On March 21, about a thousand villagers stormed and occupied the site of a huge dam being constructed under the name of the Man Project in the Dhar district in India. This project has already disrupted their village life, and they are being forced to move. Though the government promised to provide the villagers with a new place to continue their existence, it has done nothing to carry out this promise. Nonetheless, it has proceeded with the building of the dam. The occupation was intended to shut down construction until real compensation is received. But capital cannot tolerate the closing down of its projects by those it exploits, so it was no surprise to learn that police arrived quickly and forcibly arrested a large number of the occupiers, manhandling those who were most outspoken.
Of course, the idea that the government could recompense these villagers, simply finding them a new place to carry on their lives is a pipe dream. The Man Project is only one of thirty large dams being planned by the Narmada Valley Development Project. If this one alone is displacing 17 villages, consider how many villages will be displaced by the other 29 projected dams. Capital must expand in order to survive, transforming everything on the earth into tools for its projects and destroying that which it cannot transform. So there really is no place for these villagers in the plans of capitalism. At best, demands made to the state will put off the inevitable. The struggle against the dam and against displacement needs to evolve into a struggle against the present social order. The occupation, as direct action, indicates the possibility for this struggle to move beyond demands to attack against this order. And our acts of solidarity can reflect the totality of our own struggle against the present existence.