The 22nd of April this year marks the 148th birth anniversary of V.I. Lenin, the great revolutionary leader and teacher of the working class.
The teachings of Lenin are more relevant than ever before. It is essential for the revolutionary forces headed by the working class to be guided by the teachings of Lenin, in order to defeat the reactionary forces headed by the capitalist monopoly houses, lift Indian society out of crisis and open the path for its all-round progress.
The capitalist monopoly houses have been relying on the BJP-led NDA government headed by Narendra Modi to push ahead with their program of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. The parliament is enacting laws and the government is implementing policy measures, all aimed at fulfilling monopoly capitalist greed at the expense of the wellbeing and security of the toiling majority. This anti-social agenda is being marketed to the people as “sab ka vikaas” – development for all!
The anti-worker and anti-peasant economic offensive is being accompanied by increasingly fascistic methods of rule. Sectarian violence directed against people of particular castes and religious communities is becoming more and more frequent. Murderous attacks are carried out and nobody gets punished. Far from protecting the lives and basic rights of all members of society, the State stands exposed as an instrument to terrorize the people and set them against one another.
What should be the response of the workers, peasants, women and youth? What is the political goal we must fight for in this situation?
The capitalist class in power wants our brains to forever remain trapped by the illusion of finding some alternative within the existing system of parliamentary democracy. Leninism teaches us that to end exploitation, oppression and unjust wars, the working class and other progressive forces have to break out of the confines of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. They have to innovate a new state system and political process of proletarian democracy. They have to replace not one party by another, but replace capitalist rule by workers’ and peasants’ rule.
Lenin elaborated the Marxist political theory that the State is an organ of class rule. In general, it is an organ of the most powerful, economically dominant class which, through the mechanism of the State, becomes also the politically dominant class, acquiring new means of holding down the exploited and oppressed classes.
Lenin pointed to the domination of the State and political process by the owners of capital in the US, Britain, France and other leading capitalist democracies of that time. He spoke of the corruption of state officials, close ties between the government and the stock exchange, etc. Over the past 100 years, the degree of concentration of capital and domination of monopolies, and the degree of parasitism of finance capital, have reached unprecedented levels. In our country, the capitalist monopoly houses dominate the majority of markets and all arms of the State, including the executive, legislature and judiciary. Just about 150 monopoly capitalists are deciding the fate of 125 crore Indians in this “most populous democracy”!
Lenin explained that a bourgeois democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism. He wrote:
“Once capital has gained possession of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties can shake it.” (from State and Revolution by Lenin)
Life experience over the past 70 years in our country confirms the validity of this thesis. Parties and personalities keep replacing one another while the system of exploitation and oppression as well as the politics of divide and rule continue unchanged.
When the claims of the BJP-led government headed by Vajpayee about “India shining” lost credibility in 2004, the capitalist monopoly houses promoted the Congress Party as the alternative, claiming it will make India shine for all classes. The Congress-led government headed by Manmohan Singh promised to implement capitalist reforms with a “human face”. When the Congress-led UPA government became exposed as being in cahoots with the biggest capitalist robbers, the ruling class started promoting the BJP, headed by Narendra Modi, as the “clean” alternative. Modi promised development for all. Now when there is growing opposition by workers, peasants and progressive intellectuals all over the country to the BJP-led government, the corporate media has started promoting the Congress Party and Rahul Gandhi as a viable “secular” alternative.
What do these developments show? They show that the process of periodic elections serves the most powerful capitalist monopoly houses to orchestrate a change in their management team when required, so as to push ahead with their anti-social agenda. Hence the workers and peasants must not fall for the illusion that the situation will improve if the BJP-led NDA is replaced by some so-called secular coalition in 2019, with or without the Congress Party.
We have to think beyond the limits of the existing bourgeois democracy and its electoral process. The Bolshevik Party, with Lenin at its head, taught the workers and peasants of Russia this all-important lesson and prepared them to capture political power in 1917. It found expression in the slogans: “No support to the bourgeois provisional government!” and “All power to the Soviets!
The proletarian revolution succeeded in Russia because the Bolshevik Party cleared all illusions about bourgeois parliamentary democracy from the minds of the workers and peasants. The Party led the working class to spearhead the establishment of Soviet democracy, a form of proletarian democracy.
The October Revolution got rid of the machinery of the old bourgeois state and created in its place a new Soviet State, an organ of rule by the proletariat in alliance with the peasants and other toiling people. Privileged and highly paid bureaucrats were replaced by civil servants who were subject to recall and paid nothing more than skilled workers. The parasitic Tsarist army was replaced by the Red Army, which had emerged and grown in the course of the revolutionary struggle to overthrow the exploiters. The Soviet State expropriated the big capitalists and converted large-scale industry, transport, banking and trade into social enterprises under public ownership. It launched a campaign to inspire poor peasants to voluntarily pool their land. The entire system of social production was brought under one single plan to fulfill the needs of the entire population.
The theory and tactics of the revolution and of building a proletarian state and a self-reliant socialist economy, which emerged from the Soviet experience, became the guideline for the communists of all countries in the 20th century. It was based on Lenin’s all-important teaching that the bourgeoisie has become a thoroughly reactionary force on the world scale in this epoch of imperialism, the highest and final stage of capitalism. It is up to the proletariat to take up the banner of democracy and of national independence, as essential components of the struggle for socialism and communism. This conclusion guided the Third Communist International to call on the communists of all countries to dispel all illusions about bourgeois democracy and develop appropriate state forms of proletarian democracy, the rule of the toiling majority over the exploiting minority.
Within the Indian communist movement, there are parties and individuals who continue to create illusions about the existing State and system of parliamentary democracy. They spread the harmful illusion that parliamentary democracy can be used in the interest of workers and peasants. They thereby add to the false consciousness that is spread by the bourgeoisie, as if the existing democracy serves the interests of all classes.
The truth is that in a society which is divided into classes with opposing interests, democracy for one class requires dictatorship over its class enemies. The bourgeois state ensures freedom for the exploiters to accumulate wealth by exercising a brutal dictatorship over the exploited masses. The proletarian state ensures freedom from exploitation for the toiling majority of people by exercising an iron dictatorship over the exploiting minority.
Lenin taught that:
“Democracy under capitalism is capitalist democracy, the democracy of the exploiting minority, based on restriction of the rights of the exploited majority and directed against this majority. Only under the proletarian dictatorship are real liberties for the exploited and real participation of the proletarians and peasants in governing the country possible”.
It is important to recognize that the capitalist monopoly houses and their imperialist agenda are responsible for the growing fascism in India today, in the form of state terrorism, communal violence and criminalisation of all dissent. BJP is only one of the principal parties of the capitalist monopoly houses, while the Congress Party is another. Both these parties have shown in practice that they are instruments for an exploiting minority to divide and rule over the workers and peasants. They are both instruments of the communal state and serve the same class interest. There are other parties as well, which are competing to become the preferred parties of the monopoly bourgeoisie in the future.
There is only one way to save India from further disasters. Communists must lead the working class to capture political power in alliance with the peasants and all the oppressed. Only such a political power can carry out the revolutionary transformations that our society requires. Communists must direct all their activities, including participation in elections, towards the aim of preparing the working class and its allies to capture political power and build a State that guarantees prosperity and protection for all.
Speaking on the occasion of the death of Lenin in January 1924, J.V. Stalin said:
“The greatness of Lenin lies above all in this, that by creating the Republic of Soviets he gave a practical demonstration to the oppressed masses of the whole world that hope of deliverance is not lost, that the rule of the landlords and capitalists is short-lived, that the kingdom of labour can be created by the efforts of the laboring people themselves, and that the kingdom of labour must be created not in heaven, but on earth. He thus fired the hearts of the workers and peasants of the whole world with the hope of liberation”.