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AN EXPERIMENT WITH MARXISM
The demise of E.M.S. Namboodiripad has shed a pall of a gloom over the cultural arena of Kerala. What makes Kerala a distinct entity with improved human relations has a lot to do with the life and philosophy of EMS. The state has become a model for the world in the Physical Quality of Life Index (PQIL). In an interview published in The Hindu (October, 2, 1996), a right-wing economist and former U.S. Ambassador to India specifically mentioned Kerala for its improvement. EMS was born in a traditional Brahmin family but he was never a “flamboyant Brahmin boy” as described by Arundhati Roy. On the contrary, his masterpiece, written and published in 1948, depicted almost all marginalized cultures of Kerala, conferring an equal dignity and status on them. In that book, Keralam Malayalikalude Mathrubhumi (Kerala – the land of Malayalese), he introduced a radical shift in literary criticism. EMS could produce a method of his own after imbibing the spirit of Marxian methodology and thereby analysed the life and times of Keralites. His endeavour was to achieve an oppression-free existence of mankind.
EMS produced such a great work even before the advent of the Western Neo-Marxian materialistic studies. For him, the study of the Kerala culture turned into a kind of culture criticism when modern industrialization was not even in an embryonic stage in the State. So what is now called culture criticism or cultural materialism was practiced by EMS in Kerala even 50 years ago. He introduced not only a materialistic interpretation of culture but also a progressive vision of the developments of the world. Without using the jargons of New Historicism or Postmodernism, EMS could topple the hierarchy of culture and even deconstructed the high/low binary in art and literature. When the dominant ideology of Kerala, stemming from the Sanskritised grammatical structure, propagated the ingenuity of what was written and read in Sanskrit alone, EMS unhesitatingly eulogized even the cultural contributions of the underprivileged. In this respect, his reading of Kumaran Asan’s “Duravastha” stands out as unique; it is in contradiction with what Mr. Kancha Illaiah said recently about the politics of the communist parties. Mr.Kancha Ilaiah was in the University of Calicut to deliver a speech at a Dalit seminar. In the inaugural session, he said the Dalits alone could help in their emancipation. What happened in the academic life as well as public sphere in Kerala is different.
In “Duravastha” there is a stanza ending
“. left Hindu religion – owing to casteism
rotten itself into Brahmanism”.
In the preface, the poet confessed that he was deviating from the poetic tradition and undertaking the inevitable depiction of the “present” ignoring the tradition which preaches that “the past or indirect” themes alone be conceived of in poetry. The poet’s lamentation that “Duravastha” is maladroit (vilakshana) compared to his other poems not withstanding the thematic importance shows the extent of hegemony over the language and literature in that period. But, for EMS there was nothing wrong in the poem depicting the most obnoxious casteism. The poet, belonging to an untouchable community, Ezhava (now OBC), himself had a doubt over the structure of the poem as nobody was spared by the ruling ideology. EMS, despite his belonging to the Brahmin caste, could question not only the caste discrimination but also the dominant ideological position in considering the structure of art and literature.
- Quote paper
- pokker p.k.dr. (Author), 1998, An experiment with Marxism, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/141316