By Harsh Thakor
In spite of 54 years since the epic naxalbari uprising and formation of the CPI (ML) the movement is hardly moving in the direction to re-organise the party.
A series of conflicting and opportunist trends and theoretical weaknesses are crippling the development of an organized movement. This is disheartening when fascism of the Hindutva variety has reached a height as never before.
Firstly, there is still lack of clarity on the aspect of the principal contradiction and the main mode of production. A protracted people’s war concept has not been devised in accordance or concerning the unique characteristics of India. Many still fail to understand the importance of feudalism being the principal contradiction and not capitalism, imperialism or the comprador bourgeoise. Two, sections within the communist revolutionary camp has revised the formula to principal contradiction being “alliance of imperialism and feudalism”, the other “between” comprador bureaucrat bourgeoise and masses, between “capitalism and masses” and “with neo-colonialism”. All these fail to understand that feudalism is still the chief prop and imperialism and capitalism can accentuate or intensify only by the sharpening of contradiction between feudalism and broad masses. The only section of the non maoist camp with clarity on this question is the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist). The CPI (ML) New Democracy and the CPI (ML) led by Viswam classify “alliance of feudalism and imperialism as principal while CPI (ML) Red Star classifies neo-colonialism as principal. Maoist Communist League of India sections feel principal contradiction is with capitalism. Even the C.P.R.C.I. (M.L) is unable to characterise or define the true nature of feudalism in India as distinct from China earlier.
The Maoist trend inspite of immortal sacrifices fails to evaluate subjective factors prevailing or rectify practice of leading or working within mass organisations. Even if removing necessity of upholding Maoism in practice mass organisations are still treated like front organisations, without being awarded sufficient democratic identity. After killing 22 Jawans launched in Bastar in April, I got a most insightful response from Comrade Nimol Mazumdar.
“A. tactically they took the operation in the wrong time. When there is a large mass movement going on in one part of the country, which is largely peaceful, this kind of action can give the government legitimacy to frame and violently overthrow the protest. These actions could have also given the BJP a lifeline in the state elections. Even if we don’t think that BJP can be defeated through electoral means, one should not give them undue advantage in the electoral arena. But thankfully none of the above two incidents have happened yet.
‘B. Even in regards to protracted war, we must look back at exactly what dividends the tactical counter offensive campaigns (tcoc) are paying to the maoists. Are their mass bases increasing? Are they infiltrating through the army ranks? Are they opening more liberated zones? I don’t think any of these things are happening. “
C. “The maoists have shrunk a lot in the last decade, they have lost a large chunk of their space in the east of India. They need to reconsider their strategy and tactics. “
D. “Their have been many intellectuals and cadres of the party who have been arrested. The party had failed to launch even a successful mass movement against those arrests. All this shows their weakness in grabbing the issues at hand.”
E. “In a war, killings can happen, but we must have a propaganda wing strong enough to make waves through the masses and justify the actions. The maoists presently lack that. Thus this yearly tcoc is going in vein every year. People are forgetting every year’s action within a couple of months.”
Although doing serious mass work in urban areas and playing a major role in publishing Marxist-Leninist-Maoist literature unfortunately the Rahul Foundation Communist League of India group, staunchly defends its classification of India as a capitalist society and refuses to even support democratic struggles of the landed peasantry in Punjab terming, them as demands of the ‘Kulaks’ and antagonistic to the rural landless labor. It had a similar stand to the rallies of Adivasis in Maharashtra and all-India morcha of farmers in Delhi. It has done most commendable work in organising the textile workers in Ludhiana winning important demands or wages and permanency and pursued consistent political education. Still it displays a tendency of placing too much emphasis on intellectual study and seminars and not sufficient work to build class mass organisations, which they mainly deploy for propaganda. No doubt they have some of the sincerest-activists who are above all politically enlightened but often because of sectarianism fail to integrate with the broad revolutionary movement. In their view now there is no use in organising workers in factories as they are so scattered and it has to be done in the bastis (slums) of the workers. It also sees no relevance in joining the struggles or doing work in the organized labour class. No doubt there are some of the most creative work they have done amongst steel roller and transport workers in Delhi, particularly in initiating political education classes but still feel there is defective understanding in practice.Sadly today it is even participating in parliamentary election setting up candidates. Ironically in the Delhi farmers agitation it classed the peasants as Kulaks and a reactionary class, antagonistic to the agricultural laborers,
The other Communist League of India faction CLI (RC) group places more emphasis on revolutionary mass work rather than propaganda but because of wrong theoretical understanding on mode of production cannot play an overall positive role. The most positive tendency of the CLI off the Ramnath section in Punjab that leads the Inquilabi Kendra and plays an important role in mass revolutionary struggles and political protests. It analyses Punjab to be capitalist which is erroneous but still supports peasant struggles against suicides, for loan waivers and for remunerative prices. Today it guides the Bharatiya Kisan Union(Dakaunda)
The trend that has destroyed the very citadel or foundation of Naxalbari and acting most against the revolutionary mass line today is the CPI (ML) Red Star group. No doubt it is a progressive organisation in it’s own right and well-meaning and flashed its pages of journal Red Star , morally against neo-fascism. However Red Star group has resorted to complete open party functioning and dismantled the centralist or Bolshevised structure of the party. Under influence of its erroneous evaluation of India becoming a neo colony it has rejected the concept of new democratic revolution and advocated united front with many liberal leftist forces. It supports peasant struggles or protests only from an anti-imperialistic perspective and fails to expose the true enemies of the peasantry. In practice it tails the revisionist left parties. through its advocation of patriotic democratic front. No doubt for a period it did some very commendable work and most determinedly guided the Bhangar tribal movement, but eventually they made a major compromised practice although they do not formally support candidates of revisionist parties or opposition parties, they are virtually the same as CPI (ML) Liberation. It has also launched a vendetta against the C.P.I(Maoist) classifying them as terrorists or narodniks. Evaluations of India as a neo-colony has Trotskyite overtones, even alleging mistakes of Lenin,Stalin and Mao in evaluating it. It’s method of party building too violates essence of Leninism.
The CPI (ML) led by Viswam accepts India as semi-feudal and commits itself to New Democratic Revolution. However, although sincere in its objective and attempting to be least sectarian, tends to with revisionist parties often calling them for seminars or joint meetings or rallies. However, they hardly demarcated with the politics of the left parties and there was a criticism to parts of their 10-point agenda by the CPI (ML) New Democracy Chandanna faction, highlighting aspect of unity with left democratic forces. Leaders of CPl spoke on this very platform against communal fascsim and economic oppression which was ecclectic.
The most progressive sections in the non-maoist camp are the CPI (ML) New Democracy, the PCC-CPI (ML) and the CPRCI (ML). Quantitatively New Democracy group is the largest and taking the biggest initiative in the country to oppose the rising neo-fascism in India through seminars, protests and rallies. Although ecclectic in formulation the determination of the PCC group to resist the fascist trend and be part of organised movements without sectarian approach in Bengal is admirable.
The mantle of the legacy of principled struggle against open banner of the party was carried on by the CCRI that later merged into the CPRCI (ML). Today the most correct approach towards principled re-organisation outside the boundary of the Maoist camp is by the Communist Party Re-Organisation Center of India (ML).
The Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) or CPRCI(ML) is theoretically the soundest organisation, particularly on practice in elections upholding that active political campaign is the correct tactic today and not that of ‘active boycott’ or ‘participation’. In it’s view subjective conditions do not prevail today to undertake armed struggle with the state of the party weak and splintered. It still has the largest following and most qualitative practice of massline in states of work like Punjab or arguably even Orissa. And earlier working class section in West Bengal. But there is no adequate development of its trend nationwide through building mass organizations. Sadly it brings out no regular party organ or has any online blog or website. to publish its statements. Secretism is it’s chief hindrance,publishing no open party publications or never publicly displaying revolutionary literature. It has also made no critical analysis or review of the caste system.It failed to initiate mass political programmes on 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and 50 years of Naxalbari. In my view more than sectarian tendencies of the C.P.I.(Maoist) or right deviationist tendencies of other streams, it is the failure of the development of the proletarian revolutionary line of the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L) that has not given any effective pivot, binding force or citadel to the Indian Naxalite camp. Comrade Hindol Majumdar made a most articulate and sound analysis.
Quoting Comrade Hindol Mazumdar “When it comes to CPRCI(ML) I can guess many of their comrades are at Tikri Border, however their silence even after almost a year of protest is very strange. Given a chance, I’d like to participate and work with them to understand where the problem is taking place. In my opinion, the secret party organization makes sense. But your party shouldn’t be so secret that the prospective cadres do not even know the party’s name! That will only act as a hindrance. It can also be understood as your inability at taking the job of party building seriously. Even a secret party organization should come out with their analysis, with their propaganda, with their campaign, posters etc regularly, that is the only way we can assess their stance, only way we can say whether the party is veering towards economism/left wing infantile behaviors.”
“However, the Delhi famers agitation is a golden opportunity for CPRCI(ML) comrades, to take the leadership of the party building process and the overall CR Movement in India. If they miss it, it’ll take five to ten years for another one of this chance to emerge at any part of the country. The MUST focus on party building right now, they must focus on drawing other CR groups and strengthening and reinforcing the process.”
“Almost no open activity that is their biggest drawback. Mass organizations cannot be the be all and end all to revolutionary politics.”
“I think they are missing someone like Harbhajan Sohi.. I have only known him from your articles, but I think some of their leadership must get involved with party building in a national scale full time.”
Today there is a trend in the movement which openly projects the party banner to the masses and emphasise importance of mass organisations. It is linked to groups participating in the Parliament without sufficient development of the vanguard party. Such groups participate on party plane in mass fronts which weaken the democratic identity of the mass organizations. Often in the past this trend disrupted the essence of unity of revolutionary mass organizations. In recent programmes in Punjab commemorating 50 years of naxalbari, 100 years of the Russian Revolution and condemning Gadchiroli massacre a revolutionary group, the CPI (ML) New Democracy came out with the open party banner. The revolutionary groups of the different trends opposed the proposal of the CPRCI (ML) in organising the programme in joint forum of intellectuals representing the revolutionary mass papers and not of revolutionary parties or mass organisations. No doubt one should applaud the activists of those groups for launching successful programmes but prematurely mass organisations were mobilised for such forums. Such trends were also predominant when commemorating the Chinese Revolution and defending ideology of Socialism when Social -Imperialism crashed in Eastern Europe and USSR. Such trends of open party were also dominant in programmes upholding centenary of the Russian Revolution by CPI (ML) Class Struggle at national level in Vijayawada and at regional level in a joint forum in Patna. In the commemoration joint front programme in 50 years of naxalbari CPI (ML) New Democracy even though the largest mobiliser openly waved its party banner and so did the CPI (ML). Fascinatingly in Patna for October Revolution programme ND group did not join the forum but in the Marx bi-centenary felicitation participated.
The other crucial factor for setback in most groups was adopting tactics of participating in parliamentary elections without establishing the re-organized vanguard party. This is what led to CPI (ML) Liberation group turning reformist, Red Star virtually out of the communist revolutionary camp and Kanu Sanyal’s Class Struggle group on its periphery. Without the adequate laison participation broke the backbone of the components of the revolutionary stream who entered into a series of formal or unofficial alliances with bourgeois parliamentary or revisionist parties. Such embracing of parliament blunted their class struggles from sharpening and made them more and more a part of the parliamentary process like the Orthodox official left parties. Often such groups in their propoganda morally stated that India had genuine bourgeois parliamentary democracy and upheld candidates of bourgeois opposition parties as genuine anti-ruling class democrats!
The most progressive contribution by any intellectual has been by Anand Teltumbde who is synthesis the dalit or caste question with the Marxist Movement. In that light the writings of Comrade Vir Sathidar were too very progressive. Even Comrade Ajith(Murali) has made a great contribution in his analysis of Brahmanical fascism. Teltumbde very boldly expressed his grievances of mechanical understating of Indian situation and wishing to copy the Chinese experience in too. He expressed how much still infection of old Charu Mazumdar line still persists and how the caste question is still grossly neglected. In Kozhikode in June 2017 he presented a paper which every cadre must read. In 2017 seminar on 50 years of Naxalbari organised by Virasam late Vir Sathidar presented a most positive paper on integrating the caste struggle which I recommend for all to study. Tooth and nail he wished to reconcile Naxalite movement with dalit uprising. One welcome trend is the adherence of many a Marxist intellectual into making caste factor an integral part of the revolutionary democratic movement.
A most progressive happening in the last 25 years has been the regularity of the publication of ‘Aspects of India’s Economy” of the Research Unit for Political economy which has in most classical or dialectical Leninist depth defined the neo-fascist economic policies of the ruling parties and nefarious designs o break the very back of their struggles. No journal has so illustratively analyzed the semi-feudal nature of Indian economy.
Authors like Amit Bhattacharya have done great historical research work in books like ‘Storming the Gates to Heaven’, but given one-sided glory only to the Maoists and praised or covered no other trend. Arundhati Roy, even in if not Marxist has crystallized sparkle of Naxalbari in the age of neo-fascism, as very few have done. Bernard De Mello wth remarkable consistency has given Naxalbari the cutting edge,inspite of aberrations of failing to understand semi-feudal nature of India.
I also credit fronts like Bhagat Singh Chatra Morcha of Uttar Pradesh in initiating ‘Go to Village Campaigns’, educating peasants on the aspects of agrarian revolution and fascistic social order. It has with Inquilabi Chtra Morcha undertaken many a cycle rally condemning saffron and Brahmanical fascism.
To me the understanding of the contribution of the Cultural Revolution in China is still ecclectical with groups either treating Maoism as a separate entity from Leninism or the Maoist CCP as Lin Biaoist. Indian revolutionary groups have been unable to assess what reverted the Cultural revolution to turn China into a bourgeois state. No t enough has been learnt from the Chinese Cultural Revolution on the democratisation of a Bolshevik party or why people’ s organisations were dismantled or received a setback, preventing the people from keeping a check on the Communist party. There is also an eclectic current embracing post-modernism within Maoist sections, embracing Louis Althusser or Alan Badiou or upholding even writers like Joshua Moufawad Paul and his work ‘Continuity and Rupture .’
I feel there is a glaring weakness in taking naxalbari politics to the working class or, working as political fractions. There has been no development of the Chinese thesis of capturing the cities from the countryside, with such vast penetration of mechanisation. A proper self-criticism has not been made of why working class struggles were defeated in Kanoria Jute Mills, Nellimarla rice mill or even setback in Chattisgarh mines or displaced textile workers in Mumbai. A strategy has not been developed of capturing the Unions from below or building democratic structures from underneath.
When the fascist forces are tightening their grip to their greatest height and the tentacles of globalisation sharpening day by day the capacity of the revolutionary forces to organise is diminishing day by day. Revolutionaries have to innovate methods of struggle which can overcome the obstacles or traverse the barriers. Even if recognizing or upholding the Leninist vanguard party concept must not be done mechanically, work must be done to build it from below. A classical Leninist party to me is not the order of the day. It’s urgent to develop the Leninist or Maoist party to incorporate more revolutionary democratic elements and integrate with more mass movements at large. One cannot blindly emulate the Soviet or Chinese experience. Emphasis must be placed on building the party from below and not from above. For the Trade Union movement the writings of Antonio Gramisci have considerable relevance. Intellectuals must analyze a forum whereby principled ideological struggles of communist revolutionaries could take place. The method of working as fractions within yellow Trade Unions and capturing bourgeois unions is a very complex subject with the great changes that have taken place in urban areas. Revolutionaries have to imbibe lessons from Shankar Guha Nyugi in organizing mine workers in Chattisgarh. The most common trend was the detachment of the proletarian politics and economist approach by groups all over India. The struggles of airport workers in the 1990’s Mumbai, Jute workers in Kanoria in 1995 and rice mill workers in Bobbili are ideal examples.
Theoretically the groups have to not mechanically copy the Chinese path of Protracted People’s War. Today the revolutionaries can take abject advantage of the crisis of economic fascist crisis. The resurgence of peasant movement against suicides and for remunerative prices must be exploited to its full potential. Revolutionaries still have to formulate new strategies of organizing the peasantry with the immense infiltration of imperialism and MNC’s in agriculture. New strategies or methods have also to be devised on the urban front with the vastly different methods of production prevalent today which completely divide workers. The last named has a most critical insight on how the pure orthodox vanguard party concept has to be further enriched.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab.Written on Mass movements,, Massline, Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly.An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com