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Marx Comes to Maharashtra: Javdekar, Satyagrahi Samajwad and the shaping of Transnational Emancipatory Thought Zones

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Duration: 0:21:30 | Added: 21 Jan 2022
Part of the International conference on Maharashtra in September 2021 - Rajeshwari Deshpande, SPPU, Pune

This paper is about Acharya Javdekar, a Marathi intellectual from the late colonial period (1894-1955). Javdekar tried to appropriate the ideas of Gandhi and Marx in a formulation that he called Satyagrahi Samajwad. It was a significant theoretical attempt on part of Javdekar to reroute Gandhi. I argue in the proposed paper that it was also an unusual and ambitious attempt to reroute Marx as Javdekar translates the Marxian message for the Marathi/ Indian audience.

Javdekar was a nationalist at heart. The anti- colonial nationalism remained the main political project for him. However, I submit that in his ethical project of Satyagrahi Samajwad, Javdekar transcends and subverts the colonial hierarchies of knowledge and power as he enters into a nuanced, transnational conversation with Gandhi and Marx. Marxism had alerted Javdekar of the material basis of social relations and therefore how political struggles in the material realm became a precondition for realization of Swaraj. Most of Javdekar’s writings (in Marathi) thus look for spaces to relate and develop Marxism in the Indian context and to link the anti colonial struggle with anti capitalist politics. At the same time, as a rare non-derivative response to the Marxian politics, Javdekar also argues how the concepts of Truth and Satyagraha in Gandhi would enrich the ethical possibilities within Marxism.

I argue that Acharya Javdekar’s interventions in the form of Satyagrahi Smajwad must be viewed as a rare, courageous (and unfortunately completely neglected) intellectual exercise that began novel conversations in the world of ideas. It must be seen as one of the many attempts of dynamic interactions between situated visions of human emancipation that contributed to the shaping of cosmopolitan thought zones in pursuit of shared and yet historically situated goals of emancipation.

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