Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cretinism in, Marx out

Basab Dasgupta (Pioneer, April 5, 2008)

The 19th party congress of the CPI(M) will be recalled as one in which the general secretary presided over the destruction of the founding ethos of the party

The 19th congress of the CPI(M), which hogged the headlines through the week, saw the so-called hard-liner, Mr Prakash Karat, presiding over the destruction of Marxism. He has indicated his aversion for not only classical Communism, but also the neo-revolutionary philosophy. He has sought to send a firm message on this by keeping Mr Jyoti Basu and Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet out of the Politburo. The offer to retain them both as "permanent invitees" is only a ploy. Actually, their presence would be a source of embarrassment for a general secretary who wants to destroy the fundamentals of the party.

We are now seeing Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee being lauded as a Chief Minister who wants to bring back the "glory of Bengal" in the field of industry. He feels no shame in recalling the "glory" of the Raj era when imperial forces held sway over the industrial scene of Bengal. A whisper campaign has been started by the present generation of CPI(M) leaders and cadre that Mr Basu was guilty of dragging West Bengal into its economic morass.

But if one recollects the truthful history of the recent past, it should be amply clear that it was Mr Basu who stood accused in January 1995 when he had unfurled a pro-investor industrial policy at a CII conference. Mr Basu stated in his defence at the time that since he was operating within a capitalist framework, he had no option but accept the joint sector model of industrialisation. He further submitted that it was the duty of the state to invite foreign capital and vet each proposal for compliance with existing policies and laws. The Marxist priesthood placed him on the dock to explain his "departure" from the classical line.

Sincere introspection would lead to the conclusion since the inception of the CPI(M) in 1964, the official line adopted by P Sundarayya and Promod Dasgupta was out-and-out against the concept of economic progress within capitalist parameters. According to them, participation in parliamentary democracy was only a tactical move. To quote Promod Dasgupta in his Strategy of Constitutional Subversion From Within, the ultimate objective was "insurrection and seizure of State power".

Dasgupta even believed that because of the uneven development of the Communist movement in India, the party should not adopt a policy of wait and watch. He wanted the "armed struggle" to start from West Bengal, using Bangladesh as hinterland.

Added to it was the theory of contiguous area comprising Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala which would be plunged into guerrilla warfare. This theory was originally Sundaraiya's. Naturally, the obvious objective was to paralyse the blood circulation of the bourgeois economy.

The leadership of the party was overwhelmed by militants who considered Mr Basu a "revisionist". But his tremendous mass popularity restrained the apparatchik from targetting him. From 1977 onwards, though Mr Basu was the Chief Minister, the party more or less traversed the path led by Promod Dasgupta. Mr Biman Basu, Mr Bhattacharjee and others were ardent followers of Promod Dasgupta and spared no efforts to adopt the wayward line to ensure that Mr Basu could not implement his "revisionist" objectives.

Surprisingly, these same leaders now slight Mr Basu for not being industry-friendly enough. They are themselves now transformed as champions of industrialisation. When the ordinary people see Mr Bhattacharjee and his ilk extending their hands to Reliance and others, should they call this an act of deviation or betrayal? They have gone to the extent of violating the concept of MRTP, which was a Nehruvian deterrent to curtail aggressive monopoly.

Mr Karat has also revived the call for a 'Third Front'. Nowhere in India has a 'Third Front' been possible. Left Fronts have been in existence in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, but a coalition comprising Communists and others joined by some new-fangled adhesive called 'secularism' does not work. There is nothing common between the CPI(M) and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr Lalu Prasad Jadav and Mr Chandrababu Naidu. Is there such a thing as a common economic and political agenda?

The pursuit of a 'Third Front' is nothing but pure and simple tailism to secure a few seats here and there. There is not an iota of ideological conviction behind the forging of such an alliance.

In fact, the CPI(M) under Mr Karat has not only left the path of mass movement, but also of class struggle. To recall Vladimir Lenin, what the CPI(M) is pursuing today is "Parliamentary Cretinism". Engels wrote: "Parliamentary Cretinism is an incurable disease, an ailment whose unfortunate victims are permeated by the lofty conviction that the whole world, its history and its future are directed and determined by a majority of votes of just that very representative institution that has the honour of having them in the capacity of its members".

This expression was applied by Lenin to those who considered the parliamentarian system all-powerful, and parliamentarian activities the sole form of political struggle

It is an irony that the very boys who were groomed by P Sundarayya and Promod Dasgupta with an eye to leading the armed revolution, are today championing naked class collaboration. It would be wrong to think that the delegates to the 19th Party Congress were unanimous on all the debated topics. Some of them could not betray their feeling when the issue of Nandigram was raised. A section of delegates criticised the two faces of the CPI(M). How could the same party that opposes Posco in Orissa follow a diametrically different line?

In the truest sense of the term, Mr Karat and his comrades are keen to end the legacy of Mr Basu and Mr Surjeet. It is said parting should be graceful. But lo and behold, they bid good-bye to both the stalwarts without paying any tribute, which is so far a customary practice in the Communist movement.

Mr Nirupam Sen, the new entrant in Politburo, is known to be a serious student of Marxism. He is reported to be one of the few leaders of West Bengal who still reads. But he has his own method to look into things. Basically, Mr Sen is now the ideologue who leaves no stone unturned to prove that the "experiment" in West Bengal is a creative extension of Marxism. In view of the incomplete democratic revolution, he opines, it is the task of the CPI(M) Government to abate capitalism. He forgets that in Russia and China, the post-revolutionary capitalist phase was completed by the working class itself.

Mr Sen also has a simplistic explanation for the end of Russian socialism. He says it happened because it was not preceded by capitalism. I would request him to read the debate between Lenin and Georgi Plekhanov in 1917 along with Lenin's famous theory of "Weakest Link"? Perhaps he is aware of it, yet he defends his profuse love for the Tatas and the Ambanis.

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