Confusion with dissent’s destiny

Farooque Chowdhury

Mister Sankar Ray’s “Dissent and its diabolical destiny” (Frontier on-line page, March 31, 2018) failed to find out dissent’s destiny as neither dissent nor its destiny was charted in the journey without destiny. Essentials for the journey were forgotten, which led the journey to a destination named confusion.

The article began its destiny-seeking journey from Rosa Luxemberg, made a stopover with Lenin, Bolsheviks, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Putin, haphazardly jumped on Trump, Erdoğan, Xi Jinping, Netanyahu and Modi as they are “the”, according to Mister Ray, “principal actors in the world’s stage of annihilation of dissent.” On the way, as reference, Mister Ray has mentioned Truman, McCarthyism, etc.   

Mister Ray is partly correct as he writes: “Trampling of dissent under foot is a part of history.” He has missed another part: Trampling of dissent is also part of the present. He has himself referred a few examples from the present. Has spatial and temporal coordination been lost?  

Mister Ray feels dissent makes “democracy a gigantic farce.” Dissent doesn’t make “democracy” a farce. Rather that’s one of the beauties of “democracy”. His problem is with “democracy” as he fails to perceive it on the basis of class. This failure in perception provokes him to perceive democracy in a farcical way.

This is the reason Mister Ray puts all – Lenin, Bolsheviks, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Putin, Trump, Erdoğan, Xi Jinping, Netanyahu, Modi – in a single wagon. Are A, B, C of political science and history been missed? Otherwise, how such observations are made, which make an article a laughing stock?     

Mister Ray finds an important finding in the journey as he declares: “Lenin staged a turnabout when he came out with the concept of ‘socialist state’ or ‘commune state’ to justify the Bolshevik power.” Has Mister Ray lost perspective? Would Lenin have been on a correct track had he not marched for socialist state in 1917? For what the Russian proletariat should stood in 1917? Retain a tsarist/bourgeois state? Dismantle the Soviet, a new form of democracy? Are these tasks being suggested by Mister Ray? Or, is it that the entire journey Mister Ray has tried to chart is simply a gossip without context, without class reality, without class responsibility, without realities of economy and politics? If some sages set aside or prefer to ignore all complexities of democracy of the working classes in a world dominated by imperialism, one single point must be answered by these sages, and that is: What would have happened with the World War, which was raging with its blood-thirsty soul had not the proletariat in Russia seized political power? And, the next question is: Without organizing a state power, would some sages have created an island named Utopia with the power of foiling all conspiracies of the exploiting classes to regain their lost political power so that the working classes could be sent to the days of exploitation? Mister Ray, it’s confidently expected, would obviously come forward with an answer.

Mister Ray announces in the article: “Bolsheviks under his [Lenin’s] leadership set up a totalitarian state which had very little common with Marx’s theory of proletarian dictatorship.” Color of the feather Mister Ray is holding high is clear: “Bolsheviks […] set up a totalitarian state”! Here is the dissenting voice for Mister Ray: The Bolsheviks set up a democracy of the working people. What they strove for was within a historical reality, not in any utopia. To the exploiting classes, it was “totalitarianism”, not to the working people.

To substantiate the claim by Mister Ray, he has referred to one of Lenin’s speeches. Mister Ray will find many speeches; and not only speeches, there are Lenin’s theses on bourgeois democracy and proletariat’s dictatorship, and resolution and report of the concerned political party – the Bolshevik Party – on the question. Referring those would have bolstered Mister Ray’s claims. What Mister Ray is missing is the class content in the entire question. This makes him travel a wrong route while he searches dissent’s destiny. A lost journey!

Mister Ray referred to Professor Paresh Chattopadhyay. Is there any suggestion from Professor Chattopadhyay for the adherents of Bolshevik path within a context, with a perspective, within a reality, historical limitations, a historical moment, in concrete terms instead of abstract comments? Nothing? Something? Please, put that on table. The discussion will continue with concrete form instead of making abstract sounds. Otherwise, the journey will end up straight in the tent of the bourgeoisie.     

Ah ha, Mister Ray has unfolded his flag as he writes: “Bolshevik regime from the very beginning suppressed individual liberty, even before the advent of Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin.” The color of the flag is visible. Whose liberty was suppressed? Mister Ray claims: “individual liberty”. There’s no skepticism about the suppression. The suppressed were the tsarist elements, the monarchists, the bourgeoisie, the spies of the imperialist forces, the saboteurs engaged with subverting the nascent Soviet power the workers, soldiers and peasants organized. Their individual liberty was suspended. What’s being suggested by Mister Ray and Professor Chattopadhyay? Ought the Bolsheviks to allow these “individual” elements a free hand? With a profound knowledge of politics, history and class, yours is a nice real class politics, Mister Ray. The same song was played during those years and is being played now also. And, identity of the singers is known to Mister Ray. So, a long theoretical discussion is not presented now with the hope that Mister Ray will come up with facts and arguments to substantiate his claim.

Mister Ray refers to Cheka and NKVD, and claims “Thus the 20th Century or Lenin’s socialism was totalitarian […]”. Totalitarian rule is not only intelligence agency, and similar sort, Mister Ray. You know this. You have just misplaced the fact to mis-formulate the definition you’re trying to, Mister Ray. Marx has dwelt this question. Please, check it.

And, again, another wrong statement, Mister Ray as you put all the identities in the same bag together: Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Putin. It’s a shallow approach, Mister Ray. The mainstream follows this approach to hoodwink its audience. They are not the same, not of the same. To have an analysis of the issue of dissent, an analyst should have facts, not shallow ideas. Readers will smile with this simplification of a complex problem.  

Mister Ray mentions “[l]egitimate competition” and “healthy competition”. Startling discovery! Capitalism conceives “legitimate” and “healthy” competition? Looking at dissent with so much confusion with capitalism, with market! Capitalism doesn’t allow dissent; market doesn’t allow dissent; capitalism, and imperialism don’t allow healthy competition, and there’s nothing like healthy in capitalist competition. There are thousands of evidences. These are very, very elementary lessons on capitalism. So, Mister Ray is having problem with dissent, suppression, etc. elements of class rule.   

Mister Ray writes: “Russian wealth becomes more concentrated in fewer hands in the interests of twenty or so oligarchs who have access to ‘obscene amounts of wealth because of their affinity with those most powerful in government.” It’s not only a Russian scene; it’s the global capitalist scene. This finding will tell Mister Ray the facts of class rule, and the steps Lenin had to initiate, with which Mister Ray isn’t happy.

Mister Ray writes: “The war between civil society and the Kremlin […]”. Here’s another problem Mister Ray stumbles on: the “great” civil society – a political existence with a non-political appearance, a class interest with a non-class appearance, a being with a particular agenda and without a constituency and accountability. Mister Ray’s problems with the problem of dissentions are going to be transparent.

Kleptocracy is practiced in all capitalist economies, not only in Russia. Mister Ray has to begin with defining Kleptocracy, which will lead him to matured capitalist economies, to imperialist economies. And, then, he will find the roots of the problem with dissent.

O ho, Mister Ray comes out with his true color as he writes: “Dissenters’ voice is aired by Radio Svoda, Radio Free Europe […]”. Radio Free Europe? Is it the voice of dissension? Please, check with the facts related to the well-known broadcasting center, Mister Ray. I don’t know whether or not Professor Paresh Chattopadhyay will now lend you his arguments and theories as you find Radio Free Europe broadcasts voice of dissenters. Check with history, Mister Ray. You have already exposed yourself although you were trying to borrow theory incoherently from contradictory sources. Shall you find voice of dissent in transmissions by Radio Marti tomorrow? And, shall Frontier lend its space to those concerns in the name of open for all opinion? With that argument, shall Frontier lend its space to an article supporting imperialist intervention in Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia tomorrow? I, hope, Mister Ray will feel shy after finding facts related to these Radios as he began his article with reference to proletarian revolutionaries, opponents of imperialism.  

After this – the Radio Free Europe-issue – there’s no need to dwell with the article as the article has divulged its identity. This diabolical disclosure takes away all the forces of diabolical argument Mister Ray is putting forward.

And, the following sentence is borrowed from the article by Mister Ray: “But dissent never dies out, braving every odd.” Ideas supporting the exploiting classes will be dissented. Dissention is not without class interest. Capitalists have dissenting view about the proletarian world view. The opposite is also a fact. Class conflict doesn’t allow any neutral ground to evaluate the two views. Mister Ray and sages of his type have to reside in Utopia Island to find out a diabolical neutral ground in a class conflict-ridden world.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.        

Apr 02, 2018

Farooque Chowdhury

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