Archive for the ‘Communist History’ Category
I recently came to learn about Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye through Dr. Robert Biel, a comrade of his, because of a new edition of “Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement” which Kalikot Book Series is going to publish in this coming year along with Kersplebedeb. Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye was an important communist activist, thinker and poet who centrally participated in Black radical and anti-imperialist movements in Britain in the 1980s. For example, he helped found Black Action for the Liberation of Southern Africa (Balsa) which worked with the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania and the Pan-African Congress to break the stranglehold of Anti- Apartheid/SACP/USSR/white liberals. He was principally known as a poet and helped form the poetry and music collective African Dawn. They released a couple of LPs and were incredibly important in the development of a revolutionary culture.
His poems were extremely influential, although they have unfortunately been largely forgotten by subsequent generations. He usually employed the pen-name Ahmed Sheikh. His most famous poem was taken up as a kind of anthem by many in the PAC and BCMA. It is called, “Please do not call me South Africa”, and is available below with one other poem that I have been able to find online by him. In this second poem Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye draws for us a vivid picture of the revolutionary who is among the masses and notably includes the revolutionary Communist Party of Peru as such an example, alongside the Mau Mau and the Palestinians. However, his commitment was not to the radicalised and Black peoples resident in Britain. Rather, as is evidenced in video interview below, he continued to contribute back to people across the continent of Africa in true Pan-Africanist spirit.
For example, he was known to thousands of Eritreans for reciting poems in commemoration of Comrade Abdurrahman Babu (a leading African Maoist thinker and statesman from Tanzania who was also a strong advocate for the right of self determination of Eritrea) on Eritrean television. Apparently, when Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye was introduced, he stood there silently, looking at the audience. He broke his silence with the simple declaration, “I am happy to be in liberated Eritrea and among my people”. Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye would never compromise on the rights for people to self-determine their own lives.
For example, he was known to thousands of Eritreans for reciting poems in commemoration of Comrade Abdurrahman Babu (a leading African Maoist thinker and statesman from Tanzania who was also a strong advocate for the right of self determination of Eritrea) on Eritrean television. Apparently, when Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye was introduced, he stood there silently, looking at the audience. He broke his silence with the simple declaration, “I am happy to be in liberated Eritrea and among my people”. Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye would never compromise on the rights for people to self-determine their own lives.
We ought not forget him as he served as a shining example of the revolutionary tradition and culture that we are perilously in danger of forgetting. Com. Cheikh Ahmed Gueye’s death, definitely heavier than Mount Tai.
Please Do Not Call Me South Afrika
I am Azania land of black folks
Grain grown when stones were
still as soft as butter.
I am Azania land of Zenji
Truth made redudant
by the tyrant´s gang
I am Azania I ran wild and free -
I tamed iron long before the steel-ore
I have seen kingdoms rise
I have seen kingdoms fall.
I once stretched my hands up to the coast of Somalia.
Deep deep by the great walls of Zimbabwe.
There my name is entombed.
I am Azania once land of hospitality.
I flung my arms to captain Diaz en Vasco da Gama
for I thought them lost.
We sang and ate, danced and laughed.
I had plenty to give for I knew nothing of their design.
Then one day, one infamous day in 1652,
the trecherous seas betched forth.
Three drunken ships at table bay
Dromedaris, Reiger, Goede Hoep.
As dusk was inching
Their ribbs into our Assegais
my sons and daughters
fell too, in a hail of settlers´ bullets.
Battles of yesteryear are engraved in my memory.
I praise you sons en daughters of Thaba Bosio, Isandlawane,
Sandile´s Kap, Keiskamahoek, Bloodriver
I praise you all.
I am Azania – land of Black folk.
I bent but not break.
My name it self – a platform and programme
scattered the white mists over Kliptown.
I am Azania Mangaliso Sobukwe heard my call – then there was Sharpeville.
I am Azania the name reconcilled with itself in deeds of Bantu ka Biko
The name wrapt up a forest of black fists in Soweto.
I am Azania – battered flesh in the Bantustans,
Sturdy voices of Robben Island.
I am Azania – the mind vintilates
back its own breadth, sweat, tears en blood
trapped in gold particles.
I am Azania – mourn made murmuring
murmuring made cry, cry made shriek,
shriek drilling in the settlers´ears.
I am Azania – the feared black bull
in the tomentors dreams.
I am that black dot
on the boers white history books.
Black consciousness unbound only the pure I take for I have no time
I am Azania land of ZENJI – burning truth churns the tyrants- gang
truth made the dream and dream made the truth
Please do not call me South Africa.
When the elements sing
Hail the hurricane, hail the harmattan
Sing and dance with the whirlwind
I am one with nature
I sing of unrest
I sing of passion, of love
I sing of dawn
When the eye of the sky is crimson-red
The very colour of my dreams
I am one with nature
History, geography is on my side
My people too
Mountains, valleys, canyons
Where we ensnare and subdue
The enemy’s metal herd
I am one with nature
Don’t you know?
Ask the Palestinian
Ask the Eritrean
Ask the Mau Mao
Ask Sondero Luminoso in Peru
They will tell you that I am one with nature.
Listen and listen well
What does it say?
I am one with nature
I speak of crops and harvests
To feed the starving
I grew up by the Nile
And spread across the globe
Do not ask me
What I have seen
What do you hear?
What do you see?
What do you feel?
Are you with me?
Are you with nature?
Are you with people?
Are you with people?
I am one with nature
Book Review: David Gilbert’s, “Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond”.
I must admit that it is difficult for me to write an honest review about Com. David Gilbert’s “Love and Struggle” (you can purchase your personal copy here), especially because of the enormous respect that I have for him and the sacrifices that he has made for the revolutionary cause, and a fear that any criticism of his work will be regarded as unfair, un-comradely and disrespectful. However, simultaneously I believe that such a review is absolutely necessary because Com. David’s life and politics have often intersected at key points in my own development as an activist, although completely unbeknownst to him. The first time was when I became involved around the anti-war movement against the second Iraq war, and some of us watched and hotly debated Sam Green’s documentary about the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), and saw me reading a lot of the existing literature at the time; the second time was during a difficult three-month strike that I was deeply involved in at my home institution during which I devoured Dan Berger’s authoritative book, Outlaws of America (which interestingly was the result of a long relationship with Com. David himself); and the third was when I returned from Nepal and became increasingly interested in the question of the universality of protracted people’s war, and the parallel between the WUO and the Jhapa Uprising. I will not discuss these points of intersection further because I think that they distract from the task at hand, but needless to say, Com. David’s politics and life experiences have been something that I have consistently wrestled with throughout my own political development, and thus I do not take this book review lightly.
Thus in frank honesty, I must admit that I did not care for the first third of the book. The first hundred and twenty pages suffer from two major problems: 1) Com. David very little new information about the development of the revolutionary movement on the campuses across the USA, except for the fact that Com. David was not as central to the SDS leadership and Weather Underground leadership as I had previously thought (although I was interested to learn about his initial theoretical work in New Left Notes which resulted in an early fall from revolutionary grace); and 2) I found it to be too pedantic, and structured through a series of lesson-plans. Indeed, often the first-third of the book, due to the little new information – especially for a reader familiar with much of the existing literature on the topic, including Dan Berger’s aforementioned excellent book – often came across as a kind of an Anti-Oppression 101 class with Com. David’s life serving as scenarios which ought to be discussed to develop a form of best practices that should orient our organizing. Indeed, this structure is replete with every sub-chapter heading being followed with a small-italicized synopsis that read like an Anti-Oppression 101 scenario, which we are supposed to collectively figure out, but without having Com. David present to debate with, which is less than ideal for any kind of revolutionary pedagogy. Furthermore, we are forced to replace such debate with Com. David’s own resolution. I am not trying to suggest that there is anything particularly wrong with anti-oppression training, although I do think that often this has replaced a critical revolutionary framework, however, the result was that the narrative became disrupted and choppy. This disrupted narrative with little new information made evident the lesson-plan structure to the reader, which in turn blunted the effectiveness of the structure itself. This unfortunately resulted in Com. David coming across as too eager to provide solutions through which to demonstrate his continued belief in a form of revolutionary humanism. I must admit that I found this to be quite annoying, partially because of my own theoretical suspiciousness about revolutionary humanism (a debate for a different place), but also became I did not want to have Com. David to serve as a revolutionary ideal type, but rather, as an interlocutor in the revolutionary struggle. However, luckily both of these problems recede to the background as the narrative becomes stronger and very interesting information is provided to the reader about Com. David’s time underground, in Denver and during the Brinks trial in the latter 2/3rds of the book.
I know the exact moment at which I became excited about the content of the book and it is on page 124 when Com. David discusses criticism/self-criticism. It was fascinating to read about the WUO’s attempts to implement criticism/self-criticism in their practice as professional revolutionaries, and Com. David’s own self-criticism about how said practice was carried out (indeed, Com. David mentions that only a few times did he feel that the self-criticism sessions were actually aiding his development as a revolutionary). Indeed, an endearing aspect of this book is how humble and self-critical Comrade David is, although as I mentioned earlier, these aspects can also be quite irritating within the best practices format. This moment is important, as it is the point in which Com. David, unlike in first part of the book, does not demonstrate that there is in fact some easy best practice that young activists can follow. Rather, it actually shows the ambiguities and difficulties that come with putting any of these political methods in practice. And reminds us about the need for us to be consistently being critical about, and bettering, organzinational practices and individual work. Furthermore, the pedantic lesson-oriented teaching plan, whilst remaining partly in place, takes more and more a backseat to the narrative and allows the reader space in which to develop his/her own critical opinions about a given matter, which is what I consider to be an absolute necessity for any revolutionary.
Additionally, it was truly eye opening to read the rudimentary methods that the WUO developed to deal with security issues, especially in the context of being underground. Com. David, himself admits that these the methods are largely outdated in our contemporary context, but demonstrate the creativity and vigilance of the WUO during their underground years, and reaffirm the possibility of actually going underground and fighting in the heart of the beast. It was also interesting to learn a little about the debates within the WUO and how, once again, Com. David was not, besides a very brief time, a central figure in the WUO. However, I would have liked to learn more about the debates inside the organization, especially about their practice and conception of their conjuncture, but was interested to learn about the summer schools that they organized to improve the ideological quality of their cadre. It was interesting to learn about the debate in the organization around its relationship to the white working class, and its liquidation of the original line of the organization regarding the relationship to nationality struggles, and the role that Com. David played in it. It was impressive to learn that Prairie Fire (of which I own a copy) had originally been produced without any fingerprints on it. But, I do wish that there had been more information about the infamous Hard Times conference, which seems to remain a truly traumatic and pivotal event in the development of the WUO, and resulted in the building of the May 19th Communist Organization which became important in the context of the Brinks Robbery.
Com. David’s life aboveground in Denver, after the dissolution of the WUO, and his involvement with Men Against Sexism and the subsequently painful experience of dealing with multiple movements that came into loggerheads with one another, was very informative and again reflective of the complexities that arise in the course of the struggle. At this point in the narrative the lesson-plan structure seems to have completely evaporated which results in the reader being left to grapple with the contradictions within the revolutionary movement, alongside Com. David. I am not sure whether this was something that Com. David intentionally wanted to do or was a byproduct of the difficulties in providing any best practices in such complicated and textured inter-group/political relationships. I found it be particularly informative to learn about this period of his life, and was surprised to learn that Comrade David too had gone aboveground with the collapse of the WUO.
In perhaps one of the shortest sections of the book, and one about which I was very eager to learn more about, Com. David discusses his second and last time underground, especially his involvement in what has come to be known as the Revolutionary Armed Task Force and the notorious Brinks robbery and trial. It was intriguing to learn more details about the actors and politics involved in the Brinks Robbery, and facts like the Black Liberation Army not having a central command thus allowing autonomous collectives in the BLA to organize actions on their own accord (something that Com. David himself only came to learn about during the Brinks Trial). However, I must admit that I hungered for more information about Com. David’s relationship with the BLA and members of the May 19th Communist Organization in this second period, but recognize that these and a number of other aspects of his second period underground is something that Com. David likely decided to omit for good reasons.
Finally, it is noteworthy that Com. David spends a good section of the last part of the book discussing his family life with his imprisoned partner and newborn son, because I too have a loving revolutionary partner and also would like to have children someday. Indeed, this aspect was particularly important as it demonstrated a ‘softness’ to which male revolutionaries are not allowed to admit to. This obviously speaks to the macho attitude in many revolutionary groups and organization about the role of the family in the struggle, especially the armed struggle. Indeed, unfortunately often the two are put into juxtaposition to one another and rendered incompatible, thus requiring the revolutionary to ‘sacrifice’ the former in favor of the latter. Indeed, I can think of several autobiographies and interviews well well-known revolutionaries in which the revolutionary figure fails to even mention that he has a partner and children! And if and when they are mentioned, it is only in passing, and always in the context of sacrificing a relationship with them in the name of the revolutionary struggles. Thus, it was particularly inspiring to read about how Com. David was able to forge a relationship with his partner and son during his time in prison, despite all of the obstacles, and how this relationship was something that was negotiated with a revolutionary politics playing a central role. The only thing that one can say that is neglected in this last section of the book is the role that Com. David has played in the prison movement, both in his correspondence with activists outside, and with prisoners and political prisoners inside the prison system.
In closing, this is not a book to be simply read, enjoyed and tucked away on some bookshelf, forgotten, although it is an enjoyable read. It is a book that simply begs to be put into practice. What aspects a given reader wants to be put into practice is something that Com. David leaves the reader to decide, but he provides us with a wealth of life experience which we should all seriously consider. He gives us both the good and the bad. Comrade David is humble about his accomplishments and readily admits to his faults, he is an honest storyteller, and eager with his lessons for a new generation of activists.
Some Notes on K.N. Ramachandran’s, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions”, Part 4
In this fourth and final post in the series I intend to deal with the final two sections of K.N. Ramachandran’s polemical essay, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Conditions” (interested readers can also read post 1, 2 and 3), entitled, “Relation with the state and the ruling class parties” and “How the extremists ultimately help the state”. These sections are perhaps the most polemical part of K.N. Ramachandran’s essay where he in fact suggests that the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is in fact an opportunist and mercenary force that is actually aiding the state. Indeed, K.N. Ramachandran, in what amounts to a perverse comedy, suggests that the CPI(Maoist) is in fact helping the state repress the revolutionary movement (which of course is defined by his own political position), when in fact it is the CPI(Maoist), which has been leading the revolutionary movement, that is being repressed by the state.
Also, I would also like to clarify that I am not affiliated to either the CPI(Maoist) or the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist) as some mistakenly believe, but rather, am simply a sympathizer of the revolutionary movement in India. This post will not be as long as the earlier posts because I realize that I have perhaps spent too much time on this one essay, and would actually like to start writing about other issues as soon as possible.
Relation with the state and the ruling class parties
THE CPI(Maoist) claim that they boycott all forms of elections as a strategy. But during their three decades of existence they have not succeeded to mobilize the masses for boycotting elections in a single area so far. Even after threatening the voters, bombing the roads and polling booths and occasionally punishing the people brutally, it has not succeeded to enforce boycott anywhere. Even in Dantewada region more than 60% voting take place. Another notable feature is that though in Dantewada the Maoists have succeeded to reduce the strength of once predominant CPI in this region, BJP has emerged as the main force and winning the elections from there continuously.
I think that there are two issues at stake here, 1) whether or not the electoral boycott has actually been successfully applied to any areas and 2) what is the purpose of an electoral boycott. First of all, I think it is partly true when K.N. Ramachandran suggests that the boycott strategy has not succeeded in mobilizing the masses, although I doubt that he could say that this has been the case in a single area in the last 30 years, as there are no areas in which there has been a complete boycott. But there have been numerous areas in which there has been depressed voting and a partial boycott observed. Regarding the 60% number that K.N. Ramachandran tells his readers of is actually untrue as that was simply the first phase of polling which saw a 60% turnout. However, the final turnout for the areas was actually 54%. Furthermore, this is akin to saying that the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] has not been able to truly mobilise the masses through their electoral campaigns as seen through the lack of any electoral victories. Secondly, the purpose of an electoral boycott needs to be explained especially since it is a tactic that has been applied in the context of the European and North American parties as well. The electoral boycott campaign should not be completely evaluated by the number of people that do not engage in the activity of voting as voting patterns often do not relate to real support for any given party, but to actually immediate gains that a voter hopes for which may have nothing to do with their support for the revolutionary movement (so if you immediately need a road outside of your house built and maintained it may make sense to vote for a party that has a party leader in that area who could actually deliver that, knowing that the revolutionary movement is slowly growing. Even K.N. Ramachandran’s party cannot say that they will win enough seats to deliver on said road). Rather, an electoral boycott, like participation of a revolutionary party in the electoral process, is intended to be a method by which to educate the masses about their revolutionary programme. It becomes incumbent then for both the CPI(Maoist) AND the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] who are employing different tactics for the exact same result i.e. the education of the masses about their revolutionary programme, to deliberate whether their respective tactics have been successful. This is apparent if one reads the CPI(Maoist)’s own summation document regarding 2009 (available here):
Another important impact on the polity of the country was the wide-scale boycott by the Party during the recent Lok Sabha elections. Notwithstanding the presence of huge contingents of central and state police forces for over three weeks in the areas under Maoist influence, our Party, PLGA, revolutionary organs of people’s power and mass organizations carried out a mass political propaganda campaign, besides undertaking several tactical counter offensives against the gun-toting enemy forces who were desperately trying to coerce people to vote. Our propaganda campaign was so effective that there was hardly any electioneering by the political parties in Dandakaranya, many parts of Bihar and Jharkhand, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purlia districts and near-total boycott in Lalgarh area of West Bengal; in parts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Gajapati, Ganjam, Rayagada and other districts of Orissa; and other places. Besides, significant educative campaigns were taken in many parts of the country exposing the fake nature of the democratic process which is merely an expensive exercise to give legitimacy to the ruling classes to loot the country and the people.
And it is an open secret that the CPI(ML) People’s War, after calling for boycott canvassed for Chenna Reddy led Congress in 1980s. Later it supported the TDP led by N.T. Rama Rao in the 1990s. In 2006 elections in AP, as the Congress leader Raja Sekhara Rao had promised talks with the Maoists, they supported him. In Bihar MCC used to follow the same path. Lalu Prasad had benefitted from it many times. In Jharkhand during last two state assembly elections Maoists supported The JMM led by Shibu Soren. While doing so they threaten other candidates and do not allow other candidates to campaign in areas where they have influence. It shows that they boycott elections calling the existing parliamentary system as pseudo democratic, but due to their actions they make it more pseudo. The latest instance was Maoists supporting the TMC led by Mamta Banerjee, a constituent of the central UPA government against the CPI(M) led Left Front. In all these cases they have supported the main ruling class parties, after calling for boycott. They never support any force from the left. It is a most opportunist and unprincipled mercenary policy followed by the CPI(Maoist) which has greatly tarnished the image of the communist movement all over the country.
As a reward for the support they give in the elections, the AP chief minister invited Maoists for talks in Hyderabad. As was evident from the beginning to everybody except the Maoists, nothing came out of the talks. But the state machinery used the opportunity to make aerial coverage of the emergence and return of the Maoist team. Within a short time, almost all the Maoist squads and most of the main cadres were wiped out by the Special Forces. Still they do not study anything from these debacles. Their polibureau member Shyam and now Kishen were killed by trapping them using the talks with government as a lollypop.
Firstly, as a force which talks only strategy, what is there to talk with the state at the present stage of their growth? Secondly, after the bitter experience of the AP incident why they refuse to take any lessons? What is coming out of the Kishen killing is that they have great illusions about the ruling class leaders even when they claim to have declared total war against the state. It will be useful if they once go through the military writings of Mao at least to avoid such infantile mistakes.
I have never read in any party summation about these accusations of canvassing for the Congress etc., however, I will give K.N. Ramachandran the benefit of the doubt, especially since it has become very clear that in the context of West Bengal [where the CPI(Maoist) played some role in the election of Mamata Bannerjee] that the CPI(Maoist), and likely its erstwhile component parties, used this very strategy before. However, I think that K.N. Ramachandran is actually confusing two different issues: 1) an electoral boycott that is meant to educate the working class and peasantry about the nature of the bourgeois system; and 2) the use of high politics for gains in the revolutionary movement. K.N. Ramachandran seems to careen from right to left deviations in this mess of a section that I quoted above, and demonstrates that he does not think about tactics and strategy in a properly dialectical manner. Indeed, K.N. Ramachandran suggests that refusing to any participation in the parliamentary process, means that the CPI(Maoist) should eschew any involvement in high politics. This is a logically inconsistent position. Rather, I believe that the CPI(Maoist) should use contradictions within the enemy camp to their benefit, including through precise interventions into the electoral process, and that peace talks could actually benefit the party. Indeed, this is one point in which I differ from some of the pro-Gonzaloist organisations that argue that there can be no pause in the protracted people’s war until socialism and see peace talks as being a right deviation. K.N. Ramachandran, ironically, seems to be close to President Gonzalo – whom he later attacks – insofar that he seems to believe that once a protracted people’s war has been started there can be no attempts for peace talks, and any attempt to do so is actually a tactical mistake. He misreads the problems that the movement faced in the AP peace talks and advocates an ultra-left lesson that could be drawn from that experience i.e. that the party should never engage in peace talks, rather than looking at the actual tactical problem in the AP case which was that they did not make the appropriate security conditions for the delegation’s movement and the movement of squads in the reorganization process. The results of said overture to Mamata Bannerjee needs to similarly be evaluated in the context of its capacity to make gains for the revolutionary movement. There could be at least two possibilities on which gains could have been made: 1) a winning over the low-level cadre and organisers of the Trinamool Congress, who at the village level often work with Maoist cadres, to the CPI(Maoist) and 2) an agreement to a ceasefire or peace talks could give the CPI(Maoist) time to recover and regroup, especially in light of losses that have been inflicted on the party, and demonstrate the CPI(Maoist) is not opposed to peace. This last aspect is something that the CPI(ML)[PWG] and other Naxalite organisations at the time emphasized during the AP peace talks was that the peace talks were meant to educate the masses about the true nature of the Indian State and the revolutionary programme of the party. A simple example of this concrete attempt to educate the masses is that the CPI(ML)[PWG] asked the AP government to sign a statement that they would carry out the land reforms and provisions of the already existing Indian constitution, and the AP government refused to do so thus exposing its nature to the public. It is true that top leaders of the CPI(Maoist) have recently said that perhaps the support for Mamata Bannerjee was a mistake, and if this is indeed find the case the party is responsible for self-criticizing itself and providing a proper summation of the experience so that they can learn from the incident.
How the extremists ultimately help the state
THE experience of the Tamil People’s struggle in Sri Lanka and how LTTE greatly damaged its cause should be an eye opener for all those who have soft-corner for them. Nearer home, in Assam during the two decades when ULFA leadership and cadres were collecting huge sums from the large number of plantation owners, they were getting huge profit as they could deny any wage rise or other benefits to the hundreds of thousands of workers. Wherever Maoists are having influence the MNCs and corporate houses and mining mafias can operate by paying the ‘levy’ to them. Similarly, the presence of the extremists is used by the state as a pretext to increase ‘security forces’ manifold and to deploy them anywhere dubbing even mass movements as extremist ones, to deploy them to all areas in the name of law and order, even to deploy army and impose AFSPA like draconian laws in the name of insurgency for decades and even dare to impose the latest draconian establishment like National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), intensifying the state terror. To facilitate this, if there are no extremists in an area they will create them as the insurgent groups are made by RAW in Manipur. Or they will propagate that the extremist influence is increasing as lot of publicity is given to the Maoists at the state level with the help of the corporate media. In this the Indian state is copying the US authorities, who are the greatest terrorists, but have declared a war against terror!
What a jumble! K.N. Ramachandran has simply picked two very different examples of failed guerrilla movements, and then compared them to what he perceives to be the failures of the CPI(Maoist). First of all, we can all agree that the LTTE, like ULFA, was an incredibly flawed organization and had been reduced to a military-political organization which did not have a clear political programme or mass line [I would like to make it clear that I do not wish to suggest that the demands of the Tamil or Assamese people for national liberation are diminished in any way by the failings of these organisations, but think we must differentiate these organisations from the CPI(Maoist)]. Furthermore, neither organization claimed to be involved in protracted people’s war, and both were using very different understandings of the tactics and strategy of guerrilla war than those of the Maoists (however, K.N. Ramachandran is unable to understand these differences, or chooses not to, because he assumes that his readership is actually incapable of grasping the differences between them). Additionally, both the ULFA and the LTTE, despite some profession of sympathy to socialism, actually did not have a clear revolutionary programme, and were much more narrow nationalist movements. I have already discussed the CPI(Maoist)’s levying of taxes in a previous post and will not repeat the points made there.
But I think the last section of this paragraph, in which K.N. Ramachandran argues that that the presence of a militant force results in state repression, is absolutely ridiculous and boggles the mind and thus needs to be refuted. K.N. Ramachandran is basically using an argument that could be made against any revolutionary movement, and in fact is by the social democratic movement (indeed, one could see K.N. Ramachandran perhaps taking the side of Kautsky against Lenin in the “ultra-Left” position of the Bolsheviks in 1917). Perhaps it gestures towards the peaceful non-militant electoral politics that he intends to take his party towards. Any movement, whether it be the CPI(Maoist) or the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran], if it poses a tangible threat to the state will result in state repression. The more important question is not whether the state will try to repress the movement and how to avoid it (which basically means becoming an organization that actually does not confront the state or capital), but rather, whether the revolutionary forces have created the necessary structures by which to not only survive the state repression, but to also makes gains through the state repression. The evaluation of the CPI(Maoist)’s actions and response to this onslaught is something that they will need to do when this period is over.
Some friends will definitely ask: how can you criticize the Maoists when they are shedding so much blood, when their leaders are also killed? How can you criticize them when they are waging a war against the state? Of course, we have respect for the sacrifice of the cadres of CPI(Maoist). That is why we condemned the killings of Shyam and Kishen, and many others like them in the past. Mao has repeatedly advised that we should not waste even a drop of blood, avoid unnecessary sacrifice. But even after more than three decades of their practice, the CPI(Maoist)leadership is not prepared to make an evaluation of their practice so far. In the first wave of left adventurism almost all the ML parties which emerged in 1960s suffered severe setbacks and disintegrated. Later, almost all the Maoist groups in different parts of the world like the Shining Path of Peru were wiped out. The Maoists in Philippines is almost stagnant. In Nepal they succeeded to play a leading role in overthrowing the monarchy only when they changed their line and took mass line. In India, whatever may be the claims of the Maoist leaders and the propaganda of the state, they are a dwindling force. Not only that, all the former socialist countries have degenerated to capitalist path and the ICM is facing a severe setback. Without taking these aspects in to consideration, and the momentous changes that have taken place during the post-Second World War decades in to consideration, just by waging few squad actions in such a big country like India with more than 1.25 billion people and with such organized and centralized oppressive state machinery, how can the revolution be led forward? If the CPI(Maoist)leadership, impervious to all these factors, continue its suicidal path, can anyone justify them?
We are of the view that the leadership should be ruthlessly criticized and they should be asked to change their line if they want to contribute towards revolutionary advance. We are criticizing the CPI(M) leadership more fiercely, as revisionism is still the main danger in the communist movement. The task before the communist force is to take lessons from the past, reorganize the Party and lead the People’ Democratic Revolution forward mobilizing all the revolutionary classes and sections for it. We appeal to their cadres to come out of this anarchist politics and join the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist camp.
There are some things in this last and closing statement that I will not address: namely K.N. Ramachandran’s tired polemic about ‘squad actions’. K.N. Ramachandran has repeated this line like a mantra for decades and is not apt to change anytime soon. However, I do not think that it is fair to claim that the CPI(Maoist) has made no evaluation of its work in the last three decades, any close observer of the CPI(Maoist) knows that this is not true, and I am confident that a summation document will be produced when the time is appropriate. Whether or not such document will be circulated publicly I do not know. Furthermore, the fact that the party has not disintegrated and has grown, with more areas of work than it did three decades ago, demonstrates its successes. Indeed, failures and setbacks have occurred, and will occur again, but that does not mean to suggest that the party has not learned from its mistakes and this is in fact part of the revolutionary process. As Mao Zedong famously said, “Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again . . . until their victory; that is the logic of the people, and they too will never go against this logic. This is another Marxist law.” All revolutionary movements make mistakes; the question is whether they can learn the appropriate lessons. Indeed, if we were to be terrified of making mistakes than we would be unable to do anything, it would petrify the movement. But, we could ask K.N. Ramachandran who is so proud of his four decades in the ML movement where is his summation of his work and practice. Indeed, why does he feel that he remains a marginal politics both on a national level, and in most regional politics as well?
Finally, the failures of the Shining Path have to be understood in their own context as they have much to do with the situation in Peru, the personal authority invested into the figure of President Gonzalo, the urban strategy that was employed (indeed, if something can be said about the similarities between Peru and India is that leaders tend to be far more vulnerable in urban spaces, and often are arrested there – like the recent arrest in Kolkata of Rama Krishna and four other comrades), and their treatment of their support bases in light of state repression. Regarding the situation in the Philippines, K.N. Ramachandran is simply making stuff up. Indeed, the people’s war in the Philippines has grown steadily, albeit more slowly than some had hoped, with the development of new guerrilla fronts and the growth in the revolutionary mass movement. In the case of Nepal, K.N. Ramachandran demonstrates once again his own revisionist attitudes when he refers to the current politics of the UCPN(Maoist), which they earlier attacked, as being “mass line” when in fact it can be better described as a liquidation of the revolutionary movement.
Thus, in closing I would like to appeal the comrades of K.N. Ramachandran’s in India and if he has any sympathizers abroad to abandon the liquidationist, reformist and demagogic politics of K.N. Ramachandran and join the revolutionary Maoist movement around the world.
Some Notes on K.N. Ramachandran’s, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions”, Part 3
This is the third part in a 4 part series on K.N. Ramachandran’s polemical essay, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions”. Readers can find part 1 and 2, here and here respectively. When I sat down to write this post I thought that I would not have much to say because I had not read the new book that K.N. Ramachandran’s faction has produced on neo-colonialism and Indian political economy. However, I was surprised to find that besides the title of the section that K.N. Ramachandran actually has little to say about either the ‘agrarian program’ or ‘neo-colonialism’ which are the two points in his ideological agenda that are supposed to demarcate his analysis from that of the CPI(Maoist). Thus, I apologise to my readers about the length of this post because what K.N. Ramachandran talks about needs discussion and comment, especially as he often attacks the international Maoist movement.
Agrarian program in neo-colonial phase
UNDER this concept, Marxism is reduced to a dogma. Marxist classics are reduced to idols. So the Maoists indulge in idol worshipping and do not find any need for analyzing the reasons for the degeneration of all the erstwhile socialist countries to capitalist path or the degeneration of most of the erstwhile communist parties to revisionism. Abandoning Bolshevik style of Party and class/mass organization building, relying only on the supremacy of the squads and their fire power, it has reduced revolution to a game of heroes. If Lenin taught “Revolution is the festival of the masses” and Mao declared “Masses, masses alone are the creators of history”, according to the Maoists it is the heroes who create history.
It refuses to look around and see the vast changes taking place around them internationally and in India. So, even when the proletariat and the masses are revolting in US or Greece or Italy or elsewhere, the Maoists in these countries are only interested in whiling away their time, speculating how to start guerilla warfare there. They fail to analyze how the people’s upsurges broke out in North Africa and in West Asia and what should be the approach of the Communist forces towards them. In spite of the further intensification of the corporatization of agriculture following the second generation green revolution, bringing vast changes in the agricultural field in India, they still call it semi-feudal and still uphold the principal contradiction as the one between feudalism and the masses of the people. They mechanically repeat that the resolution of this contradiction will resolve all contradictions and lead to capture of political power.
I completely agree with K.N. Ramachandran that Marxism should not be reduced to a dogma, nor Marxists classics reduced to idols. Furthermore, I completely agree that many, if not most, Marxists, whether they be Trotskyists (in relation to Lenin and Trotsky) or Maoists (in relation to Lenin, Stalin and Mao) engage in idol worship and hence do not see the need to understand the reasons for the degeneration of socialism in the former socialist countries to capitalism. Indeed, the works of Charles Bettelheim in regards to the USSR, especially “Class Struggles in the USSR” Volumes 1 and 2 (on the development of socialism and state capitalism in the USSR from 1917-1930), serve as an important starting point from which to reconsider the development of socialism in the USSR. Unfortunately, similar work does not exist for the USSR from 1930 onwards (unfortunately Bettelheim’s own work on this period was plagued by a form of Kautskyism and do not reflect the Maoist methodology he had employed earlier), and no such work exists for the Chinese experience. Perhaps some enterprising PhD student will write such a work for us, and we will all be most grateful. However, I find it ironic that K.N. Ramachandran of all people is the one making this claim inasmuch that his faction has never provided such an analysis of the USSR or China, and rather uncritically defends Stalin against “modern revisionism”. Indeed, the only reconsideration of the socialist experience that K.N. Ramachandran has made in this essay is that of the Cultural Revolution, and seems to suggest to me that K.N. Ramachandran is preparing and innoculating his cadre for a break from Mao Zedong himself. Furthermore, K.N. Ramachandran’s turn from this insight about the need for reconsideration of the socialist experience in former socialist countries to his polemicisation against those who abandon Bolshevik Party-organisation and mass organisations in favour of “squad actions” is odd, inasmuch that they do not seem logically connected. However, they are connected because K.N. Ramachandran is engaging in a two-step dance which is meant to confuse his reader and his cadre alike. Lets examine this two-step dance: first of all he is repeating his old canard that the CPI(Maoist) is actually not engaging people’s war, but rather in a form of “heroic” guerrilla struggle that can be attributed to armed struggles experiences like the RAF or Red Brigades and; second his compunction to advocate for the need to attack idol-worship of Marxist classics is meant to lay the ground for his own departure from people’s war strategy for India, in favour of “Bolshevik” insurrectionism (this will become more apparent with his idealization of the Arab Spring).
K.N. Ramachandran now turns to broaden his attack against not only the Maoist movement in India but internationally, because his attack is not simply against the Maoist movement at home but also abroad (indeed, it is in the context of the formation of the ICOR, and his close political ties to the MPLD). Indeed, K.N. Ramachandran turns his sights to the Maoist movement in North America (apparently K.N. Ramachandran is ignorant about actual ideological and political developments in the Maoist movement in North America because he opts to attack the Maoist organisations in the US and Greece which actually do not advocate a guerrilla strategy, rather, than for example the French, Canadians and the Italian organisations; perhaps, someone should tell K.N. Ramachandran that Canada is not a part of the USA, and Italy and France are different countries than Greece). Most devastatingly, K.N. Ramachandran seems ignorant of the fact that the Maoist or pro-Maoist forces like the KOE, ARAN and ARAS have actually been deeply involved in the uprisings in Greece, and are some of the largest organised groups in the Greek uprisings. Furthermore, K.N. Ramachandran himself does not actually examine the causes for the uprisings in those countries (which in the case of the Middle East include severe state repression of the mass movements in those countries for the last decade, dictatorial rule and economic hardships for the people with high unemployment and shortages in basic consumer goods in both Greece and the Middle East), but rather opts to attack the Maoist trend for having not done this analysis for him. Furthermore, K.N. Ramachandran overlooks the role of the Islamist movement in the Arab Spring, and the spontaneous nature of the the uprisings in the Middle East, North Africa and across Europe, and North America. However, it will soon become apparent that K.N. Ramachandran, for all of his comments in favour of Bolshevik organising, simply is engaging in a form of worship of spontaneity. Then K.N. Ramachandran simply once again turns his sights back, in his confused superficial and dizzying argumentation style, back to the Indian situation and suggests that there has been a second “Green Revolution”. I would be very interested to learn more about this idea. When did it occur? Who organised it? What were the class interests behind etc? But unfortunately K.N. Ramachandran does not provide any of these answers, and only raises the issue so that he can appear to the novice as being a deep-thinker of the Indian conjuncture, and can once again advance his claim that the basic contradiction between feudalism and the masses of people is simply outmoded and has been replaced. Perhaps, K.N. Ramachandran has come to believe, like the Trotskyists and Communist League of India (Marxist-Leninist), that Indian agricultural production has become a capitalist one and thus the basic contradiction today is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. I just do not understand why he does not simply come out and say it. Indeed, it becomes apparent to all and sundry that K.N. Ramachandran believes that India is a neo-colonial capitalist country.
In CPI (Maoist) documents the word neo-colonialism is repeated many times. But, as they have not put forward any analysis of transformation that has taken place in the forms of imperialist exploitation during the post-Second World War period, the transformation of colonial forms to neo-colonial forms of plunder, it is evident that similar to what was done in the 1970 Program, they are using neo-colonial and semi-colonial words synonymously. Their analysis that India is a neo-colonially dependent semi-colonial country borders absurdity. They fail to evaluate the transformation that has taken place in the imperialist plunder and domination during the post- Second World War period from colonialism to neo-colonialism.
It is indeed true that the CPI(Maoist) uses the term neo-colonialism, K.N. Ramachandran’s hobby horse, many times interchangeably with semi-colonialism. However, the fault is not theirs alone, as Mao Zedong himself used the same terms as synonyms. Indeed, Mao clearly explains that semi-colonialism is the informal colonial influence that colonial powers had over China. However, besides calling the CPI(Maoist)’s position ridiculous he does not explain why this is the case. Indeed, is it not possible that despite the formal decolonisation of India by the British i.e. a relationship of colonialism (not semi-colonialism), and the informal assertion of colonialism (i.e. neocolonialism or semi-colonialism) by the Americans in India that the basic characteristic of Indian class relations remains structurally unchanged especially in relation to a colonial power? Indeed, K.N. Ramachandran is trying to assert that that there is a major gulf between the two terms, but does not provide an explanation of what these differences are and what implications they have on Indian agrarian relations. It is easy to polemicise against others and possible weak spots in their analyses, but far more difficult to actually explain one’s own position and it is clear that K.N. Ramachandran is unable to do so.
As a result, they like their counterparts in the imperialist countries, fail to analyze the reasons for the present recurrent meltdown of international finance capital, the speculative character of which is reaching its peak. They still repeat that like in the colonial days, now also imperialism is maintaining and using feudalism as its social base, when with the penetration of capital-market forces and technology imported by the MNCs, vast changes are taking place in the agrarian sector leading to its devastation in new forms, with hundreds of thousands of the poor and marginal peasants committing suicide, and millions displaced from their land and occupation for the sake of neo-liberal projects. Instead of utilizing feudalism, by and large, as its social basis during the colonial days, it is systematically transforming and integrating the agrarian sector to the international finance capital system. Still their whole strategy hinges on anti-feudal tasks, as proved in their Program and tactical line. But as they refuse to recognize the vast changes that have taken place in the agrarian sector under neo-colonization and have no agrarian program based on it and mass organization of the peasantry, practically nothing is done to advance the agrarian revolution with “land to the tiller” slogan. As a result, though it speaks about feudalism as the principal target, its activities are reduced to squad actions in the forest areas far away from the real peasantry.
K.N. Ramachandran once again shifts terrain in his confused argumentation style to the economic meltdown without any explanation of the connection between the preceding paragraph and the current one. He then again switches tack to discuss the Indian conjuncture and the question of the feudal base. Indeed, I cannot but feel that K.N. Ramachandran is simply engaging in a “throw the kitchen sink” strategy in hope that at least some of the points he superficially raises will actually get through and strike a blow. However, let us try and follow him through the myriad of confused paths, much like the urban planning of Delhi, that is his mind. It is clear that there is a logic here that is clear to K.N. Ramachandran, if no one else, and perhaps if nothing else these notes will help him edit his essay in a manner that makes his style of argument clearer to those who will hazard to read his essay. First of all, K.N. Ramachandran seems to be ignorant of what different Maoist groups have said about the current economic crisis, and I would suggest that look at for example the (n)PCI’s analysis of the crisis (also, I have heard that Jose Maria Sison is intending to do some work on the question as well). K.N. Ramachandran seems to want to argue that the economic meltdown and the crisis within imperialism has necessitated the integration of the agrarian sector into international financial system. This would appear to most as a very penetrating analysis and indeed possibly something novel, however, what actually is demonstrated is that he seems to not understand what “semi-feudalism” actually is. No Maoist would not suggest that the agrarian sector has not been effected by international financialisation; semi-feudalism does not meant that the agrarian sector remains absolutely outside of the international capitalist system, but rather, that the relationship between that international financial sector is mediated through a feudal landowning class (indeed, Jose Maria Sison in Philippine Society and Revolution repeatedly points out that the largest landlords actually are part of the comprador bourgeoisie who are directly in touch with the international financial system! Interested readers can read my review of this book here). Because K.N. Ramachandran seems incapable of making his argument clearly, he then decides to polemicise aganst the CPI(Maoist) for not having an agrarian program (which is not true) and having no mass organisations amongst the peasantry (which is also not true, and was actually negated earlier when he spoke about his own faction’s involvement in the campaign launched by the CPI(ML)[PWG] and CPI(ML)[PU]‘s peasant organisations, see the first post in the series). It is true that the CPI(Maoists) people’s liberation guerrilla army does not engage in actions in the plains where much of the agricultural land is, but this is because of geography and the effect that it has on the armed struggle. This does not mean to suggest however, that the CPI(Maoist) is not engaged in the peasant struggle against feudalism, rather, it does it through other forms of struggle. But of course, K.N. Ramachandran cannot recognise this reality because it would once again undermine his earlier contradictory argument that the CPI(Maoist) only engaged in one form of struggle i.e. armed struggle. Indeed, K.N. Ramachandran’s argument is akin to Gandhi’s three monkeys: don’t see reality, don’t listen to reality, and do not speak about reality.
From the analysis of the present world and Indian situation put forward by CPI (Maoist) it is difficult for anyone to explain why the present mass upsurges are taking place. Same is the fate of the Maoist fringe groups in the imperialist countries in Europe and North America also. As a result, even when big mass movements emerge in different areas and when they get an opportunity to influence any of them as happened in the Lalgarh area of W. Bengal, they reduce it to an area for deploying their guerilla squads and to organize few actions like the derailing of Gyaneswari Express which killed many and inconvenienced millions for nearly two years, as the railway department stopped plying trains through that route in the night in the name of lack of security.
In Chhattisgarh, the Maoists are calling the forest areas of Dantewada district as their liberated area. After visiting it Jan Myrdal has written a book “Red Star Over India” actually ridiculing himself and the good intellectual work he had done earlier, a mechanical imitation of the great book “Red Star Over China” written by Edgar Snow. But contrary to what is reported by the petti-bourgeois intellectuals who blindly support the Maoists, what is happening there is a different story. When the earlies Congress government tried to privatize the Shivnath river and later when the BJP government declared a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Rajnandgaon district a powerful mass movement was organized under the initiative of CPI(ML) due to which the latter’s implementation was truncated and the latter had to be abandoned. Similar mass movements are taking place against other neo-liberal projects also. But in Dantewada, a corporate group like Essar has constructed a more than 200 km long pipeline to loot the rich iron ore of that area. The same is the case of other so-called Maoist controlled areas in Jharkhand, Lalgarh in Bengal and Odisha-AP border areas also. Instead of mobilizing the masses and throwing out the MNCs, corporate houses and mining mafias, often Maoists are serving as their mercenaries after taking huge sums from them. The Communist Parties built under the guidance of the Communist International based on Bolshevik principles had a great tradition of building the Party surrounded by the class and mass organizations. They collected money from the people and the mass organizations besides the levy from the party members and sympathizers.
But the method of ‘levying’ adopted by the Maoists under coercion, especially when they are in the infantile stage of their growth has corrupted their own cadres. Combined with the sectarian practice of ‘money actions ‘ followed by many groups and splinter factions in many areas corruption has become rampant among these sections including the Maoists as there is no accounting of the money collected or no principles are followed in collection. In areas of AP and some other states, money is demanded to become cadres. The spirit of depending on the masses is alien to many of them. Maoists are justifying it in the name of huge amounts required to purchase sophisticated arms and to maintain hideouts. But whatever may be the justification this practice has led to a deterioration of communist values among the cadres.
Since this post is becoming incredibly long I will deal with only some of the things that K.N. Ramachandran brings up here. It is not clear how K.N. Ramachandran’s analysis better explains the present mass upsurges around the world either. Also, it is interesting to note that K.N. Ramachandran does not at any point mention either the spontaneous nature of these revolts, and the nascent forms of organisation that played differing revolts in the uprisings (of course here I am influenced by Antonio Gramsci’s idea in The Prison Notebooks that spontaneous worker’s revolts always has some nascent organisation which must merge with the communist party). Indeed, Maoists in Europe and North America do not believe that they either live in semi-feudal or semi-colonial situations, and thus I am not sure how any deficiencies in their analysis of the Indian situation effects their effectivity in their own conjuncture. Furthermore, I think that K.N. Ramachandran actually is completely unaware of what Maoist forces in North America and Europe are actually doing, and so I would advise him to keep in mind Mao Zedong’s famous directive, “No investigation, no right to speak”. The Maoist movements in Europe, especially in Italy, Norway, and Greece have been incredibly involved in the struggles of the people in their respective countries. Indeed, it is CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran]’s partner in Europe, the MLPD, that have adopted an erroneous line that has resulted in their complete marginalization both electorally (as seen by their performance in the last elections) and politically (the fact that they have no active presence in the current German Left, and have largely become a nostalgic party) in the German conjuncture. Furthermore, K.N. Ramachandran seems to be ignorant of the fact that the RCP(Canada) in North America, the only Maoist party in North America, has been incredibly active in many struggles and has actually been growing from strength to strength! I will allow Jan Myrdal to respond to his slanderous attacks against him, but will suggest that if K.N. Ramachandran wishes to win people over to his side that he treat them with more respect. But I am glad to hear that the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] has been building a mass movement against the privatization and SEZ’s.
I will finally address the last two points that K.N. Ramachandran raises. First of all, I think that K.N. Ramachandran is simply ignorant, as am I, about how much money is being collected from party members, sympathisers and mass organisations, and unless he has some special information does not know what portion of the CPI(Maoist)’s monies come from their own support base. He is simply using demagogic argumentation to make his polemic seem sharper than it is. Now regarding the taxing of MNC’s, corporate houses and mining mafias, I think that K.N. Ramachandran is unable to actually really think through his proposition that the Maoists should simply kick them out, which if done prematurely is actually an ultra-Left error. So lets think through this: 1) if they kick out these entities then the people living in these areas will simply not have any source of income by which to purchase basic commodities that they need, thus despite their exploitative presence they do provide much needed employment. Indeed, kicking out these economic entities without providing the necessary economic infrastructure to sustain the population would actually be harmful to the population (which K.N. Ramachandran is so worried about) and the capacity to do so would mean that those areas would no longer simply be guerrilla zones, but would be elevated to base areas which the Maoists are trying to build, but hitherto have been unable to and; 2) if the MNC’s etc cannot be kicked out of the areas at this stage because the necessary economic infrastructure does not exist to create a completely parallel economy in all areas then the question arises what is to be done with them? The Maoists have answered this through two methods: a) they have built mass organisations which allow the people in these areas to actually win better wages and working conditions, thus choosing a method of struggle that is appropriate to their areas and through which they can build a mass base of support and b) through taxation of these exploitative entities by which to fund the party and its activities.
Much more could be said about the points that have raised but, I think that I will leave others to say them. The next and final post in this series will deal with “Relation with the state and the ruling class parties” and “How the extremists ultimately help the state”.
Some Notes on K.N. Ramachandran’s, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions”, Part 2
This is the second post in a series that will examine and comment on K.N. Ramachandran’s recently published article, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions”. Part 1 is available here and discusses the history of the Indian Maoist movement from 1972 till the mid-1990’s. In this post I will deal with the second part of the essay entitled, “Mao Tsetung Thought or Maoism?” This debate of course has been a long-running one with a number of organisations/parties refusing to accept Maoism, and continuing to adhere to Mao Zedong Thought.
Mao Tsetung Thought or Maoism?
BUT its merger with the Maoist Communist Center (MCC) and formation of CPI (Maoist) led to its 2004 Congress adopting more dogmatic positions, including the acceptance of Maoism in place of Mao Tsetung Thought, as its ideological guideline. The differences between these two concepts are basic. According to the understanding upheld by the Marxist-Leninist forces, Mao developed the theory and practice of People’s Democratic Revolution based on the teachings of the Communist International and applied it in the concrete conditions of China successfully. Mao later led the socialist revolution in China in the concrete conditions there. During the course of his long revolutionary practice, he developed the understanding about the dialectical approach towards Contradictions in a given situation. He developed the ideological-political struggle against the capitalist roaders who had usurped power in Soviet Union through the Great Debate documents, and in the course of the struggle against the capitalist roaders within the CPC developed the concept of Cultural Revolution, the theory and practice of developing class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat, based on the Marxist-Leninist teachings. The Cultural Revolution had reached a peak by 1967 with the removal of Liu Shaochi and Deng Tsiaoping from all positions of authority and people’s communes as centers of people’s political power were coming up all over China challenging the authority of the capitalist roaders.
It is by summing up these contributions of Mao, the Marxist-Leninist stream which had emerged at the international level in the course of struggle against the capitalist roaders who had usurped power in socialist Soviet Union and degenerated it to a social imperialist power, colluding and contending with US imperialism for world hegemony, had put forward Mao Tsetung Thought as their guiding ideology.
But with the publication of the book: Long Live the victory of People’s War, by Lin Biao in 1966, a sectarian line started coming to dominance in China, which was ‘waving the red flag to destroy the red flag’. While claiming to uphold Cultural Revolution, it suppressed the mass upsurge developing as a part of it based on Mao’s call, using the military. In the course of the tortuous class struggle developing in this period, the correctness of the Leninist teaching that the right and left deviations are two sides of the same coin and both ultimately serve the imperialists and their lackeys was being proved once again.
K.N. Ramachandran correctly identifies the correct practice of Mao Zedong in China, and the important role that Mao Zedong played in the revolutionary movement. Indeed, few can be dismissive of the role that Mao Zedong played in the revolutionary movement in China, and those who do are either plagued with dogmatism or sectarianism. However, there is something insidious in his statement which is not readily apparent to the reader. It took me a little while to figure out what exactly troubled me about his statement, but reading these paragraphs 2-3 times I think I have identified the problem. K.N. Ramachandran does not fully appreciate the contributions that Mao Zedong made to Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, and in fact minimises them. JMP from M-L-M Mayhem! and I had a long series of posts entitled, “The Three-Headed Beast” (which have now been nicely archived for all to read) that attempts to more fully delineate some of these theoretical contributions (I also recommend people read Bob Avakian’s “The Immortal Contributions of Mao Zedong”, which despite his recent collapse into a morass of idealism was a good book, and the 1993 RIM document entitled, “Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism”). If one carefully reads K.N. Ramachandran’s statement Mao Zedong simply enriched the theory of people’s democratic revolution as taught by the Comintern, pushed forward the ideological-political struggle against the revisionists in the USSR and China, and the “Cultural Revolution” was the only truly novel concept that Mao had. Nowhere does he mention Mao’s contributions like the concept of ‘protracted people’s war’, the nascent new class analysis of socialist societies which is intrinsically tied to a richer and deeper understanding of revisionism, the notion of ‘mass line’ etc. Mao, for K.N. Ramachandran, is simply standing on the shoulders of giants, but is not a giant himself. Indeed, thus Mao Zedong’s contributions remain that of a ‘Thought’, rather than an ‘-ism’. Mao Zedong’s contributions, whilst important, are not of the same qualitative value as those of Marx or Lenin. I full-heartedly agree with K.N. Ramachandran that the high water mark for the Cultural Revolution was 1967 with the development of the mass movement, the formation of people’s communes (as imperfect as they were) and the formal removal of Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shaoqi and other capitalist roaders from their positions in the CPC. And I definitely do agree that the Lin Biao line, which over-emphasised the role of the military and suppressed the mass movement at the orders of Mao Zedong himself was an left deviationist line, and needed to be combatted.
This book characterized the state and society in all Asian, African and Latin American countries as semi-colonial, semi-feudal, similar to pre-revolutionary China. It started advocating that the era of Leninism, the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution which was upheld by the Marxist-Leninist forces until then is over, and a new era of ‘total collapse of imperialism and worldwide victory of socialism’ had emerged, with Mao Tsetung Thought as the Marxism-Leninism of the new era. The Chinese Path of people’s war, which Mao and the CPC leaders had repeatedly explained till then as a practice developed in the unique conditions of China was put forward as the strategic line applicable for all these countries. Following Naxalbari Uprising, the Beijing Daily published the article: Spring Thunder over India advocating this line.
While this article gave tremendous enthusiasm to the Communist Revolutionaries (CRs) in India who were fighting against the neo-revisionist line of the CPI(M) leadership, it contained an approach which negated the concrete conditions developing in the Asian-African-Latin American countries under neo-colonization imposed by the US led imperialist camp after the Second World War. Refusing to make a concrete analysis of Indian situation, it was mechanically followed by all sections of the CRs in India. In the 9th Congress of the CPC in 1969, this sectarian, left adventurist line of Lin Biao came to dominance in China as reflected in the basic documents adopted by the Congress. In the Constitution of the CPC, Lin Biao was upheld as the heir to Mao also. Under the sway of this adventurist line, all sorts of formulations like ‘armed struggle as the only form of struggle’, ‘class/mass organizations are highways to revisionism’, ‘the more you read the more foolish you become’ etc emerged, leading to the set backs and disintegration of the newly emerging ML movement all over the world within a very short time.
The 10th Congress of the CPC in 1973 rejected these formulations. But the centrists led by Chou Enlai who had come to dominance by this time did not put forward any analysis about how such an adventurist line come could to dominance, since they also had played a role in the suppression of the people’s upsurge against the capitalist roaders along with the Lin Biaoists. They soon opened the way for the return of the capitalist roaders to positions of power also. Using these developments as a pretext, a handful of the ‘Lin Biaoists’, who are mainly surviving in Bengal under the leadership of Mahadev Mukherjee and few others had rejected the 10th Congress, and upheld the 9th Congress of the CPC, and advocated the new era theory. But they were also still upholding Mao Thought.
I do not have major objections to K.N. Ramachandran’s grievances with the Lin Biao line. Indeed, I think that the line that Lin Biao advocates in the document is wrong and had disastrous effects on the movement, especially the idea of global people’s war. However, I think one should be clear for clarity’s sake that Lin Biao does not argue in this document that this is an era of the total collapse of imperialism (at least I cannot find such a statement in the version of the pamphlet I consulted). Rather, Lin Biao argues that the October Revolution and the Chinese Revolution marked the beginning of a new era for oppressed countries as the world balance of forces had changed. Lin Biao writes, “The victory of the Chinese people’s revolutionary war breached the imperialist front in the East, wrought a great change in the world balance of forces, and accelerated the revolutionary movement among the people of all countries. From then on, the national liberation movement in Asia, Africa, and Latin America entered a new historical period.” Lin Biao was correct in that the Chinese Revolution did open up a new historical period (note: not era) that changed the balance of forces for oppressed people’s around the world through the provisioning of material and ideological support, especially in light of the USSR’s social imperialism and political-ideological revisionism. Furthermore, Lin Biao ends his pamphlet with a much more provisional statement than what K.N. Ramachandran suggests, Lin Biao writes, “it is possible that the whole structure of imperialism will collapse”. This is a qualitatively different statement than the one that K.N. Ramachandran attributes to Lin Biao in the context of this document. Furthermore, K.N. Ramachandran argues that that Lin Biao argued that the countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia were “semi-feudal and semi-colonial” which negated the particular conditions of their own countries [this all part and parcel of K.N. Ramachandran's argument that semi-colonialism no longer exists and has been replaced by neo-colonialism, which I will not deal with here as I have not read the new book that his faction has produced on the question, and will thus overlook the accusations that K.N. Ramachandran makes about the applicability of this formulation to Indian conditions and the blind obedience of communist revolutionaries in India to this formulation]. However, Lin Biao in the document does not make such a strong statement and argues, “The basic political and economic conditions in many of these countries have many similarities to those that prevailed in old China. As in China, the peasant question is extremely important in these regions. The peasants constitute the main force of the national-democratic revolution against the imperialists and their lackeys.” Indeed, no where does he say that these conditions exist in all countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa, and instead argues that they share similarities especially in regards to the role of the peasantry in the revolutionary struggle. However, it is true that Lin Biao’s line resulted in the development of an erroneous line in the revolutionary movement in India in which comrades eschewed study, or the need for mass organisations etc. I have no issues with the last paragraph quoted above.
Internationally it was Gonzalos, the chairman of the Communist Party of Peru, known as the Shining Light, who had put forward Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Gonzalos Thought as its guiding ideology in early 1980s. The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), formed in 1984, soon adopted Maoism as its guiding ideology. But in India the ‘credit’ for upholding Maoism for the first time goes to the Maoist Communist Center (MCC), ardent followers of the 1969 CPC line. This sectarian concept was adopted by PWG and PU, it seems, as a sacrifice for their unity with MCC. In Latin America, though some ML organizations uphold the concept ‘Maoism’, their explanations show that they do not accept the RIM’s line of explanation about it.
In short, Maoism, as advocated by the CPI (Maoist), is nothing but an aberration, a deviation from the basic understanding about Marxism-Leninism. Presently, UCPN (Maoist) of Nepal, in spite of still upholding Maoism in name, has basically changed its practice and has criticized the CPI (Maoist) for its sectarian line. Again, it is reported that because of the sectarian approach of the ‘front organizations’ of CPI (Maoist), they are now expelled from the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) led by the Communist Party of Philippines, which is also upholding Maoism, but practicing mass line to a great extent. With the considerable weakening of the RIM and its constituents, presently the CPI (Maoist) has become the main flag bearer of this sectarian concept.
It is indeed true that the formulation of “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” came from the Peruvian Communist Party, under the leadership of Abimael Guzmán, and that it was at the insistence of the PCP that the RIM adopted Maoism as the third stage of Marxism-Leninism. I am not sure which Latin American organisations K.N Ramachandran has in mind, but would be interested in reading their ideological documents. However, K.N. Ramachandran is wrong to suggest that the Maoist Communist Centre’s use of Maoism was that of the 1969 Lin Biaoist variety. Indeed, in 2003 when the Maoist Communist Centre of India merged with the CPI(ML)[2nd CC] [a pro-Lin Biaoist organisation], the CPI(ML)[2nd CC] was required to withdraw their support for Lin Biao as an ideological condition for the merger. If indeed the MCC was an ardent supporter of Lin Biao, and the merger with CPI(ML)[People's War] was based on the opportunistic appropriation of this Lin Biaoist line, then why did the MCCI make such a demand? Furthermore, K.N. Ramachandran, perhaps opportunistically, assumes that his readers will simply assume that the MCC’s line since 1969 was “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” because of their name and do not have access to documents of this erstwhile organisation. However, if a reader simply looks at the 1996 “Note for the Readers” which was attached to their publication “Red Star” Special Issue 2 in which they republish 2 1969 documents from Dakshin Desh they clearly write that, “Mao-Tse-Tung Thought is the Marxism-Leninism of the present era” and never use the formulation Maoism in the 1969 documents. I would hazard to guess that the MCC only adopted Maoism as their ideological line after they had joined the RIM. Furthermore, in the issue of the internal theoretical magazine of the CPI(Maoist) issued immediately after the merger of the CPI(ML)[PW] and MCCI, the organisation explains that the CPI(ML)[PW] had already basically accepted Maoism in practice and ideological, and that the change in ideological terms reflected this fact. Thus, it was not a case of opportunism but rather, the acknowledgement that the CPI(ML)[PW] had already come to understand, unlike K.N. Ramachandran, the full scope of Mao Zedong’s contributions to theory and practice.
I do not know what criticisms by the UCPN(Maoist) K.N. Ramachandran is referring to, but must note that it is not extraordinary that the relationship between the UCPN(Maoist) and the CPI(Maoist) have become tense in the context of the current developments in Nepal. Furthermore, it seems to me that K.N. Ramachandran here is endorsing the Bhattarai line, which he seems to approve of, which is quite interesting and perhaps should serve as a note of caution to his own supporters. Regarding the case of the ILPS, I do not think one can simply blame the split on the ILPS on the CPI(Maoist) and its “front organisations”, and think that one should take seriously the concerns that G.N. Saibaba and others (most of whom are not Maoist in any case) had regarding the functioning of the ILPS (to read the documents of the split please find them here). It seems that K.N. Ramachandran is opportunistically using the split in the ILPS to decry the CPI(Maoist), once again, for sectarianism, which has become a running canard of his and one that he has used as a narrative device through out this article. Finally it is true that with the demise of the RIM and the troubling developments in Nepal, the CPI(Maoist) has held aloft the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and I think that they should be commended for this. But this of course is a matter of difference between K.N. Ramachandran and I.
In the third part of this series I will briefly deal with the section entitled, “Agrarian program in neo-colonial phase”. However, I will make a few comments about this section because of the emphasis on the problem of neo-colonialism which I have repeatedly stated I will not deal with until I read the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran's] new book on the matter. I would be very pleased if he or someone would like to send me a copy of this book to review. I must also note that the final post of this series will deal with two sections of his essay, not one, as I had said earlier. I did not notice that there was a section following this one entitled, “Relation with the state and the ruling class parties”. Readers will have to unfortunately wait till next one for the next two posts because I will be unable to write them in the coming week due to work obligations.
Some Notes on K.N. Ramachandran’s, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions”, Part 1
As you all know the Indian ML/Maoist movement is incredibly divided with a number of competing factions co-existing and claiming to be the true inheritor of the legacy of the Naxalbari movement. One of the most prominent of these factions is the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)[K.N. Ramachandran] which has formed a number of State committees across India. The CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] is an organisation that is the latest manifestation of the CPI(ML)[Red Flag] that split from the CRC,CPI(ML) [the CRC,CPI(ML) was a member of the RIM until it left Marxism-Leninism and dissolved itself]. The CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] is one of the founders of the ICOR along with the MLPD in Germany and has departed from the conventional Marxist-Leninist analysis of India as being a “semi-colonial” state, instead arguing that India is a “neo-colonial state”. The CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran for many years has also polemicised against the CPI(Maoist) and has accused it of an “anarchist line” and an over-emphasis on “squad actions”. Unfortunately some around the world have confused the two organisations and believe them to be one and the same. Recently, K.N Ramachandran has written another such polemic against the CPI(Maoist) entitled, “Our Differences with the Maoist Trend: Genesis and Present Contradictions“. In the coming four posts [including this one] I thought I would share some notes and comments on the article and some disagreements I have with the document [which is quite long]. The first part [the one that you are currently reading] will be on the history of the revolutionary movement until the formation of CPI(Maoist) in 2004; part 2 will deal with the section entitled, “Mao Tsetung Thought or Maoism?”; part 3 with “Agrarian program in neo-colonial phase” and; finally part 4 will deal with “How the extremists ultimately help the state”. I must note that this is not the response of any organisation and hope that the CPI(Maoist) will also respond to the charges that K.N Ramachandran makes.
FOLLOWING the murder of com. Koteshwar Rao in a fake encounter by the state forces as a part of the state terror unleashed against the people under the ‘Operation Green Hunt’, we had issued a press statement on 25th November itself, the day on which the news came out in the newspapers. We had severely condemned this murder. At the same time we had criticized the approach of CPI(Maoist) on the question of ‘peace talks’ with such a reactionary government which is indulging in fascist suppression of the people of the country to intensify neo-colonization, and in the present condition of their organizational development and balance of forces. In that statement we had requested the leadership of the CPI(Maoist) “to take lessons from these erroneous steps which have caused grievous losses, to re-examine their line and to join with the revolutionary forces to mobilize the masses for putting an end to this hated, anti-people ruling system”.
In continuation to this statement, issuing their own statements the CPI (ML) state committees in many states have organized meetings condemning the murder of com. Koteshwar Rao in fake encounter and appealing to all progressive democratic forces to condemn it. While appreciating these steps taken by the CPI (ML), some friends as well as supporters of CPI(Maoist) have raised a criticism why on such an occasions also we are raising our criticism of the CPI(Maoist) line. So we consider that it is our duty to explain the history of the genesis and growth our differences with the CPI(Maoist). Earlier when com. Shyam and com. Rajkumar, and recently com. Azad were killed in fake encounters also we had issued similar statements, condemning the state action, while appealing to PWG and then CPI(Maoist) leadership to re-examine the line they are pursuing. We consider that though CPI (Maoist) is claiming that it is working for the overthrow of the reactionary Indian state, it is pursuing an anarchist line which is harming themselves as well as the revolutionary movement as a whole. In this context, we consider that it is important to explain the genesis and development of our differences with it to avoid any misunderstandings.
It is truly commendable that the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] has condemned the false encounter in which numerous comrades have been killed and have organised meetings to do so as well. There are two elements in this document that of course stick out: 1) K.N Ramachandran’s claim that India is “neo-colonial” rather than “semi-colonial” [I will not discuss this particular issue because I know that the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] has published a book on this issue and would like to read it before passing any judgement on it] and 2) that the CPI(Maoist) is following an “anarchist” line which is harming themselves and the revolutionary movement as a whole. The charge of “anarchism” and hurting the larger revolutionary movement here, as K.N. Ramachandran notes, is an old one and was applied to the erstwhile CPI(ML)[People's War Group] [until it merged with the MCC to form the CPI(Maoist)].
Both, the present CPI(ML) as well as erstwhile CPI(ML) People’s War and Party Unity [both of which became part of CPI(Maoist) later] share the heritage of the ideological-political struggle waged by the Communist Revolutionaries (CRs) against the revisionist line of CPI and neo-revisionist line of CPI(M) leaderships under the leadership of com. Charu Majumdar from 1964, and the Naxalbari Uprising with “land to the tiller” slogan which brought agrarian revolution and revolutionary seizure of political power back to the agenda of the Indian people.
After the severe set backs leading to the disintegration of the CPI (ML) from 1971, like CPI (ML) People’s War formed in 1973 and CPI(ML) Party Unity formed after 1977, the Kerala state committee of the CPI(ML) reorganized in 1973 was also basically upholding the 1970 Eighth Congress line. All of them including the CPI(ML) Liberation were called Pro-Charu Majumdar, anti-Lin Biao section. When the publication of the monthly, Mass Line, was started from 1973 calling for unity of all ML forces basically upholding the 1970 line, articles and poems of com. K.G. Satya Murthy and of the leaders of Revolutionary Writers Association (AP) or Virasam, were published in it till it was banned and so its publication was suspended during emergency. Due to the atmosphere of suppression prevalent then, the unity efforts could not be continued till the emergency was revoked, when large number of leading comrades who were in jail came out.
During 1978-79 first contacts were established with the two, and unity talks were held. The CPI(ML) Kerala SC had denounced the capitalist roaders who had seized power in China after the death of Mao and their ‘Theory of Three Worlds’ in 1977 itself and it gave great significance to taking a correct stand on this question as one of the important points for unity of the Marxist-Leninist forces. As a result, its unity talks with the then Bhojpur group, which later became CPI (ML) Liberation, could not advance, as it was upholding the new Chinese leadership and its ‘TTW’( as it is doing even today). In spite of the unity on other questions, the unity talks with both PWG and Party Unity also failed as they were also not ready to take a stand on these important questions then. It was at that time com. S.A. Rawoof, one of the leaders of the PWG, dissociated with it for not condemning the capitalist roaders in China and for the statement of com. Kondappally Seetharamiah calling for a “suspension of armed struggle”. The CPI(ML) Kerala SC held discussions with com. Rawoof, both decided to merge and the CRC-CPI(ML) was formed in October,1979.
In spite of it, our discussions with both PWG and PU continued. Comrades K.V. Ramana Reddy (KVR) and Varavara Rao of RWA participated in the founding conference of People’s Cultural Forum in Kerala in 1980. At the mass fronts’ level relations of CRC-CPI(ML) with PWG and PU continued, though the differences on the approach towards structure and character of class/ mass organizations, and on pursuing the mass line had increased.
This is the first truly interesting statement that K.N. Ramachandran makes because it tells a history of the CPI(ML)[PWG] and CPI(ML)[PU] that differs from the history of those erstwhile organisations that has been published elsewhere and in internal party histories of said organisations. K.N. Ramachandran claims that the CPI(ML)[PWG] was formed in 1973 and Party Unity in 1977, however, the CPI(ML)[PWG] claims that they were only formed in 1980 and CPI(ML)[Party Unity] dates its own foundation to 1982. This disparity is odd and needs to be explained. Indeed, perhaps K.N. Ramachandran has confused himself because in 1972 the Central Organising Committee, CPI(ML) was formed. The COC, CPI(ML) was the organisation from which the CPI(ML)[PWG] and CPI(ML)[Party Unity] would later emerge from, due to the collapse of said organisation due to ideological differences. I will take for granted that K.N. Ramachandran knows his own organisation history and will thus only state that when he simply says CPI(ML) in Kerala State Committee was reorganised he means his faction, which by no means can be simply called the CPI(ML) as it was one of many small factions at the time. Thus. whenever, the reader sees CPI(ML) they should in fact read CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran]. Also, it is interesting to note that K.N. Ramachandran does not address similar attempts for unity talks in the context of the emergency period that were called by the COC, CPI(ML) or those of the opportunist CPI(ML)[S.N Singh], and seems to simply adopt the mantle for his own faction as those who want unity, which ironically is nothing but an act of sectarianism. I do not know whether the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran] did try to unite with the CPI(ML)[Liberation], and the precursors to the CPI(ML)[PWG] and CPI(ML)[Party Unity] [which were still being reorganised in light of the collapse of the COC,CPI(ML)], and have found no mention of such talks in PWG documents, but will give him the benefit of the doubt. It is true however, that at this time that the CPI(ML)[PWG] did uphold the Three Worlds Theory [something that they would later self-criticise for], but have found no reference to any support for the post-Mao Dengist regime. Regarding Rawoof [or Rauf], he would later split from the CPI(ML)[Red Flag] [the previous name for the CPI(ML)[K.N. Ramachandran]] in 2000 to form with the Maoist Unity Centre, CPI(ML) the CPI(ML)[Naxalbari]. Whether or not the CRC, CPI(ML) and the CPI(ML)[PWG] and CPI(ML)[PU] continued to work together at the level of mass organisations is something I do not know and will thus again give K.N. Ramachandran the benefit of the doubt.
After CRC-CPI (ML) was reorganized as CPI (ML) Red Flag in 1987, the unity talks and joint activities at mass front level with them further strengthened. During 1991-94 period, three rounds of top level unity talks were held with PWG which ultimately failed due to differences on approach towards (a) neo-colonization and the changes taking place in relations of production in the agrarian front under it,(b) towards Three World Theory,(c) towards Bolshevik style party building, (d) towards building of class/mass organizations and (e) towards utilization of all forms of struggle, as PWG stuck to its sectarian positions including upholding armed struggle as only form of struggle. Still, along with the cultural organizations of PWG and PU, the cultural front of Kerala also joined in the formation of the All India League of Revolutionary Culture (AILRC) in 1990 and this association continued till 1995, till it became inactive due to the sectarian approach of PWG. Com. KVR continued to write in Red Star, organ of the CPI(ML) Red Flag till 1995.
I have never heard or seen any documents from the PWG that suggest that they were ever pursuing unity talks with the CPI(ML)[Red Flag], however, again I will give K.N. Ramachandran the benefit of the doubt. I also cannot speak to point (a) raised above, however, can state that in 1991 the CPI(ML)[PWG] did rectify its own erroneous position towards the Three World’s Theory and thus find point (b) to be puzzling. I must note that I have not found any mention of such discussions in the self-critical report published by the CPI(ML)[PWG] in the wake of the merger with the CPI(ML)[PU]. I am not sure what K.N. Ramachandran means by point (c) and (d), however, must note that the PWG had self-criticised itself in 1980 for not having had a proper approach to party-building and mass organisations, and sought to rectify this. This of course leads to directly to point (e) which is completely wrong. In 1980 the CPI(ML)[PWG] had self-criticised itself (by itself I must note I mean the previous decade as first the undivided CPI(ML) and then the COC, CPI(ML)) for placing a one-sided emphasis on armed struggle and argued that armed struggle must be used in areas that were prepared for such struggle, and that other forms of struggle were in fact to be used in areas where it was not. Thus, it is actually K.N. Ramachandran who is being sectarian for consistently insisting that the CPI(ML)[PWG] argued that armed struggle is the only form of struggle between 1991-1994 when the CPI(ML)[PWG] had stated that this was not the case in 1980 itself! I have not read about the controversy regarding the All India League of Revolutionary Culture (AILRC) and cannot thus comment on this matter, however, must admit that I am not willing to simply accept K.N. Ramachandran’s version of events as this entire narrative thus far is simply constructing an old tired narrative of CPI(ML)[PWG] being a sectarian organisation, and the CPI(ML)[Red Flag/K.N. Ramachandran] being the patient communist organisation.
And when All India Joint Action Committee of Revolutionary Organizations of Workers (AIJACROW) was formed and it organized a parliament march against imperialist globalization in 1992, the first parliament march against imperialist globalization, the trade unions in Maharashtra under the political leadership of PWG also joined in this. In the peasant rally organized by PWG in Warangal in 1994, Red Flag comrades participated. Later, an open polemic was started in the publications, People’s March of PWG and Red Star on the ideological-political questions on which there were basic differences. From these instances it can be seen that even when there were basic differences on many questions, both sides were continuing contacts and holding even open polemics on them. The relations between the two were not antagonistic. CPI(ML) Red Flag had welcomed the merger of PWG and PU hoping that it will lead to a rethinking on the ideological-political line as PU always had more inclination towards mass line.
This paragraph makes some of the contradictions in K.N. Ramachandran’s narrative abundantly clear. On one hand K.N. Ramachandran would have us believe that the CPI(ML)[PWG] believes that armed struggle is the only form of struggle, but now admits that the CPI(ML)[PWG] had built trade unions in Maharashtra and was involved in a march against imperialist globalisation! This quite clearly and abundantly suggests thats the CPI(ML)[PWG] actually did recognise the need for economic struggles through the medium of trade unions and was actively involved in building them. This is a far cry from only being engaged in armed struggle! It is nice to hear that the CPI(ML)[Red Flag/K.N. Ramachandran] welcomed the merger of the PWG and PU to form the CPI(ML)[People's War], but am not sure what K.N. Ramachandran means by the PU being more predisposed towards “Mass Line”. Indeed, it seems clear to me at least that the CPI(ML)[PWG] was actively involved in applying the mass line to their activities in the form of trade unions and peasant struggles and rallies!
My next post will pick up from where I have left off, and discuss “Mao TseTung Thought or Maoism?”.
On February 26th, 1972 a 24 year old Maoist worker was killed outside the Renault Billancourt factory by a factory security guard. His name was Pierre Overney and he died for the people’s cause: the building of a revolutionary movement in France. Comrade Pierre was a member of the Gauche Prolétarienne, a French Maoist organisation that arose from the the Organisation of Communist Youth (Marxist-Leninist). During a wave of racist violence, Overney had been handing out anti-fascist pamphlets when he was shot. 300,000 people attended his funeral. It was the last mass gathering of the French Maoist movement. Comrade Pierre’s death was weightier than Mount Tai, and comrades in France are working tirelessly to rebuild the Maoist movement in France to fight for the goals and aspirations of Comrade Pierre. Comrade Pierre was the first martyr of the “nouveaux partisans” and he will never be forgotten. Thus, it was with solemnity that we gathered near the Père Lachaise Cemetery yesterday, and marched to his grave and commemorated the 40th anniversary of his death by placing red flowers on his grave. Comrades from the FRAP, supporters of La Cause de Peuple and Comrade Pierre’s comrades from the Gauche Prolétarienne spoke about his life, the need to build a Maoist party in France and fight against capitalism to build a better world. Dominique Grange, a well-known French protest singer and member of the Gauche Prolétarienne, sang the anthem of the Gauche Prolétarienne and the Internationale. In the evening we regathered for an afternoon of speeches and a concert by Dominique Grange which was amazing.
To end this blog entry I will briefly discuss the history of the PCmF and their relationship to the Gauche Prolétarienne. The Gauche Prolétarienne became defunct in 1973 as its leadership, despite all of its bluster and rhetoric, was unable to lead the movement and provide it a meaningful strategy for growth in the context of ever-sharpening contradictions in France and a downturn in the movement itself. Furthermore, the Gauche Prolétarienne was plagued with a petit-bourgeois and bourgeois leadership that became either a) increasingly hostile to the Maoist movement because of its support for the Palestinian people (for example people like Benny Levy etc. who were to undergo a process called “from Mao to Moses” and became ardent supporters of Israel); and b) cowardice, especially in light of their own increasing rhetoric for armed struggle. Today, Gauche Prolétarienne leaders and members can be found at all levels of the French bureaucracy and elite. This does not mean to suggest that all of the members of the Gauche Prolétarienne were like this, indeed Pierre Overney was not, and many came from the working classes and simply returned to the communities to which they belonged with a memory of a hope that things could have been different and better. A small section of the Gauche Prolétarienne went on to either form “Organisation for the Refoundation of the Communist Party of France” (l’ORPCF) with members of the Communist Party of France (Marxist-Leninist) and subsequently joined the the PCOF and the pro-Albanian movement (I will discuss this trend shortly). Another small section abandoned Maoism altogether and joined the Noyaux Armés Pour l’Autonomie Populaire (NAPAP) [although one of the first actions of the NAPAP was to actually execute Jean-Antoine Tramoni, the factory guard who killed Comrade Pierre, on March 25th 1977]. The NAPAP subsequently merged with Groupes d’Action Révolutionnaire Internationalistes (GARI) to form Action Directe.
Regarding the first trend that I mentioned, they joined the PCOF, a pro-Albanian party, and accepted the criticisms of Mao with reluctance. They did so because, as the comrades of the PCmF explain, they had been “anaesthetised” by the influence of Communist Party of Spain (ML), which was the patron of the French pro-Albanian party; the prestige of the Party of Labor of Albania in light of the degeneration of China under Deng Xiaoping into modern revisionism; the struggle for Albanian national liberation in the face of Italian fascism; the fact that the Albanians were the last socialist country after China had become revisionist; the impact that a split would have on the mass organisations that was being built and the developmental tasks of the PCOF which was being attacked by other pro-Albanian groups. They subsequently split from the PCOF and formed the “Association of Friends of the Ongoing People’s War in Peru” because of the people’s war in Peru. It was the Peruvian people’s war that made the Maoist comrades inside the PCOF realise that the line of demarcation between communism and revisionism was Maoism. They re-founded the ORPCF in 1995 and subsequently formed the Maoist Communist Party of France in 2002.
It is true that the events that commemorated this 40th death anniversary of Pierre Overney this past Saturday demonstrate that the Maoist movement in France remains incredibly small, but the memory of Pierre Overney and his sacrifice continues to animate the French comrades to rebuild the Maoist movement, to launch and win the people’s war, and to build the necessary forms and structures necessary for the formation of a revolutionary communist government.
We found you in internet, and too we found the Communist Maoist party of Manipur. We are interested to both organizations, because, we have the same international line which come from principality of Maoism as Command of World Revolution.
- Organization of the Workers of Afghanistan Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist (Feb. 15th, 2012)
I originally intended to write a blog entry outlining some preliminary thoughts I had on the work of the noted council communist theoretician and historian of science, Anton Pannekoek, regarding his ideas regarding the party and worker consciousness. But due to my own time limitations and just having read the new sectarian attack by a new “online Maoist” presence, the Organization of the Workers of Afghanistan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist), on a legitimate Maoist organisation, the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afganistan, I have decided to write about this new farcical phenomenon: online Maoism.
There is nothing new about the existence of organisation and groups that have more words in their name than actual members, indeed at different points in my life I have even found myself a member of different ones, but what is new is the capacity of such groups to make their voice heard by a larger number of forces than ever before. In the past, your little groupsicle of you and your best friend forever (right before you denounce one another) was likely to either go unheard of or only have a visible presence in very limited areas of work, but today any party-of-one with a computer and library card is able to go online, make international declarations about the need for revolution and bombard us with their half-witted opinions on things that they obviously have not bothered to, or are incapable of understanding. In the last few months there has been a rash of such online Maoist groupsicles that have been denouncing this and that organisation around the world for having adopted a revisionist line. Revisionism is an old slur that has been hurled by all and sundry, and sometimes is even on the mark as even a broken clock is right twice a day (for example the half-baked theories of Chairman Bob of the RCP,USA called the “new synthesis”). However, this new tendency of online Maoist groupsicles has sought to demarcate itself from the rest of the circus that is the contemporary Left by developing a new danger, centrism. Centrism is a sin that some organisations around the world have made by suggesting that there exists a “red” faction within the UCPN(Maoist), and for expressing the desire to include said “red” fraction in any new international regroupment of Maoists. This charge is based on the following argument: the UCPN(Maoist) is a revisionist organisation; all of its members are revisionist as well because they have not split with with the UCPN(Maoist) and; thus there is no “red” fraction inside the UCPN(Maoist) because if they are truly revolutionary they would have already split from the UCPN(Maoist). Indeed, it becomes quickly clear that those who are making this charge are incapable of grasping what a two-line struggle looks like in an organisation that is not simply comprised of five adolescent men gathering around their mother’s kitchen table, and actually has hundreds of thousands of members organised into either the party itself or involved in party-led mass organisations. Comically these organisations often are closely aligned to a group of supporters of the PCP that continue to defend Chairman Gonzalo, harbour utopic delusions about the protracted people’s war in Peru, and emphasise the need for Maoist formations to recognise that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is an insufficient formulation and should recognise “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism”. Indeed, this ridiculous latter charge about “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism” demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge about Maoism.
Finally, I have to say that this latest open letter does great disservice to the revolutionary movement of Afghanistan as it clarifies nothing about the balance of forces in Afghanistan, and instead simply muddies the waters even further. Indeed, most Leftists around the world unfortunately know little about the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan as it as, are further burdened with prejudices against Maoism and revolutionary movements that are Maoist in nature, and all this letter does is to make the revolutionary movement in Afghanistan sound completely surreal or out-there, and marginalised. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that this online organisation does not attack the Afghanistan Liberation Organisation or RAWA (its women’s front), which are actually revisionist organisations and are accomplices in the American-lackey regime. I really hope that the Maoist Communist Party of Manipur will distance itself from such online entities.
Letter of the Organization of the Workers of Afghanistan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist) To Proletarian Party of East Bengal (Maoist Unity Group) [Bangladesh]
Hello Dear Comrades,
Organization of the Workers of Afghanistan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist) is the vanguard of the proletariat and other oppressed of Afghanistan. We are fighting for the cause of Communism. We Believe that: Only Maoism May Assume The Command of The World Revolution. So, The New Democratic Revolution of Afghanistan is part of the world proletarian revolution.
We are very unhappily by seeing that: today there is no Maoist world center. Once RIM seemed to fulfill such a base. But wrong line of RIM, especially its undermining of the works of Chairman Gonzalo, deviated this organization from the line of Maoism, and lead it towards Avakianist opportunist line. We strongly believe that: only Maoism may lead the oppressed people of the world to victory.
In Afghanistan, the US imperialism and her Co. imperialist and hegemonist united forces, have destroyed every thing. They have invaded our country and have suppressed the people of our country. Everyday they commit new crimes. They kill the people. they rape young girls and boys. they put on fire our villagers, and finally they have brought slavery for all our society. Only the unity of the proletariat and other oppressed classes may bring the ability of building an independent strong Afghanistan by breaking down the invaders. Only New Democracy can save us.
So, the unity of Afghan Maoists is the key to build a strong Communist party based on Maoism. unfortunately, the Maoist forces of Afghanistan are still scattered, and they still lack a central unity point. This mainly comes from the domination of Centrism and Avakianism among the major section of Maoists. Our organization is the first and the only organization in Afghanistan which bases itself in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Principally Maoism. We believe on concentric construction of the three magic tools of revolution. We believe on ” Peoples’ War until Communism”. We are on building a new organization up on thesis of Chairman Gonzalo: A militarized Maoist organization that be able to fulfill the peoples’ war. We strong emphasize in: People make the history, the party leads.
We found you in internet, and too we found the Communist Maoist party of Manipur. We are interested to both organizations, because, we have the same international line which come from principality of Maoism as Command of World Revolution. Today, in Afghanistan, centrist parties and organizations claiming to be Maoists, are denying the People’s war until communism. For example. Communist Maoist party of Afghanistan, which is an ex-Avakianist party, still denies chairman Gonzalo’s achievements. It still denies “Thought” to be a Maoist one. “Afghanistan Maoists” is another group which argues to be a Maoist one, but it has a diversity and enmity with chairman Gonzalo and Principality of Maoism. They reject Principality of Maoism and our organization. They reject us because they claim that principality of Maoism is not true. Nevertheless, our organization, however alone, is fighting and leading a two lines struggle. We are fighting for communism, so We Uphold, Defend and will apply Maoism. misfortunately there are still a few organizations in the world based on revolutionary Maoism. Only Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism can save as in a sound and strong two lines struggle. Centrists and other opportunists are hiding behind their so-called “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” to fight against principality of Maoism. They still recognize and prefer “Mao-Tse-Tung thought” based organizations and parties, but they fail to recognize the historical importance of communist party of Peru and its achievements. They still fail to recognize Chairman Gonzalo, and some of them like “Afghanistan Maoists” assume him as non-Maoist. We uphold, defend and apply Maoism, so we do have to defend chairman Gonzalo and his all powerful thought as an international issue of a great importance for world proletariat.
We keep in contact with you because, we want to have close relation with you. We have the same true stands, and that is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism. Our web address is: www.proletar.blogfa.com our email is: firstname.lastname@example.org still our materials in our website is in Persian. We seek to find the opportunity to translate some materials in English, and we will send them to you.
With Communist internationalist regards Long Life Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism
Organization of the Workers of Afghanistan Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist
One of the most active participants in current debates in the International Maoist movement is the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [Naxalbari]. The CPI(ML)[Naxalbari] was a member of the now defunct Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) and has its roots in the Central Reorganization Centre, CPI(ML) led by K. Venu. The CPI(ML)[Naxalbari] was formed as a result of the merger of the Maoist Unity Centre, CPI(ML) [itself a merger of the Maharashtra Communist Party and Kerala Communist Party in 1997; both parties were State committees of the CRC,CPI(ML) when it dissolved itself in 1991) and a small section of the Andhra Pradesh State unit, led by Com. Rauf, of the CPI(ML)[Red Flag] (which itself is led by K.N. Ramachandran and split from the CRC,CPI(ML) in 1987 over issues including the formation of the RIM and the question of Maoism). The organization from what I can tell is quite small (even by Indian Maoist standards) and most people in the Indian Maoist movement seem to have never heard of it. They seem to largely play a propaganda role, although reportedly in the 1980’s they were involved in armed struggle in Andhra Pradesh.
The CPI(ML)[Naxalbari] was one of the first organizations to publicly critique the UCPN(Maoist)’s line and tactics in the last 5 years and have recently distributed two new documents in which they outline their differences with the UCPN(Maoist). The first document reproduced below is a recent statement by their spokesperson, Krantipriya, and the second document was published in a Nepalese journal in February (copied below, but also available as a Word document here). In the first document the CPI(ML)[Naxalbari] protest the slide towards revisionism by key sections of the leadership of the UCPN(Maoist), especially recent moves towards dismantling the PLA and demand that the revolutionary sections of the UCPN(Maoist) “raise the flag of open rebellion against the revisionist headquarters”. It must be noted that the question of PLA integration remains an issue that divides the international Maoist movement with many parties around the world regarding any attempt to merge the PLA and the Nepalese Army as a betrayal of the revolutionary masses and liken it to the disastrous liquidation of the Communist Party of China into the KMT; whereas others like myself would argue that the issue is not as clear cut as the historical allusion implies and simultaneously emphasise the corollary question about how such an integration may occur whilst ensuring the sustainability of an ideological and political coherency and unity that will then enable an effective infiltration of the Nepalese Army in order to overcome the military impasse that the UCPN(Maoist) continues to face. Furthermore, they point out that the 4-point deal with the Madheshi parties itself is a form of political capitulation to Indian expansionism as it is well-known that the Madheshi parties have largely represented Indian interests in Nepal.
However, it is the second document entitled, “Sadak, Sadan, Sarkar – Tactics of Struggle or Compliance?” that is truly interesting because Com. Ajith provides a very detailed analysis of the strategy that the UCPN(Maoist) has deployed in the last 5 years. Indeed, Com. Ajith convincingly argues that the “street-legislature-government” strategy that the UCPN(Maoist) speaks to a tension between the demands and possibilities afforded by a movement from the “streets” and wrangling in the “legislature-government”. Com. Ajith points out that there is an inevitable tension, something that many progressives in North America even experience in regards to President Obama and the Democratic Party in the USA and the New Democratic Party in Canada, between what the popular masses on the streets want and what the politicians in the ‘legislature-government’ deem possible. Often this is simply because of the parliamentary illusions that are fostered in elections which strongly suggest that by simply electing x, y, z politicians the desired political programme will be carried out and result post-election in the complete collapse of the movement in the “streets” or; despite all of the rhetoric from politicians about how they represent the voices of people in the “streets”, or need those very “streets” to hold their feet to the fire and “keep them honest”, it becomes abundantly clear to the progressive movement that any political action critiquing the activities of those elected representatives is deemed unwelcome, and are often told that they are undermining the parliamentary cause and weakening the “Left” as a whole. Often those who persist with demanding the original political programme are simply dismissed as being “utopians” or “ultra-Leftists”. In fact, one can easily see in the case of Nepal since 2006 that the movement in the “streets” has been subsumed under “parliamentary” and “governmental” concerns and that an independent programme for the “streets” has not been developed. As Com. Ajith notes, “Avoiding the concrete specificity of the situation, the contest of revolution and counter-revolution, it was restricting the revolutionary forces to a secondary issue, the matter of the Constituent Assembly. Instead of addressing and promoting the objective split in interests between the revolutionary and reactionary sections and making this the basis for new polarisation and mobilisation, it was papering over the split.”
Furthermore, as Com. Ajith correctly has pointed out, the desire for a “Constituent Assembly” (one that has been a mainstay demand for the Nepalese communist movement since its inception) reduces the contradictions to simply one between democracy and feudalism, and does not clearly see that a whole host of other politico-economic positions are able to similarly exploit the situation, such as the weak nascent Nepalese bourgeoisie that is hostile to both communism and feudalism alike (the tension between this nascent bourgeoisie and feudalism is something that Com. Mao wanted to exploit in his 4 class alliance and also was the reason that he emphasised the need for a strong Communist Party at the helm of the New Democratic Revolution). Additionally, Com. Ajith points out that it is unlikely, nigh impossible, for a constitution that would instrumentalise the New Democratic Revolution to be passed through the Constituent Assembly and that it is only through a real movement on the streets that this is possible. However, they note that this has resulted in the Left and the Right of the Party to simply emphasise one aspect of the SLG tactic, so the Left emphasises the streets whereas the Right emphasises the Legislature-Government, and neither is able to develop a strategy and tactics that is actually capable of dealing with the quandary that the the UCPN(Maoist) currently finds itself mired regarding the capacity to make the revolutionary change that is actually required through the dissolution of the State and the re-foundation of a dictatorship of the proletariat.
I really recommend that all revolutionaries and scholars interested in the current situation in Nepal read the article by Com. Ajith because I think that it is one of the most concise and useful documents that has been written in the last few years that actually explains the failure of the UCPN(Maoist) to take the revolutionary process forward, and firmly grounds their critique in a close and critical analysis of the post-2006 SLG tactic (something that to my knowledge has yet to be done by anyone). The article does not resolve any of the questions that I have pointed out regarding the possible economic isolation of Nepal, the apparent lack of desire in the urban classes to make a revolution, and the military impasse, but does provide a useful analysis by which to understand how the revolutionary process in Nepal has come to an end and addresses the tactical-strategic problems that the Left of the party has to overcome. Simultaneously, the article does not mindlessly cheerlead for any given faction, as many are given to do, but rather places the blame at the feet of both the Left and the Right, and is thus a far more honest appraisal of the situation in Nepal.
On the current situation in Nepal and the challenge before the Maoists
Participation in the Constitutional Assembly process, and in government, in Nepal has been used by the UCPN (Maoist) leadership to liquidate the revolutionary nature of the party and sink it in the morass of parliamentarism. For quite some time now, this has been the concrete political manifestation of revisionism, of the derailment of the party from the path of New Democratic Revolution. It has now been taken to a new depth with the recent appointment of Dr. Baburam Bhattarrai as the Prime Minister of Nepal through a deal with the Madheshi parties, known agents of the Indian expansionists. Following a script already given by the reactionaries and endorsed by the UCPN (Maoist) leadership, the new government promptly handed over the keys of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) stored weapons. Severely drained of its fighting qualities through the policies followed by the leadership of the UCPN(Maoist), it is now being prepared for formal elimination, to finish off the last remaining, and one of the most important, achievements of the 10 years of People’s War. Thus the people will have nothing to bank on and will be helplessly thrown back to the reactionary wolves.
10 years of heroic war of the masses and their immense sacrifices gave the tiny organisation CPN (Maoist) international fame and recognition. Once the emerging shining armour in the glorious history of the international communist movement, this party is now reduced to being ‘just another petty political party’, shamelessly bargaining for some space in the ruling class benches. Today the very leaders of this organisation are trading sacrifices and pains of the revolutionary masses for a few ministerial posts and recognition from the Indian expansionists, in the service of the imperialists. Every step taken by them is meant to prove to their aakkas (masters) that they are genuinely committed to abandoning the path of revolution.
When communists turn colour and rot the stench is far worse. The slogan ‘serve the masses’ is converted to ‘serve the imperialist-expansionist masters’. As the class nature of the party changes, it acquires the ‘most favoured status’ from the ruling classes. The veil of minimum bourgeois morality too is shorn off. Shameless degeneration, craving for consumer goods and luxuries replace communist plain living, revolutionary self-respect and modesty. Revisionists are the seeds of reactionaries and slaves of the imperialists in the revolutionary ranks. In no time they infect the whole organisation, decapitate its ideological strength and denude it of its revolutionary sheen. The first thing they do in order to liquidate a revolutionary organisation is by bringing in liberalism in place of firm and clear ideological position. They abhor Leninist party principles and convert the organisation into an open non-functional debating forum. Conspiracies and manipulations become the hallmark of functioning. All these features can now be seen in the UCPN (Maoist).
The Maoists had gained strategic advantage through the ten years of People’s War, which liberated vast regions of the country and established people’s power. The advance of revolution intensified the crisis within the ruling classes and pushed their imperialist, expansionist mentors into a quandary. This set the context for the Peace Accord of 2006 and the mass upheaval that eventually led to the ending of the hated Gyanendra monarchy. The Maoist party was propelled to a unique position of national leadership, gaining overwhelming support for the unfinished agenda of revolution. But instead of utilising these favourable factors and applying tactics suitable to the fulfilment of these aspirations of the people the leadership deviated from the strategic tasks of revolution. The ideological, political roots of this deviation, including the different trends contained in the turn to ‘peace tactics’, are already a matter of ideological struggle within the Nepalese and international Maoist movement. The views of our party on this matter, including correspondence with the UCPN (Maoist) leadership, can be seen in ‘Naxalbari’ No: 3 ( http://www.thenaxalbari.blogspot.com ). This ideological struggle must be certainly deepened, most importantly by the Nepali Maoists themselves. But the immediate task before the Maoists and the revolutionary masses in Nepal is to raise the flag of open rebellion against the revisionist headquarters and thus initiate the reconstruction of the party on solid Marxist-Leninist-Maoist bases, firmly united with the masses. They must get out off the revisionist swamp of Constitutional Assembly politicking and retake the road of revolution. The revolutionary heritage of the Maoists in Nepal, much enriched by the heroic People’s War they led and the glorious sacrifices made by thousands of the valiant daughters and sons of Nepal, along with the boundless solidarity of people all over the world with the Nepali revolution provide the bedrock basis for taking up this challenge. As called for in the Political Resolution of the CCOMPOSA, “People all over the world look up to the Maoists in Nepal to break out of all domestic and external conspiracies and advance determinedly towards the completion of new democratic revolution.”
6th September 2011
Sadak, Sadan, Sarkar – Tactics of Struggle or Compliance?
This was written in February 2011 for a Nepali Maoist journal as a contribution to the ideological struggle
When a great revolution marks time the silence is all the more ominous. The humdrum routines of peacetime often dull one from sensing it. But, no matter what, swords are being sharpened. Will the 5 years of peace end up liquidating the gains made through 10 years of people’s war or will it provide new resources for the revolution to once again rage on? Much depends on an accurate assessment of the present situation and tactics derived from it. This, obviously, is beyond the capacity of a spectator. But then, the outsider view is not without its benefits too. It allows a distancing, and its objectivity, denied to those on the stage. This is an opportunity for a broader view, a critiquing from outside. It also allows one to take liberties and indulge in wayward thinking. Having thus oiled my hands in anticipation of a sticky time (literally), let me get into the messy business of carving up the jackfruit.
Two cardinal principles of the Marxist understanding on tactics can be summarised as follows: (1) tactics should serve strategy; (2) they should address the concrete, specific demands of the given situation. As put by the master tactician Lenin, “Marxism requires of us a strictly exact and objectively verifiable analysis of the relations of classes and of the concrete features peculiar to each historical situation.” (‘Letter on Tactics’) Between the two the former is most important. Tactics that violate or deviate from the correct strategic orientation of any specific stage are of no use; no matter how ‘concrete’ they may appear to be. Regarding the second principle, the question of identifying ‘demands of the given situation’ also requires the guidance of the correct strategic orientation. Identifying what exactly they are, defining the ‘given situation’ is no straightforward, simple matter. It depends very much on one’s outlook. Moreover, the ‘specific demands’ of the situation must be grasped dynamically, focussed on the emerging aspect. In other words the concreteness of tactics should keep in mind, or address, not just the present but the emergent future too. This is how one ensures that tactics really serve strategy. Because the task of tactics is to promote objective and subjective factors that would assist in the fulfilment of strategic aims (or eliminate/weaken those that obstruct these aims). With this perspective, let’s now get on to an examination of the ‘sadak, sadan, sarkar’ (‘street-legislature-government’) tactic advanced by the UCPN (Maoist). I will term it the ‘SLG tactic’
This tactic was first put forward in 2007. Though a lot has happened since then, it is still retained as the main tactics by the UCPN (Maoist). Its latest CC document states: “The party has adopted a clear-cut policy of mobilizing the people for the mass insurrection to establish people’s federal republic or people’s republic through according priority to struggle from all fronts including the front of peace and constitution and the front of the government with especial focus on the front of street struggle on the basis of four preparations and four bases.” The context of the SLG tactic, in 2007, was the complexity of the Interim period leading to the Constituent Assembly. We need not get into all the details here. Reactionaries, domestic and foreign, were persistently trying to block the Maoists and subvert the revolution. The tactic of SLG was supposed to check this in an all-round manner. But could it really deliver?
First of all, though the idea of tackling the enemy at all levels looks quite attractive, its actual implication is a rather one-sided application. This is inevitable. One cannot mobilise the party or the masses for any meaningful fight in the streets while being in government. It is simply impossible to put up a real fight from the streets – 1. against one’s own government and 2. against a power structure one is planning to join or continue in, even if temporarily. All that can be done is some stage-managed business where both the ‘fighters’ and the ‘defenders’ stick to their pre-set roles; throw in a few broken bones on both sides for ‘effect’. In other words, though positioned at the end, getting into or hanging on in the ‘sarkar’ is the real center of this tactic. Sadak is meant to serve this center, a pressure point. The sadan part is an obvious corollary to sarkar.
One may object that this ‘sadan’ is qualitatively different since it is not the usual parliamentary pig-sty but a Constituent Assembly (CA). That much can certainly be admitted. But this is precisely where the SLG tactic is shown up at its worst. The alliance between the parliamentary parties and the Maoists continued in the form of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim government even after the monarchical dictatorship was ended. But, objectively, while still under the common banner of Interim Setup and Constituent Assembly, the interests of the two sides within the alliance had started diverging sharply. The outstanding feature of the post-Jan Andolan 2 period is the urge of the broad masses to push ahead towards a new society, towards revolution. In opposition to this stand the conspiracies of domestic and foreign reactionaries to prevent revolution at all costs. So far as they were concerned, the matter of retaining or disposing of the monarchy was secondary to this. The matter of Constituent Assembly too is secondary for them. It is useful to them to the extent it can be used to carry out some reforms in the state structure, widening its social base and thus making it more capable of ensuring domination and exploitation. But if counter-revolution so demands, they will not hesitate to shut it down, democracy be dammed!
So what exactly was the SLG tactic addressing? Avoiding the concrete specificity of the situation, the contest of revolution and counter-revolution, it was restricting the revolutionary forces to a secondary issue, the matter of the Constituent Assembly. Instead of addressing and promoting the objective split in interests between the revolutionary and reactionary sections and making this the basis for new polarisation and mobilisation, it was papering over the split. What was needed was tactics to translate the division into a formal split from the ruling classes. Instead SLG offered the illusion of struggle, strictly within the boundaries set by the outmoded alliance. In essence it was a guideline for manoeuvres in power play, not struggle. Hence the big mobilisations and mass protests could not but end tamely in new compromises and deals. Whether conscious or not, a strategic shift from revolution to reform was underway. The Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and completion of the constitution-making process through the CA came to be seen as an unavoidably necessary step, an aim in its own right.
The shifting of the tactical issue of CA into a strategic aim is evidently linked quite closely with an absolutising of the abolition of the monarchy. The monarchy, as an institution of the state and as a hegemonic ideological apparatus, was indeed the main lynchpin of feudalism in Nepal, one which has a centuries old suffocating grip on Nepali society. But once Nepal came under British imperialist domination and became a semi-colony, it no longer represented feudalism alone. It became the lynchpin of all reaction. The class character of the king and court nobles itself changed. They were increasingly tied up directly with the growing bureaucrat capitalism. Distinguishing between feudal forces and the comprador-bureaucrat bourgeoisie and targeting the monarchy in order to tactically utilise the contradiction among these two parts of the ruling classes was correct. But viewing and presenting the monarchy solely in relation to feudal forces was wrong. The monarchy was only a form of the existing Nepali state, a state which serves all the ruling classes. Lack of clarity on this promoted the danger of absolutising the struggle to end the monarchy. The form of a republic with parliamentary democracy resulting from an abolishment of the monarchy could thus be presented as a means of realising ‘bourgeois democracy’. It could be offered as a ‘realistic’ target; for some as a substitute for the strenuous task of destroying the existing state and completing the NDR, for others as a transitional, but inevitable, goal.
Given the centuries old existence of the Nepalese monarchy, its abolishment was no doubt a significant achievement of the revolutionary process led by the Maoists. It considerably weakened the institutions of the reactionary state and deepened divisions within the ruling classes. But the ending of the monarchy did not mean the abolishment of the state. Moreover, the ending of the monarchy was something that could be utilised by the enemies also. And that is what they did. They claimed that the tasks set forth by the 2006 mass movement had been mainly accomplished and that there was no further justification for the Maoists’ separate agenda. This possibility was already seen during the 2007 political crisis when the Nepal Congress hastily declared in favour of a republic.
Nepal needs a new, revolutionary constitution that will ensure inclusive democracy for the people. But this can never be realised under the Interim setup. So long as dual power existed within it, de facto if not de jure, this setup could at best serve as a launchpad for revolution. As part of an immediate plan for organising the revolutionary seizure of power, constitution making could have been a tool for exposing the enemies and mobilising a broad mass movement. In the absence of such a concrete plan (not vague calls for insurrection) the Constituent Assembly is a trap that ties down the revolutionary party. That the UCPN(Maoist) does not have the required majority to push through its constitutional proposals is well known. But there is an even more basic issue. The principles of any constitution are only as weighty as the force that can be employed to ensure their implementation. This much is clear from the basic teachings of Marxism on the matter of the state, constitutions and government. In the situation of Nepal, the old state is yet to be destroyed. Dual power no longer exists. Therefore, no matter how progressive a constitution may be presented in the Constituent Assembly by the UCPN(Maoist), it will be a dead letter. One didn’t have to wait for the results of the CA elections to come to this conclusion.
Our examination of tactics thus takes us to the realm of strategy. Revolution versus reform, this is the strategic issue at stake. Since reform, in the present world and geo-political context, will inevitably end up as service to Indian expansionism, this should be posed more precisely as revolution versus capitulation. It is self-explanatory that these opposing strategies cannot be served by the same set of tactics. There is a further problem. Rightism dressed up as realism, or for that matter centrism masquerading as cool-headed perseverance, invariably insist on sharing verbiage with revolution. The tactics of revolution must therefore shoulder the additional task of separating itself, even in words, from them. How is this being handled by the left in the two line struggle? The left has been crucial in keeping the prospects of revolution alive. If not for the determined fight it is putting up, (and the fortuitous dismissal of the Maoist led government!), things would have been in a very bad shape, revolution-wise. But has it really broken away from the premises of rightism and centrism?
The left has persistently argued the need for new tactics. But this is premised on the ‘new situation’ that emerged after the completion of the CA elections and abolishment of the monarchy. The separation from those who claim that the Chungwang process is not yet exhausted is evident. Yet doesn’t this argument, with its premises, still remain within the perceptual frame of those it wants to oppose? It locates the need for new tactics in the post-monarchy, post-CA election situation. Thus these events are made the indices of the completion of the Chungwang process. But in doing so isn’t it missing out the fact that the victory of Jan Andolan-2 had already inaugurated the completion of the Chungwang process by objectively causing a split in the immediate interests of the two sides in the anti-monarchy alliance? By taking the ending of monarchy and completion of the CA elections as indices it too acknowledges that they were essential. As a result, the shifting of tactical issues such as the CA and abolishment of monarchy into strategic aims, the role this has played in strengthening the grounds of ‘sub-stage’ views and promoting the deviation from the revolutionary road is missed.
New tactics had to be formulated, but premised on the reality that the Chungwang process was exhausted by mid-2007 itself. New tactics were needed; not because the CA elections are over and monarchy abolished, but because the party had made sufficient headway by 2007 in the tactical aims set by it in 2005, as part of preparing for the final assault for political power. After all, this was the declared aim of the Chungwang tactics. If this revolutionary frame of reference is not retaken, the left will not be able to break out of the frame set by rightism and centrism.
This apparently is the context of the continued support given by the left for going back to government and the SLG tactic as seen in the recent CC document. Inevitably, the distinction between the right and the left is blurred. The ranks of the party and the masses are left disarmed. Within the left, there is a strong tendency to see the abandoning of the ‘street’ part of SLG as the main error. It urges a ‘full’ application of the three pronged tactics. This begs the question, struggle for what? Rightists take to the streets when out of government. They need it … to get back into government and enjoy the crumbs of power. We in India are quite familiar with such revisionist ‘street-government’ tactics. Can anything different be expected in Nepal? A series of mass struggles were launched by UCPN (Maoist) in the period following its dismissal from government. But they have not led to any decisive, qualitative change. All that energy was finally pooled into pushing the ruling class parties towards a new compromise (yet to be actualised) that will allow the UCPN (Maoist) into government.
The argument for continuing the SLG tactics is bound up with thinking, still influential even within the left that the CA process must be taken to its logical end. The crucial need today is to regain the revolutionary road. The SLG tactic will block this. What are needed are tactics and plan to break out of the existing Interim setup and advance towards completing the NDR. These tactics must help expose the hard reality that the CA and Interim setup have become tools in the hands of reactionaries. The masses must be educated to see how reaction is trying to dissipate and destroy the revolution by prolonging the CA/Interim process. Today, posing as the true defenders of the CA is self-defeating. To argue that the CA is fine but the NC-UML combine, tutored by India, is blocking its functioning is nothing but disarming the people. The truth must be told to the people that the existing CA has been made into a mockery, a trap of reaction, that it can never deliver what the people aspire. Nothing less will do. Insurrections are not known to drop out of clear blue skies, all primed and set to go. You need the brooding clouds, the thunder and lightning. Insurrections must be prepared.
The Maoists in Nepal have to advance in a very complex and challenging situation. In fact it is almost similar to a new initiation. But one that is more complex and challenging. At the time of the initiation of the people’s war the party did not have to deal with diplomatic or other similar relations. Everything was a new beginning. But now it must handle a lot many more aspects and pay attention to properly handling their relations, so that the maximum gain can be retained while making the new leap. But what is decisive is the leap and gearing up the party to take it. Because, no matter how good a job is done in handling such complex relations and tasks, a restructuring of the present support base, the falling away of a substantial section particularly from among the middle classes, is inevitable. In fact this partial destruction is a necessary corollary to the leap. All this crucially hinges on the deepening of the line struggle and decisive rupture from rightism.
The Maoist movement in Nepal has a rich history of struggle against rightism. It has a powerful Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideological tradition. Political power enjoyed by vast sections of masses for the first time in the country, oppressed sections and regions of society living a life of dignity, backward Nepal being transformed into a beacon for the whole world, daring thinking and initial steps towards building up a self-reliant Nepal – these glorious achievements of the people’s war, realised through the sacrifice of innumerable martyrs, has added even more might to this heritage. The Nepali Maoists will surely succeed in drawing on it and regaining the revolutionary road.
A couple of years ago I asked Tariq Ali at a public event to speak about Indian imperialism and the role that it played in the region. Tariq Ali balked at the question and did not answer it, and thus one of the most articulate Leftist and well-known commentators from South-Asia missed an opportunity to explain to his North American audiences some of the most important, yet underreported and under-discussed, trends in the last 50 years i.e. the rise and shape of Indian expansionism and imperialism. Indian expansion and imperialism has taken shape in two forms, the production of a classical political-economic dependency on the Indian State and economy by surrounding countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh (with Pakistan as a perennial “external threat”) and the construction of internal colonies like Manipur, Nagaland and Kashmir. The Nepalese revolutionary Left has recognized this relationship for many years, even Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has penned papers on the question and has referred to the process as the “Bhutanization of Nepal”, and has emphasized the need to resist it, especially in economic matters like the unfair allocation of power from Nepalese dam projects or political matters like the influence the Indian government has over the Nepalese Army.
Similarly, the Kashmiri independence movement, which is perhaps the best known national liberation movement in the region (which is not saying much as most of the international Left neither knows much about their struggle nor seems to care, despite the tireless work of public intellectuals like Arundhati Roy to publicize the issue) and is one of the world’s longest military occupations has similarly highlighted the issue of Indian imperialism/expansion for over 60 years. The Manipuri people, despite their heroic struggle against Indian internal colonialism, unfortunately have gotten nearly no press in international circles and remain largely an invisible people with an invisible movement. Thus, it was with great surprise and joy that anti-imperialists around the world came to know of the 1st political conference of the the Kangleipak Communist Party (Maoist) and the adoption of a new party program (available here). The Party also decided, in order to reflect its new political program, to rename itself the Maoist Communist Party, Manipur, and has almost immediately worried security officials in India (see “KCP’s Ultra-left Turn Worries Manipur” copied below). Indeed, in a short period of time the Maoist Communist Party, Manipur has been able to emerge as a significant force and was able to enforce a peaceful 12 hour general strike to protest the disappearance of a RPF/PLA comrade today. The general strike saw cars and buses off the streets, and many public and private offices closed (see “KCP general strike ends peacefully, paralyses normal life in state” copied below).
However, I feel it is important to place these development in Manipur in an historical context. In 1949 the Indian government annexed the princely state of Manipur (Manipur had been declared an independent state in 1947, like Kashmir) and declared it part and parcel of an unified India. Interestingly it was on October 29th 1948 that Com. Irabot, a communist who had won a seat in the independent Manipur Assembly, formed the first Manipur Communist Party and its armed wing the Manipur Red Guards, rather than join the Communist Party of India – Manipur State committee (indeed, the KCP(Maoist) identifies itself as being part of this tradition in the Manipur communist movement, rather than being part of the traditional Indian communist tradition that has largely emphasized electoral activity and has underemphasized the right of self-determination for oppressed nationalities). In 1956 Manipur was “granted” the status of a “union territory” and was only given “statehood” in 1972 as a means to placate the Manipuri people. However, like the people of Kashmir, the people of Manipur have never recognized the central Indian government as their true representatives and have consistently fought against Indian imperialism.
The movement for Manipuri national liberation first took a clear political shape in 1964 with the formation of the United National Liberation Front, but the UNLF at this time did not place much emphasis on the armed movement. In the early 1970’s because of the Bangladesh war for independence a number of Manipuri activists and leaders, including UNLF leader N. Bisheswar Singh and his associates, ended up prison especially in Tripura, where they came into contact with Naxalite prisoners who also were being arrested at the time. This had a profound influence on the movement as a number of key leaders were released from prison in the mid 1970’s with a new ideology, Mao Zedong Thought and the military strategy of Protracted People’s War. On September 25th, 1978 N. Bisheswar Singh and his associates formed the People’s Liberation Army, although it must be noted that unlike other Mao-inspired organizations it did not form a political wing, the Revolutionary People’s Front, until 1989 (N. Bishewar Singh has now been declared an enemy of the people for his anti-people activities in recent years). Almost a year earlier, on October 9th 1977, R.K. Tulachandra along with S. Wanglen, Achamba, Tajila, Meiraba, Meipaksana, Y. Ibohanbi and Paliba formed the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK). Com. Y. Ibohanbi however led a split from PREPAK to form the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) on April 13th, 1980. Yet, it must be noted that until 1992 the PLA was regarded to be the largest armed left-wing organization and overshadowed both the PREPAK and the KCP. Indeed, the death of Tulacandra in 1985 resulted in the fracturing of PREPAK into numerous smaller factions, some of which merged with the UNLF and the PLA/RPF. It was only with the formation of the Revolutionary Joint Committee by the PLA, a then recently reunified PREPAK and KCP in 1992 did the PREPAK and KCP become significant forces in the armed movement. In 1995 the death of Com. Ibohanbi, during a military encounter, resulted in the fracturing of the KCP into a number of competing factions. Many of these factions would unify in 2006 to form the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) due to the fact that their factional strife in the preceding years had caused them to lose support from the mass majority of the people, although several other factions remained outside their fold.
In 2009 a group of Manipuri comrades unified to form the Kangleipak Communist Party (Maoist). This new organization argued that it was not part of the KCP, although it did identify itself as being part of the revolutionary tradition that began in 1948 and the Manipur Communist Party and was reignited in 1980 with the formation of the KCP, but rather was a completely new organization that represented a new Manipuri communist movement. The KCP(Maoist)/Maoist Communist Party, Manipur in the past 2 years has been involved in a number of ambushes and attacks on police and military forces and has quickly become one of the most important armed groups in Manipur, as can be seen from the fact that they were able to hold this successful general strike. Since 2009 the KCP(Maoist)/Maoist Communist Party, Manipur has allied itself with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the armed struggle against Indian imperialism and semi-feudalism.
IMPHAL, Sept 21: The 12 hours statewide general strike called by the proscribed KCP (Moist) against the enforced disappearance of assistant publicity secretary of the under ground RPF/PLA, Gurumayum Jiteshwar Sharma alias GM Changjou alias Gypsy of Nagamapal Singjubung Leirak seriously affected the normal business in the state today.
The KCP (Moist) had called a statewide general strike from 5am this morning till 5pm in the evening after taking serious count of the failure of the authority concerned to officially declare the whereabouts of the 49 years old RPF leader GM Changjou who was reportedly wisked away from his rented house near SM College in Dimapur by army personnel in civvies on August 18 evening at around 7pm.
All markets, shops and business establishment and the educational institutions located in the four valley districts of the state remain close during the general strike and there were reports of minimum turn out of the employees in all major departments of the state today.
Besides, the general strike also cause serious impact in the hill districts of the state due to the stoppage of the all forms of transport systems along the inter district roads.
However there has been no reports of any unwanted incidents during the general strike even as an extensive security preventive measure have been enforced by deploying maximum police and VDF forces at all strategic points in the state.
All cdo teams were also put on patrol duties along various vulnerable areas to prevent any untoward incident during the general strike.
It may be mentioned, The JAC which was formed in connection with enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention of assistant publicity secretary of the under ground RPF/PLA, Gurumayum Jiteshwar Sharma alias GM Changjou alias Gypsy of Nagamapal Singjubung Leirak have submitted their memorandum to the Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh on August 28 demanding an initiative from the government in finding his whereabouts and thereafter the JAC had called a 24 hours general strike from the midnight of September 1 till midnight of September 2, after the concern authority had failed to fulfill the demands of the JAC.
KOLKATA: Since the Eighties, the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) has been waging a bloody struggle for a sovereign Manipur. Of late, a faction of the outfit has embraced Maoist ideology to carry on its armed movement like the ultra-Left wing guerrillas are doing in states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.
A faction of the outfit, known as KCP (Maoist), has not only rechristened itself as the Maoist Communist Party of Manipur, but has also revised its “constitution” on the lines of the Marixist-Leninist-Maoist school of thoughts. In a statement issued recently, the outfit said the decision was taken during its first conference at some unidentified location in the northeastern state.
During its formative years, the KCP under the leadership of Ibohanbi and Ibopishak had decided to follow the communist ideology. But with the passage of time and the death of the two leaders, the outfit split into many factions. Police sources in Imphal indicated the existence of about dozen of them – the KCP-City Meitei, the KCP-Prithvi, the KCP-Mangang, the KCP- Military Council, the KCP-Maoist, the KCP-Lamphel, the KCP – Sunil Meitei, the KCP-Mobile Task Force, the KCP-Lamyanba Khuman, the KCP-Loyallakpa and the KCP-Noyon.
The KCP (Lalumba) has already signed an agreement on the suspension of operations with the Manipur government for starting peace talks.
In a signed document, W Malemnganba Meitei, spokesperson of the newly-floated Maoist Communist Party of Manipur, said, “Our immediate aim is to carry on a new democratic revolution in Manipur to establish a communist society through armed revolutionary war. We will carry out the Protracted People’s War by joining hands with other Maoist revolutionary parties.”
Security forces, though, said the group was floated to protect the Meiteis and its activities would be confined mainly in the valleys of the state.
Owing to the factional feuds, the KCP lost its stronghold in Imphal valley. This prompted leaders of KCP factions going for unification drive. Some KCP cadres got unified and held a convention in 2009. It was during this convention that the outfit reconstituted its central committee. While Marx Ningshen was made its president, the charge of the outfit’s publicity wing was given to W Malemnganba Meitei. Immediately after this, they called itself the KCP (Maoist) and denied any relationship with other KCP splinter groups.
Documents and press statements issued by the KCP (Maoist) suggested that since 2009, the outfit started maintaining close links with the banned CPI (Maoist). In November 2010, KCP (Maoists) issued a statement pledging support to the Indian Maoists like some other Manipuri outfits.
“The Maoists are now closely associated with two Manipur-based outfits – the Peoples Liberation Army (Manipur) and the now-disbanded KCP (Maoists),” said an intelligence officer.
Security agencies believe that a senior CPI (Maoist) politburo member -probably somebody in the second in command – has been assigned to maintain liason with the Maoist Communist Party of Manipur. The apparent aim is to set up base in this part of the country. The senior Maoist is also reportedly in charge of maintaining relations with Bangladesh-based Maoist outfits.
Sources in security agencies said “Following this development, Indian Maoists might now find it easy to set up bases in the northeast, a region that has always been in the news for insurgency and cessationist movements. They might also use the northeast as a conduit to move on to Bangladesh, Myanmar and other South-East Asian countries,” a source said.