Published in Amelioration., the souvenir published on the occasion of the 27th General Conference of the Naga Students’ Federation, held from 30th May to 2nd June, 2017. Kohima. pp 26-27
Dr. Malem Ningthouja
The Nagas, whose ‘aboriginal homeland’ is traced in the currently established administrative segments in North-East India and North-West Myanmar, are involved in decades old movement to create a sovereign ‘nation state’, to be reportedly based primarily on the ideological framework of ‘Christian democracy’ . This movement, which has been taking place in time and space can be located in the historical context of absolute domination by finance capitalism that keeps the Nagas at the bottom of ‘global’ hierarchy (or globalisation) . This paper briefly highlights the colonial relation of production that underdeveloped the Nagas, the trend of co-option with the capitalist world order and the historical task to overcome it.
Historically, when the British capitalist rule, in the 19th century, began to exert domination through monopoly use of violence, administrative arrangements and cultural diffusion in various forms and degrees, the Naga ‘village’ communities, depending on the proximity and access to market interactions with others, were found socially organised into varying degrees of primitive communism and corresponding stages of freedom. However, they could not remain isolated and insulated for long. They were gradually mapped and incorporated into the colonial capitalist grid. Subsequently, against the backdrop of changes superimposed by the British, many Nagas become co-opted with the British rule. Several Nagas took part in the imperialist wars. Their homelands became devastating battle fields of the Second World War. After 1945, during the decolonisation era, the ‘movement’ towards Naga integration and sovereignty became a historical course.
The wheel of the history of co-option has been continued in various forms and perceptions. Co-option is manifested in the context of ‘underdevelopment’ and the role of subordinate partner in the larger framework of ‘global’ finance capitalism. The visible trend is being discussed as follows;
(1) Topographically, the Nagas inhabit geo-strategically important buffer along the international border regions of India and Myanmar. This region— which is rich in labour, carbon reserves, precious minerals and stones, forest products, market potential, potential of military bastions and international inland transit route for flow of capital and commodity— became the target of occupation by the States that acted as facilitator of economic plunder by finance capital.
(2) Economically, the capitalism transplanted from above had outgrown Nagas’ primitive communism and the relative freedom . It places the Nagas in a colonial relation of production, where the ‘external’ monopoly market forces retarded the development of the mode of production, which is the preconditions of building a economic self-reliant Naga economy. Underdevelopment and economic dependent on commodity import, therefore, renders the Nagas weak and vulnerable.
(3) Naga political economy became infested with counter-productive (pre-capitalist form) of accumulation of wealth by the upper class who relied on the State and finance capital for economic and political powers. Instead of direct investment in constant capital (commodity production) for extraction of surplus value; they serve as the agents who extract a portion out of the absolute super value of the capitalist plunder in Naga soil. This trend of rentier bourgeoisie — whose wealth are derived from the overall capitalist plunder, corruption, illicit trade, and usury capitalism — perpetuates the colonial situation.
(4) Capitalist rent (grant or fund for keeping Naga subsistence economy functional), particularly in the Indian segment of Naga homeland, had trickle-down effect in descending manner at various levels among the middle and lower classes. While the Naga ‘national’ movement is yet to materialise ‘sustainable development’ agenda, people adopted individual course to fulfilling economic demands. Competition for employment in ‘private’ and ‘public’ sectors and the culture of begging fund from the State treasury and capitalist institutions became widespread. As land and productivity had not been improved, many became disoriented (alienated) from their land (or homeland) in search of other better means of earnings. Emigration for education and white collar jobs in the Indian metropolitan cities and elsewhere become rampant. They, thus, became the fodder feeder of the capitalist service sector and physically disoriented from the Naga ‘liberation’ movement.
(5) There is a bulk of co-opted reactionary political barons, counter-revolutionary Naga ‘intellectuals’ and opportunist NGO activists, who became influential in serving as the mouthpiece of bourgeoisie democracy and finance capitalism. On the other hand, the Naga ‘national’ leadership had not comprehensively addressed the structural constraints that are responsible for the material conditions of underdevelopment and the corresponding growth of individual opportunism and sectarian forces that keep the Nagas perpetually disunited. When the crucial ideological questions have not been raised and when the subversive roles of internal agencies have not been exposed; there is no effective check and balance against the tendency of ideological corruption and adventurist political demagogue, which often culminated in promoting counter-revolution and sectarianism amongst the Nagas. This makes the Nagas highly vulnerable to divisive forces. As a result, the subjective conscience to build a pan Naga stable community could not be converted into an objective reality. This is the ‘unique’ characteristic feature of all underdeveloped colonial and semi-colonial societies where capitalist plunder takes place with the support of an extensive network of local agents who operate in the guise development and globalisation.
(6) The ‘post-truth’ of globalisation (bourgeoisie propaganda) has blinded many. Many confuses capitalist growth of few successful entrepreneurs and a microscopic ‘parasites’ with the revolutionary path to liberty, equality and fraternity. Many are being misinformed by the propaganda that progress and peace can be achieved only by the means of subservient roles under the command of the powerful States, which in reality functions as the instrument of oppression of the big capital. The truth has to be unveiled.
Today, India’s Act East Policy— which is predominantly manifested in deceptive forms of ‘aggressive’ dams, trans Asian Highways, exploration of carbon reserves, extraction of mineral resources, construction of market complexes, recruitment in military and paramilitary forces, expansion of administrative buildings, military barracks and police posts, etc.— has found an inroad without any constructive debate on the fate of the ‘indigenous’ communities and ecology. This profit driven policy—which is being enforced from above by the combined forces of the Indian State and other South East Asian States, whose primary objective is to facilitate finance capitalism of advanced countries, so as to rapidly recover from the recession that began with the meltdown of the US dollar in 2008 and also to counter balance Chinese capitalism— had shown enormous amount of forced displacement of indigenous peoples, land and resource alienation, destruction to cultural ecology and environment, long term negative repercussion on sustainable development, militarisation and violation of ‘human rights’, and increasing sectarianism amongst the parasitic classes whose diabolic individual opportunisms are camouflaged by emotive propaganda of tribal rights and community identity. The temporary boon at various levels — which are the immediate results of capitalist cosmetic funding in the name of ‘shared incentives’ under the concurrent list, infrastructural constructions, and job opportunity; which had created a face value of attraction to many, but legitimises massive misappropriation of wealth out of which a microscopic section of exploiters will accrue unequal share of tricked down benefit in descending order — will strengthen the grips of the market forces in the long run. Will there be economic justice in the process? The apprehension is that the majority of the indigenous peoples (including the Nagas) will be subordinated, impoverished and become self-suicidal in the internal strives (internecine conflict) in the competition of extracting subsistence wealth from the capitalist booty.
The Nagas are not the exception when it comes to domination by the Capitalist State and finance capitalism. Their immediate neighbourhood communities live in the similar conditions of underdevelopment, subjections, internal contradictions, and vulnerability. Collectively, they are being forced located at the underdeveloped bottom of global economic and political hierarchy. Though, there has been destructive tendencies of politically motivated conflicts amongst them; they are geo-demographically interconnected in such a manner that they can’t remain isolated and insulated from one another. These communities will remain as proximate neighbours, no matter one likes it or not. The interconnection is so strong that that a particular historical event that would affect or effect a neighbour automatically would have similar repercussion on the immediate neighbours. Will they learn to convert these commonalities into mutually agreeable terms amongst the progressive forces, so as to carry out the significant historical task of building unity across boundaries to defending development, peace and unity vis-à-vis the plunder by the external forces?
At this crucial juncture of onslaught by the finance capitalism, the Naga questions need to be seriously addressed by the progressive Nagas who wish to build a society that would be freed from all forms of subjugation, oppression and exploitation. Will the ‘freedom loving’ Nagas give free pass to the international finance institutions and the capitalist States that facilitate the process of capitalist plunder? Will they defend their land, market, natural resources, cultural, development, peace and people’s democracy? Will they overcome the problems of; (a) emigration of Nagas and corresponding drain of wealth and brain, and (b) the immigration of ‘alien’ skilled labour and monopoly traders and intrusion by big capital? In this regard, the stage of Naga revolutionary movements needs to be objectively studied by taking into account the following crucial points; (a) structural constraints and dynamics within the Naga society; (b) Naga’s relationship with the immediate neighbours, (c) Nagas relationship with the powerful capitalist States, market forces and finance capitalism.
The Nagas need to concentrate on finding the most effective course to defending and promoting ‘sustainable development’. This will require efforts to improve the means of production and release of forces of production; so as to resist the colonial relation of production and capitalist plunder of Naga labour and resources. This effort, however, cannot be an isolated process restricted to the Nagas alone. None of the co-existing communities fulfils the objective criteria to survive in isolation and progress in a compartment of its own. On the one hand the walls of chauvinism, sectarianism and reactions, which have become endemic in all the communities had to be broken down. On the other hand, ‘sustainable development’ agenda had to be carried out in cordial cooperation with the progressive forces amongst the immediate communities. The progressive Nagas must fulfil this primary historical task— an important historical leap that will not only expose the moribund system but also strengthen the ideals of people’s democracy — to create a unique history of successful resistance to all forms of subjugation, exploitation and oppression.
Post-truth: Refers to the situation where deceitful emotive propaganda arouses and controls public mind, which turn is being used for the purpose of legitimising vested policies.
 A capitalist model of welfare society to be established based on spiritual appeal for peace and social order through reforms and adjustment without challenging the capitalist mode of production.
 Finance Capitalism: An advanced stage of capitalism or imperialism, in which financial institutions or financiers (merging of bank and industrial capitals are merged) commanded over economic and political policies for extraction of super-profit.
 Globalisation: A deceptive terminology that covers up exploitative character of finance capitalism. I used it interchangeably with the term imperialism or finance capitalism.
 Missionary civilizing mission.
 Egalitarian society based on simple modes of production (means and relations of production).
 The Nagas are economically an egalitarian society. Private property and commodity relation are predominant. Individual opportunism becomes the ideological thriving force of amassing wealth for individual growth and vested satisfaction.
 A society that does not have sound economic system can neither defend political freedom nor promote cultural identity.
 Predominantly composed of contractors, political leaders, higher grade bureaucrats and officials.
 Economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources; that meets the needs of the present, setting the limit of needs, and without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
 Who live on the labour and resource of the exploited sections
 Development as welfare; i.e., all round improvement in the means of production, forces of production, relation of production and distribution of products.
Note: The author is a historian and associated with the International League of People’s Struggle.
This article was sent by Dr. Malem Ningthouja, and can be contacted at mningthouja(at)yahoo(dot)com.