From Liberation Vol. 1, No. 1[Nov. 1967]
[We reproduce this article from Red Flag of Colombo, by Comrade Sanmugathasan, Polit Bureau member, Communist Party of Ceylon, who recently returned from China after an interview with Comrade Mao Tse-tung. -Editor, Liberation]
India today is in the throes of a rapidly maturing revolutionary situation unprecedented in this huge sub-continent ever before. The Indian ruling Congress Party received a severe drubbing in the last general election. It is out of power in the majority of the states. In the centre, it hands on by a perilous majority which can, at any time, cave in.
The Indian Government is today unable to govern in the accepted sense of the word i.e. to provide the people with the necessary minimum food or even to maintain law and order. Millions are starving. The death toll is anybody’s guess. The sufferings of the Indian peasants, who form the overwhelming bulk of the Indian population and who, at the best of times, only eked out a sub-human existence, are today suffering untold hardships.
These sufferings have been made worse as a result of the reactionary policy of the Indian government in mortgaging the Indian economy to the tender mercies of American imperialism and by its wasteful expenditure in financing its “border clashes” with China and Pakistan at the bidding of its American masters.
The extreme reactionaries in India, like the Jan Sangh and the Swatantra Party are trying to push India even more to the right and to make it drop all pretences and follow an openly pro-America line.
The revolutionary masses of workers, peasants, students and revolutionary intellectuals have carried out heroic resistance against the effects of the neo-colonialist policies of the Indian Government which has retaliated with massive repression which has claimed many lives. The situation has developed to such an extent that, even according to reports in the Indian press, revolutionary bases where peasants are setting up their own political power after having driven away the landlords and government officials have begun to appear.
Excellent Revolutionary Situation
It would appear that the political and economic situation now prevailing in India is almost tailor-made for revolution – a situation in which the Government is unable to govern and the governed refuse to be governed in the old way.
In this favourable and excellent situation there seems to be only one thing that is lacking India – a genuinely revolutionary leadership based on Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung. When a major section of the Communist Party of India broke with the Dange revisionist clique, Marxist-Leninists all over the world hoped that it would re-form itself as a genuinely revolutionary party, based on Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung and free from modern revisionism and opportunism.
Even the government of India took it seriously and believed that its rejection of the class collaborationist policies advocated by the Soviet revisionist henchman, Dange, would logically propel it in a revolutionary direction. So much so, when the Government of India succumbed to imperialist pressure and started its anti-Chinese adventure, it labelled this group as agent of China and jailed most of its leaders – some of them for over three years.
When, on the eve of the last general elections, the necessity to conform to the pretensions of bourgeois democracy and a developing mass movement forced the release of this group of communists who had rebelled against the Dange revisionist clique, they stepped out of jail as virtual ‘heroes.’ The heightened mass resentment against the anti-peoples’ policies of the Congress government along with the reputation of the sacrifices they had made gave them immense mass prestige. All over the country, the leaders addressed mass meetings which, in size, surpassed those ever addressed by Gandhi or Nehru. It clearly proved that the people did not believe the anti-China lies spread by the reactionary Congress government.
But what did the Communist Party of India, which began to call itself “Marxist” (in order to differentiate itself from the Dange revisionist clique), do with this enormous revolutionary capital that it had accumulated? Just as the French and Italian communists, who had accumulated tremendous prestige and power and the end of the Second World War because of the leading part they played in the war of resistance to the Nazis, squandered this precious capital by surrendering their arms and opting for the parliamentary method and thereby betraying the tremendous revolutionary possibilities that exist in Europe at that time; so also these neo-revisionists, despite their label of “Marxists”, instead of giving a bold lead to the revolutionary movement that was developing in India, opted to play the parliamentary game and brought a lot of relief to the imperialists and the Indian reactionaries [Emphasis ours –Ed.]. They failed to realise that parliament was an institution invented by the bourgeoisie in order to deceive the people and act as a veil to cover the naked dictatorship of capital and to distract peoples’ attention from the real seats of power, the armed forces. They failed to grasp the truth taught by Comrade Mao Tse-tung that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Dangeism Without Dange
In fact, except for a lot of quibbling in words and arguments about whether Dange was or was not a British spy, what this groups did after coming out of jail was no different from the policies carried out by the Dange revisionist clique. Just as the present Soviet revisionist ruling clique is carrying out Khrushchovism without Khrushchov so this neo-revisionist group carried out Dangeism without Dange. [Emphasis ours – Ed.] That is why it was able in certain states to reach agreements for electoral united fronts with the Dange revisionist clique. That was also why this group was able to form governments in Kerala and West Bengal with the aid of the Dange revisionist clique. This fact alone should have clearly revealed the real nature of the neo-revisionists. Even the meanest intellect must understand that Marxism-Leninism and modern revisionism cannot mix. There cannot be a united front between these two diametrically opposed points of view. If the aberration of one such united front takes place in any country, it only means that one point of view has triumphed and the other surrendered. In India, it was not the Dange revisionist clique that surrendered.
That such a fate was in store for the communists who broke with the Dange clique could have been discerned at the time of the Sino-Indian border dispute when they failed to take a proletarian internationalist attitude. Instead, they surrendered to the national hysteria and chauvinism engendered alike by the reactionary government and the bourgeois press and the modern revisionists and … If the working class and its party cannot take a different class point of view from that of its own bourgeoisie, then there is no use of speaking about Marxism-Leninism.
We have had the opportunity of reading through two documents adopted at the 7th Congress of this Party, held in October-November, 1964. They are entitled “Programme of the Communist Party of India” and “Fight Against Revisionism.” We shall deal with the more glaring ones.
These documents postulate the theory of dividing the democratic stage of the revolution into two stages – a first stage directed chiefly against foreign imperialist rule which is supposed to have come to an end and a second stage directed against feudalism which is not yet completed. They also postulate that a new Indian national state had come into existence.
To separate the fight against foreign imperialism and that against feudalism and the big bourgeoisie into different compartments is utterly un-Marxist. These forces of reaction are inter-linked and one cannot be overthrown without overthrowing the others. What happened in India in 1947, as in Ceylon, was a deal between British imperialism and the Indian bourgeoisie which was in alliance with the feudalists. By partitioning India, British imperialism strengthened its influence over both countries. British imperialist domination over India did not cease. It increased and was further augmented by the penetration of American and West German capital. There is more foreign imperialist capital exploiting Indira Gandhi’s India than in British India.
India is a perfect example of a neo-colonial country where the strings that tie the Indian economy to foreign imperialism are unseen and manipulated from behind while a Nehru or an Indira Gandhi maintains the formal façade of ‘independence’. The main enemy of the Indian people, therefore, continue to be foreign imperialism, feudalism and the big bourgeoisie. The task of the working class and its party is to unite all the forces that can be united against these forces and bring into existence a united front under the leadership of the working class for the complete overthrow of these reactionary forces.
If this is understood, the fallacy of posing the question about the existence of an Indian national state can easily be understood. It must be understood that the repressive state machinery built up by British imperialism continues untouched to this day. Only the colour of the skins of some sections have changed. How can such a brutally repressive state machinery, fashioned by the British imperialists and used in the interests of the reactionary forces, act in the interests of the people? How can it be called a National State? To do so would only create dangerous illusions.
A National State?
The theory of national democracy and of a state in which the working class can gradually establish its hegemony and take the country on the path of non-capitalist development and go over to socialism is a revisionist concept put forward by Khrushchov in his notorious speech before the counter-revolutionary 22nd Congress of the CPSU.
Marxism-Leninism teaches only one theory about the State. That is that it is an instrument of one class by another and that the duty of the working class and its allies is to smash the oppressive state machinery of the imperialists and the big bourgeoisie and to replace it by means of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Anything else is revisionism.
It is the failure to understand this basic concept of Marxism that has led this neo-revisionist group to abandon revolution and adopt the parliamentary path. By failing to give a correct answer at their Congress to the crucial question as to the means by which a People’s Democratic Dictatorship can be established in India, it laid the basis for its degeneration to constitutionalism and parliamentarism. [Emphasis ours – Ed.]
How can the working class and its allies come to power? Is it by peaceful and parliamentary means? Or is it through revolution? This is one of the basic and fundamental questions which separates Marxist-Leninists from modern revisionists. It must be understood that the postulation contained in the Moscow Declaration of 1957 and the Statement of 1960 about the possibility of two methods of transition – the peaceful and the non-peaceful one – is fundamentally wrong. The Chinese comrades have now admitted that they agreed to this compromise formulation at that time only in order to avoid a split in the international communist movement at that time. The correct position is that there is only one path – that is the revolutionary path.
A glaring weakness of the documents adopted at the Congress of this neo-revisionist group is the total failure to analyse the differences that have cropped up inside the international communist movement and to make a serious assessment of the role played today by the modern revisionists as a prop to the tottering regime of foreign imperialism and the big bourgeoisie which have called it up as their last reserve in their hour of doom. Neither at the Congress, nor subsequently in their periodicals or in the speeches of their leaders have they dealt with this problem.
It would appear that this was the result of a deliberate decision to put off discussion of the controversy inside the international communist movement till after the general elections. The only reason for such a decision seems to be that the party was afraid that if they took any stand against modern revisionism it would prejudice their chances of coming to an electoral agreement with the Dange revisionist clique. This is nothing but crass opportunism.
Hence arose the ridiculous situation whereby the alleged “Marxists” fought the elections in Kerala in a united front with the Dange revisionist clique. In West Bengal, they fought each other but came together after the elections to form a coalition government. In Tamilnad and Andhra they fought each other tooth and nail. How opportunist can you get?
Having formed ministries in two states in alliance with the modern revisionists and other anti-Marxist groups, these neo-revisionists are now wallowing in the mire of parliamentarism. [Emphasis ours – Ed.] Worshipping at the shrine of constitutionalism and parliamentarism, all their energies are spent in operating the bourgeois-landlord state machinery and in working within the four corners of the imperialist-bourgeois constitution and in mustering all their powers to prevent a dissolution by the Central Government.
Their worst crime of betrayal is their attitude to the revolutionary struggles of the workers and peasants, particularly to the uprising of the Naxalbari peasants who courageously rose up against centuries of feudal oppression [Emphasis ours – Ed.] Instead of welcoming these struggles and giving them leadership, these neo-revisionists described these political actions by the long-suffering peasants as economic struggles and allowed the police force of their own State Government, in which an alleged ‘Marxist’ is Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, to suppress the peasants, to kill and imprison them and subject them to unlimited repression.
What kind of Marxists are these? What difference from the social-democrats of Western Europe? Paying lip service to the demands of the peasants but allowing their police force to kill them? [Emphasis ours – Ed.] We hope that before they died the peasants had time to read the hypocritical declarations of support to them by B.T. Ranadive and Basavapunnaiah.
Now, when the Chinese Communist Party, as the foremost Marxist-Leninist Party in the world today, points out these errors and severely criticizes these neo-revisionists for their gross betrayal and points out the correct revolutionary path, they shout that it is interference in the internal affairs of their Party by the Chinese Party! Well might they accuse the great Lenin of interference in the internal affairs of other parties when after the October Revolution he called upon the revolutionary left inside the old social-democratic parties of the Second International to break with their revisionist leadership both politically and organisationally and to form themselves into new, revolutionary communist parties!
Today, for Marxist-Leninists to watch with folded hands alleged ‘Marxists’ commit serious mistakes which amount to gross betrayal of the revolutionary movement is almost to become partners in the crime ourselves. The Chinese comrades did right in criticising these errors of the neo-revisionists also. It is in that same spirit that this article is written.
It is easy to join the international anti-China front, headed by the US imperialists and Soviet revisionists and reactionaries of all countries, and to heap abuse on the Chinese Party. But let us remember one thing. Just as, in the years after the Great October Revolution, the touchstone of a genuine Marxist-Leninist was his attitude to the Soviet Union, so today it is his attitude to the Communist Party of China and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung. Just as, in the days of Lenin, whoever attacked Leninism was fundamentally attacking Marxism, so today, whoever attacks the Thought of Mao Tse-tung is fundamentally attacking Marxism-Leninism. [Emphasis ours – Ed.]
The Thought of Mao Tse-tung is the creative development of Marxism-Leninism of the era in which world imperialism is nearing its doom and socialism is marching towards world-wide victory. It is the beacon light that illuminates the path of revolution not only for China but for all oppressed peoples, including the Indian people.
The Indian people have a rich revolutionary tradition. The conditions are ripe for a revolutionary change. All they need is a genuinely revolutionary party which will master Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung, profit by the example of the Chinese revolution, boldly rouse the peasants who form the overwhelming section of the Indian population, set up revolutionary base areas, build up and expand the revolutionary forces, deal with the armed suppression of the imperialists and the reactionaries – who are temporarily stronger than the revolutionary forces – by persisting in protracted struggle and using the countryside to encircle and finally capture the cities.
This is the flexible strategy and tactics of people’s war worker out personally by Comrade Mao Tse-tung and which led to a nation-wide victory of the Chinese revolution. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has taught: “The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and all other countries.”
It is only by following these correct Marxist-Leninist precepts that the Indian revolution can be led to success. The revolutionaries in the Communist Party of India must decisively reject the futile path of parliamentarism and get down to the task of painstakingly gathering together all the revolutionary forces and mobilising and preparing them for the coming revolution.