‘Naxalbari 50’

‘‘Czechoslovakia after Hungary’’–III

Parimal Dasgupta

Now let us discuss SRC's thoughts and viewpoints on 1951 and 1964 Party programmes especially those related to strategies for land struggle. Thoughts on these two documents will reflect a particular political position.

SRC has written, 'Initially a forum was opened in Deshabrati to discuss about the 1964 Party programme. In this forum Parimal Dasgupta (i.e. me) published an old article of his, which primarily says that the 1951 programme was basically correct, which means the basis of Naxalbari politics is incorrect, both in terms of programme as well as strategy". If SRC clearly expresses what he means by the programme and strategy of Naxalbari, it will help clarify his and his group's politics. Anyway, coming to my article, it is a critique of Basavapunniah's draft programme of the CPI(M) presented in 1964. I presented this in the 1964 party congress. SRC was then a member of the Party's regional committee. Other than making some ordinary changes, he did not oppose the draft programme. He was basically in agreement with the draft programme with some critique. CM did not oppose that. In fact he supported that document. They never spoke about the 1951 document. And not only this, when after we openly took a stand to support the new politics of the 1967 Naxalbari peasant struggle, SRC in some of his articles referred to the transfer of India's state power as "independence". It is also to be noted that in Deshabrati 1st  year, 1st issue dated 6 July 1967, the  report published by SRC and his group on the background of the historic peasant struggle in Terai mentions "peasant struggles during independence" and "peasant struggles in 1948 after independence". There were murmurs among comrades regarding these articles of SRC. During this period, in reply to the ideological attack against us by leaders of the CPI(M), SRC's main allegation was that the party leaders were not correctly implementing the 1964 programme. He felt that the Naxalbari peasant struggle was a correct implementation of the aforesaid party programme. In his reply to an article by B T Ranadive, SRC, in his article 'Creating disorder in people’s democratic revolution', published in Deshabrati 1st year, 4th issue, dated 27 July 1967, wrote : "The great struggle of the valiant peasants of Naxalbari and their organizers—the revolutionary communists of the Darjeeling district committee have upheld the revolutionary essence of our parry's [(i.e. the CPI(M)"s] programme (the 1964 programme).

'There is nothing wrong with the fact that many comrades may have different views on the programme".

"Comrades would know very well that differences of opinion regarding the class character of the Indian state did not come in the way of building up the Naxalbari peasant struggle." "To advance the revolutionary essence of the programme and advancing peasant struggle with all our effort is a very important task now......"

The nature of the state and its class character, definition of independence, government's foreign policy, government's economic policy, strategy of capture of power etc on all such basic issues—the way the 1964 programme is written, it has become a complete revisionist programme. Thus trying to locate "revolutionary essence" in such a document is a futile exercise. On the whole when you pick out a few good words or slogans from a reactionary document and focus on them in isolation, then it becomes an effort to defend that document. This is a revisionist tactic. If we have to advance the new revolutionary politics of Naxalbari, then we have to completely discard the 1964 programme. But SRC thinks of defending that programme. That is why SRC's group attacks a few individual leaders of the CPI(M) but not the programme of the CPI(M).

After the publication of SRC's above mentioned article in Deshabrati, Moni Guha sent an article to comment on it and this was published in Deshabrati—31 August 1967 issue. In that article Moni Guha raised questions on the analysis of class character of Indian State etc. in the 1964 programme. This could have given the impression to many that no one had questioned the programme on such basic issues earlier. That is why it was decided to publish my document, "About the programme of the 7th Party Congress" in Deshabrati. It was also decided that if SRC or any other comrade had any amendment, proposals or articles on the 1964 programme, they should also be published. SRC did not publish any of his amendment proposals. This is the history of publication of my article in Deshabrati.

The 1964 programme was brought in without discarding the 1951 programme or without giving any reason for it whatsoever. But the basis of the two documents are completely different. In the 1951 document the character of the Indian State after the transfer of power is stated as : "India is the biggest dependent semi-colonial country in Asia still left for enslavers to rob and exploit". The class character of the government was stated as the Congress is the party of the Kings, landlords, collaborators of British imperialism, representing the reactionary big bourgeoisie. The stage of revolution is people’s democratic revolution and its character would be anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, democratic revolution. About foreign policy it was stated that the government basically tows the foreign policy of the British imperialism. In the 1964 document the class character of the government is stated as "This government of the landlord and bourgeoisie led by the big bourgeoisie". This meant that the government was independent; it had no economic or political linkage with imperialism. It was also stated that the government's foreign policy, despite many weaknesses, was overall neutral and anti-world war. In my document I had sharply criticized these aspects of the 1964 document and supported the aspects of the 1951 document which I mentioned earlier. I had written that : "On the whole Com Basavapunniah's draft programme's analysis and primary focus is confusing, vague, incorrect, unclear and weak and these are a version of revisionist political line and analysis. Actually the old revisionist political line has been expressed in a new language and has been given a new dressing." I compared this programme to be in the same category as that of Dange's CPI. Because of this criticism, the party leadership severely attacked those aspects of the 1951 programme relating to the nature of the state in the Calcutta party conference: the class character of the government, its foreign policy etc calling them "one-sided", "ultra-left", "dangerous deviation" etc. Most of the attack was centred round the analysis of the nature of the state. The party [i.e. the CPI(M)] disagreed completely with the Chinese Communist Party's (CPC) analysis of the character of the Indian government. Will SRC explain why my analysis, as presented in that document was wrong? I also attacked the 1964 programme on another important aspect—which was the party's line of peaceful capture of power. SRC and CM did not even oppose it then. Now I see that they are especially keen to prove that my document is nowhere a political basis of the Naxalbari and Mao tse Tung Thought did they present? Now I see that they have suddenly gained wisdom. This is nothing but political opportunism. If we had criticized the 1964 party programme on its stand on the nature of the state, government's foreign policy, strategy of capture of power, weren't we carrying out a very important political struggle of that time? From 1962 onwards the CPC, in the name of "Nehru darshan" and other documents, put forward their analysis of the character of the Indian government and we accepted it and based on it we put forward our analysis of the Indian government and doing so was an important political struggle within the Communist Party. The Dange clique did not accept it and the CPI(M) which distanced itself from the Dange clique also did not accept it. Thus in the end they [i.e. the CPI(M)] took refuge in neo-revisionism and ultimately became anti-China. From a wrong analysis of the nature of the state and the class character of the government began their historic evolution. SRC's group is unable to grasp the importance of the critique of the 1964 document based on the key elements of the 1951 document; they just keep their focus on the 1964 document. The seeds of contradictions and changes in the CPI(M) were already present in the struggles over the 1964 document. One has to understand this! This is the dialectical approach to understanding history. SRC's group's approach towards analysis or understanding is mechanical. They do not see incidents in their perspective; they just want to mechanically compare one incident with another and arrive at conclusions.

It is an historical misfortune that the Marxist-Leninist Party [CPI(ML)] came into being attacking the 1951 programme. The political proposal of the ML Party, as published in Deshabrati—15May l969 says : "The 1951 programme and strategic line were adopted based on an understanding that the Indian big bourgeoisie had a dual class character. By dual character it is meant that the Indian big bourgeoisie has an anti-imperialist role at times but also has tendencies to collaborate with imperialism or come to an understanding with it at times". This argument is wrong in factual terms as the 1951 programme did not have an analysis on the dual character of the Indian big bourgeoisie. Actually it is the 1964 document which has this dual character analysis of the Indian big bourgeoisie. The ML party's introductory note on the 1951 document is also wrong. The 1951 document was written in the background of the 1946-47 transfer of Indian state power and there was an analysis of the significance of the transfer of power. In this programme the political and economic analysis were based primarily on various aspects of India's incomplete anti-colonial revolution and neo-colonialist ties.

There is a definite political tendency in distorting and completely rejecting the 1951 programme. One result of that tendency is the policy and programme of the CPI(M). The tendency of the CPI(ML) will pull them towards a different but definite direction. Symptoms of it are latent in their political proposal. In its analysis of the class character of the government the ML party declares : "The Indian state is controlled by big landlord and comprador-bureaucratic capitalist class and the Indian government is an agent of US imperialism as well as Soviet social-imperialism. It is the big landlords and the comprador bureaucratic capitalists who run the state". The analysis of the nature of the state and the class character of the government in the above ML document has close proximity to the 1964 CPI(M) document. In this analysis imperialism is not mentioned as a class basis of the state and a term "agent" has been used. Thus effectively the theory of neo-colonialism has been discarded. This actually supports the 1964 programme. The word "agent' is not part of any accepted political analysis; this is just a word used in slogans. Actually there is silence on the close relationship between rulers of India and forces of imperialism. But in the post-World war era, the main characteristics of any neo-colonial state is that state power has an alliance with imperialism, comprador bourgeoisie and feudalism. By keeping this unclear or maintaining silence on this aspect no strategy and tactic of people’s democratic revolution can be drawn up and if drawn up, would be wrong. The ML party's political analysis of the semi-feudal character of the state is also hazy. The proof of a state's semi-feudal character is based on a state's dependence on economic help from imperialist countries. This kind of analysis has no clear political analysis about feudalism, feudalism is an ally of imperialism and comprador bourgeoisie and the basis of their rule; which means that the relationship between these forces is the real political analysis. To say that dependence on economic help from imperialism is proof enough of the existence of feudal character is not a clear political analysis or such analysis actually obfuscates the real character of the state. Such an understanding or analysis will lead to many wrong strategies for fighting the enemies of revolution. The ML party document carries with it the possibilities of many wrong tendencies and views.

By not taking a holistic view of the state, CM is pushing the key focus of revolution in other directions. By locating the contradiction between the peasantry and feudalism as the main contradiction at present, he is making the key objective of people’s democratic revolution fuzzy. He has written that "in the case of India, side-stepping this principal contradiction is resulting in all sorts of deviations. Even Parimal Dasgupta and his group are taking the same road". We have in our "position paper" claimed that the alliance of imperialism, comprador bourgeoisie and feudalism defines the character of the government; meaning we have identified these three as the main enemies. CM wants to focus only on feudalism as the main enemy. While characterizing people's democratic revolution Mao tse Tung has written : "Those class forces which define the character of revolution are on the one side the main enemy and on the other the primary revolutionary forces. Presently our main enemy is imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism and the main forces to fight these forces are the wide cross section of people engaged in physical and mental labour which covers nearly 90% of the country's population. It means that presently the character of our revolution is new-democratic revolution which is different from socialist revolution". [Mao tse Tung Selected Works, Chinese edition, Vol 3, p. 208]

Indian revolution is people’s democratic in the present phase and our main enemies are imperialism, comprador bourgeoisie and feudalism. The entire attack of the revolutionary forces must be against these forces: but in the present world situation demolishing revisionism is also an essential revolutionary programme. Because the role of revisionism is counter-revolutionary and acts in favour of the aforesaid enemy forces. Thus the Chinese party has mentioned the four mountains as enemy of the Indian revolution—imperialism, comprador bourgeoisie, feudalism and revisionism. Thus the CPC says, "The shoulders of the Indian peasant are not only burdened by feudalism but their path to liberation is blocked by three other mountains—imperialism, agent capitalists and new revisionists"; thus obliterating these four enemies should constitute the main programme of the people’s democratic revolution. Peasant revolution is a part of people’s democratic revolution and also its primary axis. The CPC says, "Land revolution is primary to India's new democratic revolution". (Peking Review 1967, Issue 30, p. 19). Agricultural revolution would change the old feudal land relations, establish peasant ownership over land and based on this the country's industrialization would speed up. Through actions and activities within the purview of the people’s democratic revolution the interests of imperialism would be eroded, the power of the comprador burgeoisie would be destroyed and some control would be achieved over capitalism. Only through such a process would the path to socialism open up. Thus the strategy and tactics of people’s democratic revolution should aim at destroying feudalism and other forces as mentioned and thus destroying the state apparatus controlled by them. CM by focusing only on feudalism and making it the only target of all revolutionary struggles is actually making the revolutionary forces turn away from overall objective of revolution. Thus revolutionary forces will not be able to proceed on the path of struggle with correct targets. This will result in one sided attack, no building up of mass front of the revolutionary class, ending in failures and hopelessness.

The strategy of revolution has to be based on Mao tse Tung Thought. In any revolutionary struggle the leadership must be with the working class, there must be armed peasant struggle and revolutionary base areas have to be built in rural areas. After destroying the reactionary forces in villages strategies for destruction of reactionary forces in the city must begin, strong alliance between the working class and peasantry must be built up, a broad united front of revolutionary class and other forces of revolution must be set up, struggles of the working class and the other revolutionary forces must help and complement the primary peasant struggle—all these would be the basis of revolutionary strategy. CM by discarding the wider objective of revolution, cannot think of drawing up a strategy based on the mutual relation and the entirety of the above mentioned factors. Thus he is falling prey to sectarian, sudden and disconnected thoughts. The main question he is raising is, "If everybody is involved in building up mass organisations, who will build up the secret (party) organization?" It is through class based organizations that communists maintain their relation with the class, through class struggles raise the consciousness of people, test the party's policies at the actual ground level class struggles and based on real life experience and testing amend or expand the party's policies. Class organizations are like the veins and arteries of the party and the living link between the party and the people. CM's above mentioned question is not in agreement with Bolshevik thought.

CM's thoughts about the relation between mass organizations and party is mechanical. He has failed to understand the mutual relationship between the two or differences in the characteristics of the two. Revolutionaries use and lead class organizations to help the cause of revolution and reformists use it from the reformist perspective. This is the difference between a revolutionary programme and an economist programme. CM is blaming the party's earlier wrong policies on class organizations and thus discarding its necessity. This is like getting drunk by drinking toddy but blaming the toddy tree for one’s drunkenness. In trying to build up his case against building up class organizations, CM is talking about many divisions among the peasantry and saying that agricultural workers’ organizations would create divisions in the peasantry. Thus, without building any organization he is just in favour of building a guerilla force of landless poor peasants.

Class division of society is a Marxist analysis. Based on this class analysis, Marxists build up different class-based organizations to complement revolution at its various stages. In peasant struggles, who would constitute the peasant committees, whether independent agricultural worker organizations would be built or not, who would be particularly organized to maintain the militancy of peasant committees etc. are matters of organizational strategy. But because of this how can a communist even think of discarding class-based organizations?

CM has also said, "Through building open mass organizations among peasants the tendency towards open struggle would increase among peasants and because of this we will become leaders of another revisionist mass organization." According to CM revolutionaries will not be involved in any open struggles and that open, overground movements are revisionist. And revolutionaries cannot be leaders of any open organization. All activities of revolutionaries would be secret and underground and subversive. Thus CM has given a line: "Only through building up a secret party organization among the peasantry will the leadership of the poor landless peasant be established in the peasant struggle". Which means that this leadership of the poor and landless peasants would be established not through class struggles and through organizational participation but through the activity of building up a secret party. So, is CM's peasant movement without any basis? What is its basis? The basis is a new version of terrorist thought.

Nobody would say that revolution would be organized through open organization. The main thing is about an understanding of the role of class organizations in organizing revolution. CM is advocating the politics of discarding class organizations which is completely against Marxist-Leninist organizational understanding. From this politics the revolutionary cadres of CM who will emerge will not be tested cadres from different movements and class struggles; but in CM's language they are "class conscious poor landless peasants". He assumes that without any exposure to class-based struggles and movements these poor landless peasants would acquire class consciousness out of thin air. This is a metaphysical thought; like building up "Santan Dal" in Anandamath (a novel by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay). In terms of building up Bolshevik cadres CM's thoughts are opposed to Stalin, Dimitrov's crucial teachings and thoughts of Mao tse Tung's mass line in party. Cadres without any connection with mass movements and public life can never be reflective of Mao's thought. And besides this what is all the more worrying is that CM's overall political thought is based on the peasantry and devoid of the working class which is against the principles of people’s democratic revolution. And even among the peasantry CM's agency of struggle and revolution would be only the poor and landless. He is opposed to involving wider cross section of the peasantry in an anti-feudal struggle through mass movements and giving them any organizational basis. Only through building the party, with a strategy of struggle based only on the poor and the landless peasants is not a strategy of class-based struggle of people’s democratic revolution but is a strategy for socialist revolution. This will actually give birth to CPI's 1949 B T Ranadive's Trotskyist strategies. Such thoughts were also seen amongst Narodniks in Russia. Stalin had observed, "If poor peasants are considered to be the only revolutionary force because they are poor then tramps would be even better revolutionaries". It is but natural that such forces would also get organized around CM's theory.

Discarding class organization and mass struggle, CM has come up with the only strategy of revolutionary struggle—guerilla warfare. Kanu Sanyal in his widely circulated report on the failures of a phase of the Naxalbari struggle has put forward this theory of guerilla warfare as the way to take this struggle to a higher stage. This very idea of raising the level of a failed and defeated struggle to a higher stage is impractical and sheer adventurism. At this stage the thought of taking a revolutionary struggle to a higher stage through guerilla warfare is similar to a thought which had emerged in the CPC after 1929 when the Li Li Shan tendency reared its head. CM is very annoyed that I criticized this report of Kanu Sanyal because CM's theory of guerilla warfare is the basis of this report.

The (modern) father of CM's theory is Che Guevara. In the backdrop of Castro's capture of power in Cuba, middle class revolution mongering mixed with some Marxist rhetoric wants to position itself as the new Marxian strategy in the post war era. The basis of this theory are : (1) denying the role of proletarian leadership in revolution and recognizing only middle class leadership; considering the middle class to be the driving force of revolution (2) discard class struggle (3) deny the people’s creative role in revolution (4) enthusing the masses not through political activity but through stunts (5) considering guerilla warfare as the only strategy of struggle and imagining self-sufficient guerilla units (6) giving importance to individual heroes (7) discarding the principles and practice of proletarian internationalism. All these tendencies are gradually becoming evident in CM's political thinking.

Mao's theory of guerilla warfare is based on politics and not based just on mere actions and not self-sufficiency. That is why Mao has pointed out three things to summarise the success of the Chinese revolution: 1) the party staying steadfast to the principles of Marxism- Leninism 2) the building up of a strong army under the leadership of the party 3) the building up of a broad united front of revolutionary classes under the leadership of the Party and conducting the struggle on this basis. Mao has said that the coming together of these three factors and their correct implementation have made the Chinese revolution successful. Che Guevara theory is opposed to Mao tse Tung Thought. What is most important to note is that since this theory is not based on the principle and practice of proletarian internationalism its primary root will be or is already in nationalism. Middle class revolution-mongering will take refuge in nationalism and terrorism. In our country there will be efforts to unify Mao and Che by middle class revolutionaries; in fact it is from this trend that slogans like "in the city Che and in the village Mao" evolve. And CM will provide fuel to such politics. CM wants to prove that Lin Piao actually supports his views and writes: "We should remember poor and landless peasants will be able to establish their leadership over the peasantry at large only through leading guerilla warfare. Guerilla war is the one and only strategy for the revolutionary struggle of the peasants. No mass organization by working openly can do this work. Thus the strategy put forward by Parimal Dasgupta for peasant Struggle is opposed to the path shown by Lin Piao". CM has not explained what he means by "Lin Piao path". He has also not explained what he understands of my strategy of peasant struggle. But it is clear from what he says that he is against class based organizations and believes in this theory of some selected cadres unleashing guerilla war. Actually he has completely failed to understand the theory of people’s war of Lin Piao and in his own thoughts wants to see Lin Piao in Che Guevara. In the essay "Long Live the victory of the people’s war" Lin Piao says: "In order to be victorious it is absolutely essential that to the utmost extent possible a wide united front must be built up and continuously different policies have to be worked out so that widest possible number of people are brought together and the unity of those forces is ensured." In the above mentioned article explaining the international significance of the Chinese revolution, Lin Piao has written, "The following characteristics of the October revolution and the Chinese revolution are similar : 1) both revolutions took place with a Marxist-Leninist Party as the centre under the leadership of the working class 2) both had as their basis the alliance of the working class and peasantry 3) in both cases state power was captured through a violent revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat was established 4) in both cases after victory of the revolution socialist system has been created and both these revolutions are inseparable parts of proletarian world revolution".

CM's views and his line has no relation with Lin Piao's views and thoughts. Actually it has a clear reflection of Che Guevara's views. Che Guevara says : "A guerilla can represent a poor peasant's land, animals and all their wishes and desires from birth to get all necessary things. In other words a guerilla—above everything—is a peasant revolutionary. A guerilla by individual example, by his own thoughts, plans and experience establishes the ideology of social reform.... The essence of guerilla war is that a group of individuals by their immediate strategic aims becomes the leading force of mass movements and after achieving the aims of the movement, builds up a new society, demolishes the old path and establishes justice......." (Che Guevara : Guerilla Warfare).

The core statement of Mao tse Tung's theory of people’s war is, "The revolutionary war is a war of the masses: it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on the masses". Mao tse Tung's theory of people’s war is strategically a part of proletarian revolutionary politics. And Che theory tells the proletariat that it is powerless, that it cannot think on its own and that they have to depend on 'great leaders'. Che's theory appeals to the impetuosity of middle class romantic adventurism. This theory keeps the proletariat inactive and thus imperialist and counter revolutionary forces promote and prop up such thoughts so as to block the progress of Mao tse Tung's revolutionary thought. Revisionist, imperialist and capitalist forces politically keep Che's theory in the role of its opposition and by doing so use it as its second line of defence. CM, also, by not giving a call to the working class, peasants and other exploited classes to get organized and by making their class struggle and organization irrelevant or secondary and by giving a call to be dependent only on guerillas, is actually effectively keeping these classes weak and inactive against their class enemies. He wants to replace Mao with Che. That is why CM and his group's thoughts cannot be accepted as revolutionary politics based on Mao tse Tung Thought.

(The ML party proposal went through some changes and efforts were made to bring in changes providing the state’s colonial and semi-feudal character. These changes happened after the publication of the 15 May 1969 issue of Deshabrati. But despite the amendments the ML party's analysis of the character of the state and government remained tied in knots as it originally was. Thus I think that my critique as in this essay is still correct.
—Parimal Dasgupta)
Translated from Bengali by Avijit Wasi

[Courtesy : Revolutionary Democracy, October, 2017

Vol. 50, No.29, Jan 21 - 27, 2017