Between Parliament & Revolution

socialist strategy in the 21st century

18-20 December 2020. Kathmandu, Nepal

The Left in South Asia now has over one hundred years of experience. Freedom fighters crossed imperial borders to combine Marxism with other revolutionary ideologies with their own traditions of struggle, forming cells, groups and parties to combat empire. Memories of these anti-imperialist struggles continue to inspire today. Indeed, over one hundred years, communists in South Asia have organised millions of workers, peasants, women and other oppressed groups, building organisation and administration to parallel and even rival that of the state. They have sought and at times achieved governmental power at national and subnational levels through people’s wars, elections and even coups.

Yet, their experiences in and out of power appear to have resulted less in hopeful advances and more in a series of ambiguous impasses and even reversals. The Left has been unable to fulfil the promise of national self-determination leading to a socialist and internationalist sub-continent. In-stead, fascists and chauvinists appear to hold governments hostage even where they do not hold governmental power. Those sections of the ruling classes that are not explicitly majoritarian have little to offer by way of alternatives to more neoliberal austerity, with no promise of productive and dignified employment, while reproducing exclusionary structures of ethnic, caste/racial and gender oppression. All this in the context of climate destruction so severe that it disrupts the glaciers, the rivers, the seas—the very monsoon—and with them, exacerbates the crisis of proletarian and peasant lives and livelihoods. Even breathing has a heavy cost in the smog-ridden cities of the sub-continent.

This conjuncture calls for a reappraisal of the theory and practice of the Left in South Asia, at once attuned to the specificities of its diverse peoples and lands, and yet open to the insights of comparative analysis. In this vein, we invite debates on, but not limited to, the following themes, focused not only on South Asia but also on the Global South in general:

Paper proposals of up to 250 words and/or self-organised panels (limited to 4 participants per panel) of up to 250 words per participant (in addition to a brief description of the panel) can be submitted here.


Submission in English or Nepali accepted. Translators are available for Nepali speakers.