Not that they are isolated by design—the Left. In truth
Leftists got away from the centrality of mass action on their own. They
are themselves to blame for such a hopeless situation they have been in for such a long period. The masses they hope to guide have their own dialectic and react somewhat spontaneously in their own way to state-corporate violence without waiting for their guidance. Their formula-wise appeal to masses doesn’t really work. The history of left movement in this country is a history of half-heartedness and most recently of total abandonment. Their scream for democracy and human rights is in reality a scream in wilderness. What could be the slogan of the day is People’s Lives Matter. But their exercise is restricted to stereotypes. What is most intriguing and shocking is they never want to learn anything from the changing world. Nowhere in the world forces on the left are succeeding simply by sticking to old slogans and refusing to change with times. But Indian Left, communist Left to be precise, is too dogmatic and status-quo-ist in their world outlook. They lack vision and imagination. They are still in the ’50s and ’60s. They don’t bother about how people’s dreams die everyday. They never try to search for an emancipatory pathway forward. Even if electoral politics is their sole area of operation, it lacks teeth and innovative ideas.
In the recent Spanish Municipal Elections how the indignados (indignant or outraged ones) emerged vistorious in dozens of cities, large and small, including Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, rebuking the ruling right-wing forces while opening the possibility of challenging the two-party cabal that has ruled Spain for decades may be an eye-opener for the status quo-ists if they are at all serious about leftist renewal. The indignados, actually organised masses against condition of life and labour in concrete terms, not in a vague way as the Indian left does.
Once upon a time Left Front family had many members but what exists today is a 4-party alliance and their base is shrinking and shrinking. Nobody hears anything about Workers’ Party, Bolshevik Party etc. Most of these small parties were individual-centric and they vanished in thin air with the departure of some leaders. But CPM secretary of Bengal is now talking of reviving those vanished species with a view to forming a grand alliance of 17 parties to fight the forthcoming elections in the state and elsewhere. But finally all their unity talks boil down to how to unite ‘secular forces’ against communal Bharatiya Janata Party, now in the saddle at the centre. And in doing so they would like to a garner support of some ex-socialists in casteist RJD and JD(U). But they have tried this line of action time and again without any success. All their strategic manipulation is aimed at wooing minority community voters. But the minority community people have little faith in their sincerity. They are tired of tokenism.
True, one reason CPM was so long in power in Bengal was support they received from the minority community. But this support base began to crack with their policy of forcible acquisition of land for industry. Whether they admit it or not their pro-corporate policy affected most small and marginal farmers belonging to the minority community. ‘Secular Rubbish’ they sell all the time has very few takers. The inner dynamics of Nandigram resistance was conveniently overlooked by the all season welfarists of minority community people. It was unpleasant but it was the bitter truth.
The present economic model is creating refugees daily. Today’s large number of refugees, rather displaced persons, fleeing from economic collapse, war and terror has been exacerbated by climate change. Much of the population growth in cities in developing countries is due to climate change refugees. In Bangladesh and adjoining West Bengal in India the rising sea in all likelihood will inundate one-sixth of the combined landmass of the gangetic plains by 2050, as per expert opinions, displacing millions. In many coastal districts of Bangladesh and India fresh water has already turned salty due to continual ingress of sea water, making normal farming uneconomic and impossible while creating a permanent agrarian crisis for vast masses who depend on agriculture for sheer survival. It doesn’t matter whether they belong to minority community or majority community. Climate refugees will soon surpass refugees of war, terror and economic disasters.
No, these are not the issues leftists talk about. Nor do they try to organise people on these issues. Their well-oiled propaganda machine works over time over secularism-communalism theme as if communalism has no economic base—it generates itself automatically in vacuum. If corporate is the real enemy of the poor and downtrodden including minority community people, majority of whom are poor, unity through mass action against corporates is all that is required at the moment. If there is no disagreement over the policymakers’ dubious policy of jobless growth, then all out ‘No’ to growth or ‘development’ should be the only slogan. Corporates and their backers in government understand only one language—the language of production loss. And ‘No’ cannot be sustained without mass actions. Surprisingly leftists like their rightist counterparts are equally enthusiastic about ‘growth and development’ even if it is jobless growth. They speak in unison and yet they think people will support them because of their secular rhetoric.
Coming back to Spanish indignados, they actually organised and united diverse movements developed spontaneously : anti-eviction activists, protesters against corrupt banking practices, those demanding universal healthcare, people against privatisation, demonstrations for freedom of expression and ethnic groups fighting against systematic marginalisation. The Left in this part of the globe has no idea as to how to unite diverse social movements against the state, against malfunctioning of government authorities. They invariably label these movements, localised or area-wise, as ‘civil society’ sponsored, based on pragmatism. But pragmatism itself is an ideological position that merits serious attention in articulating and uniting diverse social movements. They always talk of unity, rather greater unity, in isolation. This strategy of escapism will never change the balance of power in their favour.
Vol. 48, No. 3, July 26 - Aug 1, 2015