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On Communist Unity and Building Left Platform

22 April 2015
[ Paper prepared for presentation to the Seminar with the same title to be held at Lucknow on 26th February evening on the first day of the Party Congress]

The 16th General Elections to the Lok Sabha had taken place when the neoliberal UPA regime had led to alarming price rise, unemployment, corruption, displacement, ecological destruction, loss of livelihood, etc, impoverishing the masses and widening the gap between the rich and the vast masses of toiling people. It had aroused unprecedented people's fury across the length and breadth of the country. In the absence of an effective left and democratic or progressive people's alternative against the Congress misrule and the ruling system, the BJP at all India level succeeded to utilize the people's fury to catapult itself to power, with the backing of corporate capital that gobbled up the biggest gains during UPA rule, together with the ideological and organizational support of the RSS Parivar. It replaced the rightist rule of Congress with its ultra rightist, openly communal rule. And regional parties like AIADMK, TMC, BJD like forces in TN, W. Bengal, Odisha etc also reaped the benefit of the anti- Congress wave. Along with the Congress and it allies, the CPI(M) led Left Front parties were also decimated.

The Modi government has already started further intensification of the imposition of neo-liberal policies, expanding corporatization of all fields, further pauperizing the masses, and distorting and commercializing the cultural and educational fields, while intensifying the spreading of communal hatred and divisions among the people. In this situation, the communist forces are confronting two frontal challenge: firstly, how to overcome the present crisis faced by the movement at theoretical, political and organizational levels and to build a party with all India influence capable of completing the remaining tasks of democratic revolution and advancing towards the socialist revolution; secondly, how to unite the genuine left and democratic forces to forge a program based people's platform against all forces of neo-liberalization and communalization as part of its tactical line.

On Communist Unity.

The CPI (ML) Red Star is of the view that though the building of the left platform and joint activities under its banner shall bring the left forces nearer and help to create condition for the unity of the Marxist-Leninist forces, it should not be mechanically linked or confused with the question of communist unity, that is with the question of uniting the communist revolutionaries in a single party. An evaluation of the past experience, when the first split in the CPI took place in 1964 leading to the formation of the CPI (M), and when the second split took place following an inner party struggle and the outbreak of the Naxalbari struggle leading to formation of the CPI (ML) and a number of CR groups show that, contrary to the expectations they created, a qualitative leap in the movement did not take place, though the objective conditions were favoring it. Why did it happen so?

The first split took place when the international communist movement was waging a life and death struggle against the revisionist line promoted by the Krushchevites who had come to the leadership of the Communist Party of Soviet Union. Under its influence the CPI leadership had adopted the line of National Democratic Revolution replacing the line of PDR under the leadership of the working class put forward by the Communist International, advocating peaceful socialist transition, collaborating with the native bourgeois class which it analyzed as predominantly nationalist in character. Though the CPI (M) leadership rejected this line, it did not make a break with Soviet revisionism or recognize that the big bourgeoisie in the country is in the main collaborating with imperialism or comprador in character. So, by the time of 1967 general elections both embraced the path of parliamentarism and took initiative to form coalition governments in W. Bengal and Kerala joining with even communal and ruling class parties, compromising communist positions. This has naturally led both, in course of time, to their present social democratic line.

Though the CRs broke away from this line and tried to learn from the Great Debate led by Mao against Soviet revisionism and recognized the comprador character of the big bourgeoisie in the country, they also failed to make a concrete analysis of the vast changes taking place in the Indian situation and to develop the Marxist-Leninist understanding accordingly. Instead, they soon embraced the left adventurist line which had emerged in China by the middle 1960s under the leadership of Lin Biao. Both the revisionist line which dominated the Soviet communist party and the sectarian line which dominated the CPC by the time of its Ninth Congress in 1969, refused to make a concrete analysis of the vast changes taking place at the international level with the transformation of the colonial plunder of imperialism to the neo-colonial phase. It led both to conclude that the imperialist camp has weakened. As a result, while the former embraced the line of liquidation compromising with imperialist positions abandoning the path of class struggle, the latter advocated a putschist line. Both caused severe damage to the communist movement. Unity of the communist forces calls for serious studies based on the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism for settling accounts with these basic deviations.

After the disintegration of the CPI (ML) and other CR forces by early1970s, extensive discussions on evaluating the mistakes leading to it had taken place at various levels. Most of the ML groups except those who united to form the CPI (Maoist) rejected the line of annihilation of class enemies, line of armed struggle as the only form of struggle and adopted the mass line. But these efforts were theoretically crippled as they refused to make an analysis of the vast changes taking place in the country under neo-colonial domination during the post-1947 decades. If imperialism used feudal forces as a social prop for its colonial domination, under neo-colonization it promoted fast changes in the pre-capitalist relations of production in the agrarian sector to integrate it with the international finance system through reforms from above including the Green Revolutions. The semi-colonial, semi-feudal frame mechanically carried forward by most of the ML forces made them incapable of understanding the neo-colonial phase of imperialism and the changes taking place to the relations of production in the agrarian field, and for developing the program and path of revolution according to these changes. On the other hand, another trend which recognized these changes went forward to analyze India as a capitalist country and stage of revolution as socialist, refusing to recognize the growing imperialist dominance in the country in newer forms.

The imposition of the imperialist globalization and neo-liberal policies and intensification of the corporatization of all fields including agriculture have led to some of these sections to re-examine their positions, at least partially. This has created conditions for new theoretical offensive and bi-lateral discussions with these forces. The CPI (ML) Red Star is actively pursuing discussions with these sections. Meanwhile the new generation, not having the burden of past frames and heritages, are coming forward, though in trickles now, to join the revolutionary stream. As the corporate loot and communalization intensifies under Modi raj, this tendency will be strengthened. So there are better objective and subjective possibilities for communist unity today, if the cardinal importance of the ideological political line and the struggle to develop it according to present conditions are recognized.

The Resolution on Theoretical Offensive being discussed in the Tenth Congress opens up possibilities for taking up the theoretical issues including the evaluation of the experience of the socialist practice in the former socialist countries, the question of broadening the democratic space within the party organization including development of the concept of democratic centralism. It shall provide enough scope for inner party struggle on all questions of difference. The practical application of the Marxist perspective of "all power to the people", developing the concept of proletarian dictatorship or proletarian democracy, transcending the limits of bourgeois democracy, developing the alternate development paradigm which is people oriented and eco-friendly etc shall open new scope for communist unity. Once the shortcomings and deviations which caused the setback to the movement from the great heights it had reached by 1950s are scientifically analyzed and self critically evaluated, and once the orientation for future advance of democracy and development paradigm are put forward, they shall provide the basis for the rebuilding of the communist party uniting all genuine forces. It shall help to win over the new generation who are getting increasingly alienated from the imperialist promoted development which is creating devastation and the shrinking of democratic space under bourgeois democracy. This is a critical time which calls for all round efforts for taking up the reorganization of the party. The CPI (ML) Red Star appeals to all Marxist-Leninist forces to recognize this and take up this great challenge with all seriousness.

On Building left and democratic Platform

While taking up the challenge of uniting the communists who are presently divided in to different sharply divided trends, it should be recognized that it is going to be a protracted affair. So immediate attention should be given to the question of bringing together the left and democratic forces in a struggle based platform on a common minimum program against the intensification of corporate loot and communalization under Modi regime. While expressing this desire one should be clear about the political reasons which led to the victory of BJP and why the communist movement which had a powerful presence in many parts of the country in the past, and which was often mentioned as the alternative to the Congress in the 1950s, drastically lost its political stature and organizational strength, weakening to its present condition. Even in the 2004 elections the CPI (M) led Left Front parties had 64 seats in the Lok Sabha and they were ruling in W. Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. But their policy of supporting the Congress led UPA rule which was merrily going ahead with the implementation of the neo-liberal policies for five years, and shamelessly implementing the very same neo-liberal policies in the states where they were in power, leading to Singur and Nandigram like incidents, alienated them from the people. The record of the CPI(M) led LF rule in W. Bengal and Kerala, the degeneration of CPI-CPI(M) leaderships to social democratic positions and of the anarchist acts of the CPI(Maoist) forces have defamed the communist movement and the left forces in general all over the country, especially from the new generation. This degeneration of the established left forces and anarchist Maoists contributed much, along with other factors, in the ascendance of RSS backed Modi to power, as the alternative to the hated Congress.

In spite of these, some of those who were part of the Communist Revolutionary forces and some good intentioned friends of the left movement advocate that, as the country is facing a dangerous situation, let us forget and forgive and build a broad left and democratic platform to confront this challenge. This is happening when, in spite of decimation in the LS elections and in all other elections including the recent by-elections to assembly seats in W. Bengal, the CPI (M)) and its allies are not ready to learn any lessons and are ready to support the Congress in the name of opposing BJP. They are still not convinced about the need for keeping these social democrats out of a left platform. Any effort to form a left and democratic platform with such parties will only further weaken the left forces politically and organizationally.

It is in this context, CPI (ML) Red Star is proposing the formation of a left and democratic Platform based on a common minimum program which can be arrived at through discussion based on following points:

(1) Oppose imperialist globalization-liberalization-privatization and neo-liberal policies; Struggle against imperialist domination through IMF, World Bank, WTO and MNCs; Fight against corporatization of all fields; End corporate-mafia raj.

(2) Stop displacements for Neo-liberal Projects; Confiscate all lands from mafias, big landlords etc; End corporatization of agriculture and Second green Revolution; Implement progressive land reforms promoting co-operative agriculture, providing assistance to the farmers for agricultural development; ensure rights of agricultural workers including dalits and adivasis ensuring their right over the land.

(3) End price-rise; Implement universal Public Distribution System; Ensure education, healthcare, housing and employment for all. Provide unemployment allowance to all unemployed.

(4) End corporatization of industry; Struggle for socialization of all core sectors including energy, mining, steel, minerals etc; Fight contract and casual labour system, struggle for need based wages, job security and democratic rights of working class.

(5) Democratize society through Constitutional and democratic reforms including the right to recall elected representatives as well as government servants; Reform electoral laws introducing proportional representation; Prosecute all corrupt through special courts; Bring in to force appropriate democratic agencies with full power for this; Confiscate all black- money deposited in foreign banks and other hide-outs.

(6) Ensure Adivasis' right over their land and natural resources; Implement autonomous councils based on Sixth Schedule in Adivasi areas; End caste-based and communal oppression, and attacks on women, dalits and oppressed classes and sections; Realize casteless and secular society.

(7) End all forms of gender discrimination; Ensure women's equality in all fields.

(8) Scrap AFSPA, UAPA and all other black laws; Withdraw military from Jammu- Kashmir and Northeast; End state terror and achieve all round democratization of the administration and society.

(9) Settle all border disputes, a hangover from colonial days, through bilateral discussions; With draw military from borders and cut down military expenditure; Develop fraternal relations with neighbouring countries; Liberalize Visa rules to improve people to people relations.

(10) Abolish imperialist promoted 'development' policies which devastate nature, cause 'climate change', lead to ecological catastrophes and impoverish masses; Implement people oriented, sustainable and eco-friendly development paradigm.

The CPI(ML) Red Star proposes that the strenuous efforts for communist unity based on ideological, political, organizational line according to present concrete conditions on the one hand, and for building the broad left platform based on a CMP should be tirelessly carried forward simultaneously in order to develop a powerful countrywide people's alternative to challenge all ruling class alternatives including the growing challenge posed by the BJP government through intensification of corporate loot and communal frenzy.

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