Alpa EP 1b


Open Anthropology Cooperative Press
Published November 2015

© The individual contributors and OAC Press, 2015
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Citation URL: https://openanthcoop.net/emancipatory-politics-a-critique/

This volume shows that organised emancipatory politics, in part or mainly reinforced by arms, is still very much alive in a range of postcolonial states. By ‘emancipatory politics’ we mean political activities that aim to end exploitation and enhance participatory democracy through which leadership can be held to account on a daily as well as periodic basis, in the workplace and beyond. Whether it be India, Nepal, the Philippines, Peru or Columbia, long-standing armed movements aiming to seize and transform state power are still burning and working for a different future. In Euro-American debate it is easy to forget those movements – some of which have a more than forty-year history – of the Maoists in India or Nepal, FARC in Columbia, or the Communist Party of the Philippines. We focus here on movements that are still very much active as well as on movements of Marxist emancipatory change that achieved state power – the Mozambican case of Frelimo and the Sandinistas of Nicaragua – whose experiences shed an important critical light on those that are still in active struggle.

These cases have been chosen to illustrate a range of reasons for embarking on and sustaining armed struggle. We show that questions of ideological, political and economic organization strongly influence the specifically military aspects of these movements. Most are adaptations of Mao’s Chinese revolutionary movement and its tenets, but some refer to other revolutionary traditions. The selection is not meant to be comprehensive, but to focus on the reasons for and history of movements of this kind, highlighting the limitations that this mobilisation and its ties to Maoist teachings have placed on their emancipatory politics.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Emancipatory Politics: A Critique
Stephan Feuchtwang and Alpa Shah

Part 1. Armed movements in India

Chapter 2 The People’s Will to Change to Changing the Will of the People: Reflections on the Indian Maoist Struggle
Gautam Navlakha

Chapter 3 Unconventional Politics: Prelude to a Critique of Maoist Revolutionary Strategy in India
Bernard D’Mello

Part 2. Armed movements in Latin America and the Philippines

Chapter 4 The FARC-EP and Consequential Marxism in Columbia
James J. Brittain

Chapter 5 Ups and Downs of a Contemporary Maoist Movement: Shifting Tactics, Moving Targets and (Un)Orthodox Strategy, the Philippine Revolution in Perspective
Dominique Caouette

Part 3. Armed movements and state formation in Nepal, Nicaragua and Mozambique

Chapter 6 Identity Politics and the Maoist People’s War in Nepal
Anne de Sales

Chapter 7 The Sandinistas, Armed Struggle, Participation, Democracy, Verticalism and Mass Movements in Nicaragua
Harry E. Vanden

Chapter 8 The Politics of Production, Frelimo and Socialist Agrarian Strategy in Mozambique
Bridget O’Laughlin


Chapter 9 Further Theoretical Reflections on Emancipatory Politics
Stephan Feuchtwang and Alpa Shah