The Class Question

Of Reality and Political Illusions!


It is obvious that the majority of the polled votes are secured by such a party which follows crooked means like money, communalism, casteism, deceitful schemes in the name of the welfarism, national chauvinism, in the name of patriotism and so on. Though these unfair practices have been there for a long time in the past, they are increasingly followed in the present times. If a party secures majority of the polled votes, it is considered that the party has people’s mandate. This is why; those who practise electoral politics describe polling as festival of democracy. Not only political parties but also some intellectuals who sincerely stand by the side of the people, think innocently in the same way. In one of his recent articles, an intellectual argued that no party should secure absolute majority so that there won’t be a single-party dictatorship and its leader won’t become a dictator. Such a hope indicates ignorance about the ruling class and its political leaders. At one point of time, this writer too was totally ignorant about classes.

In my 1969-novel titled “In the darkness…”, as I was in political darkness, I showered praises on Gandhi, Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. I, however, after reading Marx’s “Capital”, learnt how to understand rulers. Later, in one of the reprints of my novel, I confessed my mistake as follows: “In this novel I described Nehru as a lover of democracy, as someone who did not believe in racial, religious and class differences. The reality is that Nehru too is a leader of the class of exploiters. When the poor peasantry in Telangana waged a struggle against feudalism during 1946-51 and distributed the lands, the Nehru government resorted to bloodshed, enabled the landlords to get back their lands with the help of the army and tortured the peasants. How can such Nehru be a lover of democracy and above the class distinctions?” This is how I corrected my mistake. I did the same thing in the case of Lal Bahadur Shastri.

“Lal Bahadur Shastri adorned the position of a Prime Minister due to his honesty and self-effort.” This is how I depicted. If it is honesty, it is the honesty towards the Propertied class! That effort was meant to protect the interests of that class. I wrote that Lal Bahadur Shastri ruled in such a way that he destroyed the enemy during the India-Pakistan war. What does ‘destroying the enemy’ mean? ‘Who are the enemies? People of Pakistan are not the enemies of the people of India. If there was a war between these two countries, it was between the capitalists of this country and the capitalists of that country. It is the poor people of both the countries who face losses due to the war. It is the poor people who work as soldiers. It is the poor people who die in the wars.”

Another episode. It was few years after I received the Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy Award, perhaps in 1966, Indira Gandhi visited Visakhapatnam. Then a police officer came to me and informed that there was an invitation to the “celebrities” to meet Indira Gandhi and asked me to attend that meeting. Due to my political ignorance at that time, I too went and met Indira Gandhi. No conversation. Simply looks. Indira Gandhi walked in front of us by receiving our salutations and throwing a single common greeting at all of us! Those who knew about the regime based on exploitation of labour must not visit such ruling class representatives. But such was my political consciousness! When an intellectual expressed his wish that no party should get absolute majority, it is also political innocence.

Political parties work for the interests of the classes that exist in the society. Some parties exist across the country while some function in certain regions only. These parties are of two types: parties which are in the service of the ruling classes and those which are in the service of the working classes.

The ruling classes are those which live on incomes such as profit, interest, and commercial commission. The working classes include workers who perform labour day and night in fields, factories, mines, transport etc.; the tenant farmers, small scale traders, handicraftsmen and the like.

The Communist parties which were originally formed to work for the sake of working classes used to function independently to some extent at one point of time. However, during the past 60 years, they have been following some ruling party or the other. They search for some bourgeois party to follow under the illusion that ‘this party is more dangerous than that party’. What in fact is the essential difference between those parties in terms of their class character? For instance, one ruling party tried to suppress the Adivasi movement in the name of ‘Green Hunt’ and another party too did the same thing under the label “Prahar”! One party openly declared Emergency and the other party is resorting to repression without making any such declaration. Any party in power does misuse crime investigating agencies under its control in order to weaken its rival parties. The party in power throws the small industrialists to the wind and provide all facilities to big capitalists who donate crores of rupees to it. While chanting mantras like self-reliance, Atma Nirbhar Bharath, it wide opens the doors to the foreign capitalists. In the name of welfare schemes, it throws freebies as alms to the working-class poor, amasses their votes and tries to sustain its power again and again.

Though there is no difference between the Congress Party and the BJP in terms of economic policies, ‘majoritarian communalism’ is the special quality which BJP has additionally. If anyone questions this bad quality, they say, “we are not the only communalists. You may say that we did something to Muslims in 2002. But, did the Congress Party not burn Sikhs alive much before us way back in 1984?” This is how they defend themselves by counter-posing the Congress’ wrong doings against their own. ‘Did communal riots not take place during the Congress rule? they say, though their Sangh Parivar played a role in those riots.

Of all the things, most amusing point is defections of MLAs and MPs from one party to another. Those who till yesterday abused each other in the most possible filthy language which can neither be uttered nor written, change their parties by the evening. Does this not mean that there is no difference between these parties in terms of their class nature, class interests and ideology? Another strange thing is that there are several MLAs and MPs in all parties against whom there are cases for committing crimes such as murders, rapes and economic offences. They are the rulers!

When politics of exploitation are of such nature, it is meaningless to make arguments such as ‘this party is more dangerous than that party! Let us first remove this party from power. Will see the other later’. Similarly, it is also an illusion to wish that no party should secure absolute majority. What if a party does not secure majority? Can’t it come to power by forming an alliance with other parties? What great task that a party accomplish whether it remains the single largest party or form alliance with other parties? Nothing but facilitating exploitation of labour without any hurdles.

Well, then, what should the intellectuals and political parties that stand by the side of the people do? To carry on class struggle related activities without aligning with the political parties which defend exploitation of labour. Instead, if they align with one of the two exploitative political blocs, how will the working masses benefit? They will have to remain like a tail to one or the other ruling class parties for any number of years. Well, then, when will they offer the working people a programme of class consciousness necessary to change this world of exploitation of labour? Only when they abandon all the illusions about the ruling class politics. To abandon the political illusions, people need to follow Marx’s suggestion: “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 plaything in their hands”.

(Translation from Telugu: B R Bapuji)

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Vol 56, No. 10, Sep 3 - 9, 2023