[Reader’s Submission] Shades of Marxist’s Class Struggle amidst the pandemic

“The roots of modern religion are deeply embedded in the social oppression of the working masses”[1]

– Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Sociology as a Social Science today has been able to solve many contemporary world problems and queries of the societies at large. The vision this discipline had, in the beginning, has been prancing towards its goals. And one of the aspects of Sociology is the perspective of it. Sociological Perspective is the contemporary world solution to many minds that have been dwindled with the already existing Order of Orthodoxy in the society. In simpler words, a sociological perspective gives a power of perception to see a society with a variety of lens so that to know and question the already existing social order. “Without the Social Perspective, people see the world through their limited experience with a small orbit of a family, friends, co-workers.”[2]

With the advancing research methodologies, Sociology got divided into three major fragments: Functional Perspective, Conflicting Perspective and Symbolic Interactionism. The first two are the part of Macro Sociology as they seek to see the society as a whole but the Symbolic Interactionism is a branch Micro sociology which seeks to focus on the individual and its interaction with the society. All sociological perspectives seek to identify problems and classify them to find the solution in the number of theories under each perspective. E.g. problem of individuality shall be tackled by the Symbolic Interactionism Perspective with the help of the “theory of self” by G.H. Mead.

Conflicting Perspective is one of those perspectives which tend to resolve the problems of conflict of resources, power, rights etc. “Conflicting Theory interprets society as a struggle for power between groups of engaging in conflict for limited resources.”[3] Conflicting perspective envisioned Marx was broadly into some of the major theories such as Dialectical Materialism, Class Struggle, Historical Materialism, Class Struggle, Base and Superstructure etc. Conflicting perspective was not confined to Marx only. Antonio Gramsci, Ralph Dahrendorf etc. are the disciples of Conflicting Theories.  The core focus of Marx has always been revolving around the working class, the have-nots, the proletariats. It is the vision of Marx that proletariats when united, shall will and the courage to overthrow the Capitalist structure of the Modern Societies. But Marx was not wholly successful in practically envisioned it. But a ray of class struggle can be seen today amidst the pandemic.

Today nations are fighting with the world’s most dangerous pandemic i.e. COVID-19. The dreaded fear of Mass Extinction is one that lies in the hearts of almost every people irrespective of their nation, religion, race etc. With the threat level increasing and nowhere to go, the most affected of all the classes in the world are the working classes of almost all the countries.

 Impugning the status quo of India, there is one of the trending and one of the most challenging tasks i.e. The Working Migrant Class. Labour Migrants are one of the most affected sections of the society amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of Transportation, Unnecessary restrictions, cry for hunger, Lack of facilities provided by the government has made them the prey of the Pandemic Otherwise. “In this country there more than 80% of the people are migrant workers working in the informal sector.”[4] This is the scenario of almost every big state in the motherland of India. Migrant workers are just simply demanding their basic requirements but it is afraid to be said that at most places their demands are being clutched on the deaf ears. In the beginning, the Indian Government started to grant some of the basic needs with recognition of their respective Aadhar Card which in itself was useful to some extent only as in India, approximately where approximately 3/4th of the population of these migrant labourers are without any Aadhar cards or any other related card. With more than 40% having rations which might last for 3-4 weeks at their homes amidst this indefinite lockdown and paucity of money. The state of these labour classes has fallen deep into the abyss.

The idea of class struggle generally revolves around the atom of the conflict between the Capital class and the labour class in which labour class plays a predominant role in bringing about a change in the society. It is the labour classes, according to Marx, that stands in unity to revolutionize the exploitation done by existing capitalism in the society. “It is necessary to have a growth of class consciousness in the sense that the members of the class have a feeling of solidarity and understanding of their historic role.”[5] There are few interrelated theories which support the whole of the Marxism working in a chain reaction. This distinction of classes occurs through the ownership of the resources. Capitalist are the real owners of the forces of production including the labour class. But Marx postulates that the capitalist exploitation shall be overcome by the unification of the labour classes and hence a social order created by capitalism shall fall and a classless society may emerge.

The repercussions of COVID-19 have left this class with the same disguise which Marx perceived. The lack of economical and political support amidst the time when they needed the most have made them victims of Marxian theory. The theory might not be truly parallel to the current situation. It might not be similar to the Oppressor getting oppressed but it is latent and has an inadvertent effect on the Oppressed. With the growing hunger and a lot of unacknowledged questions and problems faced by them, all the migrant labourers stand together facing the same problem. They are not unified by their political consciousness currently but due to the same terror faced by all. It is believed that conflicting perspective always changes the social order and it will not be pointless to say the same in the present case.

 “The nation may witness that in response to the current economic crises. There will be new labour politics and  the working-class mobilization for a better change.”[6] The proper class struggle which was theorised by Marx has not been seen yet. Maybe Post COVID society will not be the revolution Marx thought of. Seeing contemporary  India and its current Migrant Labourer Struggle, it maybe said that there exists constructive parallelism with the theory and the current crises. We may not see the exacta of the Proletariat Struggle fortlold by Marx but we may get to see shades of it and the way it is achieved may be different but the struggling of the Migrant Class stands upright. There may be a revolution changing the social, political and economical order and India may experience a little brink of Marxist Struggle.

Lakshya Sharma

1st year student, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab

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[1] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/working-class (as accessed on 22-05-2020, 02:53 am)

[2] I. Robertson, Sociology, NY, Pub. 1981 https://www.geneseo.edu/sociology/about (as accessed on 21-05-2020, 00:24 am)

[3] https://www.sparknotes.com/sociology/deviance/section4/ (as accessed on 21-05-2020, 01:30 am)

[4] https://www.ilo.org/newdelhi/areasofwork/informal-economy/lang–en/index.htm (as accessed on 21-05-2020, 00:57 am)

[5] Francis Abraham & J.H. Morgan, Sociological thought, Trinity Press, 1985.

[6] Harish Wankhede, In the Post Covid World, the Labour class will emerge as a conscious united front, The Outlook, May 18th ,2020, https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/opinion-covid-19-crisis-shows-capitalism-has-failed-workers-and-the-need-to-revive-labour-politics/353039 (As accessed on 22-05-2020, 02:19 am)  

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