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Tariq Ali—chapter 4 of Gandhi Reconsidered — a book in progress by Howard Richards and Joanna Swanger as a series on Indian intellectuals and Gandhi

Abstract: A classless society, assuming that is desirable, might be brought about by the working class over-throw of the owning class; then again, it might be achieved by the steady whittling away the privileges of the upper-class and the deprivations of the lower-class until everyone is middle class. Tariq Ali tends to think in terms of the first path. He tends to attribute failure of revolutionary efforts to the lack of unity of the working class—the lack of unity he tends to attribute to betrayal by its leaders. Recasting the issues in Gandhi's terms tends to favor the second path.

Gandhi was not so much a peasant as a fox.—Tariq Ali1

Professor, Tariq AliThere are at least two ways to think about achieving a classless society. In speaking of two ways to achieve a classless society we do not claim to have an airtight case that an absolute classless society would be desirable, although we are inclined to think it would be. We do assume that achieving a society much more nearly classless than those that prevail today is a goal worth striving for. It is not the only goal worth striving for and there is some danger that in striving for a classless society one may contribute to evils as great as or greater than those of a class-divided society. We implore the reader to understand that when we speak below in shorthand of a classless society as a goal we always do so with these reservations.

One way to think about achieving a classless society would be to think in terms of starting with a class-divided society in which members of an upper-class own the means of production. No distinction need be made whether those means of production are agricultural, industrial, knowledge-based, or something else. The upper class lives from profits, interest, rents and other forms of income from property.2 The members of a lower-class are compelled to live by selling their labor power, or if they are unable to sell their labor power, or unwilling to do so on the terms offered, they live by crime, begging, or prostitution. This two-class model of a class-divided society was regarded by Marx and has been regarded by most people who have employed it since, as a simplification useful for analytic purposes. It is not intended to reflect the historical complexities of class relationships at any given time and place.

Starting with such a conception, a way to achieve a classless society would be for the workers to take power, motivated by their collective self-interest. Here it does no harm to identify the lower-class, the one that does not own the means of production, with the workers, provided that it is remembered that some members of the lower-class are marginal. The marginal members of the lower-class are called workers even though they do not work, or do not work regularly. We retain the term marginal because of its connotation of exclusion from the benefits of organized society. Yet, we acknowledge the validity of Paulo Freire’s objection to the use of the term. Freire points out that the homeless, the unemployed, the rejected and the people who eke by on seasonal and irregular work are, in an important sense, not marginal to the present order of society. In fact, their existence is a central and essential consequence of the dominant institutional framework.3
When the workers take power, they will use their power to take away from the ruling class its ownership of the means of production, which is a tautology. The upper-class is the ruling class because it owns the means of production. Taking their power and taking their property amounts to the same thing. By the way, this does not mean the confiscation of houses and barber shops; it is the big stuff that counts. The effect of the workers seizing the means of production will be to make everyone a worker, or everyone an owner, depending on how one looks at it: the classless society.

The workers, motivated by collective self-interest, would do three good things in the classless society that they would establish: 1) abolish an inherently unjust division, the division of society by accident of birth into the haves and the have-nots 2) make society’s institutions for producing and distributing goods and services as institutions that function to meet their needs; this would 3) mean the fulfillment of everyone’s needs, because everyone would be a worker. In order to better fill the needs, they would fully develop the forces of production.

 Karl Marx emphasizes the last of these three. He defines capitalism as a form of society whose wealth appears as a vast collection of commodities, which is to say, of goods produced for sale. Socialism would be a form of society where goods would be produced for use. There would be no unemployed people. No resources would be withheld from production just because their owners think they can make more money waiting for the price to rise than by putting them to use. No patents would be acquired for the purpose of preventing others from working them. The only limit put on the development of the forces of production would be the exhaustion of human needs and wants, except perhaps some limits set by a desire to preserve the environment for future generations. Checks on production imposed by lack of consumer purchasing power would cease to be obstacles. Hence the classless society would also be the one capable of the most rapid and complete development.

Advocates of capitalism argue the contrary.4 They say a class-divided society is required for development. There must be an upper-class which is not living hand to mouth, so that somebody will be able to save. Without saving, there is no investment; without investment, there is no development. The purpose of investment is to take out more money than was put in, which is capital accumulation. Given an undeveloped and therefore poor society, the lower-class must work for low wages, since otherwise there could be no upper-class with enough revenue to accumulate capital. This last point is not usually made in precisely these terms. Instead, since owners of the means of production can usually pass on wage increases to consumers as higher prices and since they can also usually shut down their operation and establish a business elsewhere, the argument for low wages takes different forms, such as wage increases are inflationary; wage increases make the nation less attractive to mobile capital.

There is a second way to think about achieving a classless society. One might think in terms of starting with a class-divided society in which there is an upper-class, a middle-class and a lower-class. The middle-class grows by whittling away at the privileges of the upper class, both through voluntary whittling accepted by members of the upper-class who choose to be socially responsible and through involuntary whittling by legislation that restricts the statutory prerogatives of the upper-class to own many things and to do as they please with them. More people come to enjoy the benefits of property ownership as the concentration of wealth decreases. Meanwhile, the marginal members of the lower classes—the impoverished felons, the addicts, the drifters, the chronically unemployed, the mentally ill, the disabled and the unskilled—are progressively integrated into the disciplines and benefits of organized social life. Working people progressively acquire the status of stakeholders in their particular firms and in the wealth of society as a whole. Workers are made secure by pensions and by health care benefits and made powerful by invitations to participate in lifelong education and in governance at every level. When there is no more upper-class and no more lower-class, everyone will be middle-class and, thus, a classless society. Introducing the idea that the middle-class, instead of or in addition to the working-class, might be the universal class which will usher in the classless society, involves some conceptual shifts away from the criterion used in the two-class model of society stated above. It will be recalled that the criterion for class membership in that model was that of owning or not owning the means of production.

It is awkward to use the criterion of ownership to adjust the two-class model to provide a conceptual slot for a third class. The best one can do is to separate out a part of the owning class as petit bourgeois. They are the ones who own means of production, but only small ones. In place of the neat binary disjunction, owns or does not own means of production, there is a quantitative continuum of the amount of means of production owned, in which at some cut-off point a person’s assets become too small to make that person a member of the haute bourgeoisie and that person is defined as a member of the petite bourgeoisie. The question of motivation to push for social change is also awkward. The very definition of the proletariat as not owning the means of production implies that its members are dispossessed, frustrated, unsatisfied. They are defined as people who have a motive for changing the status quo. But the middle-class, who are defined according to the ownership criterion as people who own something but not much, can be expected to be at least partly satisfied with the status quo. The growth of the middle-class might be seen, as often it has been seen, as an insurance policy for capitalism, assuring that socialism will never come about because fewer people will find it to be in their interest to bring it about. For this second way to a classless society, it remains to ask why and whether anyone would want to whittle away at the privileges of the upper class, or incorporate marginal people into the benefits of society and why anyone, except for the working class itself, would promote the security and the empowerment of the working class.

Mainstream social science goes part way toward showing what it might mean to define a middle class. Some speak of socioeconomic status: SES, as a surrogate for class. Educational attainment as well as income and wealth are counted. Apart from SES, many studies measure quantitatively and/or depict ethnographically a variety of characteristics that can plausibly be called markers of class.5 Such studies counter any tendency there might have been to privilege ownership of the means of production as the single criterion for mapping social class. They show that whatever criterion one uses there are people in the middle who are not at either end.6

If the two-class model is as simple and clear as anything gets in social science and if empirical research shows social reality to be complex and confusing, a middle-class model might seek to precipitate back out of the world’s complexity and confusion (without losing the insights of the two class model) another criterion which is (relatively speaking) simple and clear. This can be done by associating the idea of middle-class with the related idea of middle-class values.
In 18th century England there was a middle-class (or at least a fragment of a class large enough to produce a literature) that was self-defined by its values. They were the Whigs; their claim to be the rightful governing class of England was founded on self-ascribed virtue. The boundaries which separated the middle-class from the allegedly dissolute aristocracy and the allegedly dissolute masses were moral boundaries. In that environment the Methodist movement was one that sought to uplift the working class into the middle-class by teaching a method for acquiring virtue and by providing a faith community of brethren who upbraided each other when someone backslid. In sociology the locus classicus for associating a middle-class with adherence to norms is the work of Emile Durkheim. He claimed that his empirical studies showed that anomie was produced by the easy life of the upper classes and by the hard life of the lower classes, as compared and contrasted with the life of the solid middle.
What the concept of middle-class values means in the many cultures and globalized hybrids of today is a long story we are unprepared to tell.7 Let it be enough to assert that there are good historical and sociological reasons for including conformity to conventional norms in the mix of indicators used to define who is in what class. Who is in a middle-class depends only partly on property ownership.

If we take for granted that a class can be identified by a set of socioeconomic indicators that includes looking for a relative absence of the Durkheim’s society devoid of norms, then it still remains to ask whether such a class can have any motivation to change the status quo. Indeed, on a worst case scenario the middle-class is the class from which the fascists are recruited who put down constructive change with a hatred and a bigotry that exceed those of the principal beneficiaries of the status quo, the upper class. An important part of this remaining question asks whether an ethical appeal that tries to bring out the best in existing conventional norms and to raise them to a higher ethical level can be a dynamic force which changes the course of history. Enter Gandhi.

Tariq Ali is a firm advocate of the first of the two ways here mentioned to think about achieving a classless society. He belongs to a revolutionary socialist subset of those who propose to achieve a classless society through working class power. He holds specific political beliefs mainly associated with the tradition founded by Leon Trotsky. The revolution will come through the revolutionary action of the working class. That class will learn the necessity of revolution from its own experience of class struggle. The end of the desired process must be democratic because without democracy the workers would have no power. It must be a deeper democracy than the familiar bourgeois representative democracies, which would include (in addition to parliaments and parties) strong independent trade unions and works councils in which the workers themselves direct the operations of the enterprises.

Ali has given a consistent series of explanations of why revolutionary mass action by the working class so far has almost always failed. The mass action of students and workers in France in early 1968 might have overthrown the system if a collaborationist Communist Party had not struck a deal with President De Gaulle in which capitalism was allowed to survive in return for increased wages and benefits.8 Similarly, the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile might have survived in 1973 if Allende had complied with the far left’s demand to arm the masses and had used his electoral victory to construct organs of direct people power in the factories, in the farms and in the neighbourhoods.9 Earlier, in late 1968, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the democratization of Czechoslovakia might have survived if President Dubcek had called for mass revolutionary action by the working class, instead of foolishly believing that he could compromise with the Russians. Ali remarks that Allende and Dubcek faced essentially the same choice, namely whether to appeal to the masses to fight back.10 In the summer of 1975 the Portuguese revolution failed because the far left failed to win over the masses to the side of revolution, while the Communists, as usual, did not trust the masses and the Socialists, under Mario Soares, carried out what was in effect a campaign against socialism in the name of democracy.11

In Britain the working classes are ready for revolutionary socialism, but they are betrayed by a so-called “Labour” Party which is intent on proving to the ruling class that it can keep the workers in check better than the Tories.12 In Iraq and Syria the Ba’athist Party had the potential to be a revolutionary socialist party, but it degenerated in both countries into the tool of a few power-seeking families and cliques.13 The continuing inability of the Arab world to resist foreign capitalist domination is a series of self-inflicted wounds, brought about by its internal divisions. Tariq Ali’s views on all of the above are shaped by his readings of Leon Trotsky’s and Isaac Deutscher’s accounts of the betrayal of the Russian Revolution and the Stalinization of Russia.14

The pattern is similar in Tariq Ali’s works of historical fiction. Several of them concern the fall of Islamic civilization in Spain and Sala-al-Din’s success in driving the Christian crusaders from Jerusalem in 1186. Force is the ultimate arbiter. Unity is the key to having superior force. The victories of the Christian barbarians are blamed on divisions among the Muslims. The worst enemies of the cause of the Believers are the self-seekers who collaborate for gain with the enemy. Sala-al-Din spent most of his career as sultan fighting the collaborationists among his own people, always with the ultimate purpose, which near the end of the book he achieves, of retaking Jerusalem.15

Fitting the pattern, according to Ali India might have gone socialist if it had not been for Gandhi. It was Gandhi who, more than anyone else dissuaded Jawaharlal Nehru from leading a socialist independence movement when the direction of the movement was decisively shaped between 1933 and 1936. Gandhi and Sardar Patel persuaded rebellious elements within the military to surrender at a point where revolution might have been possible in 1946.16 It was Gandhi whom the big business backers of the Congress relied on to tame Nehru.17 Their backing sealed the class character of the Congress.

Nehru could never understand why Gandhi unilaterally called off the non-violent civil disobedience campaign for the independence of India in 1922 after an incident in the village of Chauri Chaura in which an enraged crowd set fire to a police station, burning to death the policemen inside. He did not understand why the acts of an excited mob in a remote village should put an end to the nation’s struggle for freedom, thus Ali offers the explanation that Chauri Chaura was a pretext. The real reason for calling off the movement was that throughout India the peasants and workers were making class demands. Gandhi cancelled the movement and, thus, prevented a socialist revolution.18

Ali has an explanation for a puzzle discussed in Chapter Two: why Gandhi, who was very religious, promoted the career of Nehru, who was not religious. Ali’s explains that by making Nehru the President of the Congress, Gandhi could have some control over him and, thus, prevent him from leading revolutionary mass action.19

Within Tariq Ali’s worldview, Gandhi can only be understood as a spoiler. To portray Gandhi to Ali as a messenger who embodies a message which, if understood, would make a good society possible, it would be necessary not only to complete the historical record by bringing into evidence other things Gandhi said and did, but to change Ali’s worldview. Notoriously, a person’s worldview is formed by the thoughts and experiences of a lifetime. Rather than try to engineer a quick conversion, we think it better to offer a contribution to a dialogue of worldviews in which alternate ways of viewing the same facts enter into conversation with one another. No one will convince anyone quickly.

Like Leon Trotsky, in the same country and time period, Leo Tolstoi as Gandhi’s mentor, became sick at heart by the terrible suffering of the working classes, sickened by their terrible repression at the hands of the upper classes and the state. Like Tariq Ali, Tolstoi was an educated scion of a landed aristocratic family, who became a partisan of the dispossessed. His analysis of the causes of oppression and his strategy for social change, were somewhat different.

Tolstoi recounts his experience conversing with soldiers and officers on a troop transport train.20 They were on their way to kill and torture poor peasants accused of rebellion. They were ordinary people who thought they were doing their duty. They were ordinary people who were deaf to the voice of conscience. They were ordinary people who did not think clearly. They were mostly members of the working class who were being utilized to terrorize fellow members of their own class, motivated not so much by an opportunity to vent savage instincts as by blind obedience to conventional authority.

In Tolstoi’s analysis (as in Marx’s), the upper classes like to believe that their privileges result from voluntary agreements and from economic laws, while the real cause of privileges for the upper class and of the corresponding oppression of the working class, is violence.21 Tolstoi was himself born into a military caste, whose raison d’etre was conquest and the defence of conquests made by one’s ancestors. Like the characters in Tariq Ali’s historical novels, Tolstoi was born into a world where social structure was created by brute force, reinforced by lies.

The solution to the problem follows from the analysis of its causes are truth and nonviolence.22 Truth will unite the oppressed.23 Truth will bring the oppressors face to face with the reality of what they are doing. Ruling out violence as a legitimate way to resolve conflicts will—and no other way will—change social structures. Refusing to obey orders when they are contrary to conscience will dissolve the principal cause of the oppression of the poor.

Journalist of the revolution in the tradition of Orwell, Tariq AliTariq Ali’s worldview is not as different from Tolstoi’s as it might first appear to be. Ali is not in general an advocate of violence. The revolutionary action he advocates is mostly mass demonstrations, general strikes, electoral campaigns, education, the relatively peaceful takeover of factories and other buildings and the building of alternative institutions that create the new society in the shell of the old. Where other means are open, war is not the people’s means of struggle. War is regularly forced upon the workers by a ruling class that regularly resorts to military violence when it is unable to retain power by legitimate means. When civil war comes, Ali wants the preponderance of military force to be on the side of the workers, not on the side of reaction.

Like Tolstoi, Ali believes that truth will unite the oppressed and unmask the ideologies of oppression. He does not believe that the truth was finally revealed by Marx, so as to render superfluous the critical search for truth by independent scientists and scholars after the revolution. He agrees (in this respect) with David Hume, John Stuart Mill and Karl Popper that truth is always tentative and that the best guarantee of anyone’s claim that a theory is true is the freedom of everyone else to refute it if they can. In Ali’s vision of a democratic socialist society, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and other liberal freedoms are preserved and deepened, without the tyranny of money over the media, politics and the academy that currently makes a mockery of liberal values.

For Tolstoi, truth (not all truth, but truth) is found in the message of Jesus Christ, regarded not as a set of mystical beliefs but as a practical guide to life.24 Similarly, Gandhi found truth in his social gospel version of Hinduism and in what might be called his ecumenical spirituality. Ali will have none of this. Ali complains that in India secularism has come to mean accepting all religions when it ought to mean accepting no religion.

Tolstoi’s worldview suggests an alternative reading of Tariq Ali’s basic texts, Leon Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed and Isaac Deutscher’s The Unfinished Revolution. The Stalinization of Russia can be read as a story about hypocrisy and violence. It can be claimed that the recipe for the antidote to the Stalins of the world, slow but more certain than any other, is truth, non-violence and conscientious disobedience.

Tolstoi’s analysis of the causes of social oppression might have been true even if it were the case that all appeals to conscience are fruitless. It could be that social structure has always been determined by violence and lies and always will be. The validity of Tolstoi’s analysis does not depend on whether he is able to offer a hopeful alternative. On the other hand, Tolstoi’s proposed solution, to live a life of truth and non-violence as a contribution to improving society, requires the premise that ethics can have some efficacy as a cause of historical change.

In 1900 Tolstoi’s concept of an ethical politics could have been regarded as a speculative theory, although even then historical research would have disclosed numerous precedents for it.25 After Gandhi put Tolstoi’s principles into practice in South Africa in 1910-14, it became a tested theory. It and variants more or less akin to it have been tested since then in enough places at enough times that the reports of them fill many volumes. In Russia, when the Soviet dictatorship finally fell in 1989, it was more due to Tolstoi than Trotsky.

There is, therefore, no doubt at this point in history that rational appeals, ethical appeals and non-violent methods in general can have important impacts on historical events, which includes influencing major institutional changes. In the light of the proven power of non-violence, we need to take another look at the series of failures to achieve democratic socialism by the revolutionary action of the masses that Tariq Ali has analysed. We shall add to this reconsideration failures to build social democracy and responsible capitalism, which might have resulted, if they had continued long enough, in what we have called achieving a classless society by the second way. If ethics works, then why is the world today awash in neoliberalism and irresponsible globalization?

The tendency of Tariq Ali’s explanations, some of which were mentioned above, is to say that socialism fails because the workers are let down by their leaders. This is not just a trend in the data that Ali has discerned in the data by the logic of induction. The structure of modern society, what Karl Popper referred to as its situational logic, plus the conceptual lenses that Ali uses to view modern society create a gestalt in which failure of revolution caused by failure of leadership is a recurrent pattern. It is all about power; capital has more power; labor has less power. For the workers to have more power, they would have to unite in revolutionary action. They cannot do so, in Ali’s view, because at crucial moments their leaders make the wrong choices.

Gandhians, however have a different worldview; if they are right, then it is not all about power, or at least not all about power narrowly conceived. In the Gandhians understanding, truth and non-violence can change society, too. The dismal historical record, however, is that a classless society is not coming about either by the first way, by the second way, or by any other way. The revolutionary socialists fail, either because they do not bring off the revolution at all or because when they do bring it off the revolution does not lead to the desired free and democratic classless society. The Gandhians also fail. The social democrats have either failed or have become so indistinguishable from conservatives that their success brings a classless society no closer. We are not against consoling oneself by taking note of the good news and genuine social progress that can be found here and there in the history of the twentieth century and in what has so far transpired of history of the twenty-first, but we do think that more explanation of failure is needed. The factors emphasized by Ali and Tolstoi do go toward explaining the phenomena observed, but they do not fully explain the persistence and intensification of class divisions.

Other factors must be added to the list obstacles in transition to a classless society. One must place high on the list what might be called the functional requirements of the system. As mentioned earlier, advocates of capitalism point out that some of us have to save and invest. As a result of this fact, inflation must be kept in check. The international competitive position of the nation must not be eroded by pricing exports above what foreign buyers are willing to pay , which provokes capital flight.

The systemic imperatives imposed by the functional requirements of a modern society are little changed by changing the ownership of the means of production. Tariq Ali writes concerning the negotiations between Czech technocrats and Russia in the 1968 crisis:

The technocrats and Moscow tended to agree on one aspect of the economy: they both saw the choice (though not in these words) as being between bureaucratic centralization or the market economy. They deliberately ignored the third and Marxist choice, namely the transferring of all power to a nationally elected congress of workers’ councils, which would make the final decisions regarding planning and investments.26

Ali explains that the councils would consider the advice of professional economists and then make the final decisions. There is no doubt, however, that the professional economists would have advised that somehow there had to be saving and investment, that inflation had to be kept under control and international competitiveness maintained. They would have pointed out that the worker-controlled factories in Yugoslavia went into debt and failed to keep costs low enough and sales high enough to turn a profit, just like capitalist firms.

The need to comply with the functional requirements of the system remains, even when ownership changes hands, because the system is a circulation system, not just a production system. But this does not mean that the systemic imperatives of circulation are neutral, far from it. Nothing triggers capital flight as much as a threat of nationalization. With a few exceptions, the global market acts as a homeostatic mechanism that reacts negatively to transfers of wealth from the rich to the poor, thus restoring society to its normal practice of transferring wealth from the poor to the rich. Efforts to do without the market and to coordinate the overall economic processes of a society through political control of the system, trigger another threat, which is the march down—what Friedrich von Hayek called—the road to serfdom.27

In practice, a socialist leaning government that has not lost its sincerity, has not given up and decided to devote itself only to managing capitalism, a government that still wishes to find ways to move an inch or two toward a classless society, is hemmed in by the need to comply day by day with the functional requirements of the system. Globalization narrows the options even more, as national governments find that decisions are out of their hands. Globalization appears to be irreversible and the band of options open to peoples and governments appears to consist of ways to adjust to it, not of ways to transform it. Their hands are tied by international markets, by WTO and by the IMF. Such systemic constraints may be overshadowed in the public mind by more spectacular obstacles to social change, like military intervention by the United States, but they are very real.

A conclusion we want to draw is that although there has been little progress in building a world where peace and justice would be possible, this fact does not prove that great progress is impossible; nor does it prove that the methods for changing society already invented will never work. They might still work, if better ways could be found to change the systemic imperatives imposed by the functional requirements of the system.

In this context, the context of looking for what Paulo Freire called the untested feasibility: looking for feasible ways to change the homeostatic dynamic of a socially created, yet, antisocial reality, the philosophy of Gandhi again becomes a valuable resource. Certainly, he showed in practice that ethical action could and did change history; yet, he also showed, as is less known and less understood the arbitrary and ethnocentric character of the constitutive rules of modern economic society. In Gandhi’s worldview, globalization and neoliberalism are not inevitable because the forces that drive them are not inevitable. He thought outside the normative framework that governs Homo economicus. He thought outside it; moreover, he deliberately lived outside it. For this reason, his way of thinking and acting inspires those influenced by him today to think outside the box. In our times, when the options appear to be narrowing day by day, the example given by the life of Gandhi widens the options. Yes, in some ways he was a wacky guy. As a young man he once tried living on a diet of peanuts and lemon juice. As an old man he went through a phase of wanting to sleep naked near young girls just to prove to himself that he had no sexual desire.28 His life, he said in his autobiography, consisted of nothing but his experiments with truth. Humanity needs more experimenters like him, peanuts and all.

In the next chapter we will write about Vandana Shiva, a wonderful Gandhian woman who, as we speak, widens the options.


1. Tariq Ali,  An Indian Dynasty, The Story of the Nehru-Gandhi Family. (cited hereafter as Dynasty). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1985, p. 35.

2. These three are Marx’s “holy trinity” which he conceived as portions of the surplus value extracted from labor. Karl Marx, Capital, Vol I.

3. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1975. We will sometimes use workers to mean people, as the term people (or the popular class[es]) is sometimes used to refer collectively to workers, peasants and whoever else is perceived as outside the ruling class.

4. W. W. Rostow, Stages of Economic Growth. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1960; Albert O. Hirschman, The Strategy of Economic Development. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992; Kuznets, Simon, Growth, Population and Income Distribution. New York: Norton, 1979. Amritananda Das writes:

Since the strategy involves a rapid rise in monetary savings, the conclusion is inevitable that (as workers save a smaller portion of their incomes than capitalists) accelerated accumulation of capital needs a shift of the income distribution away from workers to capitalists.—Amritananda Das, Foundations of Gandhian Economics, p. 6.

5. Thomas J. Fararo, and Kaiji Koska, Generating Images of Stratification. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003; Gordon Marshall, Repositioning Class: Social Inequality in Industrial Societies. Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 1997; Mel Bartley, Health Inequality: an Introduction to Theories, Concepts and Methods. Cambridge UK: Polity Press, 2004. Apart from the two ways to a classless society mentioned here, but still using its simple concepts, one might imagine a society where machines did all or most of the work and all the people shared ownership of the machines. In this case it would be the upper class that would be the universal class, ushering in a classless society where everyone’s income was rent, interest and profit. J. P. Narayan thought along such lines at one point, as did Fourier and Saint Simon.

6. The point here is that empirical studies show that there are ample reasons for having conceptual categories to put people in whose scores are moderate on class measures. It should also be mentioned that there are in some cases fewer and fewer people to put in those categories because neoliberalism has brought with it a dramatic decline of middle class status in many countries. See Branko Milanovic, Decomposing World Income Distribution: Does the World have a Middle-class? Washington D.C.: World Bank, 2001; Larissa Lomnitz and Ana Melnick, Chile’s Middle-class: a Struggle for Survival in the Face of Neoliberalism. Boulder: L. Rienner, 1991.

7. See Howard Richards, “Middle Class Values,” in Gandhi Marg, Vol. 24, no. 4, Jan-March 2003: p. 389-400; and Howard Richards and Joanna Swanger, The Dilemmas of Social Democracies, chapter 13. Lanham, MD: Lexington Press, 2008.

8. Tariq Ali, 1968 and After: Inside the Revolutioncited hereafter as Inside the Revolution. London: Blond and Briggs, 1978, 18-19 and generally p. 10-31.

9. Ibid. p. 66-67.

10. Ibid. p. 79.

11. Ibid. 109-10.

12. Ibid. p. 139-82. See also Tariq Ali, The Coming British Revolution. London, Cape, 1972.

13. Tariq Ali, Bush in Babylon, the Recolonization of Iraq. London: Verso, 2003, p. 103-12.

14. Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed. New York: Merit Publishers, 1965; and Deutscher, Isaac, The Unfinished Revolution, Russia 1917-1967. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.

15. Tariq Ali, The Book of Saladin. London: Verso, 1998.

16.Tariq Ali, Dynasty, p. 50-56, 72.

17. Ibid. p. 85.

18. Ibid. p. 28.

19. Ibid. p. 43.

20. Leo Tolstoi, “The Kingdom of God is Within You,” (first published 1893) in Leo Tolstoi, The Kingdom of God and Peace Essays, Volume 445. in The World’s Classics. London: Oxford University Press, 1951, 334-372, hereafter cited as Tolstoi.

21. Ibid. Tolstoi, p. 343-44.

22. Gandhi expressed his agreement with Tolstoi when he wrote:

Those who seek to destroy men rather than their manners adopt the latter and become worse than those they destroy under the mistaken belief that the manners will die with the men. They do not know the root of the evil.

Young India, March 17, 1927, reprinted in Gandhi, Economics of Khadi, p. 206.

23. Ibid. Tolstoi, p. 410.

The miseries of men are due to their discord. And their discord results from their not following the truth which is one, but falsehood which is legion. The only means by which men can be united is by union in the truth. And therefore the more sincerely men seek the truth the more nearly they will approach to union.

24. See, for example, Tolstoi, p. 435-36. The subtitle of the essay: Christianity not as a mystical doctrine but as a new understanding of life.

25. For accounts of pre-Tolstoian anticipations of Tolstoi’s philosophy see Sanderson Beck, Guides to Peace and Justice. Ojai, CA: World Peace Communications, 2003.

26. Tariq Ali, Inside the Revolution, p. 42.

27. Friedrich von Hayek and another Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises have shown that the tendency to lose political freedoms when market economies are replaced by planned economies is a threat inherent in the logic of the situation Although there may be ways to avert and solve the problem, it cannot be averted or solved simply by weeding out psychotic personalities like Stalin and Hitler, or simply by putting people like Tariq Ali who believe in freedom in charge of the process. Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951; von Hayek, Friedrich. The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: Regnery, 1972; von Friedrich Hayek, Economic Freedom and Representative Government. London: Institute of Economic Affairs, London 1973; Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.

28. Joseph Alter, Gandhi’s Body: Sex, Diet and the Politics of Nationalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

Keywords: accumulation, anomie, Ba’athist Party, capital flight, capitalist, circulation [of commodities], class struggle, class-divided society, classless society, collaborationists, collective self-interest, commodities, conventional norms, democracy, education, electoral campaigns, Durkheim, ethical politics, ethics, freedom, Gandhi, general strikes, globalization, haute bourgeoisie, IMF, Labour Party, labour power, locus classicus, marginal, mass demonstrations, means of production, middle-class values, Nehru, neoliberalism, nonviolence, normless state, norms, oppression, ownership, petit bourgeois, power, profit, property, revolutionary socialist, Allende, self-ascribed virtue, social democracy, social structure, socialist, socioeconomic status, tautology, Tolstoi, Trotsky, truth, untested feasibility, war, workers, worldview


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