Mr. Milind Kamble, Chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), said in an interview given to the Indian Express, “I feel that market and money will defeat Marx and Manu because both are against capital. Manu says Dalits should not hoard capital and the Marx theory is anti-capital. But the market is growing, shouldn’t Dalits be moving with it too?”1. It shows Mr. Kamble’s complete ignorance of Marx’s theory or he may be trying to distort it because he controls some capital. Marx is not against capital, he’s against the social character of capital (in capitalism).
Marx on Capital
Regarding the character of Capital, Marx & Engels write as follows in the Communist Manifesto which Dr Ambedkar advised every worker should read, “To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion. Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power. When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.”2
Marx and Engels were not against capital. Capital is real. According to them, capital will exist as long there is wage labor. In fact, whether in a capitalist or a socialist mode of production there will be a surplus. The difference lies only in how this surplus is observed or re-distributed in society. For such redistribution capital should be a common property of the society rather a private property of a few individuals and hence it should shed its class character. Mr. Kamble’s concern about the caste character of capital is very valid, and so is the argument that capital should be made available to the castes which were historically denied the right to accumulate capital. In fact, he sounds like a 100% Marxist!
Of course, Marx and Engels talk about abolition of wage labor which is abolition of capital in communist society, not in a socialist society which will succeed the present capitalist system. They put, “From the moment when labour can no longer be converted into capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolised, i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital.”3
Black Capitalism in the USA and Dalit Capitalism in India
Despite people from all castes being a part of the working class, capital is monopolized by the so called upper castes. The argument is that the exploited belong to all castes, but the exploiters do not.
Caste-wise Distribution of Top 1000 Indian Companies’ Board Members (2010)4
These top 1,000 companies control 80% of total capital in India. 93% of capital is controlled by the people who belong to the so-called upper castes. The argument from the DICCI is: why don’t Dalits aspire to be capitalists and control some capital? Such arguments always have the blessings of the state: for instance, black capitalism was promoted by Nixon to subvert black radicalism and it was largely successful5.
In India top 10% owns 77.4% and top 1% corners 51.53% of the total national wealth6. Capitalism proclaims anyone can become rich and whispers everyone should not! As anyone, Dalits too can be ambitious to become the exploiter, but it may not earn self-respect for all the Dalits who too are part of the bottom 99% who share 48% of the total wealth.
DICCI may produce Dalit capitalists whose aim is not to win self-respect for the economically exploited Dalits but to serve the state’s interests and subvert radical elements in the Dalit movement which will win the self-respect for the Dalits. Ambedkar writes, “Fundamental rights without economic security are of no use to the have-nots”. DICCI’s interest is not to protect the interest of 15% Scheduled Castes and 7.5% of the Scheduled Tribes but to subvert the united fight against the top 1% by the bottom 99%. Can we say if the Dalits bourgeoisie controls 15% of the total capital there will be self-respect for all Dalits?
2. Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
4. Corporate Boards in India. Blocked by Caste? by D Ajit, Han Donker, Ravi Saxena
5. The National Response to Richard M. Nixon’s Black Capitalism Initiative: The Success of Domestic Detente by Robert E. Weems, Jr. and Lewis A. Randolph
S Karthikeyan is Secretary, Ambedkar King Study Circle, USA.