Resolution on People’s Progressive Culture and Modern Media

1. In India today, in the wake of a neoliberal policy regime, we witness the outright commercialisation of ‘culture’ and alienation of human beings projected as isolated ‘consumers’ rather than social and creative beings; and in tandem with this, we see the intensified and aggressive promotion of feudal, casteist, and patriarchal values in the name of ‘Indian culture.’ The capitalist market and modern corporations which create extreme alienation in human beings, themselves promote the most regressive social values in the name of ‘spiritual’ or ‘cultural’ solace for that alienation.

2. Political power inevitably seeks to promote a culture that can sustain its legitimacy – and such culture therefore tends to be relatively static and homogenised. People’s culture, in contrast, in its widest popular sense, draws its sustenance from the dynamic ideas and values corresponding to ever changing times. ‘Power’ therefore seeks to accommodate and tame culture, whereas ‘culture’ perpetually seeks to create new values of life and in that sense always strives for autonomy from ‘power’. Therefore the first and foremost challenge before people’s ‘culture’ is to maintain its autonomy vis-à-vis state power. The efforts of the ruling class – including the State as well as corporate capital – are to accommodate, appropriate and assimilate cultural forms and personalities through awards, privileges and other enticements. This is effectively a policy of carrot and stick: which recognizes and rewards creativity to a certain extent, while retaining the right to regulate, control and repress creative freedom if it poses enough of a challenge to state power.

3. The values promoted by the market and even the State as ‘Indian culture’ are as a rule marked by religious majoritarianism, casteism and patriarchy – it is a culture of exclusion of and discrimination against religious, ethnic, national, linguistic and ideological minorities, dalits and women. The fact that this discriminatory and exclusionist culture passes off as ‘Indian culture’ in the ‘common sense’ promoted by the ruling class, creates fertile ground for communal fascist forces. These forces masquerade as self-appointed custodians of ‘Indian culture’ in order to justify violence against women, dalits, and minorities.

4. Oganised attacks on freedom of expression and dissenting voices – both by communal fascist outfits and the by the State, often in tacit mutual collusion and cooperation – frequently pass themselves off as a defence of ‘Indian culture’ and ‘nationalism.’ Sedition charges against young cartoonist Aseem Trivedi as well as activists like Dr. Binayak Sen and Seema Azad, the arrest of Kabeer Kala Manch activistsbranded as ‘Maoists’, conviction of cultural activists such as Jeetan Marandi on the basis of fabricated charges, the censorship of the paintings of a young artist Anirudh Sainath Krishnamani at a Bangalore gallery, preventing of screening of documentaries on Kashmir in some campuses (such as Sanjay Kak’s Jashn-e-Azaadi) at the behest of Hindutva goons, and arrest of two young women for a Facebook post criticising the Shiv Sena-imposed bandh following Bal Thackeray’s death, are all recent instances of the ‘cultural terrorism’ of our times. We can also see competing fundamentalisms at work: forcing a painter of M.F. Husain’s stature to leave India and adopt citizenship of Qatar on the one hand, and refusing Taslima Nasreen an extension of her stay in India, on the other. In Kashmir recently, a rock band of young girls was forced to stop performing following death threats in the name of ‘Islamic’ culture.

5. In the context of such censorship and cultural terrorism against freedom of expression and the right to dissent, the revolutionary cultural movement has received wide acceptance and support for its call for a ‘Culture of Resistance’. Resisting assaults on freedom of expression and defying all attempts at accommodation, regulation and control of culture through