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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Friday, 02 June 2017 09:08

Perspective of Marxism As a Guide to Revolutionary Praxis in 21st Century - KN Ramachandran

THE Communist forces the world over are observing the centenary of the October Revolution for a year starting from the 7th November, 2016 to 7th November,, 2017. As far as people like me who are engaged in Marxist practice is concerned, this campaign is for carrying forward the world proletarian socialist revolution by drawing lessons from its experience, both positive as well as negative. The International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) as well as the CPI(ML) Red Star have worked out year long programs of seminars and discussions for taking up this task both nationally and internationally. These programs are being organized when the International Communist Movement (ICM) is passing through a critical period. It is generally accepted among the Marxist-Leninist forces that the communist movement started facing these severe challenges and setbacks leading to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 and to the degeneration of former socialist countries to capitalist path from the time of the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 which had embraced revisionist positions abandoning the path of class struggle, calling for peaceful co-existence and peaceful competition with imperialism and peaceful transition to socialism. When the ICM and the Communist movement in different countries started confronting this crisis, the imperialist camp and its lackeys, who were never prepared for any forms of peaceful co-existence with the socialist forces, further intensified the counter revolutionary offensive against the revolutionary movement as a whole, which they had started right from the time the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848 as the platform of the Communist League.

Marx and Engels had started the Manifesto with the words: “A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered in to a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre”. When the ICM was facing crises and setbacks, , these forces of the old world joined hands to ‘exorcise’ the Communist movement for ever in a more frenzied form, by screaming “end of history” and “socialism is dead” In such a situation, when the imperialist camp as well as the vast array of alien trends are trying hard to bury the contributions of Marx forever by claiming that its theory and hitherto praxis are total failures all over the world, whether in Soviet Union, in China or even in countries like India, I congratulate the November Revolution Centenary Committee (West Bengal) for taking initiative to organize this Seminar for commemorating the bicentenary of birth of Karl Marx to discuss the significance of his contributions as the guiding ideology which can enthuses the revolutionary practice in the 21st century.

Marxism is a social science which emerged in the concrete conditions of the beginning of 19th century when large-scale industry in Western Europe and North America had already created the means of endlessly expanding industrial production in a short time and at low cost. But as explained by Engels: with production thus facilitated, the free competition which is necessarily bound up with large-scale industry soon assumed the most extreme forms; a multitude of capitalists invaded industry, and in a short while more was produced than could be used. The result was that the manufactured goods could not be sold, and a so-called commercial crisis broke out. Factories had to close, their owners went bankrupt, and the workers were without bread. Deepest misery reigned everywhere. After a while, the superfluous products were sold, the factories began to operate again, wages rose, and gradually business got better than ever. But it was not long before too many commodities were produced again and a new crisis broke out, only to follow the same course as the previous one. Ever since, the condition of industry has constantly fluctuated between periods of prosperity and periods of crisis, and a fresh crisis has occurred almost regularly every five to seven years, bringing in its train the greatest hardship for the workers, general revolutionary stirrings and the direst peril to the whole existing order of things.

Marx explained that these revolutionary stirrings lead to further intensification of class struggle. At the same time he clarified:”. . . no credit is due to me for discovering either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. . . . What I did that was new was to demonstrate: that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society. Communism was put forward as the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat.

The mid-19th century saw increasing contradictions between capital and labour. It led to intensification of class struggle and to attempts to topple the capitalist ruling order in these countries. The formation of the First International based on Marxist teachings inspired these movements. At the same time, along with the intensification of the suppressive policies of the capitalist states, reformist as well as anarchist tendencies had also started emerging within the movement, advocating deviations from the Marxist teachings. In spite of these, in 1871 the proletariat in Paris captured political power for the first time and went ahead to develop the Commune as a model of proletarian power inspiring socialization of all means of production and ‘all powers to the people’.

After the departure of Marx and Engels, by the end of 19th century the new generation of proletarian leaders started confronting two types of challenges: firstly how to carry forward the analysis of the Paris Commune initiated by Marx, assimilating its positive and negative lessons for building an alternative to the capitalist system which was rebuilding the world under its own image; and secondly, how to analyze the emerging international situation when transformation of the capitalist system towards monopolization, to the stage of imperialism, was speedily taking place.

Though the intensification of the class struggle in the capitalist countries along with the uprisings in the countries brought under colonial domination made the objective condition favourable for social change, even after the reorganization of FI as Second International, the leaderships of almost all the social democratic parties grouped within it could not make a concrete analysis of the new situation and develop the Marxist theory and practice accordingly.

In spite of the 1913 Basle Conference’s decisions, when the First World War broke out next year, almost all these parties abandoned them. Refusing to recognize that the capitalist system was becoming more barbaric with its transformation to imperialism, they compromised with the imperialist governments in their own countries when the War actually broke out and thus embraced opportunist positions. It led to the liquidation of the SI posing great challenges before the international communist movement (ICM).

It was at this critical juncture Lenin analyzed imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, and developed the Marxist theory and practice according to the character of this new era. He explained it as the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution during which the centre of revolution has shifted from the imperialist countries to its weak links like Tsarist Russia and the countries under various stages of colonial domination. His contributions to Marxist theory and practice led to successful revolution in Russia, formation of Soviet Union, launching of socialist transformation there, development of the concept of proletarian democracy ensuring ‘all power to the Soviets” and to the formation of the Communist International along with its strategic concept of world proletarian socialist revolution.

These Leninist contributions led to the resurrection of the revolutionary movement which led to the emergence of a powerful socialist camp capable of challenging the global imperialist system by the 1950s. It looked like the East Wind of Socialism may sweep away the West Wind of Imperialism For Ever, as Mao said at that time. Still, the ICM faced such severe setbacks during the last few decades that it got disintegrated, almost surrendering the global hegemony to the imperialist system in almost all fields! It is natural that it has given rise to apprehensions among many whether Marxism can once again overcome these reverses and become the guide to revolutionary practice in the 21st century?

If during the turn of the 20th century it was the failure to recognize the transformation of capitalism to monopoly capitalism, imperialism, and to develop Marxist theory and practice accordingly, which led to the liquidation of the SI and setbacks to ICM, in the decades following the Second World War, the principal reason for the severe setbacks suffered by the ICM was the failure or refusal of the communist parties to recognize the transformation of the forms of the imperialist plunder from colonial to neo-colonial forms, introduced by it to overcome the challenges posed by the socialist camp as well as the repeated crises it was facing from inside. The imperialist domination was transformed to neo-colonial forms of control through finance capital, market forces, technology, arms deals, reactionary cultural hegemony, and through divisive policies using religion, caste, race like forces. In the beginning, to combat the resurgence of the socialist forces though welfare state policies were introduced under Keynesian concepts, from 1970s the corporate raj is intensified through neoliberal policies and liberalization-privatization of all fields. Complementary to corporatization, fascisisation of the state is also intensified.

When the US came to the leadership of the imperialist camp by the end of the SWW, it had already launched the neo-colonial offensive by nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by launching IMF-WB twins and forging many military alliances. This neo-colonialism was more pernicious and heinous than the colonial system. But in recognizing it and developing socialism as an alternative to it, there were weaknesses on the part of the socialist forces. These weaknesses emerged from the mistakes happened during the socialist construction in the Soviet Union both in developing proletarian democracy transcending the limits of bourgeois democracy, and in advancing the socialist model of development basically different from that of the capitalist model. The great beginning initiated by Lenin started getting eroded. The line of demarcation with the capitalist development perspective started getting obliterated. As a part of these weaknesses, the bureaucratic tendencies were becoming stronger.

By the time of the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 these weaknesses had crystallized in to revisionist positions, advancing the theory of three peaceful as pointed out above. As a result, the Soviet socialist state was transformed to a bureaucratic state capitalist one, transforming SU in to a social imperialist power, contending and colluding with US imperialism for world hegemony. Instead of fighting neo-colonialism, the SU became its apologetic first and then a contender for its execution. Though the communist parties in China and Albania resisted this process and the CPC launched a Great Debate against the Soviet revisionist line, by the end of 1970s the capitalist roaders succeeded to usurp power there also. It was a great setback which disintegrated and weakened the ICM. If vast majority of the communist parties formed under the guidance of Comintern and parties like the CPI(M) went under the sway of Soviet revisionism and degenerated to social democratic parties and became part of the imperialist and comprador ruling class system, most of the Marxist-Leninist parties formed in the 1960s influenced by Mao’s contributions took left adventurist positions and disintegrated. As a result, the communist movement is presently going through a churning, trying to develop the Marxist teachings and to develop the theory and practice of revolution according to present conditions.

During the post-SWW decades along with its neo-colonial offensive to establish its all round hegemony, the imperialist system also launched a counter revolutionary theoretical offensive to disarm all progressive forces ideologically. The emergence of post modernist philosophy, post-imperialist, post-colonialist, identity politics like theories, promotion of all shades of religious fundamentalist schools to strengthen fascist tendencies, strengthening deconstruction like theories to destroy all comprehensive understandings about social revolution etc should be seen in this context. Along with the reduction of class struggle to economic determinism and reformism by the revisionists of all hues, these theories manufactured or promoted by the imperialist think tanks also caused immense damage to many of the new forces who took courage to grapple with the new situation. As a result, many of these newly emerging forces have started disintegrating and vanishing from the scene. The right reformist and anarchist deviations are also doing immense harm to the movement.

It is in this context, the gains made by the CPI(ML) Red Star, however small it may be, to be seen. Starting as a part of the CPI(ML), which was formed in continuation to the ideological struggle against the revisionist lines of CPI and CPI(M) and inspired by the Naxalbari Uprising, after the disintegration of the movement by 1972, this section launched a protracted process of in-depth ideological struggle to overcome the hitherto weaknesses, to develop the understanding about imperialism today and to develop the Marxist-Leninist theory and practice according to present conditions. It rejected the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, protracted people’s war concept which was adopted by copying the Chinese Path. Starting from an analysis of the growing capitalist trend in the agrarian sector, it developed the understanding about the neo-colonial transformation from the post-Second World War years. It took mass line and the Bolshevik style party building at all India level, surrounded by class/mass organizations and people’s movements in order to become capable of utilizing all forms of struggles and uniting the ongoing people’s upsurges in to a countrywide mass insurrection to seize the political power. In the concrete conditions of India, it recognizes the importance of caste annihilation movement and uncompromising struggle against all shades of religious fundamentalism, for developing caste less and secular society. When the development paradigm under imperialist system has taken the earth to the verge of ecological catastrophe and devastation, it has taken up the contradiction between capital and nature as a major contradiction to be taken up urgently with the concept of development based on sustainability and equality. Learning from the experience of the former socialist countries and the communist parties, it calls for all round development of democratic space within the party, administration and in all fields, expanding the concept of “all powers to the people’ according to present conditions.

Incorporating all these concepts, the Tenth Congress of the CPI(ML) Red Star adopted a Resolution on Launching Theoretical Offensive for Communist Resurgence (which is attached) states: “What does such an offensive entail? a) We have to undertake a thorough study and analysis to identify the causes of the collapse of the erstwhile socialist countries, especially Soviet Union and China; b) We have to launch a vigorous ideological struggle to establish across society the superiority of communism over the present ruling system as well as over various alien trends; c) We have to develop Marxism-Leninism on the basis of a concrete analysis of the concrete situation.” ... The Resolution concludes with the following words: “We must boldly seize the real questions of the people in today’s situation and must scientifically search out the solutions. We must unsparingly lay bare our own history, the history of the communists in India and all over the world. We must make a base for combining with all sections of the people who are fighting against the injustice caused by the present imperialist-capitalist system – whether in intensifying human exploitation, in all forms of environmental damage, gender injustice, caste and racial injustice, persecution of minorities, etc. We must fervently organize the workers and peasants to face the new situation. Students, youth etc. must be rallied on the basis of the new understanding. It is precisely if we develop the correct theory, that we will not have to go behind the workers, peasants, youth, women, etc. – they will be drawn forward to the correct theory. This true measure of the theoretical offensive has to be grasped and carried forward.”

I hope these words from a Marxist who is pursuing practice and actively involved in developing the Marxist understanding according to concrete conditions for the last six decades shall help the discussion in your Seminar.

(Paper to the International Seminar to Commemorate Bi-centenary of Birth of Karl Marx at Kolkata on 10-11 June, 2017

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