Mythily Sivaraman : One Who Was Haunted by Fire

In this post under the section ‘Indian Communist Photos’, we publish photos from the glorious life of Mythily Sivaraman who spent more than four decades of here life in the struggles of the red flag. If there is something which remained central to her entire life, then it was the devotion to sharpening the class struggle in favour of the working class- through her activism and her rich writings. 

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The year 1968 was a milestone in the life of Mythily and it was so for more than one reason. She joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1968 and started working in the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU). This was also the year which saw 44 Dalits being burnt alive by a landlord at Keezhvenmani (now in Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu) bringing to fore the social and economic rift withing the society. The explosive impact which this event had on young Mythili remained throughout her life- in her activism first among the industrial workers and later among the most exploited sections of the women. She wrote extensively for the journals such as The Radical ReviewEconomic& Political Weekly and Mainstream. One of the most important insights brought by her was the need for the communists to understand the prowess of the mass culture. She showed the limitations of the Dravidian politics and its absolute inability to resolve the class contradictions; however, at the same time portrayed with courage how the theoretical inadequacy of the Marxists meant that the red flag could never utilize the anti-congress wave in the 1960s . 

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In another article in The Radical Review in 1970, she writes how “in the absence of a commitment to the socialist ideology based on a scientific understanding of the evolution of social history and in the absence of adequate experience in working class struggles, the DMK had proved much too vulnerable to pressures from the dominant economic interests”.

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In her articles expounding the class character of the DMK, she says that the party in its initial years may have had the character of a bourgeois democratic party but subsequently it had come to reflect capitalist interests. And the recent quagmire of scams and corruption that the DMK has found itself in can perhaps be traced to its deviations since the 1970s.

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Mythily Sivaraman’s writings and her convictions make it clear that there cannot be any short-cut approach to class struggle. And there was never an iota of  doubt in her mind at least as to who should play the role of the vanguard in that struggle.

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