The Polish Question Revisited

Rediscovering Marxism and Revolution

Arup Baisya

The Marxist and revolutionary praxis all over the world had lost its vigour post-collapse of the USSR. In front of the onslaught of neoliberal restructuring of production and labour process and the concomitant ideological influence due to the success stories at its initial phase led the working class to the receiving end and the revolutionary praxis to disarray. But the great things also happen in the epistemology of changing the world to change oneself at the time of retreat of a colourful and vibrant process of building a world beyond capitalism. The waning of revolutionary movements eo ipso shifted the limelight to the questioning of Marxism and its unilinear version. Hundreds of Marxism have emerged from the practising Marxism and new insights have also surfaced in theoretical premise from the attempt to interpret the world from diverse dimensions. But the defeat begets defeat in theoretical and practising renderings so long as the agency of changing of the world i.e. the working class remains within the confinement of the ideology of benevolent capitalism. The Marxist practice in India too visualised the working class as a victim of capitalism, not as the agent of change and as such hovered around the agenda of reformism. The real danger of Marxist practice lies in the linear interpretation of Marxism as a set of formulae and not as an evolving process and these have been adequately challenged by the Post-Marxist thinkers. But they inevitably failed to challenge the basic premise of Marxism "the philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways, the question is how to change it". When the global and Indian polity is agog with the possibility of change and the working class and the masses have upped the ante to challenge the capitalist relation of production, Marxism is once again becoming the common meeting ground of all the forces aspiring to go beyond capital. In the history of capitalism, whenever the capitalist production system entered a crisis, Marxism showed the light to the oppressed and exploited for liberty.

During the last few decades, it was a common understanding among the Indian revolutionaries that the democracy in Kashmir with the right to self-determination is a precondition for democracy in India. Kashmir has a checkered history of rebellion and subjugation, but Kashmir question has never relegated to such a marginal question in Indian political lifeline as it is today. This compels Marxists to review the past prescient positioning and putative understanding of Kashmir question as Marx changed his strategy on Polish question from time to time.

In 1847, Marx's view was that the victory of the English proletarians over the English bourgeoisie is decisive for the victory of all the oppressed over their oppressors. Hence Poland must be liberated not in Poland but in England. Since the revolt in Poland of 1794, 1830, and 1846 had been crushed by its powerful neighbours Russia, Prussia, and Austria, Marx's view was that England would give the signal for the deliverance of Poland and that therefore Poland would be liberated only when the nations of Western Europe had won democracy. Marx, Engels and their colleagues viewed the labour struggle and democratic one as closely related. Again in 1863, when a full-scale uprising broke out in Poland, Marx viewed it as the harbinger of a wider European revolution. The Marxist revolutionaries in India tend to fall prey to the staticity of mindset and formulate the strategy once for all. In the backdrop of a jascist danger and the rising people's movement to challenge this menace, the revolutionaries need to review its strategy and assert that the victory of democracy in the rest or India is the precondition for a victory of democracy in Kashmir.

In the Indian landscape, the fascist movement and its fallout of on-going meticulously planned subversion of constitutional democracy for a fascist take-over of power is facing tough challenges from the people's multifaceted movement for citizenship rights, rights of the workers and peasants, women's rights, forest rights, people's rights on natural resources, ecological rights, etc.

Though all these movements are fundamentally directed against the neo-liberal economy and masculine nationalism, these are revolving around a defensive and reformist agenda. The participation of the working class is still not as class-in-itself for transformation to class-for-itself but as a group of workers especially in cities and urban centres.

The people's upsurge in cities and urban areas on citizenship question has already brought the question of democracy and state character into the focus of political discourse. This indicates that if all the people's movements can be coordinated with a common revolutionary direction, it can lead to a revolutionary crisis in the next round of popular uprising under the leadership of working-class and workers—peasants alliance in the event of a global economic meltdown.

One should not miss the social dynamics of ongoing spontaneous people's movement in India on the citizenship question. Firstly, the epicentres of this people's upsurge are urban areas and cities. Secondly, though the Muslims, Dalits, and women are at the forefront, it should be kept in mind the workers in urban and city areas are mostly constitutive of people from these communities.

If imperialism is defined as the domination of capitalist forces over the pre-capitalist relations of production, then imperialism is inherent in capitalism from its birth. Lenin defined imperialism as the latest form of capitalism, not highest, based on the dependence of industrial capital on finance capital for the emergence of monopoly capital and the domination of backward countries by the centres of capitalist nation-states and the imperialist conflict thereon with a danger of war. The centre-periphery and capitalist and pre-capitalist relation is prevalent throughout the global capitalist system, it does not matter whether the imperialist is in driving seat or not. It is naive and mechanistic approach to divide the totality into two separate continuum of imperialist capitalist centre and pre-capitalist periphery without delving into the changes within the precapitalist relation of production due to killing of space by time for global expansion of capital.

The diversity is not always progressive, sometimes it may also act as a regressive factor for revolutionary change. Today's identity or Dalit Adivasi movement is not the same as the movement in the nineteen-eighties. The new emerging leaderships are representing the students-youths, women and working-class and they are fundamentally fighting for a new India with the question of identity rights underlying within this grand narrative. Prakash Ambedkar is leading a long march on the citizenship question. The Bhim army and other newly formed or reorganised Dalit organisations are unconsciously leading and addressing the inherent issues related to the working class gradually making the old class leadership redundant and that's why the leaders like Mayawati are muted.

The global capitalism is in deep crisis and due to the inherent contradictions within capitalism or due to any external triggering effect this crisis may lead to another global meltdown. The Indian people's movement this time has set the stage for another popular uprising in the event of a global meltdown when the working class will be at the forefront. The epicentre of such uprising will, likely, remain as the urban and city areas with rural areas as rear. It is worth mentioning here that post-1905, Russia was predominantly an agricultural country with industrial cities and urban areas having deep penetration of European capital and Russia did not even achieve the basic tenet of bourgeois democracy of universal suffrage.

This necessitates a formidable revolutionary subjective force who can play the role from the perspective of "from the masses, to the masses" to emerge and this underlines the urgency of the unity, albeit through stages, of all the Indian communist revolutionaries.

In the absence of revolutionary subjective force organically linked with the people's movement, there is every possibility that the people's movements which have mostly developed spontaneously and from their life-experience either may be coopted by a new version of liberal democracy with a soft Hindutva core or fascist state may be successful to supress the people's assertions.

But there is no denying the fact that this moment of the here and now is the moment for broadest unity against the imminent danger of fascist takeover of the state.

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Vol. 52, No. 41, April 12 - 18, 2020