Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The present thesis examines Marx's views on the pre-colonial Indian social formation which he developed in his writings during the years 1853-1867.* The main issue which l seek to resolve is this: How far and to what extent can Marx's thesis on the Asiatic Mode of Production be accepted theoretically and empirically on the basis of the data provided by historical evidence from the Indian social formation since its remotest antiquity to the first consolidation of the British rule in India in 1757? Naturally, the main burden of my thesis is to critically evaluate the thesis of the Asiatic Mode of Production which, in its turn, consists of the following ingredients: a) the absence of private propert y in land; b) the existence of the self-sufficient village communities characterized by a unit y of agriculture and craft industry; c) the historie stagnation of the Indian social formationi and d) the Oriental despotism and the role of the Indian state. As far as my own findings are concerned it must be stated that, in view of the immense historical data now available, the validity of the Asiatic Mode of Production has become extremely limited for explaining the pre-colonial social formation of India in terms of the postulates of historical materialism and class struggle. The sources on which Marx depended in his formulations were not only scanty but also unreliable. Further, the thesis of the Asiatic Mode of Production was very marginal to Marx's main concern. As a result, Marx's thesis could not be anything but theoretically contradictory and empirically inadequate. In fact, the Aristotelian conceptual innovation of "Oriental Despotism" found fervent favor among successive generations of European scholars. It became, with certain necessary modifications, the so-called "Asiatic Mode of Production" in the skilful and competent hands of Marx.
Bhadra, Bula, "Marx's views on India: A Critique of the Asiatic Mode of Production" (1980). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5272.
McMaster University Library