If you turn a place into a graveyard, can you expect its people to vote enthusiastically? Many in Kashmir are echoing these thoughts and showing their disillusionment with the ruling government by not turning up to vote. The fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections concluded on May 6 and the voter turnout for Jammu & Kashmir’s 6 Lok Sabha seats has stumped many political leaders in the valley and the centre.
Jammu & Kashmir has recorded an overall voter turnout of a mere 43.5% in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, its lowest since the 2004 polls.
As many as 299 polling booths in Pulwama and Shopian district saw no voting. It’s ironic that votes in elections across the country are being asked for in Pulwama’s name and yet 266 booths in the district saw zero voting. Security forces cracked down on militants after 40 CRPF jawans were killed in the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed. They belong to the Anantnag constituency where polls were held in an unprecedented three phases. Nobody came to vote in 65 polling booths in this constituency according to a report. The turnout was 8.76 per cent, a significant fall from the 28.54 per cent recorded during the 2014 Lok Sabha election. According to the media reports voter turnout in as many as 90 polling stations in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency was zero. In Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency no votes were polled at 17 polling stations.
While militancy and security played a part, residents of the Valley’s three parliamentary constituencies of Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar showed little enthusiasm for the electoral process. These three seats cumulatively registered a voter turnout of just 19%. The individual turnout was the worst in Anantnag, where 8.79% of voters came out to exercise their franchise, followed by Srinagar at 14%. At 34%, Baramulla saw a relatively better turnout. The Valley, embroiled in violence for over three decades, has historically seen low voter turnouts. Over the last five general elections from 1998 to 2014, the turnout in Anantnag has remained below 30%. In 1999 and 2004, it was below 15%. Unlike the Kashmir Valley, voters in the Jammu region participated in the polls enthusiastically. Turnout in Udhampur in Jammu was 70.19%, higher than even the national turnout so far.
In spite of all the main stream parties in J&K campaigning, the central government, state government and Election Commission vigorously campaigning, in spite of the armed forces present in all areas forcing the people to vote what is the end result? Voting percentage in the Kashmir Valley is: Sri nagar 7%, Kulgam town 1.3%, Shopian district 2.6 %, Pulwama district 1.9%. This is kashmiri people’s reply to the militaristic/state terror policy of Modi government. Will BJP and its allies on the one side, and the Congress and other opposition parties on the other pause for a minute and ponder? n
Few years ago when “Nirbhaya” was gang raped there was a great revolt in Delhi. Thousands of girls and boys spearheaded it, paralyzing the city for days. Following her death, the then UPA govt took many decisions, a commission was appointed, its report was published, and the state machinery and the ruling political class assured that most prompt action shall be taken to save the country from this plague! But after so many years what is happening? Everyday newspapers come out with news of increasing number of rapes, gang rapes, rapes of even 3 year old babies and molestations even at workplaces. As happened at Alwar twice last week or at so many places, even if a rape is reported the police refuse to act; even if the case comes before the judiciary the justice is delayed or refused. People get outraged and at many places, as in Kashmir now against rape of a three year old, revolts take place in the streets. But the alertness shown by the state machinery to maintain law and order at such times is hardly shown in putting an FIR when a rape is reported. No qualitative change in the situation at all. On the contrary, these gruesome incidents are increasing manifold. Why?
Because, India has become a country which is more patriarchal, Manuvadi, where gender inequality is justified under religion and caste system. The RSS parivar and other religious fundamentalists are openly justifying women’s inferiority to men. Under their onslaught, even whatever renaissance, secular, caste annihilation, democratic, egalitarian and scientific values were existing, are fast eroded. The male chauvinistic state machinery, including judiciary up to topmost levels, as recently happened in the case of sexual harassment complaint against the chief justice of India, refuse to give justice to women. As the ruling system is corrupt from top to bottom, rapists can easily influence the police. For protecting vote banks, the political class also help the rapists and molesters. In short, basically it is a men’s world. The neo-liberal onslaughts impoverishing the toilers, depriving many a family life, and the impact of consumerist culture which reduces women to a mere commodity through films, TV serials, advertisements, social media etc also aggravate the menace.
But, while using Alwar gang rape like incidents for attacking political opponents to get few more votes, Modi like political leaders forget the blood in their hands, and do not bother to approach this question with the seriousness it demands; they forget they are also responsible for the increasing assaults on women, children. This barbarous male chauvinistic aggression can be resisted and defeated only by firmly standing for gender equality in all respects and fighting for it ideologically, politically and organizationally, creating people’s upsurges for it. n
On 25th May, 52 years ago it was on this day the West Bengal state and central forces fired on demonstrators at Naxalbari killing 11 comrades including infants to suppress the People's Uprising advancing in the region calling for ‘land to the tiller’ as part of agrarian revolution. It heralded a new chapter in the history of the communist movement in our country.
Today when the corporate-saffron fascist forces have returned to power with more strength, and when the agrarian question has become more acute under the neoliberal regime, the relevance of Naxalbari Uprising has increased. The struggle for agrarian revolution including the land to the tillers slogan according to the present situation has become more relevant than ever as the oppression of the Adivasis and dalits on the one hand, and the suicides of the farmers due to intensifying agrarian distress on the other are increasing day by day. This critical situation calls for intensifying the revolutionary mass movement for re-structuring the society, to learn from Naxalbari Uprising and advance towards people's democracy and socialism. Long Live Naxalbari Uprising! Red Salute to the martyrs and leaders of Naxalbari Uprising!.
On this day CPI(ML) Red Star comrades from North Bengal districts and local comrades assembled at the martyrs column at Naxalbari under the leadership of Central Committee member com Pradip Singh Thakur remembered the martyrs and leaders of the movement and pledged to carry forward the message of the Naxalbari Uprising according to concrete conditions. Leaders of All India Krantikari Kisan Sabha (AIKKS), DH Poojar and Nirvanappa from Karnataka, Tejram Vidrohi from Chhattisgarh, Sankar Sahu from Odisha, addressed public meeting held at Naxalbari bus Stand. In other states also Naxalbari Day was observed by the party committees programs.
And what a great way to ‘get rid of NPAs’ !! In last two years, writing off over Rs.1 lakh crores. Combined with preceding three years, this becomes about 1.6 lakh crores written off !! Another Feather in the cap of Modi-Jaitley regime, that is continually enriching the rich and pauperising the poor.
According their own report, SBI has about 39 crores non Jan Dhan savings accounts. So, these ‘write offs’ notionally have cost each of these account holders (who are the primary source of total SBI deposit base of about 27 lakh crores) about RS.4100 each - which otherwise could have been given /counted as a higher interest rate, or ‘profit’ for the bank, thus not needing a capital infusion from Public funds.
With these 1.6 lakh crores of “very bad loans” or NPAs written off, out of its total advances of about 20 lakh crores (8% of the total advances written off - ouch !!), SBIs NPA scene will seem ‘good’, and the bank will be ready to give more of our money to the rich, for them to start creating further NPAs (after all, one of the primary reasons given for “cleaning up the banks bad loans, is that it enables them to lend further)! Banking has been made so crooked for the small savers.
In the 17th Lok Sabha elections we had fielded 29 candidates from 14 states. Nominations for one seat from Telengana, one from W. Bengal and two from UP were rejected. We had waged a campaign based on our Election Manifesto and handbills within our organizational and financial limits. From these 29 seats we received a total of 90, 647 votes, a little more than we received in the 16th Lok Sabha elections. In Maharashtra our SC had supported an independent candidate from North Mumbai seat and Gujarat SOC supported a candidate of Bharatiya Tribal Party in Ahemedabad West.
- Wayanad Usha 1424
- Vadagara Sudhakaran 507
- Thrissur N.D. Venu 1330
- Ernakulam Shajahan 470
- Koppal Hemaraj Veerapur 1059
- Chikmagalur S Vijaya 2216
- Kanyakumari Paulraj 778
- Guntur Hari Prasad 3216
- Nagpur Yogesh Thakre 281
- Ramtek Bandu Mishram 1421
- Mahasamund Bhojlal Netam 2263
- Puri Ranjan Mishra 2312
- Bhubaneswar Pramela behera 1482
- Kandhemal Tuna Mallik 8283
- Koraput Rajendra Kendruka 15827
- Aska Sankar Sahu 5999
- Dumdum Shankar Das 4379
- Bankura Sukchand Soren 2889
- Bishnupur Jithendra Nath Roy 6438
- Belarghat Manas Chakravarthy 1349
- Barasat Oli Md Mallick 1305
- Ranchi Vikas Sharma 1407
- Palamu Madan Ram 2420
- Jamshedpur Malay Mahato 1874
- Amethi Basudev Maurya 988
- Kushinagar Aravind Yadav 1406
- Sidhi Heeralal Singh 3848
- Udaipur Kika Meena 13099
- Chandigarh Lashkar Singh 377 n
On 26 April 1937, twelve bombers of the German Condor Legion and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria flew low over the Basque country of Spain in the midst of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). They tore down over the small town of Guernica, where they let loose their fiery arsenal. Almost two thousand people died in this defenceless town. Noel Monk of the Daily Express (London) was one of the first reporters to enter the town, hours after the bombers dropped their ordinance. In Eyewitness (1955), Monk wrote, ‘A sight that haunted me for weeks was the charred bodies of several women and children huddled together in what had been the cellar of a house. It had been a refugio’, a refuge. Pablo Picasso, the artist, was so moved by news of the fascist bombing raid on this town that he painted his most powerful work – Guernica (1937) – which now hangs in Madrid’s Reina Sofia.
At the entrance of the United Nations Security Council in New York City hangs a tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica that had been made by the weaver Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrbach in 1955. When US Secretary of State Colin Powell came to the UN in early 2003 to make his – false – comments about weapons of mass destruction about Iraq, the UN staff covered the tapestry with a blue cloth. In 1923, Picasso told Marius de Zayas, ‘art is a lie that makes us realise truth’. The lies that led to the US war on Iraq could not be told with Guernica as backdrop.
Lies lead to war and then lies are needed to cover up the horrors of war. Over the past few years, the International Criminal Court (ICC) had diligently begun to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan conducted by the armed forces of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the Taliban. The ICC’s special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was convinced that there is adequate evidence for the ICC to move the investigation along (including evidence provided by Wikileaks from various US army secret investigations). But the Trump administration, in the mode of the mafia, put immense pressure on the ICC. First, US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened to sanction the judges and lawyers at the court and then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied Bensouda a visa to come to New York City to deliver her report to the UN Security Council. On 12 April, therefore, a pre-trial bench of the ICC decided to stop the investigation. They said that an investigation into US war crimes in Afghanistan ‘would not serve the interests of justice’ (for more on this, please see my report). So it goes.
It has become impossible to hold states to account. The ICC cannot move on powerful states, such as the United States and its allies (notably Israel). No other avenue remains open to the victims of permanent wars. They will march for justice, but they will get little attention. In 2011, Haji Bismillah’s son was killed by a US helicopter strike in Nangalam (Afghanistan). ‘My son Wahidullah’s head was missing’, he said with great sadness. ‘I only recognised him from his clothes’.
Global military spending is over $2 trillion, with the United States by itself spending almost half this amount. Total US military spending is now at $989 billion. This number includes not only the formal expenditure on the US military, but also expenditure on the Veteran’s Administration, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Cyber security component of the Department of Justice, Homeland Security and the military aspects of the State Department. It does not include the immense secret budget of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. Add these up and the US military budget is already over $1 trillion, as our friends at Monthly Review found in 2007. The United States spends more on its military than the next nine highest-spending countries combined: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, France, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and South Korea. ‘Security’ or ‘deterrence’ are not the main aims of such formidable military spending. A world awash with weapons leads to tragedies, such as the recent massacre in Sri Lanka, where military-grade explosives were used in the terrible murder of over three hundred and fifty innocent people.
Focus on the arms industry is sporadic, with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and others like it lonely in their work. Recent reports from SIPRI show that the volume of arms transfers – a major part of the business of the arms trade – has been rising over the years, with the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China as the biggest exporters of weapons (they account for 75% of all world arms sales). The United States, by itself, sells 36% of the world’s arms – with a focus on combat aircraft, short-range cruise missiles and ballistic missiles and guided bombs. The top ten arms companies in the world are:
- Lockheed Martin ($44.9 billion) [USA]
- Boeing ($26.9 billion) [USA]
- Raytheon ($23.9 billion) [USA]
- BAE Systems ($22.9 billion) [UK]
- Northrop Grumman ($22.4 billion) [USA]
- General Dynamics ($19.5 billion) [USA]
- Airbus Group ($11.3 billion) [Europe]
- Thales ($9 billion) [France]
- Leonardo ($8.9 billion) [Italy]
- Almaz-Antey ($8.6 billion) [Russia]
Why do governments spend such a vulgar amount on weapons? In his monumental Grundrisse (1857), Karl Marx made the offhand, but accurate remark, ‘The impact of war is self-evident, since economically it is exactly the same as if the nation were to drop a part of its capital into the ocean’. A permanent war economy is a waste, even if there are massive profits to be made by these warfare companies. So much can be done with $2 trillion – a mere $30 billion per year to end world hunger, as the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation noted in 2008. Last year, the UN began a campaign to raise $10 billion to eradicate illiteracy. But even these meagre funds have been impossible to raise, the promise of ‘billions into trillions’ from the much-heralded public-private partnerships falling flat. There is always money for war, but never enough money to build the scaffolding for peace.
There is always the illusion that military spending is for security, when it appears to be more for profit. The entire industry is lubricated with bribes. Joe Roeber of Transparency International said that the arms trade is ‘hard-wired for corruption’. ‘In 1997, I was told in Washington that a mid-nineties report by the CIA concluded’, he wrote, that ‘arms trade corruption then accounted for 40-45% of the total corruption in world trade’. The national security argument, Roeber suggested, ‘throws a veil of secrecy around arms deals’, whose scale is so large that even small percentages of bribes make for large dollar amounts. Bribery is normal, the deals that are revealed are startling – bribes running from $300 million (the South African-BAE deal from 1997-98) to $8 billion (the Saudi-BAE deal from 1985-2007).
For a taste of the arms trade, do watch Shadow World by Johan Grimonprez, trailer above, which is available for rent at all the major outlets.
A few days ago, I joined a group of Iraqis (such as the writer Haifa Zangana and Thuraiya Muhammed of Tadhamun: Iraqi women solidarity), journalists who covered the Iraq war and those who led solidarity campaigns for the Iraqis in signing the following note:
Thank You, Julian Assange. Thank You, Chelsea Manning,
For exposing the human rights violations, criminality and horrors of US war on Iraq.
For Wikileaks that told us the truth about what was actually happening.
For providing us with The Iraq War Logs that would help us, in the near future, to hold those responsible for launching the war of aggression on Iraq as war criminals.
We had in mind the terrible bombardment of Iraqi society and civilisation. We had in mind Chelsea Manning, sitting in a prison cell, refusing to testify against Julian Assange. We had in mind Julian Assange, who is in Belmarsh prison, 20 kms from the head-quarters of BAE systems (Britain’s main arms dealer).
And we had in mind Ola Bini, who is in El Inca prison in Quito (Ecuador), who has no role in any of this but seems to be collateral damage for the frustration of the ruling elites that their mendacity was revealed by the Afghan War Logs and the Iraq War Logs and so many more leaks.
It is not what is in these Logs that bothers the powerful, whose indignation is reserved for those brave people who expose their crimes and call them to account.
A Gestapo officer barged into Picasso’s apartment in Paris. There was a photograph of Guernica on the wall. The Gestapo officer asked if Picasso had done the painting. ‘No’, Picasso replied. ‘You did’.
(The Seventeenth Newsletter of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research) n
We received this letter by email from comrade Lalan from Nagpur. He has raised many pertinent questions and has put forward certain concepts on the post-revolutionary society based on his interpretation of Marx’s Critic of Gotha Program. In the context of the experience of more than one and half century of international communist movement these are questions which call for discussion. Contributions are expected to continue this discussion – Red Star
How do we understand what is happening all over the world in the name of Marx? What do we see all around us? In America the Trotskyites are busy forming one organization after another. If an organization fails to take off for whatever reasons, they form another in its place or along with it, as if they have opened a “cottage industry” (in the words of Peter Hudis) for manufacturing organizations! Similarly in India we come across members of organizations who were in a “Revolutionary Platform” to begin with, had formed a “Party” next and then a “Council” and finally a “People’s Parliament”, and now contemplating of forming a “Party” all over again! It appears as if they have opened a laboratory to form “New Organizations” in the name of Marxism! On the other hand when we look at “Communist China” we find workers are struggling for the recognition of their own unions and are being harassed for not fulfilling the target of production set by the management! We certainly did not expect the workers to be in such a bad condition in a “Communist Country”! It is sad indeed that in all those countries that had/ have declared themselves to be “Socialist” or “Communist”, Democracy of any kind has remained conspicuously absent! In all these countries, workers continue to be severely exploited and suppressed at the altar of State controlled production.
2) The three main Communist Parties in India, CPI, CP(M), and CPI(M-L) consider their own ideologies as supreme and therefore others as insignificant. It is evident today that all these “parties” have been converted into sects unto themselves. We had written an open letter to “Marxists” last year and had sent it to one of our “Marxist” friends. Meeting him we discussed the letter. He said that the said letter was addressed to “Marxists” and not to a “Marxist –Leninist” he considers himself to be and hence he did not consider it necessary to respond to the letter. This shows that all trends belonging to post-Marx Marxism (i.e., Marxist-Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, Trotskyism etc) are different from that of Marx.
3) Otherwise how is it that whereas Marx and his Philosophy is one, organizations existing in his name can be counted in hundreds if not more? It is clear that most of these organizations have failed to grasp Marx’s Philosophy in its totality but have taken bits and pieces from it to suit their own purposes and present their own interpretation of it as the most “scientific”. However when it comes to us, how do we know what is true and what is false in these interpretations? For this surely we have to go back to Marx’s Philosophy and inquire from Marx himself.
4) In 1875 in Germany the followers of Ferdinand Lassalle and the Eisenach group met in a united congress for the first time in the city of Gotha to form an independent workers organization. This organization eventually became the largest socialist organization in Germany as well as in Europe. They adopted a program in this congress which is famously known as the Gotha Program. However when a copy of it reached Marx, he could see a lots of flaws in it. Marx criticized the draft sharply through marginal notes simultaneously providing guidelines to a future society known as Communism which would be realized as the end result of the ongoing class struggle between Labor and Capital. In these marginal notes on Gotha Program Marx brings forward the weak points of the program. Marx had critiqued other Socialist and Communist trends as early as 1848 in Communist Manifesto. Critiquing one such trend Marx had said in Communist Manifesto: “They want to improve the condition of every member of society even that of the most favored. Hence they appeal to society at large, without distinction of class; nay, by preference to the ruling class ….. Hence they reject all political, and especially all revolutionary action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, and endeavour by small experiments, necessarily doomed to failure, and by force of example, to pave the way for the new social Gospel.”(M-E, Collected Works, Volume 6,P 515)
5) The two factions of German workers’ parties united into the Socialist Workers Party of Germany at Gotha and projected Socialism as their aim. However Marx did not consider their Program to be Socialist or Communist in any sense of the term. Many of the proposals in the Gotha Program were in fact taken from the Communist Manifesto as well as the Rules of the First International and presented in distorted forms which were exposed by Marx in his critique. Although “Critique of Gotha Program” is a critique of “Socialist Workers Party of Germany”, Marx did not mention the word Socialism even once in it. Marx uses the word “Communism” instead. In fact Marx makes no distinction between Socialism and Communism. For him the two words are synonymous. Marx talks about two phases of Communism in his “Critique of the Gotha Program”: the lower phase of Communism and the higher phase of Communism. According to Marx products do not exchange in the first phase of Communism. In other words commodity production comes to an end. With the end of “Abstract Labor”, production of “Value” comes to an end. Along with classes the State too comes to an end, the State which Proudhon had described as “heartless, authoritarian, murderous, insensitive, looter, pretentious and heinous”. The wage system comes to an end in the first phase of Communism and the workers no longer remain wage labor. They are transformed into Producers.
6) Marx discusses all these aspects in his critique of the Gotha Program. During the first phase of Communism, since a definite quantity of labor time is exchanged with the consumer goods equivalent to the same quantity of labor time, an individual producer would get back from society after social deductions have been made, the same amount of compensation that he he/she has contributed to society. According to Marx this principle of “equal compensation” is based on the bourgeois principle of “equal right”, which can only come to an end on reaching the higher phase of communism where “real labor time” no longer remains the measure of social relations. It is only in the higher phase of Communism, when it becomes possible for every human being to contribute to society according to his/her ability and to get back from society according to his/her needs.
7) Marx is not providing an utopian vision of the future society in his critique of the Gotha Program. On the contrary he is treating the existing bourgeois mode of production as the basis of the future society. Since the distinctive feature of capitalism is commodity production and the exchange of products through the medium of money, wherein Value is produced through the Abstract and Indirect Social Labor; the only way to end Value Production and consequently Capitalism would be to replace abstract, indirect social labor by concrete, direct social labor. Thus Communist Mode of Production is born out of the womb of Capitalism.
Secondly, according to Marx the very nature of bourgeois mode of production is in reality transitory, the very structure of which takes it towards a higher form of cooperative mode of production i.e., Socialism. However this does not mean that this process is automatic. Elsewhere Marx says: “…Without revolution socialism cannot be viable. It needs this political act to the extent that it needs destruction and dissolution. However where its organizing activity begins, where its aims and soul stand out, socialism throws away its political cover.”(Early Writings, 1975: 420). Thus according to Marx Revolution is not merely a destructive phenomenon but is simultaneously a constructive one as well. Revolution for Marx is not merely an event (seizure of power) but is an epochal phenomenon.
The only objective of Capitalism being endless expansion of “Value Production”, it forces humanity to “produce for the sake of production”. But at the same time this system of production develops Productive Forces and creates those material conditions which provide a real basis for a higher form of society, a society wherein free development of each individual becomes possible.
8) Marx has talked about a “transition period” between Capitalism and Communism which is the period of revolutionary transformation of Capitalism into Communism. Marx designates it as the ‘political transition period’ which is a period of Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Although in the critique of Gotha Program Marx does not discuss about the nature of the social relations during the transition period, his concept of the “transition period” can serve as a parameter to understand the revolutions of the twentieth century— as to their true nature. In his recent article “The alternative to capitalism in Marx’s critique of Gotha Program”, Peter Hudis has pointed out that the history of the revolutions of the last 100 years is a history of a series of flawed concepts of an alternative to capitalism. We ought to examine the self-declared successful socialist revolutions of 20th century from the following perspective: Was it working class who seized power in these revolutions and were they Dictatorship of Proletariat that were established in the aftermath of these insurrections? If indeed they were Dictatorships of the Proletariat, what went wrong due to which Capitalism and not Socialism came into existence? If on the other hand these regimes were not DPs then Dictatorship of which class or classes were they? Did the working class really lead these revolutions or were they led by forces other than the working class, with the working class merely following them? In short which class led these failed “socialist revolutions” of 20th century? Through the concept of “transition period”, Marx had provided indicators so as to grasp the situation during and in the aftermath of the seizure of power, thus providing an idea as to which direction these societies were moving.
9) In the first chapter of volume 1 of Capital under the caption “Fetishism of commodities and the secret thereof” Marx depicts the post capitalist society thus: “Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with means of production in common, in which the labor power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labor power of the community. ....The total product of our community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this portion amongst them is consequently necessary. This mode of distribution will vary with the productive organization of the community, and the degree of historical development attained by the producers.”(Karl Marx, Capital, 2016, Page, 40) This description of the post-capitalist society in Marx’s Capital accurately depicts the “first phase of communism” found in the “Critique of the Gotha Program “. Marx talks about production and distribution according to human needs in the higher phase of communism. In this higher phase the slavish subordination to the division of labor comes to an end. In this full- fledged communist society everyone contributes according to his/her ability and gets back from society according to their needs.
10) Peter Hudis, an American Marxist-Humanist and a member of IMHO has provided a detailed analysis of all these issues in his recent article: “An alternative to capitalism in Marx’s Critique of Gotha Program.” In this article he writes: “New passions and forces for liberation continuously arise, posing new questions and challenges of their own. This is especially seen in the array of new social movements and freedom struggles in recent years, by women, Blacks, Latinx, and other national minorities, and of LGBTQ. Many within these struggles are reaching for a vision of a new society that transcends the limits of both existing capitalism and the so-called “Socialist” and “Communist” regimes of the past. Yet too few theorists and activists are working to provide such a vision. Herein lie our crisis: just when we need an alternative that can speak to masses of people the most, we possess it the least.” A little ahead in the same article Peter writes: “We are aware that we can’t live by the truths of a different era. We face problems that Marx didn’t envision or face. But we are also aware that no thinker developed a more far-reaching and dialectical criticism of capitalism. This is because a positive vision of the future was immanent in his negative critique.”
In essence Marx’s critique of Gotha program is not different from his critique of Capitalism. Capital is self-expansive value and the specific characteristic of Capital is that within it labor acquires the form of Value. Within Capitalism labor is compelled to operate by an abstract time-determination which is beyond the control of workers. This in reality is the basis of bourgeois class exploitation and destruction of nature. Hence it is only by eliminating “Value Production” that the transition of Capitalism into Communism becomes possible, a new society wherein each individual contributes to society according to his/her ability and gets back from society according to the quantity of labor contributed in the first phase and according to needs in the higher phase.
However a few questions arise from “Marx’s critique of Gotha program” and Peter’s introduction to it that we think deserve to be discussed at the national as well as international level. These discussions we believe will help us move forward on our journey towards Communism by providing further clarification on these issues.
For example the following few questions may be asked: 1. When State comes to an end in Communist Society, how will its positive tasks (i.e. fulfillment of all human needs and individual freedom) would be performed? 2. How should the socio-economic relations be organized after the seizure of power by the working class? 3. If the first phase of Communism is defective and if according to Marx this new society is tainted with the birthmarks of capitalism (having been born from the womb of capitalism) will there not remain the danger of sliding back to capitalism? 4. What will be the nature of the socio-economic system and the nature of the society during the “transitional period” between Capitalism and Communism? Will the domination of Capital continue to operate even under the hegemony of the working class (D.P) during this period?
Last year we had written an article: “Where to begin?” The present article from Peter Hudis, “The alternative to Capitalism in Marx’ Critique of the Gotha Program” was preceded by another article from the same author titled: “Directly vs. Indirectly Social Labor: The path to overcoming Capitalism”. Peter had ended this article saying: “We need a new beginning and Marx points us as to where to start.” Let us then begin with Marx’s Method based on his Philosophy in order to find a way out of capitalism!
Date: 23rd March 2019 Marxism Today: The unfairness of a “fair day’s pay. n
Lal salaam, lal salaam, lal salaam.... salaam!
Lal salaam comrade Ramarao…. lal salaam, salaam!
The song’ Lal salaam’ in the loud piercing voice of Com Ramarao is inseparable from memories of his life time singing stint. His legacy of performing art clearly reminds us of his commitment to the social purpose of art. Songs he chose to sing embodied reality of the contemporary class conflicts. As a performing artist he was not merely a seasoned singer but also a politically engaged revolutionary having close links with the people. Adoption of a strong life purpose in revolution and revolutionary art helped him cope up with adverse economic circumstance as well as tough organisational challenges. As contemporary cultural activists many of us had an opportunity to witness his artistic talents from close quarters during various joint cultural programs.
As an artist, he too did not confirm to societal boundaries set for the normal family man. His wife Aruna’s support and participation in the movement as a comrade made his family life easier. As a revolutionary his cultural practice had ideological conformity to Marxism in opposition to the half romantic and half commercial practice of pure art. However he never betrayed a sense of superiority over the art practise of other professional artists. He was even open to learn from their forms, techniques to enrich the revolutionary art. He had a great respect for the folk artists from whom he constantly drew inspiration for his live performances. He was fascinated by the folk form ‘Burrakatha’ and used it for the revolutionary cause.
There was a phase during his political career when identity politics asserted itself in the revolutionary left movement at the cost of the class unity. It manifested in the form of caste based judgements of revolutionary individuals. It was a wake up call for the entire revolutionary ranks across the caste lines to address the caste issue seriously. That was a period of ideological turmoil caused by the growing recognition of the effect of traditional social divisions within the revolutionary ranks. This realisation compelled the revolutionary intellectuals associated with the movement to pay attention to the nuances of social divisions within the project of class unity. It also compelled all of us to evolve an effective strategy to deal with the problem of friendly social contradictions within a given class. During this entire period and even after that, com. Ramarao did not succumb to the pressure from the alien sectarian trends associated with the caste identities but stood steadfastly with the idea of unity across the castes on the class lines. Simultaneously he devoted himself to the struggle against the practise of social discrimination in order to strengthen the class unity.
Com Ramarao always stood up for his values without succumbing to populist mainstream culture. He could not be lured by the mainstream commercial media where he had a clear opportunity to make a lucrative career. His individuality as an artist was never at the cost of denying the importance of others by him. There has been a trend in the left cultural movement to see art as a mere passive reflection of the society. There is also a dogmatic approach associated with the thinking that as long as the content of the art is revolutionary, it does not matter how it is expressed in its art form. The conscious cultural artistes have always rejected this anti art trend in the revolutionary culture. Ramarao consciously tried to improve his vocal skills and experiment with diverse forms of performing arts including folk forms as well as Indian classical music. He experimented with semi classical renderings to the revolutionary music too. Ramarao gave equal importance to the issue of cultural creativity within the revolutionary movement without being complacent with mere reflection of the social reality of his time in his performances.
Those who had an opportunity to associate with him in joint cultural performances were always impressed with his man of the world approach to music which he laced with his passionate humane tones. He never came across as a romantic blue eyed boy of revolutionary culture but he consciously assumed the principal role as an organiser of the cultural movement. His immense popularity in his state and at the national level never made him act in a pompous manner. His singing brought him joy, happiness and a lovely feeling unique to the artists that can not be expressed in words. Urgency in his voice galvanised the audience into action. His music was a force for the social progress. Music today has assumed the status of an industry and latest artistic techniques are being utilised to exploit the skills of singers for the consumption in a capitalist market. Com Ramarao on the other hand attracted many singers towards the alternative music of his own brand and away from the influence of capitalist music market. His music had been patronised in the past and will also be remembered in the future by the patrons of his own choice, the toiling masses of our country.
Karl Marx made a brilliant statement about art in his ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’ - “The object of art, like any other product, creates an artistic and beauty-enjoying public. Production thus produces not only an object for the individual, but also an individual for the object.” Com Ramarao’s songs too created an audience for his music. His music appealed to the struggling masses particularly. There has also been a significant section of music lovers outside the circles of struggling masses who got attracted to the revolutionary musical skills of com. Ramarao. His music served the social function of building up a revolutionary and progressive movement in India. His songs are products of struggles and as such, his music can be appreciated better if we understand the conditions of its creation.
The role of an artist in society is a controversial subject but its a fact that no creative artist can remain uninfluenced by the social conditions surrounding him. Today we live in a situation where a mono culture of the political Hindutva is made out to be the national culture of our country. It is being patronised by the ruling elite to create hurdles in the advancement of the progressive cultural movement in our country. Artistic freedom is being impinged and people’s interests are being ignored by the present hegemonic regime at the centre. Ideas of post-modernism are reflected in the new mass culture through revival of the traditional in the banal contemporary forms. The rulers have even abandoned the garb of liberal democracy in today’s Neo-Liberal world. It is time for the artists to defend our composite culture and strengthen the movement for cultural advancement of our country.
A true tribute to the music of Com Ramarao will be in continuing his tradition of engagement with the struggle for progressive and revolutionary cause. All concerned artists and cultural activists should therefore actively resist the communal onslaught on our culture. We should also do all we can to promote secular popular culture. We should form action networks on issues concerning the project of opposition to the communalisation of Indian culture. It is also necessary to support the civil society institutions struggling to protect their independence from authoritarian forces. All our efforts to save democratic space for art and culture should be combined with struggle against neo-liberalism which is the real prop for Neo conservatives of Hindu National variety.
As long as the struggle for justice and freedom continues in India and revolutionaries continue to be martyred in the revolutionary struggle, ‘laal salaam’ will remain an unfinished song of Com Ramarao.
Pravin Nadkar for
Navnirma Sanskritik Manch
(Revolutionary Cultural Forum)