In the second week of March 2018, a comrade from Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle(PASC), USA posted a flyer in Ambedkar King Study Circle’s (AKSC), USA WhatsApp group about Dr.Ambedkar’s birthday program organized by the PASC and Ambedkar Association of North America (AANA) in Troy, Michigan, the USA.
This flyer was responded to in the group by a member as “Real Message given by Babasaheb was Educate! Agitate!! Organize!!! It was misrepresented by communists as “Educate! Organize!! Agitate!!!”. At some point in their political journey, every Ambedkarite is faced with this question, earlier the better in their political journey. Whether it’s “Educate, Organize, Agitate”(EOA) or “Educate, Agitate, Organize”(EAO)? Sometimes “Educate, Organize, Agitate” appear as “Organize, Educate, Agitate”(OEA) and in essence “Educate, Organize, Agitate” and “Organize, Educate, Agitate” are same. So, the difference is “Agitate” at the end or “Organize” at the end.
Often the proponents of the EAO hail from the white collar social class or professional class and the Buddhist Ambedkarites. A considerable section of the majority of the white-collar working class is oblivious to the working-class issues. This social class has a crucial place in the balance of class forces during the times of crisis and usually, they take a position with the bourgeois rather with the working class. Their explanation of EAO is that one has to be educated on social issues NOT a mere academic education and such education agitates their mind (or a sort of internal revolution!) and these agitated minds organize themselves for a common cause. There is no programmatic explanation about the common cause where most of the times common cause confined with non-political or apolitical non-governmental or non-for-profit interventions.
Also, the slogan of EAO linked as Buddham (Educate), Dhammam (Agitate), Sangham (Organize). Agitate in the middle is mental revolution/protest. There are various explanations, in essence, the slogan of EAO is considered more of spiritual and many times blurring the political edge of Ambedkar ideology. Sometimes Buddhist Ambedkarites go to an extent to say that if you are NOT Buddhist you are neither Ambedkarite!
The slogan of EOA/OEA, ie Agitate at the end is used by the political Ambedkarite which is taken from his All India Scheduled Caste Federation.
The aims and objects of the Federation are:
It clearly conveys that Scheduled castes are to be educated and organized to ‘agitate for … ” ie economic, social and political agitation whereas Agitate in the middle of EAO is more of individual / personal agitation. One is personal in character and another is social in character. It can be debated that whether the oppressed have to be organized first to be educated or educated first to be organized. Of course, both go hand in hand. The purpose of being educated and organized is to agitate for social, economic and political freedom.
Usually, organizations based on Ambedkar’s ideology adopt the slogan of EOA in their respective constitution or program. The same idea is reflected in AKSC’s constitution as follows:
Lenin writes in the State and Revolution, “During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it (Italics are mine).”
Ambedkar’s programmatic understanding to agitate for the social, economic and political freedom should be upheld in the interest of the overall emancipation of all the oppressed classes rather blunted by the middle class / white collar or professional class especially Dalits from these above classes who are predominantly achieved sufficient material conditions. With such material conditions rather organizing and agitating for the emancipation of the materially disadvantaged Dalits and non-Dalits for their economic and social freedom along with their political freedom they blunt the revolutionary edge of Ambedkar in arresting the social mobility of the most disadvantaged sections of the society.
Marx says, “As philosophy finds its material weapon in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapon in philosophy.” It holds very true that the slogan of Educate, Organize and Agitate will find it’s material force in the people suffering from social discrimination and people who suffer will find their spiritual force in the very slogan.
Newly emerging organizations, especially among the white collar / professional classes such AKSC and PASC in the USA, have to uphold the slogan of Educate, Organize and Agitate without blunting its revolutionary edge. Also, they should shoulder the responsibility in educating their members on working class issues and take a position with the working class during the times of crisis by raising their class conscious.
Educate! Organize!! Agitate!!!
Constitution of All India Scheduled Caste Federation adopted on 20th July 1942.
Constitution of Ambedkar King Study Circle, United States of America
The State and Revolution by Lenin.
A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right by Karl Marx.
S Karthikeyan is Secretary, Ambedkar King Study Circle, USA