Autumn Number 2019

The Peasant Question Returns

Land, not for Ram Janma Bhumi, but to the Tiller!


About thirty years ago, the agitators belonging to the Radical Youth League in Andhra Pradesh wrote this slogan on the walls. Though the slogan has not become true even today, it is still a wonderful revolutionary slogan. Propagation of this slogan is an essential task even today.

The intent of this slogan is not to ask the bourgeois ruling class to distribute the land to the tillers. Nor to harbour illusions that the ruling class satisfies the people's need for land. It meant to make people aware of the question, namely, 'should land that exists in nature be utilised for dwellings, cultivation, schools, hospitals and such other natural needs? Or should it be wasted for temples in the name of Rama Janma Bhumi, Krishna Janma Bhumi etc.?'

What, in fact, is the extent of earth in which humans can stand? If one leave aside the space occupied by oceans, hills, forests and valleys, there remains very little space, as little space as that of a palm, for humans to dwell. Should one leave hundreds and thousands of acres of land to build temples and statues for gods and goddesses in that little space? Can't the devotees exhibit their devotion at their own homes? Don't the devotees believe that gods feel happy if they hang the pictures of gods on their walls in their homes and salute them hundred times a day? Do the devotees who believe that earth itself is a goddess (bhudevi) need still other gods?

Is Ayodhya the birth place of Rama? The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) devotees become hysterical only during election season for the past many years and declare that they would build Ram temple in the same place where they demolished the religious structure of another religious community. After how many years will they give up the slogan, 'We will build the temple there itself' (mandir wahii banayenge! ) This is the tactic of those who intend to grab votes. The exploiting classes are able to resort to such tactics because the people of laboring class are unable to understand their problems properly.

Any political party obsessed with the bourgeois parliamentary path resort to the same kind of tactics. At a time when Communist revolutionary movement existed even to a very limited extent, the exploiting ruling classes resorted to various tactics like 'Democratic Socialism', 'Land Reforms', 'Nationalisation of Banks', 'Garibi Hatao' etc. The bourgeois rule, which cannot provide educational and employment opportunities to all people, will stage new dramas like 'Mandal Communism', 'BC Commission' and so on as if Reservation policy itself is a great solution. Again, to sabotage the movement for Reservations, another section within the ruling class starts Ratha Yatra for Ram Mandir. Tactics of the various sections within the ruling classes excel one another.

The ruling party demonstrates its patriotism by destroying dozens of tribal villages in order to erect a huge statue of a bourgeois leader by spending crores. They erect the statues of feudal emperors in the midst of an ocean, while hundreds of farmers commit suicides! Neglecting the regional inequalities, they divide regions, increase hostilities between regions and harbor illusions that a separate state would have 'golden' future. If the government gets golden nose rings to goddesses and gold crowns to male gods, the devotees belonging to the working classes too go into ecstasy. After how many deceptions will the working classes turn their attention to Marxism? At least, intellectual labourers ought to open their eyes, oughtn't they?

In his preface to Marx's 'Class Struggles in France', Engels observes that there is a connection between the political conflicts and the existing social classes and fractions of the classes and are ultimately connected with the economic causes. He observes that 'the particular political parties are the more or less adequate political expression of the social classes and their fractions'. To what extent the working class understood this fact? Has this class heard of Marxism at all?

Whether it is BJP, Congress or the regional parties that align with them protect the economic interests of ruling class and its fractions. The ruling class owns and controls not only the material means of production like land, mines, factories, transport but also mental means of production like TV channels, films, newspapers, Radio and educational institutions. Hence the ideas of the ruling class that are propagated through these mental means of production will also be the ideas of the ruled class (people). Marx and Engels had stated this fact in the 'Manifesto of the Communist Party' about 170 years ago. Doesn't our class know about it?

As soon as one section of the ruling class declared that a god named Rama was born at a particular spot in the town of Ayodhya and that the structure of another religious community existing in that spot must be demolished, people who were intoxicated with the religious opium marched in lakhs carrying a brick each to that spot. Have those people not realized that mistake even today? Has no thought cropped up in their heads? Thoughts 'what is right and what is wrong' occur to humans and not to animals. Workers (both manual and intellectual) exhibit extraordinary talent in the processes of production; raise the old technology to a higher level in a single month; and outpour surplus labour day and night to their masters---Why has this working class remained like lifeless play things in the hands of the exploiting ruling class? What must be the reason? What else? What must be the reason if class Ten students do not know basic Arithmetic: how to add or subtract? Perhaps it is the beauty of the method of teaching of Maths teacher. Why say 'perhaps'? Precisely it is the only reason! What happened to the political parties who claim to be Marxist when our working class is leading its life without being aware of Marxism? Aren't these parties part of the working class? Which side their eyes turn other than the working class?

There are lakhs of landless agricultural labourers as per the Government statistics. Poor farmers and tenant farmers are in crores. What sort of dwellings do the pauperized people who go to the cities get?

Indian rulers might be obsessed with erecting a lifeless statue in the so-called birth place of 'Shri Rama'. The ruling class might ignore the fact of sewerage workers (safayi karmachari) die in the sewerage tanks. Even Sri Rama is not concerned!

There is no wonder if there is a movement for building a temple where lakhs of children do not have schools. Does our class not have the anger to react to such temple movements thus, 'Why that temple? Whom does it help?' The same class will wear whatever new clothes it has and stand in the queues at the polling booths, wont' it? Appropriate propaganda must be conducted in such a way that innocent people of the working class realize how hypocritical the slogan for temples is. If the slogan, 'Land to the Tiller' reaches the ears of the people, will it not have any impact? Whatever be the slogan, it alone is not enough. In addition, related issues too must reach the working class people. It is immaterial here whether the people who secure land will cultivate individually or collectively. Of course, they don't secure land through the bourgeois ruling class, but by means of class consciousness and struggle. That is a different movement altogether. Such a movement will teach people about collective relationships as well.

Need of the hour is that the working class people should act with self-respect without being surrendered to any bourgeois party. In this connection, Communists in India must understand Marx's suggestion which he wrote to a trade union leader in America way back in November 1871: "Where the working class is not yet far enough advanced in its organisation to undertake a decisive campaign against the collective power, i.e., the political power, of the ruling classes, it must at any rate be trained for this by continual agitation against this power and by a hostile attitude toward the policies of the ruling classes. Otherwise it remains a play thing in their hands..." Who has to train the working class? Those who understand this point.

On cultural front, it is also necessary to explain the nature of Ramayana culture, which the ruling classes carry on their heads and adore it as a holy culture. One should to raise the consciousness of the people so that they raise questions against the glorification of such ghastly acts as the following as great culture: Caste system (killing of Shambuka); atrocities on tribals (killing Tatak, cutting nose and ears of Shurpanakha, killing of Vali); insulting women (asking Sita to prove her chastity by undergoing fire test); hypocritical values (Rama's consent to Bharata to coronate his sandals even though he had no right over the throne as per the story; hunting of animals in the forest against the condition that he ought to lead the life of an ascetic during his exile as per the story); desire for expanding the kingdom (Uttara Kanda); torturing the people of enemy's kingdom (setting fire to Lanka by Hanuman) and so on and so forth.

Who ought to carry on this task? Who else, other than the cadres of Communist parties who learnt things from Marx's writings?

[Originally appeared in Andhra Jyothy, daily 6-11-2018. Translation from Telugu: B R Bapuji]

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Autumn Number 2019
Vol. 52, No. 13 - 16, Sep 29 - October 26, 2019