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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 13 New Delhi March 17, 2018

An Open Letter to Communists

Sunday 18 March 2018, by Bharat Dogra

Dear Friends and Comrades,

Greetings.

This letter is being written when the communist movement in India is passing through very difficult and depressing times; but this is precisely the reason why the Communists need to show more courage, understanding and resilience than ever before. The world is also passing through more difficult and complex problems than ever before and the wider challenge for the Communists is to become an important part of the solutions.

There are powerful forces which do not want the communist movement to even survive. The fact that such forces are very powerful just now is a reminder for the Communists to renew their commitment to the very force which has been the biggest source of their strength—the force of the poor and oppressed people.

As long as Communists remain true and sincere to the oppressed people and to the path of equality and justice needed by these people, Communists will remain relevant and important for society. As they renew their commitment to evolving the most relevant agenda for a path of equality and justice, Communists can and should draw upon the inspiration of their large number of comrades who lived for the oppressed and died for them.

It is this legacy which is their biggest source of strength. The most inspiring symbol of this legacy in India was Shahid Bhagat Singh along with his close colleagues.

On the adverse side it needs to be recognised and admitted that very wrong things have also been done in the name of communism at times. There is need for great care and caution to ensure that such mistakes are not made in future, and this demands that Communists should also have a sincere commitment to the basic principles of democracy and peace.

As far as fighting sectarian violence is concerned, the Communists in India already have a reasonably good record and have been working for communal harmony; but this needs to be strengthened further. They need to give much more attention to creating a more broad-based democratic coalition for communal harmony and against the forces of communal discord.

In the wider context too a firm commitment to international peace is needed. Here again Communists have a legacy of international solidarity but sometimes it gets constrained in narrow ways while the need is for peace and justice in the world at all levels. Among other things this needs a much more firm commitment to disarmament.

The emerging survival crisis of climate change and a range of other environmental problems also calls for true internationalism beyond considerations of narrow borders and to become a part of the most needed solutions. Communists have to give much greater attention to these very serious issues.

In difficult times Communists need to be reminded by their well-wishers that they still have it in them to emerge as an important part of a wide coalition of forces that will be in the forefront in the coming years to find real solutions for the most pressing problems.

While preparing for this role the Communists need to build alliances with all those forces who have a sincere commitment to justice, equality, democracy, communal harmony, peace and environment protection.

The path ahead may be very difficult and challenging but it also holds out the promise of the deep satisfaction that comes from becoming an important part of the solutions for the most serious and complex problems.

The seriousness and enormity of the problems should re-emphasise the need for humility as well as for building as broad-based an alliance as possible without sacrificing integrity and commitment to certain basic principles.

Whereas the need for broader Left unity has been emphasised by several well-wishers (including this one) in the past, there is need also at times for building principles-based alliances with some of those forces which are not generally recognised as Left forces and in fact do not consider themselves to be Left forces.

The reason for this is the recognition that the path ahead is very complex and difficult and helpful contributions of many different organi-sations will be needed.

To promote Left unity much needs to be done. While understandings on the principles of equality and justice may be easier to reach, understandings based on the principles of demo-cracy and peace may be more difficult. Some communist organisations need to rethink their ideology based on violent resistance so that a more broad-based unity of people and forces committed to justice and equality can emerge. Also it must be worked out in detail how those involved in violent actions can return to a very broad-based resistance movement based on strong commitment to justice and equality on the one hand and peace and democracy on the other.

A firm commitment to peace and democracy is needed because without this the broad international coalitions and the intense, free debates that are needed are just not possible. The most difficult world problems of most destructive weapons, climate change and other survival-threatening environmental problems just cannot be solved without a very firm commitment to peace and democracy on the part of the justice-loving peoples of the world.

The violent movements must recognise this wider reality as soon as possible so that conducive conditions for their return to a broad-based path for resisting injustice can be created.

Communists, like other forces working for relevant social change, need alliances with other forces which are based on certain clear principles. These principles need to based on an understanding of the world as it exists today and not on the basis of analysis done a long time back when the world was very different.

Also the question of basic ethical values is very important, perhaps more important than anything else, and no one should forget that only those with a strong ethical base can resist the well-entrenched corrupt forces.

Bharat Dogra, a well-wisher

Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist involved with several social movements and initiatives.

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