Unity and Disunity

Revolution is virtually absent from their concepts. They don’t talk to the Indian masses about dialectical materialism. Nor do they talk to them about bread and freedom of speech and their inter-relationship. They see the path to change through winning elections—or losing them. Everybody admits the bitter truth that the crying need of the hour is a broad-based left unity. Yet there is no immediate prospect of all encompassing left-unity getting materialised. Ironically, all left forces talk of it separately, not unitedly, almost in the identical way as the Janata factions do. And there lies the crux of the matter. They have no problem in formulating a Common Minimum Programme with the Congress. Tragically enough, they cannot evolve a Common Minimum Programme for themselves to bring together everyone on the left, at least not with the right, who is committed to social welfare for the vast masses of population.

Small left parties like Forward Bloc and CPI and to some extent SUCI(C) think it is the responsibility of their big brother CPI(M) to take initiative in building Left unity nationally without which all efforts will go astray in adhoc-ism. But big brother doesn’t look that enthusiastic. Their sole programme is what any social democrat in Europe would have talked about thirty or forty years ago. All their unity talk is nothing more than turning temporary electoral alliance into a manual for an alternative government. What unites—or disunites—all the existing left tendencies is not the question of whether their promise for change is radical enough but rather that their programme is in reality for taking power and using the state machinery to serve finally the very corporates who are to be targeted to develop a genuine broad-based left unity in the first place. When the left takes over administering the crises of corporate houses how will they throw the vision of a radical alternative, rather a national alternative, is open to question.

While delivering at the Chandigarh conclave recently the National Council of  Communist Party of India (CPI) discussed the issue of left unity at national level, again against the backdrop of upcoming elections in some states, particularly in Bihar. Several states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam will go to polls next year and then Uttar Pradesh in 2017. So they are anxious about it and talk about it day in and day out. So ultimately it is election that matters most in their unity calculation. What all they aspire for at the moment is an effective presence in assemblies. That’s all. Whether the Modi factor can ensure their smooth sailing in elections is anybody’s guess and yet they have no issue other than grilling Modi for all the evils under the sun. In truth it is Modi’s Land Bill that has some potential to pave the way for a broad-based mass movement. By aligning with some forces and that too in electoral battle, here and there, cannot really sustain a movement against massive land acquisition drive by the Modi government and its corporate backers. If land is the question that affects every segment of the society, corporate houses and their attempts to vigorously pursue the idea of jobless growth and capital intensive industrialisation (or ‘development’) are to be attacked continually, unity in action, without which no unity will last. No, they have no agenda, rather mass line to fight corporates; they are equally euphoric like the Modis and the Gandhis about corporate investments, both domestic and foreign. And yet the left parties think they could build powerful mass movements against the government’s pro-corporate policies.

Whether they admit it or not, the left, for all practical purposes, is directionless. They have no effective slogan to motivate masses in their millions against corporatisation of every aspect of the economy and social life. They talk of sell-out but shy away from organising movement against multinationals, leaving the ‘hazardous’ task to NGOs, many of them have sources of dubious funding. In today’s globalised political and economic culture, no anti-imperialist movement, worth the name is possible without continual struggle against multi-nationals. But all their anti-imperialist stance ends in a yearly ritualistic peace march in September.

Indian jails are over-flowing with political prisoners, mostly human rights activists and far left radicals. But rising prison population which in effect demonstrates the authoritarian tendencies in government functioning, is no issue for them though the demand for unconditional release of hapless prisoners has mass appeal in almost every state. They hope to build a mass movement without a mass-line.

Gradual shrinkage of agricultural land is a burning issue, rather a land issue of the day, but it is not on their agenda. Even if the Land Bill is passed by largely retaining the original Congress formula which is precisely their line of demarcation in anti-Land Bill agitation, shrinkage of agricultural land will continue unabated which in turn will jeopardise food security and what- ever remains of unregulated job security in rural India. They cannot say ‘this far and no farther’.

If corporate-led ‘development’ is the root cause for impoverishment of vast masses, then ‘no to corporate-led development’ any more should be the permanent slogan. They are searching for a path to power for the ideologically bankrupt Left in parliament and Assemblies rather than for the masses in the streets and this strategy will never deliver. The much talked about left unity will remain elusive forever. The strategy of positive action is the need, not the strategy of inaction and escapism.

Vol. 48, No. 1, July 12 - 18, 2015