at this stage is about the ‘final’ will power to go the way they are supposed to go for implementing pro-corporate policies and to travel at all costs that necessary length of the path that they have been paid for. Will they show this final courage? Will they or will they not hesitate to unleash terror? Answers to such questions are still not clear. Is it easy and conducive for them to unleash terror at the present juncture where it’s all communal and nationalistic postures and designs to divide farmers and people have failed? No, it is not easy at this moment. If they commit an error in choosing the correct time for letting loose terror, it may prove disastrous for the ‘state’ itself. The overrated psychopathic megalomaniac characters are also those who are easily terrified by mass movements. It this huge peasant mass movement sends too many fear waves and government succumbs to them, then it may commit such an error creating a very unique situation replete with too many possibilities, but mostly of anarchy and disaster as the balance, readiness and final correlation of class forces are still unclear. The gap between actuality and probability appears too huge to be filled.

The budget presented on Feb 1 as well as the way struggling farmers are being treated by the state (cutting electricity supply and internet, preventing entry of water tankers at the protest sites etc), their protest sites are being rounded up by erecting permanent (cemented) barricades followed with spreading of blade wires and sharp nails on the roads and all entry roads or paths are being once again dug wide and deep – these all provide us with a means to gauge the mood of the government as well as the ‘state’. It amply shows that government and ‘state’ both are in no mood to backtrack. But, the bigger question at the moment is: ‘will it also choose to use extreme force?’ A clear answer, at least regarding the timing, is yet to come. In the budget, all allocations meant for well-being of farmers and farmers’ agriculture have been decreased despite a surging farmers movement. One naturally hoped that seeing the intensity of the ongoing movement at least farmers issues will be duly addressed. On the other hand, a situation even more serious than Indo-Pakistan border like situation being created at Delhi borders indicates both fury and fear that have engulfed the government mood and attitude as of now. The government is both furious and fearful. It is mounting repression but slowly, fearing farmers’ reprisal. It is in a way still trying to browbeat the struggling farmers with piecemeal repression tactics and scare those who are weak and vulnerable. It may take this whole crucial phase before it embarks upon the ‘final will power’. This clearly marks this crucial second phase so far as the government side is concerned. From the farmers’ side, ‘a lot of things’ have yet to be decided before they embark upon the final path of their liberation from corporates i.e. big capital. A situation of uncertainty pertaining to direction, path and final goal along with their full determination (that is so visible up till now) to fight against the pro-corporate policies may (or will) prevail throughout this crucial phase. Not only the contour of the next (third) phase, rather the third phase itself in entirety depends on how successfully they cross this crucial phase. However, the question of how quickly farmers will move across this phase and decide about the final goal is dependent on the government’s side actions.

Let us see the unfolding situation far more closely (in brief) and answer few more questions relating to this phase. What does the present budget announcements precisely indicate to the struggling farmers? They indicate mainly two things. One, the pro-corporate farm laws aren’t going to be repealed. Secondly, the neoliberal policies according to which further cuts in allocations favouring farmers and those related directly and indirectly to well-being of farmers’ agriculture are on the card. PDS is in danger as FCI is on the verge of collapse due to heavy debt burden on it. Already FCI and Adani’s company (AAL) have both agreed to some agreement according to which FCI itself will provide its shoulder to AAL in monopolising the grain and agricultural produce market and thus has signed its own death warrant. The direct indication of this is that APMC Mandis have to get vanished sooner or later and FCI will be finally bundled up completely. So, the neoliberal policies are in full play even if it means fueling of strong anti-government feeling among the farmers who are already badly agitated on the issue of farm laws and MSP. These are all of course the consequence of neoliberal policies whose roots are in the dynamics of the contradictory capitalist ‘development’ which inevitably leads the whole capitalist system into the crisis of overproduction and falling rate of profit, to overcome which capitalist governments of every country are forced to resort to further doses of neoliberal economic policies. At the present juncture, its wider and deeper impact has led to not only increasing rate of exploitation of labour (through higher relative surplus value by increasing productivity as well as through absolute surplus value by increasing hours of work that does away with their rests and breaks and using labourers as animals without any rights) but also to increasing rate of expropriation of small producers like farmers and other intermediary classes engaged in production and trade. The basic laws of capitalism are going to further intensify and aggravate the crisis as can be seen from the budget that has laid down such policies and has shown to have led them to such ends where a very sudden big push to concentration and centralisation of capital is going to take place shortly after the budget will be passed. Small owners of capital and wealth will get disposed quickly, more than ever before. Naturally, the winners are big corporate houses i.e. monopoly and big capital and losers are the small producers like farmers, owners of small and medium enterprises, traders, employees and the vast rural and city poor masses. Most of them will be turned bankrupt shortly if the present pace of pro-corporate moves of the government go unchecked and unhindered. The new farm laws have laid a much wider net for the corporates. They will not only dispossess farmers but deliver the whole of rural continents in the hands of corporates who will capture everything that belongs to villages and agriculture. The trade of Agri products would be monopolised harming not only the farmers but the whole of people including small businessmen. The danger of alienation of farmers from their land is an imminent threat now. Workers and peasant are going to be first and worst hit by these laws. The reason of its imminence lies in the three laws but the roots of these laws and their final consequences are in capitalism and capitalist farming that began in India four decades ago. These three farms laws are but in continuation of that. A capitalist state, operating in the era of worldwide permanent structural crisis of capitalism, has no option but to continue with the neoliberal policies, even more harshly every next day. That’s why we see that even if these laws have created huge disenchantment and resentment among the farmers and provoked them to rise to resist these laws, even then Modi government is not budging. The capitalist economic crisis has created a situation where government has no space to move back. It has no option but to move ahead if the wheel of capitalist profit has to move forward and pro-capitalist (or pro-corporate, corporate being an American term that signifies big capital only) policies have to be pursued despite protest.

Now, can we say that another government, say led by Congress, could be an alternative choice for the farmers? Will that government reverse what Modi has brought and done? The answer is NO. If the Indian capitalist class could stop or reverse these policies or even slow down its pace, a Congress or Congress led government had been a better choice in 2014 itself. Manmohan Singh must have been their first choice, then. But we know they brought Modi-led fascist government to power and also allowed the ‘state’ to be turned fascist only because they found no other way through which they could continue with their onward march of maximisation of profit. It is however another matter that profit may not come even this way, finally. We know about the irrationality ingrained and built in this system that would bring its collapse one day. But the capitalists will never cease to go for profit and won’t step down on their own. Hence it is all likely that the Modi government will anyhow go for implementing these policies whatever may come, even if it means suppressing the farmers’ and people’s movement with utmost force. If the Modi government shows weakness and tries to back track, it may be shown the door just the other day. The possibility may be this that a more diehard fascist may be installed in his place who possesses more courage to implement such extremely anti-farmer, anti-worker and anti-people laws and suppress their revolt with even greater impunity. Hence it is most likely that Modi will either win the confrontation for the corporate by utilizing even the worst methods he finds at his disposal or it will be replaced by a much shrewder, cunning and stronger fascist. People still have no faith in Congress, but more importantly corporates have no faith in it. They know choosing Congress to rule at this stage means stopping or at least slowing or even to some extent undoing what Modi did for them in seven years, given the tremendous pressure of the people’s and farmers’ movement that it would come under. But even more importantly, Congress party itself won’t like to come to rule the country whose farmers as a whole has stood and are most likely to continue to stand up against the corporates. Congress won’t like to get its hands burnt in this fire, at least not at the present time. It would better keep feeling well contented criticising Modi government. It would better keep trying to make the corporates feel the importance of its own methods of management of capital over others for more time till it finds most suitable occasion and time to bounce back. The way Congress is behaving like a bunch of fools in election managements is a pointer to it. UP elections in 2022 may prove this point. 

This is the crossroads where the farmers’ and people’s movement against the new farm laws have arrived. This is what they are face to face with. This is where those leading the movement haven’t too many choices. If the movement further rises, intensifies, expands and deepens, the only and the most visible and viable option or choice left before the farmers and people with every passing day will be to fight till the finish of this whole capitalist system that is built on the pillars of profit, fraud, misrule and exploitation of labour. This is a system where there in an undeclared rule that big fishes thrive on small fishes. Let us hope that the farmers, workers and the people who are all at the receiving end of this system will decide in favour of choosing this only real option or alternative and will be ready in near future to dismantle the whole system that is based on the negation of justice. Sooner they understand it, the better.

[Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 10 / February 2021)]

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