“We are living in an elite-dominated undue society where socio-economic inclusiveness is still far away”

Says renowned speakers in a discussion meeting on ‘Beyond Neo-Liberalism: Visions for Post-Capitalist Social Order in Bangladesh’.

In the eve of 100th anniversary of Great Russian Revolution, a discussion meeting on ‘Beyond Neo-Liberalism: Visions for Post-Capitalist Social Order in Bangladesh was held on 18 December 2017 at Muzaffar Ahmed Chowdhury Auditorium, University of Dhaka. Nagorik Uddyog (Citizen’s Initiative), a national level human rights organization hosted the meeting. Zakir Hossain, Chief Executive of Nagorik Uddyog welcomed all and make them acquainted with the objectives of discussion meeting. This discussion meeting aims to scrutinize the prevailing Capitalist neo-liberal ideology and to offer visions of a Post-Capitalist social order in Bangladesh. It was furnished into two segment to cover some interrelated matters. Firstly, it articulated Post-Capitalist visions for Bangladesh in the social and economic domain stipulating working class and industrial economy, establishment of community ownership and women’s liberating empowerment under Post-Capitalist social order. Dr Mirza Hasan, Dr Sohela Nazneen and Kazi Ali Toufque were key discussant in these sections. In second session, three prominent individuals, Dr. Kamal Hossain, Professor Anisuzzaman and Professor Rehman Sobhan, reflected on the visions of ‘Socialism’ as it was used in the Constitution as well as in the First Five Year Plan (as an economic vision of a newly born country). Renowned human rights activist Advocate Sultana Kamal chaired over the discussion meeting.

Dr Kamal Hossain spoke about the sacrifices 30 million people and 0.2 million women who were brutally raped, thereafter we got independence. Thus, we can no longer have an argument about gender equality when the constitution clearly states both as equal. Speaking about the dreams they had for independent Bangladesh, Professor Emeritus Dr Anissuzzman said: “We wanted a country where the talents of every citizen would be nurtured by the state.” He lamented the current state of affairs in the country, hoping that all exploitation will end and the nation can head towards a more egalitarian future.

Renowned economist Rehman Sobhan said that Bangladesh needs to move beyond the traditional class of the worker and owner and understand that this production process has become integrated. “The notion that we have a dynamic garments sector – the creation of inspired capitalists who have now transformed our export opportunities – is a very profound misconception of what is happening,” he said. Speaking about the nuances of capitalism and its misconception, Rehman Sohban further said: “The contributions of the working class is the most important, particularly the women who have come out of the villages and who have in fact become the competitive edge of the garment industry. It is not that our entrepreneurs are a good deal more efficient than Chinese entrepreneurs or Indian or Pakistani entrepreneurs that we are successful. It is because we have hardworking dedicated workers, particularly women who are willing to live in slums, who are willing to walk to work for two hours, who are willing to work at subsistent wages and this is what creates competitive capitalism in Bangladesh and contribute to our successful export story. “It is our migrant workers who are again being exploited, before they leave our shores who risk their lives in unimaginable ways that are now our main sources of income generation. “These dynamic elements have to be taken into account in the reconstruction of a post capitalist society. Now how do you locate them in a system where the huge and creative contribution they are making is adequately rewarded. We should now rethink about the political economy and re-produce the system based on true democratic political ideology.

Advocate Sultana Kamal pointed that, we have the courage to dream as we showed it earlier through different movements and revolutions. Now we are dreaming for a society where there will no more any exploitation, violence, economic discrepancies and gender inequality.