Marx readers, marx baiters
21st Century Socialism : The Indian Scenario
After the fall of Soviet
Socialism and subsequent
East European nations' socialist system crumbling down, the Capitalist laws of motion of economics seemed to have received a new lease of, though a very short-lived one, life. But the Marx-baiters got together to dismantle the theory of Marx mainly on two counts: one was the question about the reality of survival of socialism as a developed and non-exploitative social order and secondly that capitalism instead, has infinite in-built capability, not only to survive but, mutate to a better and perhaps, greater life, beyond socialism. This belief was strengthened by China and Vietnam inviting the whole gamut of capitalist mode of production for their development and survival. However, though a very few to start with, social scientists, including economists, had doubts and the slackening of growth of economy and subsequent newer variety of depression in the western economies and their dependence more on China, India et al, raised several questions about the survival strategies of capitalism and serious doubts if the system could at all deliver.
But the questions were always there and searchers were at their toes to find out, even when the (so-called) Socialism was extant that what ailed the same in the 20th Century and why varied routes were travelled by different countries/nations to arrive at socialism, despite country-specific conditions when the basic tenets of Marx for a social upheaval did not change. And among the path-finders like Charles Bettelheim, Maximillien Rubel, Paneocock the Indian search, though scant, was and surprisingly, is also continuing.
What is more important both for the Marx-readers and Marx-baiters is that the publication of MEGA (Marx-Engels Complete works), an international project to publish their entire works, a brain-child of David Ryazanov, the greatest Marx scholar till date, and Director of Marx-Engels Institute in the 1920s who due to Stalin's diktat was incarcerated and could not complete his life-long endearing task, to read the different versions of the works of Marx in various European languages and publish the same unadulterated. Of the planned 114 volumes 59 have already seen the day-light.
Now, Marx-scholars, scattered throughout the world, could establish definitely that it was Lenin who in the name of Bolshevik (Dictatorship of the Proletariat) first denuded Marx of his basic concepts and strengthened the very tools of Capitalist exploitation of the masses by retaining the State, Commodity Production and Wage And Salary System in the name of Socialism (the first stage of Communism—but not Marx's way of thinking), through the machinations of the theory of the Dictatorship of the Party-State. However, the search for the real one or one should rename the same as the Unexplored Marx never found any interest with the Mainstream Communists of all varieties, including the so-called Marx-readers who were or are with the left radicals. That is because the age-old adage that 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. One remembers well, as the present scribe does, that in the 70's of the last century a question was posed that some of the nations of the third world could by-pass capitalism if they would rely on the then extant socialist system and especially, the Soviet Socialism and, India along with certain Arab countries were included in that list of probables. While the protagonist R Ulyanovsky found many followers within the CPI, the raging intellectual battle inside was about the friends and foes of the Indian proletariat as the leaders were never sure how to count on the Indian workers and toilers as proletarians and or petty-bourgeois or originating from landless and land-hungry peasants, not to speak of the role of the national and the petty-bourgeoisie. And one remembers well that the Dangeites including some formidable theoreticians left the party to form their own one with the name tag of communist so as to prove that they were the real revolutionaries. Where are they now?
"Marxism in the 21st century has to make a break from this theoretical straightjacket as it is an essential part of making Marxism a living theory and accurate guide to practice." This was the crux of the thesis put up by Prakash Karat in CPI(M)'s theoretical organ The Marxist (Oct-Dec 2011). And one asks what straightjacket? Does or does not Socialism (or, in other words , according to Marx, Communism) constitute abolition of State, Commodity Production and Private Property? If one denies that, one may be a revolutionary of his own choice but he/she can never be called a Communist Revolutionary. To digress, even for a momentary period, from these basic tenets is to deny Marxian thought the existence of Marx and the laws of dynamics of economics and development of productive forces of their scientific and materialistic content, despite all tall talks about Marx not giving enough importance to super-structure like ecology, gender equation and in case of India, the formidable caste questions.
What then the thesis proposes? It is to show to the world at large and to the educated followers that what ails the present world is the existence of Imperialism in the garb of globalization and neo-liberalism. It proposes to fight neo-liberalism but at the same time it propounds its development programme by inviting Industrial West forgetting the simple home truth that today's imperialism comes not through colonization but rides on the back of Finance Capital. Meanwhile, from Singur to latest Panchayat polls via Nandigram that this programme had received a severe jolt resulting ultimately in the total ouster of the Left from governance in West Bengal who supplied the bulwark for the Indian Marxists is readily forgotten. The mainstream Marxist mindset in India is moulded by Stalinist thought and practice too.
The Marichjhampi in 1985 and Nandigram in 2007 carnages were evident enough. Who is, to the CPI (M) mind, afraid of the poorer of the poorest? 'Not us.' But the people, real people, hungry and angry, answered unequivocally, even if for the worse.
"The CPI(M) is working for a transitional programme towards socialism in India". This is the programme of the largest (so-called) Marxist party of India. What is meant by this transitional programme? For the last about 50 years people are hearing this gibberish about the People's Democracy. One is at liberty to accept or reject such nomenclature and its class formation etc. But one is prone to ask about this transitional phase even while looking aside as to its democratic role! What was meant by Marx himself about Revolution and transition period and marxists actually read or given any thought to same while they were always calling for a National or a People's Democracy? As far as Marx was concerned transition period meant and even now means not a period between socialism and communism but the continuous process of development of the socialist (communist) revolution. While one finds in almost all official Indian Marxist programmes transition is a period where one could do well with retaining market and capitalist mode of production. But, in deference to Marx and Lenin, that type of existence of market is not opposed to socialism, proclaims Prakash Karat in the above-referred to article: "The existence of commodity production and the market is not the negation of socialism." To Karat... "in the period of socialism market should play a role." He went on to say that there should be planning but a decentralised one. Well, Bourgeois economists and bureaucrats are saying these things for more than thirty years. More radicalized ones are even trying to be more revolutionary in their methods and are declaring that planners set their goals for development after they go to the mass of the people and collect information from them as to what kind of development they want. But those and Karat forget easily that markets have their own dynamics and if those are kept in existence one can never go beyond capitalism. If the existence of a Market economy is accepted, what role then the workers will play in that society. And what would happen then to the idea of Association of Free Individuals enunciated by Marx. Capitalism produces its own grave-diggers. But the strategy spelt out by Karat proves that the Communists (i.e. party/ies) are their own grave-diggers and all the time they are going away from the mass of workers.
Mr Karat is rightly worried about Imperialism but he should also know and describe to his followers about silent and informal imperialism as is being practiced today by the big boss, the USA. But his party had, of late, never fought sigh of inviting even US investment into their, paradise, West Bengal and thought process of the WB communists, even now decided not only the tactical line but also the strategy, the All India party had to take. And the party is in a quandary. Only the other day the West Bengal party boss Biman Bose had to agree in a press conference that he did not know the reason why his party withdrew its support to the UPA Government. Actually electoral debacle and neither People's Democracy or Democracy for the People is a matter of faith and working norm for this petty bourgeois radical intelligentsia who never belonged to any part of the workers. Now while people were waiting for a National Democratic or a People's "Democratic Revolution to gather up speed for more than 60 years and what one should call these theories and practices; procrastination, finding(and not) its ways inside the jungles of various thoughts, including various religious and caste-based ones whether one officially believes the same or not and the highly structured society that is India, the Communists of these era and the erstwhile posing that they were the deliverers, are gone. It is welcome as a debate what new thought one or any party wants to bring into the social-polity and again it is altogether different in practice, if they are power hungry or prepares its own theory for seizure of power and not working for real freedom of the workers, by and for themselves. For India, Prakash rightly points out that people have to wage a war against the age-old caste system. Right, but where does he or his party does so. For election he succumbs to the bourgeois pressure of fielding caste based and minority candidates for fear of losing a few seats here and there. Where goes their theories of scientific analyses of the society and fighting against all forms of obscurantism?
Herein comes the role of the Communists as a social workers' society and not a party for seizing power. Communists should be the avante quarde or the mere educators of the workers and large majority of the toiling masses against all forms of obscurantism including the virile and vindictive caste system(in India), against gender inequality and all sorts of social, cultural and economic torture and oppression. They have the duty to make the majority of the people understand the mechanism of free association through cooperatives (not collectives of the Stalinist Russian type or the Communes of China model) but the Spanish and Italian experiments of owning, controlling and directing both agricultural and industrial firms which have proved that they alone could withstand the ravages of the downturn of the capitalist mode of production and distribution and usurpation even in this worst of times for the European working class.
Vol. 45, No. 14 - 17, Oct 14 - Nov 10 2012
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