Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Amit Basole on Lohia

Some ten years ago, Amit Basole (pronounced Basshole) , now with Aziz Premji University,  published the following in EPW. Reading it enables us to understand why the Left collapsed.

In December 2009 I had the chance to visit Dantewada in the Bastar region of the state of Chhattisgarh. If Gujarat was the laboratory where an experiment in a Hindu rashtra was attempted by the Narendra Modi government in 2002, Bastar is the laboratory where an experiment in primitive accumulation is being conducted by the Indian state. 

Amit has 2 American PhDs- the first in Neurobiology from Duke, after which the cretin switched to Econ but it was at Amherst where the faculty failed to inform him that India had been partitioned on Religious lines back in 1947. India is a Hindu Nation. Pakistan is an Islamic nation. As for 'primitive accumulation'- no experiments in it have had to be performed for hundreds of years because the techniques were perfected back when slavery. Why was this cretin pretending that Modi had pioneered Hindu vengeance or that Manmohan a racist intent on exploiting tribal land on behalf of a corrupt foreign dynasty?If believed the lie he was peddling, Modi would take power and Congress and the Left would decline and disappear.


Karl Marx defined primitive accumulation as that “idyllic moment of the rosy dawn” of industrial capitalism when the working population is forcibly dispossessed of the means of production and capital is concentrated in a few hands (Marx 1992). 

Marx, foolishly, believed that industrial capitalism was linked to conquest and the enslavement of foreign races. He doesn't seem to have noticed that there had been plenty of big slave trading Empires throughout History which hadn't developed capitalist institutions. Since Marx's day, it has become obvious that slavery and foreign conquest are bad, not good, for industrial capitalism. 

What he wrote was- 

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England’s Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China, &c.

If this fool believes shite like this then it is no wonder he gave up Neurobiology for a worthless Amherst PhD and a gig at Aziz Premji's Institute for the Economic Imbecility.


The creation of a mass-production, mass consumption lifestyle, which all but defines “economic development”, has always implied the loot, displacement, exploitation and murder of a periphery for the development of the centre. 

Rubbish. The alternative to mass-production is demographic replacement or enslavement of populations with lower military capacity. As technology has improved and the terms of trade have moved against primary producers, centers don't need no stinkin' peripheries.

The intense social conflict produced by this resource-hungry, capital intensive mode of development is visible in the militarisation of Bastar. 

Nope. Nobody gives a shit about Bastar. Manmohan got worked up about Naxalites killing cops because Corporations found it cheaper to pay the Maoists rather than the Central Government. The problem here is that Naxals are liked coz they can fuck up the tribals more effectively and sell us natural resources more cheaply. 

But very few political thinkers have made these costs the centrepiece of their critique of capitalism. Rammanohar Lohia, like Mahatma Gandhi, was one who did so. 

But both were useless- save in so far as they made Nehru and Indira and so forth look smart by comparison. 

Lohia cautioned us in no uncertain terms.
In India, any attempt whether under communism or socialism or capitalism to achieve the modern civilisation, which the world has known for the past 300 years, must result in barren cruelty, cruelty which knows no success (Lohia 1963: 109, emphasis added).

Lohia felt it was very cruel of the Indian people to laugh at him and preferred to vote for Nehru, rather than him, in Phulphur 1962. He did manage to get elected later on by taking the help of Nanaji Deshmukh- a RSS stalwart. 

On the one hand, Lohia was a Marxist who was against private property

but he was for the RSS- if it helped him get elected.

 and believed in the necessity of a revolutionary change in the social relations of production.

because what he was producing from his mouth was shitty shitty shit. 

 On the other hand, he was a Gandhian who believed in the necessity of fundamentally challenging the direction of development of the forces of production under capitalism. 

Gandhian challenges quickly culminated in unilateral surrender. 

The forces of production had to be challenged because they were a product of the imperial-colonial division of labour. 

Also the force of Gravity had to be challenged because it was preventing yogic levitation. 

In this essay, I attempt to show how Lohia’s understanding of the centre-periphery relationship in the capitalist world system led him to struggle with the question of appropriate technology.

Entrepreneurs and Engineers struggle with that question. Guys with shite PhDs- like Basole and Lohia- struggle with tying their shoe laces. 

 In doing so, I draw extensively on a long, though unfinished, essay that Lohia wrote in the period 1942-44, called “Economics after Marx”.
Which both Economists and Marxists justly ignore.

Although the essay uses Marxist language and categories, it is clear that 

Lohia was deeply stupid- even by the standards of the Left.

by 1942 Lohia had deeply imbibed the influence of Gandhi. 

Thankfully, Gandhi wasn't the sort of Mahatma who would make Lohias imbibe his jizz. 

The long, almost book-length, essay can be regarded as an early, if not the very first, attempt to bring together the two greatest critics of bourgeois civilisation into a productive dialogue with one another, by a person clearly steeped in both critical traditions.

But both were shit. People want bourgeois civilization. They pay a lot of money to emigrate to where it is available more abundantly. Still, some rich people- like Aziz Premji- will subsidize this type of nonsense.

Lohia’s theory of the relationship between imperialism and capitalism and the resulting implications for economics development outlined in “Economics after Marx” as well as later writings (such as “Gandhism and Socialism”) deserve wider attention than they have received.

Because only by reading that cretin can we gain a proper appreciation of what happens when a Bania doesn't stick to making money. The same could be said of Gandhi. 

 Writing much before dependency theory and worldsystems theory were born in the west,

but which remained infantile and imbecilic and thus without any influence whatsoever. 

 Lohia anticipated their essential insights.

because what is shit today was anticipated by what cretins crapped out long ago.

 While he was critical of Marx and later Marxists for analysing western European capitalism in isolation and according a secondary place to imperialism, Lohia was also clearly indebted to the Marxian tradition for concepts such as socially necessary labour, surplus value, and exploitation as well as for the radical critique of private property and for the emphasis on inequality rather than poverty (the latter being a bourgeois concern).

Starving people want food rather than a world where everybody starves equally. Marxism, at one time, was about telling poor people they'd get lots of tasty things to eat. Then those poor people started running away to where they could actually get those nice things to eat. Sad.

 At the same time, Gandhi’s conviction that industrialism itself was an evil

though taking money from industrialists was cool

 and that an industrial civilisation was not possible without violence
 he considered his wife's refusal to cook mutton chops for Maulana Azad to be violence. He also told his great niece that if she didn't sleep naked with him then she too would be guilty of violence

 and imperialism was deeply absorbed by Lohia. If at this point one is tempted to ask whether this makes Lohia a Marxist or a Gandhian, it is worth pointing out that he himself did not consider such labels helpful. Instead he insisted that he was a student of society and history, not bound by any preconceived “ism”.

or any intelligence or utility.

No man’s thought should be made the centre of a political action; it should help but not control … I believe it is silly to be a Gandhian or a Marxist and it is equally so to be anti-Gandhian or anti-Marxist (Lohia 1963: 1).

but a deeply silly man he remained.

This critical and free-thinking attitude enabled Lohia to transcend Marxism’s Eurocentrism

the fucker got a useless PhD from Germany

 while retaining its uncompromising critique of class and exploitation, and simultaneously remain close to Gandhi’s critique of modern civilisation.

and achieve zero politically. 

 Though his writing remains vulnerable to the charge of lack of depth, and many academic Marxists may find it lacking in rigour, his thought is fresh and breaks many moulds.

by shitting copiously into them.

 Writing in the 1940s and 1950s in the shadow of both the international communist movement and the Gandhian independence movement,

He was writing in the shadow of the Second World War and then the Cold War both of which had rendered the amateurism and self-delusion of Trotskyites and Gandhians wholly irrelevant.

 Lohia was anxious to carve out an ideological and political space for a type of Gandhiinspired socialism

so as to have a cozy place to fill up with shit.

 that distinguished itself from communism (or Marxian socialism) in being less Eurocentric and more grounded in the historical reality of the colonies and in being non-violent, though militant.

Lohia's contribution to Indian politics was to bring in the RSS as what would become the backbone of an anti-Congress National Party. Thus, after Modi became PM, for the first time, Delhi began praising Lohia and projecting him as the Prophet of 'Congress Mukht Bharat' though Congress is still hanging on- it is the Left which has been eradicated everywhere save Kerala where Hindi-fanatic Lohia was execrated. 

 I have argued elsewhere that several of India’s people’s movements that rose to prominence in the 1990s, such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan and other smaller movements that came together under the National Alliance of People’s Movements, show an affinity with Lohia’s reinterpretation of Gandhi and Marx (Basole 2009).

They succeeded in preventing India emulating China. Manmohan began the fight back against them. Modi is more cautious.


Capitalism Needs Its Colonies

No. Ex-Colonies need Capital. China understands this. 

It is well understood in the Marxian tradition that a colony historically performed several important functions – it provided cheap resources (jal, jungle, zamin or water, forests and land), it provided an outlet for investment of capital (Lenin’s definition of imperialism, see Lenin 1917/1963) and it provided a market for mass-produced goods.

But Naval Supremacy is required to keep Colonies. Baumol Cost disease applies. The cost of Naval intervention rises much faster than the price of primary products. Thus it much cheaper to just give a little Aid money to shitholes which compete with each other to sell cheap primary products. Even if this turns out to be profitable, kleptocrats will recycle their money through the Capitalist West which has the rule of Law. 

 Further, imperial labour received a cut of the colonial surplus, allowing it a higher material standard of living.

But getting rid of Colonies raised material standards of living much much more. Look at Portugal post-Salazar.  

This last point shows us that there is a contradiction between imperial and colonial labour.

Not in India. Industrial Labor was better off under British Rule because there was no compulsory arbitration or minority Unions etc. Export pessimism and output quotas meant that Unions could not expand and become the foundation of a Labor party. Instead every political party had an associated Trade Union organization.

 Lohia made this the starting point of his analysis. At the outset, in “Economics after Marx” Lohia pointed out that Marx begins his analysis of capitalism

without a theory of capital allocation- i.e. without any analysis at all. The guy just repeats stupid shit.

 with the contradiction between use-value and value of labour power and the resulting production of surplus value. 

If so, there is a 'contradiction' between the fact that the use-value of the glass of water I've just drunk is much higher than the cost to me of acquiring that water. The resulting 'consumer surplus' represents my merciful exploitation of oppressed molecules of H2O. 

Lohia argued that it is a mistake to lump together imperial and colonial labour. 

Because he was a Bania. Perhaps one of the finest homes in Mayfair is owned by a billionaire Lohia who is the brother in law of Lakshmi Mittal. The fact is Indian Trade Unionists understood that the workers would get a better deal under Atlee rather than Nehru. 

Doing so hid the contradiction between the two.

There is an obvious 'contradiction' in a fucking Bania or a Kaula Brahmin claiming to represent the industrial proletariat. But this is also true of Basoles with two PhDs from Amrika.  


Making this distinction allows us to see that the vast difference in the socially necessary requirements (wages) of imperial and colonial labour is made possible by the super-exploitation of colonial labour. 

But real wages, for factory workers, rose in countries which got rid of colonies. 'Super-exploitation' can only benefit 'super-exploiters'. They may claim to be sharing their wealth- e.g. Paulo Escobar- but economists should be able to see that nothing of the sort obtains.


Lohia advanced the proposition that the differing socially necessary requirements of labour prevailing in these two settings were a result of politics and history, not geography or productivity of labour. 

He was wrong. That's why, in the Fifties and Sixties, working class Portuguese people immigrated to countries which had shed their colonies or which had never had them in the first place. 


Wages of colonial labour fell far below its productivity than the wages of imperial labour, making possible the greater extraction of surplus value. 

But that productivity was so low that the surplus wasn't worth extracting save by local entrepreneurs. 

And finally, this super-exploitation was the basis for the development of capital-intensive technology.

The reverse must be the case. Why spend money on R&D to get 'capital deepening' if you can just squeeze more out of your workers? The fact is 'capital deepening' permits qualitative improvements and much higher value adding. 

 What appeared then as a difference of productivity was a result of accumulated labour of the periphery.

Why stop there? Why not add that White peeps only be white coz they surreptitiously suck up all the jizz (which is white- in case u iz lesbo and don't know the color of spunk) produced by us black folk?

In the current produce of labour in west European factories appears the saved labour of many generations of colonials.

Also Whitey only be White coz of all the Lohia jizz they done sucked up under the Raj- innit?

 Economists, including communists, are wrong in crediting this entire produce to imperial labour and in using pompous phrases about the higher productivity of labour in Europe as compared to Asia or Africa. Labour, on the whole, uses the same muscle power and skill everywhere, and what appears as the higher produce of imperial labour is directly due to the many generations of imperial-colonial division of labour in the world. One might almost say that the ghosts of hundreds of millions of colonial toilers are invisibly moving the machines in imperial factories (Lohia 1963: 24, emphasis added).

Sadly, the reverse was the case. The ghosts of a few White officials kept the machinery of the Indian Nation State running along its accustomed bureaucratic grooves. Nutters like Gandhi, Lohia, JP etc wanted to get rid of the English language and British institutions in India. Mercifully, they failed. Still, the RSS is indigenous and Lohia and J.P did enable it to rise up to supply the sinews of the only, if imperfectly, National party India now has. Congress, it is true, might still command up to twenty percent of the vote in places- but then it was founded by British officials and is currently presided over by a nice lady from a lovely, and highly productive, part of Italy.

Lohia as well as more recent writers in the Lohiate tradition, who have spoken of India’s “internal colonies”, have argued that Europe’s industrial development was only made possible by the availability of colonies and that heavy capitalisation in the manner of Europe was not possible without imperial exploitation. Taking the example of the railways,

which represented the amalgamation of various inventions only made possible by Whitey stealing and swallowing lots and lots of Black folk's jizz.


 Lohia made the point rhetorically as follows.

…The problem is not whether railway development was a boon to India; the fact is that without British-ruled Indian railways the British railroad industry could hardly have gone beyond an infantile stage.

This is nonsense. By 1850 the whole of Britain was covered. America had about 9000 miles. France was catching up. India probably wouldn't have had an extensive network- it was too poor- but for the Brits who 'internalized' an externality relating to cheaper defense and administrative costs. 

 Britain did not give railways to India; India gave Britain her railways and the engineering industry (Lohia 1963: 11).

Also Indians jizzed on the Brits till they turned white. Furthermore English language is actually a dialect of Telugu. Wake up sheeple! Queenji is from Ludhiana. When nobody is looking she is cooking makkian di roti and dancing bhangra. Prince Phillip found out. That is the reason for his mysterious death. 

A corollary of this view is that the non-availability of overseas colonies for late industrialisers such as India entails a process of internal colonisation.

Also Indians are having to jizz on each other because British are no longer coming to India to get railways and to lots of lots of Indian jizz. 

 While most Marxists and other critics of capitalism have acknowledged the importance of colonies to the development of industry in the west, Lohia was an early and strident voice that made the centre-periphery conflict a crucial element of his story, on a par with class conflict with the centre or within the periphery.

Sadly, he did not mention the jizz theory of Whiteness. There are some very interesting videos on this topic on Pornhub. 

Lohia countered the criticism that colonies though important were not inevitable for the development of industrial capitalism in Europe by producing a historical argument.

He produced it out of his arse. Sadly that's where shit- not historical information- resides. 

 Imperialism was far from being the latest or highest stage of capitalism. 

The final crisis of Capitalism will occur when everybody jizzes so copiously on everybody that all the top hatted Banksters are drowned. 

What we see historically is a co-emergence of imperialism and capitalism from the very beginning.

But we only see this if we are busy wiping cum out of our eyes. 

 According to Lohia, capitalism was always and already a global system,

just as everybody jizzing copiously on everybody was always and already a global and noble system. 

 in which different parts of the world were articulated in a definite relationship 

defined by who was jizzing on who

with each other. Since the asymmetric, imperial relationship between the colony and metropole was a defining feature of capitalism,

but only coz black folk had so copiously jizzed on the Capitalists as to cause them to turn White

 the dynamic of this economic system could not be understood by treating western Europe in isolation.

Because it wasn't isolated at all! It was getting mightily jizzed on by Africa and South Asia. 

It became a moot point whether this relationship was “truly necessary” for the development of capitalism.

But no one can deny that Whitey only got to be White coz us black folk had jizzed copiously on them. 

What are the implications of this view? 

Those who hold them are are stupid and ignorant.

If the development of capitalism, in particular of heavy industry-based, mass-consumption societies in western Europe and its offshoots (North America, Australia), which enabled them to conquer not only lands but also minds and hearts, was made possible by exploitation of colonial resources and colonial labour, this pattern of development cannot be reproduced in the erstwhile colonies except at an immense social cost. The bloody episodes in the recent history of India in Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Lalgarh, Niyamgiri, Bastar and many other places are evidence of this.

A corrupt Communist or Congress government trying to reward crony capitalists with land or natural resources owned by poor or tribal people provides no 'evidence' of any sort. Why? Communism and the Congress Party are both against Capitalism. The fact is South Korea and Taiwan and Singapore and Hong Kong have become highly industrialized without ever having any colonies. 

Spain and Portugal once had lots of colonies, but they didn't become 'industry-based, mass-consumption societies' till they got shot of them. 

'Immense social cost' is imposed on poor countries by regimes which refuse to permit markets to allocate resources. 

Today, in 2010, it has become commonplace for left radical thought to recognise the social and ecological externalities created by certain types of technology and there is increasing discomfort with the earlier language of “the development of the productive forces”.

Today, in 2021, it has become commonplace to recognize 'left radical thought' as utter shit. 

 Eco-Marxist texts also abound (see, for example, Benton 1996; Foster 2000).

Shit abounds. 

 But this was not so in the 1940s.

Because Stalin defeated Hitler. Communism wasn't utterly shit back then.

 Despite a rich socialist tradition of critical thinking on the question of technology, with Marx himself engaging the question deeply in the first volume of Capital, Marxists initially failed in producing an original political programme that challenged the direction of development of the forces of production under capitalism and assumed that the specific forms of technology and industry developed under capitalism could simply be inherited by the new socialist societies.

Marx wasn't a complete cretin. He understood that steam engines would still be steam engines under Socialism. Basole probably thinks that they will turn into flying saucers powered by fairy farts. 

Lohia displayed originality in producing a critique of largescale (capital-intensive) technology,

No he didn't. There had been similar Luddite nutters in Marx's own day who explained how everybody could just spin straw into gold on a contraption made entirely out of cow-dung. 

 more or less from within the Marxian tradition by producing a justification for small-scale technology based on his theory of imperial exploitation discussed above. Instead of uncritically celebrating the vast improvements in productivity achieved under capitalism, Lohia challenges us to think fundamentally about the type of economic development that is possible in the colonies, given the historical experience of colonialism.

But if Basole 'thinks fundamentally' about anything his fundament starts shitting out shite like this-

 Even in his time it was clear to Lohia, as it was to Gandhi, that the tendency to view Europe as the leading edge of technical innovation, 

Fuck off! It was America. 

which was becoming widespread even in radical circles, would lead to unparalleled violence in this land. 

Partition saw 'unparalleled violence' in India. Was it due to a 'tendency to view Europe as the leading edge' of anything? Nope. It was a case of Muslims be kray kray. Kill them if you can- otherwise run away. 

Lohia cautioned against this, not out of a nativism or cultural chauvanism, but for the reasons already outlined. 

i.e. he had shit for brains.

Because, like Gandhi, Lohia viewed capitalist development from the point of view of those who paid the price of technical progress and got precious little in return for it (that is, the colonial toilers). 

But colonial toilers want apple phones just as much as anybody else.

In contradistinction to the Marxist position, rather than arguing that capitalism was once progressive but had now become reactionary, Lohia came to a remarkable conclusion.

… Capitalism brought great progress to the European part of mankind in the past but is on the point of ceasing to do so today. To the rest of mankind, it never brought any progress (Lohia 1963: 106, emphasis added).

He wrote this at a time when technology had already begun making everybody all over the world much much better off. Even the poorest colonial toiler gained by medical and pharmaceutical advances made possible by the use of new technologies. 

This uncompromising stand is anti-modernist and reminiscent of Gandhi.

It is stupid shit. By comparison even Deen Dayal looked smart. 

 It follows directly from Lohia’s analysis of capitalism as an imperial world-system that is able to deliver on its promises to a few only by destroying the lives of many. 

Very true! Trillions of South Asians and Sub Saharan Africans had died of exhaustion after having had to jizz copiously on the few who turned White as a result. 

However, modernists of a liberal as well as a Marxist persuasion find this difficult to accept since it calls into question the very possibility that industrial capitalism can take shape in the colonies.

Industrial capitalism can't take shape in places where everybody is Lohia level stupid. 

 And if it cannot, what are the prospects then for socialism, which is supposed to build on the technical foundations provided by capitalism?

Socialism will either surrender to some corrupt, casteist, dynasty or else get out of the way of the RSS or DMK or other nationalist or regionalist outfit. 

Thus while there may be broad agreement among socialists of many types on the desirability of achieving equality in society, there is great resistance to the idea that industrialism and not capitalism may be the impediment to reaching that goal. Why is this so? 

Because industrialism produces nice, shiny, things. People want nice, shiny, things. They grow restive if they are told they can't have nice, shiny, things for some silly ideological reason. Ultimately, they will beat you and chase you away if keep haranguing them on this topic.

Taking a leaf out of Lohia, one can advance the proposition that dazzled by the spectacle of modern science and technology and seduced by promises of plenty, Marxists have given short shrift to two of Marx’s fundamental insights – that history matters and that the forces of production are in a dialectical relationship with (that is, are both a cause and an effect of) the social relations of production.

To be fair, Marxists have done their best to fuck up the economy wherever they have had a chance. They genuinely don't want people to have nice, shiny, things.

Let us briefly take each in turn. As mentioned before, Lohia argued that the imperial history of capitalism resulted in imperial technology, which in turn provided the material equipment for continued imperial control. 

Why then did Empires disappear though technology was improving?

This is in evidence today when we observe the relationship of India’s urban elite and their state with the rest of the population. 

It is true that Aziz Premji's way of life is very different from that of a landless laborer. Basole is saying that that evil bastard is only rich coz he is fucking over the Indian poor and forcibly extracting their jizz and bathing in it so as to become White. 


The belief that the evils of industrialism will disappear under socialism can be sustained only by not truly confronting the significance of the peculiar historical conditions under which industrialism took shape in Europe and the US for the development of technology today.

What was that 'peculiar historical condition'? Basole won't tell us. But I will. The fact is White peeps only got to be White by stealing and bathing in the jizz of Black folk like me. Fuck you Whitey! Fuck you very much! Why are you sucking me dry while I sleep? 

Coming to the second proposition, the original theoretician of the dialectical relationship between technology (“the machine”) and the social relations of production in the Marxian tradition is of course Marx himself.

Marx was the originalist Marxist. What an amazing discovery! Amherst must be so proud. On the other hand, Neurobiology is congratulating itself on having gotten rid of this cretin. 

 Harry Braverman’s influential work on technology and the labour process (1974) similarly takes a critical look at how the development of the forces of production under capitalism destroys the artisan and produces the worker, completing the separation between mental and manual work, which began in ancient times. 
Braverman was a genuine proletarian- a self-educated Trotskyite. His work had some relevance back when 'worker control' and 'solidarity wages' seemed a way of defeating 'stagflation' without mass unemployment. Sadly, the workers rejected these ideas. Why? Coz they liked nice, shiny, things. 

Despite this, and despite many actual political struggles on the shop-floor where workers resisted the rule of the machine, the seduction of productivity often proved too powerful.

Coz workers would rather have a nice shiny new car rather than participate in endless Workers Council meetings while their real wages collapsed. Any job which involves 'disutility' won't be done, absent compulsion of some type, if the worker is given autonomy rather than nice, shiny, things. 

 Privileging productivity over equality resulted in cases such as the enthusiastic adoption of Taylorist production techniques, under the name of Stakhanovism, in early post-revolution Russia. That such anti-worker techniques were adopted in a workers’ state shows where productivity-fetishism can lead.

It led to Stalin becoming the most powerful man in Eurasia. 

The Small-Unit Machine

To return to Lohia, his political programme now emerges from the foregoing analysis. Marxism formulated the task facing the proletariat as one of replacing capitalist relations of production with socialist ones, whereas for Lohia a genuine socialism would have to think in terms of destroying both the capitalist relations of production and the capitalist forces of production, or at least vastly remodelling them (Lohia 1963: 110, emphasis added).

And then begging for PL480 shipments from Uncle Sam because productivity collapse means food availability collapse- i.e. mass starvation on a Maoist scale. 

Thus the question of technology is not reducible to the question of production relations; both production relations and production forces must be tackled separately. 

Why not tackle the problem of time travel and teleportation separately? It would do as much good.

However questioning the “march of technical progress” immediately brings forth allegations of primitivism or technophobia.

Basshole, we aren't calling you a technophobe. We are saying you are stupid and ignorant.  

Lohia was aware that his position could be easily reduced in the way Gandhi’s was into a demand for a return to a simple life. So he hastened to add,

This problem of technics is not to be confused with the demand to return to a simple life with few wants … It is as little to be taken for a denial of the machine or of mechanical and electrical power; it is not an advocacy of handicrafts …

Instead, … The basic problem is not to cut down the use of mechanical or electrical power but to make it available for production in the same small units in the manner it is today available for consumption in prosperous 
economies as light, ventilation, or heating…(Lohia 1963: 50).

Cool. The guy is saying we should have small sweatshops with their own diesel power generators. That way labor militancy is nipped in the bud and the Government inspector has to be satisfied with a small bribe- the alternative being a knife in the guts. But this is what happens by default in a shitty Socialist country.

Here was an attempt to create a space where questioning technology was not automatically equated with a desire for handicrafts.

Nothing wrong with high value adding handicrafts- e.g. FabIndia- as opposed to Gandhian khaddar. 

 Rather, the demand was the opposite – not a renunciation of electrical power but a demand for its equal distribution (a radical demand even today, see below) such that the modern formula equating towns with industry and villages with agriculture could be challenged and the village reindustrialised.

But, if the Government is to supply electricity then the thing has to be done on the largest possible scale. The problem is how is it to recoup its costs? Large scale industries may pay their bills. Small sweatshops will steal electricity and pay a bribe. The thing quickly collapses. Everybody has to go back to their diesel generator- as is happening in Lebanon right now. But California too is asking enterprises with generators to operate them so as to reduce the burden on the public utilities. 

 Gramudyog or village industry then acquired a new meaning.

Scam. That was the new meaning. Dhiren Ambani was actually running a tiny cottage industry in his native village- innit? 

 It was not a synonym for artificially preserved handicraft traditions or production for niche markets. Rather it meant small-scale, decentralised, labour-intensive technology, which reduced and eventually eliminated the disparity in per capita availability of capital. 

Hilarious! The power-loom sector was about getting the fuck away from Trade Unions led by the likes of Dutta Samant. However, because economies of scope and scale weren't exploited, per capita availability of Capital to the country fell far short of what it should have been. 

The guiding value was not productivity but equality.

Because illiterate women can easily set up a power loom and start supplying Walmart- right? 

Lohia’s views on technology also followed from his views on poverty and inequality. If we take poverty or lack of resources to be the major problem, we are led to support technology that increases productivity. If instead we take inequality to be the central issue, as Lohia did, then increases in productivity take a back seat and the emphasis is transferred to technology that can be developed without immiseration and can be made available to all for use.

Very true. Why spend money on expensive machines when you can easily construct a loom out of cow-dung that is able to spin straw into gold? 

Intermediate technology can be 100 times cheaper than the state of the art. But the state of the art machine can produce 100, 000 times more. Thus the per unit capital cost is a thousand times lower. Moreover, financing is available because, provided you have a big enough internal market, the Business Model is inherently viable. 

 A Marxist may counter that socialising the means of production achieves the goal of equality even with large-scale or capital-intensive technology.

Actually Marx said 'to each according to his contribution' till after scarcity is defeated.

 However Lohia cautioned that the development of such technology carried social and ecological costs whose externalisation could only be achieved in a classridden society. Though its continued use might result in a nominally equal distribution of property, it would also lead to a concentration of power in the hands of the experts.

Far better to concentrate power in the hands of simpletons with zero experience. 

Power and wealth can be so wholly unrelated that an economy with an enormously maldistributed power can dole out a comparatively well distributed wealth. The heavy mechanisation of the Russian economy with its concentrated production is beyond the grasp of the common man in Russia. He has to depend on an elite for the management of this intricate mechanism...(Lohia 1963: 86).

But the managers knew they could get shot or shipped off to a Gulag if they didn't meet their targets. Once that threat was withdrawn- Brezhnev's 'stabilization of the cadres'- the Soviet Union turned to shit. Those with power could buy what they liked in the dollar shops. Everybody else was queuing up for turnips. 

Thus three principal concerns drove Lohia’s idea of the small unit machine. One, that large-scale development of heavy industry entailed colonial exploitation;

not to mention Black folk copiously jizzing on Europeans till they turned White. 

 two, that a high capital/labour ratio implied high unemployment in a populous land like India;

But by exploiting scope and scale economies, the per unit cost of capital falls greatly. This means you can have a higher labor share of National Income. Basshole is committing a 'fallacy of composition.' More machines and fewer workers in each enterprise can still mean a higher Labor share of a much higher National Income.

and three, that large-scale brought with it centralisation of command and a distancing between those who work and those who manage.

What's wrong with that? We don't want the manager to be constantly poking his nose into our affairs. We want the guy to tell us what to do and then pay us for doing it. 

The latter reinforced the division between knowledge work and manual work, which is another source of inequality in society.

Having knowledge, like having beauty or being known to be honest and truthful, does indeed create inequality. That's a good thing. We want to have models for Tardean mimetics. Beyonce, currently, is better looking and more talented than me. By copying her dance moves I hope to become an even bigger super-star. Even if this doesn't happen, I am sure to bring delight to the other residents of the Old Folk's home by twerking while in the cafetaria line. 

I note in passing that the small-unit machine is one element of the economy of the autonomous village, a reinterpretation of the Gandhian village, which has widely been understood as a “self-sufficient” community. Lohia distinguished autonomy from self-sufficiency.

I have deliberately used the word “autonomous” rather than “independent”. The concept of self-sufficiency had better be eliminated. The village must stay in close relationship with numerous other villages and also the world at large (Lohia 1963: 131-32).

The idea of the “self-sufficient village” has created much confusion by conjuring up images of isolated, inward-looking societies. On the other hand, the creation of autonomous, well connected villages,

who will pay for the roads and bridges and electricity and phone lines? 

 which are centres of industrial activity and receive electricity on a par with the cities, is a viable political demand for our times. 

It could be if people paid their electricity bills.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union in eastern Uttar Pradesh has recently initiated attempts to build a movement with the slogan “Gaon aur sheher ki beech bijli kaa barabar kaa batwara ho” (Let electricity be equally distributed between the town and the village).

This genuinely benefits people and has been taken up by successive administrations- most notably that of Adityanath.

However, Lohia also cautioned that the small-unit machine was not simply a synonym for decentralised or workshop-based production. Anticipating later developments in dispersed “sweatshop” production regimes, particularly pronounced in the era of globalisation, he clarified that production via the small-unit machine was not to be taken as

… an advocacy of simple spatial decentralisation, now becoming quite a fashionable idea, in which all that is done is to break up prevailing technics into their several processes and to specialise these in different factories over different areas.

i.e. stuff like 'freight equalization'

Rather, [Electric] power would be a kind of maid-of-all-work, and there would be corresponding small-unit machines to process, not one bit of an article, but to produce the whole article (Lohia 1963: 49-50).

3-D printers for everybody! Sadly, this won't save the villages. Smart people need to move to big Cities where they can interact with lots of other smart people. 

Thus decentralised production should not imply a capital imposed division of labour wherein artisans in small workshops produce a small piece of the final commodity while the entire supply chain is managed and controlled by capitalists from the outside.

No. It should imply having a magical voice activated  3 d printer which you can command to make you a nice time travelling De Lorean.

But can everything be produced by small-unit machines? Are there areas where large-scale or capital-intensive technology is essential? What about the heavy industrial establishments required for manufacturing electricity or iron and steel and so on. As we might expect, Lohia does not offer hard and fast answers to such questions.

Because he was as stupid as shit.

 Decentralised production is an ideal to strive for

just like the ideal of being able to fly through the sky like Superman

 and no general solution can be offered. Only specific responses to specific challenges can exist. 

e.g. how to squeeze into that Supermarket costume Mum got you for Halloween fifty years ago.  

The requirement is that the goal of equality continues to guide every decision. This requires those who are educated in the universities to reorient themselves.

Like Basshole who gave up 'Neurobiology' for Econ with results painful to read. 

 Kishen Pattnayak has elaborated on this theme.

Guess who Kishen 'reoriented'. It was Yogendra Yadav. 'Nuff said. 

For Gandhi and for Lohia, the mode of industrialisation is a central and fundamental factor in carrying out civilisational change and this means making new inventions. Unfortunately, the culture of invention/research has changed completely. Now the invention of useful machines has become the provenance of the state or of big business. If those scientists who are not associated with industrial or state institutions make common cause with the visionaries and revolutionaries who are engaged in the task of civilisational change, only then can a new science be created and only then can people-centred technology be invented. Otherwise only machines that fuel a consumerist culture will continue to be invented (Pattnayak 2000: 94, translated from Hindi).

Very true! Super-computers built entirely out of cow-dung can be operated by every illiterate villager. Microsoft and Google will go out of business. Only because trillions of African and South Asian people jizzed copiously on Bill Gates did he achieve 'White Privilege'. 

When we no longer view society from the modernist perspective that sees only the development of a certain kind of technology as progress, we may be surprised at the wealth of knowledge that exists around us. For example, the Agaria tribes of Chhattisgarh have continued to produce high-quality steel in small clay furnaces at ambient temperatures. Despite an official ban on this production and despite great poverty, they still possess this knowledge (Sahasrabudhey 2001).

But their product is not cost competitive. Still, if some 'high value added' use is found- e.g. casting of sacred swords or axes- then it might become remunerative.

 It is not necessary to claim that these furnaces can supply the steel needs of the country. But it is necessary to reflect on what this example means to our discussion.

It means your discussion is stupid and ignorant of basic Economics. 

The Context for Today


The Soviet Union no longer informs our context, as it did Lohia’s. Today we are said to be living in a “knowledge society”. 

Unless you are a colleague of Basshole in which case you are living in an ignorant as shit society. 

So it is worth pointing out that Lohia’s position on technology can be reinterpreted in knowledge terms and it thus becomes politically relevant for our times. The “small-unit machine” and the call for economic decentralisation is also an appeal for reliance on people’s knowledge instead of the knowledge of experts in the process of economic development.

Cool! Let's have a Great Leap Forward like Mao's. That ended well- right?

In Lohia’s time, there was still optimism in the air that development economics and modernisation theory could be used to transform colonised lands into industrial utopias in a matter of decades. 

South Korea did pretty well. China has risen rapidly. All that matters is mimicking what has worked for those who were once as poor as you but who have now gotten ahead. 

However, this optimism (which neither Lohia nor Gandhi shared) dissipated in the face of the increasing and increasingly obvious political, social and ecological costs of development. 

Which were a lot lower than the costs of preventing development.

Much writing and political activism has by now focused on the anti-democratic nature as well as the scientism and Eurocentrism of early development thinking.

Meanwhile Trump became President. The Right can do ignorant shite even better than the Left. 


 As “sustainable development” became the dominant paradigm and the ecological costs of modern technology became apparent, the search for alternatives drew attention to the fact that modern scientific knowledge is not the only type of knowledge relevant to the development process. 

You also need to know that Amartya Sen is shit. 

Through the 1980s, and particularly the 1990s, academic as well as policymaking literature emerged centred on the idea that communities all over the world have a vast store of knowledge, variously called “traditional” or “indigenous” or “local” knowledge, that can be used in fostering their own development.

But no development resulted. 

Lohia’s small-unit machine, like Gandhi’s “village industry” before it, symbolises not only dispersed production but also a dispersed knowledge-base (Basole 2010, forthcoming).

but it was shite knowledge.

 However, as should be clear from the discussion above, for Lohia, people’s knowledge is not the same as “traditional knowledge”. It means knowledge that is widely distributed in society rather than being locked up in universities.

Useful knowledge isn't 'locked up' in universities. Entrepreneurs will pay Professors to do smart stuff for them. 

 Knowledge found with the people changes continually to adapt to their changing circumstances, and it borrows from all available knowledge traditions. 

Very true. Ordinary people like me have a lot of knowledge about things like quantum fellatio which is resulting in trillions of African and South Asian peeps jizzing on Europeans and causing them to appear white. How come I don't got no Nobel Prizes for my amazing discoveries in Physics and Biology and Chem-history (I have conclusively proved that Emperor Napoleon was actually a small lump of potassium). 

This reinterpretation is also consistent with Lohia’s preference for decentralised governance and autonomous, connected villages.

But it is also consistent with my claim that White people bathe in jizz extracted from me when I'm asleep. 

However, despite his radical and novel position on technology, Lohia stopped short of completely challenging the cult of the “independent expert” in modern science. 

Because they would have laughed at him.

Speaking of the necessity to direct scientific research along the lines of the small machine, he noted,

Some persons may say at this stage: look at this politician trying to tell inventors, scientists, engineers and technicians what to do. I quite agree that no politician has the right or should ever have the right to tell a fundamental scientist about the line of his research (Lohia 1963: 108).

We all have the right to tell people whom we pay what to do in order to earn that pay.

While Lohia’s desire to grant independence to the scientist is of course commendable, it is equally true that scientists do not invent in a social vacuum. 

They may as well do so. That is why the same invention can be made by people living in very different cultures- e.g. J.C Bose & Marconi re. wireless communication. 

The social and political ideals of a time profoundly influence the atmosphere in which innovation takes place. 

No. That's why the Soviets got to some inventions before the Americans and vice versa. 

Thus it is not really a question of “politicians telling scientists what to do”, but rather of political activists working alongside experts of various trades to realise social ideals.

But 'political activists' are stupid and ignorant. Sensible people won't 'work alongside' them coz they smell like shit. 

 Witness the fact that Gandhi, despite his more extreme stand on science, succeeded to a large extent in inspiring professionals of all kinds (including scientists) to work towards the ideal of an equal society. 

They may as well have been working towards the ideal of jizzing copiously on the Sun so it would look more like the Moon. 

Can we, drawing upon both Gandhi and Lohia, make the claim that people’s knowledge alone carries the potential of developing the type of technology that creates wealth and equality instead of creating poverty and inequality?

Why not? My own copious jizzing on the Sun has caused it to appear like the Moon- now Darkness has fallen. 

Further, can we reinterpret the people’s movements over issues of jal, jungle and zamin in the Narmada Valley, in the forests of Chhattisgarh and the coast of Kerala as movements for the dignity and respect of people’s knowledge (Sangvai 2007)?

Definitely! They too have successfully jizzed upon the Sun thus giving it the appearance of the Moon at Night. 


 I started with the militarisation of Bastar where the Government of India, acting in the interests of capital, has all but declared war on its people.

Manmohan is a genocidal Racist! He is Viceroy of Soniaji- whose Daddy was a member of the Fascist Party. Everybody knows Italians used to be very dark. Then they grabbed Ethiopia and forced Ethiopians to jizz copiously upon their land which is how come they now look White. 

 This is only the most extreme case of a larger phenomenon. If we pursue this model of development, we cannot remain an exception to the loot, displacement and dispossession which historically accompanies it.

Basshole too would be subjected to fellatio by Donald Trump. His jizz would be expropriated by Whitey. 

 A contemporary radical politics, which calls for a society based on equality, can benefit tremendously from Lohia’s thought, provided it reinterprets his position of appropriate technology in terms of a people’s knowledge-based society.

Lohia meant stuff like power-looms. Basshole wants power-looms made entirely out of cow-dung by indigenous knowledge-keepers who enjoy playing with feces. No wonder the Left disappeared in India. 


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