The Unity Question

An Open Call to Communist Revolutionaries

Arup Baisya

The fundamental premise for unity of communist revolutionaries is definitely Marxism. Marxism is a guide to action. So it is the action that guides the path to unity of communist revolutionaries. The communists are not the historians who strive to know what and how such and such things appeared in the past, but discover the past in its present to formulate an action for the future. Communists dwell on the present to know and influence the future trajectory of society through their action. So it is the action that guides the future. The question of unity is such an action that gives rise to a guide for new action. Why unity is to be achieved is more important than how it should be achieved. Communists are not moral foot-soldiers; they are the actors, the role of which is determined by the social conflict. They have a vision for the future and a mental theory to act radically. This determined action is dialectically intertwined with multifaceted indeterminations. Can the social conflict within a social relation of production be fully determined? If it is not, does it mean that communist revolutionaries should wait for their programme to be experimentally proven and vindicated by the society in their actions? The maximalist stand of doing nothing and waiting for the opportune moment for vindication of programmatic line, and mini-malist approach of emphasising on only doing something are both counter-productive and end in status-quoist quagmire.

Gramsci raised the “Southern Question” in Italy and his proposition was that Italian programme for radical change, and united front and communist unity against fascism cannot be resolved without addressing the “Southern Question”. He was right in its essence, but he visualised it within the framework of centre-periphery relation, the relation between developed capitalist region and backward feudal region. Communist revolutionaries in India conceptualised the idea of revolution mostly from Chinese experience of backward feudal region and this legacy is still continuing. In Indian context, one cannot delineate the issue as western or northern question. The Russian experience had not helped communists much in understanding the Indian social contour in the backdrop of a global capitalism as a system. The Russian revolution took place in a different global context and internal social dynamics of developed capitalist region with proletarian presence and region of peasant commune with Russian specificities and largely undisturbed by capital penetration. It is true that the legacy emanated from Naxalbari peasant uprising and carried forward by the communist revolutionaries in India could not settle the question of later development of intermingling and overlapping social territorial spaces in its entirety within a global capitalist system. The great Indian mode of production debate in the 1970s could not also settle the question in either side of the two camps. The mode of production debate is never-ending and it cannot be settled through experiences and studies because experiences are varied and studies are always incomplete. But all practising Marxists can realise from their practice that there are certain changes in social relations of production. In addition to the land reform in ownership pattern, the co-operation of peasantry in production and struggle against corporate domination has been emerging as important agenda as big land-holding class is numerically not significant in proportion to small peasant community. If this question of characterisation of Indian society cannot be settled through debate and discussion, how can this be the basis for the unity of communist revolutionaries? One who argues that the unity is fragile without settling this debate actually puts the question of revolutionary seizure of power in backburner and cannot be considered as revolutionary. The revolutionary party formulates a progra-mme for revolution in a given social condition, but the implementation of programme itself is always in a flux as the given situation is always in a flux and in constant motion. The theory and practice is a dialectical relation, and it is very difficult to justify one’s praxis in consonance with theoretical formulations in a mechanistic format. If there is always a mismatch between the theory and practice, why the question of unity should not be addressed from practical situation? Before dwelling briefly on what practical situation actually means, this writer would like to mention that revolutionary praxis based on Marxism as a guide to action is not like natural science where one can wait decades after decades for laboratory experiments to validate the once formulated theory for being compatible with observations or wait for a moment of paradigm shift when the large number of observations becomes incompatible with the theory. In Marxian sense, communists have an agenda for revolution or seizure of power which is not determined by theory and praxis alone, but by the society in change and in motion. This places them in a position where concrete analysis of concrete situation, unlike natural science, becomes a continuous process for formulating the concrete task. The task of achieving the revolutionary unity is dictated by such concrete analysis of concrete conditions, otherwise apparently moral standpoint of achieving programmatic unity is actually a reformist standpoint. It is a practical question.

What Lenin said about revolution in State and Revolution is true, though in its entirety, the content of the book should not be considered as Gospel and Lenin himself changed his position at a later stage on various issues. Lenin said, “Revolution can never be forecast; it cannot be foretold, it comes of itself. Revolution is brewing and is bound to flare up”. He further said, “To the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution.”

It won’t be wrong if one dogmatically adheres to Lenin’s definition of revolutionary situation. Lenin emphasised three criteria for assessment of revolutionary situation.

One, “when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change, when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the upper classes, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the classes burst forth”. Almost all the revolutionary formations agree that Indian ruling class is treading the path to change the character of the Indian state to fascism or authoritarianism. What else does it mean if it is not the indication that both upper and lower classes are unable to rule and willing to be ruled in old way. Can one not see the fissures emerging within the ruling dispensation?

Two, “when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual”. Is there anyone in Communist camp who denies this fact? The answer is in the negative.

Three, “when, as a consequence of the above causes there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, when uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the upper classes themselves into independent historical action”. Any keen social observer can observe the deepening restlessness hitherto absent within the north Indian society which has always been the pivot of hegemonic control of Indian system by the Indian ruling classes. Is not the policy shift of Indian Government towards aggressive pan-Indian statist drive of evacuating and displacing the people from prime land and installations to support both the corporate market forces with property and cheap labour and simultaneously promoting rentier neo-feudalist class are marked by the crisis situation and upper class action?

As Gransci underlined the importance of “Southern Question” in Italy, the great legacy of Naxalbari peasant uprising should not be a barrier for the communist revolutionaries to take stock of the pan-Indian situation as well as the changes in northern heartland of Indian ruling system. The emphasis on programmatic unity evades the real question of concrete analysis of concrete situation and becomes a reformist standpoint at its core. In the backdrop of deepening systemic crisis and people’s rising anger, the revolutionaries should and must rise above all small or big party sectarianism and narrow vision from the experience gathered from a limited space, and take genuine, sincere and visible effort for unity which will give a boost to the morale of workers-peasants and section of disillusioned middle class.

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Vol 55, No. 14-17, Oct 2 - 29, 2022