Constitutionalism Of The Dominating Interests In Bangladesh
By Farooque Chowdhury
16 December, 2012
Incidents of plunder in the Bangladesh society narrate the state of the labor and the dominant capital in the land. It’s neither the creation of a person or a group of persons nor of a particular party or parties, but of the dominant capital dictating the terms of incidents in economy, society, culture, education and ideology, governance and politics.
Resources plundered and appropriated by entire dominant segments, formally and informally, were created by entire classes in the entire society.
A wide allegory can be found in the Taj Mahal on the banks of the Yamuna. A section in this world turns amazed while they stand in front of the Mughal mantrap as it catches their love-thirsty senses. Another section sympathetically searches sweat and tears of only the workers, who were compelled to bend their backs to erect the edifice of governance. A mechanical, micro view indeed! But, the surplus labor of entire classes in the society robbed, appropriated and expropriated that enabled the rulers construct the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, the forts and palaces in hearts and corners of the empire gets lost from the sympathetic “mind”-sight.
Broadly, the same type of concretion goes on in the Bangladesh society. Whatever has been plundered, appropriated, tricked, taken back by plunderers, appropriators, lenders and “donors” as booty, profit, privilege, perk, interest, rent were produced by entire classes in Bangladesh and by labor from Bangladesh working in far flung corners of the world. The volume of profit, pilferage, repaid loan, reinvested money, luxury, wastage signifies the volume of surplus value generated by labor in the entire society. In exchange, the toilers are scrapped without paying any value; the fact that exposes the toilers’ dominated position and the dominating capital’s commanding location.
A “bit” more barbarous narration is hidden in the account of labor from Bangladesh that toils abroad. The labor there slices out a portion it was paid for its necessary labor time, and the sliced out portion is sent back home, the remittance, for consumption by its dependents. This consumption in home and abroad is essential for capital as it helps regenerate capital. The economy feels assured with the remittance, and the mainstream makes itself glorified with the cumulated currency sent by labor working abroad, at times in inhuman condition. It’s, as Marx observed in Grundrisse, the toilers have been “stripped of all value” although their labor power has value. Mainly dominant segments appropriate that remitted money, which was paid to labor to keep itself alive as labor power is required to produce profit. A shameless and cruel face of dominant segments gets exposed.
It also shows a failure of the dominant segments of the society. Dominant segments fail to employ labor in home and depend on exporting labor although the country requires labor as there is so much work to do – encounter poverty, illiteracy, declining quality of education, diseases, inhuman slum life, defaced environment, suicidal pattern and trend of urbanization, loss of crop lands, forest and water bodies and many similar important and urgent tasks!
In the face of this degradation, the people are paying. They are paying increasingly for medical treatment, education and housing, for defaced environment and ecology, for pilferage by and luxury of a few; they are paying in home and abroad. And, they are paying for circumstances rife with instability and uncertainty, plunder and corruption.
The ways the people pay is a known fact. They pay with the surplus value produced by entire classes in the entire society. Ultimately, it’s the labor that produces the surplus value that reaches to all others and taken away by others through a number of “conveyor belts”. Labor power generating surplus value is there whether it’s toll extorted by a hoodlum or deceit-money tricked by a bank-buster or fees charged for trading education and health care or diamond encrusted ornaments sold in newly-inaugurated diamond outlets or a luxurious party of feast or many Mahals, palaces, or super shopping malls or interest, service charge.
This is the allurement. This, the surplus value, allures. Capitals from home and abroad move in, expand its net, trick, fraud, forgery, and construct facades that hide its motive and moves.
The journey started decades back, immediately-after the indomitable Bangladesh people formally defeated the occupying Pakistan army on the Sixteenth of December, 1971, a day as bright as sun in the history of the nation. A large transfer of property took place with a far-reaching consequence. With an investment ceiling of only a few hundreds of thousands of Taka, the Bangladesh currency, the local capital’s journey ensued. The amount was small, but the promise was big. And, capital began its plunder, robbing, maneuvering, political tricks, and the acts of hurting and humiliating the people. The investment ceiling gradually was obliterated as the dominating segments were accumulating money-power. The more the surplus value was produced the more intense turned the drive by capital.
With intensified drive by capital the dominating segments broke down into factions, and the competition between the factions turned crueler and bloodier – conspiracies and killings in politics. Its drive in the arena of economy took political form loaded with incapacity to resolve its internal contradictions.
Politics faithfully followed the path charted by the dominating segments factionalized by competing “hunger”. Each of the factions of the dominating segments denies democratization for the other competitor that ultimately takes away democratic space of the masses. The roots are in economic interest, which is ultimately class interest. So, it was an act by dominating segments, but concocted neither by any person or persons nor by a party or two.
Individual or individuals play significant role at junctures of history with favorable perspective. But, they alone can’t shape history, can’t determine path of politics and can’t define functions in economy. “General historical circumstances are stronger than the strongest individuals”, said Plekhanov in his essay “On the Role of the Individual in History”. It’s class or segments that act decisively or falteringly as it try to take hold of helm to advance its interest.
The reality got articulated in politics, in constitutionalism going on for decades. The politics of the dominant capital houses many homo nullius coloris, man of no color. These crème de la crème, cream of the cream, play significant role in politics and they stand for the common ground of the competing factions of the dominating capital.
Although the segments representing the dominating capital fail to devise an arrangement acceptable to all its factions to divide surplus value but they jointly resort to manipulations, where the dominant and the dominated are equal in abstract democratic pronunciations yet unequal in real power and privilege. The dominant segments try to practice democratic manipulation but lack tools and skills required for manipulation. A deceptive formal democracy, as Marx told in Grundrisse, “turn out to be inequality and unfreedom”, where labor is not free, but the plunderer, the appropriator has all the freedom.
A degeneration of democracy of the dominant interests pervades the society, where free is plunderer-power, appropriation-tools and deception techniques exercised and used by the dominant capital and bonded is the labor. The consequential reality is, as Marx observed in The Poverty of Philosophy, “the freedom of capital to crush the workers.”
Constitutionalism practiced by the dominating interests is shaped by these interests imperfect within. As dominant segments are not stable with its constitutionalism they deny democratization of political life. In the political arena, feudal-absolutism dominates.
Sometimes, to secure dominant position, faction or factions of the dominating segments mobilize people by mongering popular demands. But, the crisis, the degeneration, of democracy denies departing the hall of constitutionalism. At times, the dominating capital’s three branches of governance, like tria juncta in uno, three things in one or a single heart in three bodies, engage in quarrels with one another, one tries to nullify the other, and that spreads into the area of its constitutionalism; at times, it infringes people’s democratic space; and at times, it stands against pronouncements it regularly proclaims. The acts are directed neither by a single person nor by a single party, but by the competing interests of the dominating segments, and the interests define their constitutionalism. Thus standing on a degenerating base and resorting to contradictory acts its constitutionalism continues distorting its own democracy.
The article by Farooque Chowdhury, a freelancer from Dhaka, was carried by New Age, a Dhaka daily, in its special issue on December 16, 2012 on the occasion of the victory day of Bangladesh, the day Pakistan army’s eastern command surrendered after a valiant war of liberation waged by the Bangladesh people.
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