What Happens to Democracy When Capitalism Becomes Global?

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of EPW.

Rajan Gurukkal’s (2018) paper published in EPW delves into the age-old question of the compatibility of capitalism and democracy, and what it means for development as an ideal. He argues that global capitalism masked its expansionist tendencies in the rhetoric of “development” that has furthered new kinds of imperialism, marginalisation of the subaltern, encouraged over-exploitation of natural resources, and fostered a new kind of cronyism abetted by centralised decision-making that has replaced democratic systems with corporatocracy. This cronyism, most explicitly manifested in the special economic zones (SEZs) has led to functional autocracy, where the real agenda of the state is no longer public. All this has reaffirmed the inevitable possibility of the “death of democracy” under capitalism.

Aabid Firdausi M S and Siddik R respond to Rajan Gurukkal and express their fundamental differences with Gurukkal’s view and offer a dialectical view of capitalism and democracy. In their response, they acknowledge capitalism’s potential to create along with all its destructive features. They discourage the outright rejection of the merits of urbanisation, agricultural transformation, health, education, etc, under the guise of development as development objectively implies change and progress. Aabid Firdausi M S and Siddik R believe in envisioning a post-capitalistic politics, which signifies a radical departure from Gurukkal’s pessimistic conclusion of the “death of democracy” by lending weight to the possibilities for the birth of real democracy that inevitably sounds “the death knell of capitalism.”

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