Indian Statistical Institute
January 4, 2011
“City and Village” & “(Non-) Economist Rabindranath Tagore”, Sengupta, Arnab ed. Akkha(r)jatra. IX:11. (pp.7-46) Belghoria, Kolkata Reprinted in 2011. Barun Kumar Chakroborty ed. Anna Rabindranath, Nana Rabindranath. (pp.336-360), Kolkata: Pustak Bipani. ISBN 81-85471-106-1
The author of this paper, written in Bangla, tried to establish Rabindranath Tagore as a non-mainstream non-convetional economist/fiscal auditor on the basis of Tagore’s different texts, viz. novels, verses, songs, plays and essyas. The author emphasized on the following points:
a) Tagore thought that he was a parasite as he was not capable of doing necessary labor and he was depending on surplus labor of the other.
b) According to Tagore, city is also a parasite as it is sucking the blood of the villages.
c) Tagore reinterpreted the concept of necessary labor by introducing a new category: voluntary labor with pleasure/toiling with full of joissance and of course without alienation.
d) He condemned the extraction of others’ labor-time/ surplus labor and critrisized usaries .
e) He had given the different semantics of private property, which was not merely property in the material sense of the term, but it is a possesion of creative mind.
f) Tagore interpreted money-sign as /taka-rupakO/ “money-simile”, by means of which unequals have become equals by some necessary and sufficient conditions. In the “rupaka” figure of speech the identitity and difference between the object compared and comparable are blurred.
g) The “body-politic” of democracy is the joy-ride of the super-rich. Here “opinions are manufactured” (1924). Tagore anticipated the concept of dollar-vote andentered into the domain of political economy.
h) Tagore introduced a novel concept of surplus freedom provided by the cessation of activities (karmavirati) / leisure (udbritto ObokaS) that could be executed if and only if the voluntary labor with pleasure might be performed.
i) He introduced ecology as a variable as a part of his economics. This is one of the unprecedented contributions of Tagore. He was against the extraction of wealth of earth by the violent anthropogenic intervention.
j) He emphasized on the passion of greed as a part of his epistemology. It can be reinterpreted in psychoanalytic terms.
k) Tagore introduced “samavaya” (Co-operative) through the activities of a society called “SriniketanO”, though the semantics of this term is totally different. The author of this paper explained the difference between the detachable (samjoga) and non-detachable (samavaya)relations. As for example, suppose that we are connected by some non-eco-friendly electronic gadgets like CPU, satellites etc. , i.e. we are connected in the web—we have some definite relations. These relations can easily be disconnected according to our whims or by some catastrophic situation. However, may you detach the quivering and leaves when you are perceiving quivering leaves? This is another type of non-detachable relation, which is de-sign-ated as “samavaya”. The small-big i and I non-detachable relationship/communication without any instruments is something different from the anti-green techno-centric communication network between you and me.
[This paper is introduced with a Bangla translation (by Arnab Sengupta) of a lecture (“City and Village”, 1924) by Tagore. The controversy over the dates of the lecture and its different versions is resolved by the author of this paper]
Note: Downloadable document is in Bangla.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: voluntary labor with pleasure/toiling with full of joissance without alienation, money-simile, body-politic,passion of greed, ecology, surplus leisure, samavaya