An Exercise in Escapism

The recently held 2-day Kolkata Plenum of CPM State Committee was a lacklustre event even by Marxist standards. Their much publicised plenum was in the main aimed at revamping the party organisation at the grassroots level against the backdrop of their increasingly becoming irrelevant in the changed political context in the state as also across the country. They have been groping in political wilderness for quite some time without showing any sign of bouncing back anytime soon. Ideologically they are bankrupt as they have no new ideas to offer and politically they have nowhere else to go other than electoral cesspool of corruption. At the plenum they dwelt at length the organisational crisis they have been suffering for the last one decade or so only to discover at the end of the day that they could not do much to reverse the trend—the systematic decline. The all important plenum resolution is unlikely to deliver unless they categorically say ‘No’ to the predatory growth syndrome.

Gone are the days when split in the communist movement used to be resulted from ideological differences. They are ‘Marxists’ and yet they don’t bother about Communist principles and commitment. So communists become Gandhites over-night without offering any ‘Marxist’ explanation for their changed ideological stance. As things are, even some of them will be happy in the company of the saffron brigade.

The issue of contention at the plenum was whether CPM would maintain its alliance, rather an unholy alliance with Congress, otherwise an aged dinosaur whose days are numbered. The top leadership that favours alliance at any cost, however, managed to pacify the opponents of alliance by way of over emphasising the question of organisational weakness and ‘inactive’ members.

The hard reality is that Congress party is itself in a shambles, it is plagued by defection and directionless approach to almost every issue of national significance. Politics of opportunism is nowhere so rampant as in the Congress. All these parliamentary parties including CPM and other left parties, are basically interested in looting the exchequer while utilising the facade of democracy, social welfare and justice. So it doesn’t matter what the party officially preaches. What matters is how to become part of accumulation, rather naked and brutal accumulation. Thus horse-trading in parliamentary game is now an accepted norm.

These communists always think in terms of parliament, assembly and elections. How to make a government remains their sole pre-occupation. They have no agenda to motivate ordinary masses in their millions for an alternative model of administration that would ensure new jobs and security of existing jobs. Right now the Modi government is determined to implement notorious anti-people policies by way of consensus. Ironically they are part of it and yet they think voters will oblige them by repeatedly voting them to power. The latest example of their connivance with the Centre is passing of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. GST Act is now almost ready and finance minister Arun Jaitley is a bit euphoric at the moment as he hopes to start its implementation from April 2017. GST will now subsume various central and state tax laws only to expedite corporate-driven market reforms that will erode whatever remains of social welfare network further.

People are already reeling under heavy service tax that has been raised from 12.36 percent to 14 percent with effect from June 2015. But introduction of GST means service tax will be further raised to 18%, affecting wage earners in the informal sector most. But CPM people find no valid reason to raise voice against GST or systematic attempts by the government to increase indirect taxes which generally common people pay. They find no reason either to raise the issue of inflation, or stagflation other than periodically dishing out business as usual anti-inflation rhetoric for media consumption. What is more small producers—the real providers of job—will be seriously affected by GST. Barring Tamil Nadu no state government irrespective of its colour has opposed the central move. For small producers, cost of compliance i.e. paper work, filing of returns etc. will be so high that GST in effect will force them to down shutters. The Modis and Jaitleys project GST as a panacca as if it will boost GDP and create more jobs. But the reality is otherwise. Both these claims are utterly baseless, if not plain lies. The experiences of several other countries show that GST is a sure receipe for inflation and price rise and it doesn’t necessarily contribute to higher GDP.

At the plenum they talked of masses without analysing the root causes of mass alienation. When they talk of democracy or ‘deficit of democracy’, it sounds ludicrous.

Workers no longer subscribe to their hypocrisy of talking too much about workers or working class and doing nothing. So even in organised sector industries where the red flag unions once enjoyed comfortable support base are losing and days are not far when they will be of academic interest only. For today’s workers, it doesn’t matter whether the flag is red or green. Because all are on the same wave length while using same language in their agit-propaganda. Contrary to pontifications  and rhetoric their policy virtually works towards private accumulation without any clear social purpose. Not surprisingly, workers, despite their prolonged association with the red, are simply apolitical because the red unions never tried to organise them on political issues. For all practical purposes, participating in elections actively or not so actively, is the highest stage of political consciousness of the toilers in this hapless country where Communists just observed 97th foundation of the Communist Party of India (United Communist Party before split in 1964). No national issue, not to speak of international issue, troubles them. As a result it has become somewhat easier for the establishment to bash labour under slightest pretext.

CPM is a typical upper and lower middle class party but it now stands to lose even the middle class base because it has no idea as to how to safe-guard middle class interests because of massive onslaught by neo-liberal policy makers.

Essentially the so called red party—CPM—is anti-working class but it is anti-peasant as well. Since the days of naxalbari uprising about 50 years ago they have been alienating themselves systematically from peasant masses by suppressing peasants’ legitimate demands and silencing their voice of dissent through brute force. From a pro-peasant party it has turned itself into an anti-peasant party. The plenum cannot change the crisis situation of continuing down-swing because the much touted plenum has failed to break with the past. Maybe, it is one more exercise in escapism.

Vol. 49, No.17, Oct 30 - Nov 5, 2016