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1. The CC of CPI(ML) Red Star congratulate the people of Nepal for getting the Constitution promulgated in spite of all obstacles confronted during last seven years. At the same time, it condemns the interference of the Indian government in the internal affairs of Nepal. By arm-twisting the Constituent assembly members and the Nepal government it was trying to make Nepal a Hindu Rashtra. As a result of blockade of all its land routs from India using Madhesh struggle as a cover, a crippling situation is created in Nepal. The involvement of the Indian Government was clearly exposed in a letter demanding seven changes in the Constitution which the Indian government later tried to play down as “suggestions”. Our party has already issued a statement condemning the interference of Indian government in Nepal. We also initiated a joint statement signed by various parties, organizations and individuals. The CC appeals to all left and democratic forces have to bring pressure on the government to stay out of the internal affairs of Nepal.

2. The developments in Greece show that the Tsipras government has sold out. Still it could win in the latest elections as there is no alternative force committed to fight austerity measures, rejecting the neo-liberal raj. When more than 60% voted against austerity measures in the referendum, in the present elections people massively abstained from voting, showing their continuing opposition to neo-liberal policies. The CC extends full support to the people of Greece to take forward their struggle against the troika of IMF- European Central Bank- European Union who are imposing the austerity measures..

3. On 5th October 2015, the Trans Pacific Partnership has become a reality. This is a trade partnership between 12 countries on the pacific rim including the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Japan. The clauses of this pact have been shrouded in secrecy, and it seems it includes clauses on further extending patents and Intellectual Property Rights. It presents "grave risks" and "serves the interests of the wealthiest" according to progressive forces. In 2014, Noam Chomsky warned that the TPP is "designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to further lower wages to increase insecurity". The CC calls on all progressive forces to expose and resist these treaty.

4. The migration question in Europe is an ongoing crisis. The face of the young Aylan Kurdi has become the face of the migration problem. There were many attempts to trick the migrants in trains entering Europe by diverting whole trains. This problem surfacing shows the deteriorating state of affairs in the regions of North Africa, Central Asia and West and South Asia from where most of the migrants are coming. That it is a creation of imperialist, mainly US imperialist, intervention and aggression in the region and still they refuse to take responsibility of even a small section of the millions of refugees expose the barbaric nature of these forces. Instead of treating the migrants coming with humanitarian concern, they are being treated in rude and ham-handed manner by the US and European authorities. The CC severely condemn these inhuman attitude of imperialists and calls on all progressive forces to support the cause of the migrants and their right to get asylum as refugees from imperialist aggressions.

5. The UN summit on sustainable development has turned out as a big tamasha. Following on the 8 point millennium development goals set up in 2000, and after further deliberations at the Rio Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20), the UN has now adopted a charter of around 17 goals which are to be observed over the next 15 years to bring forth sustainable development. Going from such platitudes as ending hunger and poverty and the right to water the goals are aimed, unlike the MDG of 2000, not at governments alone but mainly at the private corporations. So now the saving of the environment (and removing poverty and hunger) has been left to the tender mercies of “corporates’ social responsibility”. Without a word of criticism about the non-achievement of the MDG of 2000, the imperialists and their lackeys are conveniently stepping over to the new 17 commandments of the sustainable development goals. The CC severely condemns these imperialist moves under the banner of sustainable development and calls on all progressive forces to oppose the present development perspective of the imperialist system which devastates nature and to campaign for a people oriented development which only can protect nature and ecology.

6. The election of Jeremy Corbyn, a left wing leader, as the leader of the Labour Party in UK shows the frustration of the working class there with leaders who compromise with the established imperialist policies. He advocates the re-nationalisation of public utilities and of the railways, abolishing university tuition fees and restoring student grants, a unilateral policy of nuclear disarmament, "People's Quantitative Easing" to fund infrastructure and renewable energy projects, and reversing cuts to public sector and welfare funding made since 2010; proposing combating tax evasion and avoidance by corporations and wealthy individuals, and reducing business subsidies, as an alternative to the government's austerity programme. The cutting of social welfare and social spending in the UK has clearly had its effect on the labour voters. The CC welcomes this as a sign of the left swing slowly taking place in many European countries.

7. The Malabar Exercise this year has seen Japanese Navy also being involved in this in the Bay of Bengal for the first time. Earlier, India only hosted this exercise when the US was the only other participant. The exercise, whenever it involved others was off the coast of Japan. This shows the increasing closeness of the Indian government with the US imperialist’ alliance. The CC condemns this exercise and subservience of Indian government to US imperialism and demand its dissolution.

Central Committee, CPI (ML) Red Star.
The CC meeting has called to Observe 6th December as “Anti- Saffronisation Day” with slogans “Resist conspiracy to turn India into Hindu Rashtra” and “Fight to save Right to Freedom of Thought, Food and Culture”. Recognizing the gravity of the intensifying communal danger with under currents of increasing fascist threats to the polity, the CC has called for chalking out plans independently and wherever possible joining with like minded forces by the Party committees and make the campaign and 6th December programs militant and vigourous.


The Central Committee meeting of CPI (ML) Red Star calls on all Party Committees to Observe 7th November, the 98th anniversary of the Russian revolution with the slogan “Peace, Bread and Democracy” (Shanti, Roti and Janwad), starting from grass root level campaigns and culminating with state level mobilizations. In the context of the year long campaign planned from 7th November 2016 to celebrate the Centenary of the October Revolution with revolutionary zeal, the CC calls on the Party committees to take up this campaign linking spirit of proletarian internationalism with the people’s issues.

[Adopted by the Tenth Congress of the CPI(ML) Red Star]

1. Presently the situation in India has changed drastically. The rightist Congress led government has given way to the ultra-rightist BJP led Government. But that is not the phenomenon only in India. The world today presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, in many Latin American countries the Left are being voted to power, and the recent success of the Syriza in Greece is quite as spectacular. On the other hand, in several countries across the globe the Right and the Ultra-Right are being returned to power with a vengeance. In Turkey, the Erdogan regime got a larger percentage of the vote after the struggle at Taksim square than before. In Nepal, the government of the UCPN (Maoist) has been replaced by the openly rightist Nepali Congress government. In Egypt, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood was stopped, but only by the army taking over power once again. Still, the youth in general do not appear to be attracted by the ideas put forward by the revolutionary left. Rather, their opposition to rightist regimes and policies is reflected in their gravitation towards sundry alternatives like the Aam Aadmi Party in India or the Greens, NGOs, etc., which have no radical alternatives to put forward against the reactionary ruling system which is speeding up imposition of the neo-liberal policies.

2. The situation in around 1950s was exactly the opposite. The upsurge of the international communist movement was so powerful that half of the land of the world and a third of the population were living in socialist countries. Powerful national liberation movements were challenging the vestiges of colonial domination. Strong communist parties were leading the movements of the working class and oppressed peoples in a number of countries. Since then, however, there has been a decline. It was usual for us, earlier, to blame Khruschevite revisionism for this decline. However, even the Chinese Party, even though it led the opposition to Khruschevite revisionism, itself fell prey to left deviation and, subsequently, revisionism. Many of the Marxist-Leninist parties which emerged in large number of countries all over the world finally accepted that both the USSR and China were not socialist any more but had degenerated as imperialist countries, colluding and contending for power with US and other imperialists. However, many of these Marxist-Leninist parties have simply vanished without a trace, while many have degenerated all over the world either into becoming neo revisionists or left adventurists. The problem with the international and national communist movement therefore is clearly not only the problem of Khruschevite revisionism or neo-revisionism or the left sectarianism that the Chinese leadership succumbed to. The solutions must be sought even deeper than this.

3. In 2004, fighting against a section within the party which wanted to go closer to the CPI(M), the then CPI(ML) Red Flag had reached a conclusion that it was necessary to unite all sections of the ML forces who were opposed to both right revisionism and left sectarianism. It undertook an experiment in this regard of forging a unity "with differences". It was guided by the understanding that the Communist party must have a mechanism for solving all problems of program, strategy and tactics on the basis of a democratic procedure, once the basic ideas of class struggle, dictatorship of the proletariat and democratic centralism are accepted. That our understanding and faith was misplaced is a testament of history. The section with whom the unity was forged based on the agreement that through a Conference the majority line shall be evolved and it will be accepted by all as the general line for practice rejected it, making this experiment a failure. There were gains from this experience, may not be so much in terms of membership and spread, but in terms of learning the problems that the movement faced.

4. In the subsequent All India Special Conferences in Bhopal in 2009 and in the Ninth Party Congress held at Bhubaneshwar in 2011 we have succeeded to address many questions related to problems faced by the communist movement and put forward some new developments of thought. We were able to put forward our understanding of the neo-colonial phase of imperialist domination as distinguished from the colonial phase. We accepted that there has been a growth of capitalistic type of relations even in the agricultural sector while remnants of feudal relations still existed. We accepted the reality that new classes were developing in the rural areas. We were able to clearly show that Mao himself said that the foot must not be cut to fit the shoe, but rather the path of revolution in each country must follow the concrete conditions of that country. We were able to openly and without hesitation or apology reject the path of protracted people's war for India. We have put forward the necessity to link the struggle for protection of nature with the class struggle.

5. With this new understanding also came glimpses of what was the problem with the communist movement in the world. It was no coincidence that the decline of the International Communist movement had started taking place since around 1950s, the same time as imperialism had changed from the colonial phase to the neo-colonial phase of plunder. When Marx was writing about capital, it was the stage of free competition and he naturally could not foresee that capitalism would develop into a new phase – imperialism. Around the turn of the 20th century, when capitalism was developing into imperialism and free competition was giving way to monopoly, Lenin who, having read all the literature on the subject, laid bare the machinations of the new capitalist cartels and exposed that imperialism was nothing but a higher stage of capitalism. They were talking about how the capitalists had formed cartels, about how the big banks were not only loaning money to industrialists but were entering into industrial ventures on their own thus forming "finance capital". They were talking about how war was inevitable in such a scenario where groups and sections of capitalists, backed by certain states would have to fight it out for the raw materials and markets of the world. Lenin in around 200 pithy pages laid bare the machinations of the new capitalist cartels and exposed that imperialism was none other than a higher stage of capitalism. In continuation to this the basic contradictions of this era were then put forward by the Communist International as: (1) between imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples of the world; (2) between capital and labour; (3) between socialism and imperialism; and (4) among the various imperialist countries.

6. It was Lenin who extended the theory of the workers in the imperialist countries uniting to liberate themselves from their wage-slavery to the peoples of the exploited countries liberating themselves from imperialism. It was the Bolshevik party under the leadership of Lenin which put forward the thesis of turning the world war into civil war in Russia and of the essential link between the movement of the workers for socialism in the imperialist countries and the movement of the peoples of the oppressed nations for national liberation. It was on the basis of this understanding that the original slogan of the Communist Manifesto, "Workers of the world unite" was subsequently developed to "Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World, unite!"

7. We may well criticize this understanding of the world, in retrospect, as being inadequate. It did not say anything about the environment and "sustainable development". It did not put forward a new paradigm of "development". It did not give a clear enough understanding of the problem of women's liberation. It did not even have a whiff of the need for fighting against caste, colour, "race", etc. However, such a judgement would clearly partake of idealism. We would be trying to judge the leaderships and movements of those times on the anvil of today's social structure and understanding.

8. Based on this General Line the international communist movement grew from strength to strength till the 1950s. The main thrust behind this growth was the basis line laid down by the understanding of imperialism put forward by Lenin. No doubt, this understanding had to develop – and it was developed to a very great extent. This understanding was also able to grip the masses and become a social force. Even, till after 1950s, when many countries of the world had come under neo-colonial domination, even the ruling classes in the countries under neo-colonial domination had agreed, at least in words, that colonialism and neo-colonialism must be opposed. The writings of Nkrumah on neo-colonialism, the acceptance of the Bandung Declaration and the starting of the Non-Aligned Movement were all testaments to this felt need. There was a profound change in the situation in the world around 1950s. Bretton Woods Conference had given rise to a new economic system of which the WB and the IMF were the pillars. There was a massive proliferation of MNCs. Green revolutions started taking place all over the world. Connected to this was the political system put in place. Not only the formation of the United Nations Organization as a world body, but also the acceptance of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 which then became the basis for most of the Constitutions written during that period (though each Constitution did have its particularities). New blocs were formed like SEATO, CENTO, NATO, Warsaw Bloc, etc. Soon discussions started on the GATT and finally in 1995 the WTO was formed. On the philosophical front, post modernism took on an ever growing role and became the theoretical backbone for the proliferation of reactionary schools of thought and became the basis of formations like NGOs.

9. The International Communist Movement responded to these changes in two ways. Firstly, under Khruschev, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union took the line that with the disappearance of colonies, imperialism itself had become very weak and that there was now no more need of revolutionary change. The Socialist camp and the imperialist camp would now peacefully coexist, compete peacefully on the market and finally, seeing the innate superiority of the socialist system, the newly independent colonies would peacefully transform themselves to socialism. The Chinese Communist Party opposed this analysis and put forward that the disappearance of colonies did not herald the disappearance of imperialism. They put forward that the old colonial system had given way to a new neo-colonial system, which, they emphasized, was more pernicious than the earlier colonial system. However, beyond this short analysis made in "Apologists of neo-colonialism", the CPC did not take this further forward. The General Line document made an attempt to put forward a strategy for the communist movement in the new situation. Though it was not developed further, its contents are relevant in today's communist movement too.

10. This clearly outlines the need for a theoretical offensive. At the international level we are one of the few parties which are now willing to see the real concrete situation. We are willing to make a self-criticism of our past and are also willing to make an attempt to rectify these mistakes. We are therefore in a stronger and more advantageous situation for undertaking such a theoretical offensive. What does such an offensive entail? a) We have to undertake a thorough study and analysis to identify the causes of the collapse of the erstwhile socialist countries, especially Soviet Union and China; b) We have to launch a vigorous ideological struggle to establish across society the superiority of communism over the present ruling system as well as over various alien trends; c) We have to develop Marxism-Leninism on the basis of a concrete analysis of the concrete situation.

11. We have already made certain theoretical gains. We have a deeper understanding today of the neo-colonial system. We have found that in India and in many other countries under neo-colonial domination, there has been an ever more capitalistic system being introduced in agriculture. We have understood the importance of the environmental question and given it the importance it deserves. Many more questions still face us such as further studies on the nature of imperialism today, the meaning of a new paradigm of development and the building of socialism with greater democracy .We have to face such questions fearlessly and study them.

12. We must take up a clear, unsparing and scientific analysis of our past! Without this we cannot make a correct objective analysis of the present. This will mean asking a lot of uncomfortable questions and shedding some of our dearly held conceptions. This is necessary even to begin a theoretical offensive. Even during such an offensive we may, many times come to the conclusion that many of the positions put forward by us in the past were wrong. We must be able to boldly put forward a clear and pointed self-criticism including how and why we went wrong. This requires that we must build up an atmosphere of trust, openness and frankness within the party. We must not be scared of analyzing the situation of ours and of others around us and must go, in practice, to wherever such an analysis takes us.

13. We must develop a system of propagating our ideas to the masses. To do that requires not only a good development of our publications but also a more systematic use of the social media. We have to develop such a style of writing which will help the people to clearly understand what we stand for in the concrete situation of today.

14. A party does not consist of a few thinkers and a mass of doers. Today there is a great gap in the consciousness of a few leading cadres and of the rest of the cadres in the party. A systematic method of developing the party study schools etc must be undertaken to build up the party as a whole.

15. Even with party study schools, etc we will not be able to propagate the ideas for a theoretical offensive on our own. We have to take the help of mass organizations like cultural organizations, anti-caste organizations, trade unions, peasants' organizations, etc for this purpose. We must involve all such organizations into the debate on the real questions which are facing the people today and must use their resources to propagate radical solutions for such questions.

16. The task before us is to take up the building of the communist movement in India and to play active role in doing so in the rest of the world. A major part of this task is to take such a theoretical offensive as we have outlined above. We must boldly seize the real questions of the people in today's situation and must scientifically search out the solutions. We must unsparingly lay bare our own history, the history of the communists in India and all over the world. We must make a base for combining with all sections of the people who are fighting against the injustice caused by the present imperialist-capitalist system – whether in intensifying the human labour, in all forms of environmental damage, gender injustice, caste and racial injustice, persecution of minorities, etc. We must fervently organize the workers and peasants to face the new situation. Students, youth etc must be rallied on the basis of the new understanding. It is precisely if we develop the correct theory, that we will not have to go behind the workers, peasants, youth, women, dalits, etc – they will be drawn forward to the correct theory. This true measure of the theoretical offensive has to be grasped and carried forward.

Central Committee,

CPI(ML) Red Star.

Dated 28th April, 2015.


Read Resolution on Theoritical Offensive in PDF file  

Interview with John Bellamy Foster, Editor of Monthly Review By Jipson John and Jitheesh PM

JOHN BELLAMY FOSTER, Editor of the prestigious Monthly Review and Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon, is best known for his contributions to Marxian ecology. He has been influential in reinterpreting Marxism for its ecological concerns, particularly the writings of Karl Marx. His famous article “Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift”, published in American Journal of Sociology, introduced the concept of “Metabolic Rift”, which was the term Marx coined to capture the process of destructive changes in the relationship of man with nature under the capitalist system. Foster’s introduction of Marx’s concept of “metabolic rift” and reinterpretation of Marx on ecology significantly contributed to the theoretical integration of ecological concerns with Marxism all over the world.

His book The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment has received international attention for its focus on how the present environmental crisis is closely related with and is a part and parcel of the capitalist economic system. The book has been translated into a number of languages all over the world, including Indian languages.

According to Foster, the world environmental crisis is a systemic crisis, a product of capitalism, and requires systemic changes in the capitalist system. He says that environmental sustainability is incompatible with capitalism. Paraphrasing the German communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, Foster warns that there are only two options before mankind: socialism or exterminism. Relying on his anti-capitalist critique, based on materialist interpretations of the human-nature relationship, Foster stresses the imperative for a sustainable, socialist alternative. “The metabolic rift” in man’s relationship with nature, a feature of capitalist mode of production, can be harmonised only in such an alternative, Foster believes.

You have made popular Marx’s concept of metabolic rift through your famous 1999 article, “Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift”, and your 2000 book “Marx’s Ecology”. What actually did Marx and Engels write about nature? Are those ideas still relevant?

As materialists, Marx and Engels saw the materialist conception of history as inherently intertwined with the materialist conception of nature. Moreover, their dialectical perspective meant that this was doubly important. Marx’s doctoral dissertation was on Epicurus’ ancient materialist philosophy of nature. His first article as editor of Rheinische Zeitung was on the law on the theft of wood, related to primary accumulation. His Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts dealt with the alienation of nature as well as the alienation of labour. Grundrisse provided a fundamental critique of the Baconian ruse (that nature can be conquered by obeying her autonomous laws). Capital introduced the concept of social metabolism.

As Kohei Saito has shown in his Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism, ecological issues became more and more important to Marx later in his life. Engels, of course, wrote his great, unfinished Dialectics of Nature. Marx’s use of the concepts of “the universal metabolism of nature”, the “social metabolism” and the metabolic rift to understand the connection between society and nature anticipated modern systems ecology, which developed along a similar basis. Likewise, Marx defined socialism as the rational regulation of the metabolism between human beings and nature so as to conserve energy while fulfilling human potential. No one owns the earth, he said, not even all the people on the planet own the earth; they simply hold it in trust for future generations and need to sustain and even improve it as good heads of the household. No other analysis, I would argue, provides as powerful a dialectical framework for understanding the relation between capitalism and the ecology in what are essentially scientific terms.

Of course, this is only a method of critique, and we have to add to it taking into consideration what we know of new ecological and social relations, new ecological crises, and the expansion of human knowledge and capabilities, reflecting the historical specificity of our own times.

During the high days of industrial capitalism, a number of Western thinkers, with their anger against the system, romanticised nature. They were actually making a “go back to nature” argument. How did Marx’s views differ from such criticisms of capitalism and its “evils” with respect to the environment?

It is true that the Romantic revolt—one thinks of Rousseau’s idea of the return to nature and the Romantic poets like Shelley and Wordsworth or early conservationists like Thoreau—evoked a kind of “back to nature” argument. This should not be taken too literally, though, since this was mainly a point of emphasis, in response to the extremes of bourgeois society, rather than an actual call to revert to some earlier form. Indeed, the Romantic critique of the bourgeois destruction of nature was something to take seriously in the sense that they [the Romantics] were protesting against the Grad grinds of Dickens’ Hard Times, who saw nothing but cash value when they looked at the world.

Nevertheless, you are right that Marx’s approach to ecology owed much less to the Romantics than to the materialist science of his day, which was beginning to develop ecological notions and to perceive the destruction in the impact of the capitalist economy on the environment. As a historical materialist, Marx took this issue seriously, exploring capitalism’s systematic degradation of the natural conditions of existence in his theory of metabolic rift. In this respect, he utilised the concept of metabolism as an overarching critical concept, anticipating the later development of systems ecology. Marx’s ecology was thus not derived primarily from the Romantic tradition, even though he admired Shelley, for example, but rather from science, materialism and dialectics. Marx recognised, as Paul Burkett has shown, the necessity of sustainable human development as the defining feature of socialism.

Marxist scholars like you point out that climate change and environmental destruction are part and parcel of the capitalist economic system. How does capitalism produce such havoc, making the possibilities of human survival bleak?

The fact that our present economic and social system, namely capitalism, is threatening not only all the ecosystems in the world but the entire planet as a place of human habitation is not in question today—this is recognised by all of contemporary science. In 2017 November, 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a renewed “Warning to Humanity”. The question then becomes, is there something in the laws of motion of capitalism that makes this tendency towards extermination inevitable within the system? The answer is “yes”. As Marx put it, the rule under capitalism is “Accumulate, Accumulate! That is Moses and the Prophets!” Under this system, nothing else really matters except the accumulation of capital on an ever-increasing scale, which requires unlimited exponential economic growth. This also requires the commoditisation of everything in existence, reducing the world to the logic of the cash nexus. The result is ruptures or rifts in the biogeochemical processes of the planet—a problem that Marx conceived, much like system ecologists do today, as a metabolic rift.


Capitalism has been bringing about many technological innovations with unprecedented speed. Do you not think that technological developments and advancements could bring a solution to the environmental crisis?

I think there are a lot of misconceptions and mystifications in relation to technology. It is not capitalism, in the sense of a system of private accumulation, that is mainly responsible for the major technological innovations of our time. Nor are they occurring at an unprecedented speed, though they are certainly dramatic enough. The biggest innovations of our epoch are in communications and information technology, now extending to robotics. The breakthroughs in these technologies, like the Internet or drones, were a long time coming and were primarily the products of military research under conditions entirely insulated from private accumulation.

Today we can do a lot of things more accurately, more remotely and more automatically. For example, the United States is modernising its nuclear weapons because the innovations of our times allow more accurate targeting so that nuclear weapons, designed as so-called counterforce weapons, can be more precise and can destroy their targets more effectively with smaller warheads. Some think that this even makes nuclear warfare thinkable for the first time—one of the most dangerous and naive notions ever developed. For most, probably the biggest technological change is the smart phone they carry around with them at all times, which allows them to stay perpetually “connected”.

Yet, when it comes to addressing the ecological rift in the Earth System, none of these technological advances help very much. Production technology is implemented on a capitalist basis, so if it increases efficiency in inputs (or outputs), this is simply used to expand the scale of the system as a whole in line with accumulation (the source of the Jevons Paradox). The Soviet climatologist M.I. Budyko first raised the alarm about accelerated climate change more than half a century ago, and the problem has only got worse since. We have all the technology we need to solve the climate crisis. What we cannot possibly solve technologically is a way of safely perpetuating the goal of the present system, which is to promote unlimited exponential economic growth within the finite limits of the planet for the purposes of the accumulation of capital. Some say we can build carbon sequestration plants, which will pull the carbon out of the atmosphere and allow us to go on as before. But to do this globally at a level that would cut even 20 per cent of global emissions would require a worldwide carbon-sequestration infrastructure about 70 per cent bigger than the current fossil fuel complex that took generations to build—and that would put it on top of the current energy complex.

Even the expansion of solar and wind power—which is one thing we ought to be doing very rapidly—doesn’t solve the problem unless solar power and wind power actually displace fossil fuels—and even then immeasurable problems are created for any attempt to increase the throughput of energy and raw materials on this basis. Nuclear power has its own inherent dangers. In many ways, we are up against the second law of thermodynamics, which limits what we can do. In other ways, we are up against the very narrow logic of capitalism which treats all natural boundaries as mere barriers to be surmounted. Marx called this the problem of “insuperable natural limits”. If we are to shift society massively in the direction of substantive equality and ecological sustainability—something both freedom and the human future require—it will be necessary to change our social relations. And that is the one thing the system cannot accept.

For Marxism, a higher stage of development of productive forces is a necessity in a socialist society. Will it not result in large-scale destruction and exploitation of nature? If that is the case, then what is the ecological concern in Marx and others as claimed by people like you?

Unless one is completely doctrinaire in how one approaches these issues, one has to ask what is meant by the higher development of productive forces and for what purpose. The most important productive force, Marx made clear, is human beings themselves and the development of productive forces is about the development of the division of labour. Ultimately, Marx argued that the associated producers under socialism would need to rationally regulate their metabolism with nature such that they conserved energy and promoted the fullest development of the human potential. This cannot be interpreted as production for production’s sake, or industrialism for industrialism’s sake.

Moreover, as quantitative development occurs at a certain stage, qualitative development must take over. The object is one of sustainable human development. All of this is part of Marx’s vision and of Marxism but was distorted in some circles and, mimicking capitalism, made into a goal of promoting industrial gigantism. In contrast, Marx insisted again and again on sustainability, with the earth as a measure of development.

Though the existence of climate change is being established scientifically all over the world, there are a number of climate change deniers. The current President of the United States holds such a view. They believe that nothing is going to happen to the environment. Why are they not convinced about climate change?

Outright climate change denial, except for religious fundamentalists and those among the wider populace who are uneducated, is mainly a right-wing phenomenon promoted by economic interests. In the U.S., it is heavily funded by the ultra-wealthy and giant corporations, which often put economics first and foremost. It has no basis in science, and the ersatz-scientific views expressed are quite transparently a mere ploy designed to engender “scepticism” blocking any action.

Science itself is as strong on the issue of climate change as it is on the theory of evolution, if not stronger. I think Naomi Klein was correct in This Changes Everything to say that climate change denial on the Right is entirely, and indeed quite openly, the outgrowth of a position that sees any attempt to mitigate global warming, or to place limits on the fossil fuel industry, as a threat to capitalism and on a whole way of life centred on the fossil fuel industry. In this respect, Naomi Klein declared that “the Right is right”, that the movement to stop climate change is necessarily a movement for radical change and anti-capitalist. Her real target, though, was not so much the Right, but the liberal centrists who promote a different kind of climate change denial, equally unrealistic, which pretends that the market and technology can magically stop global warming without a change in social relations.

Donald Trump, of course, has not only denied climate change outright, but the Trump administration has done everything it can to prevent action in this area and to obstruct the science. The motives are quite openly economic. (I wrote about this in my book Trump in the White House, Monthly Review Press, 2017, in a chapter entitled “Trump and Climate Catastrophe”.) And while liberals are uncomfortable with his position, they easily fall into a kind of acquiescence, refusing to fight fire with fire and to go on an all-out attack because they recognise that Trump’s position is that of the system and benefits the capitalist class, to which they too are attached.

Sharing responsibility for climate change is an issue of debate among countries. From the point of view of developing countries, the advanced capitalist countries are historically responsible for the alarming stage of climate change and hence should shoulder the burden. But developed countries demand a check on the development pattern of developing countries like China, which causes increasing pollution. These opposite stands make it impossible to work out any concrete measure to avoid the imminent dangers. What kind of amicable solution is possible?

We are talking about competing capitalist nation states here and a division between the global North and the global South, rooted in imperialism. So “amicable solutions” are almost impossible unless social forces rise up from below. The centre countries of the capitalistically advanced world are responsible for most of the cumulative carbon build-up in the atmosphere; they are the nations with the largest ecological footprints per capita; and they are the countries with the highest standards of living and the ones able to reduce carbon emissions most rapidly and with the least effect on their populations.

There is no doubt that from a moral standpoint, and also from a practical standpoint if we want to save the earth, the biggest reductions per capita have to start there, and they need at this point to be double-digit reductions. But it is also true that this is a worldwide problem and that China and India and other emerging economies have a role to play—given that carbon emissions have to reach zero worldwide very quickly, with immeasurable global catastrophic effects if the world fails to accomplish this. Many scientists now believe that with the U.S. refusing to take a leadership role, the main hope lies in China.

But China is still a poor country in per capita income terms and has a much smaller ecological footprint than the rich countries in the West. Its primary concern is economically catching up with the West and not climate. The unfortunate reality that faces us all is that we will break the planetary carbon budget—that is, reach the trillionth tonne of carbon emissions—in around 18 years under business as usual, according to Everyone has heard how Nero fiddled while Rome burned.


How do you view the Gandhian approach towards the environment and lifestyle? It is highly critical of capitalist greed and environmental destruction. It advocates a simple lifestyle without harming nature at a personal level by each individual. In India, some major environmental movements are inspired by the Gandhian philosophy. Does Gandhism offer any hope?

I think a lot can be learned from the Gandhian philosophy, which certainly is ecological in many ways, though the solutions that it offers are not adequate for an industrial society. Still, we have to learn from a lot of different traditions opposed to hyper-industrialism and emphasising more rational forms of existence. I live in a country where people have the highest ecological footprint by far of any major country on earth. A strong dose of Gandhism would certainly help in many places.

I studied Gandhi’s writings in college, and I now feel that maybe I have done a disservice to my own students in not introducing them in turn to this thinking as an important tradition. In my research on the great geneticist and Marxist J.B.S. Haldane, I was struck by how he spent his final years in India and how his encounter with Gandhism and Indian philosophy in general affected his Marxism, pushing him further in what we would now call an eco-socialist direction.

Are you optimistic about the environmental efforts and struggles of various environmental movements all over the world? And also the government-level international efforts?

There are no physical or technological obstacles to avoiding the environmental catastrophes that are approaching. But it is impossible to solve these problems under business as usual, that is, in accordance with the logic of capital accumulation. The entire ecological problem is in reality a social problem with social solutions. For example, there is nothing, other than current power relations, to stop the world from carrying out the sharp reductions in carbon emissions that are necessary to mitigate climate change. And it could be done while also improving the conditions of the vast majority of people throughout the planet. But it would require enormous changes in the mode of production (and consumption) and in the social relations of production. And there is the rub.

The obstacle is monopoly finance capital and its day-to-day operations. There are all sorts of realistic solutions. We know hundreds, even thousands, of things to do that are within our capabilities, but they almost all go against the logic of capital accumulation. In the U.S., more than a trillion dollars is spent every year in persuading people to buy things that they don’t want and need, and most of this is frankly junk. More than a trillion dollars is spent every year on the military in what is the most environmentally destructive sector of the entire world economy—and aimed at destruction. I could go on with further examples. None of this is necessary. But to change it necessitates going against the logic of capital.

That does not mean that the capital system needs to be overthrown immediately in order to save the environment—that is simply not possible. But we do need to be uncompromisingly revolutionary in political, economic, cultural and environmental ways and to understand that we are necessarily engaged—if civilisation (in the broad sense) and humanity itself are to survive—in a conflict with the exterminism which constitutes, as E.P. Thompson said, the last phase of imperialism. The world needs to move to zero carbon emissions by 2050, and on top of that we have to find a way to pull a further 150 billion tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere. And that is only the beginning of our problems because we are simultaneously crossing numerous planetary boundaries.

Right now, we have to turn the carbon faucet off and rely on other forms of energy and conservation, creating a more rational society. But this means out-and-out warfare with the logic of capital accumulation. I would not say that I am optimistic, but neither am I pessimistic. Pessimism under these circumstances, moreover, is something humanity cannot afford. A revolutionary response means that we have to change the rules. As Bertolt Brecht said, we have to seek to leave the present “burning house”. And it is in this very struggle that our main hope for the future is to be found.


Inequality is increasing to an alarming level all over the world. Scholars like Thomas Piketty capture its magnitude. How does this process happen in capitalism? Professor Piketty suggests progressive wealth taxation as the solution that would reduce the increasing inequality. What is the impact of this inequality?

Michael Yates and I wrote an article for Monthly Review in November 2014 entitled “Piketty and the Crisis of Neoclassical Economics”. Piketty is interesting for a number of reasons, especially his role as a principal figure in the development of the Top Incomes Database, the largest historical database on income inequality in the world, extending over centuries. The importance of his analysis is related to what this database tells about the unprecedented levels of inequality that are being seen in the world today. Piketty’s argument is that this is because of dynasties in wealth concentration transferred over generations. His solution is a global wealth tax. This is certainly interesting, and the issue of a wealth tax has been raised in the past in Monthly Review. But Piketty, though his work is called Capital in the Twenty-First Century, deliberately mimicking Marx, avoids all the real questions of social and economic power and the need to transcend the system of capital accumulation.

Meanwhile, inequality continues to grow by leaps and bounds, with six men now having as much wealth as half the world’s population, or over 3.5 billion people. Many are going hungry in the world while the results of human productivity and social labour are being concentrated in a very few (a mere handful) hands.


The emergence of right-wing fascist forces poses great challenges before progressive and democratic forces all over the world. Thinkers like Slavoj Zizek point out that this right-wing growth creates greater opportunities for a Left revival and the strengthening of Left forces as people at large are really dismayed and looking for an alternative. Can the Left seize the opportunity?

A lot of this is taken up in my book Trump and the White House. Fascism is a definite political structure, with a class basis, that emerges from a capitalist system in crisis. It represents the crisis of the liberal-democratic state and the substitution of a state structure in the fascist genus. The critique of fascism in the 1930s and the 1940s mainly developed within Marxism but was quite widely upheld. It was understood that fascism was a way in which the capitalist ruling class continued to rule without the limits of the liberal-democratic state (though still with the facade of constitutionality). One work I would recommend is Franz Neumann’s Behemoth. Later liberal theorists worked hard, though with endless inconsistencies, at reinterpreting fascism to remove any suggestion of a connection to capitalism—mainly by reducing it to a kind of psychological aberration or conflating it simply with racism minus the historical specificity in which it arose. It is important that we take fascism seriously as a political class structure in order to be able to combat it effectively. As Brecht said, you can’t challenge fascism unless you are willing to challenge capitalism.

In the U.S. and Europe, the resurgence of fascism has to do with the structural crisis of capital within the centre economies. The reappearance in India at the same time is not something on which I am competent to comment, though it is serious and is occurring in other places in the global South on quite different bases. All of this seems to reflect the wider, global structural crisis of capital. I would recommend, for a general view, Amin’s “The Return of Fascism to Contemporary Capitalism” published in Monthly Review in September 2014.

Zizek could be right that the rise of movements in the fascist genus is favourable to a Left revival. One might look back to the Popular Front movements in Europe. What is certain is that history shows that only the Left can effectively fight fascism. Liberals tend to fall prey to the Gleichschaltung (bringing into line) of the Right. Today I think that the anti-fa (or anti-fascist) movements, which are an international phenomenon and have arisen on the Left, need our support.

As a socialist do you see any immediate transcendence of capitalism? Have we reached a new revolutionary conjuncture? What sustains your belief in socialism?

What ultimately sustains my belief in socialism is a love of humanity and the example of hundreds of millions of people who are fighting this barbaric system every day—not to mention those who have given their lives combating it in the past. We owe it to all of humanity, including all future generations, to continue the struggle. To be sure, the capitalist system is not going to be transcended in a day. It took centuries for the bourgeois class to triumph over the feudal class. We need to think in terms of a long revolution. But it needs to be revolutionary at every step of the way since the main lesson of our time is that we have to go against the logic of capital, continually seeking to curtail that logic—if we are even to survive.

Once we could talk about socialism or barbarism; now the choice is between socialism and exterminism. The movement towards socialism has become a necessity—not simply for human freedom but for human survival. More and more of the world’s population are coming to this realisation.


This is the centenary of the October Revolution in Russia. It actually heralded a new era in world history. What is the legacy of socialist Russia?

The October Revolution was one of the great breakthroughs in human history, representing the first major socialist victory against capitalism. The leadership of Lenin in the first few years of the revolution cannot be underestimated. The October Revolution created a whole new era of human progress and demonstrated how much was possible for humanity. Yet, there were grave problems, too. The Stalin era with its purges took an immeasurable toll on wide swathes of the population, had a negative effect on the course of the revolution itself and promoted internal developments with respect to bureaucracy, authoritarianism and inequality that were all enormously corrosive over the long term.

Nevertheless, looking back, what the Soviet Union achieved was great, given that Russia at the time of the revolution was still an underdeveloped country, and the fact that it had to fight a world counter-revolution. It was invaded numerous times, was compelled to fight a bloody civil war, and had to counter the Nazi onslaught, losing 20 million people in the war. It was the Soviet Union that defeated Nazi Germany, head to head, though at enormous cost. In comparison, the Western allies contributed little to the defeat of Germany in the war.

Following the war, the Soviet Union was faced with the Cold War led by the U.S. as the new world hegemonic power. It was confronted with what in the West was called “containment”, but which was really a policy of squeezing and crushing Soviet-type societies. The Soviet Union had to face a debilitating arms race. Yet, despite that, it was able to promote the education of its people to an astounding degree, to improve living conditions, and to make enormous technological breakthroughs. Its developments in science and technology were remarkable.

For decades, during the post-Second World War period, the Soviet Union played a positive role worldwide in providing support for revolutions around the globe. For us today, the Soviet Union has many positive lessons to teach, not excluding the virtues of economic planning. No less important, it also showed us where a workers’ revolution could go wrong, the mistakes that could be made, the defeats that might have been avoided—lessons that need to be learned today—and one of the reasons for distinguishing 21st century socialism. In the long course of history, I think, the October Revolution will be seen as the first, extraordinary, incomplete, but heroic attempt at the creation of socialist revolution. Its legacy will be fully appreciated only when the next round of world revolution breaks out and when new, lasting victories are achieved.

Now we are in the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of “Das Kapital”. How do you read “Capital” after 150 years?

Marx’s critical-dialectical method and his historical researches into capitalist society make his work unique and indispensable, dwarfing all other contributions to social science over the last century and a half. Rosa Luxemburg once said that as the socialist movement developed in response to changing historical conditions, it would discover new scientific elements in Marx’s thought, going beyond the needs of the movement in his day. This is proving to be the case.

Today those struggling with the central issues of our time are once again finding inspiration in Marx, whether it is the discovery of his value-form analysis; his ecological critique; his explorations (even if limited) into social reproduction; his concept of primitive [primary] accumulation; his investigations into money and finance; his analysis of the concentration and centralisation of capital; his concept of the reserve army of labour; or his notions of precarious labour.

In many ways, Marx set the foundations of critical praxis, and although struggles in our time necessarily take new forms, reflecting the historical specificity of our age, his method endures.

You are the present editor of Monthly Review magazine. The magazine is renowned for its firm commitment to political-economic analysis of the Marxian framework without any new Left approach. How do you evaluate its history and contribution?

Monthly Review’s history and its role in the movement are tied to its origins. It was founded in 1949 (the same year as the victory of the Chinese Revolution). At the time, world revolution was expanding. But in the U.S., the Left had been defeated, with former U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace’s campaign for the presidency (representing the Left within the New Deal) destroyed by Red-baiting. This marked the beginning of what was to become known as the McCarthy era of virulent anti-communism and domestic witch-hunts. For Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy, Monthly Review was initially established as a kind of holding action for the Left at a time of defeat after defeat. Proudly subtitled “An Independent Socialist Magazine”, MR deliberately chose to go against the tide of history in the U.S. in the 1950s.

Albert Einstein wrote his “Why Socialism?” for the first issue of the magazine. Although there were discussions about building a wider cooperation on the Left in the U.S., it was soon decided that there could be no cooperation with Cold War liberals. Hence, the magazine took the stance, articulated by Paul Baran (developing on Lenin’s famous slogan), of “Smaller But Better”. The first three editors, Huberman, Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, were all called up before McCarthyite committees in the 1950s and defied the inquisition at the time. The Sweezy case (Sweezy vs New Hampshire) went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (which eventually decided in his favour) when he refused to name names, to turn over lecture notes (of a lecture at the University of New Hampshire), and insisted on defending himself on the basis of freedom of speech—the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

Monthly Review was subsequently to focus on anti-imperialist struggles, especially following the Cuban Revolution in 1959. It became a centre for the economic critique of the system, with the publication of works like The Political Economy of Growth by Baran, Monopoly Capital by Baran and Sweezy, The Age of Imperialism by Magdoff and Labor and Monopoly Capital by Harry Braverman. In the last couple of decades, MR has become known for its contributions to eco-socialism. It is this great independent socialist tradition of uncompromising resistance to the status quo and unswerving support for the revolutionary struggles of humanity that continues to inspire those associated with MRboth in the U.S. and around the world down to the present day.

(Jipson John and Jitheesh PM are independent journalists based in New Delhi and are associated with the People’s Archive of Rural India. They can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) 
Interview of Comrade SK Senthivel, General Secretary, New Democratic Marxist Leninist Party by Ahilan Kadirgamar, Daily Mirror, 1st August 2017, published in its journal, New Democracy, October issue. It shows the impact of caste question among the Tamil people in Sri Lanka

CASTE RELATIONS and conflicts have taken varied forms at different times in Jaffna. The recent conflicts around upper-caste cemeteries in proximity to oppressed caste dwellings resulted in a major protest on May 13th, opposite the Jaffna Bus Stand. In Kalaimathy village in Puttur, historically a Communist stronghold in Jaffna, some 23 villagers are in remand custody and 30 people including 11 women are out on bail, following an intensified struggle against a cemetery in the middle of their village. A Satyagraha campaign is continuing for weeks now in Kalaimathy, calling for the removal of all cemeteries next to people’s settlements. People from other oppressed caste villages are also participating in the Satyagraha and many others are coming to express their solidarity. S. K. Senthivel, General Secretary of the New Democratic Marxist Leninist Party, shared his views on this recent conflict, their work in Kalaimathy village lasting close to four decades and the history of anti-caste struggles in Jaffna.

Q: You have a long relationship with Puttur and particularly Kalaimathy village that is in the heat of struggle today. Could you elaborate on this conflict?

A: The people of Kalaimathy village, which has about 700 families making a population of about 4,500 people, are continuing with a Satyagraha struggle supported by the Mass Movement of Social Justice. With the demand that all cemeteries next to people’s settlements should be removed, large sections of the Puttur people from Kalaimathy village are participating day and night and taking forward a powerful conscientious struggle. These villagers have taken a collective decision, that even as they continue their daily wage work, each day, different persons are taking days off and contributing their energies towards organising this struggle.

Those who observe this struggle, wonder about the commitment of the village people towards this struggle, including the history and tradition of this village. And it is indeed, a different kind of activism here, compared to other villages. While there is one consistent leadership in this village for the Community Centre, Women’s Society, Sports Society and other village institutions, there is also a politics to the thinking of these people. The basis of their struggle is that for hundreds of years, the people in this village have been oppressed on the basis of caste.

Q: Can you speak about the history of this cemetery that people want removed?

A: The cemetery is very old. But in those days, there were no settlements near it. The lands next to it were not used for agriculture with wild over growth. But few decades ago, there was a government settlement scheme which also used some of the cemetery land amounting to 15 lachams (150 perches) and settled some of the villagers. Eventually other villagers also started building houses on the cemetery land as land was scarce and there was no boundary.

As people settled near the cemetery, some practical environmental problems came up in the 2000s. As bodies were burned in the cemetery, the ashes and the smoke began to trouble the people. Animals ran around with half burned body parts that remained. The people began to oppose the existence of the cemetery, and by the 2010s there emerged a widespread opposition to the cemetery. The last body was perhaps burned three or four years ago.

Early this year, one body was brought and it was turned back by the villagers who convinced them to burn it in another cemetery close by, which was distant from people’s settlements. That a dominant caste body was turned back has troubled some people, and they want to prove a point. Next, another family had tried to bring a body, this was of an oppressed caste person but backed by the dominant castes, and this became confrontational. The courts and the police have intervened. The Judge wanted a high wall built with a gas incinerator. As the confrontation escalated, the villagers broke the half-built wall around the cemetery that was being built in defiance, creating a tense situation and further police action.

Q: What is the education level in this village and how do they earn their living?

A: It is only in recent times that students have begun to study O/L and A/L, which reflects the educational backwardness of this village. Until 1975, they could not even attend the Puttur Somaskanda College that was just half a kilometre away, and so their educational access had remained low. They mostly ended their education with grade five, but now there is a young woman who has finished her university education from Kalaimathy. There is now a thirst for education in this village.

The village people are involved in many forms of day wage labour. An interesting characteristic of Valikamam East is that it is a red soil region. But there are stones on top of that soil, and these villagers go as groups of four or five and break and remove the stones and prepare it into farm land. Then there are tree climbing workers. Currently, there are over hundred men who are involved in marketing fish on bicycles. Thus such bodily labour is what they depend on for their incomes. We can also see hundreds of women from this village who go for wage labour in the red soil region of Achchuveli and Valalai.

Q: I have seen women go in groups to work in such farms. What are the social and economic conditions of workers and how are their wages?

A: Agricultural work has been necessary for women, because they are unable to sustain their families with the wages of men. The women are involved in planting and harvesting onions. However, there is a great difference in the wages received by men and women. If men receive around Rs. 900 a day in wages, women may only receive half the wage.

The important issue in this village is that they have been landless. And landlessness, caste oppression and economic deprivation, lead to class oppression including low wages.

In this background, in 1979, there was a serious incident of caste violence. Casteist thugs claimed the oppressed caste people had drawn water from their wells and beat them mercilessly.

The oppressed caste people lived in fear, they would say, we work on their land, we live under their trees, we cannot oppose them.

It was with this incident that our Party started working in that village. About twelve youth from that village, with strong anti-caste views, came and spoke to us about their predicament. We talked to them about possible efforts, and that, without the support of more people from their village, we cannot do anything; we cannot oppose caste oppression, we cannot gain land, we cannot raise the wages.

When they go for work, they are given bread and tea, but tea is given in coconut shells, or half cut bottles. But the people won’t oppose such practices at once. We had to first organise and work with the determined youth, and we advised them to start a community centre. Those youth were convinced, and they formed a youth group and worked with us. The community centre became effective, and was run by both the youth aligned with the Party as well as others in the village.

Q: What kinds of struggles were first taken up in this village?

A: At that time, there were about 500 families in that village, and we saw that they needed a path for the village. If a sick person or a pregnant women had to be rushed to the hospital, they had to be carried on footpaths through people’s gardens before reaching a vehicle. We asked the landowners for the path, we also asked government officials, we even called MPs and asked them, but all of them said nothing can be done.

Then we explained the situation to the village people, we drew a possible map for the road. Some people who had a humanitarian consciousness gave us part of the pathway. Then one night about 1,000 people, both men and women, worked all night. We arranged ten tractors of sand, and in one night laid the road, with the people spreading the sand through the lands of landowners.

The next morning the landowners were shocked and created trouble. They called the police. A woman called Sinnamma was arrested and remanded by the police, but then the women in the village got even more involved with a sense of responsibility. Eventually, the landowners could not do anything. We opened the road and named the village Kalaimathy.

The next struggle was to form a co-operative store in the village, because most of the villagers used food coupons, which had to be used in different shops. But the co-operative officials refused to create a co-operative store. Eventually, we approached the GA at that time, Devanesan Nesiah. He said, he can help us create an AD (Government Authorized Dealer) shop. So, we formed an AD shop and the villagers brought all their coupon stamps to this shop. The shop worked around the clock, including to serve the workers who returned home late at night.

The success of the struggle for the road and the co-operative store, gave the people confidence. They began to believe they can achieve anything with the leadership of those youth, the support and direction of the Party, and the unity of the people. That was a major victory for us.

Q: What kind of struggles were there for land? And how and when did they gain their housing land in Kalaimathy?

A: The people had absolutely no land. Most of the land was owned by a powerful landowning family called Malavarayar. The people who were squatting on their land, even if they gained some savings, and wanted to build even small cement houses, they would not be permitted by the landowners. By the 1990s, the village was mobilised around the land issue, but there were different perspectives on how to approach it. Ultimately, the land deeds were owned by the landowners. So, it was decided that the people would offer to purchase the land. The landowners could also see that the people were organised and they could not be evicted. So, they agreed to sell the land for a small price. The Party suggested a cap of two lachams per family to buy that land, so that all the people in the village could have housing land.

The village had a reputation of high alcoholism and other abusive substances. We tried to direct the village through various activities. We introduced sports in a major way, particularly football and volleyball. We also started adult literacy classes. It is through such daily activities that the village was transformed.

Q: The Communist Party led major anti-caste struggles for temple entry and equal seating in the 1960s and early 1970s. There were struggles in many villages, but anti-caste and progressive mobilisations in many of those villages did not continue. While your party has a base in Puttur, what is the reason for the decline of the Left in the other villages?

A: Long before we started working in Puttur, the Communist Party launched the anti-caste campaign in October 1966. Over one thousand people from various villages participated in those struggles. In villages like Changanai, Maduvil, Karaveddy, Neliyadi, Alvai, Point Pedro, Manthuvil and Polikandy, we had people linked to our party. There were about 15 people who died in those struggles that took place between 1966 and 1971. Rising on the strength of those struggles the Party wanted to launch major land struggles, land for the landless and for livelihoods.

But the JVP insurrection of 1971, resulted in tremendous repression of our Party. Many of our leaders were arrested and many of us went into hiding for close to a year. Tamil nationalism was also on the rise in the 1970s, with standardisation and the rise of the Tamil students’ movement. Next, many backward Tamil nationalists like Amirthalingam, Sivasithamparam and Naganathan lost in the 1970 elections.

They in turn put forward the Tamil Eelam call. They wanted to push a narrow ethnic politics and also defeat the Left with such a call. When Tamil youth took up arms, the already militant oppressed caste youth joined the armed groups that were putting forward Leftist slogans. With the open economic policies, many people from the villages also migrated abroad. With the political space shrinking we used the space where we could. Our work in Puttur focused on the needs of the people and to provide our support to the people. The village people also take their important decisions after consulting us.

Q: What kind of solidarity are you expecting from people of other communities and the South?

A: We are a Left party and we have connections with other Left parties in the South. We have been informing them about our struggles. Just as we support progressive struggles in other parts of the country, we want them to see this struggle and support it. We want them to bring out this issue and put pressure on the Central Government.

This is a just and democratic struggle. It is not just about one village, but about all those who are oppressed by caste in different forms.

This is about the daily life of people, and the people in this village have supported progressive struggles. When a people like that are struggling, Leftists, people who work with peasants and all progressives, have a far-reaching responsibility to support this struggle. 
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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.