Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Cyril Levitt
The current literature on the theory of the "Asiatic" mode of production, which summarizes Marx's views on the non-European social formations including India, is quite vast. Even then, to date there is no systematic study which focuses simultaneously on the methodological and theoretical problems and consequences immanent in the "Asiatic" mode, and on its empirical validity within the historical context of the Indian social experience. The present dissertation, thus, seeks to achieve two objectives. First, it attempts to examine how far and to what extent Marx's "Asiatic" mode of production can be justified and upheld methodologically and theoretically, on the one hand, and empirically, on the other, on the basis of the concrete experience of the Indian social formation from about the rise of the Indus civilization to the first consolidation of the Muslim rule. Second, it also demonstrates that not only is Marx's theory grounded upon Orientalism, but what is even more important, it stands for and indeed represents what I call materialist Orientalism -- the doctrine that rationalizes and sanctifies the geographical divide between the East and West, and, hence, separates Them from Us by resorting to material or concrete explanatory factors.
From this standpoint, the present dissertation seeks to fill in a characteristic void in the contemporary literature for two reasons. First, the existing studies, which are largely unsystematic from a methodological and theoretical point of view, invariably center around revising the "Asiatic" mode in such a way as to make it more acceptable than what would be the case in its original Marxian form. In contrast to this, it is argued that numerous methodological and theoretical problems are built into the very structure of Marx's theory, so much so that it is hardly amenable to any constructive modification or revision. By focusing on pre-Muslim India for the determination of the empirical validity of the AMP, the present dissertation purports to remedy a second deficiency. As yet there is no such systematic empirical assessment of Marx's theory, although marx himself constructed his theory almost completely on the basis of the Indian historical experience. In sum, my findings indicate that Marx's theory is empirically inadequate in view of the existence of an overwhelming mass of historical data to the contrary.
Bhadra, Bula, "Marx's Views on India: A Sociological Appraisal of the "Asiatic" Mode of Production" (1986). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2227.