The Endless Transition and the Trajectories of Indian Authoritarian Populism


Whether in Gramsci’s influential writings on the Southern Question and on ‘subalterns’ in Italy or in Laclau’s account of the rise of populism in Latin America, there is a materialist background: the unrootedness of large segments of the population, who are evicted from the countryside by the dynamics of capitalist development of agriculture, but cannot be absorbed by capitalist development in the cities. Broadly speaking, a similar situation exists in contemporary India; in fact, Kalyan Sanyal argued that in postcolonial settings like India, the transition to capitalism will necessary be incomplete. I explain varieties of populism currently in play, and the figure of ‘the poor’ and ‘the other’ in them against this background of the ‘endless transition’, from Modi’s authoritarian populism, to the agrarian populism of the Farmers’ Movement, to the INDI Alliance’s ‘nyay’ platform, and those of regional parties, and the ways in which questions of ‘culture’ are ‘political economy’ become inextricable from each other in each of them.

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