Official Website of Communist Party of India, Marxist - Leninist (ML) Redstar

There has been a lot in the press recently about Kashmir and Article 370. Even more on the social media. It is astonishing as to how much of this is plain false. Sometimes propaganda and sometimes just idiotic tweets. To set the record straight, here is the factual history and situation with references.

Kashmir has known human habitation since the neolithic period as can be evidenced by the archaeological digs at Burzahom, Gufkral and Kanispur.1 However, it is the history of the region rather than its prehistory which excites much comment today.

There are references galore in unreliable sources about how Kashmir is referred to in the Mahabharata etc. It is said to have been ruled by the Kamboj kings. However there is no historical record of any such Kings having existed much less of them having ruled Kashmir. Be that as it may, what is known is that Kashmir from prehistory to history had a close affinity to those who ruled in the areas that are today known as Persia and Afghanistan. The Rajtarangini is clearly a history of Kashmir written in Sanskrit by Kalahana in the 13th Century. However, many of its more remote references cannot be believed and it transfers to history from myth as it approaches the 12th and 13th Centuries.2

Many parts of Kashmir were ruled by different kings and dynasties. In around 1320 CE it is generally accepted, Zulju came and defeated Sahadeva of the Lohara dynasty and became ruler of Kashmir. There is a lot of uncertainty about where he came from but was most likely a descendant of the Chagatays from Central Asia (descended from Changiz Khan). It is also unlikely that he was a Muslim.3 After Zulju, Rinchan who was a Tibetan Buddhist from Ladhak and who had been a minister under Sahadeva, became the King of Kashmir, He converted to Islam and is often called the first Muslim king of Kashmir. Why he took to Islam has many stories associated with it. Some say he tried to convert to Hinduism first but was refused by the Brahmins. In any case, we can safely assume that there must have been a large number of Muslims already in Kashmir for him to have made this conversion almost immediately after becoming a king. After Rinchan, his minister, Shah Mir ruled as did his descendants from the Shah Miri dynasty till 1561.

From 1320 till 1561 the Shah Mir dynasty ruled Kashmir. The Islamisation of Kashmir was more or less complete at this time, what with such tyrannical rulers like Sikander Shah or Sikander Butshikan (Sikander the idol-breaker) who forced many to convert to Islam. In 1561, Kashmir was conquered by Akbar who added it to the Kabul subah. Later, under Jehangir, it was made into a separate subah itself. Mughal rule continued till the beginning of the 17th Century when it was run over by the Sikhs in around 1819. However, the Sikhs in turn, lost it to the English in the Anglo-Sikh war in 1846. It is said that Gulab Singh of Jammu was a subsidiary of the Sikhs. However, he kept out of the war till the end when he came out as a mediator of the British. In appreciation – and at the price of Rs.7500000 (Rupees Seventy Five Lakhs) – the British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh.

Jammu and Kashmir thus presented a very complicated picture at the time of independence. When partition was finally agreed to, the princely states in what was to become India and Pakistan were given the right to either accede to one of these or to remain independent. This right was granted to them under the Indian Independence Act, 1947.4 There were many princely states which almost took positions which were not acceptable to their people – like Jodhpur, Baluchistan and Travancore. These questions were solved and the states acceded to Pakistan or India.

However, Kashmir presented a totally different question Whereas the majority of the population was clearly Muslim in this state, the ruler was a Hindu, Maharaja Hari Singh. He was of the mind to continue Kashmir as an independent entity. This position continued till October 1947. On around 24th October 1947, armed tribesmen from the North went on the rampage, taking over rule into their own hands. They were threatening to overrun the whole of the state of J&K when the Maharaja of Kashmir called upon the Indian Government to come to his aid and signed the instrument of accession on 26th October 1947.

There has been a lot of talk that the instrument of accession only allowed for 4 topics (Defence, External affairs, Communication and Ancillary subjects) be left to the dominion legislature for making laws. However, this was the same as the instrument of accession signed by all other princes and princesses. All were encouraged to form their own constituent assemblies and some of them did5. It was in May 1949 that the states met the leaders of the Indian Constituent Assembly and agreed that they did not need any separate constitutions and that the Indian Constitution would suffice. This is also when the representatives of J&K to the constituent assembly asked that their state be treated differently. But we are getting ahead of the story.

On 26th October Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession. The instrument of accession signed by him was the same as that signed by more than 550 different princely states in India. All of them provided that the Central Indian legislature could only legislate on Defence, External Affairs, Communication and ancillary matters. All of them had a clause that the acceding royal did not have to accept the Indian constitution which would eventually be passed. This is the basis of the argument of those who say that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

The difference between Kashmir and other princely states lies in other factors. It is clear that the Indian authorities had accepted that there would have to be a plebiscite in Kashmir where the people would have to be given a chance to decide whether to stay in India or to go with Pakistan or stay independent. Though the instrument of accession does not mention any such assurance, nor was there any separate instrument at that time assuring the Maharaja of any such plebiscite, this promise of a plebiscite can be accepted as a basis for the accession from the surrounding circumstances.

The Indian side had always made it clear that the only correct method would be to accept the will of the people of Kashmir. This had to be so as the Indian leadership of that time had clearly accepted the concept of “self-determination”. Though the instrument of accession did not mention anything about determining the will of the Kashmiri people, the letter of Mountbatten, written as the Governor General of India, immediately after accepting the accession of Kashmir said, “it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of Kashmir’s accession should be settled with reference to the people”6 Nehru had repeated this assurance many times. On 25th October 1947, Nehru wrote to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, by telegram, “I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or State must be decided in accordance with the wishes of people and we adhere to this view.”7

The same telegram was repeated to Clement Atlee, the Prime Minister of UK. On 28th October 1947 after Indian troops had entered Srinagar by air on 27th, Nehru sent a telegram to Liaqat Ail Khan, “I would welcome an early opportunity of meeting you and discussing various problems that have arisen, more specially developments in Kashmir about which I have informed you. I earnestly hope that there will be cooperation between Pakistan and India in stopping raids and putting down disorder and then leaving choice about future to people of Kashmir. I am glad to learn that you are likely to visit Delhi for Joint Defence Council meeting soon.”8

There are many instances where Nehru reiterated that though Indian troops entered Kashmir in October 1947, this was only to help Kashmir to defend itself and the future of Kashmir would only be decided by the will of the people of Kashmir. For instance, his broadcast to the nation on All India Radio on 2nd November 1947. Nor was this only Nehru. As shown earlier, Mountbatten writing on behalf of the Government as the Governor General had stated that the people of Kashmir would be allowed to choose whether to remain with India immediately after accepting the accession of the Maharaja.

Even before the accession, Gandhi visited Maharaja Hari Singh on 2nd August and had issued a statement from Wah (a place in West Punjab in Pakistan) on 6th August. Gandhiji’s statement indicated that the will of the Kashmiris was the supreme law in Jammu and Kashmir and that the Maharaja and Maharani agreed with him.9 Gandhi wrote to the Nehru and Patel that the leaders of the National Conference were “..most sanguine that the result of the free vote of the people, whether on the adult franchise or on the existing register, would be in favour of Kashmir joining the [Indian] Union provided of course that Sheikh Abdullah and his co-prisoners were released...”10

The best proof that India wanted a plebiscite to be held was that on 1st January 1948, it was India which moved the UN to hold a plebiscite. India complained to the UN Security Council under Artilce 35 under which a state could bring to the notice of the UN any situation which might threaten internationa peace. The Indian compaint stated that Pakistan was aiding armed incursion into Kashmir and India had therefore sent troops there. It stated in the complaint that as soon as normalcy was restored, it would want a plebiscite or referendum to be held to determine the will of the people.11 Pakistan responded by refuting the allegations and suggesting that India had staged the accession of Kashmir in a fraudulent manner and that there was presently a genocide against Muslims and aggression against Junagadh. On 20th January the Security Council passed a resolution constituting a three member commission to investigate the complaint and try to resolve the dispute. There followed a period of intense campaigning and discussion. Not only between India, Pakistan and the UN but also with the State Government of Kashmir (led by Sheikh Abdullah), the administration of Azad Kashmir (led by Ghulam Abbas) and other countries taking part. For instance it was the Canadian delegation which first suggested that a third option of independence for Kashmir be a part of the plebiscite. There were also attempts to get an agreement for independence for Kashmir with guarantees from Indian and Pakistan. A plan was also put forward that areas like Poonch, Gilgit and Mirpur would go to Pakistan while the rest would remain with India. However, none of these options could get the required consensus.

In March 1948, China (then the Republic of China and not the People’s Republic of China) put forward a resolution in two parts. Firstly Pakistan was to persuade the tribesmen and its nationals to leave Kashmir, secondly conditions for a plebiscite were to be created which included withdrawal of Indian troops and appointment of a plebiscite administrator and thirdly the state government was to be reformed to represent all political groups. After much discussion, this finally resulted in UN resolution 47. The gist of the resolution finally accepted:

  1. Pakistan was asked to use its “best endeavours” to secure the withdrawal of all tribesmen and Pakistani nationals, putting an end to the fighting in the state.
  2. After the commission is convinced that point 1 is being put into force, India was asked to “progressively reduce” its forces to the minimum level required for keeping law and order. It laid down principles that India should follow in administering law and order in consultation with the Commission, using local personnel as far as possible.
  3. India was asked to ensure that all the major political parties were invited to participate in the state government at the ministerial level, essentially forming a coalition cabinet. India should then appoint a Plebiscite Administrator nominated by the United Nations, who would have a range of powers including powers to deal with the two countries and ensure a free and impartial plebiscite. Measures were to be taken to ensure the return of refugees, the release of all political prisoners, and for political freedom.12

Both India and Pakistan rejected this resolution. The Indian objections had to do with the fact that the Plebiscite administrator was to be given too wide powers (including appointing special magistrates), that the Muslim Conference (the opposition in Kashmir) and the Azad Kashmir representatives were to be chosen by themselves, that Indian troops were required to withdraw totally not even being retained for defence, etc. It also felt that asking for the return of all refugees was not realistic. Pakistan’s main objections were that there must be equal representation for Azad Kashmir and the Muslim Conference in the Government as the National Conference and it did not want even the minimum Indian forces retained in Kashmir as allowed by the resolution. Both however welcomed the UN Commission called the UNCIP (United Nations Commission on Indian and Pakistan). One important result however was the acceptance of ceasefire and the demarcation of a ceasefire line.

The UNCIP tried to make both India and Pakistan agree to the terms of a plebiscite. A plebiscite administrator was appointed in Admiral Chester Nimitz of the USA. The main stumbling block was the demilitarising of Kashmir. The UN appointed a Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to try and demilitarise, which still exists.13 However, though both parties accepted the solution, they had different interpretations of if. Especially the portion where India was to withdraw the “bule of its forces”. Also India had concerns about the Azad forces which in the period of negotiations had grown into an army of 32 battalions. To sum up in the words of Josef Korbel the Czech chairman of the commission, “Accordingly, the Commission did not see any other way out of the impasse than to propose an arbitration of differences. Pakistan accepted, India refused. The Commission’s report to the Security Council was quite critical of India’s attitude.”14/15

Since the commission could not achieve its aims, in December 1949 the UN appointed Gen. McNaughton, the Canadian President of the Security Council to informally mediate. He put forward a plan for demilitarising the area. Pakistan agreed but India did not. The UNCIP was succeeded by Sir Owen Dixon, an Australian jurist16 Dixon tried different approaches. He said if demilitarisation be not possible then it might be possible to take portions to be apportioned to India and Pakistan (like large parts of Jammu to India and Poonch, Gilgit and Mirpur to Pakistan) leaving the plebiscite only for the valley. This was also not accepted. He was succeeded by Dr. Frank Graham of the United States as the UN Mediator. Graham continued to try to mediate a solution till March 1953. At that point he reported that the differences between India and Pakistan (over how to demilitarise Kashmir, who should hold power in the meantime and how the plebiscite should be conducted) had been narrowed down and they should now discuss on their own. In 1953, therefore, from 17th to 20th August17, Prime Ministers Nehru and Liaqat Ali met in New Delhi and finally issued a joint communique. The communique stated that though there remained many preliminary questions to be thrashed out, all such questions would be thrashed out and a Plebiscite Administrator would be appointed by the end of April 1954.18

Without putting too fine a point on this, it can be seen that till 1954 the Indian stand was clearly that the Indian army had entered Kashmir only in response to the invasion by the tribesmen and that they intended to decide the actual fate of Kashmir by a plebiscite. The instrument of accession was only seen as a legal document to justify the entry of Indian forces in Kashmir. India therefore assumed a moral stand that Kashmir could not be signed away by the Maharaja but required the consent of the people. This stand was changed in 1957. When Krishna Menon spoke in the UN in 1957, he took a different stand. His stand was that the instrument of accession had made Kashmir irrevocably a part of India. He said that though India stood by its commitment to determine the will of the people by a plebiscite and to implement that will, this was a question between India and the people of Kashmir and neither Pakistan nor anybody else had any say in this.

There is a lot more to be said on Kashmir and the contradictory stands that the Indian Government took in later times but that would be another story and would detract from our aim to understand the true nature of the revocation of Article 370. We may mention that there was a meeting on Kashmir between India and Pakistan in 1963 between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Swaran Singh (both then foreign ministers). They agreed to try and resolve the Kahmir problem peacefully and effectively to demilitarise. In 1966, in Tashkent, Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and General Ayub Khan met and could only issue a declaration of good intentions. In 1972 the Simla agreement was reached between Prime Ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi. Innumerable more attempts have taken place but more in the nature of show than any real intent to solve the Kashmir problem.

Besides the official proposals of India, Pakistan and the UN, many other proposals have come up for solving the Kashmir issue. Such proposals cover the entire gamut of possibility. Kashmir to be partitioned between Indian and Pakistan or to be free or to have various degrees of autonomy. Such partitioning to be either on the basis of a comprehensive plebiscite or a partial one (only in the valley, mainly) or on the basis of a negotiated settlement. Only two proposals need to be mentioned for the purpose of this article. The first that we need to note, a stand rather than a proposal, is the one taken by the BJP. They hold that Kashmir is an integral part of India and there is nothing to discuss and, in fact, their manifesto of 1998 calls for seizing control of all areas “under foreign occupation”.

The other proposal which is necessary to note is the one by JKLF (the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front). From the very beginning, there were three trends in Kashmir. Two were major. The National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah represented the trend to stay with India because the national conference had been fighting to remove monarchy and establish democracy even before independence. The other trend was of the Muslim Conference. They wanted a muslim state to be established and therefore wanted to lean towards Pakistan. At the same time there wee a large section within the National Conference and outside it which wanted an independent Kashmir. This remains a popular demand. A poll in 2007 showed that 90% of people in the Kashmir valley wanted independence.19 The JKLF therefore proposes that there should be an independent Kashmir which will then unite and demilitarise for 15 years at the end of which there will be a referendum.

However it is not these proposals that we are concerned with now. To return to Article 370, one can immediately see what was the nature o the situation in which Article 370 was enacted in 1950. It was first introduced in 1949 as an amendment to the draft constitution then under the consideration of the Constituent Assembly – Article 306A (as it was then called).

At the time of independence in 1947, there were two types of territories in India. The Provinces which were directly ruled by the British (which were clearly like today’s states) and the princely states which enjoyed a greater of lesser degree of autonomy. Each princely state had its own relationship with the British. Mostly Defence, External affairs and communication, along with ancillary subjects were under the British whereas many others remained with the princely state itself. There were various types of relationships. For instance in Berar, the region belonged, till the 1940s, to the Nizam of Hyderabad but was leased to the British at the end of the Nineteenth century. The citizens were expected to owe allegiance to the Nizam but to obey the laws of Her (or His) Majesty and both flags were flown. In most princely states there were two types of courts – the local courts to settle the more “mundane” local issues and the British courts which could be invoked by European citizens and which governed “federal” subjects. Most princely states has their own armies, own flag, own boundaries and own customs duties.

There were more than 550 princely states in existence in 1947 which accounted for over 40% of the area of what was to become India and about 23% of the population. The largest by area and the 3rd largest by population was Jammu & Kashmir (with only Hyderabad and Mysore having larger populations. It was one of only 5 Indian states whose ruler was entitled to a 21 gun salute. This was the actual measure of the importance of the state.

This was the situation when the Constituent Assembly of India undertook the task of preparing a constitution. The instrument of accession finally signed by the 550 states did not give full rights to the Dominion of India. As pointed out only the right to legislate on matters relating to Defence, External Affairs, Communication and Ancillary subjects were ceded to the Indian legislature. Each state was given the right to draw up its own constitution. The instrument of accession provided that the acceding state would not be bound by the Constitution of India. Some states like Mysore, Travancore-Cochin and Saurashtra Union had already formed their own constituent assemblies.

It was a long and tortuous process to integrate the Indian states with India. The British Cabinet Mission plan had envisaged only a loose federation of states with only three subjects with the centre. To allow the 550 odd states to become part of India in a full fledged way required many improvisations. Some of the smaller states (and some larger ones like Kolhapur) were integrated into the Provinces. They formally ceded their power to rule in every way to the Indian Government. They were given privy purses and allowed to retain their titles in return. Some other states were united into a larger state (for instance Saurashtra Union, PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union), etc. These states then had a Rajapramukh appointed by the President. They had to sign fresh instruments of accession and then were persuaded to hand over rights to legislate on all matters in the Central List and the Concurrent list, as per the Government of India Act, 1935 (broadly corresponding to the same lists in the present Constitution) to the Union Government. These latter agreements, made in 1948-49 with all princely states are called Merger Agreements. By the first article the ruler ceded to the Dominion Government full and exclusive authority, jurisdiction and powers for and in relation to the governance of the State.20

All other states have signed such a “Merger Agreement” - except for Jammu & Kashmir. It is true that in 1954 the State Constituent Assembly of J & K agreed to adopt the Indian Constitution. However, it was the Indian Constitution with Article 370 that was agreed to be abided by. It was this article which was a special article for Kashmir which gave the centre only the right to make laws for defense, external affairs and communications as envisaged by the instrument of accession. Other central laws could only apply to the state if agreed to by the State Assembly

This article was not merely put in as a “sop”. As pointed out, J&K had a different history from the rest of India. At the very time of accession, they were promised a plebiscite to decide their fate. They were the only Indian princely state which did not sign a merger agreement. V. P. Menon21 has written in his famous book, “The Story of the Integration of the Indian States”, about Kashmir, “When the Constitution was being finalised, the choice before us was either to leave the State our of the purview of the Constitution or to include it as a Part B state22. Since the legal fact of accession was beyond question, we decided to include it among Part B states; but its relations with the Government of India were confined to the terms of the Instrument of Accession, namely defence, external affairs and communication subject to the proviso that other provisions of the Constitution could be applied to Jammu and Kashmir in consultation with the Government of that State”.

Thus it can be seen that Article 370 (which was introduced by the Drafting Committee by way of an amendment during the Constituent Assembly debates as Article 306A) was not introduced due to the need to appease anybody but was the embodiment of the fact that there had never been any merger agreement with J&K. N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, one of the representatives involved in drafting the Constitution said, while replying to the question raised by Maulana Hasrat Mohan about why J&K was being discriminated.23

“The discrimination is due to the special conditions of Kashmir. That particular State is not yet ripe for this kind of integration.”

“In the case of the other Indian States or Unions of States there are two or three points which have got to be remembered. They have all accepted the Constitution framed for States in Part I of the new Constitution and those provisions have been adapted so as to suit conditions of Indian States and Unions of States. Secondly, the Centre, that is the Republican Federal Centre will have power to make laws applying in every such State or Union to all Union Concurrent Subjects. Thirdly, a uniformity of relationship has been established between those States and Unions and the Centre. Kashmir’s conditions are, as I have said, special and require special treatment.”

“We are entangled with the United Nations in regard to Jammu and Kashmir and it is not possible to say now when we shall be free from this entanglement. That can take place only when the Kashmir problem is satisfactorily settled.”

“Again, the Government of India have committed themselves to the people of Kashmir in certain respects. They have committed themselves to the position that an opportunity would be given to the people of the State to decide for themselves whether they will remain with the Republic or wish to go out of it. We are also committed to ascertaining this will of the people by means of a plebiscite provided that peaceful and normal conditions are restored and the impartiality of the plebiscite could be guaranteed. We have also agreed that the will of the people, through the instrument of a constituent assembly, will determine the constitution of the State as well as the sphere of Union jurisdiction over the State.”

“The effect of this article is that the Jammu and Kashmir State which is now a part of India will continue to be a part of India, will be a unit of the future Federal Republic of India and the Union Legislature will get jurisdiction to enact laws on matters specified either in the Instrument of Accession or by later addition with the concurrence of the Government of the State. And steps have to be taken for the purpose of convening a Constituent Assembly in due course which will go into the matters I have already referred to. When it has come to a decision on the different matters it will make a recommendation to the President who will either abrogate article 306A or direct that it shall apply with such modifications and exceptions as the Constituent Assembly may recommend. That, Sir, is briefly a description of the effect of this article, and I hope the House will carry it.

Besides Maulana Hasrat Mohani, the only other person who even spoke during this debate was Mahavir Tyagi who only rose to say that he was not in agreement with the wording of the Article but would not move any amendment.

So, it is clear that, firstly, Kashmir acceded to India only on the basis of an assurance that a plebiscite would be held soon. Though such an assurance was not written into the instrument of accession, it is clearly discernible from surrounding circumstances. The Indian Government only brought the army into Kashmir to protect it against the invading tribesmen. Though such invasion may well have had the support of Pakistan, it is no excuse for occupying territory. This only leaves Kashmir in the position of being a region occupied twice over. Thirdly, even legally, if we were to say that the instrument of accession is a completed action, still, there has never been any agreement of merger and there cannot be any justification for any powers to the Indian Government further than those fouind in the instrument of accession.

But all such arguments are merely formal and pale into insignificance when faced with the biggest argument of all. What of the will of the people? Kashmir has had an independent history. It has its own language and culture. It has its own economy. In such a situation, can we claim a right to Kashmir only on the basis of an instrument of accession signed by its ruler? Leave aside the fact that he is a Hindu ruler of a Mohammedan people. If we claim our right to Kashmir on the basis of this “legal” document, then we relegate our independence to being a creation of the Indian Independence Act of the British parliament. The Indian Constitution starts with “We the people of India give unto ourselves...” not “Whereas the British Parliament had enacted the .....Act”. What then of the people of Kashmir? Have they no say in what is to become of Kashmir?

India has held onto Kashmir dressed only in the fig leaf of the instrument of accession for too long. Now along comes Modi to tear away even this fig leaf by denuding the Constitution of Article 370 and struts around in the Emporers new clothes not realising that he is actually naked. India today stands in Kashmir as a naked occupying force. At least Article 370 had given it some legitimacy in saying that we are still waiting for the will of the people through a plebiscite. Even the National Conference which had for so long supported the unity with India is now totally alienated. Nobody in Kashmir is willing to accept the rule of India. To keep ruling, there is a clamp down with all internet and mobile communication being shut down in the valley for almost two months. Since the last seventy years and especially in the last two decades, Kashmir has become the most militarised zone in the world. So the average Indians cough up lakhs of crores of rupees to maintain a huge military presence in a hostile territory the only result of which is that the people of that region will hate India even more! This makes no sense at all.

Footnotes:

1        See Prehistoric Archaeology of Kashmir : An Overview by Dr. Abdul Rashid Lone accessible at www.sahapedia.org/prehistoric-archaeology-of-kashmir-overview

2        See  A. L. Basham and also R. C. Majumdar “Ideas of History in Sanskrit Literature”

3        The Mongol Invasion of Kashmir A.D. 1320 by Sameer Ahmed Sofi of the Aligarh Muslim  University published in the International Journal on Advances in Social Sciences and Humanities in February 2016

4        10 & 11 GEO. 6. CH. 30.

5        Saurashtra Union, Travancore-Cochin and Mysore for example

6        White Paper on Jammu and Kashmir, 1948, page-47

7        Various sources show this telegram to have been written on the 27th October. However, the 10  volume tome by Avatar Singh Bhasin published in cooperation with the Pubic Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of Externa Affairs of the Government of India gives this date. Hence this date has been put.

8        From the same writing by Avatar Singh Bhasin on page 4775

9        Reported by Pyarelal in Mahatma Gandhi : The Last Phase, Vol II pg 355

10      as per Ramachandra Guha’s artice in the Telegraph online edition found at https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/gandhi-in-kashmir-gandhians-on-kashmir/cid/1698228. Incidentally Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues were released in September 1947 and Ramchander Kak the Prime Minister of Pakistan who was seen as pro Pakistan was dismissed at around the same time.

11      The text of this complaint is at http://www.jammu kashmir.com/documents/jkindiancomplaintun

12      The text of the resolution can be found at http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/doc/47

13      The Indian Government withdrew the 7000 square foot bungalow given to it in 2014. They however asserted that they will continue to work towards demilitarisation of Kashmir in rented premises.

14      Korbel, International Organisation, Vol 7, No. 4, (Nov. 1953) pp 498-510 published by University of Wisconsin Press

15      Korbel footnotes his comment to show that the report of the Commission can be found at “Security Council Official Records (4th year), Special Supplement No. 7

16      Owen concluded his report, “There is, I believe, on the side of India, a comception of what ought to be done to ascertain the real will of the people, which is not that tacitly asssumed by me. Doubtless it is a conception which Pakistan does not share.”

17      It is important to note that just 9 days before this Sheikh Abdullah, who was a supporter of India throughout, was arrested because slogans were raised in Srinagar calling for the evacuation of the Indian army.

18      The text of this joint communique is also available at the above cited artice of Josef Korbel.

19      See https://www.bbc.com/news/10161171

20      This is discussed in para 15 of the judgement of ht Supreme Court in the privy purse case at 1971 SCR(3) 9

21      V. P. Menon was seen as Sardar Patel’s right hand man. He has universally been held as the architect, with Patel of the integration of Indian states. In respect of Kashmir, he was sent to Kashmir on 26th October 1947 to get Hari Singh’s signature on the deed of Accession. L. K, Advani has also praised him as a defender of Hinduism

22      Part B states included the very large Indian states like Hyderabad, Mysore and J&K and also the large states formed by uniting other states like Saurashtra, PEPSU, etc

23      He was the only person who had any question on the article. He decried the discrimination to J&K, mostly on the ground that the Maharaja of Baroda was made to accept Merger while J&K was not. n

CONCERNING new paradigm of development, we already had a

study class in 2013 on this topic. Further in 2015, a detailed and

well researched paper has been written on this by Com. PJ James and

also articles have been written on this by Com. KN Ramachandran and

others. We need not rehash the same articles in this paper for study.

What we intend to do in this paper is concentrate more on what exactly

is it that we mean when we say an alternate paradigm of development. It

is clear from Com. James’ paper that there can be no alternate paradigm

of development in the capitalist system and it will require the creation of

a socialist system to go towards a new paradigm of development. Comrade

KN’s articles have dealt with what was done in the Soviet Union to try and

make a new model of development. Still, we have to reach a concrete

conclusion of what exactly do we mean by a new paradigm of development.

Let us come to more concrete issues. For instance, take minerals.

Minerals are one of the mainstays of the capitalist production system.

They are one of the main raw materials required in the production. While

energy and water are universal to almost all production under capitalism,

minerals (in which we also include crude oil and its derivatives) are also

required in most production activities. The actual figures for mineral

production worldwide show that the production of minerals has gone up

from around 14.8 billion metric tonnes in 2009 to around 17.3 billion metric

tonnes in 2014 – a growth of around 17% in just three years.1 If we look at

the figures for the different minerals for the period from 2011 to 2014,

Bauxite has grown from 228 million tonnes to 260 million tonnes (14%);

Alumina from 84.2 million tonnes to 107.2 million tonnes (27%); primary

aluminium from 41.5 million tonnes to 53 million tonnes(28%); iron ore

from 2.6 billion tonnes to 3.4 billion tonnes (31%); lead from 4.4 million

tonnes to 5.4 million tonnes (23%); phospate rock from 182 million tonnes

to 245 million tonnes (35%). Even the production of coal has gone up

from 7.4 billion tonnes to 8.1 billion tonnes (9%). The production of even

such well controlled minerals like crude petroleum has gone up. In fact,

we can find that production has gone up in almost all minerals especially

since 2009 in an attempt to scrounge out greater profits since the most

recent economic crisis.

The utter rapacious plunder of the earth’s resources by the big

imperialist mining companies have grown to such an extent that there is

no hope of this being sustainable even in the short term. Take Iron Ore. It

is estimated that the total reserves of iron ore worldwide are about 190

billion tonnes5. In 2006 Lester Brown, of the World Watch Institute had

predicted that iron ore would run out in 64 years at the extremely

conservative estimate that production would grow by 2% per year. As

seen above the rate of growth of production between 2011 to 2014 averaged

over 10% per year. At that rate, the world’s iron ore reserves will be

exhausted in a mere 25 years. The same applies to other minerals. Crude

oil resources are estimated to be able to last from 30 to 50 years. Alumina

reserves are estimated at around 32 billion tonnes. The current production

is around 107 million tonnes. In 2011 to 2014, it grew at about 9% per

year on average. At this rate it is expected to be exhausted in less than

40 years.

All this shows that such production in the mining sector is utterly

unsustainable even in the short term. We will leave the next generation

with a stark world bereft of minerals if we do not mend our ways. As such,

it is required to think of an alternative. Possibly a more efficient system of

recycling all over the world may help in some cases. For instance, even

today, recycled iron ore is more prevalent than new ore in the production

of steel. But this will require centralised planning at the international level

at a scale which can only be achieved under socialism.

Let us consider another resource like water. Water, by itself is still in

such quantities that we can think in terms of infinites. The problem is

with potable water. The production of such water is clearly unsustainable.

Here the problem poses a different problem than exhaustion. Let us look

at the graphic below (next page) :

As we can see, only 2.5% of the water on earth is fresh water. The

other is saline water. Of this 2.5%, only 1.2% (0.03% of the total water on

earth) is surface / other fresh water. Of this only about 24% (0.0072% of

the total water) is in lakes, rivers, swamps and marshes. It is on this

water that all capitalist production usually survives. This shows that there

exists enough water on earth to sustain much higher levels of production.

The problem is to make this water available. How to make, for instance,

sea water possible to use in industrial production? How to use ground

water more efficiently? The technology does exist even today to solve

this problem. All the existing solutions though, use too much energy and

are therefore too “costly”. If we could have cheap and abundant sources

of energy this problem too could be solved. The problem of water then is

essentially a by-product of the problem of energy.

Theoretically, energy exists in a magnitude which makes our needs

less than miniscule. Just the energy coming in solar rays is huge. The

total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land

masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002,

this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year.1 If only

this energy could be harnessed for use in production, it could be a solution

to all our problems. The sun itself is, at todays levels of energy

requirements, a sustainable source of energy. Using solar energy also

has other benefits. It is a clean source of energy and harnessing this

energy to other uses will lower global warming. But that is not the only

source available. There are other sources of energy which we have to

explore much more. There is tidal energy which is basically generated by

the gravitational pull of the moon. Nuclear energy, though theoretically

usable is today an unsafe, unclean and costly source of energy. More

research must be put into making it a feasible source of energy.

At the other end is the actual rate of consumption. Today we can see

that the rate of consumption is too great to be sustained. If the whole

world was to consume food grains at the rate at which American citizens

consume them, then we would need four earths just to grow sufficient

foodgrain to sustain such consumption. At the same time, obesity is

growing in the US and is an alarming cause of concern, including infant

obesity. Heart disease is the single main cause of death. In short,

Americans are consuming too much and paying the price by dying of

heart disease.

Our concern is, what is causing humans to hurtle in this mindless

fashion towards oblivion? We have to change our patterns of production

and of consumption. We have to treat the earth and its resources, including

human resources as precious objects and regulate their use. One could

argue that this use is regulated even today in different ways. Different

taxes, tariffs and penalties are levied just for such regulation. Then why

are we still hurtling towards destruction as all indices show? Obviously

there is something wrong in the way in which such use of human resources

is being regulated. How can we change this?

Our first paper on the environmental question in 2013 had put forward

some directions. It said:

  1. More direct and proximate democratic processes for taking all

decisions on production;

  1. Free information to all including scientific papers in simple

language being made available for all;

  1. Fight against religion, superstition, etc. Fight against patriarchy,

brahminism, regional and language hegemonism, etc.

  1. Sustainable development is the only path – Man as a part of

nature and not Man vs. Nature as the basis of development.

It had talked of these principles being put forward, not as an alternative

to the struggle for socialism but as being in addition to the socialist

principles. In fact, these principles could only be achieved under socialism.

The regulation of production, distribution and consumption under

capitalism is based on the profit motive. The whole of capitalism works

on the principle that the rate of profit in society must increase for society

to prosper or even to sustain. Capitalism is, therefore, essentially short

sighted. If profits are down, if larger profits can be made by “fracking” for

the production of shale oil in the immediate run, then though fracking will

endanger the sustainability of the earth and its environment in the long

run, capitalism will invest in fracking. If the sustainability of profits requires

that more Coca-cola must be sold, then society will be bombarded with

advertisements for coca-cola, no matter what the ill effects in the long

run. Capitalism does not look at the sustainability of the earth and its

environment in the long run, it only looks at the sustainability of profits in

the immediate run. At a certain stage, both these are bound to be at

odds. As Com. James put in his paper, there is an immediate need for

the de-commodification of nature and of labour.

It is not as if capitalism was always bad for the earth and the

environment. At a certain stage of development, capitalism was the only

way forward for the earth. It broke the stranglehold of the monarchs and

the aristocracy over the earth, its produce and over the people. It brought

all of these onto the market place. The market as a regulatory mechanism

which constantly regulated production and consumption of commodities

was a wonderful advance which allowed mankind to advance from the age

of bullock carts to the age of space travel in just a few centuries. But

today, capitalism is facing recurrent economic crises. To recover from

such crises, it has to use quick and dangerous “fixes” to immediately

create profits.

To change this method is not as easy as it seems. The whole earth

today is based on certain infrastructures. These infrastructures pervade

our very way of life upto the minutest degree. For instance, there are

petrol pumps, in every street. If we have to give up fossil fuels, not only

every car, but every petrol pump and every oil pipeline on earth will become

redundant. It is the powers that control such petrol pumps, the manufacture

of cars and the construction of such pipelines who are bound to resist the

change. They have a vested interest in retaining the status quo, no matter

the consequences. It is these very same powers, today, who enjoy

tremendous clout in governments all over the world. They control

governments rather than the other way around.

We have to fight for a new system of regulation. We have to fight for

a system of regulation where the people affected by the use of certain

products will be able to take the decisions on their production. This involves

changes in the system of organisation of society itself. We have to fight

for a system of regulation where the people taking such decision on their

own environment will be able to take a long term view. Where they will be

well informed on the consequences of their decisions. Where they will

not be influenced by factors like religion, caste, language, etc. In short,

we have to fight for a truly democratic society. This is what the new

socialist society will be like. Today, the technology to allow for such

democracy exists. Information is freely available and can be transmitted

and disseminated easily. People’s opinions can be easily polled. We

can easily aim for a new form of democracy where people can directly

take decisions on all matters that affect them.

One more question remains, this new system of organisation for

production will entail changes which will affect not only the big corporations

who will lose not just their profits but their whole infrastructure but will

also affect the workers. One might say that the petrol pump owners losing

his assets can be justified on the basis of what he has already made as

profits. What of the workers at the petrol pump? If mining must be stopped,

what of the mining workers? Actually this can also be clearly settled. All

mining workers be given an appropriate rehabilitation package. This means

that they should be paid their wages till the age of retirement or till they

find better employment. This is not unfeasible. The number of mining

workers all over the world are estimated to be around 3.7 million. To be

precise, the ILO reported that there were 1.5 million people employed in

the mining sector in 2010 in the developed countries and 2.2 million people

in the developing / emerging nations.

On the other hand the profits of the major mining companies in the

year 2010 were $110 billion ($132 billion in 2011). If only one year’s profit

of these corporations are given to the workers they will have an average of

$ 30000 to $ 35000 each. A simple calculation will show that this amount,

if invested at 8% per year, will be sufficient to pay each worker $ 300

each with an increment of 5% per annum for around 20 to 25 years with

sufficient amounts left over to provide for terminal dues. This will be more

than the wages paid to workers in most of the neo-colonial countries. To

pay miners in advanced countries, some more will be required. In other

words, the amount of just a few year’s profits of these massive mining

companies, can suffice to rehabilitate all the mining workers all over the

world by continuing their wages till they find better employment.

To recapitulate:

  1. The earth and the environment can no more take the level of

exploitation that we are subjecting it to;

  1. Capitalism today is more concerned with the sustainability

of its immediate profits and not with the sustainability of the earth

and of mankind on this earth;

  1. We have to create a system where nature and labour are no

more commodities but are seen as resources to be regulated in a

sustainable manner;

  1. Such a system will have to be based on a more democratic

organisation of society where people are directly involved in decision

making for matters concerning them;

  1. Such a system is today feasible with the technology available

for the dissemination of information and the polling of opinions;

  1. The creation of such a system will involve resistance from

forces that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo;

  1. While creating such a system we have to appropriate from

the big industries immediately a sufficient amount to pay for the

rehabilitation of all who are displaced by the change.

We will have to refine and further develop all the above points in

actual practice but these seem to be the only way to allow for this earth

and human society to exist beyond a few decades from today.

Reference

  1. The International Communist Movement : (Here, by the International Communist Movement, we refer to the Marxist movement and not to pre-Marx “communism” as, for example, primitive communism, etc.) : Marxism arises out of three sources and therefore has them as its three component parts – namely German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism.
  2. The philosophy of Marxism is materialism. This was defended and expounded especially by Engels in Ludwig Feuerbach and Anti-Duhring. Marx enriched materialism with the achievements of Hegel on Dialectics. Following on Feuerbach’s development of a materialist form of dialectics, he developed it further to dialectical materialism – to signify the most modern form of the theory of development. He applied dialectical materialism to the history of human society to develop Historical materialism. As materialism asserted that all of man’s knowledge is a reflection of what exists in the material world, historical materialism showed that all of man’s social knowledge (politics, religion, philosophy, etc.) reflect human society. As dialectics showed that all development takes place only by struggling against adversity and by adapting to the material world, the same was applied to society to show that at the bottom of all societal development was production.
  3. Having identified that production was the basis for human development, Marx developed the economic theories of the English economists, especially Adam Smith and Ricardo (the labour theory of value), to give rise to his exposition of Capital. He wrote Capital in three volumes, with another three volumes being devoted to theories of surplus value. Whereas other economists treated economy as a relationship between things (the exchange of commodities), he treated it as a relationship between persons and persons and between persons and things. Money signifies how the societal relationship is becoming more close and inseparable. In capitalism even capital and labour power can be purchased for money. He exposed the relation between the capitalist and the worker to be one of exploitation of surplus value (which was his original contribution to economy). The worker works for part of the day for his wages and for the rest, without remuneration for the benefit of the capitalist – for his profit. He showed how by increasing the dependence of the workers on capital, capitalism creates the great power of united labour.
  4. With the advent of capitalism – with its victory over feudalism, the concepts of “freedom” – “liberty, equality and fraternity” came to the fore. But there was no real “freedom”. The workers were “wage-slaves”. Even before Marx, many like Robert Owen, Saint Simon and Fourier had pointed out the evils of capitalist society and had proposed a different form of society – a socialist society. They asked the capitalists to change and form a new type of society. They were the utopian socialists. Marx put the theory of socialism on a firm scientific footing. He showed that just as anything in nature develops by struggling against adversity and synthesizing a new to the material world, so also all human history develops by the struggles of classes against each other and their adaptation to society.
  5. Marx and Engels did not engage only in academic activity. They founded the International Workingmen’s Association later to be known as the First International. The First International at the beginning was a grand mixture of people of various persuasions – mutualists, blanquists, Italian republicans, American proponents of individual anarchism, English Owenites, etc. The main struggle in the First International was against the anarchists (also known in economics as the mutualists) who were led by Bakunin (Proudhon was the economic theorist). The anarchists believed in the “direct economical struggle against capitalism, without interfering in the political parliamentary agitation.”* Marx critiqued their economic theory in his Poverty of Philosophy which was a reply to Proudhons “The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty”. It was the First International that first raised the call for an 8 hour working day in its Geneva Congress in 1866.
  6. In 1871, the workers of Paris captured power for a little over two months (from 18th March to 28th May). Many of the members of the First International took part in this revolutionary upsurge. The workers of Paris created history by showing, though in an embryonic form, the outlines of a workers state. In the words of Engels in his Preface to Marx’s Civil War in France, written in 1891 to mark twenty years of the commune, he wrote:

“…Paris mobilized as one man in defence of the guns, and war between Paris and the French government sitting at Versailles was declared. On March 26 the Paris Commune was elected and on March 28 it was proclaimed. The Central Committee of the National Guard, which up to then had carried on the government, handed in its resignation to the National Guard, after it had first decreed the abolition of the scandalous Paris “Morality Police.” On March 30 the Commune abolished conscription and the standing army, and declared that the National Guard, in which all citizens capable of bearing arms were to be enrolled, was to be the sole armed force. It remitted all payments of rent for dwelling houses from October 1870 until April, the amounts already paid to be reckoned to a future rental period, and stopped all sales of articles pledged in the municipal pawnshops. On the same day the foreigners elected to the Commune were confirmed in office, because “the flag of the Commune is the flag of the World Republic.”

On April 1 it was decided that the highest salary received by any employee of the Commune, and therefore also by its members themselves, might not exceed 6,000 francs. On the following day the Commune decreed the separation of the Church from the State, and the abolition of all state payments for religious purposes as well as the transformation of all Church property into national property; as a result of which, on April 8, a decree excluding from the schools all religious symbols, pictures, dogmas, prayers – in a word, “all that belongs to the sphere of the individual’s conscience” – was ordered to be excluded from the schools, and this decree was gradually applied. On the 5th, in reply to the shooting, day after day, of the Commune’s fighters captured by the Versailles troops, a decree was issued for imprisonment of hostages, but it was never carried into effect. On the 6th, the guillotine was brought out by the 137th battalion of the National Guard, and publicly burnt, amid great popular rejoicing. On the 12th, the Commune decided that the Victory Column on the Place Vendôme, which had been cast from guns captured by Napoleon after the war of 1809, should be demolished as a symbol of chauvinism and incitement to national hatred. This decree was carried out on May 16. On April 16 the Commune ordered a statistical tabulation of factories which had been closed down by the manufacturers, and the working out of plans for the carrying on of these factories by workers formerly employed in them, who were to be organized in co-operative societies, and also plans for the organization of these co-operatives in one great union. On the 20th the Commune abolished night work for bakers, and also the workers’ registration cards, which since the Second Empire had been run as a monopoly by police nominees – exploiters of the first rank; the issuing of these registration cards was transferred to the mayors of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. On April 30, the Commune ordered the closing of the pawnshops, on the ground that they were a private exploitation of labor, and were in contradiction with the right of the workers to their instruments of labor and to credit. On May 5 it ordered the demolition of the Chapel of Atonement, which had been built in expiation of the execution of Louis XVI.

Thus, from March 18 onwards the class character of the Paris movement, which had previously been pushed into the background by the fight against the foreign invaders, emerged sharply and clearly. As almost without exception, workers, or recognized representatives of the workers, sat in the Commune, its decision bore a decidedly proletarian character. Either they decreed reforms which the republican bourgeoisie had failed to pass solely out of cowardice, but which provided a necessary basis for the free activity of the working class – such as the realization of the principle that in relation to the state, religion is a purely private matter – or they promulgated decrees which were in the direct interests of the working class and to some extent cut deeply into the old order of society.”

  1. These activities of the commune described by Engels are by no means exhaustive. The women’s liberation movement was greatly encouraged. The Women’s Union demanded gender equality, wages’ equality, the right of divorce for women, the right to secular education and professional education for girls. They also demanded suppression of the distinction between married women and unmarried companions, and between legitimate and illegitimate children. They advocated the abolition of prostitution (obtaining the closing of the maisons de tolérance, or legal official brothels). The Women’s Union also participated in several municipal commissions and organized cooperative workshops. Besides this, the Commune allowed churches to function only on condition that their halls would be thrown open for political activities in the evenings.
  2. In the days leading to the Paris Commune, when Prussia was attacking France and using Germany also as its pawn, the workers of Germany and France, through the First International, sent messages to each other denouncing the war and pledging friendship and support to one another in their fight against capitalism. This was the first time such a solidarity between the citizens of two countries at war had ever happened in history.
  3. While upholding thr Paris Commune and evaluating its contributions,Marx made a criticism of the Paris Commune also saying that the communards ought to have marched on Varsailles at the very beginning of the revolt and not restricted themselves to Paris. In fact, this was the basis for Marx’s later development of the concept of “dictatorship of the proletariat” (though this term was coined earlier) in the Critique of the Gotha Program. He indicated that the proletariat, when it achieves class rule, has to smash the resistance of the bourgeoisie.
  4. By 1869, Marx and Engels along with Liebknecht and Babel had started work for the formation of the German Social Democratic Party. They advocated the political struggle of the working class to seize power. They sought to introduce in the program of the First International also the need for the need for the political struggle. This was vehemently opposed by the Anarchists. They believed that the political struggle would be divisive of the working class. They asked for direct and immediate economic emancipation of the working class. Thus there arose two specific understandings in the International – Communist and Anarchist. The communists were for the political struggle of the working class along with the economic struggle. The anarchists opposed the political struggle and asked for the direct and immediate economic emancipation of the working class. The communists therefore felt the need for the working class for have their own party. The anarchists, on the other hand, felt no such need and only wanted a broad unity based on immediate economic emancipation. The communists wanted to struggle for universal franchise and to participate in elections on the basis of their political program. The anarchists wanted no such political struggle. The communists postulated that after coming to power, the working class would have to establish a new form of democracy for the majority - “dictatorship of the proletariat” whereas the anarchists were for the immediate abolition of the state. The communists felt that the spontaneous struggle of the working class must be guided by the party whereas the anarchists advocated that the spontaneous struggle of the proletariat will itself lead to establishment of the true philosophy and politics of the working class.
  5. Issues came to a head in the meeting of the First International at Hague in 1872. The Anarchists walked out of the First International and were later expelled. The headquarters of the International was then moved to the USA and finally, in 1876, the International was dissolved.
  6. The next important development in the ICM is the Critique of the Gotha Program by Marx. In this critique, Marx has, for the first time, laid down many important principles of the Communists. Besides the economic clarifications on “labour” and other connected economic concepts, Marx has also assailed the assertion in the program that “...in relation to the working class all other classes are only one reactionary mass” He showed clearly that the workers will have to rely upon other classes like the petty bourgeoisie as allies in the revolution. He also showed clearly that the concept of “proletarian internationalism” meant much more than a mere striving for “an international brotherhood of all people” in the future. He pointed out in this critique that there was a long period between the phase of early communist social development which would still suffer from bourgeois right, when each person would only get according to the labour or work that he or she had put in, and the later communist phase when the slogan would be “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
  7. As has been pointed out earlier, the struggle between the communists and the anarchists led to the dissolution of the First International. In 1881 socialist parties of various countries (mainly Germany, France, Belgium, Russia, Poland, Hungary, US and Switzerland) took part in a meeting which decided to call a conference to organise the second international. Two important differences with the First International were that there were no anarchists in this international (they had their own conference in London), and, secondly, only Socialist and Workers’ Parties, with elected delegates took part in this International, as opposed to trade unions and workers’ organisations. Engels was elected the President of the 2nd International in its 1893 conference in Zurich but he died in 1895. The Second International took some important decisions. In its Zurich Conference, it fomed the International Metalworkers Federation, which, till today, unites metal woerkes from all over the world. In its First Conference in Brussels in 1891, it resolved to observe 1st May each year as the International Workers’ Day. The Second International was instrumental in popularising the demand for an eight hour working day. It was also instrumental in the movement for women’s liberation. The First International Conference of Socialist Women was held immediately prior to the Stuttgart Conference of the Second International in 1907 (Interestingly, out of the 25 cuntries represented at this conference, India was one of them. Among others one woman, Madam Bhikaji Cama was also a delegate from India, who also participated in the women’s conference and then became a fighter for women’s rights). The Second International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Copenhagen, in 1910, declared 8th March to be International Working Women’s Day.
  8. During the period from the formation of the First International to the early years of the 20th Century, the world had changed quite drastically. In 1860, less than 10% of Africa had been colonised, by 1890, over 90% of Africa was colonised. Capitalism had been transformed into imperialism by the ever-increasing concentration and centralisation of capital and with the merger of bank capital and industrial capital. The Second International’s response to imperialism and colonialism was confused. In its London conference in 1896, the Second International had affirmed the right of nations to self-determination. In Paris, in 1900, the Conference supported the struggle of anti-colonial forces fighting for independence. The resolution of the Amsterdam conference in 1904 also specifically resolved to fight against “...colonial and imperialist policy”. However, by the Stuttgart Conference of 1907, a different policy had begun to emerge. A view had begun to creep in that imperialism and domination over ‘savage’ countries could be beneficial as the natives could be ‘educated’ and ‘civilised.’ This attitude was headed by Van Kol, a delegate from Holland – thankfully, the motion to adopt a ‘socialist colonial policy’ was defeated by 128 votes to 108, with 10 abstentions from Switzerland. This Congress also rejected a motion to ban the immigration of workers from backward countries, like China, into Europe. The Copenhagen Congress of 1910 called for the proletariat in all countries to protest against their governments attempts to make war and to fight against war. As the war clouds loomed ever more imminent over the Balkans a special Congress of the Second International was called in Basle (Switzerland) to define the attitude of the Second International towards war. The Basle resolution reiterated the stand of the Stuttgart and Copenhagen Congresses in the following terms:

“If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives in the countries involved supported by the coordinating activity of the International Socialist Bureau to exert every effort in order to prevent the outbreak of war by the means they consider most effective, which naturally vary according to the sharpening of the class struggle and the sharpening of the general political situation.

In case war should break out anyway it is their duty to intervene in favor of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilize the economic and political crisis created by the war to arouse the people and thereby to hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.” (Emphasis in original)

  1. In spite of such an equivocal declaration, many of the main leaders of the Second International like Karl Kautsky, who was the theoretical leader of the Second International after Engels, and Bernstein made an about turn. These leaders called for supporting their own national governments. Due to this there was a last Congress of the Second International called at Zimmerwald in 1915. The Zimmerwald Congress consisted only of those who opposed the war but still did not reach in any unity but made a clear differentiation between the communists, led by Lenin who wanted to convert the war into a civil war and the centrists led by Robert Grim (and Kautsky who, though he did not attend Zimmerwald, accepted the Centrist position) who took a more pacifist anti-war line.
  2. Around that time, there was much written all over the world on the concept of “imperialism”. In particular Hobbes (a non-Marxist) and Hilferding (a marxist from Austria) had made detailed analyses. Further developing these analyses and rectifying them, Lenin made a pithy and scathiing analysis of imperialism in his book “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism” in 1917. In this analysis, Lenin pointed out five distinctive features of Imperialism.

“The concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed.”

He also showed in that analysis how imperialism had in fact united the struggles for national liberation in the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries with those of the working class in the advanced countries for socialism.

  1. Lenin also criticised the formulation put forward by Kautsky of “ultra-imperialism” in which Kautsky had put forward the idea that the war may well lead to strengthening of “ultra-imperialism” in which imperialists may combine across national borders, thereby ensuring peace. Lenin countered this by pointing out that greater co-operation between imperialists did not in the least lower the chances of war but, in fact, increased it as intertwined capitalism would thrive on armaments and war. He also exposed that Kautsky and his supporters were only hiding their attempt to align with the bourgeoisie under this theory.
  2. Following the Zimmerwald Conference, the Second International died out. An attempt was made to revive it in 1920 and another International popularly known as the “two-and-a-half” international was also organised mainly under the theoretical leadership of the “austromarxists” who tried to find a middle line between revolution and class-collaboration. However, by 1923, the “two-and-a-half” international merged with the Second International and was subsequently home to parties like the British Labour Pary and the SPD in Germany which have intermittently ruled Great Britain and Germany till today. Lenin and the revolutionaries, on the other hand, organised the Third International in 1919 in Moscow.
  3. In the meantime, an event of earth-shattering importance had taken place in 1917 as we all know – the Great October Revolution. Taking place in 1917 on 7th November (25th October by the Gregorian calendar which was till then followed in Russia), this was the first time that the proletariat had been able to achieve the ruling role in any country. The Russian Revolution still remains one of the most important events in world history. Stalin explained as early as 1918 :

“The great world-wide significance of the October Revolution chiefly consists in the fact that;

1) It has widened the scope of the national question and converted it from the particular question of combating national oppression in Europe into the general question of emancipating the oppressed peoples, colonies and semi-colonies from imperialism;

2) It has opened up wide possibilities for their emancipation and the right paths towards it, has thereby greatly facilitated the cause of the emancipation of the oppressed peoples of the West and the East, and has drawn them into the common current of the victorious struggle against imperialism;

3) It has thereby erected a bridge between the socialist West and the enslaved East, having created a new front of revolutions against world imperialism, extending from the proletarians of the West, through the Russian revolution, to the oppressed peoples of the East.

This in fact explains the indescribable enthusiasm which is now being displayed for the Russian proletariat by the toiling and exploited masses of the East and the West.

And this mainly explains the frenzy with which the imperialist robbers of the whole world have now flung themselves upon Soviet Russia.”

  1. What Stalin was referring to was that soon after the revolution, Soviet Russia was attacked not merely by its own renegade armies like the White Russian armies under Kolchak and Denikin (who were Generals of the former Czarist regime) but also by the armies of 14 different countries. Due to this, the Communists in Russia had to introduce a policy of “war communism” This had far flung effects including compulsory collection of excess food grain from the peasantry, strict enforcement of factory discipline, etc. The Soviet Government was also forced to sign an unfair treaty with the Central Powers to end the war. In spite of all such major obstacles, the Soviet power managed to survive and grow. In 1921, the phase of “war communism” was ended and Lenin started the phase of the “New Economic Policy” (NEP), whereby a step backward was taken to allow a certain degree of capitalist relations (mainly small businesses) to allow the economy to recuperate.
  2. Though the Soviet leadership had earlier hoped that that revolution in Russia would lead to revolutions in other countries, this did not happen to any significant degree. The revolution of November 1918 in Germany failed and ended in the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 15th January 1919. Lenin was therefore constrained to start the process of building socialism in one country. This was further taken up by Stalin who became the leader of the CPSU after the death of Lenin. However, Trotsky, one of the big leaders of the October Revolution put forward a different line. He put forward that there must be an immediate attempt to make revolution in other countries as otherwise socialism could not be built. There was a prolonged debate within the CPSU about whether and to what extent one could achieve the “victory of socialism in one country”. The debate between Leninism (led by Stalin) and Trotskyism ended in a resounding victory for the former. It was in the course of this debate that Stalin defined Leninism to be the Marxism of the period of imperialism and proletarian revolution (since Lenin had earlier defined the era to be the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution when analyzing imperialism).
  3. At the same time, Lenin, in his report to the Second Congress of the Third International had put forward the Colonial Thesis. He called upon the world proletariat to support the national liberation struggles in the colonial countries while at the same time pointing out to these national liberation struggles that their only salvation lay in the Soviet system. There was some debate in this Congress (in which M. N. Roy took part) about the role of “bourgeois democracy”. The final outcome was that the final thesis supported the “national revolutionary movments” instead of the bourgeois democratic movements insofar as it was accepted that the bourgeoisie in the colonies had also many links of interest with imperialism.
  4. In fact, within two years, in December 1922, the Comintern, in its Fourth Congress went so far as to say that there had been a significant change in the situation and the aspect of struggling against bourgeois democracy in the colonies had assumed greater importance.
  5. Overall, we can say that the Colonial policy of the Comintern was to link the world proletarian movement with the national liberation movements in the colonies while at the same time emphasizing that the unity between the “national bourgeoisie” and the proletariat in the colonial countries was subject to their allowing the working class to work unhindered for the socialist revolution. The Comintern in various documents developed the theory of the “national revolutionary movement” and put forward the theory of “people’s democratic revolution”. It became accepted that under imperialism, the capitalists who developed in the colonies were under the domination of imperialism and intertwined with it and were therefore incapable of leading the democratic revolution and therefore it was the proletariat and their party who would have to lead the new type of democratic revolution. Mao further developed this theory particularly in the context of China in his writings on “New Democracy”.
  6. Though the adoption of imperialist policies allowed advanced capitalist countries like Britain and France to evade collapse for many years, the crises of capitalism finally caught up with the imperialist powers. The years from 1929 to 1932 saw one of the worst economic crises of capitalism. The stock market crashed all over the world and the world economy entered into a “Great Depression”. Production collapsed world-wide and unemployment grew to massive levels. The Soviet economy was almost the only economy in the world which not only grew but grew at record rates in this period. The Great Depression gave rise to two significant developments. Keynesian theories came into prominence and received wide acceptance. On the other hand, Fascism reared its ugly head and came to power in various countries like Germany and Italy.
  7. Around the same time, Japan had invaded China (in 1931 itself). The Chinese communists were fighting a war against the Kuomintang in China at that time. They also were the one’s to take a proper stand of making a people’s war out of the war of Resistance to the Japanese. They offered an alliance to the Kuomintang to fight the Japanese. However, the correct political understanding of Mao and other leaders of the Communist Party of China helped them to take the correct tactical positions of uniting with the Kuomintang at times and of fighting them at different times. At that time, the Cominterrn had sent a commisstion to China to help guide the Chinese party consisting of Mikhail Borodin and M. N. Roy. However, this commission proved to be nothing but a hindrance and the CPC under the leadership of Mao rightly rejected the advise of the Comintern as was given by this commission.
  8. The Comintern recognized the danger posed by Fascism and put forward in the Seventh Congress in 1935 the tactical line of uniting with one section of imperialism to fight Fascism. The Soviet Union tried its best to keep from being drawn into the war, including offering a peace treaty to the allied powers and then, when this overture was refused, signing a peace treaty with Hitler. However, Hitler broke his pact and invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
  9. The Third International then declared the war to be a “People’s War” and urged communist parties all over the world to follow this line. The Soviet Union under Stalin and its people and soldiers fought valiantly during the war and saved the world from coming under the domination of Hitlerite Fascism. The Soviet Red Army played a decisive role in the war and was the first to unfurl the red flag from atop the Reichstag in Berlin.
  10. During this period, the Soviet Union and the Comintern made some tactical mistakes. There was a tendency to stress nationalism at the cost of internationalism.
  11. In 1941, due to the dominance of the US, the diminishing of strength of Great Britain and other old imperialist powers, due to it having become clear to imperialism that it was not possible to rule in the old fashion in view of the massive people’s movements all over the world and due to other factors, the US and the UK signed the Atlantic Charter. In this charter, they agreed that there would be no more colonies after the war and also agreed that all nations would be free to equally access trade and raw materials all over the world, which essentially meant that all nations would be free to exploit the resources of the whole world equally. This was the first glimpse of the new system that imperialism wanted to bring in place of the old colonial system.
  12. On 1st January 1942, representatives of 26 nations met in Washington DC to pledge their support to the Atlantic Charter, . The Soviet Union was one of these nations. In 1943 the Comintern was dissolved largely on the insistence of the USA and UK. Though some leaders of the Third International have stated that the Third International was being dissolved because there was no need for such a body as Communist parties all over the world had achieved maturity and could now decide their own lines and directions, Stalin has plainly stated, when dissolving the Comintern, that this was being done to assure the Allied Powers that the Soviet Union had no ambitions of world domination and has also called for it being reorganized at a later stage.
  13. In 1944, when 44 countries assembled in Bretton Woods in the USA to discuss the formation of the IMF and the IBRD (what is now the “world bank”), the Soviet Union took part in those discussions and signed the final act of this conference (though it never formally became a part of the IMF). In 1945, Stalin attended the conferences of the big allied powers in Potsdam and Yalta in which the world was essentially divided into “spheres of influence”. In 1946, it was the first country in the world to accord recognition to the unjust formation of the state of Israel.
  14. At the same time, the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations (and later the WTO), created a new world economic system based not on the capture of colonies but on the economic exploitation of the former dependent countries, colonies and semi-colonies through the market. This system resulted in a sudden massive growth of MNCs and in the dissolution of old feudal and other pre-capitalist relations all over the world, to the extent that they curtailed the growth of the market. There was a sudden and massive expansion of the market to take in every nook and corner of the globe (except the socialist countries).
  15. The communist movement all over the world grew by leaps and bounds. People’s Democratic Revolutions had taken place in 13 countries including many in Eastern Europe. People’s democratic revolution was also achieved in China (and later in Cuba and Vietnam). By the 1950s, half of the territory of the world and one third of its population were living in socialist countries. However, the communist movement in the world failed to scientifically analyse the changes which were taking  place in the world colonial system, in effect, creating the neo-colonial system.
  16. By 1956, after the death of Stalin, in the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and later in the 21st Congress in 1958 Khruschov put forward the thesis that the period of colonialism is disappearing and imperialism was weakening and that there could now be lasting peace and there was no need for revolution. He put forward the theory of the “three peacefuls” – Peaceful competiton (with imperialism in the market), peaceful coexistence and peaceful transformation (to socialism). He postulated that the ruling classes in the newly independent countries, which he saw as being led by the “national bourgeoisie”, were essentially anti-imperialist in character and would choose the socialist system when they saw in the world market that the socialist system could beat the capitalist system in competition. In the same conference a secret paper was also read out vilifying Stalin.
  17. The Chinese Communist Party opposed the wrong understanding of the Soviet party and tried to reason and reach an acceptable compromise. For this purpose two meetings were held in Moscow in 1957 and 1960 resulting in the Moscow Declaration and the Moscow Statement respectively. Till 1963, the Chinese Communist party made repeated attempts to come to a reasonable compromise. However, the attitude of the Soviet party was intransigent. It began the withdrawal of soviet engineers and advisors from Chinese development projects. Finally in 1963, in reply to the open letter of the revisionist CPSU leadership the Chinese Communist Party wrote the “General Line document” (also called as the June 14th letter). In this the CPC clearly put forward the line that though it was desirable to have peaceful transformation, the conditions for this did not exist anywhere in the world. In this polemics, the CPC declared that colonialism has not disappeared but is replaced by “neo-colonialism which was a more pernicious and sinister form of colonialism. However, in spite of this assertion, there was no attempt to make a detailed analysis of neo-colonialism.
  18. The CPC was also engaged in its own life and death struggle against the wrong line around that time. In its 8th Congress in 1956 (the first after victory in the revolutionary war, the rightist line under the leadership of Liu Shaoqui and Deng Xiaoping had prevailed. Mao had to set in motion a series of struggles against these capitalist roaders culminating with the launching of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution by 1966 which succeeded in removing them from all positions of power..
  19. Around this time itself, a wrong line started to develop in the Chinese Communist Party. The first signs of this line can be seen in the writing of Lin Biao, “Long live the victory in the People’s War”. In this writing, he hinted that the era that Lenin had defined as the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution was changing into the era of the total collapse of imperialism and of the imminent world-wide victory of socialism. He made similar assertions in the preface to the “Red Book” which was published in 1966 (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung). Anarchist assertions like it was sufficient to study the red book and more study would make you more foolish were made. It was also asserted that there was no need for a new International.
  20. In 1969, in the 9th Congress, while presenting the report to the Congress Lin Biao plainly stated that this was the era of  total collapse of imperialism and the imminent world-wide victory of socialism. An amendment was also presented at this Congress making Lin Biao the successor of Mao.
  21. It was this wrong petty-bourgeois anarchist line of underestimating imperialism that led to many mistakes in the emerging Marxist-Leninist movement all over the world. In India, Turkey and other countries, the anarchist, adventurist, sectarian line prevailed, causing great loss both to countless lives and also the communist movement. This line continues to this day in the form of “Maoism”. The Shining Path (Sendoro Luminoso) party in Peru and Maoists in India are clear examples of this line which upholds Lin Biao either expressly or impliedly. Such Maoists still believe, at least in their actions, in the Chinese path of area-wise seizure of power being the only path for revolution all over the world. Some parties like CARC in Italy also talk of implementing the path of “protracted people’s war” even in such advanced capitalist countries like Italy. Some others like the UCPN (Maoist) in Nepal and the CPP in Philippines, though following “Maoism” in theory, have actually come away from the path of protracted people’s war in action and are trying different methods to bring about successful revolutionary advance in their countries. The difference of  these parties are that they have a strong mass base  and this helps them to combat the effects of sectarian theory, while the struggle within them as in UCPN(M) which has led to a recent split continues.
  22. Lin Biao was stripped of his party posts in 1971 and died soon thereafter. In the 10th Congress the CPC once again asserted that this was the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. However, there was no self-critical attitude about the 9th Congress. The Chinese party also placed nationalism before internationalism in this period and invited Kissinger and Nixon to China for “ping pong diplomacy” at the same time when the US was bombarding Vietnam right upto the borders of China. In 1973, when the JVP led a massive uprising in Sri Lanka, the Chinese Government sent aid and arms to the Sri Lankan Government to put down the uprising. In Africa, it supported unpopular dictatorial regimes only because the Soviet Union was supporting the rebellions against such regimes. This was also the time when it was postulated that it was acceptable to unite even with US imperialism to fight Soviet Social imperialism which was the main enemy. The wrong emphasis on nationalism ultimately gave rise to the wrong and class collaborationist “Three World Theory”
  23. It was our party which was one of the first in India to denounce the Three World Theory and also to declare that the Chinese Government, after Mao, was no more socialist. Since there was no support for this thinking, at that time, within India, from the various communist revolutionary groups we initiated our own reorganization process and also sought  like minded forces  internationally. In line with Marxist-Leninist teaching we asserted  that communist parties must  uphold  proletarian internationalism. We signed a joint statement with five parties denouncing the capitalist roaders in China, opportunist line of Enver Hoxha and calling for building a platform of Marxist—Leninist parties at international level. Though we participated in the 1984 Conference called by the RCP(USA) which led to the formation of Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) we had ideological and political difference with it and did not join it. Later we became  a part of ICMLPO for many years. We have played an important role in the founding of the ICOR and have  been playing a vital role since the past two years in  it  which was formed in October 2010. We have  been asserting that after the significant transformations that have taken place at international level and within the country under the neo-colonial forms of exploitation resorted to by the imperialist camp led by the US, in recognizing which serious mistakes were committed by the ICM leading to the severe setbacks suffered by it, the main task of communists today to become capble to halt the degeneration of the communist movement internationally  by developing the  study of neo-colonialism and develop our stand in the neo-colonial period in the same manner as the colonial thesis served in the colonial period. In fact, this stand is vindicated by the fact that the decline of the communist movement  has taken place during  the same time as the advent of neo-colonialism was taking pace..
  24. Our international documents of the 1997 Conference, of the Bhopal Special Conference in 2009 and of the 9th Party Congress in 2011 as well as other writings in our journals must be used as weapons to make a theoretical breakthrough in this direction. At the same time the Party has to take the responsibility of making a through and more indepth evaluation of the experience of the ICM in coming years as our own fraternal contacts and our revolutionary experience are developing further. n

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.