(Speech delivered by Com KN Ramachandran at the International Webinar organized by ICOR on the occasion of 150th Anniversary of Paris Commune)
Comrades, first of all on behalf of CPI(ML) Red Star I congratulate ICOR for organizing this webinar on such an important subject, the contributions of the Paris Commune when we are observing it 150th anniversary. We communists observe the anniversary of such epochal movements not as a ritual, but to analyse them and take lessons from them.
The Commune was an antithesis to all forms of capitalist and dependent states that have emerged at various phases of human history till today. First decree of the Commune, was to suppress standing army, and substitute it by the armed people. Similarly bureaucracy was replaced with elected functionaries at all levels, with right to recall them. As far as those elected to various bodies at all levels are concerned, the people who elected them had right to recall them also.
Commune decreed the separation of religion from the state; Gender equality became an accepted principle; Women played an important role in both the initiation and the governance of the Commune, In short, the Commune was visualized as the concentrated form of people’s power. Following Marx’s analysis of the Commune experience in lhe Civil War in France, Lenin also had analyzed its great significance, and in the concrete conditions preceding October Revolution had developed the Soviets with the call “all power to the soviets”.
But in later years, following October revolution, though Lenin declared “all power to the people, to the Soviets”, after the initial leaps forward, the concept of state capitalism started emerging under the cover of NEP. Communist Saturdays like experiments started disappearing. Concepts like state capitalism led by the party also came up. Bureaucratic tendencies were raising their heads in the state, army and slowly in the party. Though the party documents warned against them, explaining how eventually such tendencies shall lead to return to bourgeois state power, and called for fighting against them, party could not put forward any concrete methods of struggling against all ideas and to strengthen socialist values.
What happened to Soviets? Based on Lenin’s concept of “all power to the Soviets” the Soviet Union was constituted as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Soviets were supposed to be elected from village/town level to top most positions in USSR, to the the Supreme Soviet. But as catching up with the imperialist powers like ideas started becoming stronger, with erroneous concepts like Socialism with American efficiency, the theory of productive forces started coming to dominance. Socialist transformation as a basically different, or anti-thesis of capitalism and its institutions was not projected in the way it should have been. The Collectives becoming bureaucratized farms, or farms under bureaucracy. In this situation the concept of Soviets started disappearing except in name. As the danger of Second World War increased, and later the aggression by Nazi Germany became a reality, like NEP in 1920s, the War economy became a cover for further centralization of power and penetration of capitalist ideas and culture.
Instead of developing proletarian democratic models starting with strengthening the Soviets, transcending the limits of bourgeois democracy and advancing to people’s democracy, the danger of Soviet Union becoming a bureaucratic state capitalist dictatorship was a threat in the post-War years. It was in this situation, the revisionists gaining strength day by day, used the opportunity provided by departure of Stalin in 1953 could use the military and usurp power peacefully from within, transforming SU to a social imperialist power by 1960s.
In the 8th Congress of CPC almost same process was started by the capitalist roaders in China also. But under Mao’s leadership the socialist forces retaliated with Socialist rectification movement at all levels, (when the Soviet revisionists stopped all aid to China already economically blockaded by the imperialist powers, and withdrew all engineers working in different projects), challenging it with) Backyard Furnace campaign for a self-reliant people oriented development of technology, and People Communes as the centers of people’s political power, taking up the whole process of democratization, and people’s plan for development As the struggle with the capitalist roaders in power intensified, Mao called on the people to attack their headquarters by developing the theory and practice of Cultural Revolution to intensify class struggle at the realm of super structure to establish socialist thinking among the masses. But, though it succeeded to remove the leading capitalist roaders like Liu Shaochi and Deng Tsiaoping from power, under the camouflage of intensifying these efforts, the CR was hijacked by the petti-bourgeois left adventurist Lin Biao camp, dominating the 9th Congress of the CPC in 1969, with the new era theory, concept like heroes making history replacing the Marxist teaching that it is the masses who create history. In his book, Long Live the Victory of People’s War, it advocated that all Asian, African, Latin American countries are in semi-feudal, semi-colonial condition similar to pre-revolutionary China, and should follow the path People’s War as in China. This line was diametrically opposed to Mao’s teaching that like China rejected the efforts to impose the Soviet Line by a section of the CPC, and successfully followed its own path of revolution, every party should analyze the situation in their country and develop its own path. But, as the Lin Line was propagated as Mao’s line, it influenced all the ML forces emerged in 1960s, causing grievous consequences to them.
As inner party struggle in CPC intensified following the 9th Congress, with the help of centrist forces led by Chou Enlai, the rightist forces went on strengthening, and in spite of Mao’s last struggle removing Deng who was reinstated in 1974, from power in early1976; following Mao’s death, with the help of centrist Hua Kuofeng, who had replaced Chou, the capitalist roaders could suppress the left in a military coup. Deng returned with the Four Modernizations. Understandably, destroying the People’s Communes and calling for ending the CR were the first steps taken by Deng. China also degenerated to capitalist path. Almost same things happened in all former socialist countries in various forms through “peaceful transition” back to capitalist path. Same thing happened to the Communist Parties formed under Comintern’s inspiration also; almost all of them degenerating to social democracy, to apologists of neocolonialism and now to apologists of neo-fascism. The Marxist Leninist Organizations emerged in 1960s splintered, with a section going to the side of social democracy, and the other to “Maoism”, to modern day Mensheviks and Narodniks. As a result, when we are observing the 150th anniversary of Paris Commune which gave rise to the first workers’ state, the international communist movement has not recovered from these grave setbacks yet.
Today the capitalist imperialist system has transformed the whole world in its own image to unprecedented levels under the neo-liberal, corporate policies, with the destruction of the livelihood of the vast masses and ecological destruction almost reaching its peak, threatening even the very existence of human species on this earth, giving rise to climate change and outspread of one pandemic after another;
The challenge today before us is: either throw out the capitalist imperialist system and initiate a sustainable, ecology friendly, egalitarian development paradigm under democratization with all power to people, taking the positive contributions of the Paris Commune, the Soviets and the People’s Communes along with the CR according to present conditionss, or perish!
It means if Paris Commune was a great breakthrough towards the realization of a proletarian state as an lternative to the capitalist system, today what we need is a great leap of this experience to confront the present challenges, learning from the past positive and negative experiences.
For this we have to throw away all reformist, legalist, social democratic garbage and petti-bourgeois opportunist concepts like ‘peaceful transition to socialism’ and intensify class struggle with a comprehensive, all embracing understanding, building a basically different alternative, and unleashing the CR to transform the super structure strengthened by the barbarous imperialist system as part of class struggle.
We have to develop the Leninist daringness to develop theory and practice, to build powerful Bolshevik style parties according to present situation in all countries, develop proletarian internationalism constantly trying to overcome present challenges as a result of imperialist forces and their junior partners globalizing and liberalizing everything through corporate fascist neoliberal policies.
Along with developing revolutionary parties in every country and a Communist International of a new type to advance toward World Proletarian Socialist Revolution; Let us take up thse national and international tasks and make ICOR capable of taking up this challenge learning from the experience of the Paris Commune!
Red Salute to all comrades! Long Live ICOR!
Marx never made any abstract statement like “Revolution is Inevitable”; On the contrary, in the Communist Manifesto prepared for the Communist League and published in 1848, Marx and Engels categorically declares: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”. So, when Kobad Ghandy‘s (KG) interview with Ms Jyothi Punwani published in the 28th March, Weekly Magazine of The Hindu, (given as separate article) appears with the title ‘We can no longer keep saying revolution is inevitable’ the reader will be confused, as it is the revisionists who teach revolution is inevitable and there can be peaceful transition to socialism. As far as we know, the party he was in, the CPI(ML) People’s War (PWG) in the beginning and CPI(Maoist) also do not say so. So, we can conclude that it is a headline given by the editors.
KG belongs to the generation of comrades who joined the Naxalite movement(as the CPI(ML) movement is popularly mentioned in the mainstream media) during the objectively potential, post-Emergency years. He left his studies in UK and returned to Mumbai, organized the Vidyarthi Pragati Sanghatan (VPS), the most active student organization of Mumbai at that time, formed Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) with Ad. P.A. Sebastian and other friends, and by 1979 joined the PWG. For 30 years he worked with PWG, and then CPI(Maoist) before he was arrested in 2009 from Delhi. During this period probably in 1991 when K.G. Sathyamurthi, who was secretary for many years was expelled for his stand on caste question, for some time he was also separated from PWG; but soon he re-joined it. After 10 years jail life, he came out on bail in 2019. His book: Fractured Freedom: A Jail Memoir, is just published. During his days in Tihar jail he had written few articles on various topics, critically reviewing his experience, which were published in the Mainstream weekly.
Though in 1979, when I had gone to Mumbai to organize the CRC, CPI(ML), I tried to meet him, as he had gone out for some meetings, I could not. Collecting his number from PA Sebastian, I called him and had a fairly long talk with him. From that as well as from the article he had written in People’s Power, an irregular Bulletin published by Prof. Dixit, on agrarian relations in India, it was clear that he had become firm advocate of the ideological-political-organizational line of PWG by that time. Later in early 1990s, when he was ‘semi-underground’ after his brief separation from PWG, and living at Nagpur I had a long discussion with him. Then also, apart from some differences on the organizational decisions of PWG, he strongly defended its line. So, his articles in Mainstream in which he had made critical assessment of many aspects of the PWG/Maoist line (of course not mentioning its name) was a surprise, Now, in this interview he has explained his thoughts on the PWG/Maoist movement more clearly. Many of these critics were raised much earlier by others including me, of course from different view-points. As I had met him after the three round of discussions with the PWG for merger had failed, the points of differences were explained to him, including our stand that both, the right deviation in Soviet Union as well as the left adventurist Lin line in China emerged from erroneous understanding of post-Second World War imperialism which had transformed its plunder of Asian-African-Latin American countries from colonial to neo-colonial forms, ie from direct control to control through finance capital, technology transfer, market and military deals; and this plunder reaching more aggressive forms, with earlier welfare state concepts and state intervention in production through public sector, changed to neoliberal corporate policies under the dictates of IMF-WB-WTO. When I argued that the problem with most of the CR forces is their refusal to recognize the vast changes taking place as a result at international and national developments, and to develop their program and path of revolution accordingly, though we had a healthy debate, he did not commit anything. Later I came to know that he re-joined the PWG. At that time I had pointed out to him that how can anyone justify in the name of advancing revolution incidents like Kakthiya Express burning, fate of a girl who went in search of the revolutionary party, punishments like cutting away hands or legs of suspected police informers etc. Com KG had agreed with me that such practices should be stopped. Viewed in this background, I am happy that at least now he has come out with a serious critic of the practice of CPI(Maoist) and the consequences of these, both political and theoretical.
What are his main criticisms?
- Socialism all over the world has given enormous economic benefits to the people. But communist systems too have suffered setbacks; their weaknesses need to be rectified;
- No one can be happy without the necessities of life. But to talk only about the economic aspect of change isn’t enough. After some time, power and ego start affecting people in the movement. But if you have a value system integrated into your goal, you can counter these influence
- People don’t change merely with a new ideology; their subconscious thinking inculcated in childhood continues to influence them. Socialism doesn’t automatically bring forth a ‘socialist person’. You have to struggle to become one.
- With caste superiority coming ‘naturally’ to Indians, this is all the more important. I also saw it in Jharkhand’s jails. When the Naxalite inmates belonging to the Marxist Coordination Committee heard I was being brought there, they came running. The media had projected me as a top Maoist leader, and they thought that, like other Naxal leaders they knew, I’d have pots of money. When they saw I didn’t, they slunk away, refusing to help. It was a don who helped me get warm clothes in the Jharkhand winter! Some of these Naxalites were part of the jail mafia, and ran most of the lucrative wards. Jharkhand has such a heroic history of resistance to the British, starting from the 18th century. What are the Naxalites doing to their tradition?
- Indian Marxists are terribly dogmatic. They are just not willing to discuss new concepts, nor are they willing to acknowledge that communism has suffered a severe setback worldwide. It should make them think. Economic and social conditions today are so atrocious, yet there is no alternative — unlike when we were young, when communism was the rage.
- But how we go about achieving it needs to be discussed. We can no longer keep saying, ‘Revolution is inevitable’. In Andhra/ Telangana’s jails I saw that despite 40 years of the revolutionary movement there, the younger generation knew nothing about it. But all that senior leftists say is: ‘Revolution has its ups and downs, but finally it will come,’ without any analysis.
- Can we still say ‘the working class is the vanguard’? Where is the working class in India? Since the 90s, there’s only contract labour and sub-contracted labour. The workers are not on the factory floor, they are fractured. I was shocked to learn in Jharkhand that even the Railways contracts out the smallest job — say, cleaning train toilets — to 10 different contractors. An inmate told me he earned ₹10,000 from his job as a driver, but ₹30,000 from illegally selling diesel. So this worker is basically self-employed. Would such workers have a proletarian mentality? Where is the relationship between the proletariat and the capitalist? The workers are highly oppressed, but they have been socially de-proletarianised
- Islamists only wanted to convert me, talking about jannatetc! Some of them even advocated bomb blasts in public places as the solution against injustice. Muslims who may die in such blasts would be collateral damage, they said. Identity politics leads to vote bank politics and makes it easier for Hindutva parties to get the sympathy of even ‘lower-caste’ Hindus, and to target Muslims and Dalits.
- I think they soon realised I couldn’t give them much information. They knew more than I did! Basically, they also knew that more than them
When Com.KG raises these criticisms, surprisingly what is absent is a self-critical approach. When he had returned to Mumbai with the decision to join the revolutionary movement,(a great decision which the students and youth) he was 26 years old, post-graduate intellectual and must have tried to read the Great Debate of CPC against CPSU, the writings of Edgar Snow, William Hinton like friends of Chinese Revolution, Mao’s 5th volume documents, some of the literature on Cultural Revolution (brought by KS from Hong Kong and later published as 6h to 10th volume of Mao’s works, the extensive writings on IMF and World Bank projects corporatizing agriculture in Latin American countries turning them to banana republics, Thatcherism which advocated substitution of Keynesian welfare state concepts with neoliberal policies hotly debated from early 1970s in UK, the debate then going on in the Economic and Political Weekly on mode of production in Indian agriculture etc similarly he must have heard about post-modernism and its product identity politics, the debate on the failures of socialism practiced in the socialist countries including Soviet Union etc He must have read at least seen some of the voluminous reports on what was happening in China during 1976-78 period, especially available in UK.
But, still in spite of all these how he could accept the PWG line which had refused to learn anything from them and write such an article like the one he wrote for Dixit’s publication trying to argue India was still semi-feudal in 1979? Similarly, after Naxalbari Uprising, under its influence many progressive intellectuals had come forward with many friendly critics of the movement, including books which deepened the ideological struggle against further degeneration of CPI and CPI(M) to social democracy. The Dalit Panthers had come forward by 1972 from Pune calling for taking up the study of Ambedkar’s books, and the need to start caste annihilation movement as part of class struggle.
What I want to point out is that the post Emergency years in India, as well as the 1970s as a whole internationally was a vibrant period with the Vietnam war of US/ the national liberation movement in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea inspiring the struggling masses around the world. Almost all the questions now raised by KG now were raised then by many revolutionary streams, intellectuals of that time. The importance of analyzing the transformations taking place in forms of imperialist plunder after the War under IMF-World Bank- GATT agreements were also hotly debated topics then. Within our country, among the CR forces also such discussions were taking place. As a result of these many initiatives were also forthcoming. The first mistake committed by was that in spite of all these, he led the large number of students in VPS, many of whom were ready to become professional revolutionaries hastily to the fold of PWG. As a result, many left political work midway. Those who continued like KG became disillusioned.
The second criticism I raise against KG is that, even after so much damage is done by the Maoist line (which is nothing but Linbiaoism), in spite of raising serious criticism against it, he has not denounced it; showing that still he maintains loyalty to it. Like the petti-bourgeois intellectuals who openly or secretly support the Maoists and become directly or indirectly link with the front organisations floated by them, even after most of the Maoist movements not only in India, but in Nepal, Chile, Turkey and Philippines facing degeneration as in Nepal or disintegration in other places recognizing the consequences of the erroneous line followed by the Maoists, he is not ready to reject it, and look around and see many efforts made by the CRs like CPI(ML) Red Star to confront the issues raised by him.
As Mao has made it repeatedly clear the path of protracted people’s war pursued by the CPC was unique one developed to suit the China’s situation, which was a feudal, semi-feudal society, without any centralized government, where the communists to work within the Kuomintang army during Sun Yat Sen’s time, and after his death when the supremo Chiang started suppression of communists which reached its peak in 1927, compelling them to retreat to rural areas. But a sizable section of the army under Chu Te also joined the communists, turning the revolutionary movement in to a war between two armies! Today the concrete situation under the neoliberal/corporate offensive by the imperialists and their junior partners in power in the neo-colonially dependent countries have drastically changed. From the beginning of 1980s a number of mass uprisings, starting with anti-IMF revolts in Latin America, the Arab Spring when these mass uprisings uprooted decades-long dictatorships and oligarchies. This situation continues. Even the more than four months old siege of Delhi by tens of thousands of farmers also is part of these uprisings. If there are powerful, Bolshevik style communist parties existing in these countries they can come to their leaderships and capture power. Besides, as ecological destruction under the neoliberal loot of the nature has reached such a peak threatening an ecological catastrophe, causing the extinction of human species from the earth, the humanity is facing the challenge: either revolutionary overthrow of the imperialist system and reconstruction of the world with a much more advanced, nature friendly development perspective, or perish. In spite of such vast changes, the Maoists in Chhattisgarh organizing an attack on police and trying to continue its squad actions is only helping the corporate fascist Modi government to use them as pretexts to intensify attacks on the struggling farmers and other toiling sections. Even after grave mistakes committed like supporting an N T Rama Rao, or YSR in AP or Shibu oren in Jharkhand, or TMC in WB in 2011 after calling for ‘boycott of elections.
One important claim made by the intellectuals and NGOs supporting the Maoists is that they are preventing the corporate loot in the areas were they are present! But what is the truth? The maximum penetration of corporates took place in Jharkhand during 1990s and 2010s when the Maoists had maximum strength in the area. It is in Bastar’s Dantewada, where they have maximum presence, the ESSAR mining and exporting of the best iron ore from Balladilla is increasing every year. The practice of collecting huge amounts of levy from the forest contractors, corporates and construction companies, without any system of accountability have made the cadres and leaders corrupt as KG saw. With all respect to Anuradha whom I have meet three times at Nagpur and discussed about our practice of mass line, the Chhattisgarh adivasis developing better politics than those in Jharkhand who are led by MCC is one of the myths propagated by Arundhati Roy like authors in her “God of small things” line. Just providing uniform and gun training will not make any one self-confident. The real problem with the Maoists is that instead of pursiong the Marxist line of ‘people create history’, their line is ‘hero’s make history’ which keep followers politically backward even after 40 years of activities. At the same time, in Odisha alone from the Chika movement to Vedanta and POSCO there are many examples of militant mass movement driving away the corporates. In Chhattisgarh also through big mass movements Shivnath River’s privatization and the SEZ in Rajnathgaon were stopped. The ten nuclear power plants announced by UPA govt also did not come up because of stiff resistance by people. But the trigger happy Maoist leadership is not ready to ‘seek truth from facts’
Marxism teaches that we have to overthrow the capitalist system and advance to communism through a period of socialist transformation, during which the the hitherto ruling class ideas which are dominating the society should be thrown out and new shoots of socialist alternative models of development and democray should be developed. 150 years ago the communards of Paris were the first to practice it. This first proletarian state has given many lessons including the slogan “all power to the people”. After October Revolution, Lenin had given the call all power to the Soviets. Mao tried to take it one step forward through People’s Communes. Imperialists and their lackeys targeted them for attack, as they wanted to destroy such communist shoots to grow. So, Mao called for starting Cultural Revolution one step ahead of revolutionary movement. But for many culture meant just war songs presented by Gaddar or its imitations. There were no efforts to rectify the mistake done by the communist movement in 1930s when they refused to learn from Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar and put caste annihilation as an important part of class struggle. They may kill one or two RSS men, but will never launch a campaign to teach the dangers RSS fascism going to brimg to them. They refuse to teach that while fighting majority fundamentalism, the struggle against minority fundamentalism should not be kept away, as both are dangerous, both collaborate to prevent revolutionary advances.
A more detailed response is necessary to expose the superficiality of the observations made by KG. One can try to do it after going through his book. The problem with such half-hearted exposures of an organization and its practice, which are continued in spite of colossal mistakes is that it will not help to resolve the problems confronted by the communist movement. Lenin was ruthless in his struggle against the then Mensheviks and Narodniks, as he was convinced that without it building of a Bolshevik party capable of making revolution is not possible. But many of our friends are reluctant to do so, as many among the right opportunists, the modern day Mensheviks are our old friends; similarly how can we attack the modern day Narodniks, as many of them sacrifice their lives, or are good boys known to them. Such subjective ideas go against the interest of revolution. If KG really want to help the rectification of present mistakes, to spread the vision of revolution with a revolutionary cultural perspective, he should tell his friends still in hide outs and forests to put an end to the anarchist line and practice, and come out openly among the people, make concrete analysis of present reality, and mobilise the masses for seeking truth based on facts. The present reality, the country’s capital under siege by hundreds of thousands of farmers with the support of tens of millions of the peasantry demand such transparent action.
We can no longer keep saying revolution is inevitable: Kobad Ghandy (Interview)
MARCH 27, 2021
UPDATED: MARCH 26, 2021 15:05 IST
The activist, whose book has just been released, criticises Indian Marxists for being terribly dogmatic, and says it’s the system that has failed, not the ideology
When he was arrested in 2009, headlines screamed ‘top Maoist nabbed’. Today, he’s juggling time between interviews and podcasts, after his book recounting his journey from London to Indian jails (Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir) has become a bestseller. In an interview, he talks about these experiences, the setbacks suffered by communism, and the need for socialists to build a system of values beyond economic issues.
So, are you a Naxalite?
What is a Naxalite? It’s a vague term. There are many parties and groups who are called Naxalite. Some participate in elections, others work underground. Among the protesting farmers’ groups too, a few are reported to be affiliated to Marxist-Leninist groups.
I am for radical change and a socialist economic system. Capitalism has not given anything to the masses, while socialism all over the world has given enormous economic benefits to the people. But communist systems too have suffered setbacks; their weaknesses need to be rectified.
In your book you write that ‘universal happiness’ must be the goal of any movement for change. What happened to the goal of reducing inequality?
Of course, no one can be happy without the necessities of life. But to talk only about the economic aspect of change isn’t enough. After some time, power and ego start affecting people in the movement. But if you have a value system integrated into your goal, you can counter these influences. For example, I find people praising Anuradha [his late wife, Anuradha Ghandy] for her organisational capacities, not her personal qualities of straightforwardness, honesty, etc. which were equally if not more valuable for a social activist and, in fact, for any human being.
It’s true Freud came after Marx, but still I feel Marxists have ignored the importance of psychology. Just mechanically saying ‘social being determines consciousness’ doesn’t take into account the reality that people don’t change merely with a new ideology; their subconscious thinking inculcated in childhood continues to influence them. Socialism doesn’t automatically bring forth a ‘socialist person’. You have to struggle to become one.
Have you seen this lack of a value system affect those in the struggle?
Yes, and my book talks about it. With caste superiority coming ‘naturally’ to Indians, this is all the more important. I also saw it in Jharkhand’s jails. When the Naxalite inmates belonging to the Marxist Coordination Committee heard I was being brought there, they came running. The media had projected me as a top Maoist leader, and they thought that, like other Naxal leaders they knew, I’d have pots of money. When they saw I didn’t, they slunk away, refusing to help. It was a don who helped me get warm clothes in the Jharkhand winter! Some of these Naxalites were part of the jail mafia, and ran most of the lucrative wards.
Jharkhand has such a heroic history of resistance to the British, starting from the 18th century. What are the Naxalites doing to their tradition? They seem totally different from the Bastar tribals who, I heard from Anuradha, have transformed themselves through the movement to become self-confident and creative, especially the women.
I wonder how your comrades will react to this!
Indian Marxists are terribly dogmatic. They are just not willing to discuss new concepts, nor are they willing to acknowledge that communism has suffered a severe setback worldwide. It should make them think. Economic and social conditions today are so atrocious, yet there is no alternative — unlike when we were young, when communism was the rage.
Has communism failed or the people who implemented it?
The system has failed, not the ideology. History shows us that the socialist system is the most viable for the oppressed masses, while the existing system is destroying the lives not only of the poorest but now also of the middle classes. And the environment too. Only the 3,500-odd billionaires of the world are thriving.
But how we go about achieving it needs to be discussed. We can no longer keep saying, ‘Revolution is inevitable’. In Andhra/ Telangana’s jails I saw that despite 40 years of the revolutionary movement there, the younger generation knew nothing about it. But all that senior leftists say is: ‘Revolution has its ups and downs, but finally it will come,’ without any analysis.
Can we still say ‘the working class is the vanguard’? Where is the working class in India? Since the 90s, there’s only contract labour and sub-contracted labour. The workers are not on the factory floor, they are fractured. I was shocked to learn in Jharkhand that even the Railways contracts out the smallest job — say, cleaning train toilets — to 10 different contractors. An inmate told me he earned ₹10,000 from his job as a driver, but ₹30,000 from illegally selling diesel. So this worker is basically self-employed. Would such workers have a proletarian mentality?
Where is the relationship between the proletariat and the capitalist? The workers are highly oppressed, but they have been socially de-proletarianised.
Your observations on Islamists may also make you unpopular among your comrades. Identity politics is the in thing now.
I’ve written what I saw. Afzal Guru introduced me to the progressive concepts of Islam, but the Islamists only wanted to convert me, talking about jannat etc! Some of them even advocated bomb blasts in public places as the solution against injustice. Muslims who may die in such blasts would be collateral damage, they said. Identity politics leads to vote bank politics and makes it easier for Hindutva parties to get the sympathy of even ‘lower-caste’ Hindus, and to target Muslims and Dalits.
You’ve described the Nirbhaya rapist as a “vile sort.” Can you elaborate?
He would lie at the drop of a hat. I never saw anyone as manipulative and hypocritical as him, with his pujas on the one hand and his vicious outbursts against Nirbhaya’s mother on the other. Whenever he heard about her interviews, he’d say she deserved to be raped.
Physically you were not touched by the police. What restrained them?
I think they soon realised I couldn’t give them much information. They knew more than I did! Basically, they also knew that more than them, jail life would break me. Most people end up disillusioned in jail. I also did break, now and then. It’s not just the indignity of jail life, it’s the legal system too. You don’t know when you will be free or in what condition. Fortunately, I could keep myself sane through yoga and exercise, reading and writing, and Mainstream Weekly published my articles. My first phase in Tihar was very tough. I was very lucky that Afzal befriended me and cushioned the impact. He was jovial, educated; we could discuss so many things.
Jyoti Punwani is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist.
Hallo old friend and comrade SRP, warm greetings.
For your information some points. Today Hindu carries an interview of your general secretary Yechury that cpim will have no truck with communal forces. In Kerala you say Muslim League is communal. But you have relationship with INL and SDPI. Though you may not accept understanding with RSS as it's leaders claim. In TN League is a prominent part of DMK led front. In Assam Congress led front in which you are also there, Muslim organisations have good presence. In Bengal you have alliance with newly formed Indian secular front which is outrightly communal. During Bhangar movement CPI-M top leaders also had supported it as it was the only struggle which challenged TMC. In last Lok Sabha elections we had supported your candidature Bikash Ranjan Bhatacharya for jadavpur seat as he had helped us with court cases. Only there, your candidate got deposit back. Then your Bengal leaders had openly said that in assembly election they will support Red Star candidate in Bhangar. But what you are doing now? Supporting the ISF candidate who is campaigning only communally against Red Star candidate. Don't you think that when you claim to profess big things, at least you should practice it also.
This note is written on the eve of the historic tractor rally going to take place at the national capital, Delhi, as part of the assertion of people’s right to get the laws adopted by the party in power, if it goes against their basic interests. The Delhi police had barricaded Delhi heavily to prevent the farmers who were marching to the capital to participate in the Delhi Chalo call of the AIKSCC from entering the city. So, after reaching the borders they blocked all the six National Highways and went on strengthening the siege as even after rounds after rounds of discussions the Modi government refused to repeal the three Farm Acts.
As the farmers declared to organize the tractor rally to express their determination to get the Acts repealed, on the appeal of the Delhi police, the Supreme Court gave it the right to take decision on giving permission for it. Even when thousands of tractors started marching to Delhi from different states, till 23rd January afternoon police refused permission. Following this, when the Samyukta Sangharsh Morcha announced its decision to hold the rally even without permission, the police was forced to change its stand. It has now decided to remove the barricades and allow the tractor rally through the city streets. Probably, this is the first time after coming to power six years ago, Modi rule is compelled to change its decision. As the struggle is going to be intensified following the rally, and powerful solidarity actions by the fraternal organizations are increasing, the Modi rule will be compelled to repeal the 3 Farm Acts also sooner or later.
By successfully leading the struggle to stop corporatization of the agricultural sector through these Acts, the farmers as well as their supporters all over the country are greatly enthused. It is going to lead to more mobilization of the toiling masses for the victory of this struggle. Besides, all over the country the left masses along with the oppressed classes and sections have joined their movements in ever larger numbers, to resist and defeat the neo-liberal, corporatization moves by the neo-fascist forces. As a result, the objective conditions for developing the revolutionary advances as well as for preparing the subjective forces capable of taking this task forward have also become more favorable.
Presently, the Modi rule, guided by the neo-fascist RSS and representing the most reactionary section of the ruling class, serving as junior partner of imperialism, mainly US imperialism, is engaged In wiping out all parliamentary opposition for establishing a stable Hindutva vote-bank through its hate-politics and using the state machinery, judiciary and media in all of which the RSS has penetrated effectively. Grossly violating the Constitutional provisions, it has brought Ram temple and Jai Sri Ram as its manifesto and slogan. In continuation to lynching in the name of alleged beef eating to cow slaughter the hate politics and Islamophobia is intensified through campaign against the so-called Love Jihad.
At the same time, using saffronization intensified at maddening pace, and now Covid-19 as covers, a series of economic measures are taken starting with de-monetization, GST, liberalization-privatization of all remaining public sector units including Railways, etc, to reduction of all labor laws to 4 Labor Codes, imposition of the New Education Policy-2020 and the bull-dozing of the 3 Farm Acts are speeded up for the corporatization of all fields, taking the neoliberal raj to its zenith.
In its bid to weaken and terrorize the parliamentary opposition, it has succeeded to poach Congress MLAs in MP and replaced the Congress government in the state by its own govt, is engaged in de-stabilizing the Congress govt. in Rajasthan, managed to win a majority in recent Bihar elections, is engaged in bulldozing to power somehow or other in W. Bengal in the coming elections and using forceful collection of funds in the name of construction of Ram temple terrorizing the Muslim minority and al opposition led state governments. In this, it is utilizing all the central agencies including the CBI, NIA, ED, IB etc and the Constitutional institutions like the Supreme Court, Election Commission etc. As happened during the discussion on the 3 Farm Bills in the Rajya Sabha, even the parliament is reduced to serve its whims violating the well established procedures. The J&K is reduced to a colony under military boots. An atmosphere of terror and overwhelming domination of the RSS is created giving its parivar right to dominate everywhere and in everything and everyone opposed to it as anti-national. An impression was being created that RSS and its Modi rule have become omnipotent. The Godi media through lies and slanders is creating the impression that the Hindurashtra has come in to existence.
Following BJP led NDA’s big victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections riding on the saffron wave and chauvinist fervor created based on the Pulwama incident, in which 43 para-military forces were killed, and the Balakot surgical strike master-minded by the central agencies, horrifying details of whose planning and execution are slowly coming out now, the Modi-Shah team further intensified the fascist offensive. Article 370 ws struck down, J&K was reduced to 2 UTs, and even the whole leadership of opposition parties there were detained, terrorizing the people there. The Constitutional amendment to the Citizenship Law was passed, with the threat of preparing a new NPR, threatening millions from Muslim minority with the danger of losing the citizenship.
Though against this a powerful mass upsurge took place spear-headed by the Shahin Bagh movement, the outbreak of the Covid19 helped Modi to suppress it. The RSS openly provoked the communal rots in Northeast of Delhi, destroying the life and properties of Muslims terrorizing them. RSS parivar got further boost as the Supreme Court allotted the land where Babri Masjid stood for Ram temple construction, Modi launching the construction violating all secular principles, and BJP using Jai Sri Ramas its main election slogan. It is an all out offensive by the neo-fascist RSS forces.
In this situation, it is a welcome development that the parliamentary opposition has come out against the Modi government. But they have proved themselves incapable for organizing meaningful resistance against the corporate this fascist offensive of Modi government. Similarly, even after the privatization of all core sectors including the Navratnas, and severe attacks on the rights of the working class, except for occasional one day strikes in protest, the central trade unions have not launched any serious movement against these onslaughts on the working class and the people by the fascist forces in the interest of the corporate forces. Similarly, the parliamentary left, which was already decimated in W. Bengal and Tripura, is almost paralyzed in many states or uncertain to use al forms of struggle against RSS/BJP, primarily targeting it. Many of the Communist revolutionary forces who are sticking to their old concepts in spite of vast changes in the society, are left clueless, have become inactive or have gone behind the parliamentary left. In this grave situation, the question of resisting and beating back the RSS led offensive through Modi govt had become the most serious challenge before the revolutionary forces and the masses of the people.
It was in such an almost desperate situation, following the Delhi Chalo on 27th November call by the AIKSCC, the farmers started marching to Delhi, especially from Punjab, where they were protesting against the Ordinance issued in June for corporatization of agriculture using various forms of struggle including the railway bundh. As the Haryana police dug up the NHs and raised barricades on the roads from Punjab and Rahasthan, it looked like the farmers will not be able to advance towards Delhi. But, from 26th November, when the farmers threw away the barricades, overcame the lathi charge, water cannons and tear gas shells and reached the Delhi borders at Singhu and Tikri on 27th, the situation started changing.
As the Delhi police had raised very strong barricades and deployed large forces of police, CRP, BSF, Rapid Action Forces and Commandos on all border points, the famers’ organizations decided to start siege of the capital city by mobilizing more forces. Soon the farmers from UP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and all over the country started reaching the borders, and siege of Delhi from Gazipur Chilla and Palvel on UP border, and Shajahanpur on Rajasthan-Delhi road also started. Though 11 rounds of discussions took place between Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (KSM) and representatives of the government, they have failed as Modi govt is not prepared to accept the farmers’ demand for repeal of the 3 Farm Acts. So, the KSM is organizing a massive tractor rally in the city on 26th January as announced earlier and going to continue the siege till its demands are accepted.
In order to weaken and disintegrate the struggle the Modi govt as well as the BJP led state governments have resorted to all heinous moves, with the RSS parivar and ministers indulging in vicious propaganda, including dubbing the movement as led by Khalistanis, funded by China and Pakistan, tukda-tukda gang and even anti-national, when tens of thousands of ex-servicemen from Punjab and Haryana are also active in it. The PM, Modi, and top BJP leaders are repeatedly asserting that these farm laws shall benefit the farmers, consciously concealing the fact that they will not only harm the interests of the farmers immensely, but also destroy the food security and devastate the Public Distribution System. So, it is not only a struggle of the farmers, but of all toiling and oppressed masses.
Contrary to Godi media propaganda, the farmers’ movement has spread to all regions and more sections of people are coming forward in solidarity. Though the central trade unions could not mobilize the workers in large numbers in support of the struggle, all of them and other TU centers like TUCI, mass organizations of students, youth, women etc also have come forward to support the struggle. Though Modi tried to involve the Supreme Court to confuse the KSM leaders, he has failed. The only result was that the SC and the CJI got more exposed. As the movement is completing two months, already more than 150 comrades have become martyrs in the cold weather of Delhi. In spite of it, the farmers and their supporters are in fighting spirit. As thousands of tractors have started marching to Delhi from all states, the Delhi police came under great pressure and it has now permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi. As the farmers’ organizations have declared unanimously if is a victory for the farmers. As the historic movement is spreading to all corners of the country challenging the Modi government, it is coming under great pressure. Giving permission for the tractor rally is a reflection of this. The farmers’ organizations have declared that they will not lift the siege of Delhi until the 3 Farm Acts are repealed.
Without any doubt, it is the most powerful people’s upsurge in the history of our country: it challenges the neoliberal policies dictated by the IMF-World Bank-WTO trio to serve the interest of the imperialist powers. So, it is an anti-imperialist struggle, in essence. It is a positive thing that almost all the political parties, mass organizations and people’s movements, except those of the RSS parivar have come out in some form or other in support of the struggle. If the Anti-CAA/NPR movement had attracted large sections of people last year, the farmers’ struggle and the solidarity movement in support of it is many times more powerful and broad-based. It has exposed the advocates of pessimism who come out with many theories why such a broad based movements and revolutionary changes cannot take place in India, including many from the parliamentary left. On the contrary, the ongoing farmers’ upsurge shows that India is no exception; in this phase of neoliberal/corporate offensive of the global imperialist system, similar to the numerous people’s upsurges taking place against the ruling forces in both neo-colonially dependent and imperialist countries, there are increasing possibilities for the anti- CAA, anti-farm Acts like upsurges taking place repeatedly in India also. Experience during last 2-3 decades show that in the absence of a powerful revolutionary communist party to guide it to higher phases and even up to seizure of political power with a clear vision of people’s democracy and socialist transformation, either they are led to reformist channels, or their development on the revolutionary path suppressed.
A study of the political forces who are supporting this historic farmers’ movement will explain this question clearly. The activities of the Congress party, which introduced the neoliberal regime in India, carried forward the reforms linked with it and even tried to go for corporatization of agriculture in 2013, are only limited to getting back to power defeating BJP which is speeding up the reforms in fascistic ways and pursuing the hard Hindutva path of Hindurashtra. If it comes back to power along with its old UPA allies, it will go back to its former rightist path with the soft Hindutva line. The other regional or caste-based political parties, which are basically part of the ruling class spectrum, but support the farmers’ struggle and oppose the BJP, wherever they are in power, are pursuing the neoliberal policies in one form or other.
The parliamentary left, the CPI(M) led Left Front or LDF parties, are also doing the same as can be seen in Kerala. What about the organizations to the left of CPI(M)? Among them, all those who still consider Indian society as semi-feudal, in spite of the fast development of capitalist relations in the agricultural sector under land reforms from above, introduction of finance capital, new technology and market forces (Green Revolution), they do not organize the small, middle or big land owning sections of farmers where they have influence, because it goes against their theoretical positions. But, in Punjab and nearby areas they are working with one or another faction of BKU, focusing all their activities in the struggle for MSP and against corporatization of agriculture!
This is the same case with those who call themselves Maoists, though they do not accept anything less than armed squad actions in the forest regions for liberation of semi-colonial, semi-feudal India! At the same time those groups who consider India as a capitalist country in the stage of socialist revolution, while some of them oppose the farmers’ struggle as a reactionary struggle led by the rich farmer class, others support it, in spite of their theory that only the working class is capable of leading any anti-capitalist movement!
In such an extremely complex situation, when the countrywide upsurge created by the farmers’ movement, two important questions calls clear-cut explanations: what should be the approach of the Communist Partyto the agrarian question in India and to the intensifying farmers’ movement? What should be the role of the Communist Party in present situation in developing the anti-fascist movement, and at the same time building the party pursuing the path of independent communist assertion while participating actively in different forms of united fronts?
To address the first question, we have to start with a historical analysis of th revolutionary line of the communist movement. As Lenin explained in “Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism”, by the end of 19th century, capitalism was transformed to monopoly capitalism, i.e., imperialism. By that time, the imperialist forces had divided the Asian, African, Latin American countries among themselves. Among them, including India, largest number of these countries had become colonies of one imperialist country or other, In China and few other countries imperialist forces were contending for hegemony and were in semi-colonial stage, and the Latin American countries were dependent countries under US imperialist domination.
While US introduced capitalist transformation in the dependent countries, in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the imperialists used the pre-capitalist, feudal and semi-feudal relations/forces as their social base for domination. It was by analyzing this international situation, the Comintern in 1921 document called for socialist revolution in the imperialist countries, and anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution in the countries under various phases of colonization as democratic revolution, both together constituting the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution.
But, during the Second World War, the hitherto dominant imperialist power, Britain, became weaker, and US came to the leadership of the imperialist camp. In 1943 it convened the Brettenwood Conference and initiated the IMF, World Bank and GATT agreements to guide the post-war re-organization of the relations with the countries under colonization, introducing de-colonization by transfer of power to its junior partners in these countries, introducing the neo-colonial phase of imperialist domination. Under this, direct rule by imperialist powers was replaced by indirect control through increasing penetration of finance capital, technology, and market forces, along with military alliances. As part of this, the land reforms from above was advised, along with land ceiling laws and introduction of capitalist transformation of production relations in the agricultural sector.
In India, it was Punjab where irrigation was available with the completion of Bhakra Nangal project and the implementation of land ceiling laws took place was selected for the beginning of the Green Revolution by the end of 1950s. Soon using new hybrid seeds developed by the Indian and imperialist research institutes, chemicals and fertilizers, cultivation of wheat, rice and other food grains was started. Soon came up the question of marketing the outputs for which large inputs were used with the help of loans from money lenders and banks. These were new questions for which new answers were required.
When the CPI and CPI(M)embraced Soviet revisionist path and degenerated to parliamentary path, the Kisan organizations led by them abandoned the agrarian revolution based on revolutionary land reforms. When the GR areas were expanding fast, as they failed to recognize the changes taking place in the agrarian sector, they could not address the demands of the lower middle, middle and rich farmers who were adopting the GR mode for Minimum Support Prices for agricultural products and subsidy for inputs. Though the CPI(ML) and other streams of CRs after Naxalbari uprising adopted the line of agrarian revolution and initiated land struggles in some areas, their analysis of India as semi-feudal, failed them also to recognize the changes in the mode of production taking place in Punjab and expanding to nearby areas. So, they also could not address the problems of the new classes of lower middle, middle and rich peasants.
After the parliamentary left, when the revolutionary left also failed to recognize the transformation of imperialist plunder from colonial to neocolonial phase, and the fast changes taking place in the agriculture with the entry of finance capital, new technology and market forces, many new groups emerged addressing these issues. With the merger of eleven of these groups in Chandigarh n 1972, the Punjab Khetibari Zemindari Union was formed, which was later called Punjab Khetibari Union (PKU).In 1978, following the launching of the struggle for MSP and increase of subsidies, the PKU was transformed into the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) as a national forum for farmers with association to the Bharatiya Lok Dal of the Janata Party (Secular).
In 12 December 1980, an “All-India Kisan Sammelan” was organised which saw the unification of the Kisan Sangarsh Samiti (Haryana), Raytu Sangha (Karnataka) and Vyavasayigal Sangham (Tamil Nadu) under the ambit of the BKU. In 1982, the union faced a split under the designation of BKU (N) led by Narayanasamy Naidu and BKU (M) led by Bhupendra Singh Mann. It was however reunited by the intervention of SharadAnantrao Joshi under a federal structure with autonomous state units. Following the massive Delhi march, it was again re-organised in 17 October 1986 by Mahendra Singh Tikait with its headquarters in Sisauli in western Uttar Pradesh as a non-partisan organisation contrary to its previous association with the former Prime Minister, Charan Singh.
BKU continued without getting affiliated with any political parties. Later its federated units in all states faced many splits and some of them became inactive. In every state, especially in Punjab where it is the strongest aced faced the maximum splits, with all of them continuing as BKU groups. But in spite of all these splits, in Punjab and Haryana especially, all these groups fought for the Minimum Support Price for the agricultural products and succeeded to achieve the Agricultural Products Marketing Committees and numerous Mandis (markets) under it, ensuring the procurement of the 12 items at MSP and fast payment to the farmers. In spite of corruption and bureaucratic delays, it has ensured a better security for the farmers in Punjab and Haryana, with 50-55 % of them lower middle farmers owning less than 5 acres, 25-30 % of them middle owning 5 to 10 acres, and about 15 % of rich farmers owning more than 10 acres. It is because the three farm laws bull dozed by Modi rule will destroy the decades of security provided by the hard earned system, leading to their devastation under corporatization, that they are in the forefront of this do or die struggle.
The interesting feature is that whatever may be their organization’s ideological, political line about the changes taking place in the agriculture sector, not only the CPI, CPI(M), the RMPI, MCPI(U) like CPI(M) dissident groups, as well as most of the CPI(ML) or CR groups ranging from Liberation to ‘Maoists’ are active within some of the BKU groups or their peasant organizations are working with these BKU groups. At the same time, almost all of them have in the main abandoned the agrarian revolution addressing the problems of the landless and poor peasants and the agricultural workers. At Singhu and Tikri borders where almost all the farmers from Punjab and Haryana are camping, along with the BKU groups we can see the peasant organizations of all left parties/organizations, and left leaders who are active in most of the BKU groups, some of them in their leaderships. But at the same time, their units in other states keep away from the same task, fervently sticking to their semi-feudal analysis. One can only hope that the ongoing historic farmers’ struggle will compel them to abandon dogmatic approaches and force these organizations to make concrete analysis of the present situation and seek from truth.
Presently, the transformation in to capitalist mode of production is the dominant trend in the agriculture field and the question of marketing is the concern of the farmers who own even small holdings. So, the struggle to repeal the 3 Farm Laws imposed by the Modi government has become the concern of all cultivators. The Communist movement should recognize this reality and peasant organization focusing on it should be developed in all states make the members conscious about the negative aspects of corporatization.
Along with this, the organization of the agricultural workers and poor peasants should be developed with a program of revolutionary land reforms providing land to the tillers, developing co-operatives for development of agriculture in this land, better wages and continuity of work for the MNREGA workers, housing, healthcare, education like facilities etc. Organizations in these two fields should work together to develop the powerful peasant movement as part of the program for completing the tasks of the democratic revolution, immediately overcoming present ideological, political weaknesses.
The second task is to build th broadest possible anti-fascist united front to end the RSS led Modi rule as early as possible, and at the same time build the Communist movement always pursuing the path of independent communist assertion. This can be explained as follows:
Firstly, it has to be recognized that advent of neo-fascist RSS to power through the Modi government and its saffronization of all walks of life at maddening pace, while surrendering the country to neoliberal/corporate loot is the main danger confronting the people. So, we should work for the broadest understanding among all forces opposed to RSS/BJP to defeat it in all fields including parliamentary struggle. Any weakness in this approach will pave the way for further strengthening of the fascist forces, and should be exposed and defeated.
While doing so, it is imperative that the path of independent assertion of the revolutionary line should be pursued, without harming the united front. For example, in an election, while trying to unite all forces to vote out BJP, the party or the revolutionary left alliance led by it should put forward its Manifesto and campaign for it along with fielding its own candidates where it has sufficient strength among the masses. It amounts to building a Mass Political Platform to defeat the fascists.
Secondly, based on a Common Program evolved through mutual discussions according to concrete conditions, putting forward the vision of democratization of the society and an alternate path of development opposed to neoliberal paradigm, the left and democratic forces, oppressed classes and sections and people’s movements in the fields of ecological protection, secular-socio-cultural- fields and progressive intellectuals should be united to develop all forms of struggle including parliamentary struggle as part of the class struggle.
Thirdly, based on a self-critical analysis of the experience of hitherto communist movement and analysis of present situation, the theoretical offensive should be carried forward struggling against all alien trends for uniting all communist revolutionary forces and to develop mass fronts of youth and students and to recruit large number of cadres from them as part of building a powerful communist party capable of leading every people’s movement to higher phases and to mobilize the masses for a countrywide upsurge to seize political power. In the excellent objective situation and enthusiasm created by the ongoing historic farmers’ struggle let us carry forward the theoretical struggle and practical work in all fields with the outlook discussed above.
What happened on 26th January, the Republic Day proved our worst fears correct. As was apprehended, following the drama of 11 round of discussions, the intervention of Supreme Court, the last minute permission from Delhi Police to hold the Tractor Rally through agreed routes, Amit Shah and Delhi police worked with RSS goons to infiltrate the border areas where farmers were camping, especially at Gazhipur on UP border with a blue-print to create disturbances, with Delhi Police violating the agreement to open the barricaded road in the morning, erecting more barricades along the agreed routes or strengthening the existing barricades, thus provoking the farmers who were forced to stay for 61 days in bitter cold, with 155 of their comrades becoming martyrs, indulging in brutal attacks on selected spots provoking the farmers further, leading to the disturbances that happened on that day, with one farmer driving tractor killed and hundreds of farmers injured.
Right from 26th morning, the Godi media worked hard to spread false news to create confusion to create the image that the farmers are responsible for all disturbances, while it is thee Modi—Shah government and RSS- Police nexus as happened in Northeast Delhi pogrom, tis time ona mega scale. Soon the Godi media stepped in demanding action and now the movement is under fierce attack. All it leaders are booked, hundreds of farmers are arrested, and a vicious slander campaign using lies are resorted to. It is a grave situation.
But the AIKSCC and KSM are standing united and called for observing as a day of fast in protest, while postponing the parliament march. They have called for continuing the struggle mobilizing more forces. This is a critical time. This is the time for the Party along with all left forces and struggling sections to stand with the farmer movement. Let us try hrd to strengthen the movement at this critical juncture!
The centenary day of the first meeting of the communists from India is 17th October, 2020, which was convened at Tashkent based on the call of the First or Foundation Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), which is generally considered the beginning of the Communist movement in India. On 17th October, 2019, we had started the campaign to observe the centenary, taking the message of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and our decisions to confront and overcome the present challenges faced by the communist movement in our country and all over the world. But, meanwhile the humanity had to confront the still continuing worldwide crisis caused by Covid19 pandemic. It has its serious impact in India. So, this campaign could not be carried forward as we planned. The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star had called on all party committees to observe the conclusion of this campaign on 17-18 October in all states with webinars in different languages, hall meetings wherever possible, postering, distribution of handbills and social media campaign from 11th to 18thOctober. Some of the state committees are organizing programs till 7th November, the 103rd anniversary of the October Revolution explaining the importance of both.
We are of the view that unlike the parliamentary left, CPI and CPI(M), we should avoid a controversy whether the beginning was in 1920 or ‘25? As everybody accept, the first meeting was held at Tashkent which helped to initiate the efforts to build party inside the country and the first Conference of the Communist movement in India at Kanpur in 1925 paving the way for formal beginning of the party with the formation of the CPI. In the same year the RSS was also formed. So, during the discussions and evaluation of the experience of the Communist movement during this period, naturally the challenge posed by the RSS neo-fascism which is ruling the country through Modi led BJP also came up repeatedly. For us this should be a time for serious introspection for the Communists.
If the RSS has developed as such a mighty parivar with many millions of members, starting its work from Bal Gokul and ABVP to dozens of organizations, including the biggest trade union centre BMS, infiltrating every sectors of state machinery, armed forces, judiciary, and every Constitutional institutions, running the country in most ruthless Manuvadi, Brahmanical, neo-fascist way, where are the Communists? What led to the severe setbacks suffered by the Communists and their splintering, ideologically, politically and organizationally, in spite of the valiant struggles waged, the sacrifice of vast number of comrades etc. It calls for serious self-critical examination. But, see what is happening in Bihar elections? The BJP alliance is mainly challenged by the opposition Grand Alliance led by RJD-Congress. It is joined by the parliamentary left including the CPI(ML) Liberation. The six party front of BSP, Owaisi’s AIMIM, etc is in effect serving as a B-team of BJP.
Even though there is no dispute on the question that the opposition alliance is qualitatively not different, in this situation, if the BJP and its allies are to be defeated there is no other option but to support it, while the revolutionary left coming together in a coordination with a Common Program and campaigning against the fascist forces calling for a revolutionary alternative, fielding candidates jointly only in seats where they have some mass base. Though all the CR organizations were approached by the RLC with this proposal, they declined. While those taking Maoist positions are still pursuing their anarchist line, without recognizing the gravity of the RSS neo-fascist onslaught and the necessity to weaken Modi government by all means including by the correct utilization of parliamentary elections, they are approaching the elections in an aimless and sectarian manner fielding few candidates for self-satisfaction.
In the present critical condition, this opportunity of observing the centenary of the Communist movement in India, should be utilized to find out the reasons for degeneration to these sectarian positions within our country and internationally. Communists should continue efforts to find answers for it. The Communists who are still want to pursue the revolutionary path should dare to make a concrete analysis of the present situation, analysis of the transformation gone through from the post-Second World War years by the capitalist imperialist system including the changes it has made in its strategy and tactics, the transformation in the mode of production and ruling class policies in our country under the impact of these international changes.
From the time the Comintern called for uniting all anti-imperialist forces including the movements led by the big bourgeois class, it had stated that Communists should always pursue the path of independent communist assertion, build the party, class/mass organizations and the class struggle led by them, and be prepared to take the leadership of the revolutionary transformation of the society. Though the CPC under Mao’s leadership became a torch-bearer in applying this line correctly all other parties including the Communists in India failed in this repeatedly.
But in India, in spite of the numerous struggles it waged building up the party at all India level, during the colonial days, though imperialism versus masses of the people, it never tried to come to the leadership of the movement for national liberation and democratic revolution, it failed to understand the importance of the caste annihilation to achieve the unity with the most down trodden forces, to analyse the national question in India and unite the people of all nationalities around the demand for a genuinely federal India, defeating British efforts to communally divide the country using RSS and Muslim League, and to correctly pursue the international tasks during the Second World War while not compromising in the anti-colonial struggle within the country. As a result, during the period of independence struggle, in spite of many opportunities it failed to assert the communist line, or, the leadership followed a class collaborationist line, away from reality
During the post 1947 period following the left deviation and years of uncertainty, though a correct line calling for utilizing all forms of struggle including the ongoing armed agrarian movement of Telengana to complete the PDR was adopted in 1951, when confronted with the challenge of how to use the first general election came up without surrendering the Telengana struggle, the leadership once again surrendered to rightist positions. As the post-Stalin leadership in Soviet Union committed serious mistakes in evaluating the transformation of colonial forms of plunder to neo-colonial forms under US imperialist leadership following SWW, and degenerated to revisionist positions, the CPI leadership also went along with it. Though the inner party struggle continued and the first split happened in 1964 leading to formation of CPI(M), contrary to its claims it took a neo-revisionist stand soon. It became clear when making opportunist understanding with various forces including split away sections from Congress and Muslim League, the CPI(M) and CPI contested elections in 1967 and came to power in West Bengal and Kerala. So, the Communist Revolutionaries (CRs) within CPI(M) raised the banner of land to the tiller, which led to the Naxalbari Uprising and formation of CPI(ML) in 1969, a sharp break from the revisionist path.
But again a serious mistake took place in analyzing the Indian situation and developing the party line. Under the influence of Lin Biaoist sectarian line it opted for the China’s path, analyzing India as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country with people’s war as path. So it abandoned the formation of class/mass organizations, called for boycott of election as a strategic slogan, and armed struggle as the only form of struggle, to be initiated with the annihilation of class enemies. It was a left adventurist line pursued hastily without going for building a rudimentary form of party organization, mobilizing the millions who had supported the Naxalbari Uprising. Following brutal suppression by the state forces, the movement started splitting fast and by 1972 it was splintered into many groups. Though all these groups did not make any change in the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, people’s war line, soon one section continued to persist in te left adventurist line, another section had started veering to rightist positions. All came under severe stress and strain during the tumultuous 1970s, including arrests, martyrdom and suppression during the emergency rule. After revocation of the emergency and defeat of Congress, a more rightist Janata Party, came to power.
One benefit of this change was the release of almost all the CR forces and supporters from jail, including all top leaders. By this time the International Communist movement, the imperialist policies and the situation in the country also had undergone vast changes. Contrary to the expectations of the ML forces, after Mao’s death the capitalist roaders usurped power through a coup, and took China also to an imperialist path. Based on erroneous analysis of Mao’s contributions, the Albanian Party took opportunist positions. As all the former socialist countries degenerated from revolutionary path at various levels, the imperialists and their lackeys intensified anti-communist tirades. Following severe crisis in the 1970s, the US led imperialist camp went for neoliberal policies, cutting down all welfare measures and state intervention in the field of production. While on the one hand the globalization-liberalisation-privatisation created many illusions among the middle classes, it intensified the plunder of the working class and the oppressed people. Finance capital, and corporatization entered all fields, integrating the economies of the whole world, with WTO speeding up market dominance. Internationally itself, the CPI, CPI(M) like social democratic parties started advocating ‘there is no alternative’ to neo-liberal policies, and their executioners wherever they came to power.
The impact of these vast changes raised many important questions before the CRs. How to analyse the changes in China, Albania and all other former socialist countries? Whether the Communists should go for international unity, to form at least a platform at international level? What should be the approach to neoliberal policies and their impact in Indian agriculture and other spheres? What should be the approach to the newly emerging movement of middle and rich farmers for MSP and subsidies, who were by and large against the demands of poor and landless peasants, the agricultural workers for minimum wages and better living conditions? What shall be the nature of agrarian revolution in the new situation? As only feudal remnants are left, how to link the completion of the remaining anti-imperialist tasks of the democratic stage with the socialist stage of revolution? Or, have we reached the stage of socialist revolution? What should be the approach to the caste system which has become more divisive? Can we support the minority fundamentalism as in Khalistan movement against increasing threat of majority fundamentalism? Or should we take genuine secular stand opposing both? How to unite the CR forces and build a powerful Bolshevik style communist party capable of leading Indian revolution forward? How to approach the intensifying ecological destruction threatening ecological catastrophe, and even extinction of human species from earth? These and similar questions like national question, gender equality etc demanded answers from the CRs.
But almost all CR groups refused to answer any or most of these questions, and were ready to reject the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, people’s war frame, though most of them took mass line.. Three of them who rejected mass line later polarized as CPI(Maoist) pursued the armed struggle alone line. In spite of losing many of their past strong holds it pursues the same in more sectarian forms. On the other hand with CPI(ML) Liberation in the forefront a powerful section of these groups, including micro-split away groups and individuals have shifted to CPI(M) led Left Front. There are a number of groups in the middle, still sticking to the old frame and not ready to address these questions. It is by pursuing a ‘unity and struggle’ with all these sections, while striving to find answers to all above questions, the CPI(ML) Red star stream has developed with the merger of different CR organizations, groups and individuals continuously to its present position, ideologically, politically, organizationally. Internationally its intervention has helped the development of ICOR as a growing platform of the CR forces also. During the various webinars, discussions and articles by the leading comrades various aspect of this struggle by Red Star both in the spheres of theory and practice were explained during the concluding programs concerning the century of the communist movement in India. At two levels it is continuing this struggle: one an ideological struggle against the right deviation, which is the main danger in the communist movement; two, a campaign against Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS neo-fascism. The Party expects these ideological offensives, along with the developing practical struggles in the various fields shall lead to a polarization of all CR forces as well as the vanguard elements from the present generation leading to the building of a powerful communist party capable of leading the revolution to victory overcoming all obstacles.
Long Live Indian Revolution!
Intensify Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, the Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism!
Intensify Struggle to Throw Out RSS
Neo-Fascism! Advance to People’s Democracy and Socialism
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.