What kind of Communist Party

Part-1: Necessity for a unified vanguard party of the Indian working class

The year 2000 has been a year of major confrontation between the working class and the bourgeoisie in India.

Part-1: Necessity for a unified vanguard party of the Indian working class

The year 2000 has been a year of major confrontation between the working class and the bourgeoisie in India. Starting with the power workers strike in Uttar Pradesh in January, there has been mounting opposition among the working class and people against the anti-social offensive being carried out under the signboard of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. There is rising opposition to the attempts of the bourgeoisie to further curtail the rights of labour and facilitate super-exploitation in the name of global competitiveness of Indian industry.

The ruling big bourgeoisie of India declares that there is no alternative to the "second generation of reforms". It has openly declared that its program is "not negotiable". This program of the bourgeoisie means more intense exploitation and plunder of the land and labour of the working class and people, jointly by the Indian and foreign monopolies. It means sell-out of national assets to the highest bidder. The ruling big bourgeoisie is imposing its self-serving and anti-social program on the working class and people through its two major parties —the BJP and the Congress Party.

The so-called economic reforms which the BJP led NDA Government has begun to implement involves the further acceleration of privatisation and liberalisation, including hike in food prices in the PDS, in rates charged for power, water and other essential needs. It involves cutting down subsidies to agriculture. It is being justified by the credo that whatever is good for big business is good for the whole country, and that the State should withdraw from the provision of public services and each man, woman and child should fend for themselves.

The working class has begun to assert its claims and contest the claims of the bourgeoisie. However, the capacity of the Indian working class to make use of the opportunity to isolate the bourgeoisie is being seriously hampered by the divided and diverted state of the Indian communist movement. Different parties and trends within the communist movement continue to send conflicting signals to the working class, thereby undermining the efforts of the class to act as one conscious force to turn the tide in favour of the toiling and oppressed people.

In order to isolate the bourgeoisie and triumph over it, the working class needs to overcome all divisions in its ranks and present an immediate fighting program to lift Indian society out of the crisis—a bold scientific socialist alternative of reorienting the economy to provide for all. The working class needs to rally the peasantry and all other exploited and oppressed around such a fighting program. In order to do so, the working class needs a single unified vanguard communist party at its head. It needs a party that is strictly of the class, a part of the class, consisting of the most conscious, courageous, disciplined, self-sacrificng and far-sighted elements of the class. It needs a party capable of leading the working class and people in battle against the anti-social offensive and linking this with the strategic aim of overthrowing capitalism and the colonial legacy and building a prosperous, modern, socialist India free from any form of exploitation or oppression of persons by persons.

What kind of Communist Party does the movement need in India today? It is important to discuss and clarify this question, as a condition for restoring the unity of Indian communists and the fighting unity of the working class.

Should the Communist Party be a parliamentary party, which participates in the existing political process and seeks a share of the existing power in its own hands? Such a party necessarily will spread illusions about the existing political power and be preoccupied with the building of vote banks among the workers and other oppressed masses. Such a party will be nothing but an electoral machine that serves to maintain the existing system based on exclusion of the toiling masses from political power.

Or should the Communist Party be a revolutionary party that organises and empowers the working class and all the oppressed to overthrow the rule of capital and establish a new power where the people can begin to govern themselves?

More than 150 years ago, Marx and Engels clarified in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, that the working class has to organise itself as the ruling class, in order to put an end to the system of production based on the exploitation of labour, and pave the way for classless society. In order to become the ruling class, and remain the ruling class throughout the period of transition from capitalism to communism, the working class needs its own vanguard political party, its most organised and advanced detachment.

Lenin elaborated the main features required of a Communist Party of the new type in the era of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. This is the era when the proletariat has to take up for solution, as an immediate practical task, the question of replacing the bourgeois dictatorship with a new political power, the dictatorship of the proletariat. This new political power will preside over the suppression of the exploiters and the transformation from capitalism to socialism. It will be the broadest possible democracy that defends the rights of all the peoples to livelihood and to sovereignty. The vanguard party of the working class has to play its leading role as the instrument for the empowerment of the working class and people.

The rise and fall of socialism in the USSR has brought home to all communists today that the approach to the question of political power defines the class character of a political party in modern times. A bourgeois party seeks power in its own hands within the system and process of bourgeois representative democracy. The Communist Party on the other hand seeks to organise the working class to establish a new kind of democracy, proletarian democracy, based on empowering the broad masses of people to crush the exploiting classes. The Bolshevik party played this role during the first stage of socialist revolution in the Soviet Union. As a result, the working class became the ruling class. However, at a later stage, after the death of JV Stalin, particularly in the wake of its 20th Congress, the Bolshevik party became transformed into an instrument to keep the working masses out of the political process. The working class lost its position as the ruling class.

The modern Communist Party cannot substitute itself for the class or for the state power. It cannot build a party dictatorship in place of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Any party that does so will either go out of being altogether, or degenerate into a bourgeois party, into an instrument for restoring and maintaining the rule of capital. This is an important lesson from the negative experience in the Soviet Union.

One of the most important principles of a Leninist Party of the new type, a party of revolution, is that its foundation lies in basic organisations, which are cells of class struggle in the midst of the class and its natural allies. It is this quality that makes the Communist Party an instrument for the empowerment of the working class and all the oppressed. It distinguishes the communist vanguard of the working class from the parliamentary parties of the bourgeoisie.

In order to theoretically and ideologically arm all the Indian communists and working class activists, People’s Voice / Mazdoor Ekta Lehar will regularly carry this series called What kind of Communist Party? The series is expected to cover several important themes, such as: the question of building the basic organisations in the class, parliamentarism and excitative terrorism, necessity to develop Indian theory, relation between the party and the class, collective leadership and individual responsibility, role of the party press, etc.

Readers are invited to participate in the discussion of these themes around the question: What kind of Communist Party? They are encouraged to send their contributions in writing.

All the basic organisations of the Party are urged to participate actively in the discussion of this important question. The political aim of this discussion is to enable the restoration of unity of Indian communists, which would enable the Indian working class to triumph over the bourgeoisie and open the door to the progress of Indian society.

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