Things Fall Apart

The overall crisis in the economy and politics is national and Global as well. The political strangulation of revolutionary ideas driven by the ruling elites and their supportive middle class has its counterpart in the retrogression of thought in the Communist Left. The basic problem with the Communists of India lies in their age-old ideological slavery right from the beginning. At the initial phase they used to parrot ‘Moscow Line’, then a section of the movement would like to hawk ‘Chinese Line’ and claim themselves to be more progressive and revolutionary. At no point of time they really struggled for an independent Indian line. With ‘Moscow Communism’ dead and ‘Chinese Communism’ turned into its opposite, they are literally ideological orphans today. Ever since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1990s, Muscovites in India have not produced any meaningful ideological and political literature, seeking a radical solution in the Indian context. They have long stopped talking international aspects of Communist movement. They are all national communists without an all India national perspective. As for the big brother CPM who, continues to play a tricky game of not being too closely identified with Moscow bosses or Chinese mandarins, the situation is worse. Their ideological output over the years is so negligible that CPM cadres seem to have forgotten to talk in terms of Marxist lexicons. In truth they treat their profound ignorance in Marxist culture as something akin to proletarian virtue.

While the hardcore naxalites or maoists would like to settle every ideological and political issue through guns despite recurring reversals, official communists cannot think anything beyond parliament and assembly. They resemble any election-oriented party like Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party, in theory and practice. People don’t see anything new in their political discourse. It is more of the same—election and election. Their ideological superiority is a thing of the past. They always calculate their strength and weaknesses in terms of electoral gains or losses. Only the other day the CPI-M Central Committee expressed the view with a lot of fanfare in a press release that for the first time since 2009 parliamentary elections, the party was able to arrest the decline in the electoral support base in West Bengal as was evident in the recently held municipal elections in the state. They were so jubilant with the wresting of the municipality in Siliguri in North Bengal that they began to think the unthinkable—the return of good old days of ’80s and ’90s.

Communist programmes now revolve around failure of government in some areas or more precisely non-implementation of some projects here and there.

They think masses will rise in revolt spontaneously. Governments at Centre and in States are hell bent on turning more and more villages into concrete jungles and communists like their ‘anti-communist’ brethren in power refuse to see the logic behind the ‘limits to growth’ syndrome. And official communists are just passengers in this ‘development train’.

Strangely, communists cannot organise peasants on the peasants’ very own issues of survival. Today’s India presents a distorted agrarian picture, thanks to multinationals in agri-business. If they cannot unite peasants on a common issue across the country against a common enemy, all the tall talks of mobilising peasant masses will be futile. It makes no sense. People have already begun to equate their parties, communist parties, with some obnoxious regional outfits led by some known family clans.

They are totally alienated from basic masses because they cannot motivate them for a radical change and restorations of public faith in democratic institutions.

Somehow maintaining the status quo is no solution, it is really the problem. And it is nowhere so glaring as on the labour front. Bashing labour is now part of routine political culture for the powers that be. Communist response to onslaught on labour is so defensive and directionless that labour looks totally incapable of waging minimum protest movement to protect their hard earned rights. Criticising Modi’s labour reforms through press statements cannot alter the ground reality. Then they simply do not know what kind of slogan is to be adopted at this juncture to cope with the situation. Neither Moscow nor Beijing will come forward to offer ideological and political sermons. Much of the official Communist Left is intoxicated by the apparent path to power through parliament only, never distinguishing between power to the Left and power to the masses in motion.

Vol. 47, No. 51, June 28 - July 4, 2015