Lessons of Emergency

The Editor, MEL.


I am writing in response to the Statement of the CC of the CGPI dated 11-7-2018 written soon after the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of the “National Emergency” which is entitled `Lessons of the National Emergency (1975-1977) and carried in the July 16-31, 2018 issue of MEL. The Statement gives a summary of the historical backdrop of the declaration and further goes to draw important lessons for those in the revolutionary camp as well for the working class, the harbinger of the revolution, in general.

This Statement is an important contribution to the political theory that is required to arm the working class as it prepares to carry out its historical imperative and is based on the principles of dialectical materialism and is uncompromising in its scope. The main compromising line that has been a trend in the Communist camp has been the one of acceptance of bourgeois ideology which is that revolution is not needed, and the bourgeois system can be fine-tuned and be made to serve the working class as well as the broad masses of the people. Such compromises occur when the Communist camp is not sufficiently mature and has not fully understood the growth of the political and economic system in the country, both in 1975 as well as in the present. Thus, this Statement needs to be studied in great detail. In particular, what was true at that time, and continues to be true in the present is that the multi-party representative democracy is a charade and a farce, and is actually a cover for the brutal dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, in particular of the section headed by the capitalist monopoly houses, which control and dominate the Indian State.

Further, and this is where the lack of maturity shows up time and again, that it is the Constitution of India which legitimises the rule of the bourgeoisie. Whereas at times there is the idea that there are democratic rights for the broad masses, there is also the fact that at any time these rights can simply be taken away with the mere stroke of a pen. That the supreme power resides in the Parliament and more precisely in the Cabinet, with a figurehead President, and not in the people is the point that is least understood, and needs to be emphasized at every given opportunity. In the past, and in the events leading up to the National Emergency, the widespread discontent among the broad masses of the people and among the working class due to the stagnation of the economy after the post-Independence growth, and the subsequent meddling in the affairs of the countries of the region, including such events as the Indo-Soviet Peace Treaty, the Bangladesh War of 1971 and the interference of Anglo-American Imperialism, led to a serious crisis of rule for the bourgeoisie. In order to wriggle out the crisis they decided to go for the suspension of their own farcical democracy, and further when the resistance continued, they decided to `restore’ democracy by calling for elections. Under the banner of `Total Revolution’ opposition parties to the Congress won the elections and stabilized the rule of the bourgeoisie. All the above said, over 4 decades later, the crisis of rule persists. Furthermore, in the era soon after the National Emergency, the bourgeoisie went for the programme of privatization and liberalization.

This programme is one that seeks to fatten their bank accounts at the cost of vast poverty for the masses. The advancement of capitalism in this period into all sectors of the economy is near complete, with the advancement also into agriculture. While the immutable laws of capitalist accumulation have created unbearable tensions in the country, in the political sphere this is cast in such a way as to present to the people only two choices, which is the choice between the BJP and RSS on the one hand, and the Congress on the other which claims to be a guardian of the Constitution. No debate is allowed on what the Constitution itself is.

This debate must focus on the fact that the Constitution merely safeguards the rights of the rich to grow richer and that there is no enabling mechanism for the people to safeguard their basic rights, whether it is of basic human needs or of their political rights. Anyone questioning the platform of the BJP and its bourgeois backers is considered `anti-National’.

The above said, the discussion paves the path to a new formulation based on a human angle. This would require dismantling the present State apparatus and replacing it by one that is people centric, and goes under the rubric of Navnirman which has been championed by the CGPI. It is only the working class that is capable of bringing such a Navnirman.

A. Narayan

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