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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 43 October 15, 2022

Challenges Before the Left — Internationally & India | Kobad Ghandy

Saturday 15 October 2022, by Kobad Ghandy

Paper presented at a Seminar at Vijayawada organised by CPI On Sept 30 2022

 By ‘left’ I would first draw a distinction between communists and social democrats as seen through history. Though the term basically encompasses both trends, which, of course, need to come together in the fight against fascist forces; here I will focus only on the former.

Social democrats are more for reforming the existing system to try and make it more equitable within the bourgeois structure. Communists are for radical change whether through democratic revolution (where feudal/pre-capitalist relations continue to predominate) or for socialist revolution (where capitalist relations are predominant). Here, I am not referring to the path, as that is dependent on circumstances prevailing — I am approaching change only from a historical materialist concept.

In this paper, as already mentioned, I will only refer to the communists and not social democrats, though the term ‘left’ would encompass both and, no doubt both will need to ally at the ground level to fight the right-wing and fascist forces. The social democrats have today a large presence in parts of Latin America, Europe and there are also radical opposition parties/groups in the US, UK and other places. In today’s world of increasing fascism worldwide, these Socialists of varied hues have a positive role to play (if they take appropriate stands), but in the final analysis they have not been able to stop the ravaging capitalist/imperialist system which is destroying the entire world, whether it be people’s lives or nature, for the gain of a few thousand billionaires and their hangers on. When the capitalist system is in crisis it is generally the political extreme right that comes to the fore and any form of opposition to them is welcome as long as it is truly an opposition — not like the Democrats and Republicans in the US or the Conservative and Blair-type Labour party in the UK. Yes, a Bernie Sanders or a Jeremy Corbyn could be defined as social democrats with limitations, but they are not likely to be allowed to come to power even by their own party leadership.

Communists and progressives need to be able to assess the changing world situation well in advance and devise appropriate and new tactics well in time to face the changes evolving. Unfortunately, they were caught totally napping by the pandemic/lockdown entirely falling prey to mainstream propaganda and fear psychosis generated by them. The social democrats and most others of the left (including radical), became irrelevant during the most recent crisis of the pandemic. This witnessed the most extreme form of destruction, where the most autocratic methods were used to push millions to death and crores more to illness through isolation, masking and untested vaccines. Here, most sections of the ‘left’ were found wanting to counter the Cabal’s’ Great Reset’ agenda being pushed through under the cover of pandemic restrictions. Things are only set to get even worse given the serious economic crisis in the capitalist system, as outlined by top economist Nouriel Roubini and the current recessions sweeping the US, EU and elsewhere, together with historically high inflation rates and public debt figures. But will the left and democrats at least now rise to the occasion or once again fall prey to the propaganda machinery of the Cabal-funded/controlled media?

Not only this, the communist and left have to realise, that a situation far worse than the Great Depression or even WWII is inevitable and Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset is just a fascistic-model for the billionaire club (led by the cabal) and their hangers-on to survive at the cost of the rest of the people of the world in such a scenario. The worldwide lockdown was only their first experiment in that direction. More is to come, and much worse. Added to this, is the conflict between a declining superpower — the US — and the rising power, China, which is reaching epic levels. But because of their intertwining economies and mutual interdependence it seems that they played the pandemic game together. In fact, China has been more extreme in its fascistic measures, as, it is said the worlds’ major production units are present there and no country wants those to be disturbed -not just the Chinese rulers. The Ukraine war is yet another product of this conflict playing out both militarily and also economically. The US promotes it to push the interests of its military-industrial complex and the Russia-China axis uses it to bring down the dollar and replace the international currency with the rouble and more likely the Yuan, using Russian oil and gas as a weapon. Taiwan and the South China Sea is another potential war front being aggravated by the US.

In this complex scenario the western and Chinese rulers may resort to even more draconian measures than during the pandemic, and at least this time the left should not fall prey to their propaganda machine and fall into the trap of one or the other rival power, and once again turn impotent in the face of the onslaught.

With most economies going into recession due to hyperinflation/stagflation and a historic and unsustainable debt, and with divisions between the super-rich and the rest/poor reaching levels never seen before and only widening by the day —the world is on the brink of its worst crisis ever. We see a similar situation playing out in India with the wealth of both Adani and Ambani crossing $ 100 bn - both having been built not on entrepreneurship but on cronyism — gifts/subsidies/land/doles from governments and massive debt. The latter makes them extremely fragile and over-leveraged, with Adani having an official debt of Rs 2.6 trillion and Ambani selling his shares to foreign companies to reduce debt. Poverty levels have already shot through the roof, pushing even a section of the middle classes into a state of helplessness, unable to earn a decent income.

In spite of this crisis, resulting in extreme impoverisation of the masses, the International Communist Movement (ICM) has never been so weak since World War II as it is today. Why is that? Not only organisationally but also ideologically. We have seen the historic socialist revolutions of the 20th century — Soviet Union & China — reversed and the strong people’s movements worldwide of the 1960s/1970s/1980s in the doldrums. Why is this?

No doubt, the external factors played a role, but these cannot be the main reason for the setback; they have to be internal to the communists themselves. No doubt, the neo-liberal policies since the mid-1980s and the consumerism that accompanied it, have resulted in the fractured character of the working class and also had a deep impact on the consciousness of the masses (particularly youth). The introduction of the neo-liberal economic policies smashed trade unions, outsourced labour to third world countries and contractualised labour and fractured the working class in most parts of the world. While the working class is no longer what it was in the past, consumerism and internet/mobile obsession has numbed idealism in the youth and is creating a craving for goods and an obsession for cheap entertainment.

No doubt the isolation, economic insecurity and frustrations creates grounds for a new idealism, but due to lack of a creative alternative most are turning to new-age gurus for solace rather than seeking an environment where humane relations could be brought in. Whether it is for the working class and peasantry, or the youth the communists have to seek new tools to impact the masses, particularly those seeking an alternative.

Though these external factors do play an important role in dividing and numbing the masses for radical change the bourgeoisie have no answers for the ills of the system. They have merely found new methods to attack the working-class movements and communists to sustain their exploitative system in some form — be it fascism as during the Great Depression, wars to serve varied ends, reformism/Keynesianism, and now the unprecedented worldwide lockdown, putting veritably the entire world population under house arrest- to diffuse revolt.

Having said that, and seeing the material conditions are not particularly conducive to change it is important to realise that external factors can never be the main cause for the weakness amongst us, it has to be internal to the communist movement itself. So, it is for us to analyse the real causes for our setback and also devise new and different tactics to deal with different concrete situations.

Unfortunately, that has not been done by communists worldwide, in the current scenario, particularly with the two major socialist reversals and the onset of neo-liberalism. The bourgeoisie has successfully gained the upper hand not only politically and economically but also socially where the bourgeois and often feudal narrative predominates.

Politically we see today all communist parties -whether legal or extra-legal — in terminal decline. This is at both the international level as also in India. And this is not only organisationally where they have shrunk to a level of insignificance, but more particularly ideologically. They are unable to consider anything new and creative to meet their deep stagnation; they are inclined towards either rigidity/dogmatism; routinism, working as though there is no change in the world; or defeatism. Some go into depression witnessing the pathetic state of affairs others continue like the ‘monk tolling the bell’ conducting day-to-day activities, going around in circles, not looking whether the work is really taking them forward towards their goal. They resemble the rider of a rocking horse (rather than a real horse that gallops ahead), pedalling harder and harder but finally staying in the exact same position that they were probably decades back. Others tend to lose hope and resort to varied esoteric ides claiming creativity in the name of Marxism, ridding it of its essence of class struggle and socialist transformation.

 In this scenario what needs to be done at both the international plane and here in India to give communism a new life?

Or does it indeed need a new life? Or is it outdated as many probably feel due to the severe and persisting setback. The reality is that capitalism has pushed the world to the brink, destroying millions of lives and even entire nature. There is no other known alternative system to capitalism, as yet, except socialism/communism. So, if we are to save the planet there is need to move in that direction.

In addition, it has to be once again reiterated that Marxism is the most scientific of philosophies (at least known till today), and its dialectical and historical materialism method gives us the best tools to find answers — not only for the ills of society, but also to find solutions in our personal lives and social intercourse. Of course, it has to be wielded effectively/scientifically and not distorted to serve some intellectual obsession, nor dogmatically like some granth/religion. It has to be wielded in the best interests of the oppressed people and for the well-being of the majority. Basically, as I have said elsewhere towards a goal of happiness for the majority.

Today Marxism too has tended to become ossified by the few communists that remain, repeating quotes like some gospel truth from the Bhagwat Gita, rather than treating it as a guide to action. Who is interested in every quote of the classics; what is important is to understand the methodology used and the science intrinsic to it, and use our own mind to apply it creatively to the current situation — whether changing society, building an organisation, or even understanding mere human relations (including man-woman). It is basically a scientific outlook which continues to be enriched by newer experiences (and revolutions) as also discoveries in the realm of science (like psychology) as also social sciences. This is its essence.

We often get caught in the trap of dogmatism or its opposite extreme in mere intellectualism in the name of creativity. In either case we deprive Marxism of its class essence and turn it on its head into being either an abstract religious text, or some liberal 19th century philosophy. The essence of Marxism (or dialectical & historical materialism) is that it is radical, questions everything, doesn’t take anything at face value, doesn’t accept ‘norms’ just because it is acceptable to do so, and most important tries to see the human essence in everything and every relationship.

We must remember that Marx and Engels gave us the tools (dialectical & Historical materialism) to not only understand society, but also to change it. This was wielded effectively first in Russia, where Lenin and his vast number of contemporaries not only brought about the first socialist revolution in the history of mankind but also creatively evolved many economic, political, social concepts far advanced for their times, notwithstanding many lacunae seen only in retrospect. Whether it was on the implementation of the socialist economy and the polity linked to it for the first time in history, the organisation of the state, the gigantic contributions in the social and cultural realm like those of Gramsci, Clara Zetkin, Alexander Kollontai and numerous others with lively and deep debates. That too at a time when the world was going through its worst ever economic crisis and then the World War. It was something formidable for its time and has given us, till today, much to study and use as tools to further develop our understanding.

Then we come to the post WWII scenario where China brought forward another historic revolution in one of the most backward countries of the world. Yet, they did not replicate the Soviet Union, they learnt from some of its errors — more particularly the negative effects of over centralisation of power — both in the economy (the state sector) and in the Party (bureaucratisation). Not only did they pin-point these shortcomings in the Soviet Union they devised ideological, political and organisational steps to counter them. Also, these revolutions impacted intellectual giants like Satre, Camus, Yung, Simon de Beauvoir and numerous others. In India too it impacted people like Periyar, M.N Roy and many intellectuals and communists.

Unfortunately, both these revolutions have since been reversed. Many portray these failures as the impracticality of socialism/communism. But what of the alternative — capitalism, which has become ever more rapacious. And so far, there is no third alternative. In fact, both these reversals were not so much the failure of the two experiments but the limitations in the experiences of countering a highly sophisticated bourgeoisie built on centuries of experience and a ruthlessness and cunning that would put Hitler to shame. But, no doubt, there has been retrogression in the communists the world over, with the probable one exception of the tiny country Cuba. We need to look at these if we are to build anew better.

Look at India too, whether it is the parliamentary Marxists or the extra parliamentary Marxists. If we look at the former, from being the largest opposition party in the parliament post-independence, to a practically zero existence today. Even the extra-parliamentary groups, from being a force to reckon with till as late as 2010 it is now confined to small circles which keep splitting and splitting and the largest amongst them which once had a wide base, called the red corridor, is now confined to small pockets in Bastar.

So, whether we look at the situation internationally or at the level in India the condition of the communists is pathetic. This is notwithstanding the increasing levels of poverty and inequality. Why is this?

Now let us try and understand the philosophical roots of the problems of communism — this will apply internationally and in India.

Next, we will try and understand what are the concrete shortcomings in India, within this general framework, and also what requires to be done here.

Philosophical Problems of Communism

In the third section of my book Fractured Freedom I have tried to look into the reasons for the setback. Way back in 2012 I wrote from Tihar:

Why such a devastating reversal? What happened to our hopes and dreams for a better future? Forget the autocratic rulers, why did the masses so easily choose a free market over real freedom, as also freedom from want? if there are no clear-cut answers and also solutions, the communists of today may continue to live ostrich-like in their make-believe limited worlds; but the future will pass them by.’ Look at India, for example, not only are the parliamentary left in stagnation, but so are the varied Naxal factions. Let alone growth, both trends have declined from their peak years in the 1990s and early 2000s, and that too just at a time when the neo-liberal economic policies have hit the masses the worst, and they needed socialist policies the most! 

A decade has passed since, and after coming out of jail in October 2019 I found the situation of the communists even worse than what I had portrayed then. What is the reason?

The communists, it appears, have ceased to be creative and tend to work in the old mould — the parliamentarian ones are unable to inspire the masses with any alternatives having just one goal — to get more seats; the radical one’s adopt the same routinism as they did decades back running after events (i.e taking up issues of the masses with little politicisation) and going round in circles. Nothing that inspires the youth with something new nor the masses with any economic gains.

Based on my 50 years working in the communist movement in India (starting from London) and an analysis of the setback in the Socialist countries, I came to the conclusion that we communists tend to accept Marxism ideologically but are unable to imbibe its essence — its outlook. We accept at the intellectual/logical level but are unprepared or unwilling or unable to change our backward thinking and views. I have been stating since my 2012 essays to make the communist project sustainable and viable there must be incorporated questions of freedom, happiness and the new values (Anuradha model), and that the starting point for any analysis should be from one’s own practice - our own autocratic behaviour and undemocratic structures we have ourselves created and perpetuated — not just far away systems that had done much for their people, notwithstanding their lacunae.

We first have to see where we have gone wrong and from that try and generalise when we witness similar phenomena elsewhere. It has become the fashion to portray socialist systems as autocratic and communists as dictatorial. When done by the bourgeoisie one can understand as they prefer to ignore their own weakness and portray socialism/communism in the blackest way possible. But communists too have tended to do the same ignoring the historical necessities, and also blind to their own undemocratic practices even in the smallest of circles, let alone the larger parties in India. It is not honest to find flaws elsewhere while ignoring our own practice.

When I wrote those six articles from Tihar jail in 2012, I adopted an approach of starting from one’s own practice and then generalising. First it was mine and Anuradha’s experience. Next, I kept before me the organisational experience we both had over the past half century. The starting point was our personal lacunae and positivises. I saw myself as having been rigid, dogmatic, mechanical in the past, though I did maintain a questioning approach. On the other hand, I saw in Anuradha the model of what a communist should be like, though, being human, she would surely also have negative attributes.

From this assessment of ourselves I then tried to understand the organisational experiences we both had and then moved on to the movements in general and finally the failed socialist systems. From this I came to the conclusion that the cause of ours and other reversals, besides external factors, is primarily due to our own failings of not incorporating the concepts and practices of freedom/democracy, a new value system with a goal of happiness for the majority (not mere economic equality) within our respective organisations. The starting point being of attempting to change our value system into what I have described as the Anuradha Model, from the existing bourgeois/feudal mindset. To understand the difficulties in doing so I delved into psychology.

With the modern developments in psychology, we know many things now of the functioning of the mind which would inhibit change. Just one example is that psychology says that a man’s brain is basically conditioned in the first seven years of his/her lives before he/she develops rational thinking. These imprints are basically what the child acquires from the environment/parents, which is either bourgeois or as in India, feudal/Brahminical. These imprints form deep impressions on the sub-conscious mind (which comprise over 90% of our brain) and are difficult to eradicate even if later we come to know some are wrong/harmful as it is deep-rooted and long-lasting. So, when we read Marxism, our conscious mind (which comprise a mere 5% of our brain) tends to accept it due to its scientific and logical nature; but it often just stays at that superficial level and is not able to penetrate deep down into the depths of the sub-conscious and change the value systems acquired in childhood.

What then is the mental framework we acquire in childhood, and what would we have to change it to, on becoming a Marxist.

In a capitalist society, like the West, the influence in childhood would be basically bourgeois. In a country like India, it will be primarily feudal/Brahminical with a superimposition of bourgeois values. Let us now see how both impact us, before turning to what are the values, we need to acquire on becoming a Marxist, where the changes would be necessary in our outlook and approach to truly live up to our ideals.

In a bourgeois society the main values promoted by the system and inculcated (as if spontaneously) are: extreme individualism and with-it selfishness (which would include possessiveness, jealousy, vindictiveness, cunning, etc), consumerism (including net/mobile obsession), ego/super-ego (one-upmanship), class outlook (looking down on poor and treating them as inferior), patriarchy (more as male chauvinism/superiority), living up to the Joneses, (i.e. always trying to live up to others standards and acting on what others say rather on what we want and know to be right) etc. Some positive attributes that came with the industrial revolution (over feudalism) are relative freedom/democracy in human relations, a work culture and importance to merit/talent, higher levels of education and knowledge, etc.

In a country like India where the feudal mindset dominates the thinking, our values are basically Brahminical. In India the feudal outlook takes the Brahminical form which is generally stronger as one goes up the caste hierarchy, but is prevalent throughout society. Besides encompassing all the bourgeois attributes mentioned above in more extreme forms, additionally it imbibes: upper caste superiority, contempt for manual labour, extreme forms of patriarchy where women are seen as mere chattels for house work and child production (wife beating common and even killing), practice of untouchability, where the extreme form takes the shape of rape and lynching, milder/subtle forms manifest in ostracization, marriage within caste and sub-caste, etc.

Now if one turns to the socialist/communist values that one needs to imbibe after becoming Marxist it is a process to eradicate the bourgeois and feudal values/approaches imbedded in our subconscious and replace them with socialistic thinking. This is easier in bourgeois societies as to some extent there has been a democratisation of thought and relationships. Though today even that has become more difficult due to the extreme forms of individualism and consumerism. Besides, a more affluent life style, gained from the super-profits of third world countries, detract from the ability to counter consumerism and individualism.

So what then are the main attributes of socialism/communism: I have defined this in my book as the Anuradha Model which basically negates all the above and imbibes: simplicity (no ego); straightforwardness with least pretences, countering both the caste and patriarchal outlook (both crude and subtle) and encouraging inter-caste dining, marriage and all other social interactions; negating all forms of upper-caste and intellectual superiority; valuing and respecting manual labour (particularly in the home); encouraging relations based on love and mutual respect devoid of superiority, possessiveness, jealousies, etc; and evolving from the institution of family (linked to private property) towards a commune living.

As Marx once said: Communism is the return of man himself as a social, i.e. really human being, a complete and conscious return which assimilates all the wealth of previous development. Communism, as a fully developed naturalism, is humanism, and, as a fully developed humanism, is naturalism. it is the definitive resolution of the antagonism between man and nature, and between man and man. it is the true solution of the conflict between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. it is the solution of the riddle of history and knows itself to be this solution.

With these values clearly demarcated, the question before us, is how to achieve this change. So-called declassing and criticism & self-criticism I have found not being particularly effective (refer to book FF), especially for those in leadership roles. Domination/control and lack of freedom, petty intrigues and intolerance to another view, one-upmanship, pretences and lack of simplicity and straightforwardness, etc all abound in most left circles just as it would in the rest of society. There is nothing in these circles that would attract an idealist youth to an alternative.

From my experience I have said that in any organisational set up we must have, first and foremost, an approach to acquire the Anuradha Model regarding our values, striving to change them from the existing bourgeois/feudal/Brahminical that exist in our sub-conscious mind into a socialist consciousness as defined above. This, ofcourse, is a continuous process of change.

Once the group/circle/party/organisation puts efforts in this direction to change our values, simultaneously we have to strive to build our relationships on freedom and democracy, keeping as our goal a maximum of happiness for all. Working backwards, if one has the goal of happiness (at least in our circle to start with) then most of the earlier two are easier to acquire. For, if I want my comrades to be happy, I will not resort to methods that would harm or hurt them. And as far as freedom goes, as I have explained at length the starting point for all freedom is, first and foremost, for ourselves — we have to seek to free ourselves from all the knots of complexities and hypocrisies, which makes us, as Marx says, “crippled monstrosities”. Once we are free from all these constraints, one can begin to act like normal/natural human beings with our comrades and build our political thought and movement in an atmosphere of freedom and happiness. But if we ourselves are not free it is inconceivable to build any real atmosphere of freedom and democracy in our associationships, as all interactions will be warped, trying more to create positive impressions of oneself on others, rather than trying to bring in the new values and, with it, freedom/democracy and happiness in the circle.

Any true new vibrant communist circle must be built in this style moving towards a commune existence. Though this would apply to communists generally worldwide, as also in India; here, given the local peculiarities we have additional tasks.

Prime Task before the Indian Communists

This has to be considered at two levels: first the ideological and then the practical.

First the ideological: There is a crisis at this level that is why the communists are splintered into about 50 groups/circles/parties; worse still, most followed the Bill Gates/Klaus Schwab agenda on the pandemic/Great Reset issue. The trouble with the Indian communists is that they have tended to take mechanically either from the Soviet Union or China. Besides, they all stick dogmatically to their small group/party theories and consider all others as counter-revolutionaries though they themselves are unsuccessful in their practices they consider themselves as the fountainhead of all Marxist knowledge. What use is theory if not linked to a successful practice? And with each passing day their sectarianism and dogmatism results in further splintering, mostly associated with personal factors of leadership, but given a theoretical halo.

Even look at what Albert Einstein had to say on the question of knowledge nearly a century back. And he was not even a Marxist, though he was influenced by the Soviet revolution. He said: Our only source of knowledge is experience. Any fool can know; it is important to understand. More the knowledge the lesser the ego; the less knowledge the greater the ego. The true side of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. The only mistake in life is the lesson not learnt. Genius is 1% talent, 99% hard work.  Further he added:

 If you want to lead a happy life, tie it to goals, not people or things. Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. The world is not threatened by evil people but by those who allow evil to take place. 

The first thing to consider at the ideological plane here is that it is necessary to Indianize communism. India’s conditions have their specificity and cannot be replicas of other countries. No doubt, one has to take those experiences into consideration, but one must apply it to the conditions prevailing here using the scientific tools of Marxism for that purpose. By that I mean two aspects: first its application to the changing practical situation within the present reality and a summing up the present situation; second, to build Marxism on the traditions and history prevalent here. The first entails present-day tactics to be adopted; the latter is its ideological application to India, which I will take up first.

India has a 3,000 year long history of a powerful people’s and democratic non-brahmin movements — starting from the Lokayatas, then the Buddhist tradition, then the movements of the Bhakti saints, and finally the movements of Jyotiba Phule, Periyar and Ambedkar. Any application of communism in the Indian context must build on this long and great peoples’ history of the country. This is precisely what a historical materialist approach teaches us; and to ignore it we do so at our own peril. Any real communist programme for India must therefore have as its basis this long democratic tradition of a strong non-brahmin practice. It should build on the long-standing democratic tradition in the country and take it forward. This alone will give life to communism here and help it take root amongst the people.
Next at the Practical Level: Here we need to first view some of the practical problems faced by activists in the field:

First, at the ground level most movements are involved in the issues of the masses with little result — either economic, or organisational or political. Given the aggressive nature of the neo-liberal economy, particularly in its present crisis ridden state, most economic demands are not likely to be fulfilled in spite of the struggles, even if militant. The only exception was the historic farmers’ struggle, but if we look at others most fail to achieve even partial demands. Even on the farm laws, while being forced to withdraw, the govt. is, defacto, bringing these laws in again through the back-door. Other demands we take up don’t even scratch the surface of the continuous neo-liberal attacks taking place on the peoples’ conditions — whether it is employment opportunities, wage rates, price rise, anti-people legislation, or any other.

This is for a number of reasons: firstly, the peoples’ organisations, in this neo-liberal phase, have been fractured and thereby weakened due to a number of increasing divisions, over and above the already sharp caste divisions further aggravated by Hindutva — like the excessive contractualisation of labour; work-from-home type methods that isolates people further, and others; secondly. the sharpening religious divide; thirdly, lockdown policies which prevents any organisation, restricts legal recourse and enhances police powers; fourthly, consumerist, religious and nationalist diversion of consciousness; finally, in the present period of a severe crisis in the world and the Indian economy the ruling classes will not easily grant a single peoples’ demand, on the contrary they will seek further and further attacks on the livelihood of the people and their welfare/rights. We are witness to this each day.

With little likelihood for results in the practical movement due to the reasons mentioned above, the organisational and political gains from these mass movements are likely to be limited. Organisationally one may get small growth at the mass organisation/Trade Union level, but politically even if some demands are met, due to strong economistic trends in the movement (not connecting the demand to a destruction of the system) the results are defacto nil, in fact the gains are more usurped by political parties of the establishment for votes. Yet most activists spend most of their time jumping from one issue to the next, even though they see little gain. Most leaders do not encourage such sincere activists to think independently, let alone review their practice. As Einstein said: The true definition of madness is repeating the same action over and over again, hoping for a different result.

Next, an important source of cadres for communist/socialist movement is from student and youth who tend to be more idealistic in their youth. But, today, mobilising the student and youth around ideals is relatively non-existent, for two reasons: (i) the organisers themselves lack ideals that could be carried creatively (they at best have some dogma); (ii) the consumerist atmosphere and the mobile/internet culture absorb them in pleasure/entertainment and at best superficial knowledge, making student/youth disinterested in ideals (communists complain about the latter but do not think of creative methods of influencing them). Besides, there are no living ideals in the form of socialist societies which could be shown as a model. So, the youth see no living alternative to what exists.

What is even worse, most left groups are involved in petty intrigue criticising others rather than the system. This has a negative impact, as instead of ideals of a new dawn, the new entrants just get petty gossip, which inspires none except the backward elements, and at most titillates the already converted. Being themselves dogmatic the creative application of Marxism will be difficult for communist cadre who will not be able to apply it in an effective way amongst the youth.

These are some of the reasons for the lack of results in drawing youth/masses towards communism or even towards the mass organisations in the present scenario. There would be others as well, yet in the prevailing environment it will not be an easy task given the neo-liberal environment, our weak strength and lack of creative application. Yet a start has to be made somewhere as otherwise the people’s condition are going to turn even more horrific.

Though these are the practical problems in the field one has to consider how best to overcome these and mobilise the masses in an effective way against the system as a whole leading to basic change; or at least awaken them for it. How also to attract the youth towards a new ideal given the disillusionment with past communist systems due to the setbacks. If we don’t think along these lines, we will tend to get frustrated, feeling nothing is possible in this scenario.

What then needs to be done in the prevailing situation? Given ones limited cadre strength at present, rather than fritter away energies on taking up immediate demands, of which few are likely to be met, it may be more fruitful to awaken the masses for a basic democratic change in society. Not that economic issues should be ignored, it is a question of prioritising our initiatives given the prevailing circumstances and our subjective strengths.
What then could be the mobilisation points that can bring basic change or at least awaken the masses to a new hope?

The first key issue of importance is patriotism for a genuine swadeshi economy as visualised by our great freedom fighters of the past. The second is for democracy not merely in the superstructure - like elections, judiciary etc, but more basic in the smashing of the Brahminical system which is intrinsically autocratic, repressive and hierarchical and permeates every aspect of society. Democracy for a vast and diverse country like India also entails true federalism. So, the need or the hour is for such a patriotic and democratic platform which unites all along a minimum programme on these two central issues. So, it is these issues that need to be focussed on and the masses mobilised around it. Both these issues are structural as well as ideological.

The essence of the patriotism must be built on swadeshi and also a consciousness of buying swadeshi and promoting small scale and rural enterprises. In a calculation recently published in Mainstream it was estimated that during colonial rule 8% of our GDP left our shores to the UK; in around the year 2,000 roughly 12% left our country to the imperialists; today this has increased to a massive 17% which is drained out of our country each year.

So, after independence the loot from our country let alone having stopped has in fact increased manifold. What independence is this? Why have all the sacrifices of our great martyrs gone in vain? Can any country progress with such huge sums of wealth leaving our shores each year. Over and above this, vast sums are siphoned off through corruption into private pockets at the cost of the nation. I was told that on any construction job a minimum of 40% of the cost goes in bribing at various levels — no wonder all our projects are delayed and sub-standard. None of these bureaucrats and politicians could be bothered about the nation and its development, but only themselves and their families. Any patriot will first target these two issues and those who destroy the progress of our country through allowing the siphoning of wealth abroad and corruption at high places at home, in order to truly rebuild our land. Structurally the goal would be to throw out all foreign companies and their Indian collaborators through a corporatisation of their wealth and countering corruption by inculcating ethical and patriotic standards. Ideologically to instil a sentiment of swadeshi and a feeling for developing our motherland and not mere private gain.

And as far as democracy goes, as already mentioned, it is not merely confined to electoral issues and laws. These ofcourse must be democratised , but this is the mere icing on the democratic cake. Two important aspect of democracy in India is undermining Brahminism and building a truly federal state structure.

India can never be a thriving democracy as long as the caste system dominates and Brahminism permeates all aspects of our thinking and all social relations. The caste system is not only divisive, hierarchical, but also brutal in its treatment of lower castes and particularly so-called untouchables. And the Brahminical ideology from which caste and patriarchy emanates is not only intrinsically elitist but also intolerant and inhuman. Brahminical ideology and the divisiveness of the caste system has been an ideal ideological tool of the ruling classes through history and so it permeates all levels of society and all aspects of our social and economic discourse. Federalism, is essential to democracy where the states are empowered and the regional languages given equal importance.

On the issue of patriotism, as with the freedom struggle the call to mobilise the masses around swadeshi can be linked to the call to boycott foreign goods and companies like Amazon and Walmart (Flipkart) as also the two biggest crony capitalists Adani and Ambani whose companies are also interwoven in a vice-like grip with foreign capital. These 2 A’s, after all, are major vehicles of foreign capital and products as one can see in any of the upmarket Reliance Malls which sell mostly foreign brands. They are also the fountainhead of corruption and cronyism in the country. While countering these crony capitalists and their foreign sponsors one has to promote rural enterprises and MSMEs.

On the question of Brahminism, the issue is structural as well as ideological. Periyar and Phule adopted some innovative methods that led to a mass upsurge; the dalit movement got its boost through Ambedkar. Today at the ground level the attack on brahminism has to take forward these struggles and also be linked to the people’s traditions of bhakti, Lokayata etc and carried forward widely amongst the masses, as was done traditionally, mainly through folk music and varied art forms. This would be the premier vehicle while at the structural level the platform will have to target all overt and subtle forms of Brahminical superiority, castiesm and patriarchy — both in the public domain as also at home, promoting also inter-caste, inter-faith relationships.

The other issue of democracy is Federalism two aspects are key — the states have control of their own fiscal resources and the there is no domination of any one language, like Hindi. As far as fiscal and other powers to the States, as first outlined in the Anandpursaheb Resolution of 1973 (and made popular in 1978), besides the aspects of Defence, Foreign Relations, Currency, and Communication all other powers must reside with the States. All education and culture (theatre, art, politics, films, songs, poetry, etc) must be in the mother tongue which allows the maximum mental development of a person/child. There needs to be merely a link language/s and no domination of any language at the cost of regional languages.

When both these movements are interlinked in a patriotic and democratic platform of organisations — some taking up both, some taking either — a political movement can be built, not only independently but by pushing electoral parties to build their politics on this basis or face irrelevance.
One has to find new and creative methods to inspire the youth with these new ideals and around the issues of swadeshi, non-Brahminism and Federalism. Here songs to carry our ideals, interwoven with populist/folk music forms, could be the most effective tool to carry the message.

With no existing alternative in the world to point out, it is only the alternative we create at the micro level that should have all the ingredients of the new society where the activists can themselves experience the new alternative; i.e in an atmosphere of the new values (Anuradha Model), freedom and happiness moving in the direction of a commune existence.

September 17 2022

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