This article is a revised and extended version of a talk presented on July 12, 2020, to the concluding session (of the Main Forum) of the Seventh South-South Forum on Sustainability: Climate Change, Global Crises, and Community Regeneration. The Conference/Webinar was organized by Lau Kin Chi and Sit Tsui through Lingnan University in Hong Kong. Reproduced from the Monthly Review September issue, 2020 as a study material –Editorial Board
Any Serious Treatment of the renewal of socialism today must begin with capitalism’s creative destruction of the bases of all social existence. Since the late 1980s, the world has been engulfed in an epoch of catastrophe capitalism, defined as the accumulation of imminent catastrophe on every side due to the unintended consequences of “the juggernaut of capital.” Catastrophe capitalism in this sense is manifested today in the convergence of (1) the planetary ecological crisis, (2) the global epidemiological crisis, and (3) the unending world economic crisis. Added to this are the main features of today’s “empire of chaos,” including the extreme system of imperialist exploitation unleashed by global commodity chains; the demise of the relatively stable liberal-democratic state with the rise of neo-liberalism and neo-fascism; and the emergence of a new age of global hegemonic instability accompanied by increased dangers of unlimited war.
The climate crisis represents what the world scientific consensus refers to as a “no analogue” situation, such that if net carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion do not reach zero in the next few decades, it will threaten the very existence of industrial civilization and ultimately human survival. Nevertheless, the existential crisis is not limited to climate change, but extends to the crossing of other planetary boundaries that together define the global ecological rift in the Earth System as a safe place for humanity. These include: (1) ocean acidification; (2) species extinction (and loss of genetic diversity); (3) destruction of forest ecosystems; (4) loss of fresh water; (5) disruption of the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; (6) the rapid spread of toxic agents (including radio-nuclides); and (7) the uncontrolled proliferation of genetically modified organisms.
This rupturing of planetary boundaries is intrinsic to the system of capital accumulation that recognizes no insurmountable barriers to its unlimited, exponential quantitative advance. Hence, there is no exit from the current capitalist destruction of the overall social and natural conditions of existence that does not require exiting capitalism itself. What is essential is the creation of what István Mészáros in Beyond Capital called a new system of “social metabolic reproduction.” This points to socialism as the heir apparent to capitalism in the twenty-first century, but conceived in ways that critically challenge the theory and practice of socialism as it existed in the twentieth century.
The Polarization of the Class System
In the United States, key sectors of monopoly-finance capital have now succeeded in mobilizing elements of the primarily white lower-middle class in the form of a nationalist, racist, misogynist ideology. The result is a nascent neo-fascist political-class formation, capitalizing on the long history of structural racism arising out of the legacies of slavery, settler colonialism, and global militarism/imperialism. This burgeoning neo-fascism’s relation to the already existing neoliberal political formation is that of “enemy brothers” characterized by a fierce jockeying for power coupled with a common repression of the working class. It is these conditions that have formed the basis of the rise of the New York real-estate mogul and billionaire Donald Trump as the leader of the so-called radical right, leading to the imposition of right-wing policies and a new authoritarian capitalist regime. Even if the neoliberal faction of the ruling class wins out in the coming presidential election, ousting Trump and replacing him with Joe Biden, a neoliberal-neofascist alliance, reflecting the internal necessity of the capitalist class, will likely continue to form the basis of state power under monopoly-finance capital.
Appearing simultaneously with this new reactionary political formation in the United States is a resurgent movement for socialism, based in the working-class majority and dissident intellectuals. The demise of U.S. hegemony within the world economy, accelerated by the globalization of production, has undermined the former, imperial-based labour aristocracy among certain privileged sections of the working class, leading to a resurgence of socialism. Confronted with what Michael D. Yates has called “the Great Inequality,” the mass of the population in the United States, particularly youth, are faced with rapidly diminishing prospects, finding themselves in a state of uncertainty and often despair, marked by a dramatic increase in “deaths of despair.” They are increasingly alienated from a capitalist system that offers them no hope and are attracted to socialism as the only genuine alternative. Although the U.S. situation is unique, similar objective forces propelling a resurgence of socialist movements are occurring elsewhere in the system, primarily in the Global South, in an era of continuing economic stagnation, financialization, and universal ecological decline.
But if socialism is seemingly on the rise again in the context of the structural crisis of capital and increased class polarization, the question is: What kind of socialism? In what ways does socialism for the twenty-first century differ from socialism of the twentieth century? Much of what is being referred to as socialism in the United States and elsewhere is of the social-democratic variety, seeking an alliance with left-liberals and thus the existing order, in a vain attempt to make capitalism work better through the promotion of social regulation and social welfare in direct opposition to neo-liberalism, but at a time when neo-liberalism is itself giving way to neofascism. Such movements are bound to fail at the outset in the present historical context, inevitably betraying the hopes that they unleashed, since focused on mere electoral democracy. Fortunately, we are also seeing the growth today of a genuine socialism, evident in extra-electoral struggle, heightened mass action, and the call to go beyond the parameters of the present system so as to reconstitute society as whole.
The general unrest latent at the base of U.S. society was manifested in the uprisings in late May and June of this year, which took the form, practically unheard of in U.S. history since the U.S. Civil War, of massive solidarity protests with millions of people in the streets, and with the white working class, and white youth in particular, crossing the colour line en masse in response to the police lynching of George Floyd for no other crime than being a Black man. This event, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic depression, led to the June days of rage in the United States.
But while the movement toward socialism, now taking hold even in the United States at the “barbaric heart” of the system, is gaining ground as a result of objective forces, it lacks an adequate subjective basis. A major obstacle in formulating strategic goals of socialism in the world today has to do with twentieth-century socialism’s abandonment of its own ideals as originally articulated in Karl Marx’s vision of communism. To understand this problem, it is necessary to go beyond recent left attempts to address the meaning of communism on a philosophical basis, a question that has led in the last decade to abstract treatments of The Communist Idea, The Communist Hypothesis, and The Communist Horizon by Alain Badiou and others. Rather, a more concrete historically based starting point is necessary, focusing directly on the two-phase theory of socialist/communist development that emerged out of Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme and V.I. Lenin’s The State and Revolution. Paul M. Sweezy’s article “Communism as an Ideal,” published more than half a century ago in Monthly Review in October 1963, is now a classic text in this regard.
Marx’s Communism as the Socialist Ideal
In The Critique of the Gotha Programme—written in opposition to the economistic and labourist notions of the branch of German Social Democracy influenced by Ferdinand Lassalle—Marx designated two historical “phases” in the struggle to create a society of associated producers. The first phase was initiated by the “revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat,” reflecting the class-war experience of the Paris Commune and representing a period of workers’ democracy, but one that still carried the “defects” of capitalist class society. In this initial phase, not only would a break with capitalist private property take place, but also a break with the capitalist state as the political command structure of capitalism. As a measure of the limited nature of socialist transition in this stage, production and distribution would inevitably take the form of to each according to one’s labour, perpetuating conditions of inequality even while creating the conditions for their transcendence. In contrast, in the later phase, the principle governing society would shift to from each according to one’s ability, to each according to one’s need and the elimination of the wage system. Likewise, while the initial phase of socialism/communism would require the formation of a new political command structure in the revolutionary period, the goal in the higher phase was the withering away of the state as a separate apparatus standing above and in antagonistic relation to society, to be replaced with a form of political organization that Frederick Engels referred to as “community,” associated with a communally based form of production.
In the later, higher phase of the transition of socialism/communism, not only would property be collectively owned and controlled, but the constitutive cells of society would be reconstituted on a communal basis and production would be in the hands of the associated producers. In these conditions, Marx stated, “labour” will have become not a mere “means of life” but “itself…the prime necessity of life.” Production would be directed at use values rather than exchange values, in line with a society in which “the free development of each” would be “the condition for the free development of all.” The abolition of capitalist class society and the creation of a society of associated producers would lead to the end of class exploitation, along with the elimination of the divisions between mental and manual labour and between town and country. The monogamous, patriarchal family based on the domestic enslavement of women would also be surmounted. Fundamental to Marx’s picture of the higher phase of the society of associated producers was a new social metabolism of humanity and the earth. In his most general statement on the material conditions governing the new society, he wrote: “Freedom, in this sphere [the realm of natural necessity], can consist only in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism of nature in a rational way… accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy” in the process of promoting conditions of sustainable human development.
Writing in The State and Revolution and elsewhere, Lenin deftly captured Marx’s arguments on the lower and higher phases, depicting these as the first and second phases of communism. Lenin went on to emphasize what he called “the scientific distinction between socialism and communism,” whereby “what is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the ‘first,’ or lower phase of communist society,” whereas the term communism, meaning “complete communism,” was most appropriately used for the higher phase.23 Although Lenin closely aligned this distinction with Marx’s analysis, in later official Marxism this came to be rigidified in terms of two entirely separate stages, with the so-called communist stage so removed from the stage of socialism that it became utopianized, no longer seen as part of a continuous or ongoing struggle. Based on a wooden conception of the socialist stage and the intermediary principle of distribution to each according to one’s labour, Joseph Stalin carried out an ideological war against the ideal of real equality, which he characterized as a “reactionary, petty-bourgeois absurdity worthy of a primitive sect of ascetics but not of a socialist society organized on Marxist lines.” This same stance was to persist in the Soviet Union in one way or another all the way to Mikhail Gorbachev.
Hence, as explained by Michael Lebowitz in The Socialist Imperative, “rather than a continuous struggle to go beyond what Marx called the ‘defects’ inherited from capitalist society, the standard interpretation” of Marxism in the half-century from the late 1930s to the late ’80s “introduced a division of post-capitalist society into two distinct ‘stages,’” determined economistically by the level of development of the productive forces. Fundamental changes in social relations emphasized by Marx as the very essence of the socialist path were abandoned in the process of living with and adapting to the defects carried over from capitalist society. Instead, Marx had insisted on a project aimed at building the community of associated producers “from the outset” as part of an ongoing, if necessarily uneven, process of socialist construction.
This abandonment of the socialist ideal associated with Marx’s higher phase of communism was wrapped up in a complex way with changing material (and class) conditions and eventually the demise of Soviet-type societies, which tended to stagnate once they ceased to be revolutionary and even resurrected class forms, heralding their eventual collapse as the new class or nomenklatura abandoned the system. As Sweezy argued in 1971, “state ownership and planning are not enough to define a viable socialism, one immune to the threat of retrogression and capable of moving forward on the second leg of the movement to communism.” Something more was needed: the continuous struggle to create a society of equals.
For Marx, the movement toward a society of associated producers was the very essence of the socialist path embedded in “communist consciousness.” Yet, once socialism came to be defined in more restrictive, economistic terms, particularly in the Soviet Union from the late 1930s onward, in which substantial inequality was defended, post-revolutionary society lost the vital connection to the dual struggle for freedom and necessity, and hence became disconnected from the long-term goals of socialism from which it had formerly derived its meaning and coherence.
Based on this experience, it is evident that the only way to build socialism in the twenty-first century is to embrace precisely those aspects of the socialist/ communist ideal that allow a theory and practice radical enough to address the urgent needs of the present, while also not losing sight of the needs of the future. If the planetary ecological crisis has taught us anything, it is that what is required is a new social metabolism with the earth, a society of ecological sustainability and substantive equality. This can be seen in the extraordinary achievements of Cuban ecology, as recently shown by Mauricio Betancourt in “The Effect of Cuban Agro-ecology in Mitigating the Metabolic Rift” in Global Environmental Change. This conforms to what Georg Lukács called the necessary “double transformation” of human social relations and the human relations to nature. Such an emancipatory project must necessarily pass through various revolutionary phases, which cannot be predicted in advance. Yet, to be successful, a revolution must seek to make itself irreversible through the promotion of an organic system directed at genuine human needs, rooted in substantive equality and the rational regulation of the human social metabolism with nature.
Freedom as Necessity
Building on G.W.F. Hegel’s philosophy, Engels famously argued in Anti-Dühring that real freedom was grounded in the recognition of necessity. Revolutionary change was the point at which freedom and necessity met in concrete praxis. Although there was such a thing as blind necessity beyond human knowledge, once objective forces were grasped, necessity was no longer blind, but rather offered new paths for human action and freedom. Necessity and freedom fed on each other, requiring new periods of social change and historical transcendence. In illustrating this materialist dialectical principle, Lenin acutely observed, “we do not know the necessity of nature in the phenomena of the weather. But while we do not know this necessity, we do know that it exists.” We know the human relation to the weather and nature in general inevitably varies with the changing productive relations governing our actions.
Today, the knowledge of anthropogenic climate crisis and of extreme weather events is removing human beings from the realm of blind necessity and demanding that the world’s population engage in the ultimate struggle for freedom and survival against catastrophe capitalism. As Marx stated in the context of the severe metabolic rift imposed on Ireland as a result of British colonialism in the nineteenth century, the ecological crisis presents itself as a case of “ruin or revolution.” In the Anthropocene, the ecological rift resulting from the expansion of the capitalist economy now exists on a scale rivalling the biogeochemical cycles of the planet. However, knowledge of these objective developments also allows us to conceive the necessary revolution in the social metabolic reproduction of humanity and the earth. Viewed in this context, Marx’s crucial conception of a “community of associated producers” is not to be viewed as simply a far-off utopian conception or abstract ideal but as the very essence of the necessary human defense in the present and future, representing the insistent demand for a sustainable relation to the earth.
But where is the agent of revolutionary change? The answer is that we are seeing the emergence of the material preconditions of what can be called a global environmental proletariat. Engels’s Condition of the Working Class in England, published in 1845, was a description and analysis of working-class conditions in Manchester, shortly after the so-called Plug Plot Riots and at the height of radical Chartism. Engels depicted the working-class environment not simply in terms of factory conditions, but much more in terms of urban developments, housing, water supply, sanitation, food and nutrition, and child development. The focus was on the general epidemiological environment enforced by capitalism (what Engels called “social murder” and what Norman Bethune later called “the second sickness”) associated with widespread morbidity and mortality, particularly due to contagious disease. Marx, under the direct influence of Engels and as a result of his own social epidemiological studies twenty years later while writing Capital, was to see the metabolic rift as arising not only in relation to the degradation of the soil, but equally, as he put it, in terms of “periodical epidemics” induced by society itself.
What this tells us—and we could find many other illustrations, from the Russian and Chinese Revolutions to struggles in the Global South today—is that class struggle and revolutionary moments are the product of a coalescence of objective necessity and a demand for freedom emanating from material conditions that are not simply economic but also environmental in the broadest sense. Revolutionary situations are thus most likely to come about when a combination of economic and ecological conditions make social transformations necessary, and where social forces and relations are developed enough to make such changes possible. In this respect, looked at from a global standpoint today, the issue of the environmental proletariat overlaps with and is indistinguishable from the question of the ecological peasantry and the struggles of the Indigenous. Likewise, the struggle for environmental justice that now animates the environmental movement globally is in essence a working-class and peoples’ struggle.
The environmental proletariat in this sense can be seen as emerging as a force all over the world, as evident in the present period of ecological-epidemiological struggle in relation to COVID-19. Yet, the main locus of revolutionary ecological action in the immediate future remains the Global South, faced with the harsh reality of “imperialism in the Anthropocene.” As Samir Amin observed in Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value, the triad of the United States, Europe, and Japan is already using the planet’s bio-capacity at four times the world average, pointing toward ecological oblivion. This unsustainable level of consumption of resources in the Global North is only possible because a good proportion of the bio-capacity of society in the South is taken up by and to the advantage of these centres [in the triad]. In other words, the current expansion of capitalism is destroying the planet and humanity. The expansion’s logical conclusion is either the actual genocide of the peoples of the South—as “overpopulation”—or, at the least, their confinement to ever-increasing poverty. An eco-fascist strand of thought is being developed which gives legitimacy to this kind of “final solution” to the problem.
New System of Social Metabolic Reproduction
A Revolutionary process of socialist construction aimed at building a new system of social reproduction in conformity with the demands of necessity and freedom cannot occur without an overall “orienting principle” and “measure of achievement” as part of a long-term strategy. It is here, following Mészáros, that the notion of substantive equality or a society of equals, also entailing substantive democracy, comes into play in today’s struggles. Such an approach not only stands opposed to capital at its barbaric heart but also opposes any ultimately futile endeavour to stop halfway in the transition to socialism. Immanuel Kant spelled out the dominant liberal view shortly after the French Revolution when he stated that “the general equality of men as subjects in a state coexists quite readily with the greatest inequality in degrees of the possessions men have.… Hence, the general equality of men coexists with great inequality of specific rights of which there may be many.” In this way, equality came to be merely formal, existing merely “on paper” as Engels pointed out, not only with respect to the labour contract between capitalist and worker but also in relation to the marriage contract between men and women. Such a society establishes, as Marx demonstrated, a “right of inequality, in its content, like every right.” The idea of substantive equality, consistent with Marx’s notion of communism, challenges all of this. It demands a change in the constitutive cells of society, which can no longer consist of possessive individualists, or individual capitals, reinforced by a hierarchical state, but must be based on the associated producers and a communal state. Genuine planning and genuine democracy can only start through the constitution of power from the bottom of society. It is only in this way that revolutions become irreversible.
It was the explicit recognition of the challenge and burden of twenty-first-century socialism in these terms that represented the extraordinary threat to the prevailing order constituted by the Venezuelan Revolution led by Hugo Chávez. The Bolivarian Republic challenged capitalism from within through the creation of communal power and popular protagonism, generating a notion of revolution as the creation of an organic society, or a new social metabolic order. Chávez, building on the analyses of Marx and Mészáros, mediated by Lebowitz, introduced the notion of “the elementary triangle of socialism,” or (1) social ownership, (2) social production organized by workers, and (3) satisfaction of communal needs. Underlying this was a struggle for substantive equality, abolishing the inequalities of the colour line and the gender line, the imperial line, and other lines of oppression, as the essential basis for eliminating the society of unequals.
In “Communism as an Ideal,” Sweezy emphasized the new forms of labour that would necessarily come into being in a society that used abundant human productivity more rationally. Many categories of work, he indicated, would “be eliminated altogether (e.g. coalmining and domestic service), and insofar as possible all jobs must become interesting and creative as only a few are today.” The reduction of the enormous waste and destruction inherent in capitalist production and consumption would open up space for the employment of disposable time in more creative ways.
In a society of equals—one in which everyone stands in the same relation to the means of production and has the same obligation to work and serve the common welfare—all “needs” that emphasize the superiority of the few and involve the subservience of the many will simply disappear and will be replaced by the needs of liberated human beings living together in mutual respect and cooperation.… Society and the human beings who compose it constitute a dialectical whole: neither can change without changing the other. And communism as an ideal comprises a new society and a new human being.
More than simply an ideal, such an organizing principle in which substantive equality and substantive democracy are foremost in the conception of socialism/communism is essential not only to create a socialist path to a better future but as a necessary defense of the global population confronted with the question of survival. Dystopian books and novels notwithstanding, it is impossible to imagine the level of environmental catastrophe that will face the world’s peoples, especially those at the bottom of the imperialist hierarchy, if capitalism’s creative destruction of the metabolism of humanity and the earth is not stopped mid–century.
According to a 2020 article on “The Future of the Human Climate Niche” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, based on existing trends, 3.5 billion people are projected to be living in unliveable heat outside the human climate niche by 2070, under conditions comparable to those of the Sahara desert. Even such projections fail to capture the enormous level of destruction that will fall on the majority of humanity under capitalist business as usual. The only answer is to leave the burning house and to build another now.
The International of Workers and Peoples
Although untold numbers of people are engaged in innumerable struggles against the capitalist juggernaut in their specific localities all around the world, struggles for substantive equality, including battles over race, gender, and class, depend on the fight against imperialism at the global level. Hence, there is a need for a new global organization of workers based on the model of Marx’s First International. Such an International for the twenty-first century cannot simply consist of a group of elite intellectuals from the North engaged in World Social Forum-like discussion activities or in the promotion of social-democratic regulatory reforms as in the so-called Socialist and Progressive Internationals. Rather, it needs to be constituted as a workers-based and peoples-based organization, rooted from the beginning in a strong South-South alliance so as to place the struggle against imperialism at the centre of the socialist revolt against capitalism, as contemplated by figures such as Chávez and Amin.
In 2011, just prior to his final illness, Chávez was preparing, following his next election, to launch what was to be called the New International (pointedly not a Fifth International) focusing on a South-South alliance and giving a global significance to socialism in the twenty-first century. This would have extended the Bolivarian Alliance for Peoples of Our America to a global level. This, however, never saw the light of day due to Chávez’s rapid decline and untimely death.
Meanwhile, a separate conception grew out of the efforts of Amin, working with the World Forum for Alternatives. Amin had long contemplated a Fifth International, an idea he was still presenting as late as May 2018. But in July 2018, only a month before his death, this had been transformed into what he called an Internationale of Workers and Peoples, explicitly recognizing that a pure worker-based International that did not take into account the situation of peoples was inadequate in confronting imperialism. This, he stated, would be an organization, not just a movement. It would be aimed at the alliance of all working peoples of the world and not only those qualified as representatives of the proletariat…including all wage earners of the services, peasants, farmers, and the peoples oppressed by modern capitalism. The construction must also be based on the recognition and respect of diversity, whether of parties, trade unions, or other popular organizations of struggle, guaranteeing their real independence.… In the absence of [such revolutionary] progress the world would continue to be ruled by chaos, barbarian practices, and the destruction of the earth
The creation of a New International cannot of course occur in a vacuum but needs to be articulated within and as a product of the building of unified mass organizations expanding at the grassroots level in conjunction with revolutionary movements and de-linkings from the capitalist system all over the world. It could not occur, in Amin’s view, without new initiatives from the Global South to create broad alliances, as in the initial organized struggles associated with the Third World movement launched at the Bandung Conference in 1955, and the struggle for a New International Economic Order.52 These three elements—grassroots movements, delinking, and cross-country/cross-continent alliances—are all crucial in his conception of the anti-imperialist struggle. Today this needs to be united with the global ecological movement.
Such a universal struggle against capitalism and imperialism, Amin insisted, must be characterized by audacity and more audacity, breaking with the coordinates of the system at every point, and finding its ideal path in the principle of from each according to one’s ability, to each according to one’s need, as the very definition of human community. Today we live in a time of the perfect coincidence of the struggles for freedom and necessity, leading to a renewed struggle for freedom as necessity. The choice before us is unavoidable: ruin or revolution.
Sometime in 2011, the Congress-led UPA saw the Indian middle class turn on it. That year, anti-corruption protests in Delhi drew significant middle-class support, prompted by wall-to-wall media coverage. At around the same time, courts and the bureaucracy started to attack the Union government on charges of corruption, citing two cases of massive, alleged scams – corruption in the allocation of telecom spectrum as well as coal blocks (even though neither eventually resulted in any United Progressive Alliance politicians being convicted). The Indian middle class is tiny – but as this episode shows, it can also have influence far beyond its numbers. So what is this influential demographic thinking about the current Union government?
Economically, India’s growth is worse off that it has even been during its seven decades as an independent country. For the first quarter of 2020-2021, the Indian gross domestic product contracted by a never-before-seen nearly 24%. And even that might be an understatement, with the shrinkage in the informal sector not being properly measured. Former chief statistician of India, Pronab Sen projects that economic shrinkage could go up to 35%. For the past two decades, India appeared on the top of global GDP growth rankings – but not anymore. The middle class were one of the primary beneficiaries of economic growth that came after the elaborate system of Central government-controls on private industry or Licence Raj was dismantled in 1991. In fact, right till 2019, middle-class Indians (along with the rich) reported high rates of income growth.
The end of this run, then, will come as a shock to the Indian middle class. In fact, research by think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy shows that middle-class jobs have taken the biggest hit due to India’s draconian Covid-19 shutdown. From April to July, as many as 18.9 million salaried jobs were lost. Moreover, this pain is expected to last for some time. “While salaried jobs are not lost easily, once lost they are also far more difficult to retrieve,” explained CMIE. “Therefore, their ballooning numbers are a source of worry.”
Unsurprisingly, for the first time in six years, the Modi government is seeing small indications that the middle class could be unhappy. The past month has seen hectic online protest against the delay of the results of the Staff Selection Commission examination (for lower-grade Union government jobs) as well as a delay in conducting an exam for the Railway Recruitment Board’s Non-Technical Popular Categories. In one dramatic instance, Varun Awasthi, an educator with edutech form Unacademy, while speaking about the delayed exams, even warned that students would “pick up AK-47s instead of pens”. Similar anger was seen against the Modi government for refusing to postpone undergraduate engineering and medical entrance examinations during the pandemic, with students launching a successful campaign to click the “dislike” button on Prime Minister Modi’s weekly radio broadcasts.
Maybe sensing some signs of disquiet, earlier during his Independence Day speech, Modi had made sure to single out the middle class and emphasise what his government had done for them. However, any predictions that we will see a repeat of 2011 might be jumping the gun. For one, most of the Indian middle class loves Modi and more broadly the BJP. As many as 38% of the middle class and 44% of the upper middle class voted BJP in 2019, by far the most popular party in that category. To cut this another way: since the BJP appeals only to Hindus amongst the middle class – an astounding 61% of Hindu upper-caste voters picked the BJP in 2019 – with the caste group’s allegiance to the saffron party forming India’s most stable vote bank. Given the close relationship between caste and class in India, the vast majority of the Hindu middle class would be upper caste.
This sort of stable relationship points to a deep ideological commitment to the BJP – rather than a transactional once that would be quickly shaken up by the economic crash. To add to this is the fact that no other party at the moment appeals to middle-class sensibilities. As a result, reporting by scroll.in has shown that the middle class is hurting economically – but would stop short of blaming Modi for the crisis. In some cases, in fact, Modi is even praised by the very same people suffering as a result of his government’s policies.
In 2020 September Issue of Red Star, under the title “India’s Economy is projected for the Biggest-ever Contraction”, quoting both international sources and official Indian agencies, we have briefly outlined the unravelling economic scenario for India in 2020. Accordingly, IMF, World Bank and ADB, together with India’s own Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI), RBI, and the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), have come to a consensus on the projection that the Indian economy was moving to a 4.5 percent contraction in 2020. Some independent researchers even predicted a shrinkage of India’s GDP from $2.11 trillion as estimated in 2019 to $ 1.9 trillion in 2021. Of course, independent institutions such as the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP), had even went a step ahead warning an impending 15-22 percent contraction for the economy. Among the factors identified by these studies that led to this historic downturn, the most important was the prolonged, ill-conceived and coercive and authoritarian lockdown superimposed by Modi.
However, most of these agencies were unwilling to have a close scrutiny of the economic performance of the 6 years (2014-20) of Modi’ rule and more or less were concentrating on the pandemic-link of the economic crisis including the regime’s ill-conceived policies that accentuated it. Though India’s per capita GDP has been one of the lowest in the world (140th rank according to 2019 estimate), corporate centres along with Modi government were still spreading the illusion that by 2024 India’s economy would move to a $5 trillion size. Contrary to the perspectives put forward by well-meaning scholars that Indian economy under Modi has been plunging throughout, the neoliberal pundits and a many academics were reluctant to have a concrete evaluation of the crisis confronted by the broad masses of Indian people. Though a general agreement is there among them that lockdown is the immediate cause for economic reverse, still they are in tandem with the official view that strict lockdown has helped India keep case fatality rate lower than counties like the US, the UK, France, Japan and Italy.
However, following the Economic Review report for August prepared by Indian Finance Ministry that was released following the spread of the information that GDP numbers for the first quarter ending June showed the worst ever quarterly performance by the Indian economy, the government was forced to willy-nilly admit thus: "Data now available for the April-June quarter confirms a significant world-wide year-on-year contraction of output resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. US economy has contracted by 9.1 per cent, UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany by 21.7 per cent, 18.9 per cent, 22.1 per cent, 17.7 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively with the overall Euro area contracting by 15.0 per cent and Japan has contracted by 9.9 per cent. Relative to these advanced nations, India's GDP contraction at 23.9 per cent is slightly higher." And it is to justify this unparalleled collapse which Modi regime whitewashes as “slightly higher” without any scientific basis, that the Finance Ministry claims the “stringent lockdown” as helping the nation to contain its COVID-19 case fatality rate to 1.78 percent, as compared to 3.04 per cent in the US, 12.35 per cent in the UK, 10.09 per cent in France, 1.89 per cent in Japan and 13.18 per cent in Italy. On the contrary, as is evident from IMF’s Gita Gopinath’s unkind comment on India’s GDP contraction as “worst among G-20 countries”, neoliberal centres are unwilling to take Modi regime’s explanation as taken for granted. And of late, Lancet, the renowned medical Journal has vehemently criticised both Modi government and the ICMR under its control for covering up the gruesome pandemic situation in India.
Coming to the economic scene, the 24 percent collapse in GDP in the first quarter (April, May, June) of the financial year 2020-21 has gone against the calculations of the ruling classes. In common parlance, it implies that the total value of goods and services produced in India in April, May and June this year is 24 percent less than the total value of goods and services produced in India in the same period last year. In fact, sector-wise analysis of data shows a more frightening situation. In terms of the gross value added (GVA), barring agriculture where GVA grew by 3.4 percent (on account of favourable weather good monsoon) as claimed by government, all other sectors of the economy saw an absolute collapse. Thus, GVA in construction sector has shrunk by 50 percent, in trade, hotels and similar services by 47 percent, manufacturing by 39 percent and mining by 23 percent. According to some estimate, the entire economic activity during the quarter has been only 25 percent of what it was during the same period in 2019. The job-loss due to the collapse of the relatively labour-intensive sectors mainly comprising informal/unorganised activities alone is estimated at around 140 million. Meanwhile, the Express Research Group of MoSPI has made the startling revelation that compared with the first quarter of the previous financial year, individual consumption expenditure that comprises around 56 percent of GDP experienced a decline worth Rs. 531803 crore (the decline is estimated at 27 percent) and private business investment that is composed of 32 percent of GDP collapsed by Rs. 533003 crore (the decline is estimated at around 50 percent) in the first quarter of the current financial year.
The outcome of this unprecedented decline in respect of the two biggest “growth engines” (i.e., individual consumption and private investment which form economy’s driving force on account of the continuous downsizing of the government expenditure resulting in a decline in its share in GDP to around 10 percent) of the neoliberal economy that accounted for 88 percent of India’s total GDP, The government has no data regarding the millions of informal/unorganised workers, migrant and daily workers who lost means of livelihood and employment, though unofficial estimates count them in the range of 12-14 crore. As estimated by CMIE, around 21 million white collar professional employees and 5 million industrial workers have been sacked in India during the past one year alone that does not all include self-employed professionals like doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, etc. As a matter of fact, the 23.9 percent GDP contraction in the first quarter of 2020-21 as estimated by Indian Finance Ministry, on account of paucity of data, is not based on the real state of the economy pertaining to the informal sector. Therefore, as pointed out by US-based neoliberal experts like Raghuram Rajan, if the damage to the informal sector is also taken into consideration, then the economic collapse will be worst in sharp contrast to the GDP drop of 12.4 per cent in Italy and 9.5 per cent in the US, two of the most COVID-19 affected economies. Hence, as the global economy is going to contract by 4.3 percent this year (as calculated by UNCTAD, this year the world will experience a complete wipe-out of $ 6 trillion in terms of GDP –equivalent to the combined GDP of Brazil, India and Mexico), as estimated by MOSPI, Indian economy is going to collapse at the rate of 7 percent in the current year!
However, the very same neoliberal centres who now expose India as the worst performing economy were unanimous in characterising it as the “best performing country” in the world in 2014 with a GDP growth rate of around 7 percent when Modi government assumed power 6 years ago. Since then, what happened has been an irreversible downward trend in GDP growth rate along with the intensifying poverty, deprivation and pauperisation of the broad masses of toiling people as manifested in the historic decline in production, biggest unemployment in five decades, horrific levels of inequality and corruption. Though already discussed much, let us go through a few indices to unravel this historic plunge of India during 2014-20. For instance, in 2014 India’s ranking in Global Hunger Index (prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute) was 55. Under Modi, within two years it steadily declined to 100 in 2017 and further to 102 in 2019 among 117 countries in the world and much below that of all South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (88) and Pakistan (94) in 2019. Regarding hunger and deprivation of children, an indication of the seriousness of poverty and deprivation, Indian position is despicable. In India, only 9.6% of all children between 6 to 23 months of age are given a minimum acceptable diet and medical care. India is also notorious for under-5 mortality rates and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food. And, as an indicator of inequality and deprivation, India’s rank out of 189 countries on the 2019 Human Development Index released by UNDP is 129. Of course, there is no dearth of statistics highlighting the extent of poverty, hunger, inequality, unemployment, corruption, etc. in India.
Let us see the other side of the picture too. Under Modi regime during the same period, the concentration of income and wealth with the superrich Indians witnessed a sky-rocketing. For instance, in 2013, i.e., before Modi’s ascendance to power, the number of dollar billionaires (those having assets worth $100 crore and above) in India was 63. After Modi’s coming in mid-2014, their number steadily grew to 90 and further to 138 in 2019. Ambani who leads this list with $ 8060 crore (equal to around Rs. 6 lakh crore) is the fourth richest in the world today. In the absence of reliable domestic data, we have to depend on international sources such as Forbes, Oxfam, Credit Suisse, etc. to get a real picture on this. While 53 percent of the entire national wealth is gobbled up by just one percent of the superrich, the poorest bottom half of the population owns only around 4 percent of the national wealth as of now. When Modi came to power if one percent of the superrich appropriated around 50 percent of the additional wealth generated in a year, on account of his superimposition of corporate saffron-fascism, today this proportion has grown to almost 80 percent, quite unheard of anywhere in the world!
Over the last six years of Modi regime, this horrific wealth concentration on the one hand, and hitherto unknown levels of deprivation and destitution of the masses on the other, have revealingly taken place along with a process of India’s economic transformation from “best performing” as estimated in the 7 percent GDP growth rate in 2014 (as recognised by both Indian international agencies) to “worst performing” as is manifested in the 7 percent contraction of GDP as now admitted by the Indian Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI). Obviously, the roots of this destructive process are not caused by any extraneous or external disturbances but a logical corollary of the fascistic “surgical strikes” directed against the people ranging from the superimposed demonetisation to the coercive lockdown pursued by Modi without any economic or medical basis. Demonetisation in 2016 that terrorised and subjugated the people in the guise of dealing with black money was an ingenious move for an unprecedented concentration and centralisation of wealth in most corrupt corporate, crony capitalists. The GST that followed (since mid-2017) was also aimed at bringing India’s goods and services market under the firm control of corporates after demolishing the federal structure of the Constitution. Both these neoliberal-fascist offensives that may be characterised as economic holocausts led the entire economy to a frozen state, brought all economic activities to a standstill and paralysed the agricultural sector that provide sustenance to 50 percent of the people and destroyed the informal and traditional sectors which are the sole source of livelihood for 95 percent of the 52 crore workforce in India.
The whole package of far-right neoliberal polices and direct measures such as pro-corporate tax exemptions, neoliberal labour and environmental deregulations, series of stimulus and economic packages that directly channelled trillions worth of public money into the coffers of corporate thugs and outright loot of public sector banks coupled with the fascistic demonetisation that at a stroke wiped out 86 percent of currency in circulation quite unheard of in modern history, followed by GST and so on have already led India to a historic economic stagnation on the eve of COVID-19 itself. The fabulous wealth thus appropriated by corporates, both foreign and Indian, according to the logic of neoliberal accumulation, instead of contributing anything towards employment-oriented productive sphere, actually went into money-spinning speculative spheres or for further appropriation of public assets by a handful of the superrich billionaires. Consequently, on the eve of COVID-19 itself, Indian economy had entered into the biggest-ever contraction in its history along with its concomitant manifestations in all spheres.
Historically, crisis has been an opportunity for fascists and Modi knows the art of effectively utilising it from his experience of heading both state and central administration. Thus without even consulting the parliament or opposition, and with a four-hour notice, and quite reminiscent of the manner in which demonetisation was implemented, he superimposed the most stringent and most coercive lockdown that continued at a stretch for two months on an economy which, as we noted in earlier articles, was already in ICU. This highly authoritarian and destructive move which is unjustified and uncalled for while collapsed the entire industry and service sectors, also impacted the agricultural sector due to abrupt collapse in demand and freezing of trade and transportation. Only the fascistic administration and its oppressive instrument such as police required to implement the lockdown remained functional. The outcome: India has become the worst performing economy in the world during 2020 April-June quarter.
Now if we take the entire Asian countries, the estimated COVID-triggered economic contraction for this part of the world during this period now hovers around an average of around 6 percent, even as the real economic collapse of India may be larger than the 24 percent now estimated by government’s own agencies. For instance, former chief statistician Pranab Sen had projected a GDP contraction to the extent of 35 per cent if the real situation in the informal sector is also taken in to consideration. Therefore, COVID-19 is only partial explanation for India’s current economic collapse. Rather, it is directly connected with Modi regime’s far-right fascistic policies that serves corporate capital since 2014. The present unparalleled economic collapse of India is corporatisation-induced. To reiterate again without much elaboration, as we have already said, unless this trend is reversed through an appropriate political intervention, the corporate-saffron fascist regime will again try to deploy all avenues at its disposal to carry forward its disastrous pro-corporate agenda and put heavier burdens on the backs of common people.
A vast section of progressive, democratic, leftist, revolutionary people are in favour of forging a broad-based joint front against the Fascists – that is against the Modi Government and RSS and Sangh Parivar and mainly against Fascism. In essence this aspiration is commendable and cannot be differed with. A broad-based, anti-fascist front is required to fight against and defeat fascism. This is an undeniable task of the communist revolutionaries. The contemporary situation is also fully ripening towards an upsurge of fascism. Fascist forces are going ahead increasingly aggressively to execute their policies by hook or by crook. So there is no debate or difference regarding the making of an anti-fascist, broad-based front. The central task of every class conscious proletariat is to combat fascism. To combat fascism is the central task of the vanguard section of the proletariat of the party of the proletariat. But the point is how to build up the broad-based, anti-fascist front? How will it evolve? Will it evolve through table talk? Will it evolve through the unity of struggles within parliament? Will it evolve through extra parliamentary struggles? What is the way to develop a broad-based, anti-fascist front?
To understand this we have to first understand the characteristics of fascism and the perspective of rise of fascism in our country. Our party CPI(ML) Red Star has defined BJP and Sangh Parivaar as corporate Hindu fascists. That means this is the most reactionary representatives of corporate capitalist class and through spreading Manuvadi or Brahminical ideology they are creating their ultra-nationalist base so that all people’s issues can be relegated to the background. So if we have to fight against fascism we have to fight against corporate onslaught as well as Brahminical and ultra-chauvinist ideology. Without fighting against both of these, no anti-fascist struggle can be developed. Now the point arises, is it possible to fight against both at the same time? The answer is, ultimately it may not be possible. In the ultimate sense, the necessity may arise to choose the principal aspect between these two things. But what is the importance of saying ultimatesense and not immediate sense? Actually, Brahminical ideology and corporate onslaught share a reciprocal relationship – Hindutva is the ideology while corporate interest is the class interest.
So basically if we want to fight against fascism that means we have to fight its class position, ideological position, philosophical position, political position, everything. Fascism is not a single aspect. It comprises the whole of the reactionary aspect of the ruling class. So what will be the minimum programme to fight against fascism? Actually there is no minimum or maximum programme against fascism. If we think along that line, we may end up in the trap of fascism. We have to fight against the reactionary upsurge. In that struggle, a particular aspect may develop as the principal aspect.
In the light of the above, let us discuss the current situation. Some sections are of the opinion that an anti-fascist front can be developed by bringing together the entire parliamentary opposition. Is that correct in this situation? Are all sections of the parliamentary opposition fighting against fascism or at least fascistic aggression? Let us take the example of the main parliamentary opposition, Congress. Is it fighting against fascism? The answer is no. They are not fighting against fascism. They did not come up with a single statement of protest against Umar Khalid’s arrest. On the question of selling Railways, Banks etc., they are totally silent as because aggressive privatization is also their policy. Regarding the Indo-China border conflict, Rahul Gandhi Tweeted to Narendra Modi asking whether the PM will fight against China or not, in fact provoking the development of a border conflict into a full-fledged war. The abrogation of Article 370 did not happen in a day. The final stroke may have been Modi’s, but Congress was responsible for diluting the Article beyond measure, denying Kashmiris the right to self-determination and exacerbating the situation in the Valley. BJP simply lifted the ‘fig leaf cover’. The Congress made some half-hearted protests against abrogation of Article 370 but never fought even verbally for the right of Kashmiri people. On the question of Ram temple, Priyanka Gandhi said that her father Rajiv Gandhi had opened the door of Ramlala, and through this continuity today the Ram Temple is being established. Ex Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath sent 16 silver bricks for the building of the Ram Temple. In the crucial matter of paying wages to workers during the lockdown period, the Joint Parliamentary Committee speedily gave its opinion that owners cannot be forced to pay wages to workers for the lockdown period. The Congress did not oppose the recommendation. Actually, if we go a little deep, we will see that most of the anti-people economic policies that the BJP is trying to implement had their origin in the Congress and UPA era. BJP has simply made it more apparent and vulgar. That is the only difference.
Now let us come to the Parliamentary Left. On paper, at least, they have a separate policy from the Congress or the BJP. We do not say that they are the representatives of corporate monopoly capital. They had a tremendous responsibility of fighting against fascism from the beginning because they were the biggest left and democratic force in society. Besides, they had been in power in three states for decades. So they did actually have the opportunity of implementing an alternative policy to that of the ruling class. But through their policy of compromise they totally adopted the neo-liberal path in all states where they are and were in power. The people’s uprisings against the Left Front government’s anti-people and corporate-friendly policies in Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh etc. were the offshoots of their policy of compromise. When they were in power in West Bengal they implemented the draconian UAPA law at will and they are still doing the same in Kerala. And even if we leave aside the point of the alliance with BJP in 1989 parliamentary election, can it be forgotten that at the time of Jyoti Basu RSS was permitted to hold a parade at the Maidan? Further, all of us remember how Advani conducted his Rath Yatra in West Bengal, unchallenged by the government and administration.
Many comrades are now insisting that we should not dwell on the past – on what the Left Front did when it was in power in West Bengal – because the situation is now so serious that if the Parliamentary Left retains a grain of fighting element then that has to be utilized in our fight against fascism. Basically, this is not to be disagreed with. But even if we forget the past and look at their (Parliamentary Left) present, we shall see that they have made no departure from the past. In fact, after losing power in two states (Tripura and West Bengal), they are moving farther to the right. In Bengal they have made an alliance with Congress. We have mentioned above the present role of the Congress in brief. Actually, it is the bitter truth that the CPIM-led Left Front is not as keen on fighting against fascism as they are on coming back to power in the state government of Bengal and retaining state power in Kerala. All their policies are directed towards coming to power in Bengal in the upcoming Assembly elections. So their principal target in Bengal is not the fascist BJP but the Trinamool Congress. Therefore they forged an alliance with the Congress. It is important to note that they did not form an anti-fascist front with the Congress; they have formed an anti-TMC front with the Congress. The Left Front is courting the Congress in a state like Bengal where the people completely and consistently rejected the Congress after 1977 because of their long years of semi-fascistic rule. The Left Front is courting the Congress in a country where the Congress was in power for several decades and brought things to such a pass that the BJP was able to win the votes of the masses. Now this Congress is the ally of the Parliamentary Left! These ‘Left’ leaders even attended the birth anniversary of ex West Bengal Chief Minister Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy – hosted by the Congress – whose hands were bloodied by the brutal killings of workers, peasants and democratic people during his rule. Is it possible to resist fascism through this type of unholy alliance?
If we consider the process of coming to power of the BJP, we will see that they utilized the people’s wrath against the corruption and anti-people policies of the UPA government. In West Bengal too, there would have been no question of such a debacle of the Left Front if they had not shed common people’s blood in Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, Netai etc. But they have not learnt any lesson from their experience. They continue to advocate that what they had done in Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh was absolutely correct. They loudly proclaim that if they come back to power they will set up Tata’s factory in Singur, that they had all along been right in snatching peasants’ land and handing it over to the Tatas. In this context, the CPIM has no difference with the BJP in Bengal, because BJP has also promised that if it comes to power in the state it will establish the factory in Singur! So how can the Parliamentary Left fight against the BJP and Sangh Parivar with the policy they are upholding and following?
Some comrades still say that in spite of all these, the Parliamentary Left are fighting against corporate loot in agriculture, against privatization and so on. We shall refrain from pointing out that even these in these struggles the role of the Parliamentary Left is at best half-hearted and they are certainly not utilizing the whole extent of their power and mass base in these struggles. Our position is that wherever such struggles are developing, however feebly, we have to stand with this struggle. Obviously such struggles are contributing to the resistance against fascism to some extent. But such struggles are not being led only by the Parliamentary Left. Every ruling class party in opposition, for the sake of retaining its mass base, is bound to take up some protest programmes against anti-people government policies. Even Shiv Sena has played a serious role against the installation of nuclear power project in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The BJP’s labour wing, the BMS, is also against the auction of coal block and is part of that movement. So we cannot say that all these are part of the anti-fascist movement. Rather, we can take decision on that when we discuss the other side of the problem. That is, the Congress is not against corporate loot in agriculture. Even CPIM is not against the entry of corporate in agriculture. Neither the CPIM nor the Congress is against the entry of monopoly capital in retail trade. So what kind of resistance can they build up against fascism? The people of the country are well aware that after coming to power they will execute the very same policies that the BJP is implementing today. Appeasement of Hindutva fundamentalist forces is something that even the Parliamentary Left is engaged in. Recently, a CPIM leader went on record saying that Ram is God!
A projected mathematical majority against the BJP cannot resist fascism. Neither will such mathematical majority come to fruition if the Congress, CPIM-like forces cling on to corporate appeasement and Hindutva appeasement. If we cannot fight ideologically and politically, on the streets and in parliament, we cannot take on fascism. So an alternative revolutionary left force is necessary to resist this situation. As long as this force does not develop, the fight against fascism will go on in a distorted, half-hearted way. There is no hope that the Congress will fight the fascist policies of the BJP either on the streets or in Parliament or in the ideological sphere. Yet, we cannot rule out electoral support to any anti-BJP party in elections as long as a new force does not come up as an alternative. But instead of considering only electoral support to a certain extent, we think of forging electoral alliances with them, the soul of the movement against fascism will be lost. CPIM and Left Front are doing just that. At first they supported the BJP against the Congress and made it powerful, and now they are forging an alliance with the Congress, the tested representative of imperialist monopoly corporate capital
Even a cursory glance through what is happening in the country will convince anyone what a challenging, dangerous, and in many ways, a desperate situation our country and people are facing. To understand this one need not be a Marxist intellectual. From their day to day sufferings, vast majority of the people, the working class and all other oppressed classes and sections are recognizing this, in spite of massive Sanghi media trying to conceal and distort facts. After last six years of Modi rule, especially its last one year’s actions leave no doubt before anyone that it is fascism in action with majoritarian Hindutva as its theoretical base. Its foreign policy has integrated India within the strategic partnership with US led Asia-Pacific axis more than ever, with US administration using the India-China border standoff also to advance its inter-imperialist contradictions with China for world hegemony.
As expected, the parliamentary opposition, in the main, is in total disarray. On 5th August they were found competing with each other to support Ram mandir construction. They were not daring to question the way it was done as a state function, in effect throwing away the basic tenets of the Constitution, as they are also upholding the soft Hindutva line and do not want to openly oppose the Manuvadi Hindutva of RSS pursued by Modi rule. Except some token opposition within the parliamentary forums, they do not oppose the neoliberal/corporatization offensive taking place in practice. In spite of planned moves of Modi govt. to weaken and subvert its ministries as in MP, or Rajasthan or elsewhere, Congress is only competing with Modi to show themselves as more chauvinist, and more pro-Hindutva! Still the social democratic Left Front parties are following their class collaborationist subservience to Congress and other ruling class parties. There is nothing new in their approach, than waiting for BJP to fall due to its own weaknesses, almost waiting for a repetition of what happened in 2004! They do not want to think whether such a repetition is possible even after the RSS neo-fascism has so much entrenched in the country penetrating the state machinery and even Constitutional institutions! In spite of it, the CPI(M) led Left Front parties are tailing behind Congress and other ruling class parties. In the concrete conditions of today, though all these parliamentary opposition parties shall continue to have their dominance over the numerous people’s struggles coming up against Modi rule, they have no alternative to RSS neo-fascism.
The only force who can challenge the corporate fascist Modi rule with an alternative perspective and program, and inspire the masses are the communist revolutionary forces. They have a history of waging uncompromising struggle against neo-revisionist CPI(M) leadership, organizing the Naxalbari Uprising, bringing revolution back to the agenda, and challenging the neoliberal corporate rule and state terror during the last 4-5 decades. Only they, along with the revolutionary intellectuals have the vision of extending the struggle against counter-revolutionary policies of Modi rule, extending it to fighting the reactionary, obscurantist theoretical base of RSS.
But even after the fascists are riding rough shod over the people, abusing, lynching, torturing, suppressing all opposition voices, taking the plunder of labour and nature to unprecedented levels, opening the country to foreign and native corporates, imposing Brahmanical Manuvadi terror, some of the CR forces have betrayed the Naxalbari movement and have become apologists of neoliberal agenda of the ruling classes. The many decades of the CPI(M) led governments in W. Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, have only defamed the communist movement. On the other extreme, the left sectarian, anarchist forces have reduced themselves to nothing more than a cover for the state to suppress the masses. It was expected that upholding the glorious history of the Naxalbari Uprising, and struggling against these right and left deviations, the remaining forces shall unite to create a revolutionary left core to build a broad based anti-fascist front similar to the one which came up against the CAA/NPR/NRC. But, while we could initiate building this RLC with few like - minded forces, others are still hesitant, so that we have to continue this effort.
When the neo-fascist Modi government is consolidating its hold everywhere very fast, launching various attacks on the working class and oppressed people as a whole, especially the Muslim minority, dalits, Adivasis, women and other oppressed classes and sections, we have to carry forward the task of uniting major section of the CRs in the RLC with a common program to challenge the fascist forces and develop te anti-fascist front, while upholding the approach of “independent communist assertion” inside the movement,
Analysing present situation, the Central Committee has called for giving priority to party building. It calls for intensifying the ideological, political struggle for building a Bolshevik style powerful party winning over all revolutionary communists and new comrades to its fold, and for developing various struggles, campaigns and movements against the central and state governments, giving top priority to fight against the RSS/BJP rule.
Secondly, we have to strengthen the class/mass organizations and various people’s movements at all India level in which our party comrades are playing leading role. Present situation demands continuous efforts to develop them, give political orientation to them to play more active role in the anti-fascist movement. It also calls for developing struggles in all fields and winning new forces to build united fronts at all levels.
It is a Marxist-Leninist teaching, a repeatedly proved historical fact that without a strong Communist Party built on Bolshevik lines, surrounded by class/mass organizations and people’s movements, and according to the conditions of our country, all round offensive of the party cannot be developed. These initiatives cannot be developed fast. The party building by winning over the communist forces and to attract the new generation to the movement, calls for an intensive ideological political struggle as explained in the Resolution for Theoretical Offensive adopted by the 10th Party Congress. How the new forces can be attracted to the communist politics if those who claim themselves communists uphold China, which is only socialist in name, but an imperialist power contending for world hegemony with US imperialism, resorting to fascist oppression of the Uighur like nationalities and not prepared to resolve the national question within it, and not prepared to settle border problems with the neighbouring countries through bi-lateral discussions?
The new generation are not familiar with much of Marxist literature and are mostly ignorant of what happened in Soviet Union and China during their socialist days. They are witnessing the ‘mainstream communist parties’ wherever still in power, even after the severe setbacks in W. Bengal and Tripura for many decades, are still pursuing the neoliberal/corporate policies. They have nothing to offer except playing parliamentary politics as allies of one ruling class party or other, in state after states. They cannot be attracted to communist path, when they see and read how even those who claim to uphold Naxalbari Uprising and CPI(ML) heritage rush to join the band wagon of the very same forces by fighting against whom this great movement had emerged.
In spite of the severe setbacks suffered by the communist movement all over the world with all former socialist countries abandoning the socialist path, in the atmosphere of powerful anti-communist propaganda onslaughts by the imperialists and their lackeys, the new generation shall give credibility to the communist vision, and be attracted to it, only if, along with ideological political offensive, we take up the struggle against gender inequality, caste oppression, division based on caste system, the soft Hindutva vote bank politics, the ecological destruction leading to severe catastrophe, the development path based on capitalist lust and consumerist greed etc as integral part of the class struggle. Uncompromising struggle is called for against those parroting the mechanical materialist rhyme that all these problems need not be taken up from now, but shall disappear automatically once the communists capture power. After all that has happened in the world during last few decades including the disappearance of socialist countries, when the capitalist-imperialist system through neoliberal/corporate loot of labour and nature has transformed the whole world in its own image, if accordingly the Marxist theory and practice are not developed, and a new vision of development paradigm and democracy with all power to the people is presented before the people, the new generation is not going to come forward, daring to think, daring to struggle and daring to win a socialist future. So, the party building calls for such a vigorous struggle against the right deviation which is presently the main danger in the communist movement, while guarding against the anarchist trend. So, the CC has asserted that the party building should be taken up vigorously, linking with ideological offensive.
Another aspect of party building which calls for attention is the taking up of a powerful campaign against the Manuvadi Hindutva, the ideological base of RSS. Based on Manusmriti, writings of Savarkar, Golwalkar and other leaders, also drawing lessons from Mussolini and Hitler, the RSS could grow in to the biggest and most powerful neo-fascist organization in the world, as not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but the socialist stream as well as the Communist stream refused to learn the importance of Renaissance movement and take up the caste struggle along with class struggle, while the caste-class relation is a unique feature of India. So, only by waging a powerful ideological struggle against the theoretical base of RSS, the new generation who are influenced or at least confused by the RSS dominance can be won over or at least neutralized. The decision of the CC in its August meeting to take up these two campaigns immediately shall help the building and expansion of the party with more ideological clarity, winning over new forces to our side.
Presently humanity is passing through an unprecedented crisis when all over the world it is almost paralyzed under the Covid19 pandemic, with no hope an early control of its very fast infection. But the ruling system in all the countries along with the mainstream media are indulged in diverting attention from the intensification of climate change or global warming, basic reasons for the outbreak of viruses like SARS in 2003, then MERS in 2012 and now the Covid19 with extremely high capacity to spread, or about the fast melting of huge glaziers in North and South poles, or about the receding of glaziers in Himalayas, about the super cyclones, wild fires as the one raging in US for weeks and so many other cases of destruction of eco-system and bio-diversity exposing how the corporatization/neo-liberalization under the capitalist imperialist system have taken the imperialist loot of nature to extreme levels. As the ruling system in all the countries which is becoming increasingly fascistic, stubbornly persists with very same policies, humanity is facing the danger of ecological catastrophe and threatened with even extinction of human species.
As the ecological destruction becoming increasingly dangerous following the imposition of neoliberal policies from the 1970s, there were numerous protests by people forcing the imperialist powers and their junior partners in power to convene climate conferences which were coming out with many proposals like Kyoto Protocol. But, the imperialist countries were not ready to cut down the energy consumption or to control the consumerist lust. So, all these proposals remained only in paper, they were not implemented. In Madrid Conference most of these powers withdrew from even these conferences, and the token climate conferences have also coming to an end. Even after the Covid19 outbreak and possibilities for more dangerous viruses surfacing and natural calamities breaking out, like the corporates allowed to loot the workers to any extent they want by throwing out even the existing labour rights, they are allowed to neglect all restrictions on environmental protection in spite of repeated warnings from the scientists and the concerned people’s movements.
It is imperialist barbarism and arrogance of the ruling system in action. It is a great challenge we have to take up urgently. The CPI(ML) Red Star calls for united action at national and international level to throw out the capitalist imperialist system and create conditions for protection of nature and creating an egalitarian society.
CC, CPI(ML) Red Star