Where do you see the future going?
When we are in turmoil, the future depends on the changes of balance in political and social forces. That is the result of the struggle, which can move to the Left or to the Right.
As a Marxist, don't you think the era of global struggles is past? The world has not seen an armed revolution after Nicaragua in 1979. What makes you optimistic about the Left movement?
Unfortunately, this is partly correct. There are social movements which have existed for the past 20 years, but they remain fragmented and defensive. They are coming together and moving together for an alternative political project. But it has started. Look at Nepal. It (the Maoist movement) suffered enormous difficulties, but it started and it will start elsewhere also.
Since you mentioned Nepal, the Maoist rulers appear to be the new bourgeois. Prachanda, the Maoist leader and prime minister, reportedly favours branded clothes and promotes his family. How different are the Maoists then from the previous ruling elite in Nepal?
It is not only Prachanda or an individual. I have come (to Mumbai) from Nepal. I had discussions with activists of the (Maoist) movement. We have seen public discussions with Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai, the minister of finance, and all of them say publicly that the mass movement continues. So whatever compromises they make to govern, the mass movement continues.
What about human right abuses in Leftist-ruled nations like China and Venezuela?
I don't think they are that bad in human rights. I have visited these countries and I didn't find it (human rights violations). In Venezuela, (President) Hugo Chavez has come (to power) through elections. Now, you tell me, which human rights have been denied in Venezuela? None. The judiciary and police remains in the hands of the fascists (right wingers).
When an American television channel called for the assassination of the head of State, it was not closed down. But when its contract was not renewed, everybody said it was denial of the freedom of press. What is this? Will you allow in the US a television station supporting Osama bin Laden? Any democratic country will not accept that. Nothing is perfect, but we can always discuss one or two things.
In Saudi Arabia -- a good friend of the US government -- what human rights are respected? Why is nothing said because they say it is their tradition? Why not the same thing about China? I feel we have to be careful about distorting reality on the grounds of human rights.
Image: Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) cadres during a recent convention of Maoists on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Professor Amin cites Nepal as an example that Left movements can still succeed. Photograph: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty
Also read: An interview with Amartya Sen