Problems of Indian Revolution: Prospects and Challenges

  • Abhinav Sinha

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the disintegration of the mighty Soviet Union in 1990, bourgeois think-tanks and academia of the West reveled in hysteric caterwaul. The death of Marxism and Socialism was proclaimed; the age of ‘meta-narratives’ was finally over; the last oppressiveness of the ‘modern’ was finally over, and the ‘post-modern’ had, at last, begun! The hired hack of the imperialist Rand Corporation, Francis Fukuyama, trumpeted the ultimate victory of liberal bourgeois democracy and thus, ‘the End of History.’ However, a few years back in 2007, when Francis Fukuyama was in ‘India Today Conclave’ to deliver a lecture on the challenges before the ‘New World’ (which, of course, for the likes of Fukuyama, means a world with the Anglo-Saxon axis at the helm of the affairs and neo-con czars ruling the roost around the globe!), he opined that the most dangerous challenges before the liberal bourgeois democracy today are Maoism (which was a term used for any communist group which is ‘left of the social-democrats) and Islamic Terrorism. Islamic terrorism is the Frankenstein created by Imperialism which does not have any systemic utopia to realize; it is the product of reaction and therefore does not have any positive proposal for the future, except the fantasies of an imagined past. But why was Fukuyama so worried about Communism, which according to him, was already a spent force almost two decades ago? If Socialism and Marxism were dead, why so many books, articles, etc are written every year to refute it again and again? Why the imperialist media is still untiringly waging its crusade against Communism and Bolshevik Revolution?

Now, the period of capitalist triumphalism is over; world capitalist system is submerged in the mire of the stubborn crisis which began with the subprime crisis in the US in 2007. The epicentre of crisis is shifting eastwards every year. By 2009 the epicentre of the economic upheavel had shifted to the European Union and taken the form of sovereign debt crisis which plagued and still plagues several European countries and especially Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. In 2011, the epicentre shifted even eastwards and the growth rates of celebrated Eastern engines of global growth, China and India, recorded their all-time low in almost a decade. This crisis will only increase and become even more structural in the coming years. Every year the finance ministers of different countries claim that soon the crisis will be over; claims of recovery are made every now and then; but the crisis is proving too stubborn and systemic to go away. In such a situation of gloom, the imperialist bosses are reading Marx to understand the sheer lunacy of the capitalist financial system that they themselves have created! (One might recall how Sarkozy was caught red-handed by the media, while reading ‘Das Capital’ when he was still the president of France!) The age of ‘postmodernism’, ‘poststructuralism’, ‘post-…’….seems to be almost over for the university academe worldwide; while some are claiming that they never were postmodernists, others contend that they subscribed to a version of postmodernism which was not hostile to Marxism; still others argue that they only learnt a thing or two from postmodernism to cure Marxism of ‘economic determinism’ and ‘class reductionism’, etc. They have, for quite some time now, been talking about a ‘return to Marx’, ‘resurgence of socialism’, ‘revival of Marxism’, etc, simply not realizing that Marx and Marxism had always been there all this while, when the ideological myopia had gripped the bourgeois academe and university intelligentsia; when the wave of skepticism had taken over even various communist revolutionaries and thinkers around the world and they were pondering over a revision of the Marxist theses; when, with the imminent arrival of ‘crisis’ following the fall of the USSR, various Left academicians and thinkers had gone on the ‘philosophical vocation’, in the words of Louise Althusser! That period is certainly over now. But what types of ‘return to Marx’ are in vogue these days? Are they really a genuine return to Marx?

It is clear as daylight now that the period following the fall of the Soviet Union has been a witness to the increasingly crisis-ridden and decadent capitalism. The world capitalist system now plunges into recession and slump at the drop of the hat. It is more prone to crisis than ever. The unproductive nature of capitalism has increased in an unprecedented manner and speculation and unproductive stock market investment rules the world economy. The excessively fragile nature of this terminally diseased system is demonstrated by the fact that now even an individual broker-cum-speculator like George Sores can bring about a total collapse of the financial system and inaugurate a global slow-down. Evidently, capitalism has become more crises-ridden, moribund, misanthropic, and decadent than ever and it can only give war, destruction, starvation, ecological disaster, unemployment, malnutrition, homelessness and poverty to the people of the world. It has exhausted all its positive and progressive potentialities one and a half centuries ago and now it has reached a dead end. Rosa Luxemburg had once said that the humanity has only two alternatives: socialism or barbarism. Now, it can be said that the humanity has only two alternatives: Socialism or Annihilation.

It is quite apparent now that the think-tanks of the World capitalism are deeply concerned about the resurgence of working class movements, people’s struggles and also of revolutionary communist forces in the so-called ‘Third World’ countries, which, it is worth recalling, Lenin had called the ‘weak links’ of Imperialism. From India to South Africa, Indonesia, Arab countries, Mexico and even Southern and Eastern European countries, workers are spontaneously taking to the streets. Egypt has not fallen silent even after the first wave of ‘Arab Spring’ subsided; Greek workers are consistently agitating against the naked neo-liberal policies of “austerity”. As far as India is concerned, it has witnessed a spurt in the working class militancy in recent years. From Gurgaon-Manesar, Yanam and Tirupur to Forbesganj, Ludhiana, Delhi and Gorakhpur, workers are waging militant movements for their rights. These spontaneous movements often peter out when they achieve some of their pecuniary aims, or when these aims seem to be out of reach for the moment. It has now become clear that mere spontaneous anti-capitalism is not sufficient to overthrow the present capitalist system. But, this much is certain that the lull which had gripped the working class movement in India and elsewhere for quite some time is over now. At the same time, the Indian ruling class is getting exposed in an unprecedented way due to its own internal contradictions. Anti-corruption crusades of Anna Hazare and now Arvind Kejriwal symbolize and represent the petty-bourgeois aspirations of the urban upper middle class of India, which has fantastic imaginations about the good bourgeois citizen ‘life in a metro’, with no corruption, no slums; with shopping malls, multiplexes, good governance, no scenes of poverty and destitution, etc. Such aspirations always have this peculiar potential to be appropriated and co-opted by Fascist politics. This is what is happening in India presently. The meteoric rise of Narendra Modi and his brand of communal Fascism and rampant neo-liberalism owes its success partly to this class of neo-rich, besides the classes of corporate capitalists, petty bourgeoisie, kulaks and rich peasants, traders, brokers, different kinds of middle men. Needless to say, the fantasies of ‘saint-capitalism’ in all its versions have been historical failures and ultimately end up being transformed into reactionary aspirations for a dictatorial rule, often of a Fascist type. The rise of Narendra Modi-brand Fascist politics in India deserves a separate and elaborate discussion, however, we can safely conclude that this ‘resistable rise’ is very much a part of the global resurgence of the Right, from Europe to Asia and Oceanasia.

However, the resurgence of the Communist and working class movement is not so-much threatened by the Narendra Modi-led Fascist upsurge or the clown brigades of the likes of Anna Hazare and the ‘Aam Admi Party’ led by Arvind Kejriwal. The most serious threat that the Communist movement has before it comes from within and not without.

We are living in an interesting period. We can safely presume that the history of the contemporary world begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the USSR. These events, in some sense, form a watershed in the history of the modern world. Though, the socialist experiment of the USSR collapsed with the revisionist coup in the Soviet Union in 1956, the namesake socialist state (what had famously been termed as “actually or really existing socialism”) existed in the USSR till 1990. The question of Stalin is certainly debatable and has become even more so in the light of new academic researches on the Stalin Era. However, this is not the place to go into that debate and for now we can agree to disagree on a number of questions without causing much harm to the contemporary project of a new communist resurgence. In China too, with the defeat of the “Gang of Four”, the Maoists were defeated by the revisionist faction in the Chinese Party and then Deng Xiao Ping put forward his theory of “market socialism”. By the early 1960s and then again in the early 1980s, the realization about the fall of the socialist experiments in the USSR and China was gaining ground among the Communist revolutionaries of the world, though there were extremely significant debates about the nature and characterization of social formation of the USSR after the 1950s between Paul Sweezy, Charles Bettelheim, Al Szcymanski, Raymond Lotta, etc. With the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, all illusions about the “really existing socialism” evaporated. As far as China is concerned, by the early 1990s, even a liberal historian like Immanuel CY Hsu, a pupil of JK Fairbank, was asking the question, “Is China going capitalist?” Now, it is not even a question! Everybody knows that China has already gone capitalist, and even more capitalist than the openly capitalist neoliberal economies. In short, now there are no illusions about “really existing Socialism” whatsoever at least in the Marxist-Leninist circles of the world. It is useless to talk about Social Democrats like Aijaz Ahmad, Prabhat Patnaik, Prakash Karat, and the parliamentary Left of India (which is principally constituted by CPI, CPI(M), and CPI (ML) Liberation) who are still talking about ‘a peculiar Chinese road to socialism’, or seeing a ‘ray of hope’ in the Bolivarian experiments of Latin America (which are nothing but combination of welfare states combined with modern Latin American variant of radical and progressive (inverted?) Bonapartism). We can leave such intellectuals with their feel-good fantasies about whatsoever.

As for us, the revolutionary communists, despite all our differences, this much is clear: the first round of the proletarian revolutions and socialist experiments is over. The period of reversal and pessimism too, that followed this first round is in its later phase. We have rich and heroic heritage of the Socialist experiments of the 20th century; we also have the negative experiences of these experiments; we have the bittersweet experience of Mao’s theory of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and its disputed practice in the 1960s and early 1970s, which proposed a comprehensive understanding of continuing the proletarian revolution during the protracted phase of socialist transition, perpetual revolution in the superstructure, eliminating the ‘three great interpersonal disparities’ to put an end to exchange relations, commodity production, and constant revolutionization of production relations even after the seizure of power; one can and perhaps should complicate and debate the experiences of GPCR, however, we are obliged to admit the historical significance of this movement and its immensely pregnant allusions to the question of problems of socialist transition; various communist intellectuals and organizations also have done the historical review and sum-up of these experiments; however, we are far from having a complete understanding of the complexities of the protracted period of socialist transition. A critical Marxist appreciation of the Socialist experiments of the 20th century is essential for the resurgence of Communism. Objective conditions for such a resurgence are in preparation. However, the same cannot be said about the subjective forces. Here we can return to our discussion on the present challenges of Communist movement, especially in India, and generally around the world.

Notwithstanding the systemic terminal crisis of world capitalist system, the communist movement itself is in the state of disintegration in most of the countries which can be termed as ‘hot spots turning into flash points’. The Communist revolutionaries around the world are scattered and divided over the most crucial questions. The case of India is no different. Even if we do not take the revisionist-reformist parliamentary Left into consideration (which would have been a sheer waste of time!), we have the burden of interpreting the present crisis of the Communist movement. Before we move on to a brief discussion on the crisis of the movement, we would like to make a clarification. A number of communist organizations, groups and intellectuals are today talking about a “crisis” in the Marxist ideology and science. We do not subscribe to this view. Most of the contemporary ideological attacks on Marxism have nothing new in them. The most important among the recent attacks on Marxism was the postmodernist offensive. This offensive has already been discredited.

However, more serious are the crises that plague the revolutionary communist movement from within. We can categorize these problems in different types: from dogmatism to axis-less “free-thinking”! Before we embark upon a discussion of these problems, it would be useful to present a very brief account of the communist movement in India, because only then will we be able to situate the crises of the movement in a proper historical perspective.

As far as the Indian Communist movement is concerned, the most important challenge from within is the challenge of dogmatism prevalent in the movement. This dogmatism expresses itself particularly on the question of characterization of the present Indian social formation and the program of Indian revolution. Communist movement in India has a history of about 90 years. Communist Party of India was formed in 1925. However, it started working without analyzing the situation in India independently and without a proper organizational structure. For first 8 years of its existence, CPI was without any central committee. In 1933, and that too on the suggestions from some international fraternal parties and a letter from Comintern, CPI constitued a nucleus of provisional central committee. In 1936, first general secretary of the Party was elected. All this while, the party continued to militantly participate in the people’s movements; however, there was no clear-cut understanding about the program of revolution, except some isolated observations about the colonial state and land question. For most of the strategic and tactical decisions party relied heavily on international leadership and the Comintern. Due to this very reason, the party committed some blunders at strategically important moments. For example, on the question of participation in the ‘Quit India Movement’ in 1942. However, the party partially recovered from this mistake as from 1946 a revolutionary situation in India was under prepartion and this situation continued till at least 1950. The year 1946 saw major peasant revolts, working class movements and revolts in the Navy and Air Force. The colonial state was in disarray; the nationalist party Congress was more keen on limiting the revolutionary people’s movement within the ambit of bourgeois legality, as it was worried that once the revolutionary potential of these movements is unleashed, the working class and peasantry will not stop within the limits of bourgeois democracy and might move in the direction of a people’s democracy and then socialism. However, CPI, due to its own ideological-political weaknesses failed to convert this revolutionary situation into revolution. After, 4 years of glorious struggle, Telangana peasant rebellion was crushed; the Naval Revolt was crushed; workers’ strikes were suppressed; the principal factor responsible for this debacle was the vacillations of CPI due to its own ideological-political weaknesses. After the collapse of Telangana peasant upsurge, the CPI capitulated to the Right, became a legal parliamentary Left party. There was a split in CPI in 1964 when CPI (M) was formed. However, the new party did not make any radical rupture from the revisionism-reformism of CPI; the leadership of this new party had only made good of the discontent that prevailed among the cadre of CPI due to the Right-drift of the CPI. The revisionism of CPI (M) was a little more radical in rhetoric than CPI, which completely became a stooge of the party of the big bourgeoisie, that is, the Congress; whereas, CPI (M) did not capitulate to the Congress in such a brazenly shameless fashion. It claimed to put pressure on the Congress to fulfill the democratic tasks. However, in the light of the Great Debate and the developments in China, a considerable section of cadre was beginning to understand the revisionist character of CPI as well as the CPI (M). At the same time, peasant and workers’ discontent was simmering in different parts of India. The hopes aroused at the time of Independence had been dashed within two decades of state repression of peasant movements, junker-type transformation of India’s agriculture, heavy-handed treatment of the workers’ movement, and increasing inflation, corruption, poverty, hunger and destitution. This situation finally culminated in the Naxalbari peasant upsurge in the North-eastern part of India. Various communist revolutionary leaders and cadre parted ways with the CPI (M) and started to form their provisional committees around the country. This process saw its apogee in the formation of CPI (ML) in 1969. However, the new party failed to understand the changing character of production relations in India and gave the slogan “China’s path is our path”, “China’s chairman is our chairman”. Intentions apart, these slogans were absurd. It was in a way a refusal to analyze the Indian situation independently and creatively. The second grave mistake committed by the new party was the failure to adopt a revolutionary massline and fall into the pit of “left” adventurism. The war-cry of ‘annihilation of the class enemy’ was raised. This often took the form of individual terrorism. Making mass organizations like trade unions, student organizations, youth organizations was declared to be acts of revisionism. The only thing to do was to organize squads in villages and annihilate the class enemy: the big landlords. Soon, the new party and movement led by it was suppressed. The party was scattered and disorganized. 1975 saw the imposition of Emergency. During the period of Emergency, large-scale acts of repression were committed by the state. During the later phase of the Emergency the scattered committees of the CPI (ML) intensified their efforts to re-organize, though this process had started in 1974 itself. This was accompanied with some feeble voices of dissent regarding the Left-adventurism of the earlier period and the method fo leadership practised in the earlier period. However, the forces involved in the process of reorganization of the CPI (ML) did not undertake any effort of a comprehensive criticism of the programmatic understanding as well as the ideological positions held by the CPI (ML). That India is a semi-feudal semi-colonial country with a comprador big bureaucratic bourgeoisie, representing the metropolitan imperialist bourgeoisie; with a big landlord class practising feudal oppression of the subsistence peasantry was all axiomatic. It was axiomatic for two reasons. Due to its ideological-political weakness, the Indian communist movement had always been weak in making independent and creative analysis of Indian situation. CPI (ML) had not made any radical rupture in this regard. Here, the international guidance came in the form of general line of the Chinese Communist Party propounded in 1963. In this general line, analyzing the situation in the so-called ‘Third World’ countries, the CCP concluded that these countries are either semi-feudal semi-colonial or neo-colonial and the stage of revolution is democratic and the path of revolution will be protracted people’s war. This general line became the inviolable dictat for the communist movement of India, and in some way, it still remains so! Therefore, these two factors namely the ideological-political weakness of the CPI (ML) as well as the general line of 1963 propounded by the CCP combined to lead the CPI (ML) to an incorrect programmatic understanding and an incorrect characterization of the Indian state and bourgeoisie.  After 1977, various ML groups (originating from the CPI (ML) movement) emerged and their number kept increasing with each passing year. Instead of reorganization, the ML movement kept disorganizing and dissipating. And today this process has reached a point where we can say that the ‘ML camp’ has disintegrated. The parties that emerged from this disintegrated camp mostly follow the same line of ‘semi-feudal semi-colonial’, ‘comprador  bourgeoisie’, new democratic revolution, protracted people’s war and encircling cities by the villages. One major party is CPI (Maoist) which came into existence in 2004 as a result of merger of two parties, CPI (ML) PWG and MCCI (which was not a part of the CPI (ML) movement). This party follows the same programmatic understanding of New Democratic Revolution and in a way continues the “left” adventurist tradition of the original CPI (ML). Some of the ML parties criticize the “left”-adventurist line, though as far as their programmatic position is concerned, they follow the same NDR line. Most of the ML parties are more-or-less in unison about the semi-feudal semi-colonial character of Indian social formation. That is why most of them do not work in the industrial working class of India, or their presence in this class is meagre. We do not have space here to involve in the debate that, even if they believe in the democratic stage of revolution, their ignorance of the working class is puzzling. However, this much is certain that due to this erroneous line, the industrial working class is left at the mercy of fascist corporatist and social-democratic and reformist trade unionism. This is exacting a heavy price, to be sure as fascist forces are now gaining ground even among the workers. As far as we know, this programmatic dogma is not something peculiar to the Indian revolutionary communist movement, but revolutionary communist movement around the world and especially in the post-colonial backward capitalist societies. Anyhow, we must return to our discussion of the Indian revolutionary communist movement.

The incorrect understanding of the character of Indian social formation, Indian state and dominant mode of production and the consequent erroneous line on the stage of revolution is the principal reason for the stagnation of the Indian revolutionary communist movement, even if we leave apart the question of ideological position for the time being. The nature of Indian agriculture is predominantly capitalist. Indian bourgeoisie undertook the path of junker-type transformation of the Indian agriculture after the Independence. Within 2 decades of the Independence, the character of Indian agriculture was decisively changed. The old feudal lords were given the opportunity to transform themselves into capitalist landlords. Most of them did so and those who could not, were ruined. A new class of rich capitalist peasants (owners as well as tenants) emerged especially after 1960s, that is, the period of the so-called ‘Green Revolution’. Nowhere in India can we find the existence of feudal ground rent, that is the key element in the feudal production relations according to Marx. There is no class of intermediaries with legal and political power between the peasant and the state, which in a way plays the role of a parcellized state. The state is highly centralized with rich capitalist farmers and kulaks as its strong social base. Almost entire agricultural production is done for the market. The level of mechanization in Indian agriculture and its speed has been stupefying in the last 4 decades. The share of landowning peasantry in the total population is less than 28 percent and most of these 28 percent are peasants only in the legal-juridical sense. Almost 80 percent of these peasants are lower-middle, small and marginal peasants. A considerable part of them does not practice agriculture as the principal means of subsistence now and their main source of income is wage labour. A sizeable portion of such peasants have leased their land-holdings to richer peasants (a phenomenon being termed as ‘reverse tenancy’ by Indian political economists) and migrated to industrial urban centre in search of livelihood. It is true that formally or at least ‘legally’, the so-called ‘backward linkage’ is maintained, however, this is one of the peculiar features of post-colonial capitalism. Nonetheless, this ‘backward linkage’ is in no way a symptom of a lack of sufficiently proletarian consciousness (whatever that means!). Indian working class has shown exemplary working class consciousness in history as well as in the recent movements; and the sense in which they still lack class political consciousness, they cannot be blamed. Rather, it is the failure of the Indian communist movement. This much is certain: the Indian agriculture today is predominantly capitalist agriculture and the crisis that recently hit only shows that it is inseparably linked with the global capitalist market. The crisis that we are talking about here is the crisis of capitalist agriculture. As far as Indian industry and finance are concerned, there is can be no debate about their character as they are clearly and apparently capitalist in character. The only possible feudal organization of industry can be the guild system; moreover, the Indian bourgeoisie is predominantly a financial and industrial bourgeoisie and if it has to survive, it cannot be a comprador/agent/puppet bourgeoisie. There are ample examples in history which clearly demonstrate this fact. The basic characterisitic feature of a comprador bourgeoisie is its commercial and bureaucratic nature. However, the dogmatism prevalent in the ML movement is of such degree that clearest signs of changes in the mode of production and production relations are ignored. The question of program has been made the question of ideology. If one deviates from the program of NDR and the general line of 1963, they are declared to be outcastes of the movement and labelled as social-democrats (though in India social-democrats too believe in the democratic stage of revolution!), Trotskyite (in the pejorative sense of the term), etc. This dogmatism on the question of program is the main reason for the stagnation of the revolutionary communist movement in India.

Another erroneous tendency within the Communist movement of India today is different trends of non-party revolutionism. Various Marxist intellectuals as well as organizations today are claiming that the reason behind the failure of the 20th century Socialist experiments was that the party substituted the class; that the class dictatorship was replaced by party dictatorship; that the class was depoliticized and party took over all the power; the slogan of ‘all power to the Soviets’ became that of ‘all power to the party’, etc. These are not new criticisms and more importantly this is not a Marxist analysis of the problems of socialist transition as experienced in Soviet Union and China. Rosa Luxemburg, before rectifying most of her views regarding the Russian revolution and the Bolshevik Party, leveled the same charges against Lenin and his party (to which Lukacs responded in his famous ‘History and Class Consciousness’); similarly, Kautsky in his protracted diatribe against the Bolsheviks used these very arguments, which were demolished by Lenin, Trotsky and Bukharin; later various intellectuals, anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist groups, autonomist trends, and different shades of non-party revolutionism put the same charges on Lenin and Bolshevik Party. These arguments against the need of a (vanguard) party, or against the need of institutionalized leadership of the party in the initial phase of construction of Socialism had already been answered by Lenin in his critique of “left-wing” communism, then again, during the controversy between the Workers’ Opposition on the one hand and Trotsky and Bukharin on the other; and also his reply to Kautsky’s criticism of Bolshevik revolution and party. Those arguments need not be repeated here. The anarcho-syndicalist tendency within the Communist movement derives this conclusion from the experience of the Soviet socialist experiment, that it was the vanguardist party whose substitutionism should be blamed for the failure of socialism. Needless to say, this line of argument is grossly mistaken. Lenin argued in clear terms that the tendency to pit the party against the class is an anarcho-syndicalist tendency. First of all, the party is nothing but the advanced detachment of the proletariat; the embodiment of the proletarian ideology; secondly, the party can never be infallible and will commit mistakes; however, if we pit the Bolshevik Party against the working class then the fundamentals of Marxist analysis oblige us to answer this question: what was the class character of Bolshevik Party before 1953 (we have chosen this historical restore point to avoid some debates that would be unnecessary at the moment)? Which class/es was it representing? Thirdly, in the initial phases of the construction of socialism, and this especially holds true for less developed capitalist countries, the party will be obliged to give institutionalized leadership for a long time to come; proletarian worldview and spontaneous working class consciousness are two different things; a considerable part of the working class is submerged in the petty-bourgeois consciousness up to its knee, to use Lenin’s words; this holds specially true for post-colonial backward capitalist societies like India; all forms of working class spontaneity cannot be celebrated uncritically from the proletarian standpoint; Lenin cautioned against the reification of working class spontaneity and contended that for a long time the party will have to provide institutionalized leadership. We can, of course, reject these contentions. However, without answering the arguments of Lenin, without understanding the Leninist conception of the relation between the party, state and class, it would be unethical to do so. Moreover, the correctness/incorrectness of these formulations cannot merely be determined by what ultimately happened in the Soviet Union; it would amount to deductivism, which is not Marxist method. All of these formulations of Lenin does not at all show that Lenin considered the party to be infallible. In fact, one of the major issues of controversy between Lenin and Trotsky-Bukharin during the period of Civil War was this very notion of infallibility of the Party, which was inherent in the theses of ‘militarization of labour’, ‘statization of trade unions’, so-called ‘self-discipline of the working class’. It is noteworthy that Lenin rejected these theses and struggled for maintaining the relative autonomy of trade unions and also argued strongly against continuation of the policies of “war communism” even after the civil war. Lenin was neither a vanguardist nor a spontaneity-fetishist. He was for a dialectical relation between the spontaneity of the class and the role of political class consciousness and political leadership. Lenin also cautioned that if the class does not learn to take decisions independently, then the party is bound to fall into bureaucratic deformities and bourgeois distortions; he realized that without a living relationship between the class and the party through the class organization of trade unions and organs of people’s power, that is, the Soviets, the party will become alienated from the masses; he was also aware of the danger of economism that was prevalent not only in the Bolshevik party but also in the entire working class movement of Europe. He refuted time and again the fallacy of the theory of non-dialectical primacy of productive forces and argued that the rapid development of productive forces in itself is not sufficient for the building of socialism; it would not be inappropriate to recall that the prevalence of the theory of primacy of productive forces was at least partially responsible for a number of bureaucratic distortions and the strengthening of bourgeoisie within the party. The new anarcho-syndicalists in the Communist movement in India are trying to present an oversimplified understanding about the failure of the 20th century socialist experiments by putting all the blame on the “intervention” of the party, whereas, just the opposite is the truth: it was precisely the failure of the party to play its full ideological-political role as the vanguard which provides institutionalized leadership to proletariat in getting organized as the ruling class, which acts as the guide of working class and trains it in taking political decisions, which is advanced detachment of the proletariat and absorbs the most advanced elements of the proletariat; which is therefore the embodiment of the proletarian worldview; needless to say that to fulfill this historical role, the party learns from the masses and then guides them; it maintains a lively relation with the masses through revolutionary massline. The Soviet experiment precisely demonstrates the fact that the role of vanguard is essential and inevitable. No class in history has ever ruled without the institutionalized leading role of its vanguard (irrespective of the fact whether this vanguard takes the form of a political party or not). Denying the role of the vanguard or pitting it against the class is like denying any agency to the proletariat as a class.

It would be useful to summarize our stand as far as the question of program of Indian Revolution is concerned.

In our opinion, India is a relatively backward, but capitalist country. The dominant mode of production in the Indian social formation is capitalist mode of production; conceptually speaking, capitalist relations in agriculture have developed through the ‘Prussian Path’ (though not in the same way as Prussia or for that matter as Russia, but broadly speaking, in terms of junker-type transformation) and since the late 1950s, the ruling Indian bourgeoisie had achieved the transformation of the feudal relations into capitalist relations in the main, though feudal remnants remained.

Secondly, The Indian bourgeoisie is not a comprador bourgeoisie in our view, as no financial-industrial bourgeoisie can ever be comprador; every industrial bourgeoisie needs market and it cannot afford to be comprador. ‘Semi-feudal semi-colonial’ and ‘comprador’ are specific and particular categories of Marxist political economy clearly explained by Mao; one cannot use these categories according to their whims and fancies. It is like cutting one’s feet to match the size of the shoe! Indian reality betrays the outdated and dogmatic programmatic understanding of the ML camp. The peculiar kind of post-colonial (not ‘postcolonial’!) backward capitalism of India has given rise to a bourgeoisie that is neither national, nor comprador and nor imperialist. There is nothing in Marxist theory that claims that there can be only these three kinds of bourgeoisie! In our understanding, the Indian bourgeoisie is a ‘junior partner’ of Imperialism (not one or two imperialist countries or axes); it is politically independent and economically dependent; there is a symbiotic relationship between this political independence and economic dependence; sometimes, the one seems to be the dominant reality, while at other occasions, the other; as a result, sometimes there is an optical illusion that the Indian bourgeoisie is behaving like a comprador; but one can provide equal number of instances when the Indian bourgeoisie has gone against the imperialist pressure and interests, from the period of Nehru to Modi. And only one occasion is sufficient to prove that whatsoever be the case, but this much is sure that Indian bourgeoisie is not comprador!

In our opinion, India is in the stage of Socialist Revolution, but a new kind of Socialist Revolution, because the element of change is dominant in the new versions of Socialist Revolutions. They will be different on a number of fundamental accounts and issues from the Bolshevik Socialist Revolution and the socialist revolutions that were expected in the 19th century Europe. Therefore, we propose to call it New Socialist Revolution. For the first time, socialist revolutions are expected in countries that became independent mainly from the 1940s to the 1980s. In these countries, a peculiar kind of post-colonial capitalism developed that is fundamentally different from the British, American, French of even German capitalism. The pressure of imperialist loot and plunder in still present in these countries. In the age of Globalization, the exploitation by the indigenous bourgeoisie (?) has fused with the imperialist loot in such a way that the two cannot be separated. Imperialists need new markets in this period of structural crisis, whereas the bourgeoisie of countries like India are in need of technology and capital. The relationship is one of mutual needs and this relationship is articulated by this very particularity. At times, we may witness the arm-twisting by Imperialism, while at others, we may also see the assertiveness of the ‘junior partners’ on economic as well as political issues. Their relationship with the people of their country is one of antagonistic contradiction. However, their relationship with Imperialism also is one of contradiction (though not an antagonistic one).  So the new socialist revolutions are going to be anti-capitalist anti-imperialist, as the question of struggle against Imperialism will be a question of immediate importance for the revolutionary working class movements in these countries. Secondly, the new socialist revolutions will be different from the October Revolution and the socialist revolutions expected in the late-19th century in the sense that it was the period of consolidation of capitalism and bourgeois rule. These revolutions belonged to the first round of proletarian revolutions, when the capitalist state did not have such a broad social base. It was not well-entrenched in the society as their social props in the ‘civil society’ were extremely limited. In contrast, the contemporary bourgeois state in the post-colonial capitalist countries has their social props from the level villages to the urban centres, from the village headman to the member of parliament. This holds special importance as far as path of revolution is concerned. The hegemony of bourgeoisie cannot be decisively broken if the revolutionary forces do not dig their own trenches in the ‘civil society’ even before revolution. They will need to build their own institutions in the working class and lower middle class neighbourhoods if they hope to win the class war that follows the revolution. At the same time, the sheer size of working class is much bigger in these post-colonial countries as compared to the pre-revolutionary Russia or the late-19th century France or Germany. Moreover, the share of politically active population in the working masses also is much larger than earlier. These are some basic changes which oblige the proletarian revolutionaries to devise new strategies of resistance as well as consider the significant changes in the path of future revolutions. We cannot go in further detail as to what is ‘new’ in the New Socialist Revolution. Apart from these fundamental and historical changes we also need to think about the new ways to organize the working class in the era of Globalization. This era is marked with paradigm shifts in the modus operandi of capital all over the world. The decline of Fordism, the emergence of the so-called ‘global assembly line’, the processes of rampant informalization, marginalization, invisiblization, feminization of the working class are rendering the old strategies of TU and Working class movement ineffective. The share of informal/unorganized working class in India is 93 percent of the total work force. Only 7 percent are organized in any way, by the central TU federations that are affiliated with different bourgeois parties. The rest of the workers are generally daily-wage, casual, contract workers or apprentice. Their voice finds no space in the charters of the dominant conventional TUs. As a result, this section of the workers is devising its own ways to resist the onslaught of capital. On a number of occasions, they have spontaneously organized themselves on the basis of neighbourhood, as organizing in factories/workshops was not possible, because most of these workers work in small units generally employing maximum 50 or 100 workers. Even in the bigger factories, the share of contract workers and daily wagers now forms more than 70 percent of the total workforce. However, these workers generally work in the same industrial areas or sectors and live in the same neighbourhood. It is not possible within the framework of modern capitalist urban planning to disperse this huge working class on the basis of neighbourhoods. The revolutionary potential mainly lies in this immensely huge informal working class and need of the hour is organize this section of the working class. The hegemonic TUs neither have the intent nor the inclination to organize the ‘unorganized’. In such a scenario, these workers are organizing themselves on their own. However, their raw forms of organization need to be studied, analyzed and refined. These are the workers who will be at the centre of the new resurgence of the working class movement. These are few of the basic changes that we need to take into consideration.

We conclude with the hope that in the process of this humble attempt to present our political positions we have succeeded in provoking, inciting, inviting and involving our comrades in Australia who are committed to the cause of world proletarian revolution, who are committed to proletarian internationalism.

Long live revolution!

Long live the international solidarity of the Working Class!

Down with imperialism and capitalism!

(Presented to comrades in Australia)

Appendix-I

Another “left-wing” trend is putting forward the same kind of arguments but in a different rhetoric. This trend is constituted more by individual intellectuals, intellectual groups and less by organizations or parties. These people in their attempt to “renew” communism are relying more on the philosophical ruminations of the so-called “new philosophers” and less on the historical experiences of the proletariat worldwide and summing up of these experiences by the great leaders of the proletariat. The wave of these “new philosophers” was till recently in vogue among the fashionable “left” circles, however, now due to their own inconsistencies and hopping argumentative methodology is losing steam. Most of these “new philosophers” share their ideological-philosophical origins with the postmodernist thinkers, namely, the radically confused Paris of 1968. These thinkers also borrow a lot from the streams of old anarcho-syndicalism, workerism, and non-party revolutionism, however, they have put the old wine in the new bottle. The most prominent among these are Ernesto Laclau, Chantel Mouffe, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek, etc. These philosophers, though in their own myriad ways, share their targets with the postmodernists (but they still claim to be “communists”): the notions of class, party, state, democracy and class dictatorship. Again, their “communisms” also are of different kinds! For instance, Alain Badiou in his ‘The Communist Hypothesis’ claims that ‘Communism’ is an eternal idea; the journey of this eternal idea is continuing since time immemorial and it has saw different milestones; for Badiou, Plato’s ‘Republic’, Rousseau’s ‘Origins of Inequality’, the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution constitute different moments in the journey of the eternal idea of ‘Communism’; according to Badiou, the era of Marxist communism is over with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution; he contends that the revolutionary communist project is well past the notions of party, class and state; from this point, this theory of post-Marxist “communism” can be linked with the theory of Negri and Hardt. They have replaced the notion of capitalist-imperialist ruling class with ’empire’; the notion of revolutionary proletariat with ‘multitude’ and the notion of labour (the source of value) and nature with the concept of ‘commons’. The categories of ’empire’, ‘multitude’ and ‘commons’ obscure the most fundamental and necessary questions of revolution: who is the enemy, exactly? Who are friends of the revolution? Who will play the role of the vanguard? Is there any need of the vanguard party? In the works of Negri and Hardt, capitalism becomes an impersonal power; you know what symptoms to criticize; but you do not know what forces to fight, how to fight, whom to organize and how to organize? Slavoj Zizek’s position is very difficult to criticize because at least apparently it is very difficult to articulate! As regards the role of state and party, he takes radically different positions from other post-Marxist philosophers. However, his positive positions are extremely problematic. His curious blend of Hegel, Lacan and Marx is sometimes useful in cultural criticism, but politically, most of the times, it is not very useful. Sometimes, he drifts towards the non-party non-Marxian radical passivism of the Negri-Hardt and Badiou, at others, he might appear (and claim, too!) to be a Leninist; however, when one goes through what he calls “Leninism”, they do not know who to feel sorry for: Zizek, Lenin or themselves? Notwithstanding the differences in colour and flavour of the philosophical loitering of these vagabond philosophers, one thing becomes crystal clear, when one is through their obscurantist, Monty Python-type terminology and gets a grip on what they are really saying: they not only share their intellectual origins with the postmodernists but also their targets. Their target is the ideological core of Marxism. Postmodernists were products of the era of capitalist triumphalism (immediately after the fall of Soviet Union) and the post-Marxist and allegedly Marxist “communist” vagabond philosophers are products of the era of capitalist pessimism, which also coincides with the period when there seems to be a lack of any viable, practiceable revolutionary “utopia”. In the name of resurrecting the revolutionary current, they are actually denying any agency to revolution. We cannot present a comprehensive critique of these “new philosophers” here, however, there is definitely a need to present a cohesive Marxist-Leninist critique of these philosophers, which exposes the core of their ideology.

 

Appendix-II

What has been termed as ‘Red Star over India’ by Jan Myrdal is a far cry from what Edgar Snow called ‘Red Star over China’. Such irresponsible parodical comparisons create a lot of confusion and conceptual problems. The line of CPI (Maoist) in our opinion is a “left” adventurist line; it does not believe in revolutionary massline. The tribal areas where the loot and plunder of natural and human resources by the corporates is underway, it is not a matter of choice or ideological motivation for the tribal population but a matter of existence; they have to fight, if they have to live; in this, the CPI (Maoist) is providing a courageous leadership; however, this so-called ‘red corridor’ cannot be transformed into a countrywide revolution. There is a huge industrial working class in India that has been left at the mercy of the revisionist and corporatist trade unions of the social democratic and fascist parties. This working class is 22 crore strong. The agricultural working class is 32 crore strong according to the government data. The 54 crore strong proletariat is left as a political grazing ground for the bourgeois and revisionist parties; in such a situation, a ‘red corridor’ in the tribal areas, that are experiencing the most naked, most barbaric and predatory form of loot, plunder and capitalist accumulation, cannot be sufficient for the cause of Indian Revolution. Indian state cannot be subverted from this programme, from this path. At most, such a trend can create a law and order situation for the state, and it will continue to exist in a post-colonial backward capitalist country where the most advanced form of capitalist accumulation in some areas is curiously accompanied by the most barbaric forms of ‘primitive accumulation’; such a trend will continue to exist until there is the resurgence of a new revolutionary communist party with a correct ideological, programmatic and organizational understanding. The trend of ‘left’ adventurism is the dialectical other of the trend of parliamentary reformist revisionist left (the rightwign deviation of Marxism) and it creates false hopes and ungrounded optimism among a section of population, and especially, the revolutionary youth driven with the romantic imaginings of revolution and revolutionary movement. But in the end, such hopes are shattered and worst kind of defeatism and pessimism grips the masses. It has happened in the past and given such understanding and line persists in the ML movement, it will happen again. In the long run, such an adventurist line, despite its honesty, sacrifice and courage causes more harm than benefit.

Advertisements

One thought on “Problems of Indian Revolution: Prospects and Challenges

  1. This is an interesting article but falls short of the Copernican revolution in theory that is needed by the revolutionary movement in India. It still pays homage to old dogmatic orthodoxies about the role of revisionism in the Soviet Union. Revisionism did not begin with Kruschev, but the degeneration of the Soviet revolution began even during the lifetime of Lenin, who fought a valiant but losing battle with bureaucratic deformation. The rise of Stalin, as the pragmatist devoid of philosophical and theoretical scruples, as the leader of the bureaucracy was the beginning of revisionism as well. “Socialism in one country” and the subordination of the Third International to the cause of protecting “actually existing socialism” began with the Stalinist bureaucracy. Kruschev merely did a half-hearted reform from above of Stalinist terror in line with the transformation of the Soviet Union into a worker dominated society as against the gradually falling number of the medieval minded peasants.

    It is necessary to purge theory and practice of all traces of Stalinism and also radically re-examine the history of 20th century revolutions and Maoism which is a moderated version of Stalinism. Whatever does not stand up to criticism has to be rejected.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s