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‘The muck of the past’: revolution, social transformation, and the Maoists in India


  • Malinowski Memorial Lecture, 2012.


This article analyses revolutionary social change by exploring how people attempt to create a radically different future by taking action in the present, and the challenges that beset this transformation. Examining the relationship between the future, the present, and the past, the article takes the case of the spread of armed underground Maoist guerrillas in India to ask two questions: First, why does India hang on to this form of utopianism when the rest of the world appears to have abandoned it? Second, how and why does the ‘muck of the past’ influence the production of a radically different future? In answering these questions, this article suggests that for both processes of radical social change and our theories of them, we need to reinsert our analyses of politico-economic conditions into our ideologies of social change.

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