Communists of all shades are desperately trying to explore and find new ways of
growth without much success. There are always wide gaps between their words and deeds. What all they do
is shouting to Marx round the year on specific occasions and blame everyone else for their multiple failures and blunders. But rethinking revolution, rather marxian revolution is the order of the day. Stalin was on trial even before the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the catastrophe known as the demise of actually existing socialism in the erstwhile Soviet bloc Lenin too fell from grace. To blame it on the Soviets for distortion of Marxism and its global impact is easy. Also, it is not that difficult to locate nationalism as the root cause of deviation in the Chinese communist movement. But all this tells half the story of ideological wilderness Indian communists, irrespective of their labels, revolutionary or reformist, have been in for so long. After all they—the Russians and the Chinese—did revolution and then embraced counter-revolution. For the Communists of India the question of counter-revolution doesn’t arise because they never made any kind of revolution. Right now they have stopped talking revolution, not to speak of socialism that has long been a dirty word even in social-democratic discourse.
All the programmes concerning democratic revolution as propounded by different communist parties seem to have lost relevance. Nor does class alliance in the current phase as projected by them reflect the true nature of Indian state and society. Corporates, not communists, are in the forefront to bulldoze traditional agrarian relations and practice to their advantage without accommodating the uprooted millions into their industrial haven. Change is drastic and it is market driven. Whether they like it or not market is breaking many a barrier in the age-old agrarian structure of rural India. Many would like to draw a parallel between de-colonisation thesis of yester years which, however, didn’t get favour among communists in those days and present day de-feudalisation move in Indian economy. Whether they could go the whole hog to complete anti-feudal democratic task is open to question. But to say nothing is changing in agrarian scenario is to deceive oneself.
As for the far left anti-feudal task is to be carried out only in tribal belt. So maoists are increasingly identified with tribal India as if their new democratic revolution othersie mechanically borrowed from the experience of pre-liberated China, will automatically develop into a four-class alliance strategy. The advocates of people’s democratic revolution borrowed it from East Europe where revolutions were imposed by the Soviets while the champions of national democratic revolution managed to redefine their ‘democratic idea’ by mixing it with too much nationalistic fervour.
Heaven will not fall if Marxist projects that have failed, are being questioned. The point at issue is whether questioning without offering any solution is enough to tide over the crisis of confidence. The role of party, rather party dictatorship is rightly questioned but how to build socialism and sustain it without a leading organisation remains unanswered. Institutional approach in abstract is meaningless.
The Vietnamese did revolution but they didn’t follow the Chinese model while fighting the most powerful and technologically sophisticated military of the world. Nor did they ever seek political guidance from Mao texts. Even General Giap depended on Lenin, not Mao, to formulate his classic strategy of guerilla warfare in a ‘semi-colonial, semi-feudal’ society. Cubans had a different strategic outlook to seize power and build a socialistic model of their own. At no point of time the survival of Cuban revolution against American blockade and economic attrition was discussed sincerely in any segment of Indian revolutionary camp. In India many showed magnanimity to analyse North Korean peculiarities and possibilities of applying them while failing to learn from their own history.
The concept of making Indian revolution by way imitating this model or that seems to have weakened over the years though the diehard maoists continue to harbour the grand illusion that they could make it by implanting an ‘Yenan’ on the hilly and forested terrain of Chattisgarh. Their people’s war is yet to be taken seriously by the people who make history and revolution as well. It’s still a vanguardist endeavour. They never look back despite repeated setbacks they suffer after every state offensive as if revolution is a liner process.
The Khruschevian Russia is dead but the legacy of Khruschev is not. The Chinese are actually following the Khruschevian theory of peaceful co-existence and peaceful competition. What they call ‘market socialism’ is all market and today there lies a little bit of market in China’s every policy orientation.
Why successful revolutions have been turned into their opposites within a few decades deserves serious attention from a positive perspective. Witch-hunting won’t do. Stalin, Trotsky, Lenin—all are villains. Not much is heard about Mao’s villainy because he is not considered by Marxist scholars as a towering personality in the theoretical arena. He is more admired as a master tactician in guerilla warfare. Polemics for the sake of polemics makes little sense unless it finds application in the field.
Socialism has no nationality. And yet it is nationalism that has distorted marxian application in most communist parties. And this nationalism again emanates from giving too much importance on national characteristics while ignoring basic premises otherwise valid universally. The idea of ‘socialism has no border’ never gained ground in communist culture. The slogan of ‘workers of all countries unite!’ has been a mere slogan since the days of Manifesto. National peculiarities differ from country to country. Also, development of productive forces is at different levels in different countries. That doesn’t mean basic prerequisites of socialist revolution differ drastically from country to country. After all socialism is a historically determined system.
Critics are almost in unison to blame it on party dictatorship for what may be described as ‘socialist disaster’ as it has happened in so many post-revolutionary societies. But how to avoid party dictatorship or build an institution in place of party that could deliver remains too puzzling a question to be resolved so easily simply by putting some stalwarts of yester years on trial.
Vol. 45, No. 14 - 17, Oct 14 - Nov 10 2012
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