The Three-Headed Beast: Class and Nation #2

JMP in his last blog entry wrote:

“We are at once patriots and internationalists,” Mao wrote in The Role of the Chinese Communist Party In The National War, one of his many documents that interrogated the relationship between class struggle and national liberation struggle.  Not only did he interrogate the multiple contradictions of waging an anti-imperialist war while waging class struggle, he theorized a way to properly understand these contradictions—and the Chinese Revolution, if nothing else, has taught us how to approach the interlinked problems of class and nation in the struggle against international capitalism.

He further encourages us to examine the relationship between class and nation, and the contradictions contain therein, so in this entry I just wanted to briefly outline some of the dialectical relations which underlie such an endeavour: especially the dialectical relationship between class and nation in the Third World through the differing class alliances of “comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie” (CBB) and its allies and the lower and middle peasantry/working class/nationalist bourgeoisie. I will this first explain these class alliances and then how some of these contradictions have been understood within the Maoist intellectual corpus as being interlinked.

In much of the Third World there are two modes of production that co-exist and comprise the social formation: feudalism (countryside and some urban temporary workers that consistently circle from rural to urban spaces due to crop cycles) and capitalism (urban systems and extremely limited capitalist agricultural formations). This as Mao explains, is semi-feudalism. Thus, there lies a dual-class antagonism: in the rural sectors the dispossessed and poor/middle peasantry against the feudal landlords and their allies, and in the urban structure a capitalist economy in which there is a class antagonism between the working-class (and some elements of the lumpenproletariat, but such an alliance would need further exploration) and the bourgeoisie and their allies. The bourgeoisie however, is itself split into two opposing factions: a comprador bourgeois faction that actively collaborates with imperialism and a nationalist bourgeoisie that is interested in developing local economies and self-sustenance of the nation (the nationalist bourgeois in many Third World countries have become an increasingly smaller group due to the changing form of imperialism). Despite having achieved formal independence the State is but a client or agent of imperialism. The feudal landlords are in alliance with this comprador bourgeoisie to ensure that the current socio-economic situation is maintained and that a bourgeoisie land revolution cannot be carried out. In exchange the feudal landlords deliver votes  for the bourgeois parties during elections thereby producing the illusion of a people’s democracy and true national sovereignty. However, the comprador bourgeoisie nor the feudal landlords are powerful enough to run the government by themselves and are thus aided by a bureaucracy which serves as a mediating point between the feudal and the comprador bourgeois elements.

On the other side, the lower and middle peasants (many of whom experience their class relationship through identities such as tribal, national or gender) have a basic subsidiary form of farming (if lucky) which is then accompanied by share-cropping. Furthermore, these peasants/adivasis have been bound into debt systems, often resulting in the  surrendering of small land holdings held by the small and middle peasants to the feudal landlord rendering them landless and dependent on sharecropping, that are generations old which basically ensures a legal form of economic and social slavery to the money-lenders/feudal landlords. Their basic issues include: separation from their land, the lack of amenities and decent livelihoods. In the urban centers there is also a class stratification (lumpenproletariat, proletariat – which must be also subdivided – and labor aristocracy and petit bourgeoisie), that divides the working class and petit bourgeoisie into sections that will side with the imperialists/feudal landlords/comprador bourgeoisie as they are able to live qualitatively better lives than the rest of the proletariat and peasantry and their class fidelity is to the sustenance of that system whilst making small increases to their own packages (this analysis needs to be rethought within the context of advanced imperialist countries) and those that are completely seperated from their means of production are involved in precarious work and are wage-slaves. The working class already recognizes that it is being exploited however, does not have the current political or ideological capacity to actually counter this trend, however, they do regularly engage in dress rehearsals within the confines of a bureaucratic and economistic trade union system. Sometimes, because of preliminary forms of organization, there are “spontaneous” uprisings, however, due to either being bought off or swift and brutal repression they are quickly shut down.

The Party, as has been demonstrated in places like Nepal and India, must be able to grasp three simultaneous contradictions at once and link them in the consciousness of the working class: 1) the contradiction within feudalism; the contradiction with capitalism; and the contradiction between the nation and imperialism. In recent interviews with Com. Bimal and Com. Ganapathai, both leaders of the Communist Party Of India (Maoist) have effectively laid out the linkages between economic and social struggle and local struggles to national struggles, which in total become the basic parameters for New Democratic or Socialist revolution. The argue that through an active intervention into the site of the contradiction within any specific mode of production on the side of the working class or peasantry does several things: it develops of the capacity of the working class and peasantry to achieve their goals, it also demonstrates the narrow goals and desires of the CBB nexus, and the roots of the problem shrper. However, this analysis is not an automatic process – , the Party must be organizing with (not organizing the) people in that specific conflict, and because of their experience in other struggles also giving them political and tactical advice (indeed it may be the case that in initial stages the communists will need to take tactical advice from leaders and militants of spontaneous struggles as they are more advanced in their understandings of the contours of political repression) whilst simultaneously consistently learning new tactics, forms of organization and correcting line. Thus, through consistent political involvement and application of what Mao calls, “the mass line”, in which the communists learn from and teach the people they are working, they are able to demonstrate the link of the localized struggle to the larger class struggle. Thus, what started as a simple land dispute is able to consciously developed into the preliminary form of an autonomous zone in which the peasantry, through the formation of democratic organs of people’s power, are able to govern itself and make decisions that benefit the community, village and people are made, rather than those that benefit the CBB and feudal landlords. Because of the unfortunate, yet inevitable, State violence on behalf of their comprador bourgeois and feudal partners the real class character of the State is made much clearer (in the case of Lalgarh, the Adivasis are very cognizant of the fact that the State is working on behalf of the MNC’s, so that they can “develop” the tribal areas through the exploitation of resources). Additionally, the State violence causes the formation of conditions that necessarily results in a qualitative shift in armed struggle to maintain the gains made and to achieve  even larger goals like autonomy, people’s control over the resources, fair land distribution, the right to self-determination or gender equality (in places like Lalgarh and Nandigaram in West Bengal the women involved in the anti-SEZ and anti-State movement developed the capacity for political action and organization that allowed for the establishment of women’s village committees that intervened into cases of domestic abuse etc). Simultaneously, the national liberation or autonomy struggles in places like Nagaland, Kashmir, Terai, indigenous peoples in the Americas are a much more immediate struggle between national aspirations in face of imperialist concerns and status quo.

In the urban centers, and probably conditions most like our own, the economic and social struggles of poor people, un-unionized workers, some sections of unionized workers, are against a bourgeoisie that economically and socially exploits us on a regular fashion (women’s unpaid labor and sexist social practices in the work place and society at large, or the racism experience by racialized peoples especially indigenous peoples). However, the problem that the working class has is the fact that the urban center is a much more difficult to space to organize within, especially militant struggles for revolution, due to the developed layers of bureaucracy, more fully developed superstructural formations, and developed surveillance/security structures. Furthermore, class contradictions are obfuscated by a developed commodity fetishism. When economic and social struggles will similarly experience State violence, although only when they transgress the parameters that have been carefully decided between the bureaucrats of the working class and the capitalist class, again reveals the character of the left. But, the difficulty of building sustained capacity and organs of power (formation of strong militant trade union movements, councils and Soviets) makes it increasingly difficult for the urban movement to develop (indeed I believe that a purely insurrectionary model is impossible in urban centers and there must be a discussion at some point about the form of urban struggle that is needed in our present conjuncture – whether it be India or the USA or the UK – and I think that although we cannot replicate models taken from any geographic location or historical time period there can be broad agreement that lessons can be learned i.e. Mao’s notion of summation – the capacity to learn lessons, not simply provide apologetics, and produce new courses of action and reassess the science).

I apologize for the meandering thought process. I will now turn it over to JMP at M-L-M Mayhem! to hem this discussion in.


One thought on “The Three-Headed Beast: Class and Nation #2

  1. Campaign Against Operation Green Hunt!

    The Indian State has declared a civil war called ‘Operation Green Hunt’ to crush the Maoists and the Naxalbari movement.

    War Against Naxals(Maoists): The War Against Adivasis, Fishermen and Peasants!

    Resist the Naxal Witch Hunt!
    Organise Under the Naxal Leadership to Fight Recolonization!

    Campaign across Tamilnadu
    Public Meeting, Chennai
    January 30, 2010

    Peoples Art And Literary Association
    Peasants Liberation Front
    Revolutionary Students And Youth Front
    New Democratic Labour Front

    Com. Mukundan,
    110, Second Floor, Corporation Complex,
    63, Arcot Road, Kodambakkam, Chennai – 600 024. India.

    Ph: +91 94448 34519

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