(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 30, 2010
"Culture is an important component in human history. Literature is an important component of culture. It plays a vital role in history. In all societies, dominant culture always reflects the interest of ruling classes. The exploited classes contend and contest such dominant culture, making it an important area of class struggle. When the working class is fighting for social change, it goes without saying that there should be progressive change in the field of culture also"
Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) pointed out in his message on the occasion of the 41st year celebration of Semmalar.
Semmalar in Tamil means Red Flower which bloomed 40 years ago and is now entering its 41st year.
The Tamil literary monthly magazine has played an important role in promoting progressive and working class culture through its content and is helping the oppressed and suppressed people in their fight against the present ruling classes. It is the longest serving literary magazine of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
It was 1970. After the division
of Communist Party of
India, CPI (M) Tamilnadu state committee felt the necessity for a
and published an 80 page journal Semmalar
on May 1970, priced for 50 paisa, from
The eminent novelist K Chinnappa
Bharathi became its
first editor; and from the very beginning, veteran leader of the Party
time editor of Theekkathir, late
comrade K Muthiah and the veteran leader of the communist movement
From its birth, Semmalar is waging a tireless fight against imperialism, communalism, religious fundamentalism, casteism, untouchability, cultural policing and fight for Tamil language development, women’s rights, dalit rights etc., through numerous poems, short stories, essays, fictions, novels and dramas from the vast number of progressive writers in Tamilnadu and translations from various languages.
It is a history; the Semmalar is proud that a literary magazine gave birth to a writers’ association.
On November 1974, the writers of
Semmalar met at
On this line, a state level
organising conference of
progressive writers was held at
Today, after 35 years, this association has more than 200 units across the state and16 thousand of writers and artists as its members. Not only in the area of literature and other fine arts, the association established its roots in the film sector too.
From 1975 to 1977, the nation had experienced the cruelty of the emergency rule of Congress government. At that time, the press was crushed under the censor regime. Particularly, the mouthpiece of CPI (M) Tamilnadu committee, Theekkathir was attacked by the so called censorship. Semmalar also experienced same conditions; the writers were not able to write freely; the censor officers watched small stories, essays and each and every piece of writing.
Short story and novel formats matured during the early quarter of the 20th century and have progressed rapidly to catch up with leading ‘isms’ and formats of world literature. In 1970s-1980s heated discussions were on among the Tamil writers. The so called isms occupied the central place in these discussions. Some writers, who did not have any progressive values, vehemently opposed the progressive and democratic approach on literature; and they were advocating post modernism; existentialism; surrealism like ideologies.
But Semmalar opposed this from the beginning. It shouted with a clear voice; any piece of literature and art should reflect the real life of human being; every piece of writing should help to mould the civilisation of human being; and the creative arts should be realistic.
‘Post modern’ is the term used to suggest contemporary literature of the last half of the 20th century. Not only in the field of art and literature; but in the field of political economy also are certain concepts of ‘post modernism’ propagated by the foreign funded NGO sector and the capitalist media. They project the primacy of ‘identity’ – gender, ethnicity, caste, nationality – over class.
The ideological underpinnings, such as they are, of this trend are provided by what has come to be known as ‘post-modernism’.
Post modernism places all struggles on par, with class as just another social category jostling with gender, ethnicity, and nationality and so on for attention. Thus post modernism rules out the possibility of united action by various social sections on the basis of common objective interests; rather it talks of varying coalitions/alliances of forces, joining hands to one extent or other specific forms.
Against such types of capitalist interventions on politics of art and literature, the uncompromising fight of Semmalar is remarkable.
With these progressive values, Semmalar has produced so many poets and writers. If we
try to list
out, it is very huge. Particularly, K Muthiah, K Chinnappa Bharathi, D
Prof Arunan, Melanmai Ponnusamy, S Senthilnathan, Kandharvan, SU
Even today, Semmalar is serving as a training camp for young Tamil writers and inspiring more and more young progressive writers. For the 40 years, not only in the content, but technically also Semmalar is updating itself; now it is continuing its journey under the editorship of the senior leader of CPI(M) Tamilnadu and eminent writer S A Perumal with associate editor S Tamilselvan (general secretary of Tamilnadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association), and the editorial team consisting of Sakhitya Academy awardee Melanmai Ponnusamy, eminent novelist and critique Prof Arunan, associate editor of Theekkathir, Madhukur Ramalingam, veteran writer and critique T Varadharajan, and young writers Chola Nagarajan, S Venkatesan and Udhyashankar.
With this enthusiastic movement
of class struggle in
the field of Tamil Literature, Semmalar enters
in its 41st year. On this occasion, a grand celebration was held at
When giving special address K Varadharajan said that in a society of class divisions, art and literature without class consciousness cannot exist and with this consciousness, Semmalar is successful in handling the enemies of working class in the field of art and literature.
A special number of the magazine
was published on this
occasion. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and the leaders of the
Sitaram Yechury, N Sankariah, R Umanath,
It may be opt to conclude this report with the words of Prakash Karat’s message:
“In these 40 years, Semmalar has made tremendous contribution in the field of literature placing people’s interest firmly at the centre. At this juncture when corporate media are involved in paid news and mounting vicious attacks on the Left, the positive role of journals like Semmalar assumes greater significance.”