The defence and extension of democratic rights are an integral part of the working class struggles, both economic and political. Democratic rights facilitate the emergence of militant and effective class organisation and movements. Needless to say they are never a sufficient condition.
Over centuries the working class across the world have fought to extend the meaning of these rights and have won through bitter struggles social acceptance for these rights. Rights which have thus been socially accepted find their sanction in constitutions and laws. Thus we have the constitutions guaranteeing citizens the right to equality, freedom of expression and movement and right to association etc. There have been innumerable laws passed by legislatures for protecting the rights of the workers. However seldom does social acceptance of a right get effectively represented in the law. The law thus retains considerable vagueness and loopholes which are used to undermine the rights. Even when the law is effective enforcement powers remain with the state authorities whose organic sympathies for the employers need no elaboration. Nevertheless the laws represent the concentrated expression and crystallization of the achievements of the world proletariat. They are both props of the working class movement and a measure of success for segments newly entering into the working class movement. As such democratic rights in general and the laws in particular play a crucial role in the emergence of the working class as an effective and self-conscious class in and for itself.
In countries like India the working class is still in the process of formation as every year hundreds and thousands of people join its ranks. They are employed under conditions where various forms of extra-economic coercion take precedence over conditions of free wage labour. Caste and tribal and regional oppression forces these workers to enter the labour market with various... [continues]
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