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Capitalism: A Plague To Society

A welfare state is one in which the government actively promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens. While establishing the welfare state, the government follows the ideas of equal opportunity and wealth distribution.

The welfare state principle is incorporated in Article 38 of the Indian Constitution, which states that the government will look after the poor and downtrodden in society. The government does not account for the implementation of its efforts to help the poor and downtrodden. A welfare programme might be educational, preventative, or protective in nature. The 1st consists of promoting the riches and opulence of the weaker classes, the 2nd is a preventative action in the event of an unforeseen incident, & the 3rd is protective in character, reversing the effects of harmful class division.

Thus, while looking at the above, it can be said that the Indian welfare programmes are inclined towards protective character. Only after the harm has occurred, then only the government take steps to undo the impacts of the class division that it has perpetuated through its policies.

The MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005), for example was supposedly a means free from corruption, where people from rural families were supposed to be provided with a compulsory 100 days of work. But as it's a government run operation it faced backlash for being stuck in useless governmental regulations and due to lack of information regarding the scheme among the targeted audience. However, it doesn't consider the purpose for the implementation.

The entire cause for the project was the Indian Labour class's ignorance and full contempt for the preceding four decades, after which the Government of India chose to engage in damage control for its own convenience. But the question arises that why were discriminatory policies that caused such divisions still in place when the government had the power to participate in practises that helped the lower section of society earlier?

Upendra Baxi wrote "Law and State Regulated Capitalism in India: Some Preliminary Reflections" in 1990, a year before India's economy was liberalised, and it contains the solution. The preceding chapter discusses many examples of how the government promotes Karl Marx's class division. Though it is not as rigid and primitive-minded as Marx's depictions, it nonetheless focuses on wealth accumulation and profit maximisation, which is constructed specifically to support the state's capitalist interests.

The mask has taken off the Indian Constitution, and the state's capitalist objective is now more evident than ever. This is the reason that led me to choose the reading by Upendra Baxi and to look it through a critical lens. On how the capitalist can go onto lengths just to gain their personal benefits.

As per my understanding it can be said that Upendra Baxi's reasoning is based on Pashukanis' understanding of the law and standards. One possible reason for laws that may not appear oppressive on the surface but are oppressive in practise is that they are drawn from societal standards. He discusses the lawful link between workers and their output.

In terms of the current dispute, we examine societal norms, that genuinely think that regulations are established through pre-existing social ties. In agriculture, there is a distinction between the working class and the owner, which employs around two-thirds of the Indian population. This class gap between landowners and their labour fits neatly into Pashukanis' understanding of the lawful link between workers and their output.

Agricultural labour and landless labour are the "subjects of labour" in this scenario, and the "product of labour" seems to be the yields they produce, which benefits their employers rather than the landless labours. The Green Revolution and Agrarian Reforms that swept India in the 1960s and 1970s etched this class difference in stone. In the case of agriculture, this cultural norm of class difference became authoritative because it was imposed by legislation as a state policy.

As a result, the societal norm of landowner advantage and exploitation of landless labour found its way into legal relationships and governmental rules, confirming Pashukanis' argument. Thus, capitalism is an extraordinarily unique and brilliant system in ways that have never been seen in any other sort of society. Surplus is a phrase that was not used in hunter-gatherer societies. The ability to create more than others and save it for later use has numerous social, political, and economic advantages.

It is known as 'commodity fetishism,' which Marx describes as, when production is no longer perceived as a social enterprise but rather as a simple exchange of money and commodities. If chocolate originates from a specific producer and is priced within a certain range, it might be considered prestigious. As a result, excess owners have been obliged to subsidise the system at the expense of the producers. It was also the first system to commercialise labour force, as opposed to slavery, which commercialised the labourer.

Using the above analogy to show how exploitative and inconsiderate the agrarian reforms were for the poorer people; we can conclude that the state regulations followed the age-old norm of the "Bourgeoise" accumulating wealth at the expense of the exploitation of the "Proletariats" as described by Karl Marx.

The Green Revolution focused on one thing and one thing only: increasing agricultural production. The Government of India hails it as one of the most successful 5-YEAR PLANS ever, yet it was not without flaws when viewed through the eyes of the working class. The economic divide between large landowners (These are the people that can afford modern irrigation technologies, HYV seeds, and additional manpower to boost agricultural output.) and small scale rural land labourers increased tenfold, bringing prosperity to only those who could afford it.

It's worth noting that the government's new facilities and processes to assist this so-called agricultural reform were designed with blatant disregard for the safety of the landless labourers who were using the new procedures (including the hazardous chemicalization to increase produce). Furthermore, government social programmes such as the credit system for loans did not reach landless workers. As a result, the Green Revolution benefited largely the wealthy and encouraged capitalism. This framework, according to Hunt, has a considerable ideological influence.

This ideological consequence is the result of the dominant and hegemonic process that develops hierarchy and a system of inclusion and exclusion. This is a job that Law does exceptionally well. Everything is clearly defined thanks to boundaries, classifications, and labels. I too agree with this viewpoint. The plague of capitalism has not only made the rich richer and poor poorer, but it has also let to the separation of people in term of various classes of power and wealth.

I think that this power equation insures worker oppression and, in the case of capitalist agricultural relations, systematic farmer oppression. Through the narratives of suicides of cotton-growing farmers in Maharashtra, P. Sainath in Nero's Guest takes aim at this repressive system.

The documentary contextualises the narrative of Nero's Guest, in which the attendees of the "largest party ever seen" were unaware of the people who were being lighted on fire to provide light and warmth in the party while also enjoying the pleasant/calming view. This association in my opinion can be seen in two ways: first, the ones burning are farmers, and the people enjoying are mostly all of us who have intentionally or unknowingly accepted the capitalist economic and political system.

The second issue is interpretation, where regulations that appear to be beneficial to farmers and workers on the surface are actually exploitative in their core. The government strives for a positive picture of the laws, despite the fact that they are exploitative in character. In this documentary, something that Prof. Baxi has substantially expounded on has been contextualised. However, I think that there are few deductions are common to both interpretations: the ones who suffer are labourers and farmers, and the ones who are uninformed are capitalists.

The entire documentary depicts this power structure, with the government, multinational corporations, mainstream media, and those in positions of power being blissfully unaware, if not wilfully unaware, of the plight of farmers. Subsidies to cotton farmers in the United States, for example, weaken cotton growers in Africa, who begin to import this cheap cotton from the United States.

This entire process is overseen by the WTO and other international organisations, and it is governed by international law, which is again Eurocentric and capitalistic. According to Hunt, law affirms the social and political relationships in capitalist society; this is evident in Nero's Guest, where the development of law is done by Harvard graduates sitting in their air-conditioned cabins with no experience of the conditions on the ground.

They enact laws that are merely representations of capitalism's intellectual domination, but they continue to dominate the lives of farmers and labourers, so maintaining the power structure and relationship. I think that a similarly situation can be seen in Indian context where the law makers are also usually the ones that sit in A.C cabins and humongous buildings (Parliament), but they try to work for the benefit of the people whom they don't even know on the base ground.

The Green Revolution is an excellent example of the Government formulating and enacting policies at the Executive's request in order to achieve a specific aim. However, the entire structure of separation of powers serves to keep the other branches of government in check. Judicial Review exists to address errors made by either the Executive or Legislative branches of government.

The Supreme Court of India has ruled on numerous events stating that 'judicial review' is a key aspect of said Indian Constitution and that the judiciary's independence is required again for maintenance of India's democratic governance structures. Alan Hunt has also agreed to the principle of judicial independence while acknowledging the Executive's superiority over the judiciary.

The Executive is in charge of the mechanism for making judicial appointments. According to Alan Hunt, court verdicts do not always favour the Executive's goals, and safeguards like Article 124 (2) of the Indian Constitution exist to assure the Judiciary's cooperation in such cases. The President, as the leader of the Indian government's executive branch, appoints the Chief Justice of India and Supreme Court judges, obviating complete transparency in the selection process.

Even Upendra Baxi acknowledges the conundrum, claiming that a state's judicial power is legitimised by the "doctrine of separation of powers," which is only a mask for the genuine rule of the Executive. Through the status of the "Right to Property," Baxi vividly illustrates the link between the Executive and the Judiciary. The "Right to Property" was a tool used by the administration to maintain the current property accumulation.

From the time since the "Right to Property" became a a fundamental right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, it contradicted the concept of equal opportunity and equality in wealth and ownership, because no one couldn't be stripped of their property, regardless how they amassed it or by what means.

The executive-judicial connection in this case is such that the judiciary was never able to call this unfettered right into doubt or subject it to scrutiny. This right was "immunised from judicial examination," as were all connected laws. The Executive wanted this power under Article 31 of the Indian Constitution preserved since it favoured capitalists and primitive accumulation in general.

I think that Michel Foucault's concept of "governmentality" is also present in Upendra Baxi's work in the form of "Unwritten Constitution." Governmentality refers to how the government interacts with and controls its population in order to best promote its policies. When the constitution creates the illusion of transparency, the unwritten constitution or government action must be consistent with the government's/ regime's goals, with no deviations allowed by any government entity.

The 1947 Industrial Disputes Act establishes a legal right to "collective bargaining." However, it is addressed and administered in such a way that it is "little more than lip service" to this cause. Just because a reasonable pay can be negotiated does not guarantee a fair or equal outcome for the working class. The fact that the judiciary is related to the executive's motives ensures that the final outcome of the adjudication proceedings will follow the executive's objectives, which safeguard the capitalists.

The rationale for the Legislature's passage of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, and the Judiciary's administration of it, which does not appear to guarantee an equitable power to discuss the end of the working poor, is indeed an illustration of "governmentality" at work.

The Supreme Court found that "collective bargaining" can't prevent equal pay and a compensation gap among senior and junior management, as required by industry standards outlined in the Industrial Disputes Act. As a result, the Supreme Court concluded that, while the statute's provision for "collective bargaining" is not illegal, it cannot be used in circumstances of unequal salaries.

This result reveals that the judges agreed with Baxi's understanding of collective bargaining as a supplemental and artificial mechanism in such a legislation. It hides inequity and class division while depoliticizing social ties.

In addition to the aforementioned examples, I think that Foreign Direct Investment is a more common one in today's world. In some ways, this is a unique case in that such a kind of state-regulated capitalism has only lately been implemented. Prior to 1991, the Liberalisation and Globalisation school of thought could not be justified as a supporter of governmental initiatives. The implementation of Foucault's "governmentality" concepts evolved and were used in order to forward a different and modified policy.

India was indeed a secretive capitalist nation with such tariff barriers that foreign countries were scared to trade with it until 1991, when the government authorised international investment. It was enacted to prevent domestic producers' interests, no matter how small or large, from international corporations with a vested interest in the government who would steal from them.

The government's foreign investment strategy shifted under the 1991 administration, with the goal of enriching capitalists and the upper crust of society without regard for the impact on the bottom crust, which the government had previously considered.

Alan Hunt's concept of "law as compulsion" can also be used to present forms of foreign direct investment, particularly in the marketing sector. Hunt addresses how the law is used as a tool to force people to face reality and how the government enforces it. Foreign multinational firms such as WalMart have been welcomed by the Executive.

The impact of foreign entry into the Indian retail industry would be experienced by the underclasses and middle class, who would not be able to purchase the products, as well as retailers that own kinara shops that have been reliant on such remittances, rather than the "bourgeoisie," who will only profit out from upsurge of expatriates, elevated, and wide selection commodities, as they appears to have done during the Green Revolution due to their ability to avail.

In contrast to the increase in luxury and upholding of the upper class's comfort, the loss of jobs that is implicit in the entire concept of foreign development in the retail business, just as it was during the Green Revolution, has a negative impact on the lower strata of the society.

In reality, the system's might will push all political parties, left and right, to accept private funds as it's through them Political leaders use them to raise funding for future elections or programme implementation. Accordingly, they'll have to amass and sell property owned by the Adivasi community to investors. They must ensure that everything is legally carried out so as to preserve the situation of workers.

They'll ought to adopt trade regulations that let the government's consumerist inclinations run wild in order to secure significant market reliance. Whichever research is conducted, and whichever theoretical approaches emerge, they must defend capitalism's legitimacy and continuation, and also how it is perhaps the most productive of any and all institutions, for those who do not will perish. As a result, this system has a continual dominance process that tailors every action and thinking.

With reference to Pushkanis, Hunt, and Foucault, as well as their application to Baxi's work, it may be concluded that the law or its role is not democratic. Every one of the aggression and character flaws associated with overwhelming consumerist urges aggregate over time, culminating in something significant, rendering capitalism basically unstable. The idea of a government administered for and by the people is a ruse.

The law and its counterbalance that are a part of the state mechanism aren't just wayward, rather they are also passionately pursuing the policies made by the government, not minding how belligerently they may harm the wishes of the under-class just for the sake of promoting the supremacy of primitive accumulation principles, that will always remains the government's primary goal in the context of State Regulated Capitalism.

These activities can be vividly demonstrated in everyday circumstances. The annual budget will continue to increase corporate incentives while reducing funding for public education, health, and agriculture. Every day, hundreds of new things are introduced that we will never use but will consume to satisfy our desires.

We regularly read about workers' strikes being violently crushed by police forces in many areas of the world, and people being evicted from their homes because the law is unable to provide any justice. Despite the fact that this system continues to harm society, we will continue to obey it because of the flawless manner in which it was built, to the point that it has now become common sense.

Journal Articles:
  • Upendra Baxi, "Law and State Regulated Capitalism in India: Some Preliminary Reflections" Capitalist Development: Critical Essays (G. Shah Ed., 1990), 185-209
  • Alan Hunt, "Law, State, and Class Struggle," Marxism Today (June 1976), 178-187
  • Michel Foucault, Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, Peter Miller , 'The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality', (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
Case laws:
  • Kishan Prakash Sharma & Ors vs Union Of India & Ors, W. P. (C) 3815-19 1978
  • Minerva Mills v. Union of India, 1980 AIR 1789, 1981 SCR (1) 206
Internet sources:
  • Umamageswari Kumaresan, 'Agriculture is the Main Occupation in India' (Scribd, 30th July 2017)
  • Will KENTON, 'Welfare State' (Investopedia, 7th April 2022)
  • Evgeny Bronislavovich Pashukanis, The General Theory of Law & Marxism (first published 1924, Transaction Publishers New Brunswick (U.SA.) and London (U.K.))
Constitutional Articles:
  • Article 38, The Constitution of India, 1950
  • Article 31, The Constitution of India, 1950
  • Article 124(2), The Constitution of India, 1950
  • Film: Nero's Guests (Dir. Deepa Bhatia/ 57 m/ 2009)

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