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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 12, March 14, 2015

Wider Perspective of Left Unity

Saturday 14 March 2015, by Bharat Dogra

In recent times Left parties and organisations have been increasingly pushed towards the margins. In such a situation their potential to create a better world should be protected. All social forces, which have a potential to contribute to a just and secure world, should be helped to overcome their problems so that they can make a creative contribution to a better world.

The task of Left unity has to be explored in this broad perspective. It should not be based only on narrow objectives like winning elections or increasing influence. This has to be accompanied by a clear understanding of short-term and long-term commitments to the urgent requirements of a safer and better world.

What is the essence of Left thinking and which organisations are Left organisations? At the risk of some simplification it can be said that Left organisations are those organisations for whom the first priority is to reduce economic and social inequalities and injustice, and to establish a society based on equality and justice. Of course, several other organisations also believe in this objective but for Left organisations this has foremost priority. It is a separate question to what extent Left organsiations have actually lived up to this precept, but this has been a defining feature of their identity and aims.

However, clearly new priorities have to be added with the passage of time. This should be done keeping in view compatibility with the earlier defining features. Some significant work has been done in recent times to incorporate emerging environmental issues of great impor-tance (such as climate change) with the original objectives of equality and justice, but such efforts are not very visible at the functional level. Despite this, however, it is clear that integration of emerging survival issues with issues of socio-economic justice is one of the most important concerns of our times.

Hence if the basic Left thinking of prioritising economic and social equality and justice as a non-negotiable value can be updated and reformed to include equality and justice-based solutions to emerging survival issues like climate change, then no doubt the significance of Left thinking and Left organisations will increase in the near future.

In order to be able to fulfil such a significant and credible role at a crucial time of human civilisation, Left forces should’ve broadbased unity. However, at present in India and in several other countries Left forces are divided due to factors like what some Leftist scholar or ideologue said more than a hundred years ago, and how this should be interpreted. They may also be divided on the basis of narrow issues of leadership and factions. Such tendencies stand in the way of Left forces fulfilling the badly needed role for the creation of a better world at a crucial time.

What is urgently needed today is that those committed to the basic Left agenda of prioritising socio-economic justice and equality should establish broadbased unity for taking forward their priority objectives. Such unity cannot be established on the basis of Marxism, Leninism, Maoism or, in a more India-specific context, Lohiaism or any such -ism associated with the ideas of one or two persons. While all these ideas of great scholars are certainly valuable at their own level and particularly in their historical context, these cannot provide the basis for broadbased Left unity in today’s rapidly changing times. For such unity we need an agenda of economic and social justice, based on the present day needs, prepared on the basis of studies and surveys and wide consultations with learned scholars and experienced activists. This agenda should be in conformity with the widly accepted precepts for a better world such as peace, social harmony, based on co-existence of all religions and protection of environment. The task of preparing national and world policies has to take place hand in hand with various constructive initiatives and improvements in relationships which bring immediate relief to the people.

Efforts and struggles for equality and justice have taken place at all times and in all societies. Why should our inspiration be confined to what happened during the last two hundred years in Europe or Russia or China? Inspiration should be taken from all struggles for equality and justice in world history. This will also help to broaden the base for Left unity.

Bharat Dogra is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.