A SEMINAR on ‘Class struggle and eradication of caste oppression and untouchability – A Marxist view’ was organised in Bengaluru on May 20 as part of the “Marx 200-Capital 150” celebrations. Navakarnataka and Kriya – the two largest publishers of progressive Kannada literature – organised the event to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx and 150th year of his magnum opus Capital.
In his keynote address to the seminar, renowned economist Venkatesh Athreya said, “Caste system by controlling access to property and choice of occupation is an integral part of the relations of production or, as it is referred sometimes, the base or structure. It is also part of superstructure in the form of Brahmanical ideology which is internalised by vast number of oppressed masses.” He emphasised the complexity of characteristics of caste system changing with various phases of spread of capitalist relations of production. In the Indian context, struggle against economic exploitation and caste oppression, including untouchability cannot be separated, and have to be integral part of class struggle, he said.
Two presentations were made by G N Nagaraj and Shivsundar on the same topic. They dealt with the origin, evolution and nature of the caste system in Karnataka and its implication for the struggle for egalitarian society. They both illustrated class-caste interplay with the recent election results. Prof Rajendra Chenni of Kuvempu University, who chaired the session, spoke about the tendency of denial of the existence of caste and class, particularly by the youth, with the spread of neo-liberal ideology.
Kannada translation of two works of Marx – The Civil War in France (Paris Commune) 1871 and The Poverty of Philosophy -- were released by Dr K Marulasiddappa, chairman of Kuvempu Bhasha Bharathi. Prof V N Lakshminarayana and Dr B R Manjunath introduced the books. Translators K P Vasudevan and Vishwa Kundapura also addressed the gathering. CPI(M) state secretary G V Srirama Reddy and CPI leader Siddanagowda Patil spoke on the importance of making available and studying and spreading awareness about works and ideas of Marx. Dr G Ramakrishna, veteran Marxist intellectual, chaired the session. Gandhi Bhavan, where the function was held, witnessed enthusiastic participation. Film on Paris Commune was also shown as part of the function.
This was the first of a series of programmes planned for the "Marx 200-Capital 150" celebrations. More such book releases and seminars are planned in different cities of Karnataka till September 14, which marks the completion of 150th year of publication of Capital Vol. 1.
The "Marx 200-Capital 150" project, initiated in July last year, envisaged to translate and publish Capital Vol. 1 and six key works of Marx that have not been published in Kannada. Apart from Capital Vol. 1, four works yet to be published as part of the project are - Marx on India, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. About 30 Left scholars are working on the project.