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Some Questions

Whither Left?

Arup Baisya

The dichotomies in both subjective and objective situation of present day India have revealed certain characteristics. The mainstream lefts are declining for valid reasons. The post-Russian socialist project not only failed everywhere including the east European countries, but also knowingly or unknowingly inflicted sores in the left body-politic. In this backdrop, the Indian mainstream left like their counterpart in many other countries felt it pragmatic to make a class compromise with neo-liberal order of state. But on one count, within the practising left, these mainstream lefts were successful in combining people's movement with electoral battle. Bu it is natural that the class or group of classes who controls the state power will not relinquish the power willingly and will resist the forces that have an agenda alternative to neo-liberalism and restricted democracy. The unwillingness of the left govt. to go ahead with anti-neoliberal measures by ensuring the participation of people in promoting democracy and to build resistance movement whenever necessary to hold ground against neo-liberalism and for democracy leads to their inevitable decline.

On the other hand, the rank and files of radical left except the Maoists are in a dilemma because their hearts are with the concept of completing the Jacobin task of violent seizure of power in a single stroke, but their brains are with the building of People's democratic movement to create more democratic space to ensure people's power. So they take a defensive stance by articulating their participation in electoral battle as a means only to use the occasion for propagation of ideology. Their participation in election, which is the most important democratic battle for the people and the continuation of people's movement, is of pedagogic in nature. The fulfilling of pedagogic task in the election is very much important. But as they cannot accept the electoral battle as one of the principal strategic battles to ensure people's participation in the affairs of Govt functioning with a view to seize the state power through a long drawn out working class struggle, their participation in election even in pedagogic content remains as mere window-dressing exercise. The battle ground is always discovered by the working class in their workplace and living space while confronting with the policies of their adversarial classes, but electoral battle is the only battle which is pre-decided outside their periphery. The working class vis-a-vis people are not taught to fight this predetermined battle with much preparation and vigour. This also has a pedagogic content of developing consciousness among the working class about how the ruling class uses state-machinery money, media and other wherewithal which are beyond their reach. This is not done with a fear that the revolutionary image that is built on the foundation of concept of violent seizure of power is diluted. This is one of the reasons why the people's movement remains bereft of achieving any electoral success.

The non-party left intellectual activists who are committed in building people's movement to establish people's rights and to fight exploitation for humanitarian cause also perceive the electoral battle as the battle of so-called political class, not as their own battle, and their duty is confined only for trying to induce morality into this battle. They fail to visualise that like even other socio-political battle or activity they are spearheading all throughout the time to influence the policy making, electoral battle is most important because it can raise the representatives of the oppressed classes to the status of policy makers.

However, the process of dilution of revolutionary character or pro-people position and the process of ideological degeneration get initiated when the participation in the Govt is equated with grabbing of state power and the process of ensuring democratic participation of people from below and above is stalled, and the task for greater battle to grab the state power is concealed from working class.

The Maoist, on the contrary, has remained stuck to the strategy of seizure of power through localized insurrection and vote boycott. This strategy so far has not thrown any political challenge to ruling class politics; rather it has been successfully projected as law and order problem by the elites, and to a certain extent it has really been degenerated into indiscriminate killings and lumpen activity in many pockets. However, the Maoist presence is predominantly in those areas where forcible land acquisition as a part of 'primitive accumulation' of neo-liberal capital to establish SEZ has been let loose, and the people mostly 'Adivasis' are engaged in resistance movement to save their land and livelihood.

But the objective reality of the rural and urban landscape of India has already undergone a drastic change. After long post-independent Nehruvian development strategy under uneven and combined global development model and especially after neo-liberal development spree post eighties, there have been a long haul of simultaneous proletarianization and pauperization. The rapid urbanization, capitalization of agriculture and also due to agricultural distress, the land issue per se has taken a backseat. The slogan of 'land to the tiller' has gone on the back burner. On the other hand, the organized working class has almost been dismantled through privatization and contractuali-zation. The vibrant organized working class was not only the ideological source of motivation but also the subjective strength in the fight against Indira fascism of 1975. The strike movement of this organized working class contributed immensity in enthusing the masses in the fight against emergency. But at this juncture the working people in both urban and rural sectors ate mostly unorganized, casualized and contractua-lized in private sectors and service sectors. Whether one can consider the period of emergency, when the system showed the sign of crisis of bourgeoisie-landlord power, as the dateline for a qualitative change in production relation may be debatable, but it can be reasonably argued that in the changed circumstances of class/caste dynamics, the strategy of left movement needs to be formulated anew. The working class dynamics has shifted the coordinates of caste/community cleavages towards left and as a result the organic intellectuals are gradually getting more and more audience and followers. That's why fascist forces have targeted those intellectual centres. When this new dimension of mass movement will get impetus is solely dependent on the correct formulation of working class political strategy and its implementation. In this strategy, the success in electoral battle is an important milestone.

Now here are a few points on the question of fascism which is a stark reality in Indian political scenario. To combat the fascist takeover of Indian state, the broad-based unity of all forces must be the call of the day. There are similarities between the German situation prior to the rise of Hitler in power and the present day Indian situation almost in all respects, and in that sense Dimitrov formulation is very much relevant in the Indian context too. But there are also certain dissimilarities. During Hitler's rise, left movement was also in the rise and left project had its own social acceptance. But today both the left movement and the prestige of the left are in its nadir. In Hitler's time, Industrial capital was backed by finance capital, but today financialization of capital is at its peak. Financial capital has created its own independent market for profit arid accumulation, and thus weakened the role of working class in influencing the market forces. So anti-fascist forces have to take the new factors into cognizance or formulating the strategy against fascism.

Frontier
Vol. 48, No. 44, May 8 - 14, 2016