What is the history caucus?
In May meetings it was realised in the Kosambi Circle that members are not well versed in history, especially the history of how peoples movements in the past all over the world formed, and where did ideas we now call “socialist” came about. A need was there for thorough historical dives, an understanding of material forces which shaped events and ideas, and so this caucus was made. Unlike many other caucuses this caucus does not change topics monthly, rather each topic is studied for a period of three months or more as histories are complex. The point is to go deep and contextual and avoid eclecticism. A multiplicity of sources, and aside from books, pamphlets, newspapers, articles, artform etc are also used to historicise these movements. This caucus was formed on May 26, 2020.
June, July, August – French Revolutionary Period, 1789 – 1871
October November, December – The Communist Movement in India, 1900 – Present
REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE TO PARIS COMMUNE, GENESIS OF THE MODERN LEFT
It was decided that the first topic to be done, over June, July, and August, was the French Revolutionary Period, namely from before the French Revolution in 1789 to the Paris Commune incident in 1871 and all the French revolutions and insurrections between these. This was felt important as not only is this the point where capitalism in earnest starts to dislodge feudalism all over Europe and liberalism as an ideology starts to gain a foothold, its also the wellspring of many socialist movements and ideas, and eventually influences modern socialism/communism. The First International was deeply influenced by these events.
These were the books we used
The Old Regime and the French Revolution by one Alexis de Tocqueville, Conservative Liberal
The Great French Revolution by one Prince Peter Kropotkin, Anarcho Communist
People’s History of the French Revolution by one Eric Hazan, defender of the Revolution
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte by one Karl Marx, Scientific Socialist
The Civil War in France by the same Karl Marx
We used this graphic novel as well for the Paris Commune incident The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia
Recommended extra readings
Book The Black Jacobins by C L R James (a book on the Haitian Revolution which was connected to the French one)
Short pieces Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789
The sans culottes in the French Revolution, 1793-1797
We also read some fiction
Whom the Gods Love: The Story of Evariste Galois
Meeting 4 (This meeting served as a summary meeting)
Meeting 5 final
This ends the deep dive into French Revolutionary period
In September we took a break. The next topic will be the history of communism and left movements in India, from their very genesis during pre-Marxist socialism to the associations with the Second International to the Tashkent emigre communists, to the formation of parties, to the events leading up to the current day.