Autumn Number 2019

Split Within Split

'Naxalites': the Same Old Story

Harsh Thakor

In spite of 50 years since the epic naxalbari uprising and forma tion of the CPI (ML) the movement is hardly moving in the direction to re-organise the party.

A series of conflicting and opportunist trends and theoretical weaknesses are crippling the development of an organised movement. This is disheartening when fascism of the Hindutva variety has reached a height as never before.

Firstly, there is still lack of clarity on the aspect of the principal contradiction and the main mode of production. Many still fail to understand the importance of feudalism being the principal contradiction and not capitalism, imperialism or the comprador bourgeoise. Two, sections within the communist revolutionary camp has revised the formula to principal contradiction being "alliance of imperialism and feudalism'', the other "between" comprador bureaucrat bourgeoise and masses, between "capitalism and masses" and "with neo-colonialism". All these fail to understand that feudalism is still the chief prop and imperialism and capitalism can accentuate or intensify only by the sharpening of contradiction between feudalism and broad masses. The only section of the non maoist camp with clarity on this question is the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist). The CPI (ML) New Democracy and the CPI (ML) led by Viswam classify "alliance of feudalism and imperialism as principal while CPI (ML) Red Star classifies neo-colonialism as principal. Maoist Communist League of India sections feel principal contradiction is with capitalism.

Although doing serious mass work in urban areas and playing a major role in publishing Marxist-Leninst-Maoist literature unfortunately the Rahul Foundation Communist League of India group, staunchly defends its classification of India as a capitalist society and refuses to even support democratic struggles of the landed peasantry in Punjab terming, them as demands of the 'Kulaks' and anatgonistic to the rural landless labour. It had a similar stand to the rallies of Adivasis in Maharashtra and all-India morcha of farmers in Delhi. It has done most commendable work in organising the textile workers in Ludhiana winning important demands or wages and permanency and pursued consistent political education. Still it displays a tendency of placing too much emphasis on intellectual study and seminars and not sufficient work to build class mass organisations, which they mainly deploy for propaganda. No doubt they have some of the sincerest-activists who are above all politically enlightened but often because of sectarianism fail to integrate with the broad revolutionary movement. In their view now there is no use in organising workers in factories as they are so scattered and it has to be done in the bastis (slums) of the workers. It also sees no relevance in joining the struggles or doing work in the organised labour class. No doubt there are some of the most creative work they have done amongst steel roller and transport workers in Delhi, particularly in initiating political education classes but still feel there is defective understanding in practice.

The other Communist League of India faction CLI (RC) group places more emphasis on revolutionary mass work rather than propaganda but because of wrong theoretical understanding on mode of production cannot play an overall positive role. The most positive tendency of the CLI off the Ramnath section in Punjab that leads the Inquilabi Kendra and plays an important role in mass revolutionary struggles and political protests. It analyses Punjab to be capitalist which is erroneous but still supports peasant struggles against suicides, for loan waivers and for remunerative prices.

The trend that is acting most against the revolutionary mass line today is the CPI (ML) Red Star group. Under influence of its erroneous evaluation of India becoming a neo colony it has rejected the concept of new democratic revolution and advocated united front with many liberal leftist forces. It supports peasant struggles or protests only from an anti-imperialistic perspective and fails to expose the true enemies of the peasantry. In practice it tails the revisionist left parties. No doubt for a period it did some very commendable work and most determinedly guided the Bhangar tribal movement, but eventually they made a major compromised practice although they do not formally support candidates of revisionist parties or opposition parties, they are virtually the same as CPI (ML) Liberation.

The CPI (ML) led by Viswam accepts India as semi-feudal and commits itself to New Democratic Revolution. However, although sincere in its objective and attempting to be least sectarian, tends to with revisionist parties often calling them for seminars or joint meetings or rallies. However, they hardly demarcated with the politics of the left parties and there was a criticism to parts of their 10-point agenda by the CPI (ML) New Democracy Chnadanna faction, highlighting aspect of unity with left democratic forces. Leaders of CPl spoke on this very platform against communal fascsim and economic oppression which was ecclectic.

The most progressive sections in the non-maoist camp are the CPI (ML) New Democracy, the PCC-CPI (ML) and the CPRCI (ML). Quantitatively New Democracy group is the largest and taking the biggest initiative in the country to oppose the rising neo-fascism in India through seminars, protests and rallies. No group organises more all-India protests within the camp on struggles of workers and peasants. It is guiding the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee in Punjab which has pioneered the movement of dalit landless labour in Punjab and sowed seeds for a bigger revolutionary movement. It also has led important struggles on students’ issues like fee hike post-matric scholarships for dalit students, through the Punjab Students Union under its leadership, guiding the largest student and youth movement in Punjab.

Although ecclectic in formulation the determination of the PCC group to resist the fascist trend and be part of organised movements without sectarian approach in Bengal is admirable.

The Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) is theoretically the soundest organisation, particularly on practice in elections upholding that active political campaign is the correct tactic today and not that of 'active boycott' or 'participation'. It still has the largest following and most qualitative practice of massline in Punjab. But there is no adequate development of its trend nationwide through building mass organisations.

This year people saw some significant memorial campaigns on occa-ssions like commemoration of 50 years of CPI (ML), 100 years of Jalianwalah Bagh or even Charu Mazumdar Birth Centenary etc. In Punjab although two major programmes were launched on the centenary of Jallinawalla Bagh - the CPI (ML) New Democracy trend the pro-Maoist trend and the Nagi Reddy trend failed to unite and organise a single programme. Sectarian spirit was displayed by the pro-New Democracy and pro-Maoist groups of projecting their organisation only and thus not joining a strong united programme organised by Lok Morcha and Inquilabi Kendra in Pranjit Avenue in Amritsar.

In commemorating 50 years of the CPI (ML) formed in 1969 the New Democracy group held a most spirited programme in Youth Centre in Kolkata but was not joined by any other group be it CPI (ML), Maoist, PCC etc. Instead of a joint committee celebrating such an event a single party CPI (ML) New Democracy even if glorifying Mazumdar and his party used it to portray their image. For one thing the 1969 CPI (ML) was formed hastily without sufficient consolidation of the massline and ideological debates and even important sections that later became Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) did not join it. Earlier even Nagi Redy, D V Rao, Chandra Pulla Reddy were expelled from the All India Coordination Committee that was eventually converted into the party. No doubt naxalite should glorify Charu Mazumdar's contribution for giving the political line to Naxalbari where insisting 1969 party formation correct disrespects the proletarian masses line. Later in centenary celebration of Charu Mazumdar in Kolkata there were some most lively programmes but the participating groups failed to syntheise a common celebration rally or hall meeting. lnstead the pro-maoist section held a meeting in Sukanta hall and another intellectuals' joint front held it in Bharat Sabha hall. Participation of other revolutionary groups was negligible.

During the all-India peasant organisation rally in Delhi last year although a historic and most gallant protest even the peasant organisations affiliated to revolutionary groups could not uphold the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist politics and capitulated to demands of the rich peasantry. It virtually tailed the politics of the ruling classes. Punjabi journal Surkh Leeh made a significant critique of the political nature of the All-India peasant front in 2017.

Today the most significant enemy in the country is the menace of Hindutva fascism. No doubt revolutionary forces adopted a serious approach to crystalise a sustained hesitance through a historic convention in Delhi this February. However, although vehemently condemning fascism it single -handedly criticised the BJP-RSS forces and made no attack or significant mention of the Congress. This is a collaborationist approach to building a united front against fascism. Significant that there is a tendency of soft-pending with Ambedkarist politics by important sections of the revolutionary camp. The convention also failed to highlight the feudal, anti-imperialist aspect in anti-fascist or the class aspect. There is a tendency in the camp to over estimate Hindutva fascsim and thus ally with bourgeois forces. Various conventions even at regional level fail to sufficiently address problem of building the united front of the genuine proletarian class. Fascism will not develop in India in the manner of Hitler's Germany or Mussoloni's China or even Chiang Kai Shek's China. India has a much more firmly entrenched parliamentary democracy and not as great a crisis of capital to emulate the experience of those Germany and Italy…India also has much more diversity with a big federal structure and thus there are strong factors which will act against India going completely fascist. What India inherited from the British colonial legacy has a profound influence on the shape fascsim will take. Nor did India have warlords like in Chiang Kai Shek's China. India's fascism will be compradorial in nature as Indian capitalists are totally subservient to the Imperialist countries.

A deep study has made how imperialism and capitalism have entrapped Indian agriculture while still preserving semi-feudal relations. It is meaningless to blindly emulate the Chinese experience with the modern technological revolution.

International Maoist movements is visited principally in Gonzalite trend of party militarisation advocating of 'principally Maoism" promoting concept of 'mass party' or finding fault with leaders like Stalin and Mao for fostering personality cult. And this trend has its impact on the naxalite movements in India.

A consistent struggle was waged against personality cult by V I Lenin, Mao Zedong and even Joseph Stalin to a certain extent in the yester years. Neverthless its infection had an important bearing on the Chinese revolution in the pre- revolutionary and post-revolutionary stages.

It reached its crescendo in the time of the Great Proletarian Cultural revolution with many instances when image of Chairman Mao was exaggerated. Today in the International Communist Movement several parties and individuals are opposing the trend of Jetafura, the staunch advocate of personality cult. Vivid examples are Scott Harrison of America, Ajith of the CPI (Maoist) in India, Joma Sison - chairman of the Communist Party of Philippines and the RCP-Canada. A trend endorsing it is the Struggle Sessions or Red Guards Los Angeles and earlier the Red Guards Austin. They also assert the term of 'principally' Maoism. The error possibly made by chairman Gonzalo was to claim it as the 4th sword of Marxism and a new thought so prematurely before the completion of revolution. It is ironic that the people's war had such a dramatic overturn Chairman Gonzalo propagated suspending the people's war after his arrest in 1992.

Personality cult of a leader promotes religious approach of blind faith. The similar mistake was made by Prachanda in Nepal. Prachanda thought that morally upheld line of insurrection in place of people's war and eventually aligning with the parliamentary process. In India this tendency took place in the era of Charu Mazumdar who greatly foundered his own cult. In Nepan Prachanda repeated the experience of Gonzalo in Peru. In fact in India, certain effect of personality cult did take place with the existence of so many Marxist-Leninist groups where groups named after leaders. Major splits took place on personality issues. In this context one must admire the humility of former CPI Maoist secretary Ganapathy to pave way for a new general secretary for the CPI (Maoist) in recent months, which upheld the collective spirit and leadership. Leaders of course play a substantial role but the personality cult obstructs the principle of collective leadership with M K Gandhi is being a vivid example in the Indian National Congress. A major transition from a bourgeois democracy to a Socialist state is eradicating the glory of the individual.

Leaders have been granted such a stature like Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao for their contribution to development of theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. In China the aspect of the personality cult had its roots in the Confucian religious culture where a great philosopher turned into a God and thus has oriental heritage. No doubt it is an inherent part of human nature to have faith in leader or philosopher just like Jesus Christ and identify with such people. It is virtually impossible that certain tendencies of personality are a forgone conclusion. However, one must apply the dialectical concepts so inherent in Marxism to prevent any leader from turning into a demi-God just like Hitler was created in Germany or Gandhi in India. In China Lin Biao used Mao's personality cult to promote himself and at times Mao was hailed like an emperor in slogans. Chairman Mao did not arguably do enough to curtail the elevation of his cult from 1966-69.

Ironic that within 3 years of the death of Stalin and Mao bourgeois leaderships usurped power. Still it was weakness of practice of massline and not only personality cult that led to reversarl. It was arch revisionist Kruschev who was the pioneer in condemning "Stalin Cult".

Principally Maoism is a hyper antagonistic position that has only caused trouble for Maoists genuinely engaging in the mass-line and building to revolution. Its very adventurist. "Gonzalo thought" is another weird semantic game. Gonzalo almost won a revolution, but it was idealism of his "thought" that led to the failure of the PCP. Jefatura is ridiculous and definitely confused the revolutionary process after his, capture. Much of his positions are ambiguous, though correct if read in a certain way - unfortunately many of the principally Maoist types read him radically differently.

"Militarisation of the party" formulated first by PCP in the 1980's is an ambiguous term. If it means hearing the party for PPW, it's great, if it means liquidation into only activities of war it will not suffice.

That urban putchism led to the reversal of the armed movement of the PCP in Peru. It is not dialectical to state Unified People's War theory of Chairman Gonzalo was a development of Maoism. Still there are trends supporting re-organisation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement by the Communist Party Maoist of Afghanistan and other Maoist sections in Italy and France. Quoting chairman Joma Sison "The CPP has opposed the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) seeking to impose the principle of democratic centralism on communist parties in violation of the principle of equality and independence among them.

At the same time, RIM exaggerated the status and role of the RCPUSA. Since the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, communist and workers' parties have become equal to each other and independent from each other. There has been no Comintern Executive Committee to treat them as national sections of a world party."

What is most vital when being critical of personality cult is that one connects it to the struggle for the massline and not isolated from it.

Of great relevance was how Mao won the majority in the CCP in Tsunyi in 1953 after earlier being in a minority. In India one must study the relationship of Charu Mazumdar's cult with left adventurist line and later how revisionist ideological trend led to opportunist unifications and splits. Bob Avakian's conversion from a genuine revolutionary into a revisionist with the impact of revisionism world over and not merely his individual cult.

Apthy is very progressive in the context of stressing that even socialist societies did not have sufficient revolutionary democratic development like both Russia and China. Most analytically he has evaluated Avakianism. However, he is eccelectical in blaming Stalin and Mao for fostering personality cult and not stressing on aspect of massline. Attacking Stalin and Mao for personality cult is an attack on Maoism or Leninism itself. He fails to understand how leadership develops through massline and only mistakes in political practices can create trends of personality cult. He is also wrongly comparing Avakianism with practices of Stalin in light of metaphysical approach which does not uphold Stalin as a genuine Leninist. Ajith has not analysed how the formation of RIM itself was defective or premature. Attacking Stalin and Mao for personality cult is an attack on Struggle with him a Socialist itself. Personality cult is never divorced from practice. One has to analyse how the Leninist party could incorporate grater revolutionary democracy and be subject to greater criticism by enabling masses hi check the party. Otherwise one will repeat the Kruschevite tendency which attacked Leninism itself in condemning Stalin or Lin Biaoist ideology. Even if errors occurred under Chairman Gonzalo in terms of Jetafura it was a result of defective political understand and practice in certain aspects in the mist of incredible achievements in progress of people's war. Arguably India and the Philippines maoist parties have the most correct approach to leadership. The CPI (Maoist) even replaced its general secretary. Ajith also is ecclectical in later upholding contribution of post-modernist thinkers lo Marxism. Ajith is a great Maoist lender but has to be upheld critically as he virtually clubs Chairman Gonzalo with Prachanda.

"This business of personality cult was initiated by Stalin in total opposition to Lenin's outlook. When the then Soviet leader Kruschev prepared ideolocoal grounds for capitalist restoration by negating Stalin totally, under the guise of rejecting this cult. Mao took up the defence of Stalin. But this was done with Marxist criticism on Stalin's errors, differentiating between what is to be adopted and what rejected. We need to think over whether this was complete. Personality cults ran never be justified in Marxism. But instead of totally rejecting them Mao limited himself to criticising their extreme manifestations. Though this is sought to be justified by appealing to the complex situation of the class struggle in China, it is unacceptable in principle itself. The issue is not the extent of praise, or even whether somebody deserved to be praised. Such cults foster a consciousness of infallibility of an individual, a leadership and indirectly of that party; something rejected by the Maoist party concept but seen in the Chinese party's adjective, "always correct". Contemporary examples, of Maoist parties justifying their leadership cults by citing Mao, draw attention to the need to achieve clarity in this matter."

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