The report Whither India? was presented by Lal Singh, General Secretary of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, on behalf of its Central Committee, at the Third Consultative Conference of CGPI held in Delhi on December 23-24, 1995.
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Draft Report presented by Lal Singh, General Secretary of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, on behalf of its Central Committee at the Third Consultative Conference of CGPI held in New Delhi on December 23-24, 1995.
First Published in March 1996
(c) Lok Awaz Publishers 1996.
The report Whither India? was presented by Lal Singh, General Secretary of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, on behalf of its Central Committee, at the Third Consultative Conference of CGPI held in Delhi on December 23-24, 1995. By decision of the Third Consultative Conference, the report is now being release for discussion.
We recognised in 1977 that the entire communist movement was being fragmented under the pressure of the bipolar division of the world. Different varieties of modern revisionism were playing their counter-revolutionary disruptive role by adhering to parliamentary democracy, and uniting with the state to eliminate any challenge to the existing status quo. Capitalism was flourishing and utilizing the remnants of feudalism, colonial domination and increasing imperialist penetration against the people. This flourishing capitalism, in turn, was protecting these feudal remnants, colonial domination and imperialist penetration. It was this that was responsible for the worsening conditions of the masses. A variety of revisionism called such capitalist growth and expansion as the path of “non-capitalist development”. This variety of revisionism openly conciliated with the Congress Party in India and with Soviet social-imperialism internationally. We made the decision, under those conditions, to establish a vanguard party of the Indian working class in which all the Indiana communists would militate; a party that would build the political unity of the working class and broad masses of the people and open a path for the progress of society; a party based on the theoretical thinking of Marxism-Leninism in opposition to revisionism and opportunism of all hues.
All of us knew at that time that it would be extremely difficult to carry out the work decided upon, but we also knew that it was not an impossible task. We still maintain this to be the case today. In spite of all the twists and turns of the revolution, including its retreat at the present, we did not deviate from this from this plan of establishing a single vanguard party of the working class in whose ranks all the Indian communist would militate.
Comrades, we have met with initial success in this work. We have our party, but the entire communist movement is still fragmented. The world has gone through a historical turn. We must continue with our plan and lay down the general line for this period. We must carry forward the program of the restoration of the unity of Indian communists. We must restore this unity in the course of building the revolutionary political unity of the working class and the broad masses of the people around single program of democratic renewal, to lift society out of the crisis. Furthermore, comrades, we must continue the work of providing a clear modern definition of the role of a political party which organises the working class to lead the maces to govern themselves. Our strategic aim remains the overthrow of capitalism and building of socialism through revolution.
These are crucial times for the Communist Ghadar Party of India and for all India communists; they re times when everything is up for debate and discussion. The last six years and more have seen abrupt changes on the world-scale. The Communist Ghadar Party of India, working within these conditions, is engaged in elaborating a general line and program consistent with these changes according to dialectical philosophy and consistent with the program and conclusions of Marxism, Leninism and contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought.
In elaborating the program and the thinking of CGPI. we must start from the present conditions, to sum up the entire developments-both objective and subjective-and draw the pertinent conclusions. A lot of developments have taken plaice especially in the broad field of socialist revolution and socialist construction. There is also the negative experience of the destruction of socialism and of counter-revolution. In spite of revolution being in ebb in this period, the nature of our era remains that of imperialism and proletarian revolution. There are also indications that things will soon turn around, from ebb to flow, even though retrogression is still the order of they day. The summation of all these developments enriches not only our thinking but also makes our dialectical philosophy consistent with the needs of the present. Such work is essential for the needs of the present. Such work is essential for the creation of the present. Such work is essential for the creation of revolutionary Indian theory without it is not possible to have a revolutionary movement.
The use of the classics of Marxism-Leninism as a guide to all summations is as essential today as it was in the past. We are aware that Frederick Engels stressed that truth–the cognition of which, he said, was the main task of philosophy–should not be considered s “an aggregate of finished dogmatic statements, which, once discovered, had merely to be learnt by heart”(1)
On the contrary, according to Engels, dialectical philosophy “reveals the transitory character of everything and in everything; nothing can endure before it except the uninterrupted process of becoming and of passing away, of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher. And dialectical philosophy itself is nothing more than the mere reflection of this process in the thinking brain. It has, of course, also a conservative side; it recognises that definite stages of knowledge and society are justified for their times and circumstances; but only so far. The conservatism of this mode of outlook is relative; its revolutionary character is absolute-the only absolute dialectical philosophy admits”(2)
Recognising these conclusions of Engels, it becomes all too clear that CGPI must continue to sum up the entire experience within this epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution by starting from the present, as it continues to do at this time. CGPI must not succumb to the lure of the liquidationist who seeks perfect and final knowledge before anything revolutionary can be achieved. We must continue the summation in the course of organising the working class for the victory of revolution and socialism.
Lenin has also drawn the same conclusions as Engels when he wrote: “It is precisely because Marxism is not a lifeless dogma, not a final, finished and ready-made immutable doctrine, but a living guide to action, that it was bound to reflect the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of social life”(3)
No communist can deny that great and sudden changes have taken place in the world which have been reflected in the phenomenon of the rise of social forces which claim allegiance to Marxism but which have either degenerated into social democracy or are conciliating with it. The collapse of the regimes of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has intensified the crisis of social-democracy. Along with the “free market economy”, pseudo-socialism and social democracy remain discredited, creating favourable conditions for the communist to make a complete break with socio-democracy and occupy and expand the space of deep-going revolutionary transformations available to them. The demand of the day is that communists deal with the problems posed by the unfolding phenomena, one of which is the struggle against all conciliators with social-democracy. Communists must continue to defend and develop contemporary Marxist-Leninist through on the basis of the summation of historical experience of the entire each of imperialism and proletarian revolution by starting from the present. Contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought is the summation taken in general form, of the experience of the application of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of socialist revolution and socialist construction and to the struggle against modern revisionism and capitalist restoration.
It is also the summation of the application of Marxism-Leninism to the struggle of the people against fascism, militarism and imperialism, as well as the struggle to end medievalism. Contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought is Marxism-Leninism as enriched and developed by the practice of revolution. It is an affirmation of the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism and their higher development. Contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought is not the final form of Marxism-Leninism under the present conditions but its continuation and enrichment.
Social developments have reached such a state that there is no alternative to creating history on a conscious and planned basis. CGPI must ensure that this is done by applying dialectical philosophy to the concrete conditions. The historical destiny of the working class is to end this period of pre-history, this history of fate, dogmas and things and phenomena without causes. It is the destiny of ushering in history–a conscious, material, human history–which is the very act of the revolutionary class in creating the new society.
CGPI is honoured to be the main subjective force, the organised consciousness, the vanguard and the general staff of the working class in this glorious historic work. There is no doubt that the time has come for the working class to successfully usher in human history. CGPI needs to play its role as the organiser and the clarifier, the vanguard fighter of the working class, by basing its theoretical thinking on contemporary principles of Marxism-Leninism, the communist movement will be able to unite the working class and the broad masses of the people around the definite practical tasks of the present epoch, which are: an immediate end to the bourgeoisie’s anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national program of privatisation and the lifting of society out of the crisis; the overthrow of capitalism as the condition for the completion of the democratic, anti-colonial, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggle; and the building of socialism by revolution.
The CGPI and the Period of the Retreat of Revolution
The present world situation is marred by the retreat of revolution, by a great offensive against communism, by an all-round anti-social offensive against the working class and broad masses of the people. The world is in profound crisis and the situation is becoming worse as U.S. imperialism carries out “peacemaking” for the creation of a unipolar world under its dictate. There are others who are pushing for a multipolar world, a world redivided by the imperialist powers, amongst themselves. Within this situation, the communists have a great responsibility to lead the working class for the victory of the revolution and socialism.
In India, as in many other countries, the situation is complicated by the deformation of the very notion of communist political work. Communist politics has been reduced to the level of either participating in the running of the state apparatus or directly contributing to the cult of violence, which the ruling classes are consolidating in India. The broad-scale criminalisation of the polity and the use of state terrorism as a matter of course, has deprived hundreds and thousands of people of their lives and liberties. This activity has restricted the scope of political action to the narrowest focus, even putting it in the hands of criminal elements. Increasing offers of positions and responsibilities within the state have broadened the role of some communists in justifying the criminalisation of the polity in India. The use of state terrorism in India and in many other parts of the world, coupled with certain communists’ accommodation within the state machinery, are making it impossible for the communists to play their historic role as the vanguard of the working class. This historic role is further hampered by the failure of some communist parties and groups to recognise that the end of the bipolar division meant that there is one communist movement and o! ne struggle against all those who are conciliating with imperialism and the bourgeoisie. This, in turn, prohibits the working class from taking up its historic role as the builder of socialist society.
The cold war mentality of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” still prevails. Uninterrupted killings of people continue under various pretexts, be it the killings of a “Naxalite”, “Maoist”, “separatist” or “extremist” in India, and elsewhere, a “terrorist” or “Muslim fundamentalist” in Egypt, Algeria or the Middle East, Palestine, Israel and Lebanon without much of a protest from any quarters. Furthermore, state terrorism and individual acts of violence are justified when it suits the big imperialist and other powers, even against entire countries like Iran, Libya, Sudan, Cuba and some others who are condemned as promoting “international terrorism”. U.S. imperialism and other imperialist powers continue to finance and arm their client states throughout the world with impunity, even to the point of military occupation of some countries like Haiti, and to the point of grossly distorting the situation and interfering and occupying Bosnia. They have gone from the stage of imperia! list “peacekeeping” to that of imperialist “peace-making” as a method to establish their dictate all over the world. Imperialist “peacemaking” and the notions of a unipolar or a multipolar world are factors for a cataclysmic world war.
The Indian capitalists, enamoured by the possibilities of a great advance internationally, are throwing all caution to the winds with their liberalisation program. They are introducing onto Indian soil the notion that society has no obligation towards anyone except themselves. The Indian capitalists are speaking the language most prevalent in the advanced capitalist countries. This logic declares that there is no choice but to reform the capitalist system in order to intensify exploitation to the extreme. They are speaking as if it is a fact that there is no alternative to intensifying the exploitation of the working class as the only path to prosperity. Equating their own prosperity with the well-being of all, the big capitalists and big landlords of India have launched a broad anti-social offensive. They are also promoting the use of communal violence and other diversions to divide the people so that they are not able to resist their offensive.
Today, on the eve of the 21st century, nobody can deny that people are born to society and society has a responsibility to look after their well-being. This corresponds to the modern definition of rights and is also one of the central aspects of Indian political thought. However according to present-day “Western” ideologues, society has no obligation to anyone except to the financial oligarchy. The so-called individual interest is given primacy over the collective interest and the general interests of society. This imposition of imperialist theories on the soil of India is creating grave complications. It is contributing to the further deepening of the capitalist crisis and causing great resentment amongst the people. The big capitalists and big landlords are using these theories to create a serious danger to the very well-being of the people and the future of society.
Within the circumstances of the retreat of revolution and the offensive against communism internationally, communists cannot confine themselves to merely reaffirming their belief in socialism and communism. On the contrary, they have to lead the people to eliminate these “Western” notions of society being peddled in India. Making offerings to the classics of Marxism-Leninism, and thereafter consoling the oppressed and exploited with incantations that their deliverance is just around the corner, does not bring honour to communism. Neither will it fill the space available nor will it broaden it to include the whole of society through revolution.
The space to oppose the anti-social offensive that is being carried out under the slogans of privatisation and liberalisation, is so broad at this time that the communists must be in the forefront of organising the working class and the broad masses of the people to put an end to capitalism, once and for all. Alongside this movement, communists must innovate ways to raise the level of political culture through the elaboration of Indian theory and the general line for the present period. Communists also have to seek ideological unity of the revolutionary fighting forces in a stepwise manner, bringing home to all that unity in thinking and action is the highest form of unity and is indispensable for lifting the society out of the crisis. They must also establish unity in action of all forces, a political unity irrespective of any ideological considerations.
Subjective factors are playing the main role in the continuation of the retreat of revolution. There are political organisations whose ideology and politics are to be blamed for this great debacle for the working class and broad masses of the people. One of the subjective factors in India that can be identified as aiding the retreat of revolution is the abandonment of revolutionary principle and the sectarianism of the most powerful parties and groups of communists and their collaboration with the state against the revolutionary elements. Another factor is their support for inter-imperialist geopolitics. By expanding their collaboration and role in the state machinery nationally, they treacherously worked against the revolution and became a subjective factor which contributed to the retreat of revolution.
However, this is not all. Instrumental in stopping the working class movement from taking advantage of the preceding period of flow of revolution was the success by imperialism, the world bourgeoisie and reaction in manipulating the revolt of the masses in their own interests. Such manipulation was facilitated by some communist parties degenerating into social-democracy throughout the world. Such a thing was also facilitated by those who became conciliators with social-democracy. Such treachery began in the Soviet Union and other countries which had long abandoned revolutionary Marxism-Leninism and had established a pseudo-socialist society.
The Soviet Union and the peoples fighting fascism had emerged victorious from the Second World War, and the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movement had picked up great momentum while U.S., imperialism had taken up the mantle of Adolf Hitler to wipe out communism. Nikita Khrushchev and the revisionists and opportunists like J.B. Tito and others responded to the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of social life after the Second World War by abandoning the need for revolution and socialism.
As a starter, they launched a direct attack on the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism by denying its constant need for enrichment through applying it to the concrete problems of ongoing revolution and the construction of socialism. They did not even consider that theory in its different significant dimensions needed to be addressed and developed by resolving some of the problems that concrete conditions had thrown up. They reduced Marxism-Leninism to a phrase and filled the entire movement with a phrase and filled the entire movement with a euphoria about communism, that once constructed it would allegedly continue forever without much ado. Similar dangerous illusions were created about imperialism, that it has now become “peaceful” and will fall on its own. They also conciliated with social-democracy. They surrendered the people to U.S. imperialism, a feat that Adolf Hitler could not accomplish even through the most terrible war. They took no measures to deal with the real problems that confronted the theory of Marxism-Leninism as a result of the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of life, especially in the sphere of the economy and politics. They refused to establish any connection between theory and the definite practical tasks of the epoch.
In the most reprehensible manner possible, using gossip, half-truths and especially the prestige of his position, Khruschchev launched the most ferocious attack on the person of J.V. Stalin, rehashing and giving credence to all the accusations that imperialism, the bourgeoisie and world reaction had used against him and the revolutionary movement. In doing so, he made the people believe that attacking the personality of an individual is a legitimate way of assessing behaviour, especially after the death of that person. Without analysing the objective and subjective conditions and finding solutions to the problems being faced by the Soviet Union and Marxism-Leninism, Khrushchev filled the entire atmosphere with slander, innuendo and the most backward methods of bourgeois politics. An organisation or a person was to be identified as being a good or bad communist on the basis of whether they agreed with Khrushchev’s attack on the personality of Stalin or not. The bourgeois, petty-bourgeois and opportunist habit of character assassination was introduced into the movement in place of dealing with the problems of revolutions and socialism.
This successfully negated the immediate necessity to direct every communist’s attention towards solving the problems in revolutionary theory created by the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of social life. The attacks on the life and work of Stalin infected the entire movement with this disease of gossip and slander, and the dilettante habit of striking a posture of being the most virtuous and the most militant communist, without having made any progress in the objective world. Khrushchev abandoned dialectical philosophy and replaced it with an aggregate of finished dogmatic statements.
Khrushchev also abandoned by sleight of hand the fundamentals of Marxism and replaced them with anti-Marxist pronouncements that had no relevance to the guiding of the complicated struggle in the Soviet Union and solving the problems of the development of socialism. He isolated the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism from its guiding role in life and denigrated it using the attack on Stalin as the leading edge. He exaggerated, one-sidely, the role of the objective factor, the intervention of sound management techniques and efficiency, in the economy. Old relations of production were re-established under slogans of “advanced socialism” and “production indices”. Anarchy of production was soon to replace the regulating role of the dictatorship of the proletariat in all spheres from the economy to politics and culture.
Socialist planning does not pertain merely to the setting of production targets in different sectors of the economy. It mainly involves the raising of the role of the masses in the running of the economy, politics and culture, that is, the uninterrupted revolutionisation of the relations of production. Without the people fighting for their interests within the socialist system on the basis of harmonising the individual interests with those of the collective, and the individual and collective interests with the general interests of the society, it is not possible to have the revolutionisation of the relations of production as the sole guiding aim of socialist planning. Such a problem could only be solved by bringing revolutionary theory on par with the situation faced by the economy, politics and culture.
In the sphere of economic theory, there was a need to put the role of the working people in the first place in determining everything in the realm of production, including distribution. In the sphere of political theory, there was a need to revolutionise the political mechanism so that people could directly participate in governing themselves. In the sphere of philosophy, it was required that the role of dialectical philosophy, in which the “conservation of this mode of outlook is relative; its revolutionary character is the only absolute dialectical philosophy admits”, be brought forth right into the centre of socialist life with the human factor and consciousness playing the leading role in all developments.
Lenin had beckoned the Marxists and had called upon them not to “debase our revolutionary science through dogma to the level of mere book dogma” But for Khrushchev this guideline meant nothing. He concocted a whole series of “theories” totally divorced from the life of the Soviet people. These theories were to mask his inability and unwillingness to deal with problems of revolutionary theory and the difficulties faced by revolution and socialism in the Soviet Union and internationally. He reduced the program and conclusions of Marxism to absurdity.
In place of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the proletarian power in which the working people begin to govern themselves, Khrushchev spoke about the “state of the whole people.” In place of improving the quality of the communists and the proletarian revolutionary transformation of the world, Khrushchev spoke about “peaceful co-existence” as the highest achievement of the epoch. One can imagine what sort of Communist Party it would have been, and what sort of communist would have militated in such a party–these communists “of the party of the whole people”, this Communist Party of the “state of the whole people” languishing in “peaceful co-existence” with imperialism.
At this time, during this period of retreat of revolution, the program and conclusions of Marxism-Leninism are coming under attack from two sides: from the right, which has lost all hope of revolution and is adjusting to the demands of the world bourgeoisie for privatisation and liberalisation; from the left, which denies Marxism its essence, dialectical philosophy. The left is active in the manner of the right, picking up statements from the past in order to avoid reflecting on the astonishingly abrupt changes in the conditions of social life which have recently taken place. Both right and left meet in the muddle of worshipping the past in order to enshrine and sanctify their inability and unwillingness to tackle the present. They refuse to recognise that there is one communist movement to which the main danger comes from all those who are conciliating with social-democracy.
The demand of this period of the retreat of revolution is first and foremost the elaboration of the definite practical tasks of the epoch. The other is to resolutely and persistently uphold the foundations of Marxism, that is, to uphold contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought and the program and conclusions of Marxism. In order to be true to the two fundamentals, the most important and crucial task in front of all Indian communists is to set all other considerations aside and plunge into the work to develop theory, establish the general line, build the political unity of the people and lift society out of the crisis. The unity of the Indian communists will emerge in the course of this work and a single vanguard party of the working class will arise on the soil of India.
The immediate task of the CGPI is to ensure that this is achieved.
We know very well that merely hoping that this or that party will keep the flame of revolution alive, in this case CGPI, leads to indifference to the task of elaborating theory, working out the general line, building political unity and lifting society out of the crisis. Furthermore, it contributes to the deepening of the divisions amongst the communists and obstructs the way towards political unity. It leads to submission to the liquidationist pressure. A thousand and one diversionary actions have originated from the communists of different kind over a period of thirty years or so since the split in the Community Party of India became inevitable during the 1962-64 period. It took place at that time precisely because the communist movement was diverted from taking up the problems of revolution under those conditions.
Those who engineered that split should be asked to explain exactly what they achieved by doing so. By providing clarity on this crucial question they could contribute to the unity of the communists during this period of the retreat of revolution. The leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), for from hedging on the subject and behaving in an arrogant and sectarian manner even during these conditions, should do most of the explaining. They should be asked to explain the consequences of the split by analysing the present conditions and elaborating their theoretical positions and the general line, and thus contribute to the political unity of the people. They must give up their worn-out tactics of seeking unity only from the top as has been advanced in the electoral program of the Third Front and as they have always done in the past. They will have to also abandon the standard refrain that the working class must wait as the conditions do not exist for the workers to carry forward their revolution at this time.
The critical task is to build the political unity of all workers and people of the middle strata who are opposed to the existing state of affairs, especially to the criminalisation of the polity; to the role of the army and security forces in suppressing the people and establishing the cult of violence; to the use of state terrorism; to all the attacks on the freedoms of the people; and most importantly, who stand for the economic well-being of the workers and broad masses of the people. Declarations of allegiance to this or that principle, or this or that phrase from the classic of Marxism-Leninism, without seeking the same afresh from the objective and subjective conditions that confront the people, will not contribute to progress whatsoever.
Comrades, CGPI does not equate the retreat of revolution with the end of revolution. The theory of Marxism is as valid today as it was when Karl Marx discovered it. The retreat of revolution does not mean that the major contradictions of the epoch have disappeared. The epoch remains that of imperialism and proletarian revolution, as Lenin defined it. However, the theory of Marxism-Leninism has to be developed to illuminate the course of practice and it needs to be re-examined and refreshed as the movement in history, the constant changes in things and relations, brings forth fresh experiences and new discoveries. Modern definitions have to be developed that are in tune with the requirements of social progress at this time.
India is one of the most populous countries on this earth. It possesses revolutionary traditions that are a fertile ground for the rise of enlightenment and the flourishing of communist ideas. At the same time, the forced impoverishment and backwardness of the masses cannot but impel the communists to restore their unity in step with the requirements of this period. For India, it is not the end of history but its beginning in the modern sense. It is the communists who in the course of working within the concrete conditions of India, will make history, a history of opening the path for the progress of society. It will be futile for people to turn towards anyone else, as only the working class is the most thoroughgoing revolutionary class, and communism is the condition for the complete emancipation of the working class. Skilfully keeping away from any diversions, communists must make use of every force available in the objective sense for the progress of society, and use everything from our theory to ensure that it happens.
Communists the world over are taking stock of their objective and subjective situations and Indian communists are a detachment of this work. Without this assessment it will be impossible to bring about the deep-going revolutionary transformations necessary in India and throughout the world. Indian communists, in carrying out their own activity in India and supporting the same everywhere in the world, are an indispensable detachment for the emancipation of the world working class. The very notion of supporting the same struggle everywhere is fundamental to proletarian internationalism.
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Taking the Struggle Against the Conciliators with Social-Democracy Right Through to the End
As you are well aware, the world communist movement has its origin in the clean break it made with European social-democracy. The split began to take shape in the Second International over the attitude socialists should take towards the inter-imperialist war and the granting of war credits to the bourgeoisie. This differentiation was to develop, and by the time of the Great October Revolution in 1917, it had become clear that the Second International had completely abandoned the entire program and conclusions of Marxism.
The history of the Third International is the history of defending the Marxist program and its conclusions against all the distortions by the enemies of revolution and socialism. It is the history of opposition to all conciliators with social-democracy, on the one hand, and the defence of the purity of Marxism-Leninism, on the other. It is the subsequent abandonment of Marxism-Leninism by many parties of the Communist International and their conciliation with social-democracy that has led to the present great setback to the cause of the working class revolution and socialism. It is this ideological position, this historical conclusion that must be defended, not dogmatically, but by keeping in mind the great sudden changes which have taken place in the world.
The CGPI was founded with Marxism-Leninism as the base of its theoretical thinking, as the guide to the completion of the people’s democratic revolution in India. The main danger to the communist movement at that time came from the different variants of modern revisionism in state power, particularly Soviet revisionism. Under these conditions, the defence of the purity of Marxism-Leninism was carried out by opposing modern revisionism and all its varieties, especially on the questions of theory and practice of the Soviet Union, and by addressing the tasks of the revolution within the conditions of the bipolar division of the world.
Major and sudden changes have taken place in the world since that time. Not only has the bipolar division of the world ended but many of the communist parties have changed their names, and have openly and quite brazenly embraced social-democracy, as is the case with the Socialist Party of Albania. The destruction of the Soviet Union, the complete dismantling of the economic base and superstructure of socialism in the Russian Federation and other CIS states, and the open embracing of the “free market” and multi-party democracy as prescribed by the imperialists is a fact of life. Together with this, Soviet revisionism too has been destroyed in its old form, having achieved its purpose of destroying socialism.
Having examined the objective and subjective conditions after these sudden changes, the CGPI has come to the conclusion that the content of ideological struggle has also changed from what it was in 1980, when the CGPI was founded. Today, the greatest danger to the communist movement no longer comes from Soviet revisionism or other variants of modern revisionism, as it did in the previous four decades. Modern revisions, which divided the one communist movement in the past, is no more. After all the dust has settled, all those who still call themselves communist, who have not openly abandoned the aim of communism, are part of the one communist movement.
Where does the danger to this communist movement come from? In the face of the efforts of US imperialism to create a unipolar world dominated by it, and of others to create a multi-polar world, and in the face of the ideological offensive of the world bourgeoisie which claims that capitalism is the last stage in the development of human civilisation, there are those in this one communist movement who are conciliating with social-democracy, with those who are creating illusions about capitalism and imperialism. The main danger for the communist movement comes precisely from such forces. Today, therefore, the main content of the ideological struggle is against all conciliators with social-democracy, on the one hand, and in defence of contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought and all principles of Marxism-Leninism, on the other.
A good negative example of the content of the ideological struggle at this time is provided by the program adopted by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), which won about one third of the seats in the Duma during the elections held in Russia in December 1995. This program fully conciliates with social-democracy. The CPRF program eliminates the revolutionary content, that is, the kernel of our dialectical philosophy, the absolute part without which our philosophy is reduced to a mere jaundiced, eclectic mishmash. A cursory glance at this program will show that it is thoroughly social democratic.
According to news agency reports, “the mainplanks of its [the Communist Party of the Russian Federation ] policy, (have been) outlined by its leaders and in documents published before the Duma election… The communists, criticising a constitution adopted in Russia two years age, want to bring in a new basic law ensuring ‘power for the working people’ and to change Russia’s presidential system which they say has created a ‘semi-baronial system’. This proposed change is merely in form and not in content. Constitutions are written by victorious revolutions and they reflect a new content. Whether or not the Russian constitution incorporates ‘power for the working people’, unless the working class seizes power through a victorious revolution and over-throws capitalism, power will continue to reside with the bourgeoisie. Whether Russia changes from the Presidential form of government to some other form, such as that existing in India is completely irrelevant because, in that case, power will continue to be concentrated in the executive, that is in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet,instead of the President and the Cabinet.
The agency reports further add, “A manifesto adopted well before the Duma election says the people must decide Russia’s future, and it revives an old Leninist slogan: ‘He who does not work, shall not eat’. But the party makes clear that wages will depend on work rather than ideology. ‘People will work honestly and earn according to the quantity and quality of their labour. Teachers, doctors, engineers, scientists, painters, writers, and sportsmen will again sense society’s need for them’. However, in their program, there is no mention of overthrowing capitalism and rebuilding socialist society. How can people “work honestly and earn according to the quantity and quality of their labour” when the motive of production is the making of the maximum capitalist profit? This is nothing but the old nineteenth century social-democracy slogan of a “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”.
In its foreign policy, the CPRF has completely abandoned proletarian internationalism and substituted it with the “defence of the fatherland”. According to the same agency reports, the CPRF, “seeking a strong state, wants to renounce the agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus which dissolved the Soviet Union and hold a referendum on recreating the superpower. They are determined to improve the lot of 25 million Russians trapped outside Russia’s borders and say relations with the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be determined in part by how they treat their Russian citizens. The communists do not want NATO to extend its borders to bring in former members of the Warsaw Pact”. In other words, the attitude of the CPRF towards the other members of the CIS is imbued with Great Russian chauvinism. Even its opposition to the expansion of NATO is from the point of view of national chauvinism and is based on Russia’s desire to seek its own military blocs.
In their economic policy, the CPRF will go along with the capitalist system and call for changes hoping that the old social-democratic welfare hard-line ideas of the past and now backs a mixed economy of sorts”. What are these “hard-line” ideas of the past” in the sphere of the economy? The most hard-line idea in political economy is the exercise of the dictatorship of of the proletariat in the ownership of the means of production and in the motive of production. This is to say that the content of relations at the base has to be changed from capitalist to socialist by the armed might of the insurgent proletarian masses of Russia. This is the main “hard-line” idea that has been abandoned by the CPRF.
Having given up this idea of establishing a socialist society through revolution, the CPRF now backs a mixed economy, as it exists in India at this time, with which the Indian working class has a long experience. It is called the state monopoly capitalist system, which also exists in most of the advanced capitalist countries. After this complete betrayal of the cause of the working class, the CPRF begins to make a lot of diversionary noise, such as declaring that “industries like defence, energy, transport and technology should stay in state hands, which could mean changing the government’s privatisation policies. Selling off state assets deprives future generations of their rights, it says. The party has said ‘illegally privatised’ firms should be handed back to the people, and that privatisation deals which do not meet Russia’s interests should be reversed, but has not said how this will be assessed. Communists want to subsidise prices and step up investment to boost sagging production. But at the same time, eyeing the huge need for investment and drawing parallels with China’s success in drawing in foreign funds, they want to encourage Western investment”. In other words, the CPRF wants to create a modern capitalist society that is advanced and an imperialist power. It wants to subsidise prices so that monopoly capitalists can pursue their aims without any risk to themselves in their competition in the international market. It is seeking foreign capital for the benefit of the capitalists.
In terms of their social policy: “The party, complaining that millions of Russians have lost out under painful economic reforms, wants to raise family allowances and the minimum wage and increase support for pensioners, families, veterans and the disabled. It wants to guarantee free education and health care and cheap housing. It will compensate Russians for inflation that has eaten away at savings built up in Soviet days and eliminate unemployment”. How will it achieve all this? Can these things be achieved without overthrowing capitalism? No they cannot, except in the way of creating a social welfare state in the typical style of social-democracy. Such things are also done in India, wherein the government routinely indulges in handouts to this or that section of the population, in the form of subsidies, mid-day meals, and a thousand other such schemes. In the absence of overthrowing capitalism, what this in fact means is that the exploitation of the working masses is intensified, and the monopoly bourgeoisie increases the extraction from the whole of society, in the form of increased taxes, inflation and deficit budgets, and makes profits on “social welfare” as well. The CPRF, having given up the option of overthrowing capitalism, is committed to the social-democratic path, the path we in India have seen being pursued for a long time by the Indian National Congress and others. In fact, the CPRF’s claim that it will accomplish all these things without the overthrow of capitalism and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie is mere deception and electioneering in the style of the social-democrats.
There is absolutely nothing in this entire program that would lift Russian society out of the severe crisis in which it is mired. The anachronistic notion of a social welfare state is a device to ensure that the working class neither examines nor elaborates a program from within the existing national and international conditions. This notion of a welfare state ensures that the working class falls into the trap of reducing everything to policy objectives and never advances a revolutionary program that would guarantee its interests. If this program of the CPRF is implemented, the Russian Federation will remain an imperialist state, and will continue to contend with all the imperialist states on the basis of its own interests. This is the main content of Boris Yeltsin’s state as well. There seems to be no fundamental difference between capitalist Yeltsin and communist Zyuganov.
As capitalism developed to its final stage of imperialism, social-democracy emerged in defence of the European bourgeois nation-state, and for the expansion of the capitalism of the same nation on a world scale. Social-democracy withdrew from the challenge of the twentieth century to bring about proletarian revolution and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat at a time when capitalism had reached its last stage, the stage of imperialism. The CPRF has also done precisely that. It has withdrawn from the challenge of organizing another proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and has become the party of a Russian social welfare state and of Russian imperialism.
Social-democracy was brought to Indian during the period of British colonialism. The Indian National Congress was the first social-democratic party in India. It had the program of independence but without social revolution. It wanted the right to govern the Indian sub-continent but without making changes in the economic and political system. The Communist Party of India’s slogan of “non-capitalist development” for India given in the late fifties was also an expression of sub-service to and an apology for social-democracy as it existed in the form of Nehru’s “socialistic pattern of society” in India at that time. Social-democracy has always found allies in the different schools of socialism that arose in the conditions in which the colonialists created classes of people in whose interest it would be to defend their system. Such is the situation as it prevails in India at this time.
What precisely is the aim of social-democracy, this political line that has spread to so many countries of the world at this time? It is to ensure that the workers of all countries do not look into the conditions of their own countries, work out their own philosophies, elaborate their own economic and political theories, develop their own state structure and establish the direction of their economy and culture. It is precisely on the question of the nation that social-democracy is extremely harmful. It has thrown the banner of the nation into the mud, all the while presenting itself as the greatest defender and champion of the nation, and justifying its actions in the name of “national unity and territorial integrity”.
Social-democracy is the favourite policy of the bourgeoisie to sort out the contradictions in its own ranks on the basis of helping itself to the state sector and national resources, on the one hand, and reconciling the class struggle of the proletariat and the liberation struggles of the peoples within each country and internationally, on the other. It has remained the preferred policy of the bourgeoisie the world over during the entire period of the twentieth century, even though the bourgeoisie resorts to fascism when social-democracy fails to provide the desired results.
The world bourgeoisie claims to espouse liberalism today, in the form of liberalisation and the “free market” economy. However, liberal democracy was the political theory suitable to the conditions of laissez-faire capitalism in the nineteenth century, when capitalism was in its pre-monopoly stage. Capitalism has long since entered into its last stage, the stage of imperialism, where the economic power of the monopolies is combined with the political power of the state. The rivalry among monopoly groups and imperialist powers for world domination has become the order of the day.
There is no possibility that imperialism will lead to free competition: imperialism leads to the further concentration of capital and the intensification of competition among the monopolies. It means striving for domination. It has led to the sharpening of the contradictions between imperialist powers and monopoly groups; between imperialism and the peoples of the world struggling for liberation; between capital and labour; and, since the victory of the Great October Revolution in 1917, between capitalism and socialism. It has already led to two inter-imperialist world wars and scores of imperialist wars of aggression and intervention, coups d’etat and fascist dictatorships. Liberalisation under the present conditions, is nothing but a euphemism for unbridled robbery and domination by the monopoly bourgeoisie, whose preferred policy remains that of social-democracy.
At the present time in India, social-democracy is no longer able to work in the old way. This is reflected in the increasing use of state terrorism and other forms of violence. The economic, social and political system and theories that the bourgeoisie gave rise to at the time of the rise of the European nation state are no longer appropriate in the conditions of the closing years of the twentieth century. Far from opening the path to the progress of society, this system has become the major roadblock.
The bourgeoisie is more and more displaying the features of a superfluous class, a parasite on the body of society, sucking its life blood and destroying it. The program of a free market economy is a euphemism for unfettered competition among the monopolies and imperialist powers in pursuit of unbridled domination and plunder. It is a demand that all barriers, including those of the nation-state itself, be brought down for the sake of maximizing the profits of the monopolies and of furthering imperialist domination. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the former people’s democracies in Eastern Europe, the markets of the world are at the disposal of the monopoly capitalists and imperialists of the world, who have entered into a fierce competition for world domination. Under these circumstances, terrorism and violence have become the major instruments of imperialism and world reaction, not only to suppress the resistance and revolt of the toiling masses but also to sort out the contradictions within their own ranks.
This has increased the pressure on social-democracy to divert the working class from achieving its goal of emancipating itself and all of society. It does this by openly presenting itself as the alternative to all extremes. Such an illusion does great damage to the world working class and communist movement, because the struggle in the final analysis is not between two bourgeois camps, the so-called right and left wings of the bourgeoisie, but between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, that is, between the exploiters and the exploited.
The bourgeoisie has also sophisticated the method of the ballot and the bomb to disperse the revolutionary forces. Social-democracy practices the method of the ballot most of the time, but it is not averse to making use of the bomb when it is in a desperate mood. Both state terrorism and individual acts of terrorism are used by the bourgeoisie, as can be seen from the activities of the Congress Party and others.
In the Indian conditions, the parliamentary struggle and the armed violence of the state are the expressions of bourgeois rule and policy that are aimed at diverting the attention of the communists and the revolutionary forces from addressing the broad questions of theory and political line, of ideological struggle and the political program, and the practical work to bring about the revolution.
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CGPI and the Ideological and Polemical Struggle
The working class and toilers of India have had great expectations that socialism and communism would be established on the soil of India and that they would be emancipated. This hope and expectation have not disappeared. In spite of the fact that revolution is in retreat on the world scale, in spite of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the change of regimes in the countries that formerly called themselves people’s democracies and socialist, and in spite of all the propaganda of the world bourgeoisie and reaction that communism is finished and has failed, the consciousness of the Indian working class and toiling masses continues to give communism pride of place. It is not uncommon to find many among the broad masses of people who call themselves communist, even though they may not be organised in a communist party. There are even some among the propertied classes who are for some kind of socialism.
Tragically for the working class and the toiling masses of India, emancipation has eluded them. This has happened because the propertied classes have bound them hand and foot to capitalism and to the remnants of feudalism. More importantly, the communist and workers’ movement has been undermined by social-democracy. The fact is that European social-democracy presents itself in the colours of socialism and communism in India. The aspirations of the propertied classes created by colonialism and imperialism have dug their poisonous claws into the healthy body of the working class movement for emancipation, demanding that real socialism and communism submit itself to social-democracy. The workers are being diverted by the conciliators with social-democracy from achieving their goal. Most importantly, they are deprived of an ideology and theory that comes out of their conditions, with which they could empathise and which they can use as a weapon to wage the class struggle.
It is under these conditions that the CGPI has to conduct the ideological and polemical struggle and defend the cause of the working class. Through this work, we have to win over all the communists to the position that no communist or communist organisation should have any illusion about Congress (I) or any other social democratic formation. We must also carry out the most militant ideological and polemical struggle in defence of the program to lift the society out of the crisis.
India is largely an agrarian society where small property dominates. On this soil, propertied classes have been created-the industrial houses and the capitalist landlords. Colonial privileges and feudal property also still exist. More than seventy percent of the population still lives in the countryside in an economy that is agrarian-industrial. Capitalist relations of production dominate both in the city and in the countryside. Small property is still the main form of land ownership, mixed up and confused with individual property for purposes of subsistence living. Nonetheless, it is the property of the classes created by British colonialism that is growing.
Within these circumstances, it is necessary to occupy the soil on which socialism and communism will grow. In the sphere of ideas, there is tremendous space for communism to occupy by waging the most stern ideological struggle. In the sphere of the restoration of the unity of communists in India and internationally, there is space to be occupied through stern polemical struggle. There is also space to win over the political activists by elaborating and defending what kind of party is needed in modern times. It is through this work that socialism and communism will grow on Indian soil. It will also grow as the theory of the liberation of the working class and the toilers of India begins to take shape and the political unity of the people begins to be established behind the program to lift society out of the crisis. In sum, communism needs to occupy the space of deep-going revolutionary transformation.
The founding resolution of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1925 did not make a clean break with social-democracy. Instead there was a tendency to conciliate with it, as reflected in the attitude of the CPI to the Indian National Congress. The chief expression of European social-democracy in India at that time was the Indian National Congress, as is the case today. The main point is not what happened at the founding of the organised vanguard of the Indian working class in 1925. The crucial thing is that this still remains the problem at this time. Furthermore, its significance lies in the fact that the main content of the revolutionary movement in Asia in the 1920s was anti-colonial, just as today the main content is to get rid of the colonial legacy, which appears in the form of the struggle against capitalism. The ideological and polemical battles did not begin in 1925 in accordance with Indian conditions. On the contrary, the struggle which erupted somewhere else began to be artificially fought in India as well. The anti-colonial struggle was raging at that time. The ideological and polemical struggle was crying out to be fought, and fought to its logical conclusion, which called for the victory of socialism and communism. On the contrary, the ideological and polemical struggle never began, and the illusion was created that the propertied classes engendered in the system created by British colonialism would bring about an anti-colonial revolution detached and separate from the struggle for the victory of socialism and communism.
The independence movement was conceived on the premise of the old European model, and as a version of the American war of independence, and not as social revolution born from the loins of the movement of the working class and toilers of the Indian subcontinent for their emancipation. The Indian bourgeoisie cleverly used the anti-colonial struggle against the struggle for socialism and communism, Instead of the anti-colonial struggle passing on to the struggle for socialism and communism, it was used to obstruct the communist and workers’ movement. This is what is being done today too. In the name of the struggle against the “communal danger”, the cause of the working class has been postponed forever.
The entire history of 70 years of the communist and workers’ movement has shown that without communist ideological and polemical work. it is not possible to develop the independent role of the working class. Without vigorous ideological and polemical struggle, it is not even possible to actually identify in concrete terms who are the enemies of the movement and where the movement is and where it is heading, and to clarify the fact that even today, the agrarian question is the main content of the democratic revolution.
Indian communists cannot negate the lessons of the past seventy years. The road of the Great October Revolution is still valid. The numbers of the working class are steadily growing as capitalism continues to grow at an increasingly rapid rate, especially in the countryside, sending millions of people to an early grave, or to the cities, or as emigrants to other countries, Not setting the entire ideological and polemical work within the context of the main tasks of the revolution will divert attention from capitalism being the main culprit. It will also divert attention from the mobilisation of all the classes and strata which have been hurt by the current conditions.
It is not important to establish the ideology and theory that prevailed and was responsible for leading the Communist Party of India down a cul-de-sac, not only in 1947, but again in 1964, in 1975 and, most importantly at the present time. The important thing in the determination of the course of the communist and workers’ movement with regard to the question Whither India? is the ideological and polemical struggle which defends this movement and its line of march in the present conditions, while opposing the division of the communists into so many parties and groups.
As we have noted earlier, the main content of the ideological and polemical struggle is against all conciliators with social-democracy and in defence of contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought. The success in this work will not be achieved if we keep the sphere of ideology and polemics beyond the purview of the class struggle as objects of discussion and understanding. This is what social-democracy demands and does. Rather, the success in this work will be achieved by actually differentiating on the basis of this work with all those who conciliate with social-democracy and emasculate Marxism-Leninism. The conciliators do this by denying the revolutionary conclusions of Marxism -Leninism, they do this by denying that Marxism-Leninism must indeed be developed in order to deal with the unfolding phenomenon, and that, in fact, it has developed in the whole historic period since the end of the Cold War. This ideological and polemical struggle is an active force that continually differentiates between friend and foe; it is a cement that binds the working class and people together. This work is integral and crucial to the revolutionary movement as it emerges from the very experience of the communist and workers’ movement.
Socialism and communism were brought from without to India. In a sense, the complete break with social -democracy-as it appeared in India-was not made. Communism as it exists in Indian at this time appears more like a policy objective than as the movement of the class and the toiling masses for the creation of a communist society. While the system implanted by the British colonialists-the capitalist system-has been growing by leaps and bounds, raining death and destruction in its wake, socialism and communism have not made the headway that was expected. Far from the movement of the working class and toiling masses battling the bourgeoisie and capitalist system and creating the conditions for its overthrow, it is socialism and communism in India which are marking time. The ills of the capitalist system have grown to a level hitherto unknown , in spite of all the technical and scientific achievements of modern society, but still the communist and workers’ movement has not presen! ted a program for its overthrow.
The bourgeoisie reduces the question of ensuring the well-being of the people to one of merely declaring a series of policy objectives. This is expressed in the directive principles contained in the Constitution of India, which is written in the spirit of European social-democracy. It is also conveyed in the manner in which the entire political life of the people has been governed during the period of independence. It is well known, for example, that the Constitution has numerous good policy objectives, which make the Indian system appear as one of the most progressive and democratic in the world. Looking at these objectives as they were formulated 45 years ago, could one not draw the conclusion that India should have no exploitation of women, no caste oppression, no exploitation of child labour, no bounded labour or contract labour, no illiteracy and so on? What explanation does the bourgeoisie provide for the fact that inspite of all kinds of laws and constitutional provisions, no dent has been made in these problems and they are in fact becoming worse?.
The devastation of the countryside is proceeding at a rapid pace, forcing millions of people to early deaths through disease and malnutrition, forcing millions of others to run to the cities in search of a livelihood, forcing millions of people to live off poisonous leaves, roots and pulses, forcing so many into the grip of bloodsucking contractors and middle men as bonded labour, and driving children into hard and dangerous labour at very tender ages. Women and girls are the victims of barbaric medieval oppression, of the Brahmanical and other is discriminatory canons based on religion and custom. They are also the victims of capitalism. Dalit men and women are routinely tormented, tortured and humiliated for daring to lift their heads and demanding to be treated as human beings.
Eliminating the gap between the rich and poor is one of the major policy objectives of the Indian state, However, the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer. Does an answer not have to provided as to why, in spite of the numerous policy objectives, the situation is deteriorating at such a rapid pace? Should the communists not make a break with those who are conciliating with soical-democracy, those who have turned communism, the condition for the emancipation of the working class, into a policy objective? Should the communists not chart a course for taking the people’s democratic struggle through to the end on the basis of smashing the system established by the colonialists?
The bourgeoisie, through the Congress (I). is promising milk and honey on the basis of eliminating any vestige of the “socialistic pattern of society”. At the same time, there are communist parties that claim they can industrialise their region on the basis of foreign capital and liberalisation. The direct connection between the social democratic Congress(I) and such communists can be seen in the similarity of their policies, bringing home to the communists that an ongoing ideological and polemical struggle must be waged against those who have illusions about social-democracy and are emasculating the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
Such communists join the Congress(I) in swearing by the name of “national unity and territorial integrity”, by the name of a “secular” and “democratic” India, holding these up as guiding principles and facts of life, while everything else is reduced to policy objectives. Instead of providing an explanation as to why the plight of the working class and toilers of India keeps on deteriorating, these social-democrats and the communists who persist in their illusions about them are spreading the extremely harmful idea that the situation can be fixed without profound social transformations, The entire populace is diverted by this fantasy created by soical-democracy that solutions to the problems are just over the hill, or dangling on a string, just out of reach, nicely couched in the flowery and seductive language of policy objectives. They are aided and abetted in this fantasy-making by those communists that harbour and spread the same illusions. This illusion-mongering is the main cause of the de-politicisation of the people, of their division behind this or that section of the bourgeoisie, It is the main factor in lining up the people behind various sections who fight it out to determine who will govern the bourgeois state.
These harmful illusions are not just about this or that policy objective, they are mainly about the economic and political system itself. Political power is firmly entrenched in the hands of illusion-makers who even create illusions about the very nature of the state. This fiction is extended to the political process, suggesting that it is the people who determine the kind of government in Delhi and elsewhere, as if political power rests in the hands of the people. IIIusions are also created according to which the problems of the society are determined by the good or bad policies of this or that party in power.
The political arena of our country is filled with parties that loudly proclaim the loftiest policy objectives imaginable, from providing universal employment, education and free health care, to eliminating corruption and enforcing the operation of the polity on the basis of secularism, and many other things, including prosperity for all. The division of the people on the basis of political parties is based on the notion that what is decisive in bringing about change is the policy of the party which is elected to office. This notion of good and bad policies of particular parties flies in the face of the fact that power resides in the bourgeoisie as a class, and that the role of political parties under a bourgeois democracy is to defend that power from being captured by the working class. Waging an irreconcilable ideological and polemical struggle against those who have illusions about soical-democracy and all forms of bourgeois socialism necessarily leads the working class to smash this power and establish its own state and use it to open society’s path to progress. The capturing of political power by the working class creates the conditions whereby the claims of all members of society upon it can be satisfied.
An ideological and polemical struggle against the entire system in which the Congress(I) and BJP as well as various communists and leftists collaborate and compete in order to create every kind of illusion must go on without any let-up. By waging the ideological and polemical struggle against this system, all forms of bourgeois ideology can be vanquished from the communist and workers’ movement. It is through this work that the block to the advance of communism can be smashed. Communists have to be independent of the “two-timing” behaviour with which every aspect of life in India is imbued: one thing in words and theory; quite another thing in practice. It is the ongoing ideological and polemical work that ensures that the working class is imbued with the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. How can socialism and communism become a real material fighting force if it remains isolated from the workers and toilers? It will never amount to anything if an ongoing ideological and polemical struggle is not waged against illusions about social-democracy, against this entire “two-timing” conduct and against the emasculators of the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
Today, the communists have to avoid falling into the pit of all diversions that the bourgeoisie throws at them. The main one concocted by the bourgeoisie both internationally and within India consists in saying that “civil society” can deal with the problems facing the people. It is postulated that problems can be solved by pressurising governments to exhibit” the political will” to get the job done. This flies in the face of the fact that the creation of a civil society is not the aim of the working class movement. It is not the condition for the emancipation of the working class and toiling masses, The creation of civil society was the basic condition for the rise of the bourgeoisie itself to power, of the suppression of feudal privileges, for the establishment of the supremacy of bourgeois right and for modern colonial conquest and imperialist plunder. It is the basis of neo-colonialism on the world scale. The aim of “political will” within civil society is to assist the bourgeoisie to rid itself of certain aberrations that no longer accord with its current need to streamline society and the nation to serve the globalisation of production and capital.
Civil society, if analysed without prejudice, is the condition of the enslavement of the working class and toiling masses, not the condition for their emancipation. Civil society is what already exists in India . Civil society means the legal guarantee of those institutions through which the bourgeoisie accumulates its capital and consolidates its rule. Such institutions may take on different forms in different countries and times. Civil society may include the form of a constitutional monarchy, a republic, a presidency, and/or a parliament headed by a prime minister, a unitary state or confederacy, an electoral system based on proportional representation or first-past-the post . It may include civil liberties in varying degrees such as the freedom of expression, association, religious belief and habeas corpus, the right to vote in free and fair elections, universal or partial suffrage, etc., as well as the provision of the suspension of such liberties and institutions in the event of a threat to the civil power from within or without, or by decision of a government to reduce rights to within “reasonable limits”. Whatever be its form in content, civil society is without exception based on the sanctity of private property and the notion of prosperity and the “Pursuit of happiness” through the accumulation of private property.
In the case of India, the legal sanctification of private property in land and other means of production was the cornerstone of British colonial rule. India’s civil society is a colonial legacy, It is the condition both of the ruthless exploitation of the working people in India, and for depriving the people of India of their independence.
If even this much is not appreciated, then the Indian communists and people will never rid themselves of this monkey on their backs, this spectacle of reducing everything to “social policy objectives”, which is the greatest obstacle to the growth of socialism and communism on the soil of India,
It must be appreciated that neither the Constitution of India nor the political parties which are scrambling to capture power for themselves address the need to create and implement the kinds of mechanisms required to realise even their limited objectives. There is no questioning of the system itself. The system continues to rain death and destruction on the people and on the life of society while the policy objectives and the so-called good laws remain on paper as if nothing has happened. What does it do to the polity and the psyche of the Indian people to carry on endless discussion on which policy objective of this or that party is good or bad?.
In this light, it can be shown that communism, without waging an ongoing ideological and polemical struggle against these illusions, will itself remain a policy objective, a phrase that is trotted out from time to time, as is the case with many communist parties, without having any content whatsoever, In many ways and in many regions, the Indian communist movement is struck. It has fallen into the pit of illusion from which it refuses to climb out. It recoils from taking an ideological stand against illusions and fails to wage a polemic against all those who harbour them. It is stuck with the old idea that it must organise around what it thinks is the “best” program to administer the bourgeois state in competition with bourgeois parties. As a result, the communist movement is fractured with many factions fighting one another over who has the “best program and policies to administer the bourgeois state. This attitude of organising factions around the “best program is precisely the outlook of the European merchant, industrialist and landowner, who presents his manifesto strictly on the basis of serving his own interests. Many of these mainfestos in essence, are an open defence of the existing system, as is the case with those who are building their “third front”.
Communists must develop an ongoing ideological and polemical struggle against all factions of the bourgeoisie, against all those who parade as political parties and groups with this or that policy objective. They must make use of social science and present their arguments consistent with the aspirations of the working class and toilers of India. They must not organise this or that faction around such arguments. On the contrary, they must wage this struggle around which the working class can be organised for the victory of revolution and socialism, They must discuss and debate with the aim of raising the level of the working class. Unless the ideological and polemical battles begin by actually identifying, in concrete terms, that the immediate task of all communists is to fight against all illusions about the existing system, there will be no growth of socialism and communism on the soil of India. Betrayal and liquidation of the communist and workers’ movement await those who d! o no t wage ideological and polemical struggle against all illusions about the system and about social-democracy.
We have come to the conclusion that a stern and irreconcilable ideological and polemical struggle must be waged not because of some problem in cognition or for the sake of illumination . It is because material conditions are calling for it, . The objective conditions of capitalist development demand the building of the arsenal of ideas and making it available to the working class. Ideological and polemical struggle will build this arsenal. The workers will be able to use this arsenal against all their class enemies, open or hidden. In waging the ideological and polemical struggle, CGPI keeps in the forefront the aims of the revolution to lift society out of the crisis in the immediate sense, and to create the conditions for the victory of socialism and communism in the strategic sense.
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The Necessity for Indian Theory
The starting point, the first step, the most immediate question and the long-term task that appears in India for the victory of the revolutionary movement is that of theory. It expresses it self most succinctly in the necessity for Indian theory, a theory emerging out of the conditions of India and suitable for the development of communism here. This starting point has to be made by settling scores with the old conscience, the conscience of all conciliators with social -democracy, on the one hand, and that of the British colonialists and of the bourgeoisie and feudal elements, on the other.
The theory of the conciliators with social-democracy considers it normal to have a system which is a direct import from Europe, suitable for the classes created by the colonialists themselves, classes in whose interests it is to renovate and strengthen such a system. It is also important to examine seriously how Marxism-Leninism which is presented in a dogmatic form is something quite suitable to these classes that form the large industrial houses, the capitalists and feudal landlords. For what other reason have they nurtured this dogmatic Marxism-Leninism than to defend their system?
Comrades, the greatest problems taken up for solution at this time by CGPI is that of Indian theory. This work began at the time of the First Congress of the Party, the tenth anniversary of its founding. If CGPI is to play its role as the vanguard of the working class, it must develop the theory of communism from Indian conditions. This theory must be developed by settling scores with the old conscience of India. It must be given an Indian form. It must bear no trace of Euro-centrism or any other influence that would render it unscientific. This theory most be suitable to the practice of Indian revolution and applicable in general terms to any conditions in the world. It is only through the development of this Indian theory that the question Whither Indian? can be fully answered and the revolutionary movement spurred forward.
India, a land of small production and individual and communal property for more than twenty-five hundred years, is filled with numerous philosophies and theories based on this experience, However, the conditions have changed in many ways, Large-scale production, that is, the social process of material production, is taking hold in both the cities and the countryside, Regardless, there remains a lot of space in which community ownership and ideas abound and cannot be filled by capitalism. What will the Marxist-Leninists do about it? Will they first transform these primeval communal feudal-patriarchal relations, the Asiatic mode of production, into capitalist relations; or, will they go straight to socialism? It is far better to go straight to socialism. For this, there is a need for an Indian revolutionary theory that can illuminate the practice of revolutionising the entire life in India, of doing just that-going straight to socialism. This requires actually putting all the many philosophies and ideologies, their myriad forms and shapes, to the critical test of practic and working out one revolutionary theory.
This theory has to be closely linked to the working class movement for emancipation, around which everything hinges. Only by comparing and contrasting it with the most advanced philosophy and theory, Marxism-Leninism and contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought, can Indian revolutionary theory be modernised. Indian philosophy and theory must be the most modern. It has to mercilessly differentiate itself from all schools of thought which render it powerless and give it the role of being merely of some spritutal character.
Ideas, notions, views, interpretations are all, generally speaking, relative. For this reason, anyone’s ideas can be as right or as wrong as anyone else’s. Theory, on the other hand, is absolute until such times it is proven wrong. If ideology does not arise from the soil of a country, if constant struggle is not waged to resolve what is right or wrong on the basis of theory, there can be no truly conscious, truly independent and truly revolutionary movement of the working class. To achieve victory in the movement of the working class for emancipation, it is crucial to pay continuous attention to both ideological struggle and theory.
The fundamental premise of the Indian philosophy of Darshan is that things and phenomena reveal themselves. The entire universe is nothing but Maya. Awagaman is the mode of existence of Maya. Such a materialist rendering of the Indian outlook is an excellent starting point for the development of Indian theory. Indian communists must develop this theory by beginning from the present, bringing under sharp criticism all that is in vogue within the Indian conditions, especially the old conscience that is pushed by the Indian ruling classes.
The stagnation of the philosophy of Darshan is inextricable linked with the stagnation of Indian thought, and of the economic and political theories in our country, The darshandharis, ensconced within the comfortable walls of Indian, American and British universities, pontificate about Indian philosophy, as if it has no relevance or link with the present conditions in India, with the illumination of the road to progress for the Indian people at this time in history. Idealist and religious interpretations are given of Darshan, to make it lifeless and useless for the Indian people. Meanwhile, deprived of a philosophy and outlook to deal with the problems, today, the Indian people are left floundering helplessly, at the mercy of the bourgeoisie and imperialism.
Darshan, for instance, is confined to the sphere of religion wherein God reveals himself to believers through their daily darshan. Various schools of philosophy deliberately given an idealist interpretation to maya-the entire universe, including matter and the reflection of that matter in the forms of thought-declaring it to mean illusion. Awagaman, the coming into being and passing away of things and phenomena including thought, is deprived of its profound revolutionary and materialist character, that it in fact reflects the way things and phenomena reveal themselves and come into being and pass away, Instead, these darshandharis give an idealist, cyclical as well as fatalistic interpretation to these concepts.
Such interpretations do not assist the Indian people to address the problems that exist in society. Instead of assisting the people in working out the proper relationship between humans and nature and between humans and other humans, as Darshan did in ancient times, they make human beings a passive victim to the ravaging forces of society and nature today. It is the tragedy of India that Indian communists do not combat these false interpretations of Darshan. For the Anglo-Americans, especially since the days of colonial rule, to deliberately denigrate Darshan and reduce it to a matter of scholastic study of something from the dim past with no relevance for this day and age, is understandable. But why should Indian communists fall prey to this?.
By not developing Indian philosophy, by not rescuing it from the realm of scholasticism and the confines of the universities ad religious institutions, by not arming themselves and the people with an outlook that will help them solve the problems facing Indian society, Indian communists have assisted the bourgeoisie in perpetuating its rule. The bourgeoisie and its political parties, while paying lip service to Indian philosophy, carry on their fighting by donning themselves in the garb of Indian traditions and colours. Communists meanwhile remain on the sidelines, debating on the “backwardness” or “forwardness” of the Indian people. Some of them even debate whether they should appropriate some of the old symbols of Indian history or religions, as if the question of philosophy or theory is a matter of shedding one set of clothes for another. Such a thing makes a mockery of the place of theory in society, its necessity at a time when history has to be created consciously and the pre-history of anarchy and spontaneous upheavals has to be ended. Communists of India need to raise theory to the highest level possible and give it profile that will be acknowledged on the world scale as a contribution to opening the path to the progress of society not only in India but throughout the world.
Having traversed seventy years of struggle for socialism and communism in India, all Indian communists must realise that the theories that must be opposed are not rejected simply because they are foreign. They must be repudiated because they are instruments for the enslavement and bondage of Indian society. If society is to prepare itself for the twenty-first century, it must leave behind this entire baggage of European social-democracy and assortment of bourgeois socialism. This is really the point. It must be recognised that without a theory and philosophy that has historically developed within the concrete conditions of a given country. it is not possible to build socialism and communism in that country. This will put to rest once and for all the legacy introduced by British colonialism according to which Indian philosophy and thought can only find expression through European philosophy.
The European philosophical tradition originating from Plato and Aristotle was perfected during the Age of Enlightenment and Reason and was given further shape during the revolutionary struggles which gave rise to the modern European nation-state. Nonetheless, this momentous development was to be followed by Irrationalism, the reaction of the European bourgeoisie to the revolutionisation of social science carried out by Karl Marx and to the fear of proletarian revolution.
In this Irrationalism which the European colonialists imposed on their colonies. Such a thing carried on even after these colonies became independent. Viewing India through the prejudices of such colonialist philosophy may satisfy the requirements of some foreign scholars and may even be used to justify the notion of a “white man’s burden”, that missionary zeal with which the colonialists sought to conquer and civilise the “barren” Indian souls. Through bloodshed and conquest they brought India under the sway of civil society and European colonialist philosophy. That civil society and that European philosophy can do nothing to advance the movement of the working class for emancipation.
The colonial destruction of the people created a void which the colonialists tried to fill with irrationalism. They negated Indian society and philosophy. They must now be negated if Indian society and philosophy are to develop and progress. The negation of their irrationalism must give way to rationalism.
Frederick Engles sharply pointed out long ago that “the philosophy of every epoch presupposes certain definite thought material handed down to it by its predecessors from which it takes its start………..”(4)
Do we Indian communists suggest that our ancestors handed down to us no” certain definite though material” at all?.
Just as Karl Marx and Frederick Engles settled scores with their old conscience-the prevailing ideas of their age-so too must we settle scores with the prevailing conscience of India, our old conscience. We cannot even begin to do so if we deny its existence, if we deny Indian philosophy, if we deny that we have “thought material” which has come down to us. If we do not settle scores with our former conscience, the domain of philosophy will remain in the hands of the Indian bourgeoisie and imperialism. The development of Indian philosophy and theory will be obstructed.
We Indian communists take from the Indian philosophy of Darshan, that which is materialist and revolutionary, namely, that all things and phenomena reveal themselves. Things and phenomena do not reveal themselves in their dogmatic form as the Indian bourgeoisie would want us to believe. The mode of existence of maya, that is awagaman, puts to rest such revelations in their dogmatic form. Awagman provides maya with the quality of coming and going, coming into being and passing away. Things and phenomena reveal themselves according to their level of development-as conditions change, what they reveal changes accordingly. Recognising this is the starting point of establishing Indian philosophy and theory. This is not the end point any more than dialectical and historical materialism is the end point. It is foolish to think that the formidable discoveries that have been made to date are the pinnacle and final word on what is needed by humanity, for all times and for all peoples of this world. Such a vulgar opinion only appeals to those who are satisfied with the present state of affairs and are benefiting from the status quo.
Just as the bourgeoisie has reduced the entire country to dependence and reliance on foreign capital by strengthening the foreign colonial legacy, the economic and political system and other institutions, it is reduced to reliance on European philosophy. It is a beggar also in terms of the “thought material”. This is the greatest crime it is committing against the people. Its schools are filled with foreign “thought material”, to the extent that the “national language”, the language in which it transacts its relations is also foreign.
According to Engles, “Marx summarises the common content lying in things and relations and reduces it to its general logical expression. His abstraction therefore reflects, in the form of thought, the content already reposing in things”(5)
If the philosophy is foreign, “the common content laying in things and relations” has to be foreign as well. In other words, such a philosophy would not reflect “the content already reposing in things” in Indian society. The bourgeoisie as a class, the big industrial houses, the capitalists and landlords, owe their creation to the British colonial system. The British colonialists, besides other things, provided the bourgeoisie with property relations based on exploitation and a thought material which justified those relations. By destroying everything that was theirs in the past the British have given Indians the option either to take up the thought material of the classes created by the British, or to be lost in the void of what has been negated. Revolutionary communists must reject both and create a vibrant theory that will smash the thought material passed on by the British and the void created by them.
British thought material as presented by the Indian ruling classes negates the development of India philosophy and theory. Such a thing can be called a genocide (at the very least a cultural genocide), but the Indian bourgeoisie is proud of it; it spews forth every thing that is hostile to the interests of the Indian working class and people. Indian communists, basing themselves on the definite thought material handed down from the past and the summation of the experience of the working class movement taken in general form, must give rise to a theory that provides it with its own spiritual weapon, a theory that finds its material weapon in the working class itself.
Karl Marx pointed out that the proletariat is the heart of the revolution, while philosophy is the head, If the proletariat, the material weapon and heart, is Indian, how can it be directed by a British head? Furthermore what is the use of a heart if it has no head? To suggest that European social-democracy or that different forms of bourgeois socialism are the head is to bury one’s own head in the sand and to continue the rotten tradition of serving the class that is hostile to the working class and people, Indian communists must provide the working class with its own head, with Indian theory and philosophy in order to guide its struggles for emancipation. Either the working class takes command of its own philosophy, or it allows the bourgeoisie a free hand to sing bhajans to European philosophy so as to disarm the working class and keep it and the society in perpetual bondage. Indian communists must fight unwaveringly against the Eurocentric pressure according to which the thought material coming out of European and American academia and other institutions is the only one of value, and the most advanced at that.
The so- called theory of orientalism even denies that there is such a thing as Indian philosophy. It reduces Indian philosophy to spiritualism, opposing the very essence of materialism – the conclusion that every society provides itself with “certain definite thought material”. Far from allowing Indian philosophy to remain a target of curiosity for the native and foreign scholars, Indian communists must develop Indian theory and philosophy as an integral part of the development of the revolutionary movement.
Internationally, by taking the experience of the international communist and worker’s movement as a whole, in general form, the communist philosophic conscience has developed from Marxism to Leninism to contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought. However contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought is not the negation of Leninism, just as Leninism was not the negation of Marxism. Together, they are not dogmas but are a guide to action. The philosophy and theory that would guide the Indian revolution will find their development in close connection with the working class movement as it exists today in India and internationally. Nonetheless, the dogmatism of different social-democratic and opportunist trends is exerting enormous pressure to sabotage this work.
The main enemy of this revolutionary theory remains right opportunism, the social democratic ideas that seek to subordinate the class struggle of the working class to the requirements of the bourgeoisie. Today, right opportunism is adapting itself to the requirements of the world bourgeoisie of privatisation and liberalisation. This adaptation has continued for more than fifty years and will continue until such a time as either the world proletariat is completely disarmed, or it confronts its bourgeois false conscience and Indian theory and philosophy are renovated, modernised and brought up to date . With this revolutionary adaptation and development, the mimicry and buffoonery of the present period will end.
The intrigue against socialism and communism is not only to present Marxism as a form of liberal ideology that is an ideology minus its revolutionary class content, but also as the last word in social thought in the spirit of a catechism, a kind of Marxian fundamentalism It is also to present it as hostile to Leninism, and to present Leninism in opposition to contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought.
It is significant that in the last six years, not a few parties which formerly called themselves communist have changed their names and are now presenting themselves as “nice”, liberal and soical-democratic parties, In bourgeois style, they pretended to have no class content, no national content, but in fact, they have no revolutionary class content. At the same time , some others who have not changed their names have, in like manner, adopted the demeanour of very “nice” peaceful, liberal communists with whom it is possible for imperialism, the bourgeoisie and world reaction to “get along with “. At the Congress of CPI (M) in April 1995, for example the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF)issued a public statement according to which 21 major communist parties in the world have all abandoned the notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In other words, communism is not the condition for the complete emancipation of the working class, but merely a policy objective, Communism as the condition for the complete emancipation of the working class can be created only by proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Communism as a policy objective stands against proletarian revolution and the directorship of the proletariat. It embraces the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie as the final act of human civilisation, as immutable, as something that will go on forever.
Within this framework, a position of opposing all dictatorships is presented merely as a ruse, an act of treachery and deception against the movement of the working class for emancipation. It is not for nothing that following the capture of the largest number of seats in the Duma by the CPRF, the Clinton administration, according to news agency reports, “dismissed communist electoral gains in Russia, declaring that the Party’s new breed are not the ‘totalitarian Bolsheviks of old’.
Contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought is a guide to the creation of Indian theory. Lenin’s conclusion that “… a correct revolutionary theory….. is not a dogma, but assumes final shape only in close connection with the practical activity of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement,” means that a really revolutionary and really scientific theory develops only by beginning from the present and serving it. Our work for the creation of Indian theory has already begun. The Indian revolutionary movement is under the sway of the bourgeoisie at this time. Far from being guided by a revolutionary theory. the working class is guided by the interests of its class enemies. The bourgeoisie is split into many factions. These factions are fighting with each other dividing the working class and the toilers along the lines of division in their own camp, creating a disaster for the revolutionary movement. Divisions in the bourgeoisie, in the objective sense, provide the working class with an opportunity to make an advance. But in the absence o f revolutionary Indian theory, it is the working class that is split and its movement for emancipations is temporarily paralysed.
Scores of communist parties and groups exist, some big and many small, promoting a lot of theories in the working class movement. Some of these are alien class theories while others are so divorced from practice that they do nothing else but cause maximum confusion. Besides parties and groups of communists, there is the Congress(I), a social-democratic party. Several socialist parties also exert influence, and even outright reactionary parties also exist. The bourgeoisie is extremely satisfied with this arrangement. However, the workers still succeed in revolting from time to time.
Different sections of the bourgeoisie rountinely inflame passion all over the country on the basis of religion, region, language, tribal affiliation and caste. This is done habitually, as part of settling scores and scoring points over their rivals, while the people are divided along these lines and terrible tragedies are committed against them. The abominations in Punjab and the North East, the massacre of Tamils in Karnataka, of Sikhs following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and of Muslims all over India following the demolition of the Babri Masjid are but a few of the most glaring instances of this bloodletting. What began with the partition of India in 1947, with millions of people being slaughtered and rendered into refugees as a result of the infighting of the bourgeoisie has continued to date, inflicting fresh and painful wounds upon our people, and dividing the polity in favour of the bourgeoisie.
Instead of showing a way out of this situation and forging the political unity of the working class and toilers on the basis of a revolutionary path, the communist movement itself has tended to become divided along the lines of the division within the ranks of the bourgeoisie. It has tended to get embroiled in these conflicts on one side or the other. It has even become an advocate for this or that bourgeois grouping or front. Instead of concentrating on developing the revolutionary movement through theoretical and organisational work, it has side-tracked itself into becoming a cheer leader for this or that section of the bourgeoisie and for the capitalist system . The Indian revolutionary movement is in a cul-de-sac as a result. It is through the work for the creation of Indian revolutionary theory as one of the most important ingredients for the growth of communism of Indian soil that the revolutionary working class movement for emancipation will extricate itself from this painful position and achieve its goal.
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The Restoration of the Unity of Indian Communists
Comrades, at this time the “restoration of the unity of Indian communists”, is one of the most burning questions. The “restoration of the unity of Indian communists” is a phrase which remains the most used in the Indian communist movement since 1964 and before. Nonetheless, unity has evaded the Indian communists. There is a need for all Indian communists to have a clear and concise understanding of what is meant by it at this time, and what rule the creation of India revolutionary theory plays in the restoration of the unity of Indian communists, and what place the work for the unity of the Indian communists has in the revolutionary movement of the working class for emancipation.
Right from the 1920s, when the Communist Party of India was founded, the Indian communists have been divided and their ranks fragmented into big or small pieces. They have been incapable of filling the space for communism that still remains to this day. Claims by some that they are the most numerous does not fill the void which the working class movement and people’s movement is experiencing. Shibboleths and praises coming from outsiders also are no substitutes for the sound appraisal of the national and international situation and for creating the conditions for ending the disunity on that basis.
The disunity of the Indian communists is a sign of both their immaturity in the sphere of theory and ideology, and their submission to various forms of bourgeois ideology. Immaturity and submission to bourgeois ideology remain the main subjective factors in the retardation of the independent and conscious movement of the working class. It is also the cause of the disruption of the people’s movement, especially in the struggle against state terrorism and in defence of human rights. It is likewise a big blow to the movement for enlightenment. In the objective sense, it is a great social prop for the continuation of the rule of the big capitalists and big landlords.
The burning question of the day is not merely the determination of who and which factors are responsible for this disunity. The point is to change the situation. One of the factors that will greatly contribute to the unity of the communists is the creation of Indian theory. Another factor is the elaboration of the general line for the communist movement for this period. It is around this general line that the unity of the Indian communists can be given a practical shape.
The slogan of unity is both the most ballyhooed and misunderstood by varied political forces throughout the world. What is this slogan of unity? Why is it being raised all the time? Why is it that the working class and the broad masses of the people are demanding so persistently for the unity of the communists in India and indeed all over the globe? How does CGPI look at this question?.
The question of the unity of the communists has become most important during this period of the retreat of revolution, the period in which U.S. imperialism is demanding a unipolar world under its dictate. It is also the period in which Russian imperialism is demanding a multipolar world. Germany has its own ambitions in this regard, and the same can be said for others. It can be said that the world situation is similar to what it was like before the First World War when the struggle for the redivision of the world had started in all earnest. At this time, U.S. imperialism is striving to create a unipolar world. It is working to smash all resistance to this through all peaceful means at its disposal or through war if necessary. It has declared its policy of the “carrot and the stick” and that “might is right”.
Social-democracy, which was the vanguard of the working class during the period before the First World War, facilitated imperialism in achieving its aims. It was up to social democracy to have led the working class and society out of the terrible crisis and slaughter it was facing. Instead, social-democracy closed ranks with its own bourgeoisie to “defend the fatherland” throughout the horrors of the inter-imperialist First World War..
No communist should underestimate the fact that at this time, when the world is facing another all-round crisis, CPI(M), CPI and other communists have committed themselves to the defence of the fatherland through their adoption of the program of “national unity and territorial integrity” of India as their guiding principle. Anchoring themselves to this social chauvinist vantage point, they are presenting themselves as the alternative to the bourgeoisie in defending the fatherland within the complex situation. In other words, they are protecting the bourgeois-landlord society instead of leading the working class to get society out of the crisis. They have refused to build the new Indian polity with a new union that is frre and equal, and that recognises all the nations and tribal peoples which are its constituents.
Within these conditions the communists must make a sharp break with the line of “national unity and territorial integrity”. At the same time they must create an atmosphere of vigorous discussion and debate, agitations and struggles to lead the working class to extricate the society form the crisis.
An extremely complex and serious problem is confronting the Indian communists at this time. The order of the day is an all-encompassing differentiation of communists on the basis of sharply defining an Indian communist as distinct from a social-democrat or from any revisionist or opportunist. Nonetheless, this differentiation cannot be done on a factional basis. On the contrary, CGPI must work for uniting the Indian communists into one party. It must make the necessary effort to create an atmosphere of discussion and debate. It must analyse all ideological and political forces, all communists without exception, and point out the place they may occupy and the role they must play within the given situation. It must create an atmosphere of “unity and struggle” and fight all efforts to divert attention from this by launching personal attacks. It must steer clear of all those forces engaged in character assassination and smear campaigns.
Communist unity belongs to the working class. The vigorous work for the creation of revolutionary Indian theory, the elaboration of the general line and raising the ideological and political level of the working class and masses will greatly contribute to the restoration of the unity of Indian communists.
At this time in India, there are political forces that look at the slogan of “national unity and territorial integrity” as absolute. On the other hand, there are forces which consider the immediate task to get society out of the crisis as the most important. The Indian polity is being divided into these two hostile camps reflecting the interests of the industrial houses and big landlords on the one side, and the working class and toiling masses on the other hand. These two ways of looking at things are giving rise to two antagonistic politics, one leading to the overthrow of the other.
Indian communists have to ensure that the bourgeoisie is not able to sustain the disunity of the Indian communists and of the Indian working class on the basis of this slogan of “national unity and territorial integrity.” They have to avert the catastrophe of fascism and war by building their own unity. In order to frustrate the efforts of the bourgeoisie to perpetuate the division of the communist movement, the CGPI must dedicate itself to work with all the Indian communists and other political forces to extricate society out of the crisis.
“Unity” and “struggle” constitute the conditions, features, opposites, of all things and phenomena that are in their state of development and motion. India is a class society which is in state of development and motion. The protagonists of “national unity and territorial integrity” constitute the opposite of those who want to get society out of the crisis. These opposites mirror the class divisions as they exist in India and internationally. The first is for quantitative change, for the consolidation of the status quo. The other is for its complete opposite, the forces interested in qualitative change, in the complete smashing of the status quo.
All ideological and political forces in India have to be judged by their stand in relationship to this historical divide that will determine the fate of Indian society. This historical divide must lead to the isolation of the forces of reaction. CGPI must work out all the tactics to bring this about. The forces of reaction, more often than not, engage in splitting the working class and society on the basis of this or that policy, or this or that “ism” in order to advance their own cause of preserving the capitalist status quo. It is this division that must be frustrated and thwarted with the vigorous ideological and political action of CGPI and all communists along the lines of this historical divide.
According to V.I. Lenin, “Development is the ‘struggle’ of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) concepts of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation)”(6). Applying this thesis of Lenin to the Indian conditions, it can be seen that the development of India hinges on who the winner is in this historical divide. If the champions of “national unity and territorial integrity” win, there will be a degeneration of society and further deepening and broadening of the crisis. If the forces fighting for lifting the society out of the crisis win, there will be development and the path for the progress of society will be opened. CGPI and all communist forces have to develop the practical tactics in order to ensure the latter.
Lenin further explains that “In the first conception of motion, self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external-God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of ‘self-movement”(7)
. Applying this to the Indian conditions, the enthusiasts of “national unity and territorial integrity”, leave their “driving force,” their “source” and “motive” in the shade while the work of CGPI is fully explained and justified on the basis of the concrete conditions prevailing in India and internationally at this time, as well as according to the theory of contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought. If we were to reduce the struggle merely to repeating that “they are wrong” without fully criticising and explaining why their ideas and practices will further damage Indian society, we will be acting just like them, with the “self movement, its driving force, its source, its motive” remaining in the shade. This would not contribute to any development in the qualitative sense. In fact, it would contribute to the continuation of the status quo.
Lenin clearly points out that “The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry”. This is why CGPI is opposed to waging the struggle on a dogmatic and sectarian basis. While, “The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the ‘self-movement’ of everything existing: it alone furnishes the key to the ‘leaps’, to the ‘break of continuity’, to the ‘transformation into the opposite’, to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new”. This is why CGPI is putting on an objective basis the discussion, debate, and agitations on the substantive issues with the aim of defeating the class enemy. This will contribute to “leaps” and “breaks of continuity” in the development of the communist movement.
Such thing can be achieved because “The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.” “Mutually exclusive opposites” reveal their true colours only in the course of development even though their basis of existence can be seen right at the beginning, just as CGPI has recognised the existence of the two opposites at this time. By persevering in the aim of bringing forth the unity of the communists and working out tactics suitable to bringing together all those who want to get the society out of the crisis, CGPI will not only be able to restore the unity of the Indian communists but will also be able to isolate and defeat those who are using the slogan of “national unity and territorial integrity” in order to preserve the capitalist status quo.
In the phrase “restoration of the unity of Indian communists”, the first problem that is to be solved is to elaborate, explain, and identify that the slogan of “national unity and territorial integrity” is an old one, a slogan which is disastrous for the progress of the communist and workers’ movement in India. After having identified the reactionary nature of the slogan, CGPI must work out the tactics, methods of work and slogans to overcome it. It is this planned, systematic and conscious destruction of the old that will give rise to the new. In the course of implementing this plan, the unity of the communists will be restored.
Having settled the question of what is old and what is to be overcome, CGPI will have to work out in clear terms in whose interests it will be to overcome the old. Will it be in the interests of the working class, the toilers of India, and the middle strata? Will it be in the interest of those forces that are fighting for their own national liberation as in Kashmir and the North East? A plan for the unity of all these forces into one struggle to overcome the old has to be brought to life, a point of convergence for all fighting forces. In other words, CGPI has the responsibility to unite all the forces in order to isolate the old to the maximum and hit at what is obstructing the progress of society.
It is clear that, as a starting point, all those who call themselves Indian communists and all political forces irrespective of their ideology have to be looked at as fellow travellers of those who are working to get society out of the crisis. They make up the unity of opposites and, at the starting point, they do not belong to a struggle of mutually exclusive opposites. The mutually exclusive are the exploiters and the exploited, the oppressors and the oppressed; in sum, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Those who are in the unity of opposites, that is, in a relationship that is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative, can be identified only if their coincidence, identity, equal action is fully brought to light, explained, and elaborated. In other words, a climate of full discussion and debate needs to be created in the course of various agitations and struggles that are consciously planned. At the same time, those who are in the unity of opposites cannot be identified unless they are compared and contrasted with what are mutually exclusive opposites. That is, CGPI cannot lose sight of and ignore those who are dead set on subverting the communist movement-those who are conciliators with and are creating illusions about social-democracy. In other words, the subject matter of unity cannot be dealt with without examining the self-movement of everything existing, including that which is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative, and which will necessarily divide in the cou! rse of its development into mutually exclusive opposites.
To seek the restoration of the unity of the Indian communists means to re-establish something that is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative and will necessarily divide in the course of development into things which are mutually exclusive opposites. As this program is implemented, there may appear those who do not wish to take this struggle through to the end. They may come up with a plan, even though illusory, to get society out of the crisis, but by maintaining the capitalist status quo. In the end, the fight will surely be between the socialist and anti-socialist forces.
The division that took place in the Indian communist movement in 1964 did not give rise to mutually exclusive opposites. This division was not the reflection of the development of the movement but its degeneration. It was a division on the basis of dogmatic and sectarian principles. It was a development merely in terms of decrease and increase, as repetition. It was a disaster for the communist movement as there are not a few communists at this time who support with enthusiasm the slogan of “national unity and territorial integrity”, a social-democratic program, a rehashing of the European social-democratic slogan of the “defence of the fatherland”–a national chauvinist declaration of inter-imperialist war, and at the very least a slogan in the service of the capitalist status quo.
CGPI looks at the splitting and division between communists and the degeneration of communists from the perspective of rallying all the forces behind one program. It attributes the degeneration to the conciliation of some communists with social-democracy under the pressure of the propertied classes who have become extremely excited with the expansion of capitalism and have found their future in it. One of the causes, on the subjective side, on the side of consciousness, was the refusal to recognise that the problems of the Communist Party of India during the 1962-64 period stemmed from its failure to rise to the occasion and call for an independent program of the working class. The stand taken by CPI was subordinate to the stand taken by the Congress, especially on the Sino-Indian conflict in which it disgraced itself by abandoning proletarian internationalism “in defence of the fatherland”.
Over thirty year later, CPI(M), which split with CPI in 1964, is the greatest champion of “national unity and territorial integrity”. Tragically, CPI to this day co-ordinates and sets its work in accordance with the aims of the Congress. Such a stand is reactive and not pro-active; it is based on the difficulties created by the failure to analyse the concrete conditions of the Indian economy, politics and culture, that is, the failure to determine precisely the stage of revolution in the immediate and strategic sense.
When conflicts appeared in CPI during the 1962-64 period, these were concerned with content. They could have been sorted out through inner-Party methods in the Marxist-Leninist tradition. However, in a typical social-democratic fashion, the struggle shifted onto whether this or that method of struggle is acceptable or not, and to whether this or that section of the bourgeoisie was “progressive”. It was extremely easy to create mutually exclusive opposites through mental categories on the basis of differences in methods of struggle, while the differences in content were left in the shade. It was not fortuitous that this happened because the content of those leaders of those who were accusing the CPI leadership of betrayal was basically the same. CPI(M) was merely a faction, and it has remained so to this day. The opportunity to provide one program for all communist and democratic forces was missed. In its place, the polity was plagued with splits and divisions and the working class lost its leading role for long time.
As we look at the Indian communist movement from the point of view of revolutionary dialectics, we see that the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which was to be the mutually exclusive opposite of the Communist Party of India, did not emerge as such. It did not have new content and it did not have new forms consistent with the new content. Many of the groups calling themselves Marxist-Leninist and Maoist did not persist in developing a new content either. Opposing forms of struggle such as parliamentary struggle with revolutionary violence does not provide this form with new content. New forms become the most crucial precisely because there arises an immediate need to accommodate the new content. There is a dialectical relationship between form and content. Persisting in old forms can obstruct the new content.
Objectively, in its content and methods of struggle, CPI(M) was the same as CPI. Its unity with CPI, which was to be its mutually exclusive opposite, was not conditional, temporary, transitory, relative, but absolute. If it had been new, its unity would have been conditional, temporary, transitory, relative and the communist forces would not have been split. It would have been the social-democratic and revisionist elements coming from both right and “left” who would have split. But by pretending that it was new, CPI(M) forced a split that did not lead to development, to mutually exclusive opposites but to further degeneration.
The restoration of the unity of Indian communists, is obstructed by this mutually exclusive opposite, this old content of CPI, CPI(M) and some others who have rallied behind the Congress (I) slogan of “national unity and territorial integrity”. This obstruction is facilitated by old forms. One of the old forms is to substitute vigorous discussions and debates with the running of rumour mills and gossip from one end of the globe to the other. It is assisted by utter dishonesty in advncing the program of the “democratic, secular front”, a theory and practice of abandoning the cause of the working class, pushing for further splits and divisions amongst the communists, and conciliating and currying favour with this or that section of social-democracy.
The restoration of unity of the Indian communists will not be brought about by the old content and old forms. It will not be brought about by merely accusing this or that party or group of not being what some may think they ought to be on the basis of mental categories, or of what they should have been in order to qualify as a “real” Communist Party. On the contrary, the mutually exclusive opposite is to be found in the rejection of old content and old methods and in carrying out discussions and debates and agitations for the lifting of society out of the crisis. It has to be done on the basis of assessing every political force on an objective basis, uniting on the basis of all the words and deeds which assist in the solution of society’s problems.
What is new and most modern, and which can be seen as a result of the development of the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation, is the plan to lift society out of the crisis. It is the plan of democratic renewal, of completing the anti-colonial struggle with the overthrow of the capitalist system. It is also this work of rejection, this struggle to strictly abandon the old content and old methods that will bring about a new development, a “leap” from the old to the new, a “break” in the retrogression of the old movement, a creation of a higher level of the unity of opposites.
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On Political Unity
In seeking political unity, communists must not look at this question in an arbitrary and ad hoc manner. They will have to link this question with the fate of society and the need to lift it out of crisis and build the unity of all political forces on this basis. This unity must be built mainly from the base, but from the top as well.
The communists have to raise the question of capitalist development to show that it is this development which is dragging society from one crisis to another. It is against capitalism that all the forces have to be mobilised. There can be no illusions that capitalism will actually facilitate the agrarian revolution, or that it will end the colonial left-overs and the remnants of feudalism, or restrain the central state which is colonial and imperialist. There must be no illusion that capitalism will eliminate the oppression of women or benefit the tribal people, end castiesm and communalism, protect the environment, or create the conditions for a free and equal union of all the nationalities.
In its political work, the CGPI cannot ignore any political party or grouping. Communists must concern themselves with the first front (Congress I), the second front (BJP), the third front (CPI, CPI(M) and others) and all other political forces. All three fronts must be severely criticised, as they are merely parliamentary formations which have reduced all the problems to merely “policy objectives”. What the working class of India is waiting to hear from the communists, as is the case with workers everywhere in the world, is the elaboration of a program suitable to the current conditions, a program which will solve the problems of society. This program has to emerge out of the experience of the working class and the broad masses of the people. It is the subjective side, the consciousness, the vision which the workers are demanding. Such a vision cannot be based on mere criticism of the three fronts, even though this criticism must be a part of regular work.
What the working class needs is consciousness based on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, consistent with the aim of its movement for emancipation. They also need to know the condition of the subjective side, of consciousness and organisation, and what is to be done to bring them on par with the needs of the day. By working out this program, this vision, this consciousness, the communists will strengthen their organisation and those of the masses in the course of participating in the revolutionary class struggle. The working class and the broad masses of people have to be won over to the positions of the communists by means of actually leading the struggle to lift society out of the crisis. Communism today will have no standing anywhere, if it engages in creating mental categories and chimeras, if it is submerged in the quicksand of subjectivism and sectarianism, if it demands that everyone must agree with it and adopt its program as their own without further ado before there can be any unity in action.
Having set the overall task for the period of developing Indian theory and the work of waging the ongoing ideological and polemical struggle, and having set the plan of action for the restoration of the unity of the communists, CGPI must seek the political unity of all fighting forces and refuse to be diverted towards battles that are harmful to this political unity, especially those that divide the people on the basis of different programs or ideological positions.
We communists have to explain to the people that as far as the classes are concerned, there cannot be two programs in society. There is only one program when the bourgeoisie is in power and the system is capitalist as is the case at this time. There will also be one program when the working class is in power and the system is socialist. These programs mirror in the form of ideas and political lines what actually goes on in society. Various political parties for their own self-serving reasons attempt to hide the class character of their programs. They try to fool the people, pretending that the capitalist system is dependent on a contest between different programs and that people have the freedom to choose the “best”. The struggle, in actual fact, is between capitalism and socialism, the only two systems possible within the present conditions. Capitalism, however, is over-ripe for its overthrow and must be replaced by socialism through revolution, leaving only the choice of socialism as the next stage in the development of society.
The Congress(I) of Narasimha Rao claims that its policy objective is to rejuvenate the Indian economy, to ameliorate the conditions of the rural and urban poor. Liberalisation and privatisation will led to industrial growth and jobs for the unemployed, claims Rao. It is made out that the program of the Congress(I) is for the benefit of all classes of people; particularly the working class and peasantry and the middle strata. Rao argues that doling out money for “poverty alleviation” does not create wealth and leads to bankruptcy of the treasury and that therefore the accent should be on creating conditions where people have work. It is alleged that liberalisation and privatisation will lead to such a situation. In the meantime, Rao is not averse to doles for “poverty alleviation”, as long as it ensures vote banks, and benefits the vested interests who are the main beneficiaries of these programs.
This entire debate on whether the state should spend monies on “poverty alleviation” and this would boost the economy, or whether the state should let the “market forces” operate freely, and that the “hidden hand” will lead to “poverty alleviation”, is an old debate in Indian and the world. Life experience and our theory teach that it is a diversionary debate. The issue is that the capitalist system cannot and does not provide for the people. It does not facilitate the end of feudal, colonial and imperialist influence. The tendency under state monopoly capitalism is for the rich to become richer at one pole and the poor poorer at the other. Within this tendency, whether monies are spent on “poverty alleviation”, that is, lining the pockets of definite contractors and middlemen with vested interests, or money is spent directly to assist the big capitalists with the state assuming risks on their behalf, makes little difference.
The attempt is to hide the class character of the program of the Congress(I) within which there are also definite sectional interests. The class character of their program is to defend the capitalist system, the remnants of feudalism, imperialism and the entire colonial legacy. What they seek to hide is that the actual program is to ensure that the state treasury is looted for the benefit of the Indian bourgeoisie and the multinationals. They want to hide their program for the exploitation of the Indian working masses, the source of wealth for those who reap its benefits, their program to greatly intensify the misery of those who are its victims. Within this context, the interests of those sections of the bourgeoisie who have cast their lot with the Congress Party are satisfied. The Congress (I) program mirrors the demand of the Indian big bourgeoisie which wants to use the present national and international situation to emerge as a big player in the international arena.
While the Congress (I), CPI, CPI(M) and others carry the propaganda that the main danger to India comes from the BJP’s “right wing communal agenda”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claims to be a serious contender for power at the centre. It is also being presented to the public as the successor to the Congress(I). BJP is trying to carve a place for itself as a nationalist party that is opposed to inefficiency and corruption. It decries the Congress(I) programme as an indiscriminate sell-out to the foreign multinationals.
t the same time, the BJP is careful to unequivocally state that it is also an advocate of liberalisation and privatisation. The BJP has declared that it is against the entry of the multinationals into the consumer goods and food processing sectors, but it is for the entry of multinationals into the infrastructure sectors such as power, heavy industry, road building and telecommunications, etc. The BJP denounces Congress(I) for corruption, nepotism and criminalisation and promises that its government will be different. It also has announced its own “poverty alleviation” programs that will be implemented if it comes to power. BJP leader Advani has declared that if his Party comes to power, it will not throw out any of the multinationals that have already entered India in the consumer goods and food sector.
While the BJP is aggressively portraying itself s a contender for power, it is quite clear that in its attitude towards capitalism, the remnants of feudalism, imperialism and the colonial legacy at this time, the program of the BJP, including its communal agenda, is substantively no different from the Congress (I) program.
By talking about opposing the entry of multinationals into the consumer goods and food industry, the BJP is trying to appeal to the interests of a section of the middle strata, a section of the bourgeoisie of town and country who feel that their interests might be threatened by the unrestricted entry of the multinationals. The BJP is trying to win them over by creating illusions that the polarisation of the middle strata, the driving down of a majority of them into the ranks of the working class and the pushing up of a few into the ranks of the rich, can be averted by policy measures. The BJP is also appealing to the interests of those sections of the big bourgeoisie who are unhappy with the pace of the economic reforms, and who want it carried out at their convenience and in their best interests.
What the BJP seeks to hide is that there is only one program under capitalism. It also seeks to hide the hopeless division that exists in the ranks of the bourgeoisie and the exploiting classes, which is creating difficulties for the ruling party to govern. It is doing so by trying to present itself as the guardian of the nation, of the foreign interests, of the rich and poor alike. BJP’s conquest of power will not stop the middle strata from being ruined. The sectional of the bourgeoisie with different parties representing different sectional interests will go on. Corruption, nepotism, communalism and criminalisation are the mechanisms with which these different competing interests strive to accommodate their interests within the system. A BJP victory will not end such things but will only make them worse, as will also be the case with another Congress (I) victory.
Things are not different with the Janata Dal and other political formations like the Samajwadi Party, the BSP, and so on. It is of interest to note that not one of these parties is opposed to privatisation and liberalisation. Attracting foreign capital has become the rage amongst them, which goes to show that all parliamentary institutions have been transformed into instruments to bring foreign capital into the country. These parties are doing their level best to attract foreign capital, wherever they are in power, and to make it clear they will do a better job than Narasimha Rao on this front, if they come to power at the Centre.
Within this situation they all make out as if their programs are different from those of Rao and his party and the BJP, that somehow their program will serve the poor of India. The Janata Dal, SP and BSP foster the illusion that the oppressed castes can become empowered if these parties come to power at the Centre. As objective developments have shown, their policies have not eliminated the basis of caste oppression or the exploitation which has made life miserable for the majority. The existence of these parties is an expression of the sharpening contradictions in the exploiting classes and the utter chaos and anarchy that prevails in political affairs. Nevertheless, they seek to persuade the people that they have a “choice”. Their programme will change neither the economic conditions of the country nor improve the economic well-being of the lower castes, nor end caste oppression, nor empower the people.
CPI(M) at its 15th Congress also appeared as just another competitor with other political parties, striving to form a government on the basis of winning for its third front a majority in the parliament. This spirit of competition covers up the treacherous path taken by the CPI(M) leaders and hides it from the attention of the working class and the toilers. The CPI(M) cunningly presents its own lust for power as defence of the interests of the working class and toiling masses. It also seeks to hide that it is a party of the middle strata which also defends the interests of some sections of the bourgeoisie. It appeals to the middle strata, swearing that they can be saved from ruin. It explains to the working class that they must wait to come to power as conditions do not exist at this time. In the final analysis, therefore, CPI(M) appears on the stage as the defender of the bourgeois and foreign interests.
The working class is not in competition with the bourgeoisie for the control of the bourgeois governments, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and their civil society. On the contrary, the communists have to ensure that the working class emerges as the leader for the creation of a new society without crisis, conflict, bloodshed and war. The destruction of the bourgeois state and the creation of a new one that is democratic and socialist is the order of the day. For the communists to achieve this reality they must clearly identify that the interests of the working class and the broad masses of the people can only be served by an immediate program of lifting society out of the crisis. There is a necessity for agrarian revolution and for democratic renewal so that the people can see that there is something tangible which is being done in their favour. There is a need to take the anti-colonial revolution through to the end.
The issue is not whether communists participate in elections with their program, or not. Elections are an important arena of class struggle, of the contest that has broken out between the bourgeoisie and the working class, and the communists must wage this struggle on all fronts in order to advance the cause of the revolution and socialism. Nonetheless, communists differentiate themselves from parliamentary parties and politicians. Communists do not reduce their parties to electoral machines or consider that victory at the polls is the occasion to benefit sectional interests in the style of social-democracy. For communists, electoral struggle is an arena of class struggle, so too they use the governments and the assemblies and parliaments as arenas of class struggle. In their entire revolutionary activity, in the work of their parties, they never forget that their ultimate aim is the victory of revolution and socialism, and they wage all the struggles with this objective in mind, They look at the arena of armed struggle and other forms of struggle from the same angle.
The problem in seeking political unity lies in the programs of Congress(I), BJP and others that are designed to split the polity. The other problem is in the trivialisation of the program of the working class that can be seen in the slogan of the “Third Front for a Secular and Democratic society”. Such a slogan is a clear call to strengthen the status quo, as is the aim of the other programs. Its main content is the same as that of Congress(I) and the BJP, for its premise is to make the present system work better for the benefit of the exploiting classes. The agenda taken up is that of the bourgeoisie. CPI(M) openly declares that the time has not come yet for the presentation of a working class program.
The kind of society these programmes promise to bring about is the kind of society which, in actual fact, already exists at this time. Such a society erupts intermittently into individual acts of terrorism, state terrorism and communal violence precisely because it is “secular” and “democratic” and based on the notion of “national unity and territorial integrity”. It is secular only because it tolerates anti-secular forces, and democratic only because it tolerates anti-democratic forces. Secularism and democracy are merely policy objectives in a society whose base is capitalist and feudal, and whose superstructure, is in many significant ways, communal, colonial and imperialist.
By giving a call for this front, the 15th Congress of CPI(M) washed its hands off organising the working class to lead the society out of the crisis. It is creating a lot of anxiety and frustration amongst the communists who still harbour illusions that CPI(M) will mend its ways. Not only has it failed to take up the program to lift society out of the crisis but it has also accepted liberalisation as a step towards the elimination of the communist program altogether. Once this is done, there is no dearth of arguments to justify this or that program for the preservation of the status quo. Such a program is justified by the argument that the conditions are not ripe for building a broad popular front led by the working class. What kind of logic is this? It is the kind of logic to assure the bourgeoisie that CPI(M) will not join with others to fight to defend the cause of the working class at this time and it has no intention to do so in the future either. By creating a harmful illusion that the working class will, one day, be able to come to power in parliament to govern the bourgeois state, CPI(M) hopes to safeguard its position in the present arrangements within the state, now and in the future as well. The burning question of the day is not when the conditions will ever be ripe for the overthrown of the system. The burning question of the day is when the political forces will take up the program of the working class to lead society out of the crisis.
The performance of the 15th Congress of CPI(M) was repeated by the 16th Congress of CPI which referred to the 70 years of communism in India, paid homage to all the martyrs, and announced celebrations of the 70th anniversary in December. It fully supported the call for the Third Front, which it called a Left, Democratic and Secular front (while the CPI(M) had called it a Secular Democratic Front). Within this frame work, CPI called for unity of all leftists behind the Third Front, further frustrating the Indian communists who have illusions about CPI (M) and CPI.
The sum total of electoral, parliamentary and trade union activities and work in the kisan, youth and women’s fronts of CPI and CPI(M) are designed to depoliticise the people and to totally disarm the working class ideologically, politically and organisationally. Where will the Indian communists go within this situation? Will they march up and down the highways and byways of the Indian sub-continent from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, and from East to West announcing to the people that there is another substanceless program which they should vote for in order to defeat the right wing communal forces? Let us suppose that the right wing communal forces are defeated. What will happen to the working class and the toiling masses? Will the Third Front take up the task of lifting society out of the crisis once in position in government ? No, this is not the time for speaking about such things, That is the clear message which came from the fifteenth and sixteenth congress of CPI(M) and CPI respectively. Neither of those two congresses even posed the question as to what is the root cause of the crisis in India and what is its solution, In other words, they made a negative contribution to the discussion and debate about the problems plaguing Indian society.
The working class has to be extremely vigilant that CPI and CPI(M) may again try to rescue the bourgeoisie and quell revolt by entering into a coalition government with Congress (I) and calling this victory of the secular and democratic forces over the communal forces. They are already crowing about social-democrats coming to power in Poland. Their glee is also evident about the victory of their fraternal comrades in the Russian parliament. A most determined ideological and polemical struggle is the order of the day to ensure that this treachery is not allowed to pass.
Within these conditions, CGPI is of the strong opinion that Indian communists must not harbour illusions about whether this or that communist party or group is going to change the situation, They must not begin, out of frustration, to make this or that party the target of attack either. On the contrary, they must dissociate themselves from such politics. They must get down to work to elaborate the program for lifting society out of the crisis. They must establish political unity on this basis.
We communists must not exhibit any factional spirit on this fundamental problem of revolution at this stage. We must reserve the right to analyse and comment on the activities of all political forces without exception, with the aim of raising the prestige of politics in society. We must not permit one bit of sectarianism or dogmatism to colour this critical exposure. The aim must not be to discredit this or that party or this or that communist. The aim must be to create a vibrant political atmosphere in which the people themselves can judge what this or that front has achieved or will achieve in the future. This must be done courageously, without any fear of retaliation from whatever quarter.
The time has come for all communist parties, all communist groups, progressive and democratic forces, literally all political forces to remove the blind-fold foisted by the bourgeoisie that makes them think that the more they split because of different programs, the closer they are to the victory of the revolution, They must themselves rise to the occasion to raise the level of the working class and toilers.
ll programs must be subordinate to the programs demanded and worked out by the working class and toilers themselves,. The people have to assert through revolution that it is only they who should set the agenda. Debating this or that program for the sake of aligning or supporting this or that political party is destructive to this work. CGPI must ensure that such a destructive attack on the initiative of the working class and people is defeated. The working class and broad masses of the people must be made conscious to set their own agenda to lift the society out of the crisis.
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On Democratic Renewal and Taking the Anti-Colonial Revolution Through to the End
A thorough-going anti-colonial revolution necessarily means ending the capitalist system and its democracy which has deprived people of their economic and political power. An anti-colonial revolution which is merely a matter of formal independence and not a social revolution has become anachronistic.
The entire experience from the time of the “transfer of power” to the Indian bourgeoisie in 1947, with the division of the Indian sub-continent, especially Bengal and Punjab, has proven that this has not led to deep going transformations. On the contrary, the bourgeoisie has completely obstructed the social revolution, It has been proven that it is capitalism that is the defender of the remnants of feudalism; it is capitalism that is protecting the imperialist and colonial interests; it is capitalism that is the motor behind the bourgeoisie in its globalisation of capital and production. Furthermore, it is capitalism that has caused disaster in the countryside, deepening the agrarian problems, and trampling underfoot the slogan of the patriotic forces of “land to the tiller”.
Festering at the base of Indian society at this time are capitalism and the remnants of feudalism, with the superstructure of imperialism and colonial domination. This has made the conditions of life and work for the working class and the toiling masses extremely miserable. More than fifty per cent of the Indian people live in abysmal conditions of poverty, victims of malnutrition, ill health, illiteracy and every kind of disease. The Government of India’s entire program of “poverty alleviation” has concentrated on juggling the figures to prove that the percentage of the Indian people living below the poverty line has been decreasing. Official figures now claim that it is less than 20 percent of the population. This juggling itself shows the callousness of the Indian state and its rulers, who define poverty levels on the basis of whether people receive a certain amount of calories a day. It distorts the reality that human beings cannot exist on the basis of a minimum amount of calories a day, It distorts the reality that human beings cannot exist on the basis of a minimum amount of staple food alone. They need other necessities to ensure against malnutrition such as pulses, vegetables, milk and meat; they need potable water, sanitation, health care, proper accommodation and clothes, and a clean, healthy, peaceful and stable environment conductive to living. They need education and culture, and the satisfaction of working for their ever-increasing material and cultural needs.
In India, wherein pulses remain the main form of proteins for the masses, the per capita production of pulses as well as its consumption has been steadily failing in the past 48 years. According to a report of the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, only in 4 states of India, viz. Karnataka, UP, MP and Rajasthan, is the average intake of pulses above the recommended level of 40 grams a day. The average consumption of milk is 95 ml a day, less than two-thirds of the figure recommended. A study by the National Nutrition Monitoring Board (NNMB) of nutrition patterns inn the countryside shows that between 1975-79 and 1988-90, there was a drastic fall in consumption of pulses, roots and tubers, as well as a fall in consumption of millets and vegetables. The levels of consumption of everything except sugar and cereals were well below the recommended levels, both in 1975-79 and in 1988-1990. Even taking calories as the only measure of defining poverty, except for Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, all other states have an average intake below the minimum level suggested to define poverty-2,280 Kcal/cu/day. The studies of the NNMB also show that 60 percent of pre-school children have a calorie intake less than the required level, a proportion higher than for adults.
What these studies do not reveal is the extent of the dehumanisation of our people that has been going on. In states like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, millions of people are actually forced to eat wild leaves, poisonous roots and pulses with debilitating effects. It is no exaggeration to suggest that life is being steadily snuffed out of the majority of the Indian people. The number of poor are growing with the growth of capitalism; their poverty is increasing in intensity. All that is healthy in Indian society is also being eliminated along with life itself.
In the urban centres, wherein about 25 percent of the Indian people live, over half the population, the working population, live in bestial conditions of life, too difficult to describe. There is no sanitation, no clean drinking water. Back-breaking work in the factories and construction sites, with hardly any nourishment, send the men and women to early deaths, and rob the children at a tender age of their childhood. Estimates show that over 40 million children work for their living at pitiable wages in the most difficult and dangerous work, well before they enter their teens.
The official figures relating to per capita expenditure on health and education by the government show that taking the country as a whole, Rs. 59 is spent per capita on public health, and Rs. 268 on public education. Even these miserably low figures hide more than they reveal. The figures on health conceal that much of the expenditure is on restricting childbirth, on birth control programs. The figure on education buries the extremely low expenditure on primary and secondary education, to say nothing about the “brain drain” that takes place as educated persons head for what they perceive to be greener pastures abroad.
Capitalism has ensured that “development” is extremely skewed when comparing different regions, as well as when comparing the city with the countryside. It has ensured that the remnants of feudalism still torture our people. Agrarian relations in many parts of the country are still feudal, with the landlord the master of all he surveys, including the men, women and children who work for him. Primitive methods of agriculture coexist with the most modern methods, entirely dictated by the need of the bourgeoisie for maximum profits, and its need to protect the feudal relations. It preserves feudal relations to totally intensify capitalist exploitation, to deprive workers of even the “dignity” of being a wage-slave and to totally enslave the toiling masses. The bourgeoisie has kept the barbaric caste system, a system used by all exploiting classes to torture and humiliate men and women and keep them as a source for their pleasure. The policy of elite accommodation is used to maint! ain this system, to set people at logger-heads with one another and use the different communities as vote banks.
For the big industrial houses to keep their profits high, they must coordinate their system and subordinate it to their need for the globalisation of capital and production. This coordination is facilitated by the government. The concentration of capital and production in collaboration and competition with international finance capital is an act of highway robbery which is making the condition of the working class and the broad masses of the people even more onerous. Indian capitalism, a tool created by British colonial rule without which the British would not have survived in India even for a day, has retained all the features of colonialism and imperialism. It is the same in terms of its content as was left by the British colonialists in 1947. The land, labour and resources of the Indian people, of the different regions of India, are considered to be the private property of those who were created by British colonialism, the classes of capitalists and landlords and the feudal elements who collaborated with them. This has heightened the problem of national oppression, as foreign control of the economy has increased since the “transfer of power” in 1947.
It is not accidental that in its drive for maximum profits and to become a global power itself, the Indian bourgeoisie is demanding the opening up of the Indian economy to foreign capital, and the restructuring of the economy to suit the drive of the monopolies for globalisation. This is creating havoc in the Indian economy, wreaking fresh tragedies upon the workers, toiling peasants and others. Since 1990, lakhs of workers have been rendered jobless in the textile and engineering industries, in the coal and steel industries and in other sectors as a result of privatisation and the restructuring of the economy. The GATT treaty and the opening of India’s doors to multinationals in agro-business is threatening the livelihood of the peasantry. Capitalism is leading to the ruination of small property owners in the towns and villages all over the country. The credit crunch and soaring interest rates have further accelerated the pace of this ruination of small and medium-scale businesses. Capitalism will lead to the further concentration of land and ruination of the peasantry, intensifying the problem of migration to the cities, the problems of unemployment, housing and anarchy within urban conditions.
At the other pole, in the five years since these reforms were initiated, the wealth of the biggest monopoly houses has grown by leaps and hounds. According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, after-tax profits of 743 big Indian corporations (including 25 government-owned companies) increased by 63% in 1994-94, over and above an increase of 70% in the previous year. In other words, profits of these monopolies have multiplied by two and a half times in just two years. The concentration of capital and production is the order of the day, not the alleviation of the poverty of the masses nor the uplifting of society so as to fulfil the claims of all its members.
The system of political control established by the British remains fully intact. This has led to the increasing alienation of the nationalities and tribal peoples as well as to the sharpening of conflicts amongst the bourgeoisie for control of the central state. The central state is nothing but a colonial apparatus entrusted by the native and foreign interests to subjugate the nationalities and tribal peoples and to intensity the exploitation of the working class and toilers of the land.
The political parties in power constituting the ruling classes and their sponsors boast a lot about their policy objectives of doing this thing or that for the working class and the toiling masses. However, what is significant is that they are making no proposals to change the content of relations between people in the process of production. They make no proposals to create a democracy in which it is the people who are sovereign and everything is subordinate to them. They propose nothing concrete to put an end to capitalism, the remnants of feudalism, colonialism and imperialism, in sum, to put an end to the entire colonial legacy.
The political superstructure, the political structures and the political process of this capitalist base, in sum the existing political rule, is colonialist and imperialist. The colonisation of the Northeast and the forced annexation of this region is one such example. The colonisation of Kashmir and its forced partition and annexation is another. The forced annexation of various other regions, and the subjugation of all nationalities and tribal peoples shows the colonial character of the Indian state.
>From 1947 to date, capitalism has been expanding uncontrollably with the big industrial houses, the feudal forces and the colonial and imperialist interests ruling India. The entire plan for the post independence period, which goes by the name of “Nehruvian model of socialism” was put forth first by a group of leading industrialists in two volumes and popularly known as the Bombay Plan. This plan proposed how the Indian state should accumulate resources through taxation as well as deficit financing and inflation in order to build the base of Indian industry. It indicated which sectors should be left in the hands of the government, and for how long. It demanded that the government restrict competition from inside and outside India for a time through the scheme of licenses, in order that the big industrial houses would be free to grow at a fast rate. It put forth a scheme of distributing licenses amongst the big industrial houses as a means of refereeing the conflicts between them so that these conflicts would not consume them. It also expounded that the path of development proposed would as a consequence lead to the elimination of poverty and so on, which was given the status of policy objectives. This Bombay Plan was transformed into reality in every aspect that profited the big industrial houses, except that poverty has not been eliminated and the economy is not out of the crisis. It is not an independent self-reliant economy guaranteeing the wellbeing of all.
The modernisation program initiated by Indira Gandhi in 1980, and taken forward by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, as well as the liberalisation and privatisation program that Narasimha Rao embarked upon in 1991, have all been at the dictate of the big industrial houses and in response to the demands of international finance capital, including the World Bank, the IMF and other institutions in their service. If we go deeply into it, at each stage, the bourgeoisie put forth that course which would extricate it from the crisis and ensure that the rate of profit would increase, no matter what the consequences for the Indian people.
The harsh reality is that this rule of the big industrial houses has been carried out through the army and police forces as well as goondas of all kind who operate at the bidding of the civilian governments. They also operate quite independently of them, at the direct disposal of the big capitalists and big landlords and political parties, as seen in the massacres following the destruction of the Babri Masjid, to name one recent example.
>From the smallest strike of workers to improve their conditions of work and life, or of peasants against the savage oppression by the landlords, the Indian people come into conflict with the brutal rule of the police forces. These forces carry out all kinds of atrocities against the workers and peasants, and the women and children, including rape and torture. They accumulate a lot of wealth themselves and in due course even emerge as capitalists, landlords, and politicians. Acting in many cases as the private armies of the capitalists and landlords, they harass on a daily basis the slum-dwellers and pavement dwellers, the small shopkeepers and vendors, collecting “tax” from them for the “privilege” of living in their hovels, or earning their living.
Apart from the regular police forces, there are a number of a para-military forces, such as the CRPF, the BSF, the Assam Rifles, the ITBP, the Central Industrial Security Force, and so on, which actually operate much like the Armed Forces. Their numbers and nomenclatures have swelled enormously over the four and half decades since 1947, parallel with the increasing resistance of the workers and peasants to the rule of the big bourgeoisie. Nagaland has been under the rule of the Armed Forces right from 1947, as have most of the other states of the North East. The same is the case with Kashmir, Punjab and other regions of India. Wherever the working masses have risen in revolt against the system, wherever this revolt has threatened the rule of the industrial houses, the armed forces have mercilessly suppressed the people.
What began in Telengana in 1947 to further the cause of the anti-feudal struggle and push for agrarian reform was crushed by the Indian army. It was a revolt of the peasantry led by the Communist revolutionaries for the victory of the democratic anti-feudal, anti-imperialist revolution. Beginning with the crushing of the Telengana struggle, hundreds and thousands of people have been killed, injured and jailed in these kinds of encounters alone since 1947. The crushing of all progressive uprisings and struggles of the working class and the toiling masses, or of the nationalities has emerged as the pattern, the norm over all of India since 1947.
Indian political rule can be described as a form of colonial rule of the big capitalists and big landlords created by British colonialism. With the use of the central state machinery, especially its armed forces, the entire area of India is subjugated and colonised for their benefit. Civilian governments are established in various states and in the Centre to give the impression that it is the Parliament and the state assemblies that rule. Today, civilian governments exist in all the states of the North East and in Punjab, and the Centre is also trying to install a civilian government in Kashmir. But these governments are nothing without the armed forces.
The bourgeoisie would rather not face the uprising of the people and be left to peacefully sort out the contradictions in its own ranks by wheeling and dealing in the Parliament and Assemblies, while passing laws to further its aims. It does and will resort to the use of armed might to crush the rebellion of the people as well as to eliminate any opposition to it from within, once other means fail. In other words, civilian rule is itself subordinate to the use of the armed forces, not the other way round. The Nagaland and Manipur Chief Ministers recently vehemently opposed the temporary pull-out of some CRPF battalions from their states, saying they could not rule without them!
The multi-party democracy, the elections that are routinely conducted, are merely a cloak for the brutal rule of the bourgeoisie in the form of the industrial houses and big landlords. They defend the capitalist system, the remnants of feudalism, colonialism and imperialism, that is the entire colonial legacy. The political parties which come to power at the Centre or in the states also play a role by providing this rule with legitimacy. Criminalisation, the fomenting of communal passions and the organising of communal violence, the organising of individual acts of terrorism as well as state terrorism, and the organising of diversions, are the weapons to settle the contradictions amongst the big industrial houses, to ensure the accommodation of this or that interest group, and to ensure that the masses of people remain subject to their rule and its tragic victims.
The rule of law in British colonial times was the rule of the colonialists and their Indian henchmen carried out through the police forces and British Indian Army as established in 1858. It was the rule of unbridled lawlessness as its content was colonial plunder. As long as the content remains plunder, this rule of law will remain in disrepute. Capitalist development in nineteenth century Europe ended feudal privilege and oppression, and paved the way for the rise of the nation-state and the rule of law of the bourgeoisie. Its aim was to outlaw feudal privilege and legalise bourgeois privilege based on private property. Indian capitalism grew as a tool of British colonialism in the first place. It did not outlaw feudal privilege, but used it to its own advantage. As capitalism in Europe and North America reached the stage of monopoly capitalism, it lost all its democratic and progressive character. It became thoroughly reactionary. It further used feudalism to its own advantage. Everything established on Indian soil was a hybrid, with capitalist development the key to promoting he feudal, colonial and imperialist interests as the most profitable thing to do for the Indian industrial houses. Neither colonial interest, nor feudal privilege, nor imperialist interference were eliminated.
Indian democracy and the rule of law have long since entered a deep crisis that can only be overcome with the deep-going transformation of society through revolution which is the order of the day. This crisis is the reflection of the sharpening of the contradictions between the exploited and the exploiters, and the contradictions within the ranks of the financial oligarchy and the bourgeoisie itself, which are being resolved through lawlessness and the criminalisation of the polity. This criminalisation has reached such levels that assassinations of the chieftains of industrial houses, political parties and governments have become a common affair, along with the wholesale slaughter of entire sections the people.
The Indian system needs to be renovated with a new system at the base, a system consistent with the aspirations of the working class and the toiling masses, in step with the aspirations of the working class and peoples of the world. Such a system would put the well-being the masses at the foundation of society, as the aim of the economy. Far from making this aim a policy objective, it will become the fundamental law of the land.
This new system will not only be modern, and the most up to date, it will also give rise to a confederal state in which all nations and tribal people will enjoy full equality and freedom. They will enjoy their right to self-determination up to and including secession, without which self-determination is reduced to a mere phrase. This new system will provide full opportunity to all the nations divided by colonialism to unite if they so desire. The new system will put a complete end to the colonial legacy and India will enter the family of nations as a most progressive force.
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The Stage of Revolution
CGPI has come to the conclusion that the stage of revolution in India cannot be determined only by studying the conditions internally. It has to be established mainly on the basis of studying the internal situation within the context of the international situation.
Capitalist forces are put into action everywhere by the world bourgeoisie and reaction in order to block the door to progress of all countries. The world bourgeoisie and reaction are demanding “shock therapy”, a euphemism for outright robbery and devastation, as the means to entangle the entire world in their web. Any resistance to the international financial oligarchy is immediately threatened with the use of world bodies like the UN Security Council, military alliances such as NATO, and aggression and intervention in a thousand and one ways. There is a demand that no country must escape capitalism under the guise of demanding a “free market economy”, “the multiparty system”, “ideological and political pluralism” and what they call “respect” for human rights.
While the world bourgeoisie and reaction are demanding that everyone must submit to world capitalism, the international situation at this time is characterised by the deepening and broadening of the all-sided crisis of capitalism and the only marginal growth of the world economy. The jobless “recovery” is becoming a universal feature of this capitalism, as is so evident in the US, Germany, France, etc. The globalisation of capital and production is the response of the financial oligarchy to the deepening of the all-sided crisis of capitalism. It is the form through which financial oligarchies are fighting out the battles between themselves for the domination of the entire world.
The destruction of the bipolar division of the world has also aggravated the capitalist crisis. The collapse of the Eastern bloc has contributed immensely to the deepening and broadening of this crisis of world capitalism, as masses of the people in these countries are raising their voices against the catastrophic situation created by the collapse of pseudo-socialism and the rise of classical capitalism in their countries. As capitalism opens new space for itself across the world, new tragedies befall the people. It spreads with a tremendous sweep and takes over whole continents and regions in one swoop. It is like a cloud of locusts descending on lush meadows. Everything is turned to dust in its wake, with millions of people thrown into the abyss. While, in its beginning, capitalism spurred the development of the productive forces, at its final stage, it is a moloch sucking the blood of the people. It is this kind of capitalism that exists in India and is the source of all the problems the people face.
The attempt by U.S. imperialism to establish the “new world order”, the unipolar world under its command, has emboldened it to crush any resistance to this spread of capitalism and imperialist plunder. U.S. imperialism is still confident that all the doors have been flung open to it, either through violence, as in the assassination of Nikolai Ceaucescu, or through internal subversion, as accomplished by Mikhail Gorbachev. But in its megalomania it does not wish to concede that the revolt of the productive forces against the capitalist onslaught has yet to express its full fury, but like a thunderclap will soon hearken the coming revolutionary storms. While the victory of the “open door policy” as enunciated by the US looks so irreversible, nonetheless, it is being thwarted by the sharpening of the inter-imperialist contradictions, by the resistance of countries like Iran, Iraq and others which are standing up to the foreign subversion and the dictate of U.S. imperialism and are refusing to accept its “unipolar world”. Countries like Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam are bravely sticking to their own kind of system, safeguarding their independence and warding off any threats to them. The Islamic movement is also standing in the way of this “open door policy”, against the dictate of U.S. imperialism for a “unipolar world”.
Under these circumstances, while imperialism, the bourgeoisie and world reaction pretend that the danger of socialism and communism is finished, in fact, the all-sided crisis in these countries reveals an economic base in utter chaos, and is awakening the working class afresh to the dangers the capitalist system poses for them. The contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie, and socialism and capitalism is becoming fierce. It is expressing itself in the struggle between the exploited and the exploiters, and between the forces which are for democratic renewable and those which are opposed to it. In essence, the content of this struggle is to open the door for the progress of society. The time has come for Indian communists to arouse the working class, all toilers and patriotic forces to raise their cudgels, to direct their volcanic power against this onslaught of the most brutal form of capitalism which the bourgeoisie and reaction are deploying against the people in India.
It is the contention of CGPI that the most important contradiction, the one that has become the most crucial, is between socialism and capitalisms. To resolve the contradiction between socialism and capitalism is to resolve everything else. In political terms, it is a contradiction that appears in a particular form at this time; it appears in the form of the contradiction between those who are for profound transformations, for the renovation and modernisations that society requires in order to progress, and those who create illusions about the existing system and the worn-out notions that there is another stage of capitalism, a reformed, social-democratic stage. The contradiction between socialism and capitalism can be seen in the acute struggle in the sphere of theory, in the sphere of the ideological and polemical struggle, in the drive of the bourgeoisie to lower the level of everything in society, especially politics. It means that the cutting edge of this struggle is to oppose those who are creating illusions about capitalism and “socialism”, that is, about privatisation and liberalisation and about social-democrcy.
Within this sharpening of the struggle between social socialism and capitalism, all the other contradictions can be seen. It is significant that U.S., imperialism insists on maintaining its blockade of Cuba, not because Cuba poses any kind of threat to the U.S., but because the Cuban system is a repudiation of the notion that there is only one democracy and one system in the unipolar world as defined by U.S., imperialism. This contradiction between socialism and capitalism can also be seen in the striving of capitalism to completely subjugate countries and the forces fighting against it. A large number of countries have been reduced to total dependence on international finance capital, in which the struggle against their economic and financial enslavement is inevitable.
Within the framework of this contradiction, the stage of revolution in India is the elimination of capitalism, all remnants of feudalism, colonialism and imperialism. Capitalism is developing extremely rapidly in India and is sharpening all the contradictions, especially between the exploited and the exploiters. It is this contradiction that has been used by the bourgeoisie itself when it pretends that it is dismantling socialism as a prelude to the economic progress of the country.
There are a large number of tasks of a democratic and anti-imperialist character that also have to be carried out at this stage of revolution. However, the working class and the toiling masses of the country will not understand them if the issue of the destruction of capitalism is not put to them as the first priority. This is the most crucial question which must be discussed and settled at this time around which the strategic political unity of the working class and the broad masses of the people must be established. This, however, is not the end of the discussion on the determination of the stage of revolution. It is only the beginning.
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CGPI Strategy and Plan of Action
The communist movement has arrived at a crucial juncture. Which direction will it take? The fate of the Indian communists depends on what they are proposing for the fate of society. The bourgeois political parties are claiming that they have found a solution for the problems of society. Their answer is privatisation and liberalisation, and the globalisation of capital and production. In other words, their plan is to contribute to the further sharpening of all the contradictions in the society.
The communist movement must have as its strategic aim the overthrow of this capitalism, and the establishment of a socialist society. This is an exciting perspective for the communist movement. All Indian communists must look at the communist movement from this inspiring perspective. While it is quite clear and its known to all that the communist movement in India is split at this time, it will be a grave mistake if communists look at this split merely as a split, and not as an occasion to move forward. It will be an even greater mistake to think that the communist movement is the only movement where genuinely democratic and progressive forces exist. A large number of progressive and democratic forces exist outside the communist movement which are also interested in the program of the political unity of the progressive forces. It would be a grave error to over-emphasise the role of the communist movement within the present conditions. What must bee emphasised is the immediate need for political unity in order to lift the society out of the crisis.
A lot of damage has been done to the cause of the working class and the toiling masses in the past. What must be done is to elaborate the program, and at the same time, raise the ideological and political level of the masses by actually discussing what effect this or that event is having on the situation, in which direction the working class movement is heading and how to direct it towards achieving its goal. In this way, as this work develops, all the culprits from the past and the present will reveal their nature; the masks will be torn off their faces and people will see what colossal damage they have done to the movement.
It is within this context that CGPI must wage the sharpest ideological and polemical struggle in order to defend contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought and the purity of Marxism-Leninism and to protect the communist and workers’ movement by resolutely opposing any conciliation with social-democracy. As this struggle develops, the people will know what to do with those who block the path to progress. People will gain experience and the movement will become stronger in the course of eliminating any obstruction.
The main thrust of our organising is around the revolutionary theory, expressing the living connection between being and consciousness, between the objective and subjective. It is round this thrust that the ideological struggle is developed, the general line is established, the organisational tasks are set and the polemical struggle is waged. The leading organs and the basic organisations can be established and strengthened only on the basis of implementing the action plan within the framework of the general line for this period. Building the CGPI is itself the creation of the most important subjective condition, the main instrument of the working class and toiling masses in their struggle for emancipation. It is the main weapon to destroy the colonial legacy, all the remnants of feudalism and imperialism, and bring about the transformation of society from capitalism to socialism through revolution. The role of CGPI is to ensure that the working class has its own consciousness and organisation; beyond that , it cannot substitute itself for the working class. The problem of building the vanguard party is one thing; the problem of the working class movement providing itself with the revolutionary program of action is another. The two tasks are interconnected. While the former belongs to the advanced elements of the working class, the latter task belongs to the broad section of the workers, a task that the vanguard must lead but without substituting itself for the broad section of the class.
CGPI is of the opinion that besides discussing these matters relating to the stage of revolution and the program, there is also a need to elaborate what must be done within the present conditions. What kind of system is needed that will serve the interests of the people? How should the struggle for immediate concerns be waged within the context of advancing the strategic aim of revolution?
In order to deal with this issue, communists must skilfully elaborate the precise form in which the struggle against capitalism must be carried out in India at this time. If we are to go to the people and declare that we are against capitalism and that is that, people will not understand what is being said. If we say that people should go for democratic renewal, likewise people will not understand it. CGPI is of the opinion that the content of the form of struggle against capitalism that is required must already exist in the experience of the masses. It necessarily has to be anti-capitalists, anti-feudal, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist.
Garibi Hatao has remained the slogan of all successive governments including that of Narasimha Rao. Garibi, however, does not go away because these governments have merely presented this as a policy objective. The governments claim lack of money when it comes to providing for the people, covering up the tendency in the economic system for the rich to become richer and the poor poorer. At this time, the governments have even gone so far as to openly declare that to provide for the people will actually be no good for them or for the economy. The demand is that everyone must fend for themselves. As is the case with the world bourgeoisie and reaction, the Indian bourgeoisie is also howling that there is no money available for the education, health and social programs. When it comes to dealing with the concrete conditions in India, the bourgeoisie does not even guarantee a living and the capitalist system cannot provide for the people.
Instead of addressing the situation in which more than fifty percent of the people live below the official poverty line and a great many people have no means of living whatsoever, Narasimha Rao, by taking his cue from the reactionaries of the world, promised a “trickle down” effect as he further unleashed the capitalist forces to rob the state treasury and the masses of the people. The actual conditions and the result of this unleashing of unbridled robbery and the destruction of the productive forces is a slap on the face of all the propagandists of this policy: far from any trickle down effect, the polarisation between rich and poor is increasing.
Why is it that the bourgeoisie cannot reverse this tendency of the capitalist system? Why is it that the capitalist system cannot provide for the people? Is it lack of proper policies? No, it is because capitalism would not be capitalism if the government was able to do such a thing without overthrowing capitalism. The accumulation of poverty at one pole and riches at the other is inherent to the capitalist system. Such a thing is also accentuated by the remnants of feudalism, colonialism and imperialism.
In the light of this offensive of the Central Government and the bourgeoisie against the rights and livelihood of the people, what if CGPI were to propose that there is a way that money can be found? It could be gathered, for instance, by taking into the hands of the state all the internal and external trade of India. The state could begin to accumulate capital on the basis of buying and selling the commodities for distribution on the Indian and foreign markets. A large amount of money could also be generated on an immediate basis by declaring a moratorium on payments for debt servicing. Money collected in these ways could be directly used to provide for the people so as to meet their claims on society. India could provide a constitutional guarantee to the rights all people have by virtue of being human, and provide for them on this basis and by taking other measures. Other measures could include the ending of the militarisation of the economy. At the same time, the state could begin expropriating all the main means of production from the hands of those who refuse to comply with it, in terms of placing all internal and international trade under social control, or in terms of the demand to stop the militarisation of the economy, and the moratorium on debt service payments.
Will the Indian government procure money by taking these measures so that it has no excuse not to take care of the well-being of the people and society? No, it will not, because the aim of the Indian government is to serve the big capitalists and big landlords who have placed them into the position of power in the first place. The people of India will have to do it themselves. They will have to progress from taking these measures to the building of an independent, self-reliant and socialist economy.
The question of trade is directly linked with what is produced in the country. It is also linked with the question of where production is consumed, or where it goes. This is of great interest to the people of the country. It is of first-rate interest to the people to know who sets the prices, and what logic is used, for both the products of labour and labour power itself. It is the experience of the Indian people that at the time of every calamity such as famine, there is no dearth of food but the prices are always too high, putting it out of the reach of the people. Even today, stories abound of wheat and rice rotting in warehouse, as masses of people languish in hunger or go to an early grave. There is no shortage of food in India but people still starve to death in many parts of the country and millions live under the poverty line.
The aim of such demands is to channel the agitations of the people in the direction of reforms that will help disintegrate the capitalist status quo, far from strengthening it as is the result of social-democratic demands and actions. Such agitations and demands will help forge the political unity of all those forces which stand for deep-going transformations and help provide a vision of a viable society that is capable of fulfilling the claims of its members upon it.
Besides its own activity to elaborate such demands, CGPI must lead the workers and toiling masses, the intellectuals and professionals, women and youth to work out their own demands themselves. CGPI must ensure that they put an end to the splitting of the working class and people on the basis of social-democratic illusion-mongering about the capitalist system, and the good and bad policies of this or that political party or leader. At the heart of this endeavour is the work to establish the organisational forms that will enable the people to engage in these discussions amongst their peers. This will also allow them to select candidates from amongst themselves who will represent their demands and push them forward. Such organisational forms must be developed with a view to becoming the nuclei of people’s power, through which the people will begin to exercise control over their lives.
If CGPI were to call for the establishment of People’s Empowerment Committees at the places of work, educational institutions and neighbourhoods at this time, people could begin to participate in the political affairs of the country. They would be able to establish their political unity right at the start instead of being split between this or that political party. Such committees will transform themselves into organs of people’s power at a time when conditions warrant it. They will combine the legislative and executive functions, and subordinate those to the people at the respective levels where such committees are established.
Comrades, as you can see, we have covered a lot of ground and have dealt with a lot of questions of a broad character. The question that arises is this: Can we take action on all of them? What should the over-all strategy of CGPI be? After making a thorough-going assessment of the forces available to CGPI and the possibilities that exist for the future, our strategy is to zero in on what is the most crucial thing at this time for the building of CGPI. It is to deepen the work on all the points raised in this report, to bring forth the content based on actual study and investigation, especially in the course of waging the revolutionary class struggle.
The analysis presented today and the conclusions drawn must be considered the first and not the last word. CGPI has to develop Indian theory and wage the sharpest possible ideological and polemical struggle in the course of this work. At the same time, the main blow has to be directed against the creation of any illusions about social-democracy, and against any form of class-collaboration, dogmatism, and sectarianism. In practical terms, the greatest emphasis has to be laid on deepening the work for the development of Indian theory and of waging the sharpest ideological and polemical struggle, with the cutting edge being the building of the organ of the Central Committee, People’s Voice, and the mass organisations of workers, youth and women. At the same time, the CGPI has to work with all the progressive and democratic forces to carry on the work that has already been started for the democratic renewal of the society.
Both the strategy and the practical plan of action have to be extremely focused. CGPI must pay the utmost attention to ensure that this entire work is carried out in a manner that will strengthen the Party on the basis of the entire theoretical, ideological and polemical work, the work of consolidating the Central Committee’s organ and on the basis of consolidating the mass organisations. The entire work must be accomplished by directing the main blow against any illusion-mongering about social-democracy and its conciliators.
Comrades, the world is facing the most serious, all-round crisis with retrogressive forces on the offensive within India and elsewhere. Within these conditions, it is incumbent upon CGPI that it must play its leading role in ensuring that the working class is ready to lead the society out of the crisis. Once again, Comrades, the conditions are pointing towards either revolution or war. Let there be only one choice, that is, revolution. Let the victory of revolution eliminate all possibilities of war, whether regional or an inter-imperialist world war.
Let all the revolutionary communists, progressive and democratic forces, the working class, women and youth, all the exploited and oppressed, the toilers of the land, rise to the occasion, for the dawn of a bright red new morning is upon us. The light of the twentieth century, the path of the Great October Revolution, is not extinguished. Far from it, the lessons of October are as valid as before, if not more so at this time. We have yet to see how bright this light will burn as the working class and revolutionary forces mount the barricades of class struggle and turn things around. Let all the communist forces unit as one and turn words into deeds. Let the path for the progress of the society be opened. Let revolution advance! Victory belongs to us, to all who struggle and fight for the realisation of their noble aims!
1 F. Engels, “Ludwig Fauerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy”, Marx & Engels Selected Works, Progress Publishers, 1968, p. 588.
2 Ibid., p. 588.
3 V.I. Lenin, “Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism”, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Vol., p. 42.
4 Marx & Engels, “Selected Correspondence”, Foreign Languges Publishing House, Moscow, follows the Russian Edition (Gospolitizdat, Moscow, 1953), Engels to C. Schmidt, October 27, 1890, p. 506.
5 Ibid., Engels to K.Kautsky, September 20, 1884, p. 454.
6 V.I. Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics”, Philosophical Notebooks, Colected Works, Progress Publishers, Vol. 38, p. 358.
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